Game Design Degrees in AZ with Course and Program Overviews

Jul 20, 2019

Essential Information

Programs in such fields as game design and simulation, animation, interactive media and multimedia are among the options available to students looking to prepare for careers in game design. There are certificates, associate's and bachelor's degree programs in majors specifically or related to game design. Credits earned from certificate programs may be transferable to associate's degree programs.

Generally, there are no prerequisites to apply to these programs. The curriculum combines drawing, computer design and animation courses with a practical class, such as a studio, capstone or portfolio building session. Overviews of seven Arizona schools offering certificate and degree programs in these areas are listed below.

Arizona State University - Temple

Tempe's Arizona State University offers a computer gaming certificate program through its Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. This 18-credit program is designed for students who would like to develop game design skills while pursuing majors in related areas. Curriculum includes courses in game development, game art and programming. Students learn to write software, design educational games and create optical effects through texturing and 3-D modeling. Other courses in Arizona State University's game design program cover game graphic design, animation and virtual environments.

Glendale Community College

The digital media arts associate's degree program at this Glendale school offers tracks in design or time-based media. The program emphasizes conceptual and critical thinking along with design methods. Coursework for both program tracks covers topics like computer graphics, digital photography and 2-D design. Students who complete the design track take an additional 15 credits of graphic and web design coursework, while the time-based track covers 3-D animation and modeling. Students pursuing either option can also complete a portfolio and internship.

Mesa Community College

Located in Mesa, this community college offers associate's degree and certificate programs in game technology. Both include courses in computer animation and design, 3-D modeling, sound design, computer information systems and object-oriented programming. Students can also develop a professional portfolio and get experience working with programs like Flash, Fireworks and Illustrator. Those who'd like to study additional topics in project management, scripting techniques, 3-D special effects and decision logic can do so in the degree program.

Mohave Community College

Mohave Community College in Kingman offers a programming and game development certificate program designed to prepare students for entry-level employment or transfer to the school's associate's degree program in computer systems administration. The program includes introductory programming and information systems coursework along with electives in areas like web page design, computer science, game creation or C++ and Java programming.

Northern Arizona University

At Flagstaff's Northern Arizona University, students can complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in visual communication with an emphasis in motion design. This program includes art and communications courses covering such topics as drawing, communications analysis and 2-D design. Additionally, the curriculum features several interactive design studio courses that incorporate lab sessions with classroom lectures. Students also develop senior projects and have opportunities to join professional design organizations.

Phoenix College

This community college in Phoenix offers a media arts associate's degree program with an emphasis in digital animation. By completing core courses in such topics as drawing, 2- and 3-D design, storyboarding and photographic imaging, students can learn about the equipment and processes used to create digital and video animation. A similar curriculum is available through the 32-credit media arts certificate program.

Pima Community College

Located in Tucson, Pima Community College offers several associate's degree and certificate programs in computer information technology and the digital arts, including an associate's degree in digital game and simulation. This 2-year program can prepare students for employment as game designers, game programmers, game testers and modelers. Students are required to take 20 credits of core courses, including game design courses covering topics in game structure, storyboarding, interface design and game functionality. Students also examine game programming languages and methods for promoting their services. After completing core courses, students can choose to specialize in digital programming or digital animation and production.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Game Design Programs Offered Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Arizona State University - Temple 4-year, public; midsize city Computer Gaming Certificate $10,822 in-state; $28,336 out-of-state*
Glendale Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate in Applied Science in Digital Media Arts $2,070 in-state; $7,854 out-of-state*
Mesa Community College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion in Game Technology,
Associate in Applied Science in Game Technology
$2,070 in-state; $7,854 out-of-state*
Mohave Community College 2-year, public; rural fringe Certificate of Proficiency in Programming and Game Development $2,112 in-state, $6,972 out-of-state*
Northern Arizona University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication $11,564 in-state, $25,828 out-of-state*
Phoenix College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion in Media Arts: Digital Animation,
Associate of Applied Science in Media Arts: Digital Animation
$2,070 in-state; $7,854 out-of-state*
Pima Community College 2-year, public; large city Associate of Applied Science in Digital Game and Simulation $2,142 in-state; $7,458 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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