The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design


The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design

The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design
1University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, California
2University of Wisconsin-StoutMenomonie, Wisconsin
3University of California-Santa CruzSanta Cruz, California
4DigiPen Institute of TechnologyRedmond, Washington
5Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix, Arizona
6Northeastern UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
7Fitchburg State UniversityFitchburg, Massachusetts
8Drury UniversitySpringfield, 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.

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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 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 an overall category that includes these different Game program types as a specialization within Computer Science programs.

These Computer Science programs are available on-campus and/or online.

The Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Computer Science: Game Design Ranking

Ranking Methodology

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.

1.University of Southern California

Department of Computer Science

Los Angeles, California

USC, Viterbi offers the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Games degree on campus. This degree is a computer science degree with an interdisciplinary focus on game development.

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

Menomonie, Wisconsin

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

Redmond, Washington

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:

Computer Science:

  • Data structures
  • Mathematics
  • Newtonian dynamics
  • Programming languages: C and C++
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Algorithm analysis
  • Calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • Physics

Game Collaboration:

  • Project management
  • Year-long, team-based projects
  • Communications

Game Design:

  • 2D and 3D level design
  • Game design theory
  • UI/UX design
  • Play-testing
  • Game systems and mechanics

5.Grand Canyon University

College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Phoenix, Arizona

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

Courses include:

  • 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.

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6.Northeastern University

Khoury College of Computer Sciences

Boston, Massachusetts

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

7.Fitchburg State University

Fitchburg, Massachusetts

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.

Courses include:

  • 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.

Harvard and edX offer the Professional Certificate in Computer Science for Game Development.

8.Drury University

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

Springfield, Missouri

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.

Courses include:

  • 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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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