|1||University of Southern California||California|
|2||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|3||University of Utah||Utah|
|4||Digipen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|5||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|6||Michigan State University||Michigan|
|7||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|8||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Massachusetts|
|11||University of California Los Angeles||California|
|12||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|13||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas|
|14||University of Denver||Colorado|
|15||Otis College of Art and Design||California|
|16||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||North Carolina|
|20||University of Wisconsin – Whitewater||Wisconsin|
Below are the Top 20 Game Design schools and colleges offering Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree programs for 2018. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) is home to 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. The Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences’ Interactive Media & Games Division offers a BA in Interactive Entertainment. The school says students in the program study within a framework, which combines a broad liberal arts background with specialization in a profession.
Sample courses for the program include Game Development, Cinematic Communication, Game Design Workshop, Interactive Entertainment, Computer Programming, Sound Design for Games, Usability Testing for Games, Transmedia Entertainment, 3D Computer Animation, Advanced Game Development, Anatomy of a Game, Design and Technology for Mobile Experiences, Statistical Analysis for Games: Storytelling with Numbers, and Business and Management for Games.
In addition to a wide variety of courses, students in the BA in Interactive Entertainment have access to USC’s is home to the GamePipe Laboratory. Sponsored by Intel, Sony, and other technology companies, the Lab produces a "Demo Day," which allows students to showcase their work. The semiannual event attracts game industry reps, reporters, faculty, students, and hundreds of spectators from across the country.
Dornsife programs are offered in in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts.
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home to nearly 14,000 students representing 109 countries. The school has more than 100 programs across seven colleges. In collaboration with the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department, the College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) offers a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) with a Concentration in Game Design.
IDeATe Collaborative Studios include Game Engine Programming offered by the Robotics Institute, Research Issues in Game Development offered by the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at CMU, and Programming for Game Designers—also offered by the ETC. An IDeATe Game Design Minor is also available to students in related majors.
The University of Utah (The U) was founded in 1850. Home to more than 31,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world, the school offers 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools, and nearly 100 departments. The School of Computing and Department of Film and Media Arts offer a BA in Film and Media Arts with an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE). The school says that a key feature of the EAE emphasis is its interdisciplinary nature. Students from both CS and Film & Media Arts will take common classes throughout their undergraduate years, culminating in a yearlong senior project where teams of students from both disciplines will build an interactive media project including elements drawn from gaming and animation.
Sample courses for the program include Animation Techniques, Intro to Videogames, Alternative Game Development, 3D Modeling for Video Games & Machinima, Computer Science, Computer Animation, Object Oriented Programming, and Traditional Game Development.
The BA in Film and Media Arts with an EAE Emphasis prepares students to enter careers in game design and development, or for entry into the graduate game programs at The U or other universities.
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 984 undergraduates and 78 graduate students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. BA programs for aspiring game designers include Game Design.
Students in the BA in Game Design program will focus on Game Design and Development, Foundational Topics, and Humanities and Social Science courses. Game Design and Development includes game history, game analysis, game mechanics, game dynamics, game aesthetics, 2D and 3D level design, character design, design documentation, and play-testing. Foundational Topics include drawing, modeling, animation, film, and music, as well as academic subjects like mathematics, physics, and computer science. Sample Humanities and Social Sciences courses include Psychology, Economics, Writing, and Communication.
The school says the program is ideal for students with a strong foundation in writing, art, music, history, and psychology, and those who have completed mathematics courses through pre-calculus prior to attending DigiPen. Students applying to the program must be well-rounded and passionate about game design (both digital and non-digital), including level design, system design, and behavior design.
Established in 1963 and home to more than 66,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. One of the school’s largest programs is game design.
The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) is UCF’s graduate video game design school. The Academy opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA is home to dozens of students enrolled several game programs. BA options include a BA in Digital Media. Offered through both FIEA and the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), the BA in Digital Media has a Specialization in Game Design.
In the Game Design Specialization, students learn about the history, culture, design, and implementation of video games and video game technologies, says the school. Students will complete courses where they build a series of smaller games throughout the semester, as well as courses focused on larger projects.
Sample courses for the program include Casual Game Production, Game Design, Digital Cultures and Narrative, Evolution of Video Games, Modeling for Realtime Systems, Digital Video Fundamentals, User-Centered Design, Fundamentals of Interactive Design, and Media Business Practices. Students will also engage in multiple workshops and take support courses such as AI for Game Programming, Writing for Video Games, and Video Games in Society.
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is home to more than 50,000 students from all 82 counties in Michigan, all 50 states, and more than 133 other countries. MSU students have access to more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses the Media and Information (MI) Department—home of the game design program.
Here students can earn a BA in Media and Information with a Game and Interactive Media Design Specialization or a BA in Studio Art with a Game Design and Development Specialization. The Specializations are also available to other majors “on a case-by-case basis, particularly those in the Honors College.”
Besides the BA programs, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. According to the College, the mission of the GEL Lab is to “design innovative prototypes, techniques, and complete games for entertainment and learning and to advance state of the art knowledge about social and individual effects of digital games.”
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from around 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including a BA in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD).
Offered through the School of Digital Media, the BA consists of the SCAD Core—a series of foundation studies and general education courses, focused on developing critical thinking and communication skills; 15 hours of free electives, and two concentration options including Game Development or Interactive Design and Physical Computing.
Sample courses for the program include Programming, Interactive Design and Game Development Studio, Game Art, Game Tech, Visual Design for Interactive Media, Physical Computing, Interactive Web Design, Information Architecture, and Social Media Applications.
The BA is offered at the Savannah, Atlanta, and eLearning campuses.
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in 50 degree programs through several divisions and schools. The Division of Arts & Sciences offers a BA in Interactive Media & Game Development (BA IMGD).
One of the earliest gaming programs in the U.S., WPI’s IMGD program “blends the artistic and technical aspects of game development and interactive media.” Students will explore diverse topics such as Writing for Games, Game Audio, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Painting, Virtual Reality, and 3D Modeling. As such, graduates of the IMGD are prepared to work in the gaming industry, and apply their technical and creative skills in areas such as education, health care, art, and social sciences.
Drexel University was established in 1891. It serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The College of Computing & Informatics offers a BA in Computer Science (BACS) with a Concentration in Game Programming and Development (GMPD), Game Development and Design, or Artificial Intelligence.
The school says that the game concentrations provide conceptual understanding of game design and practical experience in the design and the development of games. Courses include Fundamentals of Game Design and Development, Large-Scale Game Development, and Special Topics in Educational and Experimental Game Design.
All students have access to Drexel Game Design (DGD) and the RePlay Lab. DGD and RePlay are collaborative efforts between the Digital Media program (in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) and the Computer Science department (in the College of Computing & Informatics).
John Hancock and Samuel Adams signed Becker College’s founding charter. Notable graduates and students include Eli Whitney (1788), William Morton (1836), and Elliott P. Joslin. Founded in 1784, Becker College is the nation’s 19th oldest campus. The school, which enrolls more than 2,000 students annually, from around the country and across the globe, offers 29 areas of study across six academic divisions including Animal Studies, Business, Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Design, Education and Psychology, and Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Design Division houses the Interactive Media Design program, which offers a BA in Interactive Media Design with Concentrations in Game Arts, Game Development and Programming, Game Production and Management, and Game Design. BA students also have access to a Minor in Interactive Media Management.
Besides a variety of game concentrations, Becker College houses the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). Established in 2011, “MassDiGI is the result of creative collaboration among academia, industry and government, aimed at fostering the growth of the game industry and innovation economy,” according to the school. It is a statewide center, “designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.”
Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to nearly 45,500 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments, and more than 40 graduate programs.
The School of Arts and Architecture is home to the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA), which offers a BA in Design Media Arts (BA DMA). The DMA program highlights game design study, interactivity and games, video and animation, visual communication, and more. With support from the School of Theater, Film, and Television, DMA also houses the UCLA Game Lab.
The primary function of the Lab is as “a research and production space for collaborative teams to pursue focused work on gaming projects.” It supports exploration of Game Aesthetics, Game Context, and Game Genres, while emphasizing the “conceptual risk-taking and development of new modes of expression and form through gaming.” In addition to producing games and research, the lab “functions as a center that develops public programming around critical issues in gaming, including: public lectures, workshops, exhibitions, a visiting artist program, and an annual public festival at the Hammer Museum.”
Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through Columbia’s School of Media Arts, Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department. Options include a BA in Game Art, a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development and Game Sound Design, and a BA in Programming with a Concentration in Game Programming.
According to the school, Game Art students learn game-oriented computer art and animation concepts. They visualize, model, and animate characters and environments as game-engine-ready production assets. Students graduate with a deep understanding of the video game industry, 3D art creation and the production pipeline for 3D games.
The school says Game Development students will design a wide range of games and simulations in terms of gameplay, narrative, and user engagement and experience. The curriculum includes advanced classes in game design theory and analysis in addition to game engine scripting and development. Students will master effective game production techniques for both commercial-style and independent projects and will build a game in the collaborative senior capstone.
Game Programming students will learn to develop games, simulations and other game-like interactive experiences, according to the school. Students will make applications from year one and gain professional discipline working collaboratively with peers, graduating with a portfolio that will help them land a job as a programmer in a variety of fields.
The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school is home to around 37,650 students enrolled in more than 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) was created in 2015. It merged two long-running programs at UT Dallas: the program in Arts and Technology and the program in Emerging Media and Communication. ATEC serves more than 1,500 students, including 100 MA and MFA students and 40 doctoral students.
ATEC offers a BA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (BA ATEC). Undergraduates may choose between several pathways such as Game Design or Animation. BA ATEC students may also choose electives in more than one area.
Examples include User Experience Design for Games, Game Design, Interaction Design, Level Design, Modeling and Texturing, Virtual Environments, Rigging, Game Production Lab, Game Pipeline Methodologies, Serious Games, Game Production Lab, Interactive Narrative, and Educational Games.
Founded in 1864, University of Denver (DU) serves more than 11,400 students. The school offers more than 200 programs across eight undergraduate schools and colleges and 14 graduate schools and colleges. Just a few include the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, University College, the Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Daniels College of Business, and Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science offers a BA in Game Development. The program, which is a joint effort between Computer Science, Emergent Digital Practices, and Art, requires a double major, one in Game Development and one in either Digital Media Studies, Electronic Media Art Design or Studio Art. The program also requires more courses in the allied art fields than the BS, and is balanced by having fewer required Math and Computer Science courses.
According to the school, the degree is designed to allow students to bridge the gap between game programming and art, allowing the broadest range of opportunities throughout the field as developers, designers and artists. Graduates of the BA in Game Development will be able to study and work as a developer, game designer and artist.
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, General Harrison Gray Otis. The school serves approximately 1,100 full-time students enrolled in 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available.
Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BA in Digital Media with a Game and Entertainment Design Emphasis and a Minor in Digital Media. The school says students in the Game and Entertainment Design Major develop their skills in concept art and visual development, learning the principles and processes involved in creating the first visual representations of characters, environments, and props for films and games.
Students will also acquire the skills to design the gameplay, environment, storyline, and characters of interactive games, apps, and websites. Using the most advanced CGI technologies, students acquire the techniques to create stunning visual effects for films, commercials, and videos, says the school. All OTIS students have access to nine labs and shops from audio/video to the model shop.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) opened as an evening college center for returning veterans on September 23, 1946. When it opened, the school was home to 278 students. Today, UNC Charlotte is home to 29,317 students enrolled in 170 degree programs across seven professional colleges. The College of Computing and Informatics houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers a BA in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming.
Sample courses for the BA include AI for Computer Games, Game Design and Development, Advanced 3D Computer Graphics, Interactive Computer Graphics, and Intelligent Robotics. The Capstone requirement highlights Game Design and Development Studio or Intelligent and Interactive System Studio.
Miami University was founded in 1809. The school serves around 24,500 students across one main campus (Oxford, Ohio), three regional campuses in Hamilton, Middletown, and West Chester, Ohio, and the European Center in Luxembourg. Miami offers bachelor's degrees in over 120 areas of study and graduate students choose from more than 60 master's and doctoral degree programs. Several associate's degrees as well as bachelor's degrees are offered through study at the regional locations.
The school consists of seven colleges, including the College of Creative Arts, which houses the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS). This cross-disciplinary institute works with students and faculty from across Miami University offering undergraduate, graduate certificate and graduate programs exploring the intersection of technology, design business and how digital technology is transforming traditional areas of inquiry, says the school.
Undergraduate degree options include a BA in Interactive Media Studies (IMS). IMS students have the option to enhance their degree with a Game Minor. Sample courses for the IMS program include Game Design, Game Development, Game Studies, Game Programming, Art and Interaction, Interactive Animation, Building Interactive Objects, Advanced 3D Visualization, The Design of Play, Narrative and Digital Technology, and Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Chartered in 1845, Baylor University serves more than 16,100 students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 89 countries. The school offers a broad range of degrees (more than 250) among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. The School of Engineering and Computer Science houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers a Game Development Concentration within the BA in Computer Science program.
The school says the concentration is designed to provide an understanding of the development and application of interactive digital media technologies. This program is offered in cooperation with the Film and Digital Media Division of Communication Studies, and it combines media course offerings with technical content in order to produce a graduate with skills that go beyond design and implementation.
The program features the Computer Science core, with a three-course game development sequence, and a four-course media production sequence taught in the Film and Digital Media department. As a specialization, the curriculum features the breadth of an undergraduate Computer Science degree along with specialization in areas central to the game development industry. Graduates of the program are awarded a fully-accredited Computer Science degree with all the associated career and graduate education opportunities.
Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) was founded in 1820 as “State Seminary.” The Seminary became Indiana College in 1828 and Indiana University in 1838. Today, Indiana University is the largest and oldest Indiana University campus, serving 43,710 students with a record 583,745 credit hours. The school has more than 550 academic programs across 16 degree-granting colleges and schools, plus the Hutton Honors College.
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to The Media School. Here, students can earn a BA in Media with a Concentration in Interactive and Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Art, Game Audio, or Game Production. Students can supplement their program with a Certificate in New Media and Interactive Storytelling.
All students also have the opportunity to select 15 elective credits refine their career path. In addition, students may take Human Computer Interaction courses in the School of Informatics and Computing and study abroad courses such as Game Development: Programming and Practice, Rhetoric of Gaming, and Game Development Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) was founded in 1868. The school serves 12,430 students enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate majors and 119 minors, and many areas of emphasis, as well as dozens of graduate programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Communication is home to the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BA in Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Visual Media, and a BA with a Major in Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) - Visual Media Design Emphasis.
The school says that Visual Media Design develops aesthetic sensibility and artistic design skills important in the production of original, creative, digital media content for interactive and time-based computer games, animation, websites, video, special effects, 3D and motion graphic industry and artistic productions.
Students in the MAGD program may choose additional elective courses from one of the other MAGD emphases including Communication/Gaming and/or Technology. Two team-based projects courses provide a capstone for the degree program. In addition, all students may participate in the MAGD Expo—a juried show of interactive entertainment, 3D, 2D, aural, virtual and animated creative work held annually at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.