What are the best west coast game design schools for 2024?

Top 10 Game Design Schools and Colleges on the West Coast – 2024 College Rankings
1University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
2University of California, Santa CruzCalifornia
3DigiPen Institute of TechnologyWashington
5University of California, Los AngelesCalifornia
6University of California, IrvineCalifornia
7University of WashingtonWashington
8Academy of Art UniversityCalifornia
9Laguna College of Art and DesignCalifornia
10California Polytechnic State University, San Luis ObispoCalifornia

Our 2024 list of the Top 10 Game Design School Programs on the West Coast. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California

University of Southern California (USC) Los Angeles has many paths to study game design, beginning with the Game Art BFA and the Technical Game Art (TGA) minor. Housed in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) the Game Art BFA provides the opportunity to concentrate in areas such as Character Animation, Visual Effects (VFX), Interactive Animation, Environmental Design, and 3D Pipelines.

This cross-disciplinary program requires 52 units in the major and five workshop courses. Examples of required courses include Character Rigging for Games; Game Design Workshop; Intermediate Game Design and Production; Digital Media Workshop; and 2D Art Workshop. Students will also take movement and theory courses such as Improvisation and Theatre Games, Transmedia Entertainment, and Movement for Actors.

To enhance the degree, SCA Game Art students may select six elective credits. Elective course examples include Pipelines for Games and Interactives; Programming in Python; and Digital Effects Animation. Students will complete an Advanced Game Project (AGP) in teams across two courses. The project culminates with a functional digital game suitable for distribution via the web and/or submission into independent games festivals. 

Housed in Viterbi School of Engineering, the TGA minor is part of the Information Technology program (ITP) and USC Games (more on this later). TGA students will complete 16 units of study and several projects. Required courses include 3D Character Modeling for Games; Introduction to 3D Modeling, Animation, and Visual Effects; Character Rigging for Games; and Technical Character Animation for Games. Elective examples include Accelerated Programming in Python; Visual Effects; and 3D Computer Animation. 

USC Games is a multidisciplinary hub that consists of a collection of minors and multiple degree programs leading to a BA, BFA, BS, MFA or MS. Programs are part of SCA’s Interactive Media and Games Division and the Department of Computer Science in Viterbi School of Engineering. 

USC Games combines the study of art, design, engineering, and production. Classes are collaborative, hands-on, and immersive, allowing students to develop team-building skills and expertise in every area of game design and development. All courses for USC Games are led by working professionals in the field. 

Specific degree options include the Interactive Entertainment BA; Game Development and Interactive Design BFA; Computer Science BS (Games); Themed Entertainment BFA (Interactive Arts specialization); Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health) MA; Interactive Media (custom specialization) MFA; Interactive Media and Games MFA; Interactive Media MFA with an emphasis in Games and Health; Game Design and Development MS; and the Computer Science MS with a Game Development emphasis. The Cinematic Art MA (Media Arts, Games and Health) is provided in conjunction with SCA, the Graduate School, and the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center. 

Minors within USC Games are designed for students who would like to develop entry-level game design and development skills that can be utilized in interactive media, animation, games, film/television, and other areas. In addition to the TGA minor, USC games provides minors in Game Design, Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Entrepreneurism, Video Game Programming, Game User Research, Video Game Production, Computer Science, and Themed Entertainment. 

Graduates of the Game programs at USC have developed and sold their own games, launched their own studios, or landed positions at major studios such as Disney, CBS Interactive, Riot Games, ESPN, Apple, and Epic Games. 

University of Southern California, Los Angeles opened in 1880 with 53 students and 10 teachers. Today, USC serves 47,000 students and employs approximately 4,770 full-time faculty. This makes University of Southern California Los Angeles the largest private sector employer in LA and the largest school by enrollment in the state of California. 

Students at USC have access to more than 600 graduate and professional programs across 23 schools and divisions. University of Southern California, Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

2. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz or UCSC) was the first institution in the University of California System to launch an undergraduate game major. Housed in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE), and known as Games @ UC Santa Cruz, this intensive program has expanded to include three advanced degree programs: the MFA, MS, and PhD. 

Programs are available at the UC Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses and include Computer Science: Computer Game Design (BS), Art & Design: Games and Playable Media (BA AGPM), Serious Games (SG), Computational Media (CM), and Games and Playable Media (MS degrees), and the Computer Science and Computational Media (PhD).  

The Computer Science: Computer Game Design BS focuses designing and building interactive computer games. A major component of the program is an intensive year-long game project where students will work in teams to complete a professional computer game. This is the culminating experience for the program. 

The AGPM BA explores topics such as interactive art, new media art, digital and non-digital games, participatory and performance-based games, and exhibition methods for games in public and traditional art spaces. Other areas explored include performance art, and activism, art, and social practice as they relate to games. Course examples include 3D Game Art Production; Play as a Radical Endeavor; and 3D Character Rigging and Animation for Video Games. The program culminates with a final project. 

The Serious Games, Computational Media, and Games and Playable Media MS programs at UC Santa Cruz have many courses in common, so all options can prepare students for advanced roles in game design and development. For example, the SG and Games and Playable Media programs require courses such as Professional Development for Game Makers; Game Art Intensive; and Serious Games Studio. 

Across options, all students have access to courses such as Games as Technical Culture; Game Design Studio; Game AI; Game Development Experience; Game Production Studio; Game Data Science; Game Systems; Game Technologies; Business of Games; Advanced Programming; Algorithmic Music for Games; Writing for Game Technologies; Interactive Narrative; Foundations of Video Game Design; and Accessible Games; Psychology of Play; Creating Digital Audio; and Playable Media. 

The Computational Media PhD at UC Santa Cruz provides access to the same courses for the MS programs. All students in this 47-unit program will complete History and Theory of Computational Media; Computational Media Research; and Computational Media Methods, for a total of 15 units. The remaining units will come from computer programming, interpretive practices, and any available media creation course sequence. Examples include Computer Science: Computer Game Design BS Game Studio Sequence; Art and Design: Games and Playable Media BA Game Studio Sequence; DANM Project Group Sequence; or the Games and Playable Media MS Project Sequence. 

Students both the graduate and undergraduate programs have access to Games @ UC Santa Cruz facilities and centers such as The Center for Computational Experience; Advanced Visualization and Interactive Systems; Ludo Lab; Critical Realities Studio; Software Introspection Laboratory; Expressive Intelligence Studio; ADL (Augmented Design Laboratory); Social Emotional Technology Lab; and The Other Lab. Other program benefits include guest speakers from the game design industry; networking opportunities; project evaluations by industry professionals; game design internships; frequent studio tours; study abroad experiences; and participation in the Annual Games Showcase.

Undergraduates will complete the Capstone Project during the final year of the program, and graduate students will complete a Thesis Project, Research Project, or both. 

Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Game Design programs enjoy a 93% job placement rate. Alumni are prepared to pursue positions such as Game Designer, Game Writer, Digital Artist, Board Game Designer, Producer, VR/AR Artist, and 2D/3D Artist. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), WB Games Boston, Zynga, Universal Studios Japan, Ubisoft, Amazon, Google, Hi-Rez Studios, Method Studios, Tencent, Tic Toc Games, NetEase Games, Toys for Bob, Glu, NCSoft, and TopGolf. 

University of California, Santa Cruz is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1965, University of California, Santa Cruz serves approximately 18,980 students, enrolled in more than 130 programs across 10 colleges and the Graduate Division.

3. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of Technology (DigiPen) was the first college in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in Video Game Technology and Development. Since then, this Houdini Certified School has accumulated 57 IGF awards—more than any other school in the world, and students have won close to 315 awards for game projects and academic papers. In addition, DigiPen graduates are credited on more than 2,000 commercial video games. 

The Video Game Technology and Development program has expanded to include a BS in Computer Science (CS) & Game Design; BS in CS in Real-Time Interactive Simulation; and a Game Design BA. 

A Digital Art MFA is also available. This program allows students to customize a specialization from courses across any area at DigiPen. Students have access to courses such as Game Design, Development and Production; Scripting for Games; Lighting and Rendering; Character Rigging; Organic and Hard Surface Modeling; Storyboarding; Advanced Character Creation; and Hair and Clothing Simulation. 

The Digital Art MFA requires a Final Thesis Project completed across three courses: Thesis Pre-Production, and Thesis I and II. MFA students will leave the program with a Professional Portfolio. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in both Games and Animation. 

The DigiPen Game Design BA is an interdisciplinary degree that explores design theory, games, applications, and interactive media. The Computer Science & Game Design BS explores artificial intelligence (AI); system, level, and technical design; user interface design; programming languages; and game design.   

The BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. Students in this option will master programming languages; 2D and 3D simulation; graphical user interfaces (GUIs); game engine software; artificial intelligence (AI); graphics rendering; and software engineering. 

For exceptional students, DigiPen offers an accelerated BS/MS program that can be completed in just five years. 

Students in all programs will work in multidisciplinary teams in a studio environment to create software and a series of original video games. 

Graduates of all programs at DigiPen Institute of Technology enjoy a high job placement rate. To date, more than 1,500 companies have hired DigiPen graduates. Examples include Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, Nintendo, DreamWorks Interactive, Google, Amazon, Walt Disney Imagineering, SpaceX, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Activision, Insomniac Games, Zynga, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel Corporation, Ubisoft Shanghai, Bungie, Take-Two Interactive, and ArenaNet. 

Established in 1988 as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company, DigiPen Institute of Technology serves 1,200 students enrolled in 10 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Engineering, Game Design and Development, and Music and Audio. In addition to the Redmond, Washington campus, DigiPen has international campuses in Singapore and Bilbao, Spain. 

DigiPen also has educational partnerships with Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Keimyung University in South Korea; The One Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Thammasat University in Thailand. DigiPen Institute of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

4. Gnomon, Hollywood, California

Gnomon has been educating digital artists for over 25 years. Often called the MIT of Visual Effects, the school houses immersive programs designed to develop studio-ready professionals. Options for game designers include the Digital Production BFA and a Digital Production for Entertainment certificate. The BFA can be completed in as few as three years and the certificate can be completed in two years. 

The Digital Production BFA at Gnomon requires 180 total units, including 135 in career-focused study and 45 in general education. Students may choose from three options including Game Art, 3D Generalist, or Visual Effects. Across options, students will receive intensive training in industry software such as After Effects, Houdini, Nuke, V-Ray, Unreal Engine, Photoshop, ZBrush, and Maya. 

Course examples for the Digital Production program include Game Design; Texturing and Shading for Games; Level Design; Environment Creation for Games; Animation for Games; Props and Weapons for Games; Game Creation 1-4; Character Creation for Games; Hard Surface Modeling; and Character Rigging Fundamentals. 

The Digital Production BFA program at Gnomon concludes with the production of a professional demo reel. This culminating experience takes place across four courses (Demo Reel 1-4). 

The Digital Production for Entertainment certificate at Gnomon is a 147-unit program that provides five areas of focused study. Options include Character & Creature Animation; Visual Effects Animation; 3D Generalist; Game Art; and Modeling & Texturing. Electives allow students to enhance the certificate. The program culminates with the creation of a demo reel to be used as a promotional tool to gain employment in the industry. 

With a near-perfect 97% employment rate, Gnomon has 900+ industry-employed alumni working at studios such as DreamWorks, Electronic Arts (EA), Marvel Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Riot Games, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, Reel FX, Blizzard Entertainment, Weta FX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Naughty Dog. 

Established in 1997 by Alex Alvarez, Gnomon opened in a modest classroom location in Hollywood, California. Today, Gnomon sits on a 35,000 square foot lot within the historic Television Center Studio Lot. The school provides degree programs, vocational certificate programs, and 100+ individual courses for professional enrichment or portfolio development. Gnomon is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

5. University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to UCLA Game Lab and UCLA Extension. Supported by the School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) and the School of Theater, Film and Television, UCLA Game Lab hosts guest speaker events, workshops, and visiting artists and researchers. The Lab is also supported by sponsors such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Zbrush, Unity, HP, Oculus, and Nvidia. UCLA Game Lab is open to all students with an interest in games. 

While UCLA Extension does not have a formal Game Design program, this continuing education division provides a number of game design courses that can be taken individually or to customize a program. Course examples include Unity: 3D Game Design and Game Engines; 3D Real-Time Animation; Developing Video Game Narratives; Composing Music for Video Games; and Producing Commercials for Games. 

Also housed UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture is the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA). Within the DMA are two multidisciplinary programs that are ideal for students interested in game design. Options include a DMA BA and a Media Arts MFA. The undergraduate program explores everything from motion and video to interactivity and game design. 

Courses for the program are studio-based, with space for up to 22 students. Course examples include Game Design; Topics in Interactivity and Games; Word + Image; 3D Modeling and Motion; Video; Tangible Media; and Narrative. DMA BA students will complete a final project—Senior Project in Desigin Media Arts—to graduate.   

The three-year UCLA Media Arts MFA requires a full year of thesis work. Students will work and learn through seminar and studio courses. Examples include Programming Media; Virtuality; Contemporary Topics in Media Art; and Creating Context & Collaborative Practice. All MFA students will have the opportunity to collaborate with instructors on research projects and/or work as teaching assistants. The Media Arts MFA culminates with the MFA Exhibition. 

Graduates of the Game Design, Digital Media, and Media Arts programs at UCLA work in all areas of game design and development. They can be found at game design studios, software companies, film studios, advertising agencies, marketing firms, government agencies, and academic institutions. 

Founded on May 23, 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California, Los Angeles serves 46,430 students from more than 100 countries. The school provides 250+ programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. University of California, Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

6. University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California
University of California, Irvine

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) at University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine or UCI) is home to the Department of Informatics. Within the department are several paths to study games. Options include the Game Design and Interactive Media (GDIM) BS; and the Computer Science BS, MS, and PhD programs. Across programs, students benefit from courses taught by globally-recognized industry experts; industry mentors; and access to industry partners such as Disney, Riot Games, Cartoon Network, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Obsidian Entertainment, Tencent, and Age of Learning. 

The GDIM BS launched as the Computer Game Science major in 2011. To avoid confusion among employers, UC Irvine decided to change the name to Game Design and Interactive Media in Fall 2021. Today, the GDIM program provides hands-on courses that explore areas such game programming, game design and development, game studies, interactive storytelling, visual design, and data science. 

The program also explores augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and emerging technologies such as mobile and tabletop games. During the second half of this four-year program, students will have the opportunity to build a professional portfolio through advanced electives that explore game design, development, and programming; game culture; games entrepreneurship; and storytelling.

The GDIM BS at UC Irvine culminates with a two-quarter capstone project. Students will complete the capstone under the guidance of industry mentors. This team-based project results in a finished game in an area such as entertainment, education, training, or healthcare.   

Graduates are prepared to pursue careers across the game design and other related industries. Potential employers include industry partners such as Electronic Arts (EA), Blizzard Entertainment, Riot games, Obsidian Entertainment, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Tencent. 

Program alumni have landed roles such as Game Designer, Game Programmer, Game Developer, Game Artist, Project Manager, and Interactive Media Designer. Some GDIM alumni have gone on to become successful freelance designers, while others have launched their own studios. 

Computer Science at UC Irvine allows students to specialize in areas such as game design through electives and formal focus areas. The Computer Science BS has nine specializations. The Algorithms, Visual Computing, and Networked Systems specializations are ideal for students interested in studying game design, development, and programming. The Algorithms specialization explores topics such as Computer Games; Artificial Intelligence, and Graphics.   

Visual Computing explores topics such as Computer Vision; Graphics; and Interactive and Photo-Realistic Image Rendering. Networked Systems covers topics such as Programming; Internet Architecture and Applications; and Performance. Across specializations, students have the opportunity to take the Computer Game Development project course as well as Modeling and World Building; Projects in Advanced 3D Computer Graphics; Human Computer Interaction; and Introduction to Virtual Reality, among others.  

The Computer Science MS and PhD programs at UCI Donald Bren provide access to courses such as Game Design; Model and World Building; Game Engine Lab; Mobile and Ubiquitous Games; and Computer Graphics. Across programs, students are required to select four areas from a list of seven. Areas include Scientific and Visual Computing; Data Structures and Algorithms; System Software; Artificial Intelligence; Networks/Multimedia; Database Systems; and Architecture/Embedded Systems.

The culminating experience for the Computer Science programs can be a game, research project, simulation, or other project. Graduates are prepared to pursue roles in the games industry (for entertainment); serious games in areas such as healthcare, education, and training; and other areas such as software engineering and aerospace; national defense and cybersecurity; or data science and engineering.  

Established in 1965, University of California, Irvine is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Founded in 1900, the Association comprises the nation’s top research universities. Also accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), UC Irvine employs more than 1,200 faculty members and 10,000 staff, making it the largest employer in Orange County, California. The faculty and staff at University of California serve approximately 37,245 students enrolled in around 225 degree programs across 18 colleges, schools, and divisions.

7. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) has a Game Design Certificate (GDC) for students with at least two years of college experience. The program was developed in partnership with the UW Bothell Digital Future Lab, and approved by UW’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. Housed in the College of Professional & Continuing Education (PCE), the GDC is ideal for students interested in launching a career in game design or working designers seeking advancement opportunities in the games industry. 

This intensive eight-month (three-quarter) consists of Fundamentals of Game Design; Game Mechanics and Systems Design; and Game Studio Roles and Development. Throughout the program, students will conceptualize, create, and complete a game design document for their professional portfolios. Students will also complete a game prototype to pitch to industry executives. In addition to a certificate, graduates of the program will earn a digital achievement badge and separate badges for each course. Digital badges can be shared on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

GDC program alumni enjoy an 80% job placement rate. Top employers include Microsoft, Hi-Rex Studios, Boeing, Hourglass Escapes, and Bungie. 

For students seeking a degree, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) at University of Washington has several options that are suitable for game designers. Degree programs include the BS in CS or Computer Engineering, the combined BS/MS in CS or Engineering, the Professional Master’s Program (PMP), and a CSE PhD. 

All programs provide access to four main labs in the Allen School including Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL); the Center for Game Science; Animation Research Labs (ARL); and the UW Reality Lab.

GRAIL provides opportunities to work with researchers from Adobe, Google, Intel, and Microsoft. The researchers at the CSE Center for Game Science create projects designed to solve problems through games. The multidisciplinary Animation Research Labs is a collaboration between CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, Drama, Music, and the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). Students have opportunities to interact with industry experts from Xbox Game Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, and Disney Animation Studios, among others. 

In the UW Reality Lab, designers have opportunities to work on research projects in a variety of areas. Computer vision, lighting rendering, character animation, and 3D reconstruction are just a few. Established in 2018, the UW Reality Lab also houses ongoing programs such as The Reality Studio and The Reality Lab; courses and lectures; the Mentorship Program; and the Idea Incubator. 

The Reality Studio explores production and storytelling techniques for immersive environments through classes and productions. Students in The UW Reality Lab can take courses such as Introduction to Computer Graphics; Virtual Reality Production for Storytelling; Computer Vision; and Machine Learning. 

Graduates of the Game Design and Computer Science programs at University of Washington are prepared to pursue roles across all areas of game design and development, technology, and entertainment. UW graduates are hired by hundreds of different employers each year. Examples include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, and Meta.   

Established in 1861, University of Washington serves approximately 60,705 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school provides around 845 degrees and 470+ programs across its campuses and 18 colleges and schools. University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The school is also a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at UW is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

8. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) houses the School of Game Development. This STEM-certified school operates under the direction of professionals who are active in the game design industry. Program options include AA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Game Art; AA and BFA degrees in Game Design; a BS in Game Programming; and MA and MFA degrees in Game Development. 

All options are multidisciplinary, so students will explore game, systems, and tools programming; animation/animation VFX; augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR); level design and rigging; coding and artificial intelligence (AI); 3D modeling; concept and technical art; and user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design. 

Across programs, students will take courses such as Programming for Games; 3D Modeling for Games; Game Engines; Prop & Weapon Design for Games; Programming for Game UI and Tools; Level Design for Video Games; Scripting for Games; Digital Environment Sketching; Action Adventure and RPG Level Design; Collaborative Game Development; 3D Modeling and Animation (Maya); AAA Game Engine Architecture; Rapid Game Development; 2D Tools for Game Development; Vector, Matrices, and Transformations; Combat Design; Mobile Game Development; Prototype Game Development; Indie Game Programming; Game Freemium & Monetization; Artificial Intelligence; and History of Gaming. 

Other program features include professional internships with partner studios such as Riot Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Zynga; hands-on learning in the Academy of Art Game Development Studio; and access to facilities and technology such as Xbox/PlayStation/Nintendo Game consoles; cross-departmental war rooms with students from the Schools of Animation, Illustration, and Music; AR/VR labs; 280+ Alienware High Performance Computers with Dual Monitors; a competitive esports lab; and the Game Lounge.

Graduates of the School of Game Development at Academy of Art University are prepared to pursue positions across the games and other industries. Alumni have been hired by major studios, independent studios, leading organizations, and networks NBCUniversal, Riot Games, Zynga, Norman Rockwell Museum, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Double Fine Productions (part of Xbox Game Studios), Naughty Dog, Sledgehammer Games, San Francisco Shock, and Crystal Dynamics. 

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university that serves more than 7,000 students enrolled in over 120 degree programs across 40+ areas of study. Programs lead to the AA, BA, BFA, BS, B. Arch, MAT, MA, MFA, and M. Arch degrees. One of the nation’s largest private, accredited art and design schools, Academy of Art houses 22 schools that emphasize internships, study abroad experiences, participation in clubs, and collaborative, civic, and pro bono projects. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

9. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
Laguna College of Art and Design

Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) provides several paths to study game design. At the undergraduate level, the school has a Game Art BFA and a Game Art minor. At the graduate level, the school has a Game Design MFA. Across all programs, students will learn and work in a project-based environment that encourages collaboration. Students in the Game Art minor will take five courses: Fundamentals of Game Art; Level Design; Rigging + Animation for Games; 2D Development Studio; and Development Team. 

In the 122-credit hour Game Art BFA program, students have access to these courses and more. Examples include Game Design; Drawing + Perspective for Games; Game Industry 101; Visual Storytelling; Advanced Real-Time VFX; Character Design for Games; Environment Design for Games; Scripting for Games; Modeling for Games; Game Design; UI/UX for Games; Advanced Technologies for Games; Robots, Vehicles + Spaceships; 3D Character Design; Special Topics in Games; and Professional Studies for Game Artists.

Game Art BFA students will work in teams with graduate MFA students to create industry-ready games that could be featured at the Independent Game Festival (IGF). All students will also participate in workshops led by artists and designers such as Chris Bateman, Bill Perkins, and Justin Thavirat. 

The Game Design MFA at Laguna College of Art and Design is a two-year, terminal degree program that requires 60 credit hours to graduate. Courses explore areas such as the game production cycle, game design processes, game prototypes, game narrative, game mechanics, and the business of games. Course examples include Player Centric Design; Specialized Programming; Game Production; Prototyping; Experimental Game Design; and Production Studio 1 and 2. MFA students will also complete a thesis across two courses.

LCAD Game Design MFA students will complete a thesis across two courses. This culminating experience leads to the creation of a final, marketable game. 

Graduates of the Game Art and Game Design programs at Laguna College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue leadership roles across the entertainment industry and many others. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios around the globe. Examples include Riot Games, DreamWorks, The Jim Henson Company, Insomniac Games, Disney Animation Studios, Blizzard Entertainment 20th Century Fox, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft Studios, Obsidian Entertainment, and Marvel. 

Laguna College of Art and Design opened in 1961 as Laguna Beach School of Art (LBSA). The school has seven sites throughout Laguna Canyon and Laguna Beach, as well as affiliates around the world including Florence Academy of Arts (Italy), Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), Netherlands. LCAD serves more than 700 students enrolled 20+ programs leading to a degree or minor. 

Laguna College of Art and Design is regionally and nationally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

10. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California
California Polytechnic State University

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly or Cal Poly SLO) houses the College of Engineering (CENG), home to the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. Within the department are several paths to study game design. Degree options include the BS, MS, and Blended BS + MS in Computer Science (CS). Minor options include Computer Science and Computing for Interactive Arts (CIA). All CENG programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. 

The degree and minor programs in the CENG provide hands-on learning in a studio-like, collaborative environment that focuses on design- and project-centered coursework. Other CENG features include a Game Development concentration; individual and team projects; access to state-of-the-art production facilities and labs; internship opportunities and co-ops across California's top technology hubs; study abroad programs in 75 countries; and participation in weekend-long student-run “Hackathons” that allow students to create and coding their own apps, websites, and more. 

The CS minor allows students to specialize in Game Design or other area through electives. The CIA minor is a cross disciplinary, 40-unit program provided in partnership with the Department of Art and Design in the College of Liberal Arts. MS and Blended BS + MS CS students may specialize in any area or add the Game Development concentration. 

Consisting of 24 credit hours, the Game Development concentration requires the following courses: Game Design; Video Games & Society; Introduction to Mixed Reality; and Interactive Entertainment Engineering. Students may choose four credits from Mathematics/Statistics electives and the remaining credits from a variety of areas to suit their goals. Examples of M/S electives include Game Theory; Introduction to Probability and Simulation; Design and Analysis of Experiments; and Selected Advanced Topics. 

Examples of other electives include Computer Animation; Advanced Rendering Techniques; Real-Time 3D Computer Graphics Software; The Art of Mixed Reality; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Media Arts and Technologies: Storytelling; Digital 3D Modeling and Design; New Media Arts I-II, and Current Topics in Computer Graphics.

Graduates of the CENG programs at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are prepared to pursue careers in fields such as game design and development for entertainment, programming, computer art, architecture, software development, astronautical engineering, healthcare, aerospace, science and medicine, simulation training, and education. 

Program alumni are frequently hired by major companies and studios such as DreamWorks, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Intel, Electronic Arts (EA), Adobe, Raytheon, Apple, Disney, Apple, HP, Google, Oracle, IBM, Boeing, Microsoft, Cisco, Saint Jude Medical, Yahoo, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Salesforce, Intuit, and Amgen. 

Founded on March 8, 1901, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is part of the 23-campus California State University System. With more than 25 centers and institutes, the school sits on 9,000 acres, making it the second largest campus in California, and one of the largest in the nation. Cal Poly SLO serves approximately 22,290 students enrolled in more than 150 undergraduate majors and minors as well as 50+ graduate programs across six academic colleges. California Polytechnic State University is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).