Online Game Design and Development Degree Programs

Get information about online programs with computer game design and development courses. Read about program requirements, course descriptions, as well as career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Game design and development degree programs are not commonly offered in an online format, and the few that are available are typically at the bachelor's degree level. Rarely, online certificate and master's degree programs in game design and development are offered, though these types of program are not detailed in the following article.

While there are bachelor's degree programs directly focused on this field of study, some schools may offer game design and development as a specialization within a broader degree program, like computer information technology, or in conjunction with a program in game art. Degree programs with a major in game design and development may offer concentration areas, like design theory, interactive storytelling, supporting technologies, design integration, and game marketing. Available programs may be completed fully online, though some programs have elective internships. Prospective students should know that the software requirements list might be extensive, and they may need to submit a drawing portfolio as an entry requirement.

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Game Design and Development Bachelor's Degrees

Many online game design programs emphasize computer graphics, software development, computer programming, and animation. Background skills in computer science, mathematics, and drawing are encouraged. Some schools may even require applicants to have a drawing portfolio. An online 4-year program in game design and development can result in a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's degree programs in game design and development cover the entire spectrum of game design, from concepts to game testing. While many programs, especially those offered through for-profit schools, are conducted entirely online, some are presented in a combination of on-campus and online classes. In some cases, students build a game portfolio, which they can present to potential employers or use to satisfy enrollment requirements for pursuit of an advanced degree.

Some schools have specific Web browser, software, and hardware requirements for students enrolled in online game design and development programs. Updated versions of Internet Explorer and several Adobe programs, such as Acrobat, Flash, and Photoshop, may be required. Some schools request that students have certain hardware, including a color scanner, a CD or DVD burner, a color inkjet printer, and a digital camera.

Courses Commonly Related to Game Design and Development

Program coursework for online game design and development degree programs generally includes introductory courses in game design, simulation, animation, and production. Students might also take courses in business, software engineering, math, and communications. Some programs provide an internship.

Game Design Fundamentals

This course addresses design strategies, current design techniques, and video game types. A history of video games and basic terminology might also be covered.

Computer Animation

Students in computer animation or computer graphics courses will study 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional basics, motion graphics, and animation software. Blocking, modeling, filtering, and animation materials are other topics addressed in these courses.

Game Development

Different types of game development software are studied and applied in game development courses. Students learn programming languages, editing, audio, and visual effects.


Graduate Career Information

In addition to becoming video game designers, graduates of an online game design and development bachelor's degree program can pursue careers as graphic artists, computer programmers, Web designers, and game testers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job in computer programming are expected to decline 8% between 2014 and 2024.

Compensation for game designers and developers varies. In its 2013 salary survey, Game Developer magazine (www.gdmag.com) reported an average of $84,337 for all game developers. Divided by discipline, game programmers earned an average of about $92,000, and game designers (including writers) got about $75,000. Animators and artists averaged approximately $75,000.

Continuing Education Information

Game design professionals generally need continuing education to learn updates to programming languages or real-time architectures. Some of these programs are offered entirely online. In some cases, software vendors might offer certification programs for their specific products.

Individuals seeking supervisory or management positions in the game design industry might be required to obtain a master's degree. Though not as common as online bachelor's degree programs, some schools offer distance education programs leading to a Master of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Game Design and Development. Some colleges may require that students have some programming experience.

Online bachelor's degrees in game design are uncommon on their own, though other bachelor's degree with a focus in or related to game design are somewhat more common. Graduates from these programs can find work in many different positions within the game industry, with continuing education being a necessity to keep up with changing technology and professional certification and master's degrees available.


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