BS in Game Programming & Development: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

Over the past few decades, video games have taken on a whole life of their own.

From the early days of pong on Atari to the latest Xbox and PS4 games, it’s hard to grasp how quickly the technology has advanced.

Gaming is now a $100 billion industry in the USA alone.

If you’ve ever been amazed by the graphics or storytelling involved in these games, a degree in the field might be what you’re looking for.

Come with us as we dive into all components of getting a Bachelor of Science in Game Programming & Development.

What Will I Learn in a  Program? (Curriculum)

The whole point of game design is to create something others will enjoy.

That doesn’t mean the process is a ball of fun, though.

You might be surprised by the various required classes that are specific to the major after the core classes have been taken.

Here’s a sample of some of what you’ll be expected to take:

  • Software Development
  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Game Design
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Independent Games
  • Monetizing Games
  • Statistical Foundations
  • Digital Ethics
  • Gaming Algorithms

Then, you’ll get to choose a focus based on interest:

  • Digital Storytelling
  • Esports
  • Simulation Problem Solving
  • Virtual Reality
  • Creative Coding
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Digital Sound
  • Computing in the Arts
  • Diversity in Gaming
  • Understanding Copyright

In addition to becoming a game production expert, there’s more hands-on learning expected to graduate.

Somewhere in the junior or senior year, students are highly encouraged to do an internship.

The hope for students is that they get into a program that is closely aligned with their career goals.

In the best-case scenario, students can make an impression on a company they’d like to work for.

It’s not unlikely for students to be offered positions upon graduation after having had an internship like that.

Another part of choosing the perfect program would be with a school that helps students find internships.

That may not always be easy, but the more support for students while attending school, the more successful they are likely to be upon graduation.

Lastly, a common requirement for graduation is a senior capstone.

This is a project that takes an entire regular semester to complete.

The idea here is that the project exemplifies what you’ve learned in the degree program.

It’s an opportunity for the student to show off.

A project of this magnitude is meant to be an example to the program advisors of what you’ve learned.

How to Choose a Good Program

As you can tell, there are many aspects to creating a game.

That means there is someone needed for each part of the creation process.

Before applying for one particular program over another, take a closer look at that process.

Use this time to figure out what areas of making a game drew you towards checking out the degree in the first place.

Whether it be story development, programming, audio, graphic design, testing, or something else, find your part in the system.

Once you have an idea of one or two areas that would be a focus, that’s what you use to analyze programs.

Every school has a little bit of a different emphasis on certain aspects of a gaming program.

A helpful way to understand more about each option is to get in touch with program advisors at each school.

An advisor would be able to walk you through what classes are like and what graduates have gone on to do.

It wouldn’t hurt to go onto the school’s website and get a rundown of how they have the degree planned out in advance.

You’ll want the program to offer classes that encompass the whole degree but also offer classes on your focus.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in Game Programming & Development?

Typically, students should plan for this degree to take four years or eight semesters to complete.

That may seem daunting, but there are ways to get it done a year faster.

If you want to condense a four-year program into three, be prepared to go to class all year long for those three years.

Cutting time short means going to school during the summer.

Summer classes should not be taken lightly, however.

They are about a third the length of a regular class and often each session is twice as long.

Many professors are eager to end class early, too.

So they push through as many assignments as possible in two weeks or one month, in comparison with three and a half.

If you’re getting higher education using financial aid, summer classes can be tricky.

The way it’s set up usually entails two semesters.

However, if you want to go in the summer, don’t let that discourage you.

Speak with the financial aid department at the school.

It’s not unusual for them to have extra summer allowances in financial aid or other programs that help students pay for it.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in Game Programming & Development?

Students should expect to spend, on average, between $35,000 and $80,000 on their Bachelor of Science in Gaming Programming & Development.

This number can vary wildly based on location, tuition, fees, and the time it takes to graduate.

All of those points are important to consider when choosing a program.

Something else you should be aware of is non-accredited universities.

There is more than one school out there asking for outrageous tuition that has an abysmal track record for graduates.

They spend a lot of money on ads, you’ll see them at the top of the search when looking for this type of degree.

Schools like this are predatory and take advantage of people wanting a degree in gaming.

Using the guise that it’s so fast to graduate and they have a network with jobs, they pull students in.

Unfortunately, the industry doesn’t take these schools seriously and students end up losing a lot of money with no prospects.

Before you sign up for anything, check out the reviews.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in Game Programming & Development?

The most common goal for graduates with a gaming degree in video game creation.

As mentioned, that goal may be more focused on a specific part of the process.

Nevertheless, the top job choice is in game creation.

With the skills learned to obtain the degree, other popular choices include animator, software developer, graphic designer, and multimedia artist.

All of these positions can be achieved in the game development process or outside of gaming entirely.

That means that just because you got your degree in gaming doesn’t mean you can’t branch out later on.

Thanks to the technology age, having experience in any of those categories is likely to provide you with job security.

Once you have worked in a particular niche for a while, jobs like the design or art director will be within reach.

It would be easy to use what you’ve learned while earning the degree to go into other fields such as marketing, business, and art.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in Game Programming & Development?

The casual gamer has probably thought about doing this professionally.

As cool as it would sound to exclusively create video games for a living, it’s not for everyone.

Much of what we see on the screens, regardless of what type of console a game is played on, is beautiful.

Some games are so realistic that it’s hard to remember there was a person who designed those blades of grass or picturesque sunsets.

That person could be you.

But it takes a lot of patience and hard work.

It can take years to put together the final version of an amazing game.

If you are obsessed with the idea of being able to do that, be aware of impending tedium.

For the right person, the slow process of building a successful video game is exhilarating.

The reason is you’re working with a group of people to bring to digital life an entire world.

This world has challenges, beauty, and something worth fighting for.

There are plenty of opportunities to do something different in each game or develop a niche.

Does any of this sound like how you’d like to spend your professional life?

If so, a Bachelor of Science in Game Programming & Development might be exactly the degree you’ve been searching for.