Guide to Computer Game Design Schools

ComputerGameDesign.org is your source for information on game design degrees and careers. There is no limit to the potential in the computer game design field, which is quickly becoming the premiere medium for cultural storytelling, information and entertainment. The hands-on, interactive curriculum includes computer game design courses that prepare each student for creative success.

BFA and MFA degrees in game design or production are usually the best fit for students interested in this career. However, a degree in programming or animation can often prepare you for certain aspects of game development. Degrees in graphic design, web design, and information technology are usually not as helpful but can provide a starting point as associate degrees.

Sanford-Brown College – The Sanford-Brown College BFA in Game Production is designed for those seeking to become video game designers. Students will obtain education from instructors who possess real-world experience and can assist graduates in creating a competitive successful digital portfolio. Programmers will also learn various business, communicative and teambuilding skills to thrive within the industry.
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Full Sail University – Full Sail's Bachelor of Science in Game Design offers its students the chance to cultivate skills and techniques required to both design and program games and aid in interactive storytelling. Graduates will learn how to plan, develop and test their work to be professionally marketable and help prep for careers with design companies.
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DeVry University – DeVry University offers students bachelor degrees in Gaming and Simulation Programming and Web Game Programming. Courses include language coding, visual design principles, and software methodology pertaining to video games. The BCIS offers training in multimedia and web site design that can be used to help create online gaming.
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Southern New Hampshire University – The Southern New Hampshire University BSIT in Game Design and Development program is offered for students interested in learning the art of game design. Topics covered could include storyboards, directing, programming, marketing, and testing of games from a variety of genres. Graduates go on to work for gaming production companies.
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What Types of Computer Game Design Degrees Exist and What are They Called?

Computer Game Design

With gaming becoming more and more popular, the desire for the people who work behind the scenes is ever increasing, as are the educational options, a few of which are listed below:

  1. Associate of Arts – Game Design
    This degree prepares graduates in the area of prototyping, design, standards, and more with gaming in mind.
  2. Associate – Information Technology
    Two years of study, and this degree can prepare students for many computer science careers, including video game design.
  3. Associate of Applied Science – Computer Information Systems
    Students are taught data management, web development, operating systems, and more along with the applications in the real world.
  4. Associate of Science – Programming
    Programming in the most common languages and developing applications for the internet, computers, and more are taught.
  5. Bachelor of Arts – Game Design
    In addition to the fundamentals of game design, students also learn advanced practices such as storyboarding, interactive games, and more.
  6. Bachelor of Fine Arts – Game Production
    Graphic design, web design, and web development are just some of the topics focused on in this four-year degree.
  7. Bachelor of Computer Science – Game Design
    This program concentrates on the construction and design of interactive computer games, and reflects both the complexity and specialization of gaming systems.
  8. Bachelor of Science – Software Architecture
    Learn how to create entire software programs in this degree that teaches how to design and implement software.
  9. Master of Information Systems
    The MIS is one of the most common graduate degrees for software programmers, computer game designers, and many other professionals.
  10. Master of Game Design and Development
    Students explore roots in the computing and information sciences disciplines, while covering computer graphics design, human-computer interaction, interactive narrative, and game world design.

And the above are just some of the computer game design degrees offered online, through a traditional campus setting, or through a combination of both.

Where Can I Find Computer Game Design Degree Rankings?

Before searching for any kind of computer game design school rankings, it is important that any degree chosen is accredited. Accreditation is the process through which degrees and schools are recognized for providing a legitimate education. To find accredited schools and programs, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Search Engine. You can use it to look up the names of schools to see if they are accredited, or find a list of schools in your state that have passed the test.

When choosing a computer game design degree, it is important to be your own ranking system. Decide which factors are most important to you, such as career placement, flexibility of classes, available financial aid, and transfer credit policy, before deciding on which schools to apply to. Applying to several schools can give you a better idea of not only which schools you can get into, but how much an education will cost out of pocket and how many transfer credits you are eligible for before enrolling.

Can I Transfer Computer Game Design Degree School Credits?

Many students who have already completed some college courses or have a degree worry about whether or not they will get credits for them. Because each school that grants college credits and degrees are not familiar with every school across the country, transfer credits can be hard to come by. This is why it is important to find out as early as possible which schools accept which transfer credits to keep students from having to repeat classes, which costs both time and money.

One of the largest issues when transferring credits is when students attempt to switch from a regionally accredited computer game design degree to a nationally accredited one or vice versa. Although both schools have been accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, different agencies within the department have done the accrediting, making transfer credits less likely to happen. If switching from/to a school that has been both accredited by a regional and national agency or the same agency, transfer credits are more likely to happen and in more abundance.

If you already have a degree from an accredited school, there might not be any issues with transfer credits. For example, someone with a qualifying associate’s degree can take only two instead of four years to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer game design. With an acceptable bachelor’s degree, it takes only two years to earn a master’s degree. Even if your previous degree isn’t in computer design, information technology, or related area, you may still be surprised to find out how many transfer credits you qualify for.

What Sorts of Careers are Common With a Computer Game Design Degree?

There are many careers available with a computer game design degree, and we have listed a few below.:

  1. Computer Software Engineer
    They apply the theories and principles of computer science and mathematical analysis to create, test, and evaluate the software applications.
  2. Computer Programmer
    A computer programmer converts designs into a logical series of instructions that the computer can follow using a variety of languages.
  3. Gamer
    Not just a hobby, this profession involves actually playing video games and writing reports on them.
  4. Game Demonstrator
    This career involves demonstrating video games to developers, buyers, and even other gamers.
  5. Java Game Developer
    Use Java to design and develop games for computers, Macs, and more.
  6. Software Developer
    Similar to the above, this developer specializes in designing software and can focus specifically on computer games.
  7. Project Manager
    Information technology, software development, and other related areas all need experienced project managers.
  8. Video Game Designer
    This career involves the design of the latest video games.
  9. Video Game Programmer
    Once a game has been designed, programmers are needed to make it compatible with whichever system it is played on.
  10. Video Game Producer
    Much like a television producer, the video game producer works with many people in computer design to develop and sell video games.

And the above are just some of the careers available in computer game design, and opportunities are expected to expand just as the demand for video games expands.

How do I Become a Computer Game Designer?

The first step to becoming a computer game designer is a degree. Whether a you earn a two year associate’s degree, four year bachelor’s, or graduate degree in computer game design, professionals are needed at all levels. Getting into an undergraduate computer game design program requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Courses completed can include programming, software, computer languages, and many others. Students can also be given the opportunity to design and showcase their own games.

If seeking a graduate degree in computer game design, such as a Master of Information Systems, a bachelor’s degree is needed first. Although the bachelor’s does not have to be in computer game design, it doesn’t hurt. Once accepted into graduate school, it takes an average of two years to earn a master’s degree.

Once a degree in computer game design is earned graphic designing, computer animation, and game development are just some of the areas of possible employment. Computer game designers also need to work as part of a team to develop a game, as well as work out any bugs and number of other issues that can arise. If you know which area or employer in computer game design you would like to work for, contact their human resource department. They can tell you which degrees they look for and which schools they have a preference for.

What is the Average Salary for Someone With a Computer Game Design Degree?

Because the area of employment for computer game designers is so vast, so are the sources of information for average salary. For example, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps detailed pay information and has a section for three different areas of computer specialization, along with their pay. The average salary for computer programmers was $69,620 and $85,430 for computer applications software engineers per year in 2008. Those employed as computer systems software engineers earned $92,430 in average salary for the same year. Other sources may list different figures

Where Can I Find Computer Game Design Degree Scholarships and Grants?

If you need help paying for a computer game design degree, check out some of the scholarships and grants listed below:

  1. FAFSA
    Get information on which federal grants you qualify for and how much by filling out and turning in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  2. Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences
    The foundation currently offers two scholarships in interactive entertainment and video games.
  3. IEEE Scholarships and Awards
    There are currently three awards and scholarships to choose from at The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  4. IGDA Foundation
    The International Game Developers Association keeps an updated blog for professionals in the video game industry that includes the latest in scholarship news.
  5. Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
    This scholarship was established to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field.
  6. ESA Foundation Computer & Video Game Scholarship Program
    These scholarships are offered for full-time undergraduate students at accredited four-year colleges and universities for up to 30 scholarships of $3,000 each annually.
  7. Emagination Game Design Camp
    Computer game designers of all ages from kids to high school students can come here to study the world of video game design.
  8. AMD Foundation
    Advanced Micro Devices offers this education program that enables teens to learn critical science, tech, engineering, and math skills by developing video games.
  9. Foundation for Information Technology Education
    Several scholarships and awards for students in the information technology field are offered from this foundation.

And the above are just some of the available scholarships and grants for computer game design degrees. Be sure and contact the financial aid office of your current, future, or prospective school. They can help put you in touch with any local scholarships, help fill out forms for grants, and answer any other funding questions you may have at no charge.

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