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10 Affordable Colleges for Game Design

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Written By: Max Mitchelson

Edited By: Huimin Zhuo


While debates continue over the merits of specialized game design programs over traditional computer science and programming degrees, a great game design program can still be immensely helpful in your career path. It can connect you to a community of people passionate about games, and it gives you time to grow as a developer, artist, and collaborator. But just deciding on your degree isn’t enough when confronted by the sheer number of schools available.

All too often, creative industries seem impenetrable to all but those who can afford elite colleges. For-profit, online universities often take advantage of lower-income prospective students with a less than satisfactory education at a premium. With all the hurdles of getting a quality education, picking the right school for you can be one of the hardest challenges to overcome.

As a non-profit dedicated to making the games industry more accessible, we have compiled a list of accredited, affordable and respected undergraduate game design programs!

Shawnee State University

Taking the number nine spot in the top 50 game design schools of 2020 in the Princeton Review, Shawnee State University is one of the best public colleges for game design in the country. It’s also one of the most affordable, averaging about $8,000 per year for residents of Ohio. But the college also has reciprocity with several other states, including Kentucky and a good chunk of the Midwest. Without these benefits, out-of-state tuition starts at around $14,000 per year.

This cross-disciplinary program is divided between two degrees. The first being a B.F.A. in Game and Simulation Arts and the other being a B.S. in Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology. Both majors at Shawnee State University offers not only focus on game design but also game art and asset creation, making it a great all-around program for anyone interested in games. It also looks to apply interactive media to corporate training, healthcare, design, engineering, animation, motion capture, and more.

  • In-State Tuition Per Year: $8,604

  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Year: $14,647

  • Housing Per Year: $6,894

  • Reciprocity with Other States

  • Program Page

Ferris State University

Landing on many top game design lists is Ferris State University. Averaging $12,000 per year, this Michigan university is a suitable choice for those looking to get into the visual side of games. With an 87 percent acceptance rate, according to the Princeton Review, it’s also not a difficult school to get into.

Ferris State’s Digital Animation and Game Design degree focuses on creating 2D and 3D art. For those looking to explore VFX and craft digital worlds, this program would be a great fit. Although the degree also teaches elements of game design, app creation, programming, video editing, and much more.

  • Tuition Per Year for the United States and Candian Residents: $12,908

  • Housing Per Year: $10,036

  • Program Page

Kennesaw State University

Though not at the top of lists, Kennesaw State University often ends up on many for its excellent game design program. Not only is Kennesaw State University a competitive choice, but it is also cheap for residents of Georgia. It starts at about $6,000 per year for in-state tuition. On the other hand, for those not residing in Georgia, tuition is much higher, starting at $17,000 per year.

The program covers the essentials of design, as well instruction in programming. As a B.S, Kennesaw’s degree appears to teach less of art and asset creation to focus more on the technical aspects of making games. For those looking to be more involved in coding and development, Kennesaw would be a fine choice. Also, it is rather close to Atlanta, which could open internship opportunities for interested students.

  • In-State Tuition Per Year: $6,561

  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Year: $17,815

  • Housing Per Year: $7,200 ($8,600 for out-of-state)

  • Program Page

University of Wisconsin-Stout

In my home state of Wisconsin, there is the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Tuition per year for in-state residents averages at about $9,000, but like other Midwest schools, there are ways around paying the full out-of-state tuition ($17,000 per year)