What are the top master's degree programs for game design in the U.S. for 2024?

Top 25 Game Design Master's (MS/MA) Degree Programs in the U.S. – 2024 College Rankings
1University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
2University of UtahUtah
3University of Central FloridaFlorida
4Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew York
5University of California, Santa CruzCalifornia
6Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
7Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts
8DePaul UniversityIllinois
9Full Sail UniversityFlorida
10Georgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgia
11Michigan State UniversityMichigan
12Southern Methodist UniversityTexas
13Drexel UniversityPennsylvania
14Texas A&M UniversityTexas
15Northeastern UniversityMassachusetts
16University of FloridaFlorida
17Worcester Polytechnic InstituteMassachusetts
18University of Texas at DallasTexas
19Academy of Art UniversityCalifornia
20University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania
21Clemson UniversitySouth Carolina
22American UniversityDC
23George Mason UniversityVirginia
24Louisiana State UniversityLouisiana
25University of Advancing TechnologyArizona

For our graduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Science (MS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.

The Master of Arts (MA) is an advanced degree that focuses on areas such as the humanities. MA degrees are typically available in the areas of communications, English, teaching, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Seminars are the main method of learning for MA programs and most programs do not require a thesis.

The Master of Science (MS) degree option typically focuses on science, technology, engineering,  and math. This advanced degree often includes immersive lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation. Unlike MA programs, most MS programs require a thesis.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is academically recognized as a terminal degree and it is typically awarded in the visual, fine and performing arts. The MFA degree demands the highest level of professional competency in these areas and practicing artists must exhibit the highest level of accomplishment through the generation of a body of work.

Below are the Top 25 Game Design Schools and Colleges with MS-MA Programs for 2024.

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

University of Southern California (USC) Los Angeles is home to the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and USC Games--a multidisciplinary hub that provides minors and multiple programs leading to degrees at all levels. 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. 

For students seeking an MA or MS degree, USC Games provides the following options: the Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health) MA; Game Design and Development MS; and the Computer Science MS with a Game Development specialization. 

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. The program explores areas such as games for health, storytelling for mobile health, social and sensorimotor play, and healthy brain architecture. 

Examples of required courses for the program include Interactive Entertainment, Science, and Healthcare; Design for Interactive Media; and Transdisciplinary Media Design Practicum. Students may focus in different areas of games through 18 credit hours of required electives. Examples include Interface Design for Games; Visual Effects; Game Design Workshop; Game Development for Designers; Directing for Games and Interactive Media; Advanced Game Development; Experiments in Interactivity I-II; Interactive Design and Production; and Directing for Games and Interactive Media. The program culminates with the Capstone Project. 

The Game Design Development MS is an intensive two-year program that consists of core requirements, expressions studios, specializations courses, technical courses, professionalization courses, and capstone courses. Across areas, course examples include Gamer Development for Designers; Character Development and Storytelling for Games; Visual Expression; Game Prototyping; Motion Capture Performance; Designing Social Games; User Research for Games; and Advanced Game Development. 

The Computer Science MS with a Game Development specialization consists of a computer science core with an engineering based game development core and a research concentration in an area such as serious games, game development infrastructure, immersion, or cognition and games. Students in this program will take courses such as Analysis of Algorithms; Game Design Workshop; Machine Learning; Game Engine Development; Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality; Experiments in Interactivity I-II; Computer Animation and Simulation; and Advanced Mobile Devices and Game Consoles. 

MS students will complete several team projects and a final project. Students across all graduate programs are encouraged to complete an internship. Study abroad experiences are also available. 

Graduates of the Game programs at USC are prepared to pursue leadership positions across the industry. Many program alumni have also developed and sold their own games, and launched their own studios. Graduates have landed positions at studios such as Disney, CBS Interactive, Riot Games, ESPN, Apple, and Epic Games.

2. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
University of Utah

The Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) program at University of Utah (The U) was established more than a decade ago by faculty from the School of Computing and the Division of Film Studies. Today, EAE is a collection of academic programs known as Utah Division of Games. At the graduate level, the Division provides a Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE), and a dual MBA/MEAE for students interested in the business side of games. 

All EAE programs at The U are interdisciplinary and immersive with a focus on art, computational research, and social science. Designed as a cohort model, the MEAE requires students to remain together for the entire two years of the program. Available tracks include Game Design, Game Arts, Game Production, Game Engineering, and Technical Art. In addition to courses in their chosen track, all MEAE students will take game design, pre-production, and rapid prototyping classes, as well as concentrated electives. The MEAE culminates with a final project. 

Students in all EAE programs at University of Utah will work through every level of game creation. Graduates will enter the job market with one or more completed games. Depending on the program, EAE graduates will be prepared to pursue careers such as Game Artist, Game Designer, Video Game Engineer, Game Developer, Game Programmer, Game Simulation Software Engineer, Training Simulation Game Designer, and Visualization Developer.

3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

Visual and Performing Arts is one of the top five undergraduate disciplines at University of Central Florida (UCF). The Interactive Entertainment MS program is one of the school’s top 15 master’s degrees. Housed in the College of Sciences’ Nicholson School of Communication and Media (NSCM), and part of the Florida Interactive Academy (FIEA), the MS lists two sets of specialization options. The first consists of Art, Production, and Programming. Each requires nine credit hours. 

The second set of listed specializations includes Level Design; Tech Design; Modeling; Animation; Programming, Tech Art; and Project Management. Across specializations, students will explore Unreal Engine, Maya, AI programming, Visual Studio, Unity Game Engine, C#, history of animation, process analysis, digital sculpting in ZBrush, Python, visual effects, animation design, 3D Math, and graphics programming. 

The MS requires 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. The program has a 12-credit hour core consisting of Production for Media; Experimentation, Application, and Innovation in Games; Rapid Prototype Production; and Preproduction and Prototyping. Course examples across specializations include Digital Asset Creation; Production and Design; and Advanced Game Programming. 

All students will complete the Game Design Practicum (internship/full-time job) or Digital Venture Practicum (creating a start-up company). The MS culminates with the Capstone/Interactive Entertainment Project, where students will work in teams of 15-20 to develop their own games and interactive projects—from start to finish. Many FIEA students publish their games through avenues such as Xbox or Steam, resulting in their first published title. 

Students in all FIEA programs at University of Central Florida will work, learn, and collaborate in the Communication and Media Building which houses 112,000 square feet of state-of-the-art studio and classroom space. This includes Studio 500—one of the largest soundstages and motion capture studios on the east coast. Study abroad opportunities and career development resources are also available to all students. 

Graduates of the Games and Interactive Entertainment programs at University of Central Florida are prepared to pursue leadership roles in all areas of game design and development, interactivity, visualization, entertainment, and more. Across programs, alumni have been hired by more than 300 companies. 

Examples include Epic Games, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Gameloft, Blizzard Entertainment, Nintendo, Apple, Walt Disney Imagineering, Zynga, Cartoon Network, Marvel, Sony, Google, Blur Studio, Lockheed Martin, and Unity Technologies.

4. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was the first university to publish to the Xbox One platform. RIT also houses the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS)—home to the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM). Within the school is a Game Design and Development (GDD) MS, and an accelerated BS/MS that takes five years to complete. 

Students in the School of Interactive Games & Media benefit from seminars, lectures, discussions, and demos by industry professionals; game development and research studios; independent study; access to the Digital Games Hub, which provides mentoring and resources for students and independent developers to create new games, launch start-ups, and enter the games industry; and Creative Industry Days. 

Creative Industry Days is a series of events that allow students to network with major companies and studios, and participate in panels and portfolio reviews. Examples of past companies include Walt Disney, Epic Games, NetherRealm Studios, Adobe, Iron Galaxy Studios, Ogilvy, DraftKings, Enduring Games, CGI Digital, MahiGaming, and Zash Global Media & Entertainment. 

RIT IGM Game Design and Development students also have the opportunity to develop and commodify their own games at RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios. In addition, students have the rare opportunity to complete two paid blocks of cooperative education. This allows them to gain valuable experience in the games industry through full-time employment at a studio. Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Cartoon Network, and Google are examples of recent co-op companies. 

The Game Design and Development MS is a cohort-based program designed for students seeking careers in the games industry, visualization, simulation, or edutainment. Course examples include Game Development Process; Gameplay and Prototyping; Colloquium in Game Design and Development; Game Design; and Game Industry Themes and Perspectives. Advanced electives allow students to develop additional skills in a variety of areas. 

Elective examples include Artificial Intelligence for Gameplay; Game Graphics Programming; Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms; Console Development; Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization; IGM Production Studio; and Board and Card Game Design and Development. 

The MS program culminates with the group Design and Development Capstone completed across two courses. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as Game Developer, Software Engineer, Full Stack UI Developer, Game Designer, Associate Engine/Graphics Automation Engineer, Junior C++ Developer, and Systems Design Engineer.

5. 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 including the MFA, MS, and PhD. 

MS degrees include Serious Games (SG), Computational Media (CM), and Games and Playable Media. Programs are available at the UC Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses and include 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. 

Students all 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. 

The culminating experience for graduate students is the Thesis Project, Research Project, or both--students choice.   

Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Game Design programs enjoy a 93% job placement rate. Program 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. Graduates 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.

6. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

The School of Creative Technology at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has an Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD) MA that can be completed ate the Atlanta and Savannah campuses, and online via SCADnow. 

All School of Creative Technology programs provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience through internships with local and national studios. Students also have opportunities to work individually and in teams to complete projects across state-of-the-art customized facilities within the SCAD Digital Media Center (est. 2009) and Mongomery Hall. More than 130,000 square feet of space includes studio classrooms; 800 computers+; stop-motion sets; a green-screen stage; motion-capture technology; and AR/VR labs. 

Housed in the former home of the Atlanta TV Station WXIA, the SCAD Digital Media Center provides an in-house theater, green screen lab, and a real-world studio environment. Savannah College of Art and Design also houses six galleries in Savannah, and two in Atlanta. 

Each quarter, SCAD School of Digital Media invites professionals in the industry to meet with students on campus. During these meetings, students have the opportunity to interview and present their portfolios. Past visitors have been affiliated with studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Zynga, and Activision Blizzard. 

The Interactive Design and Game Development MA at SCAD requires 45 credit hours of study. The MFA requires 90. Both programs provide two concentration options: Game Development or Interactive Design. Game Development students will take courses such as Game Tech: Real-Time Materials and Shaders; Game Art: Art Direction and Look Development; Game Art: Virtual World Building; Game Design: Immersive Level Design; and Game Design: Professional Production Pipeline. Students also have the option to take one 700-level course from Animation, Games, VFX or other area. 

Interactive Design students will take courses such as Human-Centered Interactive Design; Physical Computing for Immersive Environments; User Interface Design for Virtual Communities; Human Experience Prototyping; and Innovative Systems for Digital Convergence. Students also have the option to complete a 700-level course in Game Design or other listed area. 

All MA students will complete the Interactive Design and Game Development MA Final Project. This culminating experience consists of the production of an industry-level project from research and conceptualization to implementation. 

Graduates of the Game Design and Development programs at Savannah College of Art and Design are routinely hired by EA, Epic Games, Zynga, Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Gearbox Software, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Bethesda, Firaxis Games, and Sucker Punch Productions.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is home to the MIT Game Lab. This research and development hub helps students customize a plan of study that matches their goals. Students may study game design through programs with built-in “clusters” or through electives across MIT departments. Popular departments for game design include Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and Comparative Media Studies (CMS).   

Part of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the Department of Comparative Media Studies (CMS) provides a graduate program leading to an MS. The CMS Games and Interactive Media Cluster here consists of more than 20 game design course options. 

The Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department (EECS) is part of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. EECS is the largest department at MIT. At the graduate level, the EECS provides an MS in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). This highly interdisciplinary program emphasizes on-campus team and independent projects; lab work and research; and internships with MIT partner companies. 

MIT CSE students will explore areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI) and graphics; programming languages; artificial intelligence (AI); software engineering; algorithms and theory; machine learning; and computer systems. 

Elective requirements allow students to take additional courses that focus on games. Courses are available within and outside the department. Examples from the CMS Department include Game Design Methods; Games for Social Change; Advanced Game Design Studio; Game Design; Design and Development for Games and Learning; Fun and Games: Cross-Cultural Perspectives; Designing Interactions; Videogame Theory, Computation & Expression Studio; Games and Culture; and Interactive Narrative. 

Graduates of the Computer Science and Engineering programs (with MIT Game Lab) have been hired at studios such as Fire Hose Games (founded by MIT alumni in 2008), Blizzard Entertainment, Harmonix Music Systems, Bungie Studios, Muzzy Lane (educational game studio), Learning Games Network (LGN), and Moonshot Games.

8. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) at DePaul University (DePaul) has a Game Design program with five degree options at all levels. For students seeking an MS, the program has a Game Programming option that emphasizes collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. As such, students have opportunities to work with peers across the audio, programming, fine art, and writing disciplines. 

The curriculum includes coursework that helps students navigate the game production process from inception to the testing phase. Courses may include Game Development; Game Engine Programming; Playtesting; Unity Workshop; 3D Animation; Advanced Game Design; Practical Scripting for Games; Physics for Game Developers; Game Sound Design; Rendering and Graphics Programming; Real-Time Software Development; 3D Design and Modeling; Tool Programming for Game Development; Game Modification Workshop; and Game Development Studio. Electives allow students to explore areas such as AI, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and animation. 

All Game Design students have access to the game development studio DePaul Originals; the Deep Games Laboratory; and CDM facilities such as the gameplay, playtest and usability, virtual reality, and game development and research labs. Other program features include participation in a variety of exhibitions; internships with local and national studios; and the biennial Japan Study Abroad Program 

This two-week trip to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya consists of visits to game and animation companies; galleries and museums; restaurants; and temples, cultural centers, and historic sites. In Nagoya, students will collaborate with Japanese game and animation students at Trident College of Computing. This two-day game/animation jam is the culminating experience for the trip. 

Graduates of the Game Design programs at DePaul University will enter the job market with a portfolio of their best work. Some of the top careers for DePaul Game Design graduates include Game Design and Development, Software Engineering, Animation, Project Management, Computer Graphics, and Commercial Production. 

Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Epic Games, iiRcade, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Fast Radius, and Speegs Media.

9. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Full Sail University is home to The Gaming School, which houses classrooms and production studios that function just like most major production studios. The school also houses nine game design programs at all levels. At the graduate level, Full Sail University has a Game Design MS that focuses on production, design, and user experience research. Students may craft a track that matches their career goals and chosen area of expertise. Examples include game design, producing, research, and publishing. The MS program can be completed on campus or online. 

In addition to gaining production experience in a real-world studio environment on the Full Sail University campus, all Gaming School students have opportunities to work off campus at local and national studios through the internship program. Courses in The Gaming School are also immersive. Course examples across all programs include Motion Capture; Prototyping and the User Experience; Game Mechanics; Data Visualization & Modeling Engine Development; Prototyping and Content Creation; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Game Production Tools. 

All students will explore all roles in the production pipeline; test simulation; video game development for computers, networks, and console; animation; game effects; and narrative design. Graduates are prepared to pursue roles across the games industry, film and animation, advertising, media, simulation for training and development, and many other industries. 

Full Sail University’s Career Development Department provides 24/7 access to job opportunities, with workshops and presentations that cover branding, networking, research strategies, and interviewing techniques. The department also coordinates local hiring events and events in other markets such as Los Angeles and New York. 

Full Sail University graduates have worked on many popular games, films, and ad campaigns. Games include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Overwatch 2, Horizon Forbidden West, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, and Fortnite. More than 350 Full Sail graduates were credited on 31 projects nominated in 22 categories at the 2023 Game Awards. 

Thirty-five graduates contributed to nine winning projects in 15 categories including Best Narrative and Best Game Direction for Alan Wake 2; Best Score and Music for Final Fantasy XVI, Best Audio Design, Hi-Fi Rush; Innovation in Accessibility, Forza Motorsport; and Best Ongoing Game and Best Community Support for Cyberpunk 2077

Full Sail University alumni have also been hired by companies and studios such as DreamWorks, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, HBO, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney, Universal Studios, Miramax, Nickelodeon, MTV, Bunim Murray, and ESPN.

10. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is home to the College of Computing and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts-School of Literature, Media, and Communication. Together, these academic colleges provide an MS and in Digital Media, and a dual BS Computational Media/MS Digital Media. 

Across all graduate level programs, courses may include Principles of Interactive Design; Special Topics in Game Design; Experimental Media; Interactive Fiction; Human-Computer Interaction (HCI); Pro-Seminar; and Project Studio. Graduate students will also complete an 8 to 10-week, full-time non-credit internship, and a Thesis Project. 

All students have access to the GVU Center Game Studio at Georgia Tech; the Institute for People and Technology (IPaT); and international campuses in the world’s largest games industry—China. 

Graduates of the Digital and Computational Media programs at Georgia Institute of Technology go on to successful careers in Game Design and Development, Interactive Design and Game Simulation, Animation, Special Effects, AI and Robotics, Visual Effects (VFX), and 3D Modeling, among others. Some of the top hiring companies for Georgia Tech alumni include Electronic Arts (EA), Amazon, Google Interactive, Microsoft, Cox Communications, NBC Universal, Apple, Boeing, TNT Sports, Ogilvy, and Delta Airlines.

11. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci) and the College of Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) provide several paths to study game design. Serving more than 3,500 students, the ComArtSci houses the Department of Media and Information (MI)—home to the Game Design and Development Program. Established in 2005, the program provides two graduate options: the Media and Information MA (MI MA), and a Serious Games MA certificate. 

The College of Engineering at Michigan State University houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering—home to the Computer Science (CS) MS program with a specialization in MI Studies. MS students also have the option to take games-related courses in other departments. Students will take required courses in Systems Design and Analysis; Theory and Algorithms; and Data Analysis and Applications. 

The Serious Games MA certificate attracts MSU MI graduate students, CS students, Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) students, and doctoral students from other universities. However, the certificate is open to all MSU graduate students as a stand-alone program. Courses include Theories of Games and Interaction Design; Understanding Users; and Foundations of Serious Games. The Serious Games MA certificate is transcriptable, and it can be completed on campus or online. 

The Media and Information MA at Michigan State University is a STEM-approved program that explores design, communication technologies, and management. The program is immersive, hands-on, and customizable, with opportunities to engage in real world experiences. As of 2024, MI MA students also have the option to focus in Game Design, HCI/UX, Information Studies, or Media Policy. Students have the option to customize a track with courses from all focus areas. 

In addition to specific focus area courses, all MI MA students will take courses such as Foundations of Serious Games; Game and Project Design Studio I and II; Interaction Design; Interactive Usability and Accessibility: Design and Evaluation; Global Media and Communications; and Theories of Games and Interaction Design. 

Other program features include access to state-of-the-art facilities; participation in game development and testing; access to labs that explore virtual reality (VR); and participation in research groups and visiting artist talks. 

The culminating experience for the MI MA is the Master’s Project, completed across two courses. Graduates of the MI MA program at Michigan State University are prepared to pursue leadership roles in areas such as 3D Game Design, UI/UX, and 3D Technology. Program alumni have been hired at major studios such as Rockstar Games, EA, Insomniac Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Ubisoft, and Bungie.

12. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to SMU Guildhall. Launched in 2033 with just 32 students, this education initiative was the first digital game development program of its kind. Serving hundreds of students today, SMU Guildhall is still the only graduate program in the country to provide specializations in all four areas of video game development: Design, Production, Art, and Programming. 

SMU Guildhall students also benefit from the program’s partnerships with hundreds of studios and companies across the globe. Some 1,000+ SMU Guildhall alumni work (or have worked) at more than 350 studios worldwide. Examples include Blizzard Entertainment, Insomniac Games, Microsoft Game Studios, Gameloft, Samsung, Disney Interactive, Epic Games, Riot Games, Bungie, Unity, and Bethesda. Other SMU Guildhall highlights include workshops, lectures, and guest speakers; mentorship programs; team game projects; and professional development coursework, portfolio reviews; and career fairs. 

SMU Guildhall at Southern Methodist University has two paths to study game design: the Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development (thesis required) and a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development (no thesis). Guildhall specialization options include Production, Art Creation, Software Development, and Level Design. Guildhall students have the opportunity to develop a minimum of three industry-ready 2D and 3D games. This is a requirement to graduate. 

Graduates of the Game Design programs at Southern Methodist University are prepared to pursue advanced roles in all areas of game design and development. Program alumni have worked on games such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, Guitar Hero, Assassins Creed, Game of Thrones, God of War, Marvel Avengers, Grand Theft Auto, League of Legends, Batman, Disney Infinity, Elite Force, Days Gone, Atlas, Doom, and Diablo. 

In addition to the studios mentioned earlier, SMU graduates have been hired at places such as include Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, Bioware, Oculus VR, Zenimax Online Studios, Gearbox, Valve, Obsidian Entertainment, Irrational Games, and Crystal Dynamics.

13. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design (The Westphal College) at Drexel University (Drexel) has several single and dual graduate program options for game designers. All provide access to the state-of-the-art Animation Capture & Effects Lab (ACE-Lab); the URBN Center, which features an open floorplan, shared making spaces, and innovative labs and studios; advanced graphics workstations; the Immersive Research Lab for virtual reality, augmented reality, and immersive media projects; and a theme-park quality motion simulation platform. 

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), graduate options within The Westphal College include the Digital Media MS; the Game Design and Production BS/Digital Media MS; and the Digital Media BS/Virtual Production MS. 

All Westphal College programs are hands-on and studio-based, with small class sizes that allow for individual instruction. Students will develop skills in computer graphics; real-time visualization (virtual reality, augmented reality, and immersive media); animation; scripting and storytelling; computer programming; and Motion Capture.

Mandatory participation in the Drexel University Cooperative (co-op) Education Program enables all students to gain work and world experience prior to graduation. Co-op experiences take place at local and national companies, and overseas in places such as Greece, London, Ghana, Hong Kong, and Spain. 

Across all programs, students also have access to the Drexel Game Design and the RePlay Lab; the Entrepreneurial Game Studio (EGS); and the Center for Games, Artificial Intelligence, and Media Systems (GAIMS Center). Graduates of the Game Design programs at Drexel University are prepared to pursue advanced roles in PC Game Design, Serious Games, Console Game Design, Game Art, Mobile Game Design, and Simulation and Job Training. 

More than 80% of Drexel gaming graduates and nearly 90% of dual degree graduates are working in an area directly related to game development. Drexel alumni have been hired at places such as Disney Imagineering, Lockheed, Xbox Game Studios, Disney Interactive, Razorfish, Zynga, Blizzard Entertainment, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Microsoft Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Digital Domain, BioWare, Gameloft, Volition Inc., NCSoft Carbine Studios, and Comcast Corporation.

14. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University (TAMU) is home to the School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts (PVFA), which houses the Visualization MS program. This graduate program takes place in studio environment, where students will work on a variety of exercises and projects using electronic and traditional media. Students also have access to two tracks and eight emphasis area options. MS students may focus in Gaming; Interactive Design; Computer Graphics; Virtual Reality; Computer Animation; Augmented Reality; User Experience Design; or Data Visualization. 

Tracks include: Thesis and Non-Thesis. The Thesis track is 32 credit hours. The Non-Thesis track is 36 credit hours. The Thesis track is an ideal option for students interested in careers in gaming, animation, motion graphics, concept art, and rigging. Students in this track are encouraged to have both local and competitive external exhibitions related to their thesis work. 

The Non-Thesis track allows students to customize the curriculum through a combination of required and elective courses. The culminating experience for this option is the creation and defense of a capstone project. In both tracks, students will develop projects under the direction of a faculty advisor. 

Graduates of the Visualization programs and Game Design and Development minor at Texas A&M University are prepared for careers in fields such as Game Design, Game Level Design, Game Asset Development, Production Management, Technical Art, Production Management, UI/UX Development, and Visual Development. 

TAMU alumni are often hired at local (and major) companies and studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Microsoft, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, LucasFilm Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Reel FX, Aspyr Media, Bouncing Pixel, and Presagis.

15. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

The College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) and Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University (Northeastern) jointly provide a Game Science and Design MS. This Interdisciplinary program features in-demand courses led by faculty experts, and the opportunity to participate in the school’s distinctive co-op program. 

Course examples include Building of Game Engines; Game Design and Analysis; Level Design and Game Architecture; Prototyping for Experience Design; Mixed Research Methods for Games Generative Game Design; Advanced Topics in Game Design; Business Models in the Game Industry; Game Studio; Spatial and Temporal Design; Game Concept Design; Psychology of Play; Human-Computer Interaction; Game Artificial Intelligence; Player Experience; Games and Society; and Data-Driven Player Modeling. 

The co-op program is an experiential learning option that allows students to gain up to 18 months of hands-on, professional experience in game design. Northeastern University partners with more than 20,000 co-op employers nationwide and in 65+ countries around the world. Examples include Hasbro, Mass DiGi, Live Nation, Harmonix, Jamspot, Greenbrier Games, Splash Damage Games, and Demiurge Studios.

In addition to gaining work experience through Northeastern’s co-op program, students enjoy hands-on learning in collaborative classrooms and studios; access to state-ot-the-art production facilities; and access to more than 3,350 employer partners, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and global companies.  

Graduates of the Game Design programs at Northeastern University are prepared to pursue positions in Game Design, Development, and Programming. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Xbox Game Studios (a division of Microsoft), Zynga, Google, and Cognizant. 

16. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida

College of the Arts (COTA) at University of Florida (UF) has been in existence since 1925. Within COTA is the Digital Worlds Institute, which houses the Digital Arts & Sciences (DAS) program. As part of UF, the DAS program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 

Digital Worlds Institute features include the DAS Mentorship Program; access to LUMA at Digital World Studios; guest speakers and lecturers; Portfolio Open House events; and participation in the internship program. 

At the graduate level, the Institute has an interdisciplinary DAS Masters (MiDAS) that explores game engines and development; emerging technologies such as AR/VR; software and hardware integration; design and interactivity; and proposals, project management, and production pipelines. The MiDAS program can be completed in an accelerated format in just one year. 

Graduates of the DAS program at University of Florida are Game Designers, Level Designers, Game Artists, Character Modelers, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Software Engineers, Technical Animators, Digital Storytellers, Motion Graphics Animators, UI/UX Designers, Production Coordinators, Entrepreneurs, and Freelance Designers. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as DreamWorks and Microsoft.

17. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) houses the School of Arts and Sciences, home to the Interactive Media & Game Development (IMGD) program. One of the earliest gaming programs in the U.S. IMGD provides degrees at all levels. For graduate students seeking an MS, WPI has MS and BS/MS degrees in IMGD. 

The interdisciplinary IMGD MS is a two-year program designed for students interested in careers in game design, game development, and interactive media. Students may specialize in Serious Games; Production and Management; or Technical. The IMGD MS culminates with a thesis or group project. 

All IMGD programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute provide access to state-of-the-art labs and studios such the dedicated IMGD Lab equipped with industry-standard software and hardware tools; an Artificial Intelligence & Intelligent Tutoring Lab; a Sound Recording Studio; and a Digital Art Studio. In addition, all programs blend art, technology, and real-world experience through a co-op or professional internship. 

As part of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, IMGD graduates enjoy frequent on-campus recruiting events and a 92.7% employment success rate. Examples of companies that have hired WPI IMGD graduates include NextGen Interactions, Centre Technology, Kaon Interactive, and Zudy.

18. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is home to the Harry W. Bass Jr. School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology (AHT). The AHT was established in August 2022 after the consolidation of the School of Arts & Humanities (founded in 1975), and the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC), founded in 2002 as Texas’s first Arts and Technology degree.

The AHT still houses the ATEC BA, MA, MFA, and PhD programs, all of which provide opportunities to study game design and development. MA students may be admitted to the Emerging Media Studies pathway, and/or create their own specialization through electives and other courses. Course examples for the program include History and Culture of Games; Virtual Worlds and Communities; Socially Conscious Games; Interactive Narrative; Critical Game Studies; Play and Culture; Aesthetics of Interactive Arts; Emerging Media and Identity; and Emerging Media Studio. 

All UT Dallas ATEC students have access to a variety of other state-of-the-art facilities and other resources including the Game Lab; CG Animation Lab; Motion Capture Studio; Games and Media Library; Surround Studio; Animation Lab; Narrative Systems Research Lab; The Studio for Mediating Play; ATEC Lecture Hall; experimenta.l.; Games Research Lab; Render Farm; 3D Studio; and Mixed Media Lab. The ATEC Lecture Hall has hosted speakers from Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks. 

The ATEC MA program culminates with the Master's Thesis or Advanced Master's Thesis. These advanced research projects will be presented to and evaluated by a master's committee. 

Graduates of the ATEC programs at University of Texas at Dallas are prepared to pursue roles across industries and at leading studios, companies, and other organizations. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Pixar, Apple, DreamWorks, Google, Disney, Toyota, and Capital One.

19. 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. For student's seeking a master's degree, the School of Game Development has MA degrees in Game Art and Game Development. Both 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.

20. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) houses a multidisciplinary program that is considered one of the few programs of its kind offered at a four-year research university. Launched in 2004 by the UPenn Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), the program—a Master of Engineering (MSE) in Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT)—is designed for recent graduates and industry professionals seeking career advancement. 

Established in 1975, the Center for HMS is housed in the Computer and Information Science Department (CIS), which is part the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. This means, CGGT MSE students will take at least four computer science and engineering courses. Other requirements include two creative art and design courses; one product design, development, and production course; one core area course; and one business and entrepreneurship. Course examples for the program include Game Design and Development; GPU Programming and Architecture; Computer Animation; Applied Machine Learning; Machine Perception; and Engineering Entrepreneurship. 

UPenn CGGT MSE students may also specialize in areas such as Animation and Simulation Technology; Human/Computer Interfaces and Production Management; Art and Animation; or Creative Design. Other program features include an accelerated one-year curriculum for students with a computer science or engineering degree; collaboration with students from other creative departments; and access the SIG Center for Computer Graphics, which features a state-of-the-art motion capture studio, high-performance NVidia GPU processors, ViDi Center for Digital Visualization Center, and AR/VR systems (Vive, Oculus, and HoloLens). 

Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania CGGT MSE Program are prepared for a variety of roles in the game design, entertainment, technology, design, and advertising industries, among others. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks Animation, Zynga, Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Microsoft, Activision, and Crystal Dynamics.

21. Clemson University, Clemson and Charleston, South Carolina
Clemson University

The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson University houses the School of Computing, home to the Division of Visual Computing. Within the Division is the Digital Production Arts (DPA) program. This interdisciplinary program collaborates with the Department of Art and the Department of Performing Art, with a significant focus on advanced studios and visualization as a problem-solving tool. 

For students seeking an MS, the Division of Visual Computing has a DPA MS, and a fast-track Computer Science Bachelor’s/Master’s (BS/MS). Course for the DPA program include Game Theory; 2D Game Engine Construction; Algorithms and Techniques; Physical Modeling and Animation; 3D Game Programming; Advanced 3D Modeling; Visual Foundations of Digital Production; Artificial Intelligence (AI); and Audio Practicum. 

Computer Science MS students will select a concentration area from six options. Human Centered Computing, Visual Computing, and Software Engineering are ideal options for game designers. Students may select additional games courses from electives. 

All Computer Science students also have the option to add the DPA minor, which provides access to courses such as Advanced 3D Modeling; Computer Graphics Images; Film; 2D Dimensional Animation; Visual Foundations of Digital Production I and II; and Special Topics in Digital Production Arts. 

Other Computer Science and DPA highlights include four dedicated instructional computer labs with 24/7 access; visits from representatives of major studios such as DreamWorks; access to state-of-the-art production studios and facilities with specialize equipment; high-tech classrooms and collaboration spaces; participation in the SIGGRAPH Conference; and internship opportunities and study abroad experiences in places such as Japan, England, Germany, and Spain. 

Graduates of the DPA and Computer Science programs at Clemson University are prepared to pursue roles across industries. Program alumni are Game Designers, Game Programmers, Technical Directors, Software Engineers, 3D Graphics Programmers, Art Directors, Animators, and AR/VR designers. Examples of companies that have hired Clemson DPA and CS graduates include Electronic Arts (EA), Apple, Google, Microsoft, Blur Studio, IBM, VMware, Sledgehammer Games, Boeing, IBM, CrowdStrike, Facebook, BMW, Delta Air Lines, Michelin, General Electris, and Savannah River National Lab.

22. American University, Washington, DC
American University

American University (AU) provides more than 20 online master’s degree and graduate certificate programs. This includes a Game Design MA, and a Computer Science MS. 

The Game Design MA is provided jointly by the School of Communication and the Department of Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Students in the MA program have the opportunity to select courses across schools and departments. Examples include Political Communication, Web and Mobile Development, Dynamic Content, and Business. The MA requires 21 credits in game design and six in the Master’s Portfolio Capstone. Game Prototyping, Making Meaningful Games, and Game Development are just a few required courses. 

Housed in the Department of Computer Science, the MS provides has a specialization in Game and Computational Media. In the specialization, students will explore games, simulation and modeling, media, software engineering, entertainment, artificial intelligence (AI), environments, programming languages, and computer architecture. Course examples include Game Programming; Game Prototyping; User Interface Analysis and Design; Game Development II; and Computer Vision. 

All students in the Computer Science MS program at American University have the opportunity to complete an internship and participate in collaborative research projects.  

Across all programs, students have access to the AU Game Center, which explores the use of games in recreation, the media, health, education, the community, politics, and policy. The Game Center also hosts workshops, and all participating students will obtain real-world experience by working on projects with the AU Game Studio, and clients including local studios, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Game students at American University also have opportunities to network at DC-area events such as the Global Game Jam, Games+, Indie Arcade at SAAM, and MAGfest. 

As part of AU, graduates of the Computer Science and Games programs enjoy a 90% success rate (working, graduate school, or both). American University graduates have been hired at places such as Amazon Studios, Disney, Google, NBC Universal, EPIC, Ogilvy, CNN, Zenith Media, BlueShark Digital, ESPN, Foursquare, FOX, IBM, Meta, 4media Group, A+G Digital, SBD Digital, and Acronym Media.

23. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
George Mason University

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at George Mason was established in 2001. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the CVPA has a Computer Game Design MA designed for students who have earned an undergraduate degree in game design or related areas such as technology, arts, or humanities. Students in this program will take courses such as Research Methodologies in Game Design, Game Production, Game Business, Entrepreneurship and Practice, and the Game Design Graduate Seminar. 

An internship is part of the 36-credit hour program, as well as the opportunity to enhance the degree through electives. Just a few elective options include Game Studio Management, Advanced Music and Sound for Games, Advanced Game Animation, and Interactive Game Systems Design. 

All Computer Game Design students at George Mason University have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI). Housed at GMU’s Science and Technology Campus, VSGI focuses on job creation, start-ups, and research. In collaboration with companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, VSGI develops research projects in areas such as Cyber-Game education, mobile and wearable game technologies, EdTech Game platform development, AR/VR diagnostic and training solutions, and MedSim. 

Also part of GSU’s VSGI is the Mason Game and Technology Academy (MGTA). Founded in 2013, MGTA provides the opportunity to develop skills in game design and programming, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Graduates of the Computer Game Design program at George Mason University are prepared to pursue leadership roles in the technology sector, and in the commercial, entertainment, serious games, education, and nonprofit arenas. Some program alumni have launched their own studios or freelance businesses, while others have been hired at studios such as Bethesda Softworks, Big Huge Games, CatHill Games, Ready at Dawn Studios, and Citadel Studios.

24. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) has a Digital Media Arts & Engineering MS (MS DMAE) that provides access to the DMAE LAB 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Examples of available software, hardware, and resources include state-of-the-art Alienware workstations; Adobe, Epic Unreal, and SideFX Houdini; Oculus Rift and Ocular Quest; Audio Recording Studios; Microsoft Visual Studio; Autodesk Maya; and YoYoGames GameMaker. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the LSU Global Game Jam.

Housed in the Division of Computer Science & Engineering, the MS DMAE is a twelve course, 45 credit hour program that can be completed in 22 months. Students in this program will complete a series of team-based projects using professional tools and pipelines. Industry software tools include Maya, Nuke, Unity, and Houdini. Course examples for the program include Advanced Programming & Digital Art; Rapid Prototyping & Innovation; Interactive Design; and Digital Media Production & Project Management. 

Halfway through the LSU MS DMAE program, students will complete a Digital Media Internship. During the final two semesters, students will work in teams to complete a final project. 

Graduates of the Digital Media Arts & Engineering program at Louisiana State University are prepared to pursue leadership roles in video game design, video game software engineering, visual effects (VFX), interactive sound design, 3D animation, digital illustration, 3D modeling, and web development, among others. 

25. University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, Arizona
University of Advancing Technology

University of Advancing Technology (UAT) houses one of the nation’s only fully accredited game design (GD) programs that provides degrees across the discipline. Launched in 1995, UAT GD consists of the Game Design BA (GD BA), Game Programming (GP BS), Game Production and Management MS (GPM MS), and Game Art and Animation (GAA BA). 

 The Game Production and Management (GPM) MS consists of four, nine-credit modules. In addition to the required GD and GPM modules, students may select two additional modules based to support their goals. Examples include Robotics and Kinematics, App Development, Technology Startup, Digital Maker, Data Cloud A.I., and Technology Leadership. The UAT MS may be completed on campus or online in 1-2 years. 

Graduates of the Game Design programs at University of Advancing Technology are prepared to pursue roles in games for entertainment, serious games, architecture, science and medicine, aerospace, defense, simulation training, advertising, television and film, law enforcement, and more. Program alumni have been hired by major agencies, organizations, and studios such as the U.S. Department of Defense, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Intel, Nickelodeon, Microsoft, and Google.