Top 10 Online Video Game Design Degree Programs of 2014

Top Online SchoolsVideo games are both a powerful cultural force and a multi-billion dollar global industry. Recent statistics show that nearly two thirds of U.S. households play video games and that video game sales topped $10.5 billion in 2009.

This is good news for those interested in working in the video game industry as designers and programmers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software engineering and related jobs are among the occupations expect to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the next decade, meaning job prospects should be excellent.

The Value of a Video Game Design Degree

It is not necessary to have a degree in video game design to be successful in the field. Many video game designers and programmers done extremely well in the industry without a game design degree. Indeed, video game design programs are a relatively new phenomena. That said, things are rapidly becoming more competitive in the industry and having a degree in game design from a respected and accredited school can help set you apart from the crowd. Among other things, it tells prospective employers that you are serious about your career as a game designer or programmer, have a broad understanding of the game development process, and have the stability and determination to finish a multi-year project (like a college degree).

The Advantages of an Online Video Game Design Degree

The most obvious advantage of getting a video game degree online is the flexibility and convenience provided by an online degree. Online students don’t have to travel to campus and can complete their classes and coursework on their own time. This means online game design students can fit their degree around their employment and family responsibilities. Unlike in the recent past, students seeking an accredited online video game design degree program now have several high quality options to choose from. A number of the top video game design programs in the country are now offered completely online.

How We Ranked Online Video Game Design Degree Programs

Online schools and online degree programs vary widely in terms of quality, name recognition, and value. To assist those looking for quality, accredited online video game design programs we’ve put together this ranking of what we consider to be the very best online schools offering video game design degrees online in 2014. Our rankings of the top online schools offering online video game design degrees are based on publicly available data evaluated according to several different criteria, including market reputation, accreditation, student satisfaction, ratio of students to instructors, and tuition. Most of the schools in our rankings are regionally accredited, the highest form of accreditation a school can achieve. To read more about our rankings philosophy and find a list of our other top college and degree rankings visit our rankings page.

  1. Full Sail University

    Overview: Learning at Full Sail has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas, and their online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy. They have developed our own online learning environment with the aim of being the most people-focused education experience on the web.

    Program: If you dream of creating compelling, interactive game experiences, Full Sail University’s online Game Design bachelor’s degree program can help you set your dream in motion. The program’s specialized curriculum focuses strongly on story development, the production needs of the industry, and gameplay. And, using Full Sail’s unique online platform, you’ll be able to engage with your classmates and instructors in the way that this highly collaborative industry depends upon.

    Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

    Click here to learn more about online degree programs at Full Sail University

  2. Sanford Brown University

    OverviewThis private, for-profit career school with an award winning virtual campus offers a comprehensive online game design degree with experiential learning opportunities.

    Program: Sanford Brown University’s online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design & Production is a 180 credit hour online degree program designed to help students develop their knowledge of asset development and integration, game play, team collaboration, written and verbal communication, and business operations relevant to the video game industry. Graduates will be prepared for multiple roles within the video game development industry. All classes are taught by professionals with experience in the field. The curriculum emphasizes opportunities for hands-on experience with the various aspects of game design and development.

    Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

    Click here to learn more about online degree programs at Sanford Brown University

  3. DeVry University

    OverviewThis program from one of the largest providers of online career-education in the world offers experiential learning, networking opportunities and the chance to learn skills in demand beyond the video game industry.

    Program: Bachelor of Science in Game and Simulation Programming is a 127 hour program designed to prepare students for careers in the video game industry and the growing number of fields that require simulation software experts. Students will learn the coding languages, visual design principles, and software methods used in everything from the development of video games, to crime scene reconstruction, to corporate training software and more. Students will be partnered with industry-leading companies like Vivendi/Universal for experiential learning opportunities and make networking contacts with potential employers around the world.

    Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Click here to learn more about online degree programs at DeVry University

  4. Post University

    OverviewThe largest provider of online education in the state of Connecticut, this small private university offers an accelerated online certificate program for aspiring video game designers that can be completed in a year.

    Program: Post University’s Online Certificate in Game Design & Animation is a 15 credit hour certificate program designed to provide students with the main concepts and skills needed to design video games. Students work in a collaborative environment to develop both the theoretical knowledge and the practical methods that that underlie game theory, game genres, design principles, 3D graphics programming, character animation, game engine architectures, and artificial intelligence in video games. The certificate may be completed as part of another undergraduate degree major or on its own.

    Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

    Click here to learn more about online degree programs at Post University

  5. University of Advancing Technology

    OverviewThis unique regionally accredited private university caters to technophiles and provides a comprehensive undergraduate education as part of its top-notch online video game design degree.

    Program:The University of Advancing Technology’s online Bachelor of Art in Game Design is a 120 credit hour degree program that provides students with an in-depth understanding of all aspects of video game creation while developing a critical approach to game play, interaction and design. Essential design skills such as strong initial concepts, game documentation, game balance and play-testing, interactive storytelling and interface design are covered. Classes are 5 weeks long and are taken one at a time in a way that builds on previously learned skills.

    Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

    Click here to learn more about online degree programs at the University of Advancing Technology

  6. Westwood College

    OverviewThis private, for-profit career-focused school exhibits investment in its video game design students and offers an intensive online bachelor’s in video game software design with a solid general arts core.

    Program: Westwood College’s online Bachelor’s in Software Development with a major in Game Software Development is a 180 credit hour program designed to prepare graduates for a career programming and creating games. As part of the program students conceptualize and create an entire game prototype. Students also have the opportunity to show their skills in Westwood College’s annual 2D Game Development Competition judged by industry professionals.

    Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

  7. Full Sail University

    OverviewAn outstanding global reputation for media arts, an award winning online education platform, and a comprehensive approach help make this the best online degree in video game design available.

    Program: Full Sail’s Game Design Bachelor of Science Online Degree is a 32 month program. The degree focuses on storytelling, design theory, design integration, and practical design. Graduates will be equipped with the skills needed to pursue a career creating content for everything from home consoles and computers, to emerging platforms like cell phones and other handheld devices. The program culminates with a final project in which students create a complete game prototype.

    Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

  8. Southern New Hampshire University

    OverviewThis nationally ranked, regionally accredited not-for-profit university offers one of the best online bachelor’s degree in video game design, which also happens to be one of the most affordable.

    Program: Southern New Hampshire University’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in Game Development and Design is designed to provide students with advanced knowledge of IT, as well as an understanding of concept development, marketing, distribution, cross-collaboration and other business strategies. Graduates will be prepared for careers in the video game industry, as well as other IT and business related positions. A hybrid on-campus/online option is available.

    Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

  9. Academy of Art University

    OverviewThe largest art and design school in the United States offers two of the top online video game design degrees through its highly regarded School of Game Design.

    Program: Academy of Art University offers an online Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) and an online Master of Fine Art (MFA) in Game Design. Both the BFA and MFA in Game Design introduce and build upon the foundations of traditional drawing, painting, and storytelling in order to broaden students’ conceptual skills. The online BFA provides students with a comprehensive education in the arts. The online MFA helps students master game mechanics and 3D technology which they display in a final thesis projects. Both programs provide hands-on experience in design techniques.

    Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

  10. Rasmussen College

    OverviewThis private, for-profit career college with a 110 year history offers a programming oriented online game design program taught by award-winning industry professionals.

    Program: Rasmussen College’s online Bachelor’s in Game and Simulation Programming is a 180 credit hour program built around a core computer science curriculum that will prepare students for careers in video game development and more. The coursework is comprehensive and highly-analytical, enabling students to develop skills in designing Web and mobile applications, as well as hi-tech simulations. Faculty are all industry professionals and recently took home the grand prize in the well-known Unity Competition. For more information about Rasmussen’s graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other information, click here.

    Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

  11. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

    OverviewThe oldest art institute in North America and the largest collegiate art and design education system in the world offers a comprehensive, regionally accredited online degree in game art and design.

    Program: The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s online Bachelor’s Degree in Game Art & Design is a 180 credit hour degree program that can be completed in as little as 36 months. Students will learn how to design game play and backgrounds, create characters and their environments, and apply their knowledge of video and computer games to critically assess the industry. Through the study of all aspects of video game programming, including coding, production, artistic concepts and game play strategies they will be prepared to assume multiple roles in the game development process. Classes are taught by experienced game industry professionals with higher degrees.

    Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

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