Is a Game Design Degree Worth It?

A college degree in game design is worth it for some aspiring creators, but it's unnecessary for most. Let’s take a deeper look.

The video game industry is notoriously competitive, with many designers and developers vying for a relatively small pool of jobs. A game design degree can provide a well-rounded knowledge of design principles, software development, and project management, but it's crucial to question if formal education gives a significant edge over self-learning or getting a degree in more generalized fields like computer science or software engineering. The latter often have a broader skill set that can be applied across various industries, not just gaming.

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Secondly, the cost of higher education is vital to consider. Game design degrees can be expensive, and there's no guarantee of a job upon graduation. The return on investment may be lower than expected, especially if you take out student loans. Much of the same knowledge and skills could be acquired through alternative means like online courses, bootcamps, and self-study, which are significantly cheaper.

Additionally, hiring managers for game design roles highly value experience and a strong portfolio. Practical experience through internships, personal projects, or indie game development can be just as valuable as a degree. Self-learning demonstrates not only your skills but also your passion and commitment to game design.

However, we should also acknowledge the benefits of going the video game design degree route, such as networking opportunities, access to experienced faculty, and a structured learning environment. Also, if you qualify for financial aid and scholarships, the tuition fee for your game design degree can be greatly reduced. Weigh these advantages against the costs to determine if a college degree in game design is worth it for you.


While a game design degree is worth it for some, it's crucial to evaluate its value compared to alternative paths to becoming a video game designer, especially considering the cost of higher education, the fast-moving and competitive nature of the industry, and the emphasis on practical experience and a strong portfolio.