What are the top BS degree programs for game design in 2023?
|1||University of Southern California||California|
|2||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|3||University of Utah||Utah|
|4||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|5||University of California, Santa Cruz||California|
|6||Full Sail University||Florida|
|7||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|9||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|10||Southern Methodist University||Texas|
|11||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|13||University of Texas at Austin||Texas|
|14||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|15||Texas A&M University, College Station||Texas|
|16||University of California, Irvine||California|
|17||University of Washington||Washington|
|20||North Carolina State University||North Carolina|
|22||Indiana University, Bloomington||Indiana|
|23||Academy of Art University||California|
|24||Clemson University||South Carolina|
|25||California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo||California|
Below are the Top 25 game design schools and colleges offering Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs for 2023. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC) houses USC Games—a collection of minors and programs leading to degrees at all levels. Programs, including the Computer Science BS (Games), are part of the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media and Games Division and the Department of Computer Science at Viterbi School of Engineering.
USC Games combines the study of art, design, engineering, and production. Classes are collaborative, immersive, and hands-on, allowing students to develop team-building skills and expertise in every area of game design and development. Courses are taught by working professionals in the field and include Video Game Programming, Pipelines for Games and Interactives, Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Experimental Games Topics, Programming Game Engines, Usability Testing for Games, Game Development, and Game Design Workshop.
To enhance the degree, students have the opportunity to complete 21 credits hours of free electives. All students will complete a Final Game Project, which takes place over two courses worth a total of six credits. The Computer Science BS Program at University of Southern California requires 128 credit hours to graduate.
Graduates of USC Games have developed and sold their own games, launched their own studios, or landed positions at major studios such as Riot Games, Disney, Epic Games, Apple, ESPN, and CBS interactive, among others.
2. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, home to the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) Program. This unique pathway combines game design, computer animation, robotic art, computer music, interactive stagecraft, recording technologies and other emerging media. Students in this program have the opportunity to craft a concentration from courses across five schools including Art, Architecture, Design, Drama, and Music. Students may also choose a Computer Science (CS) Concentration to match their goals in collaboration with student advisors.
Carnegie Mellon University provides the opportunity for students who prefer a minor over a concentration to choose from more than 7,000 major/minor combo options. Popular combo options for game designers include the BCSA/Game Design Minor, CS BS/Game Design Minor, and the Music and Technology BS/Game Design Minor.
The CMU Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) was established in 1998. A partnership between CMU’s College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science, the ETC houses the Game Design Minor in collaboration with the Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology Network (IDeATe). The CMU ETC also allows students across all departments to enroll in individual courses to enhance their program of study.
The ETC IDeATe Game Design Minor consists of courses that cover topics such as game programming, game systems and mechanics design, Interactive narrative and character development, user testing, computing, interface design, visual and audio design, the design process, and teamwork. The ETC IDeATe Game Design Minor requires a minimum of 45 units of study to complete the program.
Carnegie Mellon University graduates are routinely hired by companies and studios such as Amazon, Epic Systems, Apple, Google, Microsoft, ESPN, IBM, Meta, 2K Games, and 31st Street Studios.
3. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Colleges of Engineering and Fine Arts at University of Utah (The U) house 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 two undergraduate pathways to study game design. Options include BS degrees in Games (BSG) and Computer Science (CS) with an EAE Emphasis.
The EAE Programs at University of Utah 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 The U 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.
4. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) houses the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS), home to the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM), which has a Game Design and Development BS and an Accelerated BS/MS. Both programs explore animation, math and science, interactive media, modeling, user interaction, and of course, game design and development.
Course examples across programs include Games Balance, IGM Production Studio, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Gameplay, Gameplay and Prototyping, Casual Game Development, Systems Concepts for Games and Media, Game Engine Design and Development, Console Development, Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms, Game Development Processes, Level Design, and Physical Computing & Alternative Interfaces. Seminars, game development and research studios, and independent study are also part of the programs.
RIT IGM Game Design and Development students also have the rare opportunity to complete two paid blocks of cooperative education, which will allow them to gain experience in the games industry through a full-time employment at a studio. Google, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, Epic Games, and Microsoft are just a few recent co-op companies. Students will also have the opportunity to develop and commodify their own games at RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios.
5. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
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 provides a Computer Science: Computer Game Design (BS) that can be completed at the UC Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley campuses.
Computer Game Design BS students 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. BS students will complete a Capstone Project during the final year of the program.
Graduates of the UC Santa Cruz Game Design Program 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.
6. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University is home to The Gaming School which houses production studios and classrooms that look and feel like major production studios. Undergraduate options here include the Game Design BS and a BS degrees in Game Art, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Game Business & Esports. The Simulation & Visualization BS is offered on campus and all other programs are offered both on campus and online.
In addition to gaining production experience in a real-world studio environment on the Full Sail University campus, gaming students have opportunities to work off campus at local and national studios through the internship program. Courses in The Gaming School are also immersive. Course examples across all programs include Motion Capture, Game Mechanics, Game Production Tools, Engine Development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Data Visualization & Modeling. Students will master all roles in the production pipeline, video game development for computers, networks and consoles, test simulation, game effects, narrative design, and animation.
Full Sail University’s Career Development Department provides 24/7 access to job opportunities, along with workshops and presentations that cover branding, networking, research strategies, and interviewing techniques. The department also coordinates local hiring events and events in other major markets such as Los Angeles and New York.
Full Sail University graduates have worked on many popular games, films, and ad campaigns. Games include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Overwatch 2, Horizon Forbidden West, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, and Fortnite. More than 200 graduates from Games, Art & Design, Music & Recording, Business, and Media & Communications areas were credited on over 25 projects nominated in 21 categories at The 2022 Game Awards.
Graduates from Game Design, Film, and Entertainment Business also contributed to winners in categories including Best Adaptation (Arcane: League of Legends), Best Esports Game (Valorant), Best VR/AR (Moss: Book II), Best Fighting (MultiVersus), and Games for Impact (As Dusk Falls).
Companies and studios that have hired Full Sail University graduates include Disney, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon, Bunim Murray, Pixar, MTV, ESPN, Universal Studios, Miramax, DreamWorks, and HBO.
7. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of Technology (DigiPen) was the first college in the world to offers a Bachelor’s degree in Video Game Technology and Development. The program has expanded to include BS degrees in Computer Science (CS) & Game Design and CS in Real-Time Interactive Simulation.
Students in the DigiPen Computer Science & Game Design BS will study artificial intelligence (AI), system, level and technical design, user interface design, and programming languages. Accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, the BS CS/Real-Time Interactive Simulation explores programming languages, game engine software, graphics rendering, artificial intelligence (AI), 2D and 3D simulation, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and software engineering.
For exceptional students, DigiPen offers an accelerated BS/MS Program that can be completed in just five years. The BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation degree program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET.
Students in all programs will work in multidisciplinary teams in a studio environment to create software and a series of video games. Graduates of all programs at DigiPen Institute of Technology enjoy a high job placement rate. To date, more than 600 companies have hired DigiPen graduates. A few examples include Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, DreamWorks Interactive, Google, Amazon, Walt Disney Imagineering, SpaceX, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Activision, Insomniac Games, Zynga, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel Corporation, Ubisoft Shanghai, Take-Two Interactive, ArenaNet, and Bungie, Inc.
8. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
The Game Design Program at DePaul University (DePaul) is housed in the Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM). Undergraduate pathways here include BS degrees in Game Design, Game Programming, and Computer Science (CS)/Game Systems.
Game Design at DePaul University emphasizes collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. Design students will have opportunities to work with fine art, audio, programming, and writing students. The curriculum includes coursework that helps students navigate the game production process from inception to the testing phase. Course examples include Game Development, Practical Scripting for Games, Game Sound Design, 3D Design and Modeling, and Animation.
Students in all programs have access to the Virtual and Augmented Design Lab, the game studio known as DePaul Originals, and CDM facilities such as the gameplay, playtest and usability, XR, and game development and research labs. Other program benefits include participation in a variety of exhibitions, internship opportunities at local and national studios, and the biennial Japan Study Abroad Program. Students will leave the DePaul Game Design Program with a portfolio of their best work.
Some of the top careers for DePaul Game Design graduates include Game Design and Development, Animation, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, Commercial Production, and Project Management. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Epic Games, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Fast Radius, iiRcade, and Speegs Media.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) houses the MIT Game Lab, which helps students customize a plan of study to match their goals. The Lab is also a research and development hub that designs games for research.
Besides opportunities to customize their curriculum, students at MIT may study game design through several programs that allow students to choose a built-in “cluster” or electives from any department. Examples of programs that allow this much flexibility include Comparative Media Studies (CMS) and Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).
Housed in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the Department of Comparative Media Studies (CMS) provides programs leading to a BS in CMS. The CMS Games and Interactive Media Cluster consists of more than 20 game design course options.
The Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department in the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing (MIT EECS) is the largest department at MIT. EECS provides a BS in CSE. The program is highly interdisciplinary and emphasizes on-campus team and independent projects, lab work, research, and off-campus internships with MIT partner companies. The program explores human-computer interaction (HCI) and graphics, artificial intelligence (AI), software engineering, programming languages, machine learning, algorithms and theory, and computer systems.
Elective requirements allow students to take additional courses that focus on games. Courses may be offered within and outside the department. Examples from the CMS Department include Game Design Methods, Videogame Theory, Interactive Narrative, Imagination, Computation & Expression Studio, Game Design, Advanced Game Design Studio, Designing Interactions, Design and Development for Games and Learning, Games and Culture, Games for Social Change, and Fun and Games: Cross-Cultural Perspectives.
The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an additional pathway for designers looking to specialize in unique areas such as psychological games and behavioral change. The Brain & Cognitive Science BS is provided in partnership with the EECS Department. Finally, students who are interested in the business side of game development, or those looking to launch their own studios, can enroll in the Business BS Program, housed in the MIT Sloan School of Management. For both options, students may work with the MIT Game Lab to customize a focus area that aligns with their goals.
Graduates of the Computer Science and Engineering Programs/MIT Game Lab have been hired at major studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Harmonix Music Systems, Bungie Studios, Muzzy Lane (educational game studio), Learning Games Network (LGN), Moonshot Games, and Fire Hose Games (founded by MIT alumni in 2008).
10. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to Lyle School of Engineering, which houses the Computer Science Department and the Computer Science BS Program. Core requirements for the program include Programming Languages, Graphical User Interface Design and Implementation, Digital Computer Design, Software Engineering Principles, and Assembly Language Programming and Machine Organization.
SMU CS students may add the 10 credit-hour Game Development Track, which consists of Programming for Commercial Game Engines, Software Development for Games, Team Game Production, Math and Physics, and the culminating Gaming Design Project.
Graduates of the Game Design Programs at Southern Methodist University have worked at more than 270 game studios and tech companies around the world. They have worked on games such as Game of Thrones, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Assassins Creed, Grant Theft Auto, League of Legends, Atlas, Batman, Days Gone, Doom, God of War, Diablo, Marvel Avengers, Disney Infinity, Elite Force, and Guitar Hero.
Examples of companies of companies and studios that have hired SMU graduates include Epic Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Oculus VR, Insomniac Games, Microsoft, Disney Interactive, Bioware, Samsung, Zenimax Online Studios, Bungie, Sony, Gearbox, Ubisoft, Bethesda Softworks, and Obsidian Entertainment.
11. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) houses the College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Collectively, these academic divisions provide a Computational Media BS (BSCM), a Computer Science BS/MS and 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 Scenarios, Models, and Military Games Certificate can be added to any BS Program, as well as the Computing & Media Minor, which requires 19 additional credit hours of study. Course examples for this program include 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
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.
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 Computer Science, Computational Media, and Scenarios, Models, and Military Games Certificate 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), 3D Modeling, and Defense.
12. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design (The Westphal College) at Drexel University (Drexel) has a number of traditional and dual-degree paths to study game design including the Game Design and Production BS, Game Design and Production/Digital Media BS/MS, and the Interactive Digital Media/Digital Media BS/MS.
Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), Westphal College programs are hands-on and studio-based, with small class sizes that allow for individual instruction. Mandatory participation in the Drexel University Cooperative (co-op) Education Program enables students to gain work and world experience prior to graduation. Co-op experiences take place at both local and national companies, and in places such as Ghana, Hong Kong, Greece, London, and Spain.
The College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel University has an additional BS option for designers looking for a program that combines game development and computer science. The BS degree in Computer Science (BSCS) provides an optional Game Programming and Development (GMPD) Concentration. Like all Westphal College programs, the Computer Science program provides a hands-on curriculum combined with valuable co-op experiences. All programs end with a full-year capstone project.
Across pathways, other program highlights include access to the RePlay Lab, the Entrepreneurial Game Studio (EGS), and the Center for Games, Artificial Intelligence, and Media Systems (GAIMS Center). Graduates of the Game Design Programs at Drexel University are prepared to pursue positions in PC Game Design, Game Art, Simulation, Mobile Game Design, Job Training, and Console Game Design, and Serious Games, among other areas.
More than 80% of Drexel gaming graduates and nearly 90% of dual degree graduates are working in an area directly related to game development. Examples of companies that employ Drexel University alumni include Xbox Game Studios, Microsoft Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Zynga, Blizzard Entertainment, Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Disney Interactive, Digital Domain, BioWare, Disney Imagineering, Lockheed, Volition Inc., NCSoft Carbine Studios, Comcast Corporation, Razorfish, and Gameloft.
13. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
The College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, home to the Computer Science BS (BS CS) with an optional Game Development OR Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) Concentration. In both concentrations, students will study game technology and computer graphics. Course examples across options include Game Technology, Object-Oriented Programming, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, and Generic Programming & STL. 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 curriculum in 2020. Entitled the “University of Texas Game Development and Design Program,” this option 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 Computer Science and 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.
14. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a designated New York State Center of Excellence (NYSTAR) in Digital Game Development. Programs for game designers are housed in the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Department, which is part of the RPI’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS). Pathways to study game design include the GSAS BS, the Critical Game Design MS, Critical Game Design MS, and the Critical Game Design Co-Terminal MS Program.
The GSAS Department emphasizes interdisciplinary study, allowing students in all degree programs to explore experimental game design, music and audio for games, programming, software engineering, digital arts, and 3D animation. RPI GSAS students will also take courses in leadership and management, complete an internship, and participate in optional study abroad programs such as the semester abroad in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University.
A major component of the program is the opportunity to build a number of professional games in teams. Students will graduate from the GSAS Programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a professional portfolio of their best works.
RPI GSAS alumni go on to establish careers in a variety of fields such as Game Design and Development, Animation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Visualization, Interactive Simulation, Computer Science, and Fine Arts, among others.
15. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
The School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Visualization Department, home to the Visualization BS Program. In this program, students have 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 the Visualization BS.
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 Texas A&M University feature project-based studios, supported by courses that cover production pipeline, programming, 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 and portfolio to graduate.
Graduates of the Visualization and Game Design & Development Programs 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).
16. University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California
The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine or UCI) houses the Department of Informatics, home to the Game Design and Interactive Media (GDIM) Program, which leads to a BS. The Department of Computer Sciences has a Computer Game Science BS (CGS BS), and a BS 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 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.
17. University of Washington, Seattle, 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 and it 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 a Computer Science (CS) BS, Computer Engineering BS, and a combined BS/MS in CS or Engineering. All programs allow students to add the PCE Game Design Certificate, and all 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.
18. Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont
Champlain College is home to The Game Studio, which consists of six collaborative majors with courses taught by game industry experts. Studio highlights include small class sizes, interdisciplinary, career-focused curriculums, and collaboration in a studio setting that mirrors today’s professional studio environments. Game Studio Majors include Game Art, Game Design, Game Programming, Game Production Management, Game Business & Publishing, and Game Sound Design. All majors lead to a BS.
Students in all Champlain Game Studio Majors will develop a number of games that may be presented to recruiters from major studios such as Activision, Warner Bros., and Gameloft. BS students will also have opportunities to network with representatives from other major studios such as Sony, Insomniac, Rockstar, ArenaNet, Survios, Ubisoft, and Crystal Dynamics. Champlain College alumni have enjoyed a 93% employment (or graduate school) rate within six months of graduation for the past six years.
19. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute (formerly the College of Technology), which houses the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and the CGT BS with a Game Development and Design Major.
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.
20. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
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.
21. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) and Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University (Northeasters) provide several pathways to study game design. Undergraduate options include a Game Design and Music BS with a Concentration in Music Technology, a Computer Science & Game Development BS, and Game Art and Game Design Minors that can be added to enhance any degree.
All programs are interdisciplinary and include courses such as Game Design and Analysis, Mixed Research Methods for Games, Prototyping for Experience Design, Advanced Topics in Game Design, Generative Game Design, Spatial and Temporal Design, Level Design and Game Architecture, Exploratory Concept Design, Player Experience, Business Models in the Game Industry, Building of Game Engines, Psychology of Play, Game Artificial Intelligence, Generative Game Design, Games and Society, Game Studio, Data-Driven Player Modeling, Advanced Topics in Game Science, Game Concept Development, and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
In addition to a variety of courses, the Game Design Programs at Northeastern University provide the opportunity to participate in the school’s distinctive co-op program. This paid experiential learning program allows undergraduate students to gain up to 18 months of hands-on, professional experience in game design. Northeastern University partners with more than 20,000 co-op employers nationwide and in 65+ countries around the world. Examples include Hasbro, Mass DiGi, Greenbrier Games, Splash Damage Games, Harmonix, Jamspot, Live Nation, and Demiurge Studios.
In addition to gaining work experience through the co-op program, students in all programs enjoy hands-on learning in collaborative classrooms and studios, access to state-ot-the-art production facilities, courses taught by industry professionals, and access to 3,350+ employer partners, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and global companies.
Graduates of the Game Design Programs at Northeastern University work in Game Art, Game Design and Development, Game Programming, Sound for Games, Animation, and many other areas. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Google, Zynga, Xbox Game Studios (a division of Microsoft), and Cognizant.
22. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana
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. The Minor is open to CSCIBS students.
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, and the New Media and Interactive Storytelling Certificate.
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.
23. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) is home to a STEM-certified School of Game Development that operates under the direction of professionals who are active in the game design industry. The Game Programming BS here is multidisciplinary, so student designers will explore games, systems, and tools programming; coding; augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR); rigging; animation/animation VFX; artificial intelligence (AI); concept art; user interface/user experience (UI/UX) design; 3D modeling; technical art; and level design.
BS students will take courses such as Programming for Games, AI, Mobile Game Development, Programming for Game UI and Tools, Game Engines, History of Gaming, Collaborative Game Development, 2D Tools for Game Development, Game Engines, 3D Modeling for Games, Prop & Weapon Design for Games, Level Design for Video Games, Rapid Game Development, Combat Design, and Game Freemium & Monetization.
Partnerships with studios such as Zynga, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Riot Games allow School of Game Development students to gain real-world experience through professional internships. In addition to working at a top studio prior to graduation, students will engage in hands-on learning in the Academy of Art Game Development Studio.
Examples of facilities and technology include cross-departmental war rooms with students from the Schools of Animation, Illustration, and Music, among others, Xbox/PlayStation/Nintendo Game consoles, competitive esports lab, 280+ Alienware High Performance Computers with Dual Monitors, AR/VR labs, and the Game Lounge.
Graduates of the School of Game Development at Academy of Art University have been recruited by major studios such as Riot Games, Zynga, and Sony Interactive Entertainment. Students have also been hired at Sledgehammer Games, Naughty Dog, and Crystal Dynamics.
24. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
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.
BS program options include the Computer Science (CS) BA/BS, the fast-track Computer Science Bachelor’s/Master’s (BS/MS), and the DPA Minor for Animation and Game Design. Offered since 2011, the DPA Minor focuses on Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation. This program can be added to any BS degree.
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.
25. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
The College of Engineering (CENG) at California Polytechnic State University (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 and Blended BS + MS in Computer Science. Minor options include Computer Science and Computing for Interactive Arts. The CS Minor allows BS 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. The Blended CS BS + MS allows students to specialize in multiple areas, enroll in a Game Development Concentration, or the Computing and Interactive Arts Minor.
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 Programs 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.