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What are the best public game design colleges in the U.S. for 2022?
|Ranking||School||% of Schools Considered|
|1||University of Utah||Top 2%|
|2||University of Central Florida||Top 3%|
|3||University of California, Santa Cruz||Top 5%|
|4||Georgia Institute of Technology||Top 6%|
|5||Michigan State University||Top 8%|
|6||University of California, Los Angeles||Top 9%|
|7||University of Texas at Austin||Top 10%|
|8||University of California, Irvine||Top 15%|
|9||Texas A&M University||Top 15%|
|10||University of Texas at Dallas||Top 15%|
|11||University of Washington||Top 20%|
|12||The Ohio State University||Top 20%|
|13||Purdue University||Top 20%|
|14||North Carolina State University||Top 25%|
|15||University of Florida||Top 25%|
|16||Clemson University||Top 25%|
|17||Indiana University||Top 25%|
|18||Miami University||Top 30%|
|19||University of Wisconsin||Top 30%|
|20||University of North Carolina—Charlotte||Top 30%|
|21||George Mason University||Top 35%|
|22||California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo||Top 35%|
|23||Ferris State University||Top 35%|
|24||University of Arizona||Top 35%|
|25||Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis||Top 40%|
What are the 2022 top ranked public college game design programs in the U.S.? For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (Top 2% of schools considered)
The Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) Program at the University of Utah (The U) offers five programs for game designers. Degree pathways include BS degrees in Games and Computer Science, a Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE), and a 24 credit hour Minor in Games. The BS in Computer Science has an EAE Emphasis, and a three-year, 84 credit hour, dual MBA/MEAE is available.
The EAE Programs at The U are interdisciplinary and immersive with a focus on computational research, art, social science, and art. Course examples across EAE include Alternative Game Development, Ethics in Games, Assets Pipeline, Digital Content Creation, Traditional Game Development, Survey of Games, Programming, Scientific Computing, Machinima, Serious Game Development, Algorithms, Game Engineering and Production, and Competitive Strategies.
Students in the programs will work through every level of game creation and they will graduate with one or more completed games. Depending on the program, EAE graduates will be prepared to pursue positions in game art, design, development or engineering, simulation or edutainment, business (games), and visualization, among others.
University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Founded in 1850, The U is Utah’s public flagship institution and a top-tier research university. University of Utah serves around 34,425 students, enrolled in more than 200 programs in 17 colleges and schools.
2. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida (Top 3% of schools considered)
The Game Design Programs at University of Central Florida (UCF) are housed in Nicholson School of Communication and Media (Games and Interactive Media Department) and the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). Degree pathways lead to a BA, MA or Minor in Digital Media or an MS in Interactive Entertainment. The Digital Media Program has a Game Design Track and the MS in Interactive Entertainment has specializations in Programming, Modeling, Tech Art, Animation, Level Design, Tech Design, and Project Management.
All students have access to state-of-the-art production facilities, such as the 3,300 square feet MOCAP studio, where they have the opportunity to develop their own games (in teams) from start to finish. Internships and career development resources are also available. To date, more than 300 companies have hired UCF Games/Interactive Media and FIEA graduates. Examples include Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Blizzard, Nintendo, Cartoon Network, Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Blur Studio, Walt Disney Imagineering, Zynga, Unity Technologies, and Lockheed Martin.
University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1963, the school opened as Florida Technological University with just under 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves more than 70,000 students enrolled in nearly 240 degree programs, making it Florida’s largest university by enrollment, and one of the largest universities in the U.S.
3. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California (Top 5% of schools considered)
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 MFA, MS, and PhD degrees.
Programs are offered at the UC Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses and include Computer Science: Computer Game Design (BS), Art & Design: Games and Playable Media (BA), Digital Arts and New Media (MFA), Serious Games, Computational Media, and Games and Playable Media (MS degrees), Computer Science and Computational Media (PhD).
Students in 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 participation in the Annual Games Showcase, game design internships, and frequent studio tours. Undergraduates will complete a Capstone Project during the final year of their program and graduate students will complete a Thesis Project, Research Project, or both.
Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Game Design Programs have gone on to establish careers in the industry at companies and studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Tencent, Amazon, Universal, Google, TicToc Games, Method Studios, Ubisoft, TopGolf, and Hi-Rez Studios, among others.
University of California, Santa Cruz is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Established in 1965, the school provides 130 programs to a population of around 18,140 students. Programs at the University of California, Santa Cruz are offered in 10 colleges.
4. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia (Top 6% of schools considered)
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) offers programs for game designers in several colleges and schools. These academic units work together to advance the game community. In addition to the opportunity to select courses across departments, design students have access to the GVU Center Game Studio at GeorgiaTech, the Institute for People and Technology (IPaT), and international campuses in the world’s largest games industry—China.
The College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts offer a BS in Computational Media (BSCM), MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media and a Minor in Computing & Media. A BS/MS in Computer Science is also available.
The Computational Media Program at GeorgiaTech launched in 2004 with just one student. Today, the program serves more than 300 students, making it one of the school’s fastest growing programs. The BSCM Program offers focus areas such as Games, Interaction, and Narrative. Sample courses include Game Design as a Cultural Practice, Computer Animation, Principles of Interaction Design, and Constructing the Moving Image.
The Computing & Media Minor requires 19 credit hours of study, with elective course options such as Video Game Design and Programming, Digital Video Special Effects, and Information Visualization. Just a few required courses include Objects and Design, Computer Graphics, and Computer Organization and Programming.
Across all graduate level programs, courses may include Special Topics in Game Design, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interactive Fiction, Experimental Media, Principles of Interactive Design, Pro-Seminar, and Project Studio. Graduate students will also complete an 8-10 week, full-time non-credit internship and a Thesis Project.
Graduates of the Digital and Computational Media Programs at Georgia Institute of Technology go on to establish successful careers in interactive design and game simulation, animation, special effects, robotics, and 3D modeling, among others.
Georgia Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1885, the school opened with just 129 students and one degree program—a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Today, GeorgiaTech serves nearly 40,000 students enrolled in more than 180 degree programs and minors in six distinct colleges and 28 schools.
5. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (Top 8% of schools considered)
Michigan State University (MSU) houses the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci) and the College of Engineering. Both offer pathways to study game design.
Serving more than 3,500 students, the College of ComArtSci houses the Department of Media and Information (MI)—home to the Game Design Program. Established in 2005, the program offers a BA in Games and Interactive Media, and an 18 credit hour Minor in Game Design and Development that can be added to the BA program or any other major at MSU. An MA in MI with a Games Studies and Design Focus is also available.
The BA program is project-based and explores topics such as the game design process, emerging interactive media, and production. Focus areas include Game Design, Games Graphics and Animation, and Game Development.
Sample courses for the program include Compositing and Special Effects, Building Virtual Worlds, Serious Game Design, Game Writing, and Media Sketching and Graphics. Students will leave the BA program with a professional portfolio of projects.
The Michigan State University MA in MI with Games Studies includes courses such as Game and Film Design Studio I-II, Interaction Design, Foundations of Serious Games, Interactive Usability and Accessibility: Design and Evaluation, and Theories of Games and Interaction Design. To graduate, MA in MI students must complete Master’s Thesis Research (4-6 credits) and the Master’s Project (4-6 credits). Graduates of the MA in MI Program are prepared for careers in 3D game design, UI/UX, and 3D technology, among others.
Michigan State University Games and MI alumni work for major studios such as Rockstar Games, Activision Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment, Bungie, Insomniac Games, Electronic Arts (EA), and Ubisoft, among others.
The College of Engineering at MSU houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, which offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science. All programs offer a Specialization in Media and Information Studies with the option to take games-related courses offered in other departments. Students in all programs will also take courses in Systems Design and Analysis, Data Analysis and Applications, and Theory and Algorithms.
Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Founded in 1855, the school began as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. Today, MSU is a land-grant research university that serves 49,695 students enrolled in more than 200 programs in 17 colleges and schools.
6. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 9% of schools considered)
The School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA). The department offers several multidisciplinary programs suitable for individuals seeking careers in game design. Option include BA and MFA degrees in DMA (BA DMA, MFA DMA). The undergraduate program explores everything from interactivity and motion to video and game design. Courses for the program are taught as studios of up to 22 students. Sample courses include 3D Modeling and Motion, Game Design, Tangible Media, Word + Image, and Video. DMA BFA students will complete a final project—the Senior Project—in Interactivity and Games, Video and Animation, or Visual Communication and Image.
The two-year UCLA DMA MFA requires a full year of thesis work. Students will work and learn through seminar and studio courses. All MFA students will have the opportunity to collaborate with instructors on research projects or work as teaching assistants.
In addition to the DMA programs, the University of California Los Angeles houses UCLA Extension and the UCLA Game Lab. UCLA Extension offers game design courses such as Developing Video Game Narratives, Unity: 3D Game Design and Game Engines, Composing Music for Video Games, Producing Commercials for Games, and 3D Real-Time Animation.
The UCLA Game Lab is a research center supported by the School of Theater, Film and Television, and UCLA Arts. All DMA and UCLA Extension students may participate in the lab, which hosts visiting artists and researchers, guest speaker events, and workshops.
University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, UCLA serves nearly 45,000 students enrolled in more than 200 across eight colleges and schools.
7. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas (Top 10% of schools considered)
The College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, which offers a BS in CS (BS CS) with a Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) Concentration. Graduate students may also study game design through the MS in CS (MS CS), and Five-Year BS/MS Integrated Program in Computer Science. In all options, students will study game technology and computer graphics. An internship and project-based capstone are also part of the program.
Students will also have opportunities to complete an internship with both local and national companies. Many internships lead to job offers.
A Game Design and Development curriculum was created in 2020 by the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET) in the College of Fine Arts’ School of Design and Creative Technologies, the CS Department, and Moody College of Communication-Department of Radio-Television-Film (RTF). AET offers courses focused solely on gaming, the CS Department covers visualization and coding for games, and cinematic arts, emergent media, and narrative design coursework is offered through RTF Department.
Students may focus in games through minor programs and concentrations offered in all three departments.
The University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1883, UT Austin serves nearly 52,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in Texas. Across 18 colleges and school, the University of Texas offers 156 undergraduate degree programs with more than 170 fields of study, 139 graduate degree programs, and nearly 100 doctoral programs.
8. University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California (Top 15% of schools considered)
University of California Irvine (UC Irvine) offers a BS in Game Design and Interactive Media (GDIM) in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences’ Department of Informatics. In addition to traditional game design and development techniques, the GDIM Program explores new and emerging technologies such as, human-computer interaction (HCI), and artificial intelligence (AI). Students will also study programming, data science, storytelling, and visual design through hands-on coursework. The program ends with a two-quarter capstone project. Students will complete the capstone under the guidance of industry mentors.
Graduates of the UC Irvine GDIM Program work in a variety of positions in the industry or they have gone on to pursue graduate study. Some have busy freelance careers and others have launched their own studios.
University of California-Irvine is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). With more than 1,200 faculty members and 10,000 staff, UC Irvine is Orange County California’s largest employer. Established in 1965, the school serves more than 36,000 students enrolled in more than 220 programs in 18 colleges, schools, and divisions.
9. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 15% of schools considered)
The College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (TAMU) is home to the Visualization Program (VISL or Viz Lab). Established in 1988, VISL consists of BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization and a Game Development Minor. Across programs, student have opportunities to study game design through free electives or emphasis areas such as Gaming or Interactive Design. Students may also add the Game Development Minor.
Course options across Viz Lab degree programs include Principles of Design, 2D and 3D Visualization Techniques, Visual Studies Studio, and Computing for Visualization. The 16 credit hour Game Development Minor consists of courses such as Computer Graphics, Programming, Communication and Video Games, HCI, and Interactive Virtual Environments.
The VISL MS program has thesis and non-thesis tracks. The thesis option is designed for students interested in games research development or entering a PhD program. The non-thesis track is a popular option for TAMU students who would like to focus on portfolio development in a specific area.
Texas A&M University VISL graduates are often hired at major studios such as Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, and Pixar.
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1876, TAMU is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. With more than 73,000 students, Texas A&M University is also one of the nation’s largest universities by enrollment. More than 400 degree programs are offered in 17 colleges and schools.
10. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 15% of schools considered)
The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is a research school that offers multidisciplinary STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering, and management) programs. Serving more than 1,800 students today, ATEC launched in 2015 after the merging of two departments: Arts and Technology and Emerging Media and Communication. Programs lead to the BA, MA, MFA, or PhD in ATC.
All ATEC Programs offer opportunities to study game design and development. For example, the ATEC BA has an Animation & Games (A&G) Concentration, and the MFA has a Game Development Concentration. Students may also create a specialization through electives and other courses.
Other ATEC Program highlights include access to the following studios and facilities: Game Lab, Motion Capture Studio, Games Research Lab, Surround Studio, The Studio for Mediating Play, Animation Lab, ATEC Lecture Hall, CG Animation Lab, 3D Studio, experimenta.l., Render Farm, Mixed Media Lab, Games and Media Library, Render Farm, Surround Studio, and the Narrative Systems Research Lab. The ATEC Lecture Hall has hosted speakers from Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks.
Graduates of the ATEC Program at University of Texas at Dallas have been recruited by major studios and companies such as Pixar, Google, Capital One, DreamWorks, Apple, Toyota, and Disney.
University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in the 1960s by the creators of Texas Instruments, UT Dallas opened in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. University of Texas at Dallas is a member of the University of Texas System, serving nearly 29,700 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across eight schools.
11. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 20% of schools considered)
University of Washington (UW) offers a Certificate in Game Design in the College of Professional & Continuing Education (PCE). Designed for artists with at least two years of college experience who are interested in launching a career in game design or working designers and developers seeking advancement opportunities in the games industry. This three-quarter intensive program covers game design, game mechanics and systems design, and game studio roles and development.
The UW PCE Game Design Certificate was developed in partnership with the UW Bothell Digital Future Lab. The program is approved by the UW Bothell School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.
For students seeking a degree, the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) undergraduate and graduate programs that offer access to four main labs in the Allen School: Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), Center for Game Science, Animation Research Labs, and the 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 Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Xbox Game Studios, and Bungie, 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 a few areas. Established in 2018, UW Reality Lab houses ongoing programs including The Reality Studio and The Reality Lab, courses, lectures, and the idea incubator.
Allen School CSE academic programs include BS degrees in CS or Computer Engineering, the combined BS/MS in CS or Engineering, the Professional Master’s Program (PMP), and a PhD in CSE.
University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at UW is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves around 57,300 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. UW offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options in 18 colleges and schools.
12. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 20% of schools considered)
The College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) offer several programs that provide opportunities to study games.
In the OSU College of Engineering, options include BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A Computer Graphics and Game Design Concentration is available. In the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Art has BA and BFA Programs in Art with a Specialization in Art & Technology. The specialization explores art games, moving images, 3D modeling and animation, sound, emerging forms, and more.
Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design, which offers a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track within the MFA Program. The Track requires 12 studio elective credits and six credits of interdisciplinary electives, allowing plenty of opportunities to create a focus in games. A Design Research and Development (DRD) Track, also within OSU’s Department of Design MFA Program, is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program that encourages study across departments, research areas, and themes. Open electives provide additional opportunities to explore games.
Examples of possible elective courses across programs and departments include Computer Game Art and Design, Video Games and Society, Computational Thinking in Context: Game Development or Images, Animation, and Games Virtual Modeling, Game Design I-II, Video Game Music, Esports and Game Studies, Philosophy and Videogames, Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Art and Technology, Screenwriting, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Graduates of The Ohio State University Art, Design, and CS Programs are prepared to pursue positions in everything from art and entertainment to technology and engineering. Possible job titles include Game Designer, Software Programmer, Virtual Reality Designer, Design Strategist, CG Specialist, Motion Graphic Designer, Interaction Designer, User Interface/User Experience Designer (UI/UX), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer, among others.
The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, the school serves more than 61,000 students enrolled 200+ majors, minors, and specializations in 18 colleges and schools.
13. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 20% of schools considered)
Purdue University houses Purdue Polytechnic Institute, home to the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and the Game Design Program. Degree options include a BS in CGT with a Game Development and Design Major, an MS in CGT, and a PhD in Technology.
The CGT BS highlights immersive, collaborative projects with peers and professors, a STEM-based curriculum, and coursework that covers game design, programming, rendering, animation, and visualization. Past final projects have focused on games utilization in entertainment, for sustainable energy, medicine, and therapy, and for information visualization, to name a few. CGT BS graduates are game designers, technical artists, and animators. They work at Electronic Arts (EA), Volition, Inc., Zynga, and Riot Games, among others.
The Purdue Polytechnic MS in CGT has four specialization areas: Games, Animation, Information Visualization, and UX Design. Graduate students may also customize a plan of study to meet their professional goals. The program offers small class sizes, research opportunities, the chance to work on real-world projects. Graduates are game developers, UX designers, and technical directors, at places such as DreamWorks, Google, Deloitte, and Salesforce.
The PhD in Technology Program allows a minimum of 30 credit hours to be taken in a custom specialization, and 27 credit hours from any Purdue college or school other than Purdue Polytechnic. Courses may come from art and design, computer science, engineering, instructional technology, quality, and other areas. PhD students must complete a Thesis to graduate. Program alumni are educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and designers.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1869, the school serves nearly 50,000 students, enrolled in more than 400 programs in 10 colleges and schools—including Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology, the Institute serves around 6,000 enrolled in dozens of technology-centered programs across seven departments and schools.
14. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 25% of schools considered)
The College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NC State) houses the Department of Computer Science, which has a Game Development Track in the Computer Science (CSC) Program. The undergraduate program leads to a BS. For designers looking to earn a CSC BS and MS in a short amount of time, an accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree is available.
Students in all CSC programs have access to The Digital Games Research center (DGRc). Launched in May 2007, The DGRc engages in education and research in games and games technologies. In a collaborative environment, students can work on projects with game developers and games studio teams that focus on everything from mobile games to artificial intelligence (AI). Thanks to partnerships and licensing agreements with engine providers and game studios, NC State graduates are often hired by local game companies.
Other DGRc highlights include access to the new Games and Visual Narrative Suite, the Visual Narrative Initiative (VNI)— a research cluster established in 2015, and participation in the Game Developers Conference and Games and Visual Narratives Showcase.
North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). With more than 36,000 students and 9,000 faculty and staff members, NC State is the largest university in the University of North Carolina System. Established in 1887, North Carolina State University offers more than 300 degree programs in 11 colleges and over 60 academic departments.
15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 25% of schools considered)
University of Florida (UF) houses the UF College of the Arts. Established in 1925, the college is home to the Digital Worlds Institute, which offers a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS), a DAS Minor or a Masters in Digital Arts and Sciences (MiDAS). UF Online offers a fully online BADAS Program. Institute features include the DAS Mentorship Program, guest lecturers, access to LUMA at Digital World Studios, and Portfolio Open House events.
All UF Digital Worlds Programs combine arts, engineering, communications, and science. Course examples across pathways include Creating Mobile Games, 3D Animation Techniques, Game Content Creation, Game Systems Development, Game Design and Production, Digital Storytelling, Game Development, and Interaction & Usability. An optional internship is also offered. The undergraduate program requires 120 credit hours of study and successful completion of a final DAS project.
The UF Digital Worlds Institute MiDAS Program explores game engines and development, software and hardware integration, design and interactivity, emerging technologies such as AR/VR, and proposals, project management, and production pipelines. The program is offered in an accelerated format, so it takes just one year to complete.
Graduates of the BADAS and MiDAS Programs at University of Florida are freelance designers, entrepreneurs, game designers, character modelers, production coordinators, level designers, technical animators, visual effects artists, software engineers, motion graphics animators, digital storytellers, UI/UX designers, and more. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Microsoft and DreamWorks.
University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school opened as the Gainesville Academy in 1858. Today, UF serves nearly 58,000 students, making it one of the nation’s largest public universities by enrollment. University of Florida offers more than 300 degree programs across 14 colleges and schools.
16. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 25% of schools considered)
Clemson University’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences houses the School of Computing, home to the Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program and the Division of Visual Computing. Program options across the Division and DPA include Computer Science BA/BS programs, the DPA MFA/MS (MFA DPA/MS DPA), and a fast-track Bachelor’s/Master’s (BS/MS) in Computer Science. Students can add a Minor in DPA for Animation and Game Design. Offered since 2011, the DPA Minor focuses on Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation.
Course examples across programs include 2D Game Engine Construction, 3D Game Programming: Algorithms and Techniques, Game Theory, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced 3D Modeling, Studio Methods for Digital Production, Physical Modeling and Animation, Audio Practicum, and Visual Foundations of Digital Production.
Other Computer Science and DPA highlights include visits from representatives of major studios such as DreamWorks, participation in the SIGGRAPH Conference, access to state-of-the art production studios and facilities, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences.
Graduates of the Computer Science and DPA Programs at Clemson have gone on to become game designers, animators, technical directors, art directors, 3D graphics programmers, AR/VR designers, and software engineers, among others.
Program alumni have secured positions with companies such as Google, Disney Animation, Electronic Arts (EA), Blur Studio, Sledgehammer Games, IBM, and CrowdStrike.
Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school opened as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893 with 446 students. Today, Clemson is a public research university that serves nearly 27,350 students enrolled in more than 210 degree programs and 90+ minors.
17. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana (Top 25% of schools considered)
The Game Design Programs at Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) are offered in the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and The Media School, housed within the College of Arts and Sciences. In the Luddy School, students can earn a BS in Computer Science (CSCIBS) with a Game Development Specialization. The school also offers a distinctive Minor in Animal-Computer Interaction, which includes course options such as Game Development, Game Programming, and Game Art and Sound. A BA in CS is also conferred from IU's College of Arts and Sciences.
The Media School at IU Bloomington is a multidisciplinary division that appeals to students seeking careers in game programming, animation, sound production, music composition, or graphic design for multimedia. The school allows students to select elective courses from the Luddy School, Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, and the Jacobs School of Music. The Media School offers a BS and a Minor in Game Design, a BA in Media, and a Certificate in New Media and Interactive Storytelling.
BA students may pursue a specialization such as Game Production, Game Audio, or Game Art. Elective areas are available for BS students who would like to form an area of expertise. Areas include Art, Games and Mind, Game Design Theory, Programming, Sound, Management, and Advertising and Public Relations.
During the last two years of study, game design students will work their way through the Game Workshop Sequence, which includes three workshops: Prototype, Demo, and Publish. Modeled after game studios, the sequence ends with an industry-ready published game.
Students in all degree programs, minors, and specializations have access to GameDev@IU. This student-run organization provides hands-on experience for student game designers. Highlights include the opportunity to collaborate on game design projects, workshops, and participation in game jams. Game design students can also gain valuable hands-on experience through the Indiana University Bloomington Internship Program. Students have interned everywhere from Google to General Motors.
Graduates of the Game Design and Media Programs at IU Bloomington are prepared to pursue positions such as game designer, game artist, world designer, game developer, creative director, software developer, and animator, among others. Potential employer’s include Electronic Arts (EA), Blizzard, Zynga, and Ubisoft.
Indiana University Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission () of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1820, IU Bloomington was one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains. Today, Indiana University serves more than 71,000 students enrolled in 930+ academic programs across seven campuses and two regional centers.
18. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (Top 30% of schools considered)
The College of Creative Arts at Miami University (Miami Oh or Miami) houses the College of Creative Arts, home to the Department of Emerging Technology in Business + Design (ETBD)—formerly AIMS. Program options for game designers include a BA in Interactive Media Studies (IMS), and a BS and a Minor in Games + Simulation. Focus areas for the BS include Game Studies, Game Art, and Game Development.
The BA in IMS is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program that explores game design and development, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), user experience design (UX), and web app and development. Students may choose the between the Digital and Applied Concentrations. Both options require 64 credit hours in the IMS Major. Course examples include Introduction to Game Studies, Game Design, and Game Programming, Software Engineering for User Interface and User Experience Design, Advanced Interaction Design and Development, Highwire Brand Studio, Software Construction, and Art and Digital Tools.
IMS BA students will also complete three Collaborative Laboratory courses, the Interactive Media Studies Practicum, and the Senior Degree Project.
The Minor in Games + Simulation consists of 19 total credit hours, with collaborative courses between ETBD and the Computer Science and Art Departments. Electives within the program allow students to focus in a specific area such as Indie Game Development, Games and Learning, or Game programming.
Concentrations for the BS in Games + Simulation require 21 credit hours of study. The major consists of 76 credit hours. Course examples include Design Thinking & Principles, Game Studies, Game Usability & Human Factors, Advanced Game Design, Game Engine Scripting, and 3D Design. The program ends with the 12 credit-hour Capstone Studio, consisting of Game Pipeline and Production (three credits), Game Pre-production (three credits) and Game Production (six credit hours). In the Studio, game designers will produce an industry-ready game.
To gain valuable work experience in the industry, all students at Miami University may complete an internship at a local or national company. More than 20 local options are available for ETBD students. Examples include Wraith Games, Max Gaming Technologies, Funky Visions, Ganbaru Games, Multivarious Games, Green Door Games, and SGM Games.
Program graduates have continued on to graduate study or careers in game art, design or development, 3D modeling, writing for games, multimedia design, AR/VR, and UI/UX, among others.
Miami University Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1809, Miami Oh is an original Public Ivy that serves more than 23,000 students across campuses in Oxford (main), Hamilton, Middletown and West Chester, Ohio, and Luxembourg (Western Europe). The main campus offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 120 areas of study and over 70 master’s and doctoral degree programs. Regional campuses also offer associate degree programs.
19. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 30% of schools considered)
University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has several programs for game designers. The College of Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences (CACHSS) houses the School of Art and Design. Serving more than 1,000 students led by 60+ faculty members, the CACHSS School of Art and Design is the largest school of its kind in the entire upper Midwest. The school is also home to the Design Department and the BFA in Game Design and Development (GDD), and a cross-disciplinary MFA in Design.
The MFA that allows students to create their own focus area. Examples include Game Design, Animation and Digital Media, Interactive Media & UX, and Digital Cinema, Photography and Video. MFA graduates have been hired at Apple, DreamWorks Animation, Shutterfly, and World Architects, among others.
The GDD BFA consists of collaborative studios and hands-on experience gained at UW-Stout labs, studios, and other facilities. Students also gain field experience through study abroad courses in LA and San Francisco, internships, and industry projects with the Jim Henson Company, among others. GDD BFA students will complete a Game Design and Development Capstone and present a final portfolio of their best work at a public exhibition presented by the School of Art and Design.
BFA graduates have been hired at local studios and firms such as Pixel Spill Games, Big John Games, and Finn Daniels Architects. They are 3D artists, game designers, animators, building and environment modelers, and more. The GDD BFA at University of Wisconsin Stout is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics house the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department. Here, game design students can earn a BS in Computer Science (BS) with a GDD Concentration. The BS in CS is consists of a full computer science major, a Minor in Mathematics, and the concentration area. A 21 credit hour CS Minor that explores game design, programming languages, web programming, algorithms, and systems architecture is also available. The Minor provides opportunities to engage in Field Experience, Independent Study, or Cooperative (co-op) Education.
The BS in CS/GDD is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. With a 100% job placement rate, the CS program is the only program of its kind in the world to be accredited by the agency. Serving 2,700 students led by 200 faculty members, the CS program requires co-op industry experience as part of the curriculum. Co-op students earn an average of $16/hour. Other program highlights include graduate research, the opportunity to publish in peer-reviewed papers, and participation in exhibitions, game conferences, film festivals, and game competitions.
Graduates of the UW Stout Computer Science Program hold titles such as Game Programmer, Game Software Engineer, Mobile Software Engineer, and Software Developer, among others. Companies and Studios who have hired Stout CS graduates include Big John Games (developer for Nintendo), HB studios (develops console games for Electronic Arts (EA)), Degica Japan (publisher of RPG Maker), Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Concrete Software (mobile Games).
University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited Higher Learning Commission () of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Founded in 1891, the school opened as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, UW Stout is one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving nearly 8,000 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. Many of these programs are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest.
20. University of North Carolina—Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina (Top 30% of schools considered)
The Department of Computer Science (CS) at the University of North Carolina—Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) has several options for individuals seeking a CS-based game design program. Housed in the College of Computing and Informatics, programs include a BS in CS, AI, Robotics, and Gaming, an MS in CS with an optional AI, Robotics, and Gaming Concentration, and Game Design and Development (GDD) Certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Coursework for the certificate programs may be used towards the BS or MS in CS programs.
Course examples across programs include Computer Science, AI for Computer Games, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Applied Machine Learning, Game Engine Construction, Game Design and Development Studio, Advanced Game Design and Development, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, Real-Time Rendering Engines, Individual Study in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, Computer Graphics, and Advanced Algorithms.
The College of Arts and Architecture has another option for designers seeking a digital media-based game design program. Offered in the college’s Department of Art and Art History, the BFA in Art with a Digital Media Concentration requires advanced studio coursework, which allows students to craft a focus from electives such as Game Design and Graphics, 3D Modeling and Animation, Interactive Art and Design, and Advanced 3D Modeling and Digital Fabrication. The BFA also requires successful completion of the Senior Experience. Totaling nine credit hours, the Experience includes Senior Seminar, Senior Thesis I: Creative Research, and Senior Thesis II: Advanced Creative Practice.
Graduates of the design programs at University of North Carolina—Charlotte are prepared to pursue position in art and design, games and entertainment, animation, computer science, programming, software development, advertising, education, multimedia, and many other areas.
University of North Carolina—Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1946 as college for returning veterans, the school had just 278 students when it opened. Today, UNC Charlotte serves around 30,150 students more than 250 programs in seven colleges.
21. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia (Top 35% of schools considered)
Founded in 2001, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at George Mason University (GMU) offers more than 1,400 majors across four disciplines: Computer Game Design, Arts Management, Film and Video Studies, and Art and Visual Technology: Dance, Music, and Theater. Game design options include a Minor and BFA and MA degrees in Computer Game Design. An 18 credit-hour Minor in Sport and Computer Game Design is offered jointly by CVPA and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism.
All Computer Game Design students have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI). Housed in GMU’s Science and Technology Campus, VSGI focuses on job creation, start-ups, and research. In collaboration with government agencies, companies, 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 the VSGI is the Mason Game and Technology Academy (MGTA). Founded in 2013, MGTA operates in partnership with Mason Computer Game Design Program. MGTA provides the opportunity for students to develop skills in game design and programming, artificial intelligence (AI), and Machine learning.
Graduates of the Mason Computer Game Design Program are prepared to seek employment in the commercial, entertainment, serious games, education, and nonprofit sectors.
George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1949 as a branch of the University of Virginia, GMU enrolls more than 38,000 students from 50 all states and 130 countries, making it the largest public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. George Mason University offers 200 degree programs in 11 colleges and schools.
22. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California (Top 35% of schools considered)
California Polytechnic State University’s (Cal Poly) College of Engineering (CENG) houses the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, which has several degree programs for individuals seeking a career that requires computer science and game design & development skills. All CENG programs provide hands-on learning in a studio-like, collaborative environment that focuses on design- and project-centered coursework.
Degree options include the BS, MS, and Blended BS + MS in Computer Science. Minor options include Computer Science and Computing for Interactive Arts. The CS Minor allows students to specialize in Game Development through electives. The Computing for Interactive Arts Minor is a cross-disciplinary, 40-unit program offered in partnership with the Department of Art and Design, housed in the College of Liberal Arts. MS and Blended BS + MS CS students may specialize in multiple areas, including Game Development.
Course examples across programs include The Art of Mixed Reality, Game Design, Advanced Rendering Techniques, Video Games & Society, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Interactive Entertainment Engineering, Software Engineering, Game Theory, Media Arts and Technologies: Storytelling, Operating Systems, Computing for Interactive Arts, Digital 3D Modeling and Design, Illustration, Computer Animation, Collaborative Studio: Storyboarding, Modeling, Animation and Rendering, Mixed Reality, and Computational Linguistics.
The Computer Science Programs at Cal Poly offer internship opportunities, study abroad programs in 75 countries, and cooperative education experiences with a full- or part-time schedule.
Graduates of the CS Program at Cal Poly go on to establish careers as game designers, developers and programmers, computer graphics artists, software engineers and programmers, multimedia artists, and animators, among others. Program alumni are frequently recruited by major companies and studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Adobe, HP, Google, Apple, Raytheon, IBM, Boeing, DreamWorks, Intel, Microsoft, Disney, Apple, SUN, Cisco, and Yahoo.
California Polytechnic State University The university is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Founded in 1901, Cal Poly 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 serves around 21,815 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate majors and 50+ graduate programs in six academic colleges.
23. Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan (Top 35% of schools considered)
Ferris State University (Ferris State) offers programs for game designers across several colleges and schools. The College of Business houses the School of Digital Media (SDGM), which has a Digital Animation and Game Design (DAGD) Program that leads to a BAS, and a Digital Media Software Engineering (DMSE) Program that leads to a BS. Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) of Ferris State University offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design.
The SDGM DAGD BAS consists of coursework that explores 3D animation, game design, business, and programming. DAGD students have the opportunity to focus in a specific area through electives. Examples include Digital Effects, Programming, and 3D Animation. A mandatory internship is also part of the program.
The DMSE BS requires 125-126 credit hours of study. Twelve hours are dedicated to Application Domain Electives offered in four-course sequences. The Game Design and Development sequence consists of 3D Modeling and Animation OR Introduction to Game Design and Development, Game Programming 1-2, and Level Design. The DMSE BS also consists of coursework in mathematics, engineering fundamentals, business and management, and professional development.
During the final year of the program, Ferris DMSE BS students will complete the mandatory Software Development Industry Certification, Capstone in Software Engineering, and Software Engineering Applied Internship. Consisting of nine credit hours, these required courses are part of the professional development component of the program.
The KCAD BFA in Digital Art and Design explores 3D game art, interaction design, motion design, visual development, and 2D animation. Students may focus in Entertainment Art (2D animation, 3D game art, and concept and production art for games and animation) or Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation). Graduates will leave the Digital Art BFA Program with a professional portfolio that reflects their best work in either focus area.
Ferris State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Founded in 1884, Ferris serves 10,930 students enrolled in more than 190 programs across seven colleges and dozens of departments and schools.
Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) of Ferris State University was established in 1928. KCAD serves close to 600 students enrolled in more than 20 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, Kendal College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
24. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona (Top 35% of schools considered)
University of Arizona (UA or UArizona) has a unique degree option for students who would like to establish a career in the emerging field of Games and Behavior. In addition to entertainment, the program explores game design for health and wellness, education and training, and social support. Offered in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, the BA in Games and Behavior explores storytelling, audio technologies, multimedia, psychology of play, and of course, game design and development. Two focus areas allow students to specialize in Game Futures or Art of Games.
Course examples for the Game Futures focus include Disruptive technologies, Diversity and Bias in Games, and Data Mining and Discovery. Art of Games course examples include Technology of Sound, Simulation Design and Development for Complex Problem Solving, and Digital Storytelling and Culture. Core courses across focus areas include Gamification in Society, Monetizing Independent Gaming, Ethics in a Digital World, and eSports Industries.
Graduates of the University of Arizona Games and Behavior BA Program are prepared to pursue careers in digital marketing, educational games, medical and simulation games, gamification design consulting, and recreational games, among others.
The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at UArizona offers two additional programs for game designers in the School of Information (iSchool). Arizona’s only iSchool, the School of Information emphasizes multidisciplinary studies in a collaborative, hands-on learning environment. Program options include the BS in Game Design & Development and a 12 credit hour Games and Simulation Certificate. Course examples across both programs include Algorithms for Games, Computing and the Arts, Game Programming, Machine Learning, Advanced Game Development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Virtual Reality. Students in all iSchool programs have the opportunity to participate in the internship program and/or study abroad in one of more than 60 countries. The internship program provides a connection to local and national companies such as Octavia Digital Media, Enterprise Technology, and Hydrant.
Graduates of the UA iSchool Games Programs go on to establish careers in game design and development, UI/UX design, digital marketing, and many others.
University of Arizona is accredited by the by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1885, UA opened with just a few students. Today, University of Arizona serves more than 47,300 students making it one of the state’s largest post-secondary institutions. UArizona offers more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in more than 150 areas of study. Programs are offered in 20 colleges and close to two dozen specialized schools.
25. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana (Top 40% of schools considered)
The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) offers several programs that allow students to study games: a BS in Media Arts and Science (MAS), the five-year BS+MS in MAS, and Minors in 3D Graphics and Animation, and Game Design and Development. Students in both minor programs will complete 15-16 credit hours of study.
In the Game Design and Development Minor, students will learn to create 2D and 3D games using Unity and Unreal 4. The 3D Graphics and Animation Minor prepares students for careers in game design and development and 3D simulation through coursework in rendering, animation, and computer graphics (CG). Upon completion of the Game Design and Development Minor, students are prepared for careers such as video game designer, unity 3D game developer, unreal 4 game developer, level designer, world and designer. 3D Graphics and Animation Minors are medical animators, 3D animators, motion graphics artists, creative directors, and 2D/3D design artists, among others.
The IUPUI SoIC MAS BS offers Game Design and Development, and 3D Graphics and Animation Specializations. The BS+MS offers a Specialization in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). All programs provide access to an endless amount of game design courses. Examples include Serious Games and Simulations, Game On! A History of Video Games, Game Design Psychology, Game Testing and Evaluation, Creature and Character Design for Videogames, Comics, Film, and Animation, Virtual Worlds Design and Development, Composting and Visual Effects, Game Design and Development, Augmented Reality Design and Development, Advanced 3D Character Design, Stop-Motion Animation, Human-Computer Interaction Design Theory, and Game Production.
Graduates of the MAS Programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis have been recruited by major studios and companies across the U.S. and around the world. Examples include Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Google-owned Owlchemy Labs, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Treyarch (owned by Activision), Digital Domain, and HTC Corporation.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Established in 1969, IUPUI serves 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degree and certificate programs in 17 degree-granting colleges and schools. With more than 14,000 employees, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is the 18th largest employer in Indiana.