The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design
|1||University of Southern California||Los Angeles, California|
|2||University of Wisconsin-Stout||Menomonie, Wisconsin|
|3||University of California-Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz, California|
|4||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Redmond, Washington|
|5||Grand Canyon University||Phoenix, Arizona|
|6||Northeastern University||Boston, Massachusetts|
|7||Liberty University||Lynchburg, Virginia|
|8||Fitchburg State University||Fitchburg, Massachusetts|
|9||Drury University||Springfield, Missouri|
This is a ranking of the best Computer Science degrees that have an emphasis or specialization in Game Design.
This ranking is designed for students to make informed college and degree decisions for studying Computer Science with a Game Design specialization.
Computer Science degrees have many specializations, such as Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and among them is Game Design.
This degree is a practical option for students who want a degree in Computer Science, and yet want to learn Game Design as well.
There are different degrees available when studying Game Design, and different capacities to work in the Game Design career field.
Computer Science is an attractive option for students who want to learn the technical side of game design, such as game development, which involves learning the tenets of computer science, such as programming languages, software development, and artificial intelligence.
For clarity, Computer Science degrees with Game Development, Game Programming, and other Game specializations are all included in this list. Game Design is used in this article as a category that includes different game specializations within Computer Science programs.
These Computer Science programs are available on-campus and/or online.
This ranking made developed using the academic influence of these universities in Computer Science, and then looking at the quality and variety of programs, labs and facilities, and internship opportunities, and data from the National Center for Education Statistics. For more on our ranking methodology, see our College Calculator.
1.University of Southern California
Viterbi School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science
Los Angeles, California
The Department of Computer Science at the Viterbi School of Engineering offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Games degree. This cross-disciplinary program is a computer science degree with a focus on game development. Students learn game development in these domains:
- Game production
- Game hardware architectures
- Serious game development
- Computer animation
- Game engine programming
- Visual design for games and interactives
- Introductory and intermediate game design
- Video game programming
Graduates will be able to engineer games and simulations for entertainment and serious games fields. Students also participate in two game projects.
Computer Science core courses include:
- Fundamentals of Computation
- Principles of Software Development
- Data Structures and Object Oriented Design
- Introduction to Programming
- Discrete Methods in Computer Science
Game Design core courses include:
- Video Game Programming
- Introduction to Interactive Entertainment
- Game Design Workshop
- Intermediate Game Design Workshop
- Intermediate Game Development
2.University of Wisconsin-Stout
College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
University of Wisconsin-Stout offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Game Design and Development degree.
The Game Design and Development concentration can teach students how to create games, but also create simulations, and create software programs which can have applications relevant to other fields such as education, national security, and healthcare. In the scope of game design and development, students learn how to develop software programs that implement physics and digital imagery.
Accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. ABET is a STEM field accreditation, providing accreditation to 846 universities & colleges 41 countries, which includes 4,307 programs.
3.University of California-Santa Cruz
Computational Media Department
Santa Cruz, California
The University of California, Santa Cruz offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Computer Game Design degree. Students may also pursue a Master’s and PhD in the Computer Science: Computer Game Design program.
This CS with Game Design degree teaches students how to create the narrative, technical, and artistic foundations of games. In the last year of the program students can actually create their own games. Topics of study include:
- game engines
- human-computer interaction
- procedural audio
- procedural content generation
- artificial intelligence for games
- computer graphics
- interactive narrative
4.DigiPen Institute of Technology
DigiPen offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design degree. This program teaches students how to be a software developer to create games, which includes learning the mechanics of games, and creating the levels of games. Graduates will be both trained in game designing, programming, and software engineering.
Students will learn these competencies within these domains of computer science and game design:
- Data structures
- Newtonian dynamics
- Programming languages: C and C++
- Artificial intelligence
- Algorithm analysis
- Linear algebra
- Project management
- Year-long, team-based projects
- 2D and 3D level design
- Game design theory
- UI/UX design
- Game systems and mechanics
5.Grand Canyon University
College of Science, Engineering and Technology
Grand Canyon University offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Game and Simulation Development degree. This CS program focuses on the conceptual framework, algorithms, theory and science behind computer games and the simulation of scientific phenomena. Students learn such valuable skills as storyboarding, level design, and even mobile gaming.
Students are taught in these subjects:
- human-computer interaction
- object-oriented programming
- artificial intelligence
- graphic visualization
- 2D and 3D graphics
- virtual reality
- operating systems
- machine learning
- information security
- Game Design and Game Play
- Compiler Design
- Operating Systems
- Digital Logic and Design
- Computer Graphics Lecture
- Information Security
Students will complete two capstones to show proficiency in game design and simulation within Computer Science.
Accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of ABET.Get Information
Khoury College of Computer Sciences
Northeastern University offers the Bachelor of Science in Game Development and Computer Science degree as a combined major.
Students complete computer science courses and learn game technology; learning to design, build and develop games.
Students have an opportunity to intern at the following:
- Global training software developer co-op at Bose Corporation
- Engineering intern at Demiurge Studios
- Engineering intern at Disruptor Beam
School of Business
Liberty University is one of the largest online colleges in the U.S. in terms of number of online students. Liberty has online education down to a science. Liberty offers the unique online Bachelor of Science in Information Technology: Gaming Design degree.
Students learn the fundamentals of Business, Information Technology, and Game Design.
- Object Oriented Programming
- Business Data Communication Systems
- Digital Imaging
- Introduction to 3D Graphics
- Intro to Human-Computer Interaction
- Information Literacy Elective
This program takes three and a half years to complete, and is 120 credit hours. Courses are 8 weeks long. Liberty accepts up to 75% of the entire degree in transfer credits.Get Information
8.Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg State University offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Game Programming Concentration degree. Students will take four Computer Science Game Programming courses, and two Game Design courses. The Game Programming Concentration teaches students to developing games using computer science, which includes mobile game programming.
- Data Modeling and Database Design
- Introduction to Game Art
- Systems Programming
- Algorithms and Data Structures
- Ethical Issues in Computer Science
- Game Programming
Accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Drury University offers the Computer Science: Game Development degree, which requires 58 credit hours. 23 hours are required in the core courses, which are in Computer Science. Also, 15 hours are required in game development. Additional requirements include 11 hours of mathematics, and 12 hours of media arts.
- Advanced Game Development
- Computer Animation
- Artificial Intelligence
- Data Structures
- Application Development
- Application Development II
- Foundations of Game Development
- Introduction to Computer Science
- Introduction to Machine Learning
Harvard and edX offer the Professional Certificate in Computer Science for Game Development.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is Computer Science used in Game Design?
Computer Science is the aspect of Game Design that deals with the fundamentals of how the game is programmed. It’s the base level of how the game is instantiated in the computer. What is involved in Game Design is at bottom programming languages and software development. It is this coding that creates the game at the most fundamental level, such as the graphics, the levels, the mathematics, and architecture of the games. Computer Science also implements artificial intelligence into games, creating more reactive games.
Can a computer science degree get you a job in game development?
If a game company requires a bachelor’s degree for employment, then a Computer Science degree is a relevant degree for Game Development and Game Programming positions. Generally speaking the answer would be yes given the above caveats. Computer Science is a relevant degree to Game Development, given that game developers use programming languages, software, and in some cases artificial intelligence, which are all within the purview of Computer Science.
Is Computer Science a good major for Game Development?
Yes, Computer Science is a good major for Game Development. Game Development involves Computer Science skills, such as using programming languages, developing software, and using artificial intelligence. A Game Development or Game Design specialization within a Computer Science degree is the optimal degree type for learning Computer Science and Game Development and Design. Students learn the fundamentals of Computer Science and how to use them in Game Development in particular.
Can a Computer Science student become a Game Developer?
Yes, a Computer Science student can become a game developer. Game developers use computer science skills, such as software development, artificial intelligence, and programming languages in developing games, for consoles and mobile game development. Computer Science students already learn these relevant technical skills that are involved in game development.
Do Game Designers need to code?
Game Designers do not necessarily need to know how to code, although it is a helpful skill. Game design involves more than the programming and software side of creating games. Game programmers will need to learn how to code and write in the appropriate programming languages. There are game engines that can create games without coding, such as Amazon Lumberyard, Unreal, and Unity.