Find top-ranked online bachelor’s in game design degree programs for students wanting to combine artistic creativity and technical skills in order to become game designers, art directors, and video game testers.
There’s no better time than now to look into online bachelor’s in game design degree programs! The video game industry is on a growth surge, thanks to the increase in social and casual gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, the enduring popularity of video games is attributed to their attractive entertainment value.
It should be noted that many schools offer two tracks to a bachelor’s degree in game design: game designers with technical skills, like programming and sound design, and game media artists and animators. It is typical for programmers to pursue a bachelor’s of science degree (BS) in game design, while media artists and animators usually pursue a bachelor of arts degree (BA).
Graduates of either degree track hold a crucial role in the game design development process.
No matter which degree track you choose, a bachelor’s in game design degree from the best online programs can be an excellent ticket to a well-paying game design and development job!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), game designers who pursue an art or animation track, earn a median annual salary of $78,790 (May 2021), nearly double the median annual wage for all occupations, with the highest earners getting $131,000+ per year.
The BLS reports that game design programmers earn about the same median annual salary, but the predicted job growth rate over the next decade is expected to be an astounding 23%, compared to just 5% for artists and animators.
Students in online bachelor’s in game design programs prepare for the exciting and challenging work of game design and game development. The extensive preparation starts with general education courses followed by advanced courses such as programming languages, computer graphics programming, digital illustration, sound design, interactive animation, and graphic design. Internships are common, too.
With their online education and hands-on training, professional game designers create the characters, stories, and settings as well as the game mechanics and rules for video games. The use of computer programming languages including writing code and testing early versions are also part of their job.
Game designers may also have the following responsibilities:
Indeed, game design and development has its extreme challenges, from long hours at work to demanding clients! Game design students prepare for these challenges during their studies in these online programs.
Among their preparations are earning certifications in computer programming languages and building their portfolio of sample projects. Both can be achieved while in a bachelor’s in game design program, too. These aspects are embedded in the game design curriculum.
Aspiring video game designers can also strengthen their online learning by joining professional organizations. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) are great examples.
Hard and Soft Skills Learned as Students
Aspiring professionals in game design and game development must engage in continuous skills development! The key hard skills that will be learned in an online bachelor’s in game design program are:
Video game designers and developers must also possess soft skills that make them more productive on the job including:
Software Used in Game Design and Development
Effective game design requires the use of computers and their software, including but not limited to:
The best online bachelor’s degree in game design program provides students with the software. Many even provide free laptops with embedded software or provide students with affordable payment plans.
Students can also choose from concentrations in game design. Game art, mobile game design, and animation are popular. Prospective students are usually required to present a portfolio of works.
With a bachelor’s degree in game design, you’ll get the chance to combine artistic creativity and technical skills.Back to Top
This undergraduate degree can be earned on campus or online and typically takes about four to five years to complete. In most cases, students will be required to complete a minimum of 120 credits.Back to Top
In addition to a comprehensive liberal arts course load, students will take degree-specific classes on programming, graphics and animation, user-centered design, and 3-D modeling. Though not required, having knowledge in Java, C#, linear algebra, and computer graphics is helpful.Back to Top
Upon graduation, degree holders often seek employment as game designers, art directors, and video game testers.Back to Top
The best online bachelor’s degree in game design programs are often accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). This programmatic accreditation is in addition to the regional accreditation granted to colleges and universities by the Higher Learning Commission, among other accrediting bodies. Students then have the guarantee that the bachelor’s degree in game design programs meet the rigorous academic standards of higher education.
These bachelor’s in game design online programs were also chosen because of their excellent student support services. Game design majors are provided with topnotch admission counseling and academic advising services, thus, contributing to their increased chances for graduation. Financial aid counselors also discuss tuition reduction options that best fit each student’s unique circumstances.
Students were also provided with one-on-one and group tutoring services, usually via online platforms. 24/7 access to digital libraries and IT help desk was also provided, thus, minimizing campus visits. Best of all, many of these programs ensured that students met the technical requirements for online learning, from computers to their software and learning management system.
We also looked into the graduate outcomes of these online bachelor’s in game design programs. With the majority of their students earning the online degree, it’s among the best indicators of success.
The following graph depicts the average salaries of Graphic Designers for each percentile in the U.S.
Source: U.S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
SVG Attribution: Wikipedia
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If this is your first time taking an online course, the experience may require a time of adjustment. Although you’ll typically learn the same material and take the same exams as your on-campus peers, going online will require greater independence and responsibility than going in person. You’ll be accountable for your own time management, for harnessing the online educational technology that you’ll need to use, and for completing the course requirements, such as listening to lectures, learning lessons, reading texts, and handing in assignments. This means you’ll need to create a suitable workspace for yourself, maintain a realistic schedule, and take the initiative in building relationships with your instructors and classmates. With online college, your goal is to find a balance between independence and engagement.
No. The only part of online education that’s easier than campus-based education is ease of access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection for online education. But even this seeming advantage of online education can be misleading: what’s easier, studying online with your computer and internet connection from your home where you need to cook, clean, pay rent, and maintain a job? Or studying on campus in a dorm where all your living needs are handled by the school, and college staff are there to help you every step of the way?
If you take the commute to campus out of the equation, campus-based education is easier. All the support structures available on campus for students, especially with real people to help you in person, are not there online. The demands on you as an online student will largely be the same as for your campus-based counterpart, but without the same helps.
In general, your online courses will present the same material and test you in the same way as traditional in-person courses. In many cases, you’ll even have the same instructors as your on-campus counterparts. In fact, if you are adjusting to the experience of independent learning with remote educational technology for the first time, online college may be considerably more challenging than campus-based college. For a few insights on how to manage this new online experience, check out our 10 Tips for Adjusting to School Online.
Accreditation is especially important when it comes to online college. This is because the online education landscape is a mix of highly-reputable non-profit institutions on the one end and less-than-reputable for-profit institutions on the other end. Accreditation gives you the power to identify the more reputable actors in online education. Accreditation is a stamp of approval from an independent accrediting agency indicating that a college or university is meeting standards of quality and credibility. School-wide accreditation falls into two major categories: regional and national accreditation. Regional accreditors generally hold jurisdiction only over schools in the states comprising their region, whereas national accreditors hold jurisdiction over schools in all states. Regional accreditation is widely regarded as a more rigorous standard of quality and credibility than national accreditation.
Attending a college or university that is not regionally accredited could limit your opportunities. For students seeking an online education, we strongly recommend that they opt for regionally accredited schools. Regional accreditation ensures eligibility for federal loans and grants, ensures your college credits can be transferred between schools, and ensures that your degree credits can be accepted if you wish to earn an advanced degree. For more on this important topic, check out our What is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter? College & University Accreditation Guide.
As long as your online college degree is regionally accredited (see the previous point), you should have little difficulty transferring most of your credits or credentials to another regionally accredited undergraduate school. Every school carries its own standards and procedures for granting a transfer of credits. In many cases, you will encounter some bureaucratic haggling in which some of your credits will be transferred and others may be refused. However, provided that you have attended an online school with recognized regional accreditation, you should be in good shape in transferring your credits earned online.
In most cases, as long you graduate from a well-regarded, regionally-accredited online college, prospective employers won’t look sideways at your degree. In fact, unless you attend an exclusively online college or university, there will likely be no specific indicator on your degree, transcript, or resumé differentiating your school from its brick-and-mortar counterpart. This means that your employer will likely only differentiate between an online and in-person degree if you mention this distinction.
Some employers may express the concern that because you did your degree online, you may need to transition from an online education experience to in-person workplace experience. But in an age of Covid, that concern seems much diminished. The fact is that much employment these days is remote. And collaboration increasingly happens online over Zoom. Many employers will therefore view your online degree as evidence of valuable 21st century professional skills such as independence, self-motivation, time management, and tech savvy.
If you are a student who thrives on the dynamic energy of in-person discussion, who requires the physical surroundings of a classroom to feel engaged, or who considers the social aspects of education to be of equal importance to the actual content of your courses, online education will be less than ideal for you (though depending on your circumstances, it may also be the only viable option).
While there is much in traditional campus-based education that can be substituted or simulated through the online medium, some students may find that there is nothing that can replace the conversation, collaboration, and motivation that occur in an actual in-person classroom setting. As you transition to online education, one of the biggest challenges you will likely face in getting the most out of your online classes is overcoming this difference between “real reality” and “virtual reality.” Fortunately, we’ve got some great Tips for Online Education Beginners.
The advantages of online classes are many. Above all, online courses give you the freedom and flexibility to attend class from anywhere that works for you, whether you’re at home, in a coffee shop, or in a quiet conference room at work. In many cases, you’ll also enjoy the convenience of asynchronous learning opportunities-educational experiences that you can complete at your own pace and on your own schedule. This may include pre-taped lectures, ongoing chat-board discussions, and 24/7 access to digital materials. And of course, just as there are some learners who prefer the energy of a live classroom, there are those who learn best when working in their own personal space, free from distractions. If this sounds like you, you might find the solitude of online learning to be a major advantage.
Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.