Online Game Design Degree

By Erika Lasrado

Updated March 15, 2024

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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Careers in game design and programming are part of the growing video games industry. As people want more complex visual effects and novel applications for gaming, television, movies, and mobile devices, there is an increasing demand for game designers, multimedia artists, and animators. By enrolling in an online game design degree, students can gain the knowledge and skills to enter a growing and competitive field. This degree provides an understanding of the development and application of interactive digital media and other emerging technologies. Read on to learn about the game design degree online, its curriculum, career options, and more.


Best Online Game
Design Degrees

Choosing a top college to study a game design degree online can be challenging. To identify a good college, one must consider several critical factors, such as its infrastructure, its faculty’s qualifications and experience, availability of computing facilities, graduation rates, affordability, etc. With these and other factors in mind, FBD teams have drawn up a list of the best online game design degrees in the U.S.: *

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private university located in New Hampshire between Manchester and Hooksett. The university is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), and some hospitality, health, education, and business degrees are also nationally accredited. With 135,000 online students and 3,000 on campus, SNHU is one of the nation’s fastest-growing universities in the U.S.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Southern New Hampshire University 2500 North River Road, Manchester, New Hampshire 03106 $15,380 39%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from the Online Game Design
Degree Program

With the online game design degree, students learn the skills they need to enter a competitive and rapidly expanding industry. They will get ready for a career in a gaming studio atmosphere as they take classes from knowledgeable professors familiar with the industry’s changing nature. Students will also learn important concepts, including advanced game design and development, and investigate the steps involved in creating video games, including character creation and narrative. The online game degree also provides knowledge about two- and three-dimensional game technologies like Unreal and Unity.

The bachelor’s in game design program is usually preferred in the online mode, but offline and hybrid versions (coupling online and on-campus classes) are not uncommon. The program’s curriculum is quite exhaustive, with major, specialization, and elective courses to be completed. Some colleges include an internship for students to gain hands-on training and experiences that can be useful upon graduation. While the selection of courses may vary by program, here are a few standard ones across most programs:

Fundamentals of Game Design

This course gives students a hands-on foundation in game design, emphasizing design decomposition, concept development, and prototyping. Students learn to translate game themes, ideas, and metaphors into gameplay and game pitches using game design theory, analysis, prototyping, playtesting, and iteration.

Game Development

This course provides students with more theory and practice, focusing on game design and storytelling. They continue to learn about game development methods and methodologies and how to apply advanced game design ideas to create 2D game components.

Games Literacy

In this course, students will learn about the various uses, designs, and formats of games. The relationship between game design and play, the function of games in stimulating technical imagination, the shifting contexts in which games are produced and played, and the growth of the independent games industry are among the topics covered.

Game Sound Design

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamentals of digital audio and the techniques used to produce, edit, and transmit game audio. The course looks at the role of sound in video games from an artistic and technological standpoint. The fundamentals of sound in the physical and digital worlds and sound effects editing and delivery are covered in the course.

Some of the other courses one can expect in an online game design degree are:

  • Multimedia Web Design
  • Unreal Engine Workshop
  • Psychology of Video Games
  • Digital Characters
  • 3D Design and Modeling
  • Technical Writing
  • Introduction to Game Production
  • Playgramming
  • Gaming Narratives
  • Interface Design
  • Interactive Digital Media
  • Data Analysis
  • Advanced Game Design
  • Introduction to Visual Design
  • Introduction to Level Design
  • Playtesting
  • Practical Scripting for Games
  • Design Theory and Methods
  • 3D Animation
  • Simulations in Education

Read the Guide to Bachelor Programs to learn more about bachelor’s degrees.

Degree Types for Online Game
Design Programs

Students have multiple options when choosing online game design programs. One can obtain either a Bachelor of Arts or BA in Game Design or a Bachelor of Science or BS in Game Design. There is also a Bachelor of Fine Arts or BFA in Game Design in this area, which often has stricter creative requirements.

Bachelor of Arts in Game Design

The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, or BA Game Design, largely focuses on theories, user research, game production, and economics and includes subjects from other disciplines. An online BA in game design program is ideal for those pursuing specialized fieldwork and looking to upskill and develop their careers.

Bachelor of Science in Game Design

The Bachelor of Science in Game Design, or BS Game Design, emphasizes game ideas and prototyping while stressing aesthetics, usability, and methodologies. An MS in game design online program is intended for experienced game creators who want to gain technical skills such as coding and software development.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design, or BFA Game Design, stresses immersive design, information architecture, and character creation with a community-based approach in a creative setting. A BFA in game design degree is intended to give storytellers the tools they need to achieve their game creation goals and expand their portfolios.

Note: The game design degree can also be pursued as a concentration of a computer science degree. Game design may even be titled game design and development, video game design, or computer gaming design and development.

Areas of Specialization for Online Game Design
Degree Programs

Specialization is an important component in defining one’s academic and employment opportunities. Pursuing a general game design degree and concentrating on specialized topics has advantages. Specializations allow one to refine a certain talent in which one may become an expert, hence increasing one’s market appeal and employability. Here are a few examples of online game design degree specializations:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Game Design and DevelopmentThis specialization provides a comprehensive curriculum that teaches students how to design the flow, characters, plot, and so on [design-related aspects] and the actual conceptualization and gameplay [development-related aspects] of game creation.Various roles in the gaming industry
Game WritingThis specialization provides students with the professional abilities to envision, develop, and implement great tales in video games. They will learn game and level design as well as the narrative aspect of game creation.Various roles in the gaming industry
Cognition and GamesThis specialization covers ideas created for simulating and modeling computer stories and characters, simulating and modeling human emotion, assessing massively multiplayer online games, and fusing pedagogy with gameplay.Various roles in the gaming industry
Mobile Game DesignThis specialization focuses on game design for mobile platforms and devices. Students gain knowledge of game creation, programming, and marketing, oriented around portable and mobile gadgets.Various roles in the gaming industry
Games and Playable MediaThis specialization is largely concerned with creating the game’s blueprint, including elements such as game narrative, level design, engine middleware, game design, etc.Various roles in the gaming industry
Critical Game DesignThis specialization provides a unique combination of academic and hands-on learning that focuses on researching game tests and breaking them down to understand what they imply, understanding the impact a game has on its users, and developing wisely.Various roles in the gaming industry

Why should I do an Online Game
Design Degree?

With an online game design degree, students gain knowledge about creating and using interactive digital media technologies. The program’s coursework investigates human and computer interaction and practical laboratories help students remember what they have learned. This degree provides invaluable training and insights on game design and teaches the latest apps and software. Students also develop critical thinking, learn real-world applications, and gain hands-on project experiences to help them get ready for the gaming industry.

The online game design degree is an excellent fit for those who like to play video games and are interested in designing and developing them. By opting for this degree, students will be prepared for the cutting-edge fields of graphic visualization, game creation, and computer modeling, along with all the knowledge one would require to cement a career in the $203 billion worldwide gaming industry.

Upon graduating with an online game design degree, students would have acquired a host of skills they can use in various settings. Some of these skills include their ability to:

  • build various game art components required for various games or by clients;
  • demonstrate the skills, information, and self-awareness needed to communicate, collaborate, and interact effectively across cultures and with diverse people and groups;
  • demonstrate an understanding and skills relevant to well-established and currently used methodologies, tools, systems, platforms, devices, processes, and their effective use for game creation;
  • choose the appropriate tools or processes to produce deliverables that match project requirements and professional standards;
  • recognize and apply game design and programming principles to game development;
  • design a game for a variety of purposes such as education, health and well-being, training, and entertainment by incorporating gamification best practices at all stages;
  • demonstrate proficiency in basic research methods, such as research design, statistics, and analysis and open and closed access sources;
  • use design and development ideas to create 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) computer and mobile games; and
  • create, manage, and identify steps for an effective professional workflow.

Free Courses for Online Game Design
Degree Students

Free online game design courses are readily available over the internet. However, unlike any other full-time or part-time programs from an accredited university, they frequently do not provide a comprehensive degree; rather, they just provide the competencies connected with a certain concept or component of game creation. The free online game design courses are either certificate programs or individual modules best suited for persons who want to learn more about a topic before digging into it in depth or who want to expand their expertise. Here are a few free courses to explore:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Intro to Game Design (Game Jam)This course introduces game design and explains everything about its nuances and some of the platforms frequently used by game designers and developers.Udemy
Learn Game DesignThis course focuses on creating game interactions from start to finish. Students learn to use the Unreal Engine and create their own games using unreal motion graphics tools, landscaping terrain tools, material editing tools, 3D geometry tools, etc.Udemy
HTML5 Apps and GamesThis course follows HTML5 Coding Essentials and Good Practices. Students examine HTML5-based APIs and learn to use advanced HTML5 features such as Web components, enhanced multimedia, audio for music and games, etc.edX

How to get into the Online Game Design
Degree Program?

An online game design degree program usually requires incoming students to be proficient in Math and Science, with at least a GPA of 3.0. Students with a physics, calculus, and computer science background will stand a better chance of being admitted to the program. Aside from these requirements, some of the typical online game design admissions requirements are:

  • Admission or Application Form with its prescribed fee.
  • Official Academic Transcripts.
  • A High School Diploma or General Education Development (GED) Certificate.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or more.
  • American College Testing (ACT) / Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Test Scores
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose (varies by school)
  • 1 to 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Proof of English Proficiency (if the native tongue is or education was not in English)

Note: Admission requirements vary by school and program. Students should always check with the admissions office at their selected school for precise criteria.

How Long does it take to complete the Online
game design Degree

A full-time online game design degree usually takes 2 to 4 years to finish. However, the length of an online bachelor’s degree in game design may vary depending on the university or college, as well as the additional certifications, concentrations, and courses one may opt for. Some game design degrees also include an internship or practicum with a video game producer, which might lengthen the program. Here is a summary of the timeline:

  • Typical time required to complete an online game design degree: about 4 years
  • Minimum time required to complete an online game design degree: about 2 years
  • Typical time required by part-time students to complete an online game design degree: about 4 to 6 years
  • Typical credits required for an online game design degree: 120 to 130 credits

Accelerated Online Game Design
Degree Programs

Accelerated degree programs are slowly yet surely becoming increasingly popular with certain sections of students. Two primary reasons for interest in accelerated online game design degrees are that they save time and money. While most bachelor’s programs require about 4 years to finish, an online game design degree can be completed in as few as 2 years. Some universities, like Lindenwood University, offer a 2 year game design degree online, while others allow students to transfer academic or work credits to reduce the duration of their programs.

Accreditations for Online Game Design
Degree Programs

Accreditation is the official recognition from regulatory agencies that an educational institute’s quality meets or surpasses a predetermined level. Pursuing an accredited online game design degree program is a great way to boost one’s profession while also receiving a well-recognized education. Accreditation also ensures that the institution can readily perform educational credit transfers and provide students with federal financial help. In the United States, the six principal regional accrediting authorities are:

A program may be accredited in addition to or instead of a college. Some game design and development programs may be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Read the Guide to College Accreditation to learn more about accreditation and its critical role in higher education.

How to Pay for an Online Game
Design Degree?

An online game design degree is typically an expensive pursuit, not only because of tuition but also because of additional costs such as investing in high-spec computer equipment. To operate the desired design software(s) that are part of the curriculum for an online game design degree, an advanced desktop or laptop with a good CPU, graphics card, and enough RAM is required. These expenses can be overwhelming, ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 plus tuition. As a result, most students require financial assistance, which is offered through some of the following channels:


Universities, institutions, alums, and bursaries award scholarships to deserving individuals. Academic merit, together with characteristics such as heritage, religious affiliation, community service, and so on, is the key determining factor in selecting a scholarship recipient.


Grants are need-based and normally awarded case-by-case to students from low-income families. While grants differ from scholarships in that they can be used for purposes other than tuition, the academic performance criteria are the same in both.

Student Loans

Student loans involve a calculated risk on the student’s behalf because they borrow money from financial institutions, banks, or federal agencies and undertake to repay it in installments. Interest must be factored in, and payments must be made on time; otherwise, loans can be unproductive and increase debt.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form students must fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid.

Scholarships for Online Game Design
Degree Students

Online bachelor’s degrees can be very expensive to pursue, and one might need years to pay them off once one graduates. Scholarships and other types of financial aid can significantly alter this scenario by lowering college expenses, leaving students with much less debt once they have graduated. Here are a few such scholarships for online game design degree students to explore:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardDeadline
NYU EVO ScholarshipThe EVO Scholarship is given out annually to the applicant who best displays active participation in the fighting game community, a passion for game design with an emphasis on inventing in the field of competitive games, and a true financial need.Between $20,000 and $30,000TBA
ESA Foundation ScholarshipsThe Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation encourages and supports anyone who wants to work in the video game business. ESA offers 3 different scholarships – the Computer and Video Game Arts and Sciences Scholarship, the LGBTQ+ Service Scholarship, and the Esports Scholarship.VariesTBA
AIAS Foundation ScholarshipThe AIAS Foundation Scholarship is awarded to students intending to pursue a career or work as early professionals in any aspect of game development, including game design.$2,500May 31

FAQs Related to the Online Game Design
Degree Program

What is game design?

Game designers are the backbone of the gaming industry, which is worth billions of dollars. Game design is a subfield of video game production. It aims to create exciting games that add value to the player’s experience by combining storyline, graphic design, characters, strategies, and other components.

What is an online game design degree about?

An online game design degree is a 4-year undergraduate program that gives students the knowledge and abilities required to build games. Understanding how a game affects the user, as well as the gameplay, character design, and development, is emphasized and taught in this program. Game design aims to develop visually appealing games that entertain, educate, and engage the user.

Can a game design degree be pursued online?

Who can study a game design degree?

How long is an online game design degree?

What can I do with a game design degree?

Is a game design degree worth it?

Is game design in demand?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after an
Online Game Design Degree

An online game design degree allows designers to experiment with entrepreneurship by forming their own gaming-related business organization and creating a team of varied profiles to create games. Meanwhile, people seeking experience can work in established game design firms as game designers, developers, character modelers, and so on. Those who studied user experience and psychology along with game design may also be able to join research and development teams.

Graduates of game design online degrees may also find work in multimedia design and animation. A game designer’s job descriptions may include multimedia art, 2D or 3D game design, game development, critical game design, and graphic design. Some examples of potential job titles include, but are not limited to:

  • Game Marketer/PR
  • Game Artist
  • Game Animator
  • Creative Game Director
  • Game System Designer
  • QA Game Tester
  • Game Audio Engineer
  • Game Designer
  • Game Programmer

Statista indicates that the worldwide video games market was valued at $138.4 billion in 2021 and has expanded further to $203 billion in 2024. It is clear that the gaming business requires more workers, meaning that online masters in game design graduates will have plenty of job opportunities. Some occupations for game designers to consider are included below, albeit they are not directly related to game design – because game design is only one function of creating a game, and various other components go into it.

Occupation Job DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Special Effects Artists and AnimatorsAnimators and special effects artists create two- and three-dimensional models, moving visuals, and visual effects for video games, movies, television programs, and other kinds of media.Communication skills, time-management skills, computer skills, artistic talent, creativity$78,7905% (as fast as average)
Broadcast, Sound, and Video TechniciansBroadcast, sound, and video technicians install, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment used in radio and television broadcasts, concerts, movies, and sound recordings.Computer skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, manual dexterity$48,79010% (faster than average)
Graphic DesignersComputer skills, time-management skills, communication skills, analytical skills, creativity, artistic ability$50,7103% (slower than average)
Producers & DirectorsProducers and directors make creative and business decisions about films, television shows, stage productions, and other forms of entertainment. They perform an interpretation of a writer’s screenplay to entertain, inform, or instruct an audience.Leadership skills, communication skills, decision-making skills, creativity$79,0008% (faster than average)
Web Developers and Digital DesignersWeb developers develop and maintain websites and oversee their technical components, such as performance and capacity. Digital designers plan, design, and test a website or interface’s layout, functionalities, and navigation for usability.Problem-solving skills, customer service skills, communication skills, creativity, detail-oriented$78,30023% (much faster than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Game
Design Degree Students

A game design degree is generally adequate to begin designing and developing games, although certification expands one’s potential in one skill or tool. These credentials look well on a designer’s résumé next to their projects and help them stand out from their colleagues. Although they are not required, several companies urge applicants and workers to obtain specific professional qualifications. While there are no board certifications specifically for game design, several private companies and institutions offer professional credentials that can help advance one’s career. Here are a few examples:

Typically, one does not need a license to be a game designer and seek work. Certain exclusions may apply if the job is in defense, military, or even EdTech, which the employer frequently provides.

Additional Resources for Online Game
Design Degree Students

Joining professional organizations and websites that provide profession-related materials is a great way to expand one’s professional network of colleagues. It is also a good tool for researching job opportunities, participating in discussion forums, creating relationships, listening to podcasts, accessing webinars, and attending conferences, among other things. Here are a few resources to get online game design degree students started:

International Game Developers Association (IGDA)The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is the world’s biggest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to advancing all game developers. It assists game developers in advancing in their careers and improving their lives by connecting members with their peers, encouraging professional development, and lobbying for game creators’ global problems.
Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS)The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and recognizing interactive arts. The AIAS aims to promote and improve the global interactive entertainment community while recognizing outstanding interactive arts and sciences achievements.
Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA)The Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) is the world’s foremost association for academics and professionals interested in digital gaming and associated concerns. It prioritizes high-quality game research and promotes collaboration and work exchange among its members.
ACM Special Interest Group for Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI)ACM SIGCHI is the world’s largest international network of students and professionals interested in Human-Computer Interaction research, education, and practical applications. It gives its members the ability to develop and alter how people engage with technology, as well as understand how technology influences people’s lives.
North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA)The North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA) is a professional network dedicated to creating, deploying, and evaluating games and simulations to improve learning outcomes in a wide range of organizations.

Author Bio:

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.