What are the best public game design colleges in the U.S. for 2023?

Top 25 Public Game Design Schools in the U.S. – 2023 College Rankings
RankingSchool% of Schools Considered
1University of UtahTop 1%
2University of California, Santa CruzTop 3%
3University of Central Florida Top 4%
4Michigan State UniversityTop 6%
5Georgia Institute of TechnologyTop 7%
6University of Texas at AustinTop 9%
7University of California, Los AngelesTop 10%
8Texas A&M University, College StationTop 15%
9University of California, IrvineTop 15%
10University of WashingtonTop 15%
11Purdue UniversityTop 20%
12University of Texas at DallasTop 20%
13North Carolina State UniversityTop 20%
14The Ohio State UniversityTop 20%
15University of FloridaTop 25%
16Indiana University, BloomingtonTop 25%
17Miami UniversityTop 25%
18Clemson UniversityTop 30%
19University of Wisconsin, StoutTop 30%
20California Polytechnic State University, San Luis ObispoTop 30%
21University of North Carolina at CharlotteTop 30%
22Georgia State UniversityTop 35%
23George Mason UniversityTop 35%
24University of ArizonaTop 35%
25Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis Top 40%

What are the 2023 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 1% of schools considered)
University of Utah

The Colleges of Engineering and Fine Arts at University of Utah (The U) houses the Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) Program. Formed more than a decade ago by faculty from the School of Computing and the Division of Film Studies, the EAE Program has several pathways to study game design. Options include BS degrees in Games (BSG) and Computer Science (CS) with an EAE Emphasis, a Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE), a dual MBA/MEAE and a 24 credit hour Game Minor.

The EAE Programs at The U are interdisciplinary and immersive with a focus on computational research, art, and social science. Course examples across EAE Programs include Alternative Game Development, Ethics in Games, Game Engineering and Production, Assets Pipeline, Survey of Games, Traditional Game Development, Serious Game Development, Digital Content Creation, Programming, Scientific Computing, Machinima, Algorithms, and Competitive Strategies.

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 positions in Game Art, Game Design and Development, Game Engineering, Simulation, 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 approximately 34,425 students, enrolled in more than 200 programs across 18 colleges and school, and nearly 100 departments.

2. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California (Top 3% of schools considered)
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.

Programs are available at the UC Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses and include Computer Science: Computer Game Design (BS), Art & Design: Games and Playable Media (BA AGPM), Digital Arts and New Media (MFA), Serious Games, Computational Media, and Games and Playable Media (MS degrees), 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 game design internships, frequent studio tours, and participation in the Annual Games Showcase. Undergraduates will complete a Capstone Project during the final year of the program and graduate students will complete a Thesis Project, Research Project, or both.

Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Game Design Programs are prepared to pursue positions such as Game Designer, Game Writer, Digital Artist, Board Game Designer, Producer, VR/AR Artist, and 2D/3D Artist. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Tic Toc Games, Method Studios, Ubisoft, Tencent, Amazon, Universal, Google, TopGolf, and Hi-Rez Studios.

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, University of California, Santa Cruz serves approximately 18,980 students, enrolled in more than 130 programs across 10 colleges and the Graduate Division.

3. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida (Top 4% of schools considered)
University of Central Florida

The College of Sciences at University of Central Florida (UCF) houses Nicholson School of Communication and Media (NSCM), which has a Digital Media BA Program with a Game Design Track, an Interactive Entertainment MS, a Digital Media MA, and a Digital Media Minor. Also part of Florida Interactive Academy (FIEA), the MS has Specializations in Programming, Animation, Technical Art, Level Design, 3D Modeling, and Project Management. Specializations are sub-tracks within the FIEA Production/Design, Art, and Programming Tracks.

Students in all FIEA and NSCM Programs at University of Central Florida 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 and interactive projects from start to finish. Internships and career development resources are also available, and many FIEA students publish their games through avenues such as Xbox or Steam, resulting in their first published title.

Graduates of the UCF Games/Interactive Media and FIEA Programs have been hired by more than 300 companies. Examples include Epic Games, Walt Disney Imagineering, Zynga, Unity Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Blizzard Entertainment, Nintendo, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Blur Studio.

University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. On the first day of classes, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves around 70,400 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. The school offers 535 degree programs across 13 colleges. University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (Top 6% of schools considered)
Michigan State University

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 and Development Program. Established in 2005, the program consists of a Games and Interactive Media BA and an 18 credit hour Game Design and Development Minor that can be added to the BA Program or any other major at MSU. A Media and Information MA with a Games Studies and Design Focus is also available. 

The MSU Games and Interactive Media BA is a project-based program that explores topics such as the game design process, emerging interactive media, and production. Focus areas include Game Design, Game Development, and Games Graphics and Animation. Course examples across focus areas include Building Virtual Worlds, Serious Game Design, Game Writing, Compositing and Special Effects, and Media Sketching and Graphics. Students will graduate from the MSU Games and Interactive Media BA Program with a professional portfolio of their best work.

The Michigan State University MI MA with Games Studies includes courses such as Foundations of Serious Games, Game and Film Design Studio I-II, Theories of Games and Interaction Design, Interaction Design, and Interactive Usability and Accessibility: Design and Evaluation. To graduate, students must complete two final courses: Master’s Thesis Research (4-6 credits) and the Master’s Project (4-6 credits). Graduates of the MI MA 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 Insomniac Games, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Ubisoft, and Bungie.

The College of Engineering at Michigan State University houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, home to the Computer Science Program. Available pathways for game designers include 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, Theory and Algorithms, and Data Analysis and Applications.

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University began as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. On the first day of classes on May 14, 1857, the College welcomed five faculty members and 63 students into three buildings: College Hall, Saints’ Rest, and a brick horse barn. When it opened, the school became the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to teach scientific agriculture. Today, MSU is one of the nation’s premier land-grant research universities and it serves nearly 50,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia (Top 7% of schools considered)
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) provides a number of pathways to study game design across several colleges and schools. The College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts offer a Computational Media BS (BSCM), MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media and a Computing & Media Minor. A dual Computer Science BS/MS is available as well as a unique undergraduate Certificate in Scenarios, Models, and Military Games. This program explores the use of scenarios, models, and gaming in the analysis of national security issues. Course examples include Modeling, Simulation, and Military gaming, Simulation and Military Gaming, and Scenario Writing and Pathgaming.

The BSCM Program at Georgia Tech launched in 2004 with just one student. Today, the program serves more than 300 students, making it one of Georgia Tech’s fastest growing programs. The BSCM Program provides the opportunity to focus in areas such as Games, Interaction, and Narrative. Course examples include Game Studio, Game Design as a Cultural Practice, Game AI, Video Game Design and Programming, Digital Video Special Effects, Constructing the Moving Image, Computer Animation, and Principles and Applications of Computer Audio.

Georgia Tech’s 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 Media Device Architectures, 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.

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 have established successful careers in fields such as Game Design and Development, Interactive Design and Game Simulation, Animation, Special Effects, AI and Robotics, Visual Effects (VFX) and 3D Modeling.

Georgia Institute of Technology was established in 1885. When it opened, the school had just 129 students enrolled in one degree program—the Mechanical Engineering BS. Today, Georgia Tech serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in more than 180 degree programs and minors across six distinct colleges and 28 schools. Georgia Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas (Top 9% of schools considered)
University of Texas at Austin

The College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, which has several pathways to study game design. The Computer Science BS (BS CS) has an optional Concentration in Game Development. Course examples for the program include Game Technology, Object-Oriented Programming, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, and Generic Programming & STL. Also within the BS CS Program is 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. A project-based capstone is also part of the programs, as well as opportunities to complete an internship with both local and national companies. Many internships lead to job offers.

UT Austin launched a Game Design and Development Program in 2020. The program is jointly provided 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’s Department of Radio-Television-Film (RTF). AET offers courses focused solely on gaming, the CS Department covers visualization and coding for games, and the RTF Department provides coursework that explores cinematic arts, emergent media, and narrative design. Students may also focus in games through minor programs and concentrations offered across all three departments.

Graduates of the Game Design and Development Programs at UT Austin enjoy a 93% employment rate within six months of graduation, regardless of concentration area. UT Austin Games and Computer Science alumni have been hired at Zynga, EA Games, Google, Scientific Games, GameStop, Apple, HP, Amazon, IBM, Diamond Entertainment, Cloud Imperium, Aspyr Media, Inc., and Everi Digital.

Founded in 1883, University of Texas at Austin serves approximately 52,385 students, making it one of the largest universities in Texas. UT Austin provides more than 155 undergraduate degree programs with 170+ fields of study, 139 graduate degree programs, and nearly 100 doctoral programs across 18 colleges and schools. University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7. University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 10% of schools considered)
University of California Los Angeles

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

While UCLA Extension does not have a formal Game Design Program, it offers a number of 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.

Also housed in the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA is the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA), which has several multidisciplinary programs suitable for students interested in game design. Options 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. Course examples for the program 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 Digital Media Arts 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. The MFA DMA culminates in an MFA Exhibition.

Graduates of the Game Design Programs at UCLA work in all areas of game design and development at local, national, and global game design studios, software companies, production studios, and more.

Established in 1919, University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies. Serving 45,900 students from 118 countries, UCLA offers more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

8. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 15% of schools considered)
Texas A&M University

The School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Visualization Department, which has several pathways to study game design including the Visualization BS, MS, and MFA. All options provide opportunities to complete a paid internship, participate in the Visualization Industry Fair, and show creative works at local exhibitions and the Viz Fall Show. The Visualization Program also has a Game Design & Development Minor that can be completed alone or in combination with and any Visualization degree.

The 16 credit hour Game Design & Development Minor explores video game production, design, programming, art and media literacy. Course examples for the program include Game Development, Computer Graphics, Game Design, Communication and Video Games, Computer-Human Interaction, Programming, Multimedia Design and Development, and Interactive Virtual Environments.

The Visualization BS Program at TAMU provides a number of emphasis areas such as Game Creation, Interactive Design, Visual Computing, Animation and Virtual Production. The MFA and MS provide emphasis areas such as Gaming, Interactive Art, Computer Animation, Visual Effects (VFX), Computer Graphics, User Experience Design, and Virtual/Augmented Reality. 

The Visualization Programs at Texas A&M University feature project-based studios, supported by courses that cover production pipeline, programming, art theory, and many other technical skills. Course and elective examples across programs include Digital Compositing, Time-Based Media, 2D Visualization Techniques, Rendering and Shading, Digital Media, Advanced Animation, Physical Computing for Art and Design, 3D Modeling and Animation, and The Digital Image.

BS students will complete a Capstone to graduate, while MFA students will conduct a Final Presentation and Written Document to complete the program. The MS has both Thesis and a Non-Thesis Options. Thesis students will complete a Thesis on a focused topic, while Non-Thesis students will develop a Professional Portfolio and complete a Capstone Project.

Graduates of the Visualization Programs and Game Design & Development Minor at Texas A&M University are prepared for careers in Game Design, Game Level Design, Game Asset Development, Production Management, Technical Art, UI/UX Development, and Visual Development. TAMU alumni are often hired at major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM).

With more than 73,000 students, Texas A&M University is the largest university in the state of Texas, and one of the largest universities in the nation. Established in 1876, TAMU is also Texas’s first public institution of higher learning. Texas A&M houses 17 colleges and schools that provide more than 400 degree programs. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California (Top 15% of schools considered)
University of California, Irvine

The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine or UCI) has several paths to study game design. The Department of Informatics houses the Game Design and Interactive Media (GDIM) Program, which leads to a BS. The Department of Computer Sciences has a Computer Game Science BS, and BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science.

The GDIM BS consists of hands-on courses that explore areas such game programming, game design and development, game studies, interactive storytelling, visual design, and data science, as well as emerging technologies such as tabletop and mobile games, and AR/VR. During the junior and senior years of the program, students will have the opportunity to build a professional portfolio through advanced electives that explore game design, development, and programming,  game culture, storytelling, and games entrepreneurship. UCI GDIM BS culminates with a two-quarter capstone project. Students will complete the capstone under the guidance of industry mentors.

Graduates of the UC Irvine GDIM Program are Game Designers, Game Programmers, Game Developers, Game Artists, Project Managers, and Interactive Media Designers, among others. Some program alumni have busy freelance careers, while others have launched their own studios. Potential employers include industry partners such as Electronic Arts (EA), Blizzard Entertainment, Riot games, Obsidian Entertainment, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Tencent.

The Computer Game Science BS (CGS BS)explores games (game engines, games and society, multiplayer games, and game design), computer science (graphics, artificial intelligence, programming, and data structures), and math (linear algebra, statistics, and logic). Students in this program have the opportunity to specialize in just about any area through thirty required elective credits. They will also have the chance to work in teams to build games for entertainment, education, training, healthcare, and more.

Graduates of the UC Irvine Computer Game Science BS are employed in the games industry (for entertainment) as well as serious games in areas such as healthcare, education, and training. Some CGS BS graduates go on to enroll in advanced study in game design, interactive media, and other related areas at top graduate schools.

The Computer Science BS at UCI has a Specialization in Algorithms that focus on techniques in computer games, graphics, computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and other areas. The graduate Computer Science Programs feature multimedia and gaming, programming languages and compilers, scientific computing, and AI and machine learning research areas, among others.

Across programs, students have access to courses such as Game Engine Lab, Modeling and Worldbuilding, Game Design, Mobile and Ubiquitous Games, Python, Advanced 3D Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things (IoT) Software and Systems, Visual Computing, Programming Languages, and Multimedia Systems and Applications.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at UC Irvine are prepared to pursue positions in virtually every area of science, technology, and business. Examples include Games, Entertainment, Software Engineering, Aerospace, Business Information Management, Biomedical, Finance, National Defense, Cybersecurity, Data Science, and Engineering.

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 the largest employer in Orange County California. Established in 1965, the school serves approximately 37,245 students enrolled in more than 220 programs across 18 colleges, schools, and divisions.

10. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 15% of schools considered)
University of Washington

The College of Professional & Continuing Education (PCE) at University of Washington (UW) has a Game Design Certificate Program developed 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 UW’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

For students seeking a degree, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) at University of Washington has several options that are suitable for game designers. Degree programs include the BS in CS or Computer Engineering, the combined BS/MS in CS or Engineering, the Professional Master’s Program (PMP), and a CSE PhD. All programs provide access to four main labs in the Allen School including the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), Center for Game Science, Animation Research Labs (ARL), 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, the UW Reality Lab houses ongoing programs including The Reality Studio and The Reality Lab, courses, lectures, and the idea incubator.

Graduates of the Game Design and Computer Science Programs at University of Washington are prepared for careers in all areas of game design and development, technology, entertainment, and more. UW graduates are hired by hundreds of different employers each year. Examples include Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Meta.   

Established in 1861, University of Washington serves approximately 59,725 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. UW offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options across in 18 colleges and schools. 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 the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

11. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 20% of schools considered)
Purdue University

Purdue University is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute (formerly the College of Technology), which houses the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and the Game Design Programs. Degree options include a CGT BS with a Game Development and Design Major, a CGT MS, and a Technology PhD T.

The CGT BS provides a STEM-based curriculum, coursework that covers game design, programming, rendering, animation, and visualization, and immersive, collaborative projects with peers and professors. Past final projects have focused on games utilization in entertainment; sustainable energy, medicine, and therapy; and information visualization, among others. CGT BS graduates are Game Designers, Animators, and Technical artists at major studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Riot Games, Zynga, and Volition, Inc.

The CGT MS at Purdue Polytechnic has four specialization areas including 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, and the chance to work on real-world projects. Graduates are Game Developers, UX Designers, and Technical Directors at places such as Google, DreamWorks, Salesforce, and Deloitte.

The Technology PhD Program at Purdue University allows a minimum of 30 credit hours to be taken in a custom specialization, along with 27 credit hours from any Purdue college or school other than Purdue Polytechnic. Courses may come from computer science, engineering, art and design, instructional technology, quality, and many other areas. PhD students must complete a Thesis to graduate. Program alumni are Designers, Educators, Researchers, Entrepreneurs, and Artists.

Founded in 1869, Purdue University began classes in 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school serves approximately 50,885 students, with around 5,600 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Purdue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 20% of schools considered)
University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is home to the School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology (AHT), which launched in August 2022 after the consolidation of the School of Arts & Humanities (est. 1975), and the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC), established in 2002 as Texas’s first arts and technology degree.

The ATEC BA, MA, MFA, and PhD Programs are still in force and provide 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 their own area of specialization through electives and other courses.

Students in all ATEC Programs have access to a variety of state-of-the-art studios and facilities including the 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 Programs at University of Texas at Dallas have been recruited by major studios and companies such as DreamWorks, Disney, Pixar, Apple, Google, Capital One, and Toyota.

University of Texas at Dallas opened in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. Established by the owners of Texas Instruments, UT Dallas is an official member of the University of Texas System. The school serves 31,570 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across eight schools. University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

13. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 20% of schools considered)
North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University (NC State) is home to the College of Engineering, which houses the Department of Computer Science (CSC). Within the Department is the CSC BS Program with a Game Development Track, and an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree in CSC. The ABM allows BS students to complete the CSC MS Program in within 12 months of completing their BS (non-thesis) or within 18 months for the thesis-based MS.

The CSC BS program begins with computing, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and humanities. Next, students will dive into coursework that explores programming languages, computer architectures, software engineering, data structures, and teaming and communication, among other areas.

Once core requirements are complete, students may advance to the Game Development Concentration, which consists of 21 credit hours of games-focused courses and electives. Examples include Foundations of Interactive Game Design, Computer Graphics, Game Engine Foundations, Computational Visual Narrative, Building Game AI, Game Studies, Special Topics in Film Styles and Genres, Computer Models of Interactive Narrative, and Fantasy.

All CSC BS students must complete a team project in Senior Design. Projects are supported by the Senior Design Center and industrial sponsors, so student teams will gain experience working industry representatives.

Students in all NC State 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.

Graduates of the CSC Programs at North Carolina State University are prepares to pursue positions at high-tech companies, game design studios, and entertainment companies, among others. 

North Carolina State University employs more than 9,000 faculty and staff members serving 36,000+ students, making it the largest university in the University of North Carolina System. Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State offers more than 300 degree programs across 11 colleges, 68 departments, and The Graduate School. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

14. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 20% of schools considered)
The Ohio State University

The College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) provide several pathways 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, 3D modeling and animation, emerging forms, moving images, sound, and more.

Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design, which has an MFA Program with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track and a Design Research and Development (DRD) Track. The DAIM Track requires 12 studio elective credits and six credits of interdisciplinary electives, allowing plenty of opportunities to create a focus in games. The DRD Track is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program that encourages study across departments, research areas, and themes. Open electives provide additional opportunities to explore games. The Department of Design also offers a 15 credit hour minor in Game Studies which introduces students to an interdisciplinary approach to understanding what games are, how they are made, how to interpret games as critical narratives, and how to understand the roles they play in society.

Examples of possible elective courses across all programs and departments include Games Virtual Modeling, Game Design I-II, Video Game Music, Esports and Game Studies, Computer Game Art and Design, Video Games and Society, Computational Thinking in Context: Game Development or Images, Animation, Screenwriting, Art and Technology, Philosophy and Videogames, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

Graduates of the Art, Design, and CS Programs at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue positions in entertainment, technology, art, and engineering, among others. Potential job titles include Game Designer, CG Specialist, Motion Graphic Designer, Interaction Designer, Software Programmer, Virtual Reality Designer, Design Strategist, User Interface/User Experience Designer (UI/UX), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 67,800 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 25% of schools considered)
University of Florida

Established in 1925, the College of the Arts at University of Florida (UF) houses the Digital Worlds Institute, home to the Digital Arts & Sciences (DAS) Program. Degree options for game designers include the DAS BA (BADAS), the DAS Minor, and the DAS Masters (MiDAS). The BADAS is offered on campus and fully online through UF Online.

Digital Worlds Institute highlights include the DAS Mentorship Program, guest lecturers, access to LUMA at Digital World Studios, Portfolio Open House events, and participation in the internship program. In addition, all UF Digital Worlds Programs are interdisciplinary and 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 part of the program.

The BADAS Program requires 120 credit hours of study and successful completion of the final DAS project. The UF 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 MiDAS 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 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 Microsoft and DreamWorks.

University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves approximately 61,110 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

16. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana (Top 25% of schools considered)
Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) provides several pathways to study game design. Programs are housed in Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering (Department of Computer Science), and The Media School, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Luddy School Department of Computer Science serves 950 students enrolled in 11 programs at all degree levels. Students seeking an undergraduate degree can earn a BS in Computer Science (CSCIBS) with a Game Development Specialization. The School also houses a distinctive Minor in Animal-Computer Interaction, which includes courses such as Game Art and Sound, Game Development, and  Game Programming. A CS BA is also conferred from IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The Media School at Indiana University Bloomington is a multidisciplinary division that attracts students seeking careers in game programming, animation, sound production, music composition, or graphic design for multimedia. Students in all Media School programs have the opportunity to select elective courses from the Luddy School, Architecture and Design, Jacobs School of Music, and Eskenazi School of Art. Specific program options suitable for game designers include the Game Design BS and Minor, the Media BA, and a New Media and Interactive Storytelling Certificate.

Media BA students may pursue a Concentration such as Media Technologies, Games and Culture; Interactive and Digital Media; or Media Science. Students may also pursue a Media Specialization such as Game Art, Game Production, or Game Audio. Concentrations consist of five courses. Specializations consist of at least three courses.

Course examples across concentrations include Game Technology, Digital Media, Game Production, Cultures, Games, Culture, and Society, Media Technology and Difference, Game Experience Design, Media Technologies and Culture I-II, Game Art and Sound, Narrative Design, Story Lab, and Animation for Digital Media. Course examples across specializations include Game Art and Sound, Game Character Art, Game Environment Art, Game Design, Game Analytics, The Videogame Industry: Systems and Management, Sound for Games and Playable Media, Game Experience Design, Game Production, Introduction to Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and Computer Music, and Sound Design.

Game Design BS students at Indiana University Bloomington will work their way through a mix of seminars, hands-on production classes, and a three-semester workshop modeled after professional game studios. Across Game Workshop I, II and III, students will work in teams to develop a game prototype, produce a demo, and publish an original game.

Elective areas are available for students who would like to design an area of expertise. Areas include Design: Games and Mind, Programming, Art, Sound, Design: Game Design Theory, and Management, Advertising, and Public Relations.

Upper division 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 IU Bloomington Game Design and Media Programs 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 General Motors to Google.

Graduates of the Game Design and Media Programs at Indiana University Bloomington are prepared to compete for positions such as Game Designer, Game Artist, World Designer, Game Developer, Creative Director, Software Developer, and Animator. Potential employer’s include Blizzard Entertainment, Zynga, Electronic Arts (EA), and Ubisoft.

Established in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington was one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains and one of the first universities to admit women. The school serves more than 71,000 students enrolled in 930+ academic programs across seven campuses and two regional centers. Indiana University Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

17. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (Top 25% of schools considered)
Miami University

The College of Creative Arts at Miami University (Miami Oh or Miami) is home to the Department of Emerging Technology in Business + Design (ETBD)—formerly AIMS. The ETBD has a Games + Simulation Program with both BS and Minor pathways. The Games + Simulation BS has Concentrations in Game Art, Game Studies, and Game Development.

Students in all concentrations will complete a total of 124 credit hours including 76 in the Games + Simulation Major. Concentration areas are 21 credit hours, with a set of required courses for each. The Games + Simulation Program culminates 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.

The cross-disciplinary Games + Simulation Minor consists of 19 total credit hours, with collaborative courses between ETBD and the Art and Computer Science Departments. Electives within the program allow students to create a specialty area such as Game Development, Writing for Games, or 3D Art and animation.  

The Miami Oh ETBD Department has an additional option that attracts game designers interested in the business and marketing side of games. The Emerging Technology in Business and Design BA (ET BA) is a highly competitive program that features four foundational pillars: Design, Technology, Collaboration & Making, and Business. Students in this program will take courses such as Game Studies, Game Design, Game Programming, Art and Digital Tools, Interaction Design and Development, Interactive Business Communication, and Social Media Marketing and Online Community Management. Students may also add the Games + Simulation Minor.

To gain valuable work experience in the industry, all Miami University students have the opportunity to  complete an internship at a local or national company. There are more than 20 local game companies. Examples include SGM Games, Ganbaru Games, Green Door Games, Aertherbyte Studios, Wraith Games, Max Gaming Technologies, Few Remain, Funky Visions, Ganbaru Games, Multivarious Games, Green Door Games, and MouseMouse Media, Inc.

Graduates of the Games Programs at Miami University have continued on to graduate study or careers in Game Art, Game Design and Development, Writing for Games, Multimedia Design, AR/VR, 3D Modeling, and UI/UX, among others.

Established in 1809, Miami University Ohio 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). More than 200 majors and minors in over 120 areas of study and 70+ master’s and doctoral degree programs are offered across seven colleges and schools. Miami Oh’s regional campuses provide a variety of associate degree programs. Miami University Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

18. Clemson University, Clemson and Charleston, South Carolina (Top 30% of schools considered)
Clemson University

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

Specific DPA options for game designers include the DPA MFA/MS (MFA DPA/MS DPA) and the DPA Minor. Offered since 2011, the DPA Minor focuses on Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation. The Computer Science (CS) BA/BS and a fast-track Computer Science Bachelor’s/Master’s (BS/MS) provide additional opportunities to study game design.

Course examples across programs include Game Theory, Studio Methods for Digital Production 2D Game Engine Construction, Algorithms and Techniques, Visual Foundations of Digital Production, 3D Game Programming: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Physical Modeling and Animation, Advanced 3D Modeling, and Audio Practicum.

Other Computer Science and DPA highlights include visits from representatives of major studios such as DreamWorks, internship opportunities, high-tech classrooms, state-of-the-art production studios and facilities, study abroad experiences, collaboration spaces and participation in the SIGGRAPH Conference. In addition, DPA MFA students have the option to study at the main campus in Clemson or at the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center (ZFGEC) in Charleston, South Carolina. MFA students can attend traditional face-to-face classes or via “real-time” streaming to and from the main campus. DPA MFA students are not required to travel between campuses.

Graduates of the DPA and Computer Science Programs at Clemson University are Game Designers, Animators, Game Programmers, Technical Directors, Software Engineers, 3D Graphics Programmers, Art Directors, and AR/VR designers, among others. Clemson DPA and CS alumni have secured positions with companies such as Google, Disney Animation, Electronic Arts (EA), Blur Studio, Sledgehammer Games, IBM, and CrowdStrike.

Clemson University began as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893. The school serves approximately 27,340 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs and 90+ minors across seven colleges and a graduate school. Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

19. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 30% of schools considered)
University of Wisconsin – Stout

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has programs for game designers across several colleges, departments, and schools. The College of Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences (CACHSS) houses the School of Art and Design, which serves more than 1,000 students led by 60 faculty members. The largest school of its kind in the entire upper Midwest, CACHSS Art and Design is home to the Design Department, which has a Game Design and Development (GDD) BFA and a cross-disciplinary Design MFA.

The GDD BFA is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Program 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 Game Designers, 3D Artists, Animators, and Modelers, among others.

The Design MFA in the School of Art and Design allows students to create their own focus area. Examples include Game Design, Interactive Media & UX, Animation and Digital Media, Digital Cinema, Photography, and Video. Graduates of the UW-Stout Design MFA Program have been hired at companies and studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Apple, Shutterfly, and World Architects.

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM) at University of Wisconsin – Stout houses the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department, which has a Computer Science BS with a GDD Concentration. The CS BS consists of a full computer science major, a Mathematics Minor, and the Concentration.  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 game competitions, exhibitions, film festivals, and game conferences.

Graduates of the UW Stout Computer Science Program are Game Programmers, Game Software Engineers, Mobile Software Engineers, and Software Developers, among others. They work at companies and studios such as HB studios (develops console games for Electronic Arts), Boeing, Degica Japan (publisher of RPG Maker), Lockheed Martin, Concrete Software (mobile games), and Big John Games (developer for Nintendo).

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving approximately 7,700 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

20. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California (Top 30% of schools considered)
California Polytechnic State University

The College of Engineering (CENG) at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) is home to the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, which has several pathways to study game design. 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 in the College of Liberal Arts. MS and Blended BS + MS CS students may specialize in multiple areas or enroll in the Game Development Concentration.

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

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

The Computer Science Programs at Cal Poly provide access to cooperative education experiences with full- and part-time schedules, internship opportunities, and study abroad programs in 75 countries.

Graduates of the CS Program at California Polytechnic State University have established careers in everything from Game Design and Development to Software Engineering to Animation. Program alumni are frequently recruited by major companies and studios such as DreamWorks, Intel, Electronic Arts (EA), Adobe, Apple, Raytheon, Disney, HP, Google, SUN, IBM, Boeing, Microsoft, Cisco, and Yahoo.

Founded on March 8, 1901, California Polytechnic State University 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 approximately 22,290 students enrolled in more than 150 undergraduate majors and minors as well as 50+ graduate programs across six academic colleges. California Polytechnic State University is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

21. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina (Top 30% of schools considered)
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) has several options for students seeking a computer science-based game design program. Programs are housed in the College of Computing and Informatics’ Department of Computer Science (CS) and include a Computer Science BS with an AI, Robotics, and Gaming Concentration, a Computer Science 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 Computer Science BS or MS programs.

Course examples across programs include Game Engine Construction, Advanced Algorithms, Game Design and Development Studio, Advanced Game Design and Development, AI for Computer Games, Individual Study in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Applied Machine Learning, Computer Science, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, Real-Time Rendering Engines, and Computer Graphics.

The College of Arts and Architecture at UNC Charlotte has an additional option for designers seeking a digital media-based game design program. Housed in the College’s Department of Art and Art History, the Art BFA with a Digital Media Concentration requires advanced studio coursework, which allows students to craft a focus from electives such as Game Design and Graphics, Interactive Art and Design, Advanced 3D Modeling and Digital Fabrication, and 3D Modeling and Animation.

The Art 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 CS/Game Design Programs at University of North Carolina at Charlotte are prepared to pursue positions in fields such as games and entertainment, animation, computer science, art and design, programming, software development, multimedia, advertising, and education.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte is a public research university and the third largest school in the 16-campus University of North Carolina system. Founded in 1946, the school serves approximately 29,550 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs across nine colleges. University of North Carolina at Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

22. Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia (Top 35% of schools considered)

Georgia State University (GSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences, home to the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII), which has several paths to study game design. Options include a Game Design BA, a Game Development BS, and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) with a Concentration in Game Design and Development.

The BA combines the study of art with the development of software platforms for games. The BS explores coding, programming, and software design for students interested in game development or other areas such as app development, animation, and motion graphics. The BIS/Game Design and Development Program has two sequences: one designed for students who are interested in game development and the other for individuals interested in coding games.

Students in all GSU CMII programs have access to the Innovative Media Club, workshops, an advanced motion capture system, and the Georgia Game Developers Association. Students also have opportunities to collaborate with partners such as the Georgia Film Academy and they may participate in the weekly Playtest—an immersive, hourlong gathering that explores game concepts, mechanics, and experiences. Internship opportunities with potential studios such as KontrolFreek – Atlanta and Hi-Rez Studios, are also part of the program.

Graduates of the Georgia State University CMII are prepared to purse positions in Game Design and Development, Game Programming, Game Art, Game Writing, Game Animation, Multimedia, Software Design, Concept Art, Applications Development, Quality Assurance, and Level Design, and other areas fields that require game design and development skills.

Georgia State University was founded in 1913 as the Georgia Institute of Technology's "Evening School of Commerce." Today, GSU consists of six campuses, 12 colleges and schools, and more than 52,000 students from close to 130 nations and territories. GSU provides more than 250 degree programs in 100 fields of study at the school’s Downtown Atlanta Campus alone. The school offers the widest variety of academic programs in the entire state. Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

23. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia (Top 35% of schools considered)
George Mason University

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) at George Mason University (GMU) was established in 2001. Today, the CVPA provides more than 1,400 majors across four disciplines including Computer Game Design, Film and Video Studies, Art and Visual Technology: Dance, Music, and Theater, and Arts Management. Specific degree programs for game designers include the Computer Game Design BFA and MA. Students can also earn a Computer Game Design Minor, consisting of 15-16 credit hours, or the 18 credit hour Minor in Sport and Computer Game Design, provided jointly by the CVPA and the George Mason University School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism.

The Computer Game Design BFA consists of 120 credit hours of study and a 180-hour internship, including 135 hours on-site. Course examples for the program include Applied Coding for Game Designers, History of Computer Game Design, Three-Dimensional Game Art, Consumer Gaming Platform Analysis Lab, and Story Design for computer Games. BFA students will complete a Portfolio course, which consists of creating and refining a web portfolio to present to faculty and peers, to supplement internship applications, and for professional development.

The Computer Game Design BFA at George Mason University culminates with the Senior Game Design Capstone completed over two courses.

The GMU Computer Game Design MA Program is 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 this 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 Programs at George Mason University are prepared to pursue careers in the commercial, entertainment, serious games, education, and the nonprofit sectors. Some Game Design alumni have launched their own studios or freelance businesses, while others have been hired at studios such as Bethesda Softworks, Citadel Studios, Big Huge Games, Ready at Dawn Studios, and Catlilli Games. 

Founded in 1949 as a branch of the University of Virginia, George Mason University enrolls 39,510 students from 50 all states and 130 countries, making it the largest public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 200 degree programs are provided across 11 colleges and schools. George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

24. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona (Top 35% of schools considered)
University of Arizona

The College of Social & Behavioral Sciences at University of Arizona (UA or UArizona) houses 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 here include the Game Design & Development BS and a 12 credit hour Games and Simulation Certificate. Course examples across both programs include Game Programming, Machine Learning, Algorithms for Games, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality, Computing and the Arts, and Advanced Game Development.

Students in all iSchool programs have the opportunity to participate in AU’s 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 Hydrant, Octavia Digital Media, and the Enterprise Technology Division of State Farm.

Graduates of the iSchool at University of Arizona go on to establish careers in game design and development, digital marketing,  and UI/UX design, among others.

University of Arizona has two additional program option for students who would like to establish a career in the emerging field of Games and Behavior or those interested in a humanities-based degree. Programs include the Games and Behavior BA and the BA in Applied Humanities with a Game Studies Emphasis.

In addition to entertainment, the unique Games and Behavior BA program explores game design for health and wellness, education, job training, and social support. Housed in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, the Games and Behavior BA explores psychology of play, game design and development, storytelling, audio technologies, and multimedia. Two focus areas allow students to specialize in Art of Games or Game Futures.

Course examples for the Art of Games Focus include Digital Storytelling and Culture, Technology of Sound, and Simulation Design and Development for Complex Problem Solving. Course examples for the Game Futures Focus include Diversity and Bias in Games, Data Mining and Discovery, and Disruptive Technologies. Core courses across both areas include eSports Industries, Gamification in Society, Ethics in a Digital World, and Monetizing Independent Gaming.

Graduates of the University of Arizona Games and Behavior BA Program are prepared to pursue careers in wide variety of fields such as Educational Games, Recreational Games, Digital Marketing, Medical and Simulation Games, and Gamification Design Consulting.

Housed in the College of Humanities, the Applied Studies BA with a Game Studies Emphasis consists of courses such as Introduction to Game Design, Global Video Game Cultures and Their Origins, Video Game Studies: Critical/Cultural Approaches, Introduction to Game Development, Applied Humanities Practice: Techniques and Technologies for Public Enrichment, Video Games as Artifacts: Appreciating Interactive Multimedia Entertainment, and The Video Game Industry: An Introduction to the Business of Making Money with Play. Students will complete an internship, portfolio, and Senior Capstone.

Graduates of the Applied Studies BA with a Game Studies Emphasis are prepared to pursue positions in the Global Game Industry, as well as Game and Media Journalism, Digital Humanities, New Media Policy, Digital Culture Studies, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Law.

Established in 1885, University of Arizona was the first university in the state. A land-grant institution, UA opened with just a few students. Today, University of Arizona serves approximately 51,135 students, making it one of the state’s largest post-secondary institutions. UArizona offers more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in 150+ areas of study. Programs are offered across 20 colleges and nearly two dozen specialized schools. University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

25. Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, Indiana (Top 40% of schools considered)

Luddy School of Informatics, Computing & Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI) has several pathways to study games. Options include the Media Arts and Science (MAS) BS with a Game Design & Development Specialization, a Game Design and Development Minor, and a five-year MAS BS/Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) MS Program.

The IUPUI MAS BS with a Specialization in Game Design & Development provides access to the Media Arts and Science Research and Learning Arcade (MARLA), where students have the opportunity to work in teams to complete hands-on game development projects that explore game testing, digital animation and sound, concept art, experience technology, scriptwriting, and more. The program also features an endless number of game design courses. Examples include Creature and Character Design for Videogames, Comics, Film, and Animation, Serious Games and Simulations, Digital Storytelling, Game Production, Game Testing and Evaluation, Virtual World Design and Development, and Game On! A History of Video Games.

The HCI Program at Luddy IUPUI provides opportunities for students to develop skills that are in high demand in information technology, the Internet of Things, and Voice Recognition. MAS BS/HCI MS students will also develop skills in areas such as 3D simulations, gaming, video, and web design. In addition to the MAS BS courses listed earlier, course examples include Interaction Design Methods, Programming for Interaction Designers, Experience Design for Ubiquitous Computing, Visualization Design and Analysis, Prototyping for Interactive Systems, UX Design Ethics, and Tangible and Embodied Interaction. Open electives allow students to focus in an additional area of interest.

In the Luddy IUPUI Game Design and Development Minor, students will learn to create 2D and 3D games using Unity and Unreal 4. Consisting of 15-16 credit hours, the program features courses such as Game Design Psychology: Theory and Prototyping, Game Design and Development, Virtual World Design and Development, Serious Games and Simulations, and Game Production.  

Upon completion of the IUPUI Game Design and Development Minor, students are prepared to pursue positions such as Video Game Designer, Level Designer, Unity 3D Game Developer, Creative Director, Unreal 4 Game Developer, World Designer, and Sound Designer for Games. Graduates will have the skills required to compete for jobs at major studios and companies around the world.

Graduates of the MAS and HCI Programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis have been recruited by Rockstar Games, Gearbox Software, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Digital Domain, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Google-owned Owlchemy Labs, Pipeworks Studios, HTC Corporation, 4A Games, and Treyarch (owned by Activision), among others.

Indiana University (est. 1820) and Purdue University (est. 1869) merged in 1969 to create what is known today as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The school serves approximately 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degrees and majors across 17 degree-granting schools. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).