alt-logo-nav

The 50 Best Video Game Design Colleges 2021

Published:
Updated:

The Best Video Game Design Colleges and Degrees

The 50 Best Video Game Design Colleges 2021
RankSchoolLocation
1University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, California
2Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy, New York
3University of UtahSalt Lake City, Utah
4Savannah College of Art and DesignSavannah, Georgia
5University of Central FloridaOrlando, Florida
6DigiPen Institute of TechnologyRedmond, Washington
7Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, Michigan
8Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, Texas
9University of California-Santa CruzSanta Cruz, California
10Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester, New York
11Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, Indiana
12Saint Edward’s UniversityAustin, Texas
13Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
14Columbia College ChicagoChicago, Illinois
15DePaul UniversityChicago, Illinois
16Full Sail UniversityWinter Park, Florida
17Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota, Florida
18California State University-ChicoChico, California
19Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcester, Massachusetts
20Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland, Ohio
21Champlain CollegeBurlington, Vermont
22Hampshire CollegeAmherst, Massachusetts
23Oklahoma Christian UniversityEdmond, Oklahoma
24Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, New Hampshire
25The New SchoolNew York, New York
26New York UniversityNew York, New York
27Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield, Connecticut
28Abilene Christian UniversityAbilene, Texas
29Northeastern UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
30Liberty UniversityLynchburg, Virginia
31New England Institute of TechnologyEast Greenwich, Rhode Island
32Shawnee State UniversityPortsmouth, Ohio
33Cornell UniversityIthaca, New York
34Cogswell CollegeSan Jose, California
35Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignLakewood, Colorado
36University of Wisconsin-StoutMenomonie, Wisconsin
37Becker CollegeWorcester, Massachusetts
38University of California-IrvineIrvine, California
39University of DenverDenver, Colorado
40University of Advancing TechnologyTempe, Arizona
41Quinnipiac UniversityHamden, Connecticut
42Bradley UniversityPeoria, Illinois
43High Point UniversityHigh Point, North Carolina
44North Carolina State University at RaleighRaleigh, North Carolina
45George Mason UniversityFairfax, Virginia
46Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, Pennsylvania
47Academy of Art UniversitySan Francisco, California
48University of Michigan-DearbornDearborn, Michigan
49Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids, Michigan
50Woodbury UniversityBurbank, California

This is a ranking of the 50 best video game design colleges, ranked for 2021 in the U.S. Our ranking is designed for online and on-campus students to make informed decisions when considering which Game Design degree to choose and which college to attend.

These are game design programs of all variety, such as game design, game art, and game development. When choosing a game design school and degree, first answer a few basic questions.

See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information and clarity on these topics.

This ranking is primarily a list of game design schools offering bachelor’s degrees with majors and some minors in game design and development, and game art and animation. Some of these degrees include developing Mobile Gaming platforms, such as Full Sail University. However, there are also master’s in Game Design degrees that were included in these best colleges in Game Design.

Click here for the Best Video Game Design Colleges badge.

How to Become a Game Designer

Game Maker’s Toolkit

Game Design Popularity

According to Statista, the Video Game industry saw $10 billion spent in 2019 for mobile games. Video Games may be the largest entertainment industry in the world. And it’s still growing. Game designers, developers, and artists are in very high demand, and the demand is increasing each year. Universities are increasingly offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in game design and development, and game art and animation.

Featured Online Game Design Colleges

Next Steps: Request Information for Game Design Degrees

The 50 Best Video Game Design Colleges 2021

Best Game Design Colleges Ranking Methodology

Factors that went into the ranking: academics, cost, career prospects in the gaming industry, cutting edge technological instruction, a track record of graduates making an impact in commercial video games, and proximity to video game and entertainment epicenters.

1.University of Southern California

School of Cinematic Arts, Viterbi School of Engineering

Los Angeles, California

USC is a leading university in many subjects, including Game Design and Game Art. Students who want to study game design and production should choose the Interactive Media & Games degrees, offered through the School of Cinematic Arts. Students wanting to study the technical side of game development should choose the Computer Science degrees, offered through the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media & Games (School of Cinematic Arts)
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an emphasis in Games (Viterbi School of Engineering)

Minors:

  • Game Design
  • Game Animation
  • Game Audio
  • Game Entrepreneurism
  • Game User Research
  • Themed Entertainment
  • Video Game Design and Management
  • Video Game Programming
  • 3D Computer Modeling and Graphics
  • Computer Science

Master’s:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media & Games (School of Cinematic Arts)
  • Master of Science in Computer Science with an emphasis in Games (Viterbi School of Engineering)

Students have the unique opportunity to network with peers at any other level within these programs. This makes the hands-on experience and project development more than just class work, it is also a chance for team building and developing leadership skills.

2.Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, New York

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a respected school with a strong representation in the sciences; it has produced 33 research centers and counting. Their Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program specializes in video game related activities, and is divided into two branches.

The first branch leads to a Bachelor of Science in Games and Simulation Arts. The second branch consists of several different concentrations that students choose from relevant to emerging sub-fields in the games and simulation/entertainment industry.

The first branch leads to a Bachelor of Science in Games and Simulation Arts. The second branch consists of several different concentrations that students choose from relevant to emerging sub-fields in the games and simulation/entertainment industry.

3.University of Utah

Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio

Salt Lake City, Utah

Offered through the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio, the University of Utah’s Video Game Design degree is designed for both art-orientated students and technically minded students. Ranked among the top game development programs in the world, the game design program’s diverse faculty has expertise in every part of game creation. Students develop a professional game portfolio through “studio simulation” courses, and all students publish a working game before graduation.

Bachelor’s Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an EAE emphasis
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Arts with an EAE emphasis

Master’s:

  • Master of Entertainment Arts & Engineering
  • Master of Business Administration/Master of Entertainment Arts & Engineering dual degree

4.Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, Georgia

The Savannah College of Art and Design has numbers reminiscent of a research university, with over 11,000 students, 23% of which are international, and multiple campuses, (one of which is in Hong Kong). Yet, nearly all of its academic programs are built for budding artists. There are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Master’s degrees within a variety of artistic fields.

Bachelor’s Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media: Concentration in Game Development (on campus and online)
  • B.F.A. in Interactive Design and Game Development (on campus)

Master’s:

  • M.A. in Interactive Design and Game Development (on campus and online)
  • M.F.A. in Interactive Design and Game Development (on campus and online)

In addition to providing their students with first rate courses, Savannah’s Collaborative Learning Center connects students with industry leaders each year.

5.University of Central Florida

The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy

Orlando, Florida

The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida offers an immersive, interactive and project-based video game curriculum leading to a Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment.

Students work collaboratively as a team of programmers, producers and artists on real-world projects – all with the guidance of world-renowned video game faculty.

Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment, with three tracks from which to choose:
  • Producer
  • Artist
  • Programmer

Each allows students to gain hands-on experience through a capstone project.

Depending on the chosen track, courses may include game design, technical design, 3D art, animation, AI programming and graphics programming.

The Academy has partnered with numerous companies including Microsoft, Disney, Monster Media, and Lockheed Martin, to help form its curriculum.

6.DigiPen Institute of Technology

Redmond, Washington

With substantial support from Nintendo, DigiPen began accepting students in 1994. It is a for-profit degree granting school that exclusively specializes in preparing students to enter the industry as skilled software developers, artists, designers, and computer engineers.

DigiPen offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees, and runs a substantial k-12 summer program.

Bachelor’s:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design

The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design program enables students to gain a deeper understanding of user experience, communications and psychology while creating compelling interactive systems. Course topics include 2D and 3D level design, game mechanics, scripting languages, cognitive psychology, and more. Students also collaborate with others on a series of semester- and year-long projects.

Master’s Degrees:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts
The school has branch campuses in Spain, Singapore, and a partnership with Keimyung University in South Korea, in addition to its main campus based just outside of America’s game design hub in Seattle.

7.Michigan State University

Departments of Computer Science, Fine Arts, and Media and Information

East Lansing, Michigan

At Michigan State University (MSU) the departments of Computer Science, Fine Arts, and Media and Information combined their resources to create the Game Design and Development Specialization.

This concentration is available to students who are enrolled in the BA in Media and Information, BS in Computer Science, or the BFA in Studio Art. Students are required to have nine to 11 credits already complete before they can be considered for inclusion. The majority of student are able to complete all requirements within two year. Alumni of the school now work for companies such as:

  • Red Storm Entertainment
  • Microsoft Xbox Team
  • Rockstar San Diego
  • Microsoft Casual Games
  • Sony Computer Entertainment

8.Southern Methodist University

Dallas, Texas

Guildhall at Southern Methodist University was founded in 2003, at the request of industry leaders in the area, as a graduate level facility with the primary focus of educating students in all aspects of video game development. Princeton Review has ranked the Guildhall as the number one graduate school for Game Design in 2018. Additionally, the school is the first in the world to offer a Master’s degree in Interactive Technology with all four cornerstones of game development available as concentrations:

  • Art
  • Design
  • Production
  • Programming

The programs and curriculum have been established in collaboration with local studios including:

  • Barking Lizard
  • Gearbox
  • Terminal Reality
  • NC Sort
  • Junction Point studios

9.University of California-Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

A small film studies program began at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1973. As the program expanded it gradually initiated further degree tracks and was soon renamed as the Department of Film and Media Studies. Available degrees include:

  • B.A. in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media
  • B.S. or M.S. in Computer Science: Computer Game Design
  • B.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D. in Film and Digital Media

At the graduate level, the curriculum requires a set of six core courses together with eleven (or five for the Ph.D.-only) supplemental/elective courses. Both undergraduate and graduate courses are designed to be interdisciplinary and international in scope. Departmental affiliations include the Center for Black Studies Research and the Program Director of Race and Technology Initiative.

10.Rochester Institute of Technology

Interactive Games and Multimedia (IGM) department

Rochester, New York

Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the nation’s most well established technical schools and resides in one of America’s premier college towns. In addition to its various other departments, Rochester runs its Interactive Games and Multimedia (IGM) department, which is one of the largest of its kind. The Game Design and Development degrees are offered through the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

Bachelor’s:

  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development
  • Bachelor of Science in New Media Interactive Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Web and Mobile Computing
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Digital Design

Master’s Degree:

  • Master of Science in Game Design and Development

The IGM offers over 150 classes in a given year, and includes multiple degrees specifically in Game Design and Development. It helps run programs such as the Global Game Jam, which both invites students to develop their skill set and helps them network with others in the industry, and the Image Cup Hack-a-Thon.

11.Indiana University-Bloomington

The Media School

Bloomington, Indiana

The Media School offers the Bachelor of Science in Game Design degree. This program uses storytelling and animation combined with digital platforms to create games. Students will participate in a three semester sequence, in which students will actually create and bring their own game to life. This sequence is modeled after real-world commercial game design company project workflow. Familiarizing students in this process prepares them to enter into a familiar experience when employed at game design companies.

This degree allows students to work with other departments for learning different specialities, such as, game programming, animation, graphic design, and even video game music. These departments include:

  • Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering
  • Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design
  • Jacobs School of Music

Courses Include:

  • Introduction to Games
  • The Videogame Industry: Systems and Management
  • Game Technology

12.Saint Edward’s University

School of Arts and Humanities: Department of Visual Studies

Austin, Texas

The School of Arts and Humanities offers the Bachelor of Arts in Video Game Development degree. This degree program requires 56 hours of courses in the game development major.Students learn storytelling, game design, and game audio. One important and relevant aspect of this program is that it teaches game design students how to implement but also how to adapt to changing technologies and business practices as the game design industry itself changes in these ways.

Courses include:

  • visual studies
  • computational foundations
  • game development
  • digital media

This program prepares graduates well for pursuing master’s degrees.

This schools is located in the third biggest epicenter of game design, in Austin, Texas.

13.Drexel University

Westphal College of Media Arts and Design

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Drexel University was the first university to require students to have micro-computers (1983), the first major university to have a fully wireless campus (2000), provided the first mobile web portal for students (2002), and developed the first university portal app across all five major platforms (2011).

Drexel offers the Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Production. This degree teaches students storytelling, programming, and animation and graphics. All of these skills are necessary to game design careers.

The Game Design program is based in the URBN Center, the hub for creativity and interdisciplinary collaboration in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The URBN Center features an open floorplan, shared making spaces, and cutting-edge studios and labs. Game Design & Production majors can experiment with the latest technology in the Animation Capture & Effects Lab (ACE-Lab).

Drexel students have won numerous awards such as first place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup, the Unity Awards, the GDC’s Narrative Review Competition, and first place in the Adobe Achievement Awards. The school has particular strengths in using games to facilitate learning and even offers a Learning in Game Based Environments Certificate.

14.Columbia College Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Columbia College of Chicago has one of the lowest tuitions of any private Arts and Media school in the U.S. and is one of the largest with over 10,000 students enrolled. The Interactive Arts and Media (IAM) department has three concentrations:

  • Game Sound Design
  • Game Art
  • Game Design

In addition to these tracks, students can choose a separate Game Programming major. Regardless of the concentration or major, all students become familiar with the foundations of Game Design and build field competitive portfolios. Graduates from IAM have landed successful careers working for companies such as Dreamation, Jellyvision, RedEye Studios, WMS Industries, and Liquid Generation.

15.DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

DePaul University manages the College of Computing and Digital Media which is comprised of three schools: Cinematic Arts, Computing, and Design. For students interested in new technology, designing and embedding games, or studying social practices, the School of Design is the right choice. There are three undergraduate programs offered:

  • B.S. in Game Design
  • B.F.A. in Graphic Design
  • B.S. in Interactive and Social Media

Graduate students have four degrees to select from including:

  • MA in Digital Communication and Media Arts
  • MS in Experience Design
  • MFA in Game Design
  • MS in Human-Computer Interaction

At the Doctoral level, only the Human Centered Design track is available at this time. Experienced faculty members include Doris Rusch, Brain Schrank, and Allen Turner. Research and creative activity areas include Animation, Human-Computer Interaction, Screen Writing, and Visual Computing.

16.Full Sail University

Winter Park, Florida

Full Sail University’s online Bachelor of Science in Game Design can be taken as an online degree, and focuses on four major topics:

  • production methodologies
  • project management
  • team leadership
  • game capstone project

Production methodologies teaches students concepts from computer code to color theory. Project management covers areas of software production, including asset management and quality assurance.

The online Bachelor of Science in Game Art can also be taken as an online degree, and lasts 29 months. Courses include:

  • Model Creation
  • 3-D Foundations
  • Game Characters
  • Game Animation

This program includes seven Career Modules (each Module is worth one credit), that are woven into the classes, that are intended to help students transition from college to their career in Game Art and Game Design. Full Sail also offers career development advisers to help students find employment after graduating.

17.Ringling College of Art and Design

Sarasota, Florida

Ringling has a particularly adept gaming art program. Undergraduate degrees offered related to the field include:

  • Game Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Motion Design
  • Photography and Imaging
  • Virtual Reality Development
  • Visual Studies

The school has been recognized for its successful animation multiple times. In 2013 Ringling students won gold and bronze in the student academy awards, and Ringling alumni were a part of the Oscar winning Frozen animation team. This eclectic arts school also offers its students ample training in all the traditional, technical areas that game designers need such as audio and programming. Multiple summer art programs and courses are also available to a variety of students.

18.California State University-Chico

Chico, California

California State Chico offers the Computer Animation and Game Development program. As the name implies, this program focuses on game animation and game development. This includes learning 3D modeling. Students collaborate with other students in groups to understand game design processes and produce games. This includes learning how to create games for mobile platforms. A minor in Video Game Design is also an option.

19.Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, Massachusetts

The first branch leads to a Bachelor of Science in Games and Simulation Arts. The second branch consists of several different concentrations that students choose from relevant to emerging sub-fields in the games and simulation/entertainment industry.

The IMGD program offers digital whiteboard presentations, distributed virtual environments, and performance-based media. All undergraduates must participate in a group based Interactive Qualifying Project.

One example of an IMGD IQP is the “virtual joust” now used at the Higgins Armory Museum that allows visitors to experience a joust in a Flash-based game through a Nintendo Wii. Graduates of Polytechnic Institute have landed successful careers with companies such as Infinity Ward, Irrational Games, and Owlchemy Labs.

20.Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Institute of Art, (CIA), is a small, specialized school of just over 500 students. It recognizes the need for creative expression to embrace the endless possibilities offered by the information age. Consequently, the school has created a Game Design major headquartered in a former FORD auto assembly factory.

Here, students have access to an entire game editing suite, a sound editing and recording studio, a green-screen chroma Key studio, two lighting and shooting areas, and a fully stocked game room. But CIA has more than just fancy equipment to play with. It also has some of the top minds in the business, which is why it has been recognized as one of the best by Animation Career Review.

21.Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

At Champlain College the self-consciously “upside down” curriculum gets students studying what they are most passionate about from the first day of class; this is all the more important for an applied field like video game design. Here undergraduate students learn about varied aspects of Game Design, including systems design, level design, narrative design, game engine design, and studio collaboration.

In addition to their successful undergraduate program, Champlain also offers a prestigious Master of Fine Arts degree in Emergent Media that focuses on filling a student’s portfolio with substantial projects, and offers many study abroad programs in places like Dublin or Montreal. The school also offers its annual senior show which allows students to showcase their work before an audience well attended by industry leaders.

22.Hampshire College

Amherst, Massachusetts

At Hampshire College, the Bachelor’s degree in Game Design and Development takes an average of four years to complete. Course work is project-based in an effort to expand student portfolios. To assist with research, students have access to a game laboratory with both modern and historic consoles as well as an ever-increasing game library with hundreds of digital and analog games available to rent.

Other facilities managed by Hampshire College include:

  • The Cluster Computing Facility, which maintains a high-performance Beowulf-style computer cluster
  • The Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video, and the Johnson Library Center both used for computer animation, film and video editing, and digital design

23.Oklahoma Christian University

Edmond, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Christian University is a small, private Christian school with just under 2,600 students and yet it has made a large impact on the community, specifically in the area of Game design. In fact, both the Princeton Review and PC Gamer have nationally recognized the school for its Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and a Master of Fine Arts in New Media programs.

Students have access to an advanced MAC Lab with a plethora of programs necessary for research and class projects. Students will complement the study of essential topics like 3-D modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, and game production with courses in the history of film and other artistic mediums.

24.Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

SNHU’s Online Bachelor of Art in Game Art and Development degree is 120 credits, with 30 of those being free course electives.

Courses include:

  • Illustration
  • 3-D Character Animation
  • 3-D Art and Design

Students will use Photoshop, In Design, Illustrator, and 3-DS Max. Students learn art and design for console web, PC, and mobile game platforms.

The Online Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development degree is also 120 credits, with 18 of those being free electives.

Specific courses include:

  • Digital Graphic Design for the Web
  • Cyber Security
  • Graphics Game Engine
  • Artificial Intelligence

This program teaches video game development, game theory, and e-collaboration across the relevant commercial platforms.

Get Information

25.The New School

New York, New York

People outside the video game industry often perceive the business as purely focused on entertainment. Although that remains the driving force behind video game creation, Parsons shows students how to use their skill sets in creative ways for humanitarian ends.

For instance, Parsons teamed up with the Red Cross through Pet Lab to build games that teach people in vulnerable areas about the importance of climate preparation. They also work with Games for Change, a non-prophet dedicated towards education.

In addition to these altruistic projects, Parsons also instructs students in all the traditional areas with student training culminating in a 12-credit project solving a real-world problem with game design. Parsons is also sensitive to the recent move in games across multiple platforms such as the i-pad, i-phone, and Android.

26.New York University

Tisch School of the Arts

New York, New York

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has fully capitalized on its proximity to Broadway and is now one of the most respected creative centers in the world. The school’s approach to the fine arts has always been interdisciplinary and included cutting edge technology.

Additionally, its computer science credentials remain unquestioned as the program operates under the world-famous Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

The school opened a Video Game Design degree now available as a four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts or two-year Master of Fine Arts. Students will receive a well-rounded education in the theory behind games and the hands-on experience needed for the field. The undergraduate program offers areas of specialization in:

  • Game Programming
  • Visual or Audio Design
  • Business for Games

27.Sacred Heart University

Fairfield, Connecticut

Sacred Heart University’s School of Computing has been ranked by the Princeton Review and GamePro magazine in the top 50 undergraduate programs and the to 25 graduate programs for the Game Design and Development degree. Undergraduate students must enroll in the Computer Science/Information Technology programs to access the Game Design and Development major. Courses may include:

  • OOP and C# Games
  • Analysis of Algorithms
  • 3D Object Creation

Graduate level students may enroll in the Computer Gaming Design and Development certificate program. Students will learn and research in three state-of-the-art computer labs, one of which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

28.Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

Abilene Christian University’s College of Business Administration hosts the School of Information Technology and Computing. There are five undergraduate majors for students to choose:

  • Computer Science
  • Computer Science and Math with Teacher Certification
  • Digital Entertainment Technology
  • Information Systems
  • Information Technology

Those enrolled specifically in the Bachelor of Science in Digital Entertainment Technology will be required to complete 128 credit hours with three areas of specialization to choose from:

  • Film and Media Production
  • Digital Design
  • Game Development

Hands-on learning experiences and networking opportunities are offered in the form of various clubs and activities. These may include the:

  • Digital Entertainment Technology club
  • Film Fest
  • LA Film School
  • Springboard Ideas Challenge
  • Women in Technology group

29.Northeastern University

College of Arts, Media, and Design

Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media, and Design offers training in Game Design running from undergraduate minors, through graduate degrees. Their program has both a Digital Arts and a Computer Science branch. They also manage the Playable Innovative Technologies Lab which researches various topics such as visual analytics, adaptive lighting, and resource management models. Northeastern applies this hands-on approach to its education system. Students are exposed to a co-op program that gets them working alongside industry giants including:

  • Microsoft Game Studios
  • Zynga
  • Tencent Boston
  • Tapwalk
  • SAIC Corporation

Northeastern professor Susan Gold became famous throughout the game design community when she launched the first Global Game Jam. These events bring students from across the world together to develop games based on a common theme.

30.Liberty University

Lynchburg, Virginia

The Bachelor of Science in Information Technology offers a concentration in Game Design. The course consists of 120 credits, and 30 hours of upper-level courses is required. Classes include instruction in:

  • C# Programming
  • Digital Imaging
  • 3-D Graphics

The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio and Digital Arts: Graphic Design focuses on digital art in particular. Course topics may include:

  • Fundamentals of Design
  • Animation
  • Publication Design
  • Vector Illustration
  • Typography

Students applying to this program must submit a portfolio for admittance. The degree consists of 120 total hours, which includes 30 hours of upper level courses. Getting a degree in Graphic Design prepares students for an opportunity to work in the artistic side of video game development.

Get Information

31.New England Institute of Technology

East Greenwich, Rhode Island

The New England Institute of Technology strives to provide students with a well-rounded education in both analytical skills and hands-on training. For students interested in the field of Digital Media there are a variety of programs to choose from. At the Associates and Bachelor levels students can major in:

  • Digital Media Production
  • Game Development and Simulation Programming
  • Graphics, Multimedia and Web Design
  • Video Game Design
  • Business Management

Students interested in further education can pursue the online Master’s in Information Technology. The majority of students are able to complete the Associates programs in as little as 18 months and the Bachelor’s programs in three to four years. The Master’s degree will vary based on enrollment status.

32.Shawnee State University

Portsmouth, Ohio

Shawnee State University has been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Immersive Technology. Currently the estimated annual tuition is at $8,355. The school offers two comprehensive undergraduate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game and Simulation
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology

With a 16:1 student to faculty ratio, Shawnee is able to provide a more personalized educational experience. Additional academic support and hands-on experience is provided in facilities such as the Motion Capture Studio Lab, for simulating game animation and character movements; or at annual events such as the Art and Technology Game Conference which attracts game developers and industry leaders from across the country.

33.Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Cornell founded its Game Design undergraduate program in 2001, making it one of the oldest and the first to be founded by an Ivy League school. Students gain interdisciplinary networking experience through the Game Design Initiative (GDI). Cornell has put students in companies and studios such as:

  • Nintendo
  • Electronic Arts
  • Zynga
  • Bungie
  • Valve
  • Irrational Games

It has also been at the forefront of social and mobile gaming, and an increasing number of alumni are branching out into their own startup companies. The school also offers an outreach programs for high school students in the local Ithaca area. Although no formal graduate program currently exists, numerous professors and graduate students all benefit from and work within GDI.

34.Cogswell College

San Jose, California

Located in the heart of Silicone Valley, Cogswell College offers a hands-on project based curriculum centered on creating industry leaders in fields of technology and digital art through entrepreneurship. Programs offered include undergraduate studies in:

  • Game Design and Development
  • Digital Audio Technology
  • Digital Art and Animation

Students learn in studio environments with professional grade equipment from industry experienced professors. Students will develop a professional level portfolio, which will be critiqued by both professors and peers alike, throughout their studies for a competitive edge in the work field. Alumni of the Cogswell College have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Dream Works
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Pixar

35.Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Lakewood, Colorado

Located at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design was founded in 1963 as a school for the arts. RMCAD offers both campus and online degrees, with the online programs offering degrees in Bachelor’s and Master’s.

Degree majors include Game Art, 3-D Animation, Art Education, Fashion Design, and Illustration. The online Bachelor’s in Game Art consists of 120 credit hours, which offers students a well-rounded education through a liberal arts background with an analytic basis.

The 51 core credits required for the degree include instruction in 3-D Computer Animation Motion Studies, Game Animation and Motion Capture, Character and Level Design, Lighting and Texture, and Game Shade Development. Standard video game software is used as the basic educational tool. Instructors encourage creativity and innovation.

36.University of Wisconsin-Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

For those students interested in Game Production or Design there are number of relevant degrees available at the University of Wisconsin including:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Entertainment Design with specializations in Animation, Comics and Sequential Art, or Digital Cinema
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design and Development with a concentration in Art
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Interactive Media with specializations in Communication Design or Interaction Design

There is also one graduate level program, a Master of Fine Arts in Design, offered with a blended delivery. Currently, tuition for the school averages $7,014 for two semesters for an on-campus student.

37.Becker College

Worcester, Massachusetts

Students at Becker College interested in game design can earn a degree in Interactive Media Design. This degree has two concentrations: Game Development and Programming or Game Design. Students have access to a high-performance computer lab, a six camera video motion capture system, 3-D design software, and a growing number of additional, advanced technologies.

In April 2011, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated Becker as the home of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). This statewide institute is a productive think tank at the cross section between industry, academy, and government that fully taps into Massachusetts favorable location as the 4th largest video game cluster in the U.S.

38.University of California-Irvine

Irvine, California

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science began in 1968. In 2002 it became California’s first Computer Science school. There are currently three departments, Computer Science, Informatics, and Statistics, which offer a total of eight majors. The Bachelor’s of Science major in Computer Game Science includes classes such as:

  • Introduction to Film and Visual Analysis
  • Computer Games and Society
  • Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science
  • Game Technologies and Interactive Media

39.University of Denver

Denver, Colorado

Located in the scenic Rocky Mountain region, the University of Denver was established in 1864, making it the oldest independent private institution of higher education in the area. The largest and most diverse unit at the school is the Division of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

More than 70 undergraduate or graduate degrees are available through the Division, and include the Emergent Digital Practices program and the Media, Film and Journalism Studies. Video Game Development is under the Bachelor of Arts in Emergent Digital Practices.

This degree requires a total of 60 credits for completion. Students enrolled in this program are required to have a minor, second major, or dual-degree in another discipline. Courses include:

  • Game Design: Paper to Digital
  • Making Critical Games
  • Making Educational Games
  • Data Visualization
  • Advanced Video Art

40.University of Advancing Technology

Tempe, Arizona

UAT offers four degree options in game design. All are available online and on-campus:

1. The Online Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Animation degree program. Students develop skills needed to create 3D art for video game platforms. Students learn artistic principles used in 3D video game art creation, which includes lighting, color theory, shading, anatomy, perspective, and 3D mesh topology, and others.

2. The Online Bachelor of Arts in Game Design degree program. Students build and create complete game design projects with faculty and fellow students. The program encourages collaboration with students and faculty across all gaming degree majors.

3. The Online Bachelor of Science in Game Programming degree program. Students develop a broad coder skill-set and expertise in many platforms and languages. Students hone their abilities in game play interaction, game engine architecture, artificial intelligence, and networking.

4. The Online Master of Science in Game Production and Management degree program. This program consists of four modules. Students complete modules in Game Development and Game Production, and then can choose from 10 other options for the next two modules. These include Cyber Organization, Technology Leadership, App Development, Digital Maker. Students tailor their Master of Science in Game Production to their interests and goals.

41.Quinnipiac University

Hamden, Connecticut

The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and Development offered through the College of Arts and Sciences at Quinnipiac University has been internationally ranked in the top 30 by the Princeton Review. There are two academic tracks for students to choose from:

  • Game Art, focusing on creating game characters, architecture, and levels
  • Game Development, focusing on the structure and rules of games

Students will have ample opportunity for hands-on experience through the Center for Game Development, unique game labs for interdisciplinary team work on game prototypes, internships, and research projects. Students may also wish to participate in the LA program which allows them to intern at successful California gaming companies such as Electronic Arts, Blizzard, or Facebook.

42.Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

In 1897 the Bradley Polytechnic Institute was established and after years of growth and expansion the Institute was rededicated as a four-year college in 1920 and was granted University status in 1946.

Through the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts at Bradley, students may register for the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Game Design.

This undergraduate curriculum concentration exposes students to topics including gameplay, visual and audio media, and storytelling and conception. Students may also have ample opportunity to participate in team work with other professional programmers and artists.

Bradley also offers an Interactive Media Program which works in conjunction with the Departments of Art, Computer Science, and Theater Arts. Concentrations for this program include Animation and Visual Effects, Game Design, and Web and Application Design.

43.High Point University

High Point, North Carolina

The Nido R. Qubein School of Communication at High Point University creates a communal atmosphere with interdisciplinary research and networking between 750 scholars within disciplines. Within the 128-credit hour Bachelor of Arts in Communication there are seven sequences, or areas of specialization, from which to choose:

  • Electronic Media Production
  • Game and Interactive Media Design
  • Journalism
  • Media and Popular Culture Studies
  • Sport and Event Management
  • Sport Communication
  • Strategic Communication

Required course work for the Game and Interactive Media Design sequence may include:

  • Theory and Criticism of Games
  • Communication Law and Ethics
  • Human Communication

The majority of courses are weighted at four credits each.

44.North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State is home to one of the oldest Departments of Computer Science in the nation, having established their department in 1967. The undergraduate Computer Science major offers the opportunity to further specialized in a game development concentration. Students will use the core classes of the computer science degree to gain an understanding of the algorithms and technologies behind creating games. With a minimum requirement of 121 credits, students study a variety of topics such as:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Building Game AI
  • Computer Models of Interactive Narrative

Honors presented to faculty members include:

  • Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Two American Association for Artificial Intelligence Fellows and a Senior Member
  • Emmy Award recipient in National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for plasma screen technology

45.George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

Computer Game Design at George Mason University is offered as a Bachelor or a Master of Arts.

The Bachelor of Arts in Computer Game Design requires a total of 120 credits. These include 40 credits for Core courses, 53-54 credits for Major courses, a minimum of 12 credits for Digital Medial Electives, six to eight credits of Visual Art electives, and six to nine credits for General Electives.

The Master of Arts in Computer Game Design requires an additional 36 credit hours for graduation. These include 22 credits for Core courses, nine credits for Electives, and five credits for the Comprehensive Experience.

Internships are necessary for both degrees. The curriculum for the Computer Game Design programs has been modeled after the International Game Developers Association’s most recent ‘Curriculum Framework’ for the Study of Games and Game Development.

46.Carnegie Mellon University

Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon University has long been known as one of America’s leading schools in many disciplines. The university’s Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) network allows students to complete a Game Design minor. The interdisciplinary program features both practice and theory of game creation. Topics include interface design, visual asset creation, game programming and character development.

Undergraduate Minor:

  • Game Design

This Game Design Minor is open to students who are enrolled in any major. Students will collaborate with the Entertainment Technology Center at CMU.

47.Academy of Art University

San Francisco, California

Established in 1929, by artists for artists, Academy of Art University has grown to become the nation’s largest accredited private art university offering degrees, personal enrichment courses, portfolio and teacher grants and high school scholarships in 29 unique programs.

The School of Game Development offers the Bachelor of Science in Game Programming, which is the first BS degree at the Academy. Students can learn 3-D modeling, digital drawing, texturing, and engineering and programming for game creation and design, among other skills. Students can also learn to write code and understand the math that goes into programming game creation.

48.University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, Michigan

U of M’s Extended Learning and Outreach branch offers the Graduate Certificate in Game Design on campus and online. For admittance to the Certificate program, students must have an overall G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher in a Bachelor’s degree of Engineering or Computer Science.

Additionally, students should already be enrolled in a degree program at the University of Michigan. If not already enrolled, applicants must apply as non-degree seeking. The Certificate consists of 12 credit hours, and is designed to provide theoretical and real world instruction in programming video games.

Core classes will detail game programming methods. The Certificate’s electives classes are designed to strengthen student’s software engineering and computer science abilities that are relevant to video game programming.

With nearly 30 electives to choose from, students may specialize in subjects including mobile games, software design, and world building. Before graduation students must complete a two-quarter capstone course which requires a team effort in designing and implementing a new game from the ground up under the supervision of game designers from the local industry.

49.Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan

At Ferris State University, the College of Education and Human Services manages the School of Digital Media. The available undergraduate degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Digital Animation and Game Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Software Engineering
  • Bachelor of Science in Television and Digital Media Production

An Associate of Science degree in Digital Media is also offered. Graduate level studies are not currently available in this field. Throughout their studies students will compile a competitive portfolio and gain internship experience with industry leaders. As standard four-year undergraduate degrees, students will be expected to complete a minimum of 120 credits before graduation. Tuition is currently set at $406 per credit hour for in-state residents or $609 per credit hour for non-residents.

50.Woodbury University

Burbank, California

Woodbury University was founded n 1884. Its exponential growth and progressive outlook, among other factors, gained the school recognition as a National College of Distinction. There are more than 20 practice-based professional and liberal arts undergraduate and graduate majors available.

The School of Media, Culture, and Design at Woodbury offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Game Art and Design program. There are two concentrations within the major: Game Art or Game Design.

Students who study Game Art will focus on 2-D and 3-D character and environmental designs, while students studying Game Design will learn play mechanics, scoring systems, and prototyping. The Game Art and Design programs received Plan Approval from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design in 2012.

1. What Are Video Game Designer Salaries?

Game Design Careers Average Salaries with a Bachelor’s DegreeGrowth Rate
Game Developer$101,644.00*26%
Game Designer$66,152.00**
*ZipRecruiter, **PayScale

For more information, see our article: What Do Game Designers Earn? Salary Information

2. What Jobs Can You Get With a Game Design Degree?

A game design degree can qualify you for jobs in various capacities working as a Game Designer:

Game Animation and Graphic Design Majors may work as

Frequently Asked Questions

What college major is for Video Game Design?

Here are a few standard majors for a bachelor’s degree in Game Design: Online Bachelor of Art in Game Art and Development, Online Bachelor of Science in Game Programming and Development, Online Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies – Game Design and Development. Video Game Design generally falls into these two categories: the art and storyline side, and the technical programming and development side. If the major is for Game Art, Animation and/or Graphic Design, generally speaking, it will be a Bachelor of Arts degree. If the degree is for the technical side of Game Design, such as programming or information technology, it will be a Bachelor of Science degree. It’s important to keep this is mind when deciding which major to choose for Game Design. Are you interested in the art (animation and graphic design), or the computer science side (programming and development)?

Back to top

Why do Game Designers attend college?

Game Designers attend college to learn the tools and skills necessary for getting hired by professional Game Design developer companies, such as EA Sports. Professional Game Design requires technical abilities. Even game art majors learn how to use industry standard tools in digital animation. Given the many options for degrees in Game Design now offered by on-campus and online colleges, students can choose from a variety of specializations, such as Game Art, Animation, Graphic Design, Game Development, and Computer Science with emphasis in Games. These degree options allow game design students to specialize in these game design fields, and potentially pursue for employment after getting a degree.

Back to top

Is going to college for Game Design worth it?

Yes, in two ways: growth and salary. Concerning growth, there is a growing demand for game designers and game artists according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2019, Multimedia Artists and Animators had a growth rate of 4%, adding 2,800 more positions to be filled by 2029. The median earnings for Multimedia Artists and Animators in 2019 was $75,270.00.

Back to top

What should I study for Game Design?

It really depends on whether a student would like to work in the art/conceptual domain, such as animating and creating storylines for games, or in the technical side of programming and development. Both are necessary for the game to be designed and completed. The story, animation, and graphics are usually Bachelor of Arts degrees (BA). The technical degrees are Bachelor of Science degrees (BS). Animation and Graphic Design | Game Designers: Students who want to work in animation and graphic design will study digital arts. This includes learning visual storytelling, learning to use digital graphics in 2D and 3D, and technical equipment that is used as the medium for animation and graphics.

Back to top

Is Game Design hard?

The answer to this question depends on your skill sets and capabilities. Are your skills oriented more towards animation and graphic design, and/or the storyline behind games? Then a bachelor of arts in Animation, or Graphic Design would likely be easier than the technical bachelor of science degrees. However, if your skills are more technical, then the bachelor of science in Game Development would be easier. Generally speaking the bachelor of arts is considered the easier degree, given its lack of technical requirements.

Back to top

Does Game Design require math?

Yes. Math is behind the programming and art at every level of game design. However, there are tools that animators use that calculate the math behind the art’s rendering, so that the artist can just draw using the tools of the trade (without needing to perform the calculations). Math is used more directly by programmers. Kinds of math used in Game Design are algebra, applied mathematics, trigonometry, and calculus.

Back to top

Is it hard to become a Game Designer?

This question seems to imply the question of whether it’s hard to get a Game Design degree. If the classes are difficult because of the nature of the subject matter and instruction, then yes, it will be difficult to become a Game Designer. If these classes are easy for a game design student, then it will not be hard to become a Game Designer. Once you’ve earned an accredited degree in Game Design, getting a job and becoming a Game Designer may be hard depending on the job market, but it may also be as easy as applying to whatever video game development companies are hiring.

Back to top

What skills do you need to be a Game Designer?

Game Designer’s main skills are animating, drawing, graphic design, and storylines and game conceptualization for Game Art careers. Game Designers who develop and code the games need computer science skills such as programming languages, math, and software development. These are the more tangible or measurable skills. Intangible skills that would be helpful would be imagination, a love of video games, ability to devise compelling game concepts and storylines, and the ability to take abstract concepts and make them understandable to others, which is the ability to communicate well.

Back to top

Game Design Degrees: Bachelor of Arts vs. Bachelor of Science

As an on campus or online undergraduate student who is enrolled in a Game Design bachelor’s degree, there are a few common degree types and courses in which students may enroll.

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees consist of less math and science-types of classes as compared with a Bachelor of Science degree program. Bachelor of Arts are more oriented towards artistic endeavors, and include Animation, Graphic Design, Storyboarding, 2D and 3D Modeling, Background, and Character Development classes.

Examples of Bachelor of Arts courses:

Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science in Game Art degrees are essentially computer science-oriented degrees that teach Game Art through computer programming and languages.

Bachelor of Science in Game Design are the programs that teach students how to create games using computer science-oriented instruction, such as programming languages. Examples are:

These bachelor of science degree programs can teach students Computer Science fundamentals, such as artificial intelligence, programming languages, and information technology.

Examples of Bachelor of Science courses:

Related Game Design Articles: