Earn a Game Development Degree Online
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Become a master game developer and programmer with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Game Programming and Development online from Southern New Hampshire University.
SNHU's game development degree goes beyond traditional software development training to give you the technical expertise you need in a competitive field.
You'll be prepared beyond gaming, too. Industries everywhere are creating meaningful experiences with game development tools and technologies. Med students, for example, are turning to virtual simulation software to rehearse complex surgical procedures. The military, on the other hand, is creating synthetic training environments (STEs) to prep soldiers for combat. In between is a host of other opportunities for those who can master the tools behind these incredible virtual environments.
In the Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development online, you'll learn how to:
Upon graduating from the program, you'll be positioned for success in a multi-billion dollar industry. You'll be able to apply these skills and techniques to various gaming platforms, including PC, console, web and mobile devices.
Explore the Art of Gaming
Looking for a degree that emphasizes game art over programming? Our game art degree will give you the skills you need to bring your front-end character designs and virtual environments to life.
According to Newzoo, the global video game industry is projected to grow to more than $180.1 billion by 2021.1 The global market for virtual, augmented and mixed reality products is projected to grow to $49.7 billion by 2023.1
In other words, with numbers rivaling the film industry and dwarfing the music industry, a professional game development degree could be your gold coin to a rewarding, dynamic career.
"The beautiful part of this program is that it’s really going to position students to do what they really want to do," said Dr. Gwen Britton, academic associate vice president of online STEM and business programs at SNHU. "If they want to be game developers and play with the big kids out in the game world, it will position them to do video game development or simulation development because they are learning so many different things."
This online BS in Game Programming and Development empowers you to pursue or advance your career as a:
The software development field in particular will see job growth of up to 21% through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
The programming skills you'll gain from this program can be used for more than just pure entertainment – you can create "serious games," too. From exer-gaming to city planning simulations to virtual aviation training, there are plenty of opportunities to combine purpose and play.
For Megan Bohland, game programming is a vehicle to create more inclusive experiences. Inspired by her grandmother, who lost her eyesight at age 60, Megan has set out to create mobile games for the blind.
"People who have lost their vision can still get immersed in these worlds," Bohland said. "Even when (my grandmother) was blind… I would pick games that had vocals so she could hear, and I would describe the rest to her."
Your game programming skills could also score you a career in a number of industries that use gaming technology.
"Game and simulation programming skills are in demand in a growing range of fields, including health care, defense, communications and more," said Max Callahan, associate dean at SNHU.
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, SNHU has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.3 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
The curriculum is designed to help you tackle game genres and platforms, interface design, game theory and e-collaboration. You'll also learn how virtual game environments create experiences through rule design, play mechanics and social interaction.
"Most people don’t think of the game development program as an engineering program," said Gwen Britton, academic associate vice president of online STEM and business programs at SNHU. "But if you look under the covers, it has a lot of engineering flair. You have to know how to do physics. You have to know how to do math. You have to be able to write programs. Think about it: If you’ve got an animal coming at you and it’s coming at a certain velocity, you have to know how to make its arms wrap around you, you have to know how to make it go fast – velocity and force and all of that."
You'll have room to play with hands-on courses like Design of Virtual Game Environments and Gameplay Systems Development, where you'll master the tools pros use.
And with experienced instructors and subject matter experts at the helm, the program is constantly improved to keep up with a fast-evolving industry.
"Game programming and development courses were developed to reflect, and are regularly updated to keep pace with, the dynamic and ever evolving nature of the technology utilized in game development and related industries," said Max Callahan, associate dean at SNHU. "Instructors bring real-world experience to the classroom that provide students with current production processes and methodologies."
Introduction to Quantitative Analysis and Precalculus are dictated courses for the General Education Program.
Earn credits for what you already know: Did you know certain work and life experience – like industry-recognized certifications, law enforcement training and math knowledge – could save you time and money at SNHU? Learn how you could get credit for work or life experience.
Total Credits: 120
Windows 10, 64 Bit
Intel 8th Gen i5 or i7
Intel 9th Gen i7
8 GB RAM
16 GB RAM
500+ GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
Discrete/dedicated (such as NVIDIA or AMD)
802.11 a/c dual band
Office 2013 Professional or newer
Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.
CD/DVD drive, external hard drive, extra power cord and headphones/earbuds
SNHU Purchase Programs
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
While there are many pathways you can take to become a game developer, earning a degree could be a good place to start. Many opt to study game programming or a related field, like computer science or software engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, typical entry-level education for a software developer is a bachelor's.2
The right degree will not only help you build skills, a portfolio and even networking connections in the field, it could help you gain the confidence you need to stand out in a highly competitive industry.
This can be especially valuable to populations that are underrepresented in tech industries. The BLS reported that, while women made up 57% of professional occupations in 2018, they contributed to only 26% of professional computing occupations.2 That number was even lower for software developers, where women represent a scant 18.7% of all occupations.3
For STEM leaders at SNHU, changing those numbers isn't just part of a broader university mission – it's personal.
"I think for everyone starting out in a field, you naturally suffer from imposter syndrome," said Angela Foss, associate vice president of innovation at SNHU. "You could be the most confident woman, but there’s that fear that you don’t belong there. For women, especially if you’re outnumbered, you’re afraid that if you say something, you’re all of a sudden representing all women."
As someone with years of gaming experience, Foss knows firsthand what it's like to be the only woman in the room. "I was always nervous the guys were going to shred my code and say, 'See? We shouldn’t hire these girls.' That’s a challenge, because you’re always dealing with natural feelings around thoughts like: 'Can I be here? Can I be technical? Are they going to judge me because I’m a woman?' It’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay to be who you are – and that goes beyond gender."
At SNHU, our goal is to even the playing field by providing an accessible, affordable education for all. We take it a step further, too – by offering students opportunities to network at events like the Grace Hopper Celebration and the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. Because we know the value of the face-to-face interactions that can help you get your foot in the door.
The path to becoming a game developer often starts with earning a degree in programming or a related field, like computer science or software engineering. You'll need to learn technical skills, including programming languages like C++ and C#, which help you build the mechanics behind a functional video game.
A game programming degree will also explore more advanced topics like Artificial Intelligence for games, game engines, multiplayer video game development and game engine development.
The ability to work as part of a team is another essential skill to become a successful game programmer. Much like a movie set, many video games require a large collaborative team. This typically means programmers or developers will specialize in a specific area – such as audio, AI or simulation.
But having these skills is not enough – you'll need to apply them. Make something that will impress industry insiders and employers, then network. Attending industry conventions, for example, is great way to make connections. Come armed with a strong portfolio, and you could be one step closer to finding work in your field.
"We tell our students they should always be working on projects outside of what they are working on in class, as well as participating in game jams and hack-a-thons every semester," said Ed Brillant, a game artist and instructor at SNHU. "This work can become published titles for students before graduation, helping them build an amazing portfolio and resume."
"Most definitely have something in your portfolio that is above and beyond everything else," he said. "You should be able to specialize in one area and be able to confidently navigate other areas in your field. You don't want to be a jack of all trades and master of none. Work hard and always create new art, projects and games."
The time it takes to break into the field of game programming depends on a variety of factors.
If you decide to earn your bachelor's, that will generally take about 4 years to complete. There are, however, several other factors that can help position you to earn your degree faster.
At SNHU, our programs are designed for optimal transferability. In fact, we accept up to 90 credits toward your bachelor's. That means, if you have enough previous college experience under your belt, you could already be 3/4 of the way to completing your program – saving you time and tuition.
This all depends on your personal goals and priorities. If you're interested in the technical side of gaming, a game development degree from the right university could help you gain invaluable skills, experiences and connections.
At SNHU, our game programming and development program is taught and updated by experts who know firsthand how to play the field. We offer some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation and, with 24/7 access to coursework online, our programs are flexible, too.
We also understand the power of networking and experiential learning. That's why we offer online students a number of hands-on experiences outside of the classroom, including:
Creating a game requires a mix of creativity and technical aptitude in areas like coding and software engineering. Collaboration is also key. Artists, developers, producers and designers are all essential to the process. Depending on the scope of each game, those roles can become even more specialized.
Think about all the elements that go into a successful game: 3D environment and character design, story, audio – and this is just what the user can detect. Programmers control the back-end of these often vast worlds, ensuring that game play and mechanics are up to snuff before they reach their audience. Everything, from the physics of your character's movements, to the point system that helps you reach the game objectives, needs to be carefully considered and executed.
The only way to really master the process is to learn by doing – and that starts with assembling your dream team.
While every environment is unique, the difference between working for a large video game company versus a smaller, independent video game company can be vast.
AAA video game companies (in other words, mid-sized or major game publishers), are typically much larger than their indie counterparts. Oftentimes, these teams consist of hundreds of people, many of whom take the reins on a very specialized area of game development.
These companies tend to have access to larger budgets, with major "blockbuster" titles costing millions to make. Beyond paying employees, these costs will usually be allocated to marketing and research, ensuring that these big investments pay off.
Indie game companies may lack the spending power of giant publishers, but more than make up for it with an "all hands on deck" sense of camaraderie. These tight knit teams may consist of about 30 people or less – all of whom must be resourceful to get their projects in front of consumers.
Smaller budgets mean less room for "big swing" financial risks. But, on the other hand, smaller companies may have a certain degree of creative freedom that would be impossible under the leadership of a "major player" game studio or publisher.
The short answer is yes. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, collaboration is a major factor in game development. While this can most certainly be accomplished remotely, there is something to be said of live, in-person teamwork, particularly when brainstorming a new game idea or troubleshooting challenges along the way.
The ability to work remotely depends, of course, on the team you're working with. If you're pursuing a startup with friends, remote work could be a viable option. If, however, you're working with a larger team, that shares a host of complex responsibilities, working on site could be beneficial.
Your experience level could be a major factor, too. Veterans in the field with years of firsthand experience under their belt may be better equipped to work from home, as they've built a proven record of success.
Ultimately, establishing yourself in the field is the best way to ensure a working style – and setting – that best matches your professional goals.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
1 Newzoo Adjusts Global Games Forecast to $148.8 Billion; Slower Growth in Console Spending Starts Sooner than Expected. Newzoo, on the internet at https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/newzoo-adjusts-global-games-forecast-to-148-8-billion-slower-growth-in-console-spending-starts-sooner-than-expected/ (viewed May 12, 2020)
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
3 According to a survey responses from over 9,200 SNHU online students conducted in the fall of 2019.