The gaming industry in the US has seen a 12 percent growth since 2020 and is one of the biggest industries worldwide. Thanks to this field’s popularity, gaming companies are offering competitive salaries to fresh graduates to keep the momentum going. The best online game design associate degrees prepare gaming enthusiasts for pursuing a career as video game designers in the gaming industry.
Students can learn to build multimedia video game characters, 3D animation, 3D modeling, and design through online game design associate degrees. Enrolling in an online program can save costs, and help students balance work side by side. In this guide, we discuss the top online associate degree in game design. You’ll also learn about the highest-paying game design associate degree jobs that students can explore after graduation.
Where Can I Get a Game Design Associate Degree Online?
Prospective students can get a game design associate degree online from an accredited institution in the US. The best schools to get a game design associate degree online include Central Piedmont Community College and Lindenwood University. Below are other schools covered in this list.
What Schools Offer the Best Game Design Associate Degrees?
- Academy of Art University
- Guilford Technical Community College
- Pratt Institute
- Palomar College
- Rasmussen College
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Game Design Associate Degree?
The admission requirements for an online game design associate degree include filling out an online application form, a high school diploma or GED, an excellent GPA, and good placement test scores. Some schools require students to submit transfer credits from their previous institution. Admission requirements for game design programs differ based on the school.
The admission process for the online courses in this guide can be completed virtually without visiting the campus. Most schools will assign an admissions representative to help you through the process. At the time of application, students will provide a high school diploma and official transcripts. Students should also apply for financial aid.
Most schools do not require ACT scores or SAT scores, but you might need to submit SAT scores if the school you are applying to has a transfer program with a four-year institution. Students can check the admission page to get specific eligibility requirements.
Prospective students also need to prepare for an entrance exam for some schools. They need to have basic technical skills, but a strong portfolio or knowledge of programming language to get admission to a game design program is typically not required.
Online Game Design Associate Degree Admission Requirements
- Online application form
- Official transcripts
- High school diploma
- Excellent GPA
- Good placement test scores
How to Get a Game Design Associate Degree Online
You can get a game design associate degree online by fulfilling all the admission eligibility requirements of your chosen university. An associate degree in game design offers hands-on training on real projects and may require students to build a strong portfolio before graduation.
Students are also required to learn programming languages through their online courses. The admission requirements for each school may differ depending on the program they offer. Below is a comprehensive list of common requirements for online game design associate degree programs.
Game Design Associate Degree Requirements
- Credit hours. An online associate degree in game design is up to 24 months long. Each student needs 60 to 90 credit hours to graduate from the school. Schools also have specific credit score criteria if the students are planning to transfer.
- Minimum GPA. Many game design schools and technical universities require students to maintain a minimum grade of 70 to 72 percent in core courses. Students should have a minimum GPA of 2.0 to qualify for graduation.
- Programming skills. While learning programming skills is not mandatory, most schools ask students to gain expertise in at least one programming language. You should cultivate programming skills to be successful in a game design career.
- Design skills. To graduate from a game design school, students are required to build a strong portfolio showcasing their design, animation, and visual effect skills.
- General education. Some game design schools require students to study composition and art history to fulfill general education requirements. However, not every school has these requirements for graduation.
Best Online Game Design Associate Degree Programs and Schools: Overview
|Academy of Art University||Associate of Arts (AA) Degree in Game Development||Council for Interior Design Accreditation|
|Central Piedmont Community College||Associate Degree in Simulation and Game Development||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges|
|Guilford Technical Community College||ASS in Simulation and Game Development||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)|
|Johnson County Community College||Associate of Applied Science in Game Development||The Higher Learning Commission|
|New England Institute of Technology||Video Game Development and Design Associate Degree||New England Commission of Higher Education|
|Ocean County College||Computer Science AS – Game Development and Design Option||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Palomar College||AS in Computer Science With Emphasis on Video Gaming||Western Association of Schools and Colleges|
|Pratt Institute||Associate Degree Program in Game Design and Interactive Media||Middle States Commission on Higher Education|
|Rasmussen College||Associate Degree in Graphic Design||The Higher Learning Commission|
|Western Iowa Tech Community College||Associate of Applied Science in Video Game Design||The Higher Learning Commission|
Best Schools for Game Design: Top Online Game Design Associate Degree Programs
The game design industry has evolved in the past few years and is projected to grow multifold by 2025. Many excellent schools offer online game design associate degrees that cater to the rising demand for game designers and developers. The section below details what makes these schools the best for earning an online game design associate degree.
What Is an Online Game Design Associate Degree?
An online associate degree in game design is a two-year college program that teaches the fundamentals of game design, animation, programming and how to code in Java or C++, design principles, and how to make a great, engaging game.
These degrees are flexible and allow students to develop their own learning schedules. After graduating with a game design degree, students can pursue a career as a game designer, illustrator, graphic designer, game programmer, game developer, animator, and character artist.
Online vs In-Person Game Design Degrees
Deciding between an online versus an in-person game design degree depends on your particular preferences and needs. Advancements in technology have made education accessible from anywhere at any time. Many universities in the US offer online programs through their virtual campus. However, an online associate degree in a subject like game designing might not suit all.
Game design requires intensive hands-on training. If you are considering attending an online associate degree in game design, you should look at the pros of both online and in-person game design associate degrees.
Top 5 Benefits of an Online Associate Degree in Game Design
- Flexible schedule. When attending an online degree program, you can design your study plan according to your needs. The pace of learning in an online degree depends on you. Whether you like to study at night or during the day, you can choose a time that is most convenient.
- Lower tuition. Online degrees cost less because schools usually don’t include tuition related to campus facilities. Thus, it significantly lowers the education cost. Students also save on commutes and on-campus meals.
- Access classes from anywhere. Students learning online can log into the education portal from anywhere. They don’t need to be present at a specific classroom location. As long as they have a laptop and high-speed Internet connection, they can attend class.
- Ideal for working students. Online degrees are best suited for working professionals who don’t have enough time to go to college every day.
- Great upskilling opportunities. An online associate degree in game design is an excellent opportunity to gain new in-demand skills and get an entry-level job in the industry.
Top 5 Benefits of an In-Person Associate Degree in Game Design
- Increased networking opportunities. Thanks to the in-person environment, you will have to communicate and collaborate with fellow students and teachers. This helps you network with other people in the industry.
- Personal development. Being in a post-secondary learning environment is a great way to learn and grow as a person. The in-person experience helps you develop personal interests and become a well-rounded individual.
- Disciplined learning. Most in-person degree programs have a set schedule that students are required to follow. The schedule helps students become disciplined in life and build a much-needed work-life balance.
- Improved skills from campus facilities. Students can access campus facilities such as a game studio or a library while going to college. This helps create discipline, collaboration, and good study habits.
- Distraction-free learning environment. College administration works hard to create a distraction-free learning environment that allows students to focus. Libraries or learning centers are quiet spaces to get work done.
What Types of Online Associate Degrees Can You Get in Game Design?
The types of online associate degrees include an associate of arts, an associate of science, an associate in applied science, and an associate of occupational studies. The different types of online associate degrees in game design have different learning styles so it’s best to do your research before applying.
Is It Better to Get an Associate in Applied Science or an Associate of Science in Game Design?
An online game design associate degree in applied science is better because it prepares you for a job right after college. It presents an excellent opportunity to get a solid knowledge of the technical skills required to get an entry-level job.
However, an associate of applied science degree does not promise a high-paying job. The gaming industry is a highly competitive field, so students would need a bachelor’s degree after graduating from their associate degree program and a solid portfolio to showcase their technical skills.
How Much Does a Game Design Associate Degree Cost?
An associate degree costs between $21,425 and $32,379, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). However, students should note that these are general estimates of most associate degrees in the US.
Depending on the university, a game design associate degree can cost as low as $3,000 and as high as $50,000. Students should contact the university to determine their tuition cost and available financial aid options.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Game Design Associate Degree Online?
An associate degree in game design typically takes between 18 months and two years to complete. Students who attend the full-time degree classes can complete it within two years. However, it may take longer for part-time students. Students should visit the official site of the college to know the exact length of the program.
Students will have to complete 60 to 90 credit hours to qualify for graduation. If you wish to complete your degree quickly, you can attend college-level courses when in high school. In addition, students can take College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests to get credit for basic courses like math or English.
Are Online Game Design Degrees Respected?
Yes, online game design degrees are respected. An online degree in game design allows students to spend their free time gaining new technical and design skills. Students can also get a side gig and start working on projects to build their portfolios. Distance learning has become prevalent in the US, with as many as 7,313,623 students enrolled in distance courses at educational institutions.
Is Game Design Hard to Learn Online?
No, game design is not hard to learn online. When obtaining a game design degree online, students must make a study plan. Dedicating two or three hours daily to practice your skills can significantly impact your skillset. You can also get hands-on training by working on small projects to sharpen your skills.
Game Design Bootcamp vs Online Game Design Associate Degree: Which Is Better?
A game design bootcamp is better than an online game design associate degree because it provides job-ready skills in a shorter time, usually at a more affordable price. Although coding bootcamps are a relatively new method of learning, they can land you a job in the tech industry with or without prior college experience.
Bootcamps are intensive, skill-focused training programs that make students job-ready in weeks. According to an Indeed survey, 72 percent of employers think bootcamp graduates are high performers and just as prepared as any degree graduate. Below is a list of the benefits of both an online degree and bootcamps to help you understand which one is a better fit.
Top 5 Benefits of an Online Game Design Associate Degree
- Traditional learning environment. Colleges offer a traditional learning environment that can help in the personal development of a student. Communication and teamwork are important aspects of working in game design.
- Accreditation status. Students get a chance to study at nationally or regionally accredited institutions. Accreditation is an extensive review process that reflects positive outcomes such as good retention, graduation, and employment rates.
- Great place to gain soft skills. Many colleges ask students to study general education courses to earn credits. These courses help students in acquiring soft skills.
- Building a solid theoretical background. An associate college degree lasts for two years and can allow students to deep-dive into the theoretical concepts of the subject they’re learning.
- Financial aid opportunities. Most degree programs offer some kind of financial aid opportunities to their students in form of scholarships, grants, and a fee waiver.
Top 5 Benefits of a Game Design Bootcamp
- Takes less time. Bootcamps aren’t as long as an online college degree. The length of a game design bootcamp can be a week if students already know programming languages, or up to a year.
- Access to career coaching services. Bootcamps offer excellent career coaching services that prepare students and professionals for interviews and the recruitment process.
- Market-driven curriculum. Bootcamps have a market-driven curriculum and offer intensive hands-on training that prepares students to enter the workforce.
- More affordable than a degree. Bootcamps are more affordable than an online game design degree from a private institution. Students have to pay as little as $500 to as much as $20,000 to attend a game design bootcamp.
- High placement rate. Many bootcamps have a job guarantee for students to get them a job with a competitive salary. Many prominent companies rely on bootcamps to hire fresh graduates.
Why You Should Get a Game Design Associate Degree Online
You should earn a game design associate degree online because it gives you the freedom to develop a self-paced learning process and work as you study. Since online associate degrees are more affordable than in-person campus degrees, students don’t have to worry about student debt as much as students enrolling in a bachelor’s degree.
An online associate degree takes two years as opposed to a bachelor’s degree which takes four years. Students can hone their skills while studying and enter the workforce early. You can also use this degree to enter a bachelor’s program in interactive game and media design or game development.
What Courses Do You Take in an Online Associate Degree Program in Game Design?
The core courses you should look for when choosing the degree are animation, design, and programming. An online degree in game design should cover all the aspects of game design. A bonus is if your online school offers game mechanics, mobile programming, or quality assurance courses.
Game design is a vast and competitive industry where most professionals hold specialized skills. For instance, concept artists visualize an idea for game development while a game artist develops 3D models. We’ve curated a list of common courses that you should take to enter the gaming industry.
Fundamentals of Game Design
In this fundamentals course, students learn to review and critique game genres and build a quality interactive media design using current technology. This provides the foundation for what to expect in the industry.
3D Modeling and Animation
3D modeling and animation allow students to use their digital art and technical skills to create three-dimensional characters and sculptures. Students also learn how to create motion and build illustrations of concept designs.
Introduction to Game Development
Students earn hands-on experience in the game development process. Students learn game design, storytelling, gameplay, and understanding of user experience. They also learn about the standards and ethics of game development.
Programming is one of the core courses of any game design degree. Students learn to code in Java and C++, learn how to create web applications for different platforms, and the practical application of writing scripts for game design.
Graphic design is a hands-on course where students learn to design 3D and 2D models and 3D software applications. The course also offers a basic understanding of digital painting and imaging.
Continuing Education Paths for Online Game Design Associate Degree Graduates
After graduating with an online game design associate degree, students can get an advanced degree. For example, a bachelor’s in interactive media and game design or development can get you a high-paying job.
If you have enrolled in a computer science degree, you should consider specializing in game design. You should try looking for a degree program that offers the experience of working in a game design studio environment.
An online game design associate degree also opens the door for an internship or an entry-level job. Students can also enroll in game design bootcamps to get ready to enter the workforce. Bootcamps are much shorter than a four-year degree program and can teach you in-demand skills to ensure you’re job-ready.
Related Online Game Design Degrees
What to Look For in the Best Game Design Associate Degree Programs
The things to look for in the best online game design associate degrees are credit hours, online coursework, tuition fee, financial aid, and scholarship options. Potential students should conduct their own research into all these factors and faculty information when choosing a program. We’ve prepared a list of common factors you should consider while choosing a degree.
The learning outcome of an associate degree in game design is crucial. Students must thoroughly check all the courses offered and align them with their career goals. If you want to design video games, your degree must offer a design, animation, and character-building course. Students should ensure courses include technical skills like Java or C++ and design.
Tuition fees are another important factor when choosing which college to attend. Students should choose an affordable degree that fits well into their budget. There are also grants, scholarships, and other financial aid options students should also explore while applying.
Most associate programs offer financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and fee waivers for associate degree students. While filling out the admission form, talk to a student representative or admission officer to understand the various financial aid available.
Explore the career opportunities available postgraduation with an associate degree. A school with excellent career support services and placement programs is an ideal fit. Many associate degrees also offer internship opportunities to help graduates understand the gaming industry.
Experiential Learning Format
Find out whether the programming you want to study offers experiential learning. Many schools offer a hybrid program where students have to attend some in-person classes. Ensure that the school has a dedicated online campus that offers excellent student support and career services.
What Is the Most Affordable Online Game Design Associate Degree?
Palomar college’s computer science with an emphasis on video gaming is the most affordable online animation associate degree. The online game design program costs $674 per semester for all in-state residents. However, you should note that Palomar college has different tuition fees for in-state residents, out-of-state residents, and international students.
The residents of California have to pay $1,763 per semester, which includes the cost of books and supplies, while non-state residents must pay $12,765 for the entire course. Students also have to pay an enrolment fee, health fee, and student center fee every semester.
Can I Get a Game Design Associate Degree Online for Free?
No, you cannot get a game design associate degree online for free. However, several institutions offer free game designing workshops and courses. These institutions include Harvard University, MIT, and Coursera and teach you the basics of game designing. Be aware that you will need to pay to receive your certificate.
If you want to get a degree in game design but are unsure of how to pay for tuition, you can apply for financial aid. Contact a university admissions representative so they can help you choose the best options. You should also fill out the form for FAFSA.
Salary and Job Outlook for Online Game Design Associate Degree Graduates
If you attend an online game design degree, you can work as a graphic designer, game developer, animator, or special effects artist. Find out more about the job outlooks for the best paying jobs you can get, the job outlook, and the opportunities for career advancement.
How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Game Design Associate Degree?
It is not hard to get a job with a game design associate degree. An associate degree teaches students the fundamentals of game theory and provides hands-on experience in working on projects.
However, students can only get entry-level jobs with this type of degree. If you want an excellent job with a competitive salary, you should consider preparing for a bachelor’s degree. This will help you get the advanced skills required for higher-paying jobs.
What’s the Average Online Game Design Associate Degree Salary?
The average salary for someone with a game design associate degree is $57,000. However, game design is a vast field with many diverse career opportunities. Students who have sound knowledge of programming languages can make over $100,000 by working as game developers, or digital designers for $77,000 a year.
What Jobs Can You Get With an Online Game Design Associate Degree?
The jobs you can do with an online game design associate degree include game developer, special effects artist, art director, and digital designer. Students can also become animators, 3D modelers, or game testers.
The chances of getting a job with a competitive salary are higher if students have worked hard to build a professional portfolio. It is also crucial to spend some time researching the job opportunities you may have once you graduate.
It is best to procure some hands-on experience with game design tasks so you can take on an entry-level job as a graphic designer, junior game designer, or storyboard artist to get real-world experience as soon as possible after graduation.
Game Design Degree Jobs
- Software Developer
- Quality Assurance Analyst
- Art Director
- Special Effects Artist and Animator
- Digital Designer
Potential Careers With an Online Game Design Associate Degree
How Much Money Can You Make With an Online Game Design Associate Degree?
You can make between $41,000 and $103,00 per year with an online game design associate degree, according to PayScale. Junior game designers have a median salary of $66,580. A senior game designer can make more than $90,000 in the US. Your chances of earning a six-digit salary are higher if you gain technical skills by mastering Java or C++.
There are many career paths to explore with an associate degree in game design. Most of the gaming design industry jobs offer salaries that are higher than the national average median wage. Keep reading to find out the highest-paying jobs for game design graduates.
Highest-Paying Online Game Design Associate Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview
|Game Design Associate Degree Jobs||Average Salary|
|Quality Assurance Analyst and Tester||$110,140|
|Special Effects Artist and Animator||$77,700|
Best Jobs for Online Game Design Associate Degree Grads
Students can pursue plenty of career options after graduating with an online game design associate degree. We’ve curated a list of the best high-paying jobs students can explore. Some of the jobs mentioned below are not entry-level positions and may require work experience.
Best Jobs According to Your Major
Is an Online Game Design Associate Degree Worth It?
Yes, an online game design associate degree is worth it. The gaming industry in the US has witnessed massive growth. According to Statista, the American video game market saw a 15 percent increase in revenues between 2019 and 2021. An online game design associate degree is an excellent way to enter the workforce and get a competitive salary in a booming field.
Students can explore many career opportunities with an online game design associate degree. In addition, a game design associate degree is a stepping stone to admission into a prestigious university for further study. Students can also explore career-focused game design bootcamps to gain relevant technical skills to break into this field.
Additional Reading About Game Design
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Online Game Design Associate Degree FAQ
Yes, game design has in-demand career opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 16 percent increase in jobs for multimedia artists and animators, including game designers and developers. Students looking for a high-paying job should build a strong portfolio for potential employers.
Students can apply to a four-year institution to get a bachelor’s degree in interactive design and game development. Some of the schools with great game design programs are Savannah College of Art and Design, Baker College, Arkansas Tech University, Rider University, and Long Island University.
The best degree for video game design is one that teaches storytelling, graphic design, animation, 3D modeling, digital imaging, and fundamentals of game development. Students can get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in interactive media design, video game design, and software development.
Yes, game design requires coding. Most video game design programs offer expertise in one or more programming languages. Learning how to code is a valuable skill that can help you get a high salary in the video game development industry.
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