What are the top Pennsylvania game design programs for 2024?

Top 5 Game Design Schools and Colleges in Pennsylvania - 2024 College Rankings
1Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh
2Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia
3University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
4University of the ArtsPhiladelphia
5Pennsylvania Western UniversityEdinboro

Our 2024 ranking of the top game design school programs in Pennsylvania. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home to the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC). Established in 1998, ETC is a partnership between CMU’s School of Computer Science (CS) and the College of Fine Arts. Within the ETC is a Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) and a Game Design minor. This program is provided in collaboration with CMU’s Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology Network (IDeATe). 

The IDeATe curriculum is delivered across 15 different academic departments at CMU. IDeATe programs are housed in a collaborative making facility in Hunt Library. 

The ETC MET explores Building Virtual Worlds, Improvisational Acting, Fundamentals of Entertainment Technology, and Visual Story. Students will have the opportunity to select electives from the following areas: Game Design, Interactive Storytelling, Themed Entertainment, Leadership & Innovation, and General. Possible elective options include Game Design, Game Design, Prototyping and Production, Understanding Game Engines, Dynamic Motion and Game Experience, Advanced Pipeline Topics for Film and Game Art, IDeATe: Little Games/Big Stories: Indie Roleplaying Game, Story Development and Previsualization in AI, and Advanced Game Studio. 

The ETC IDeATe Game Design minor at Carnegie Mellon University is open to all majors. CMU has more than 7,000 major/minor combo options. Popular combo options for game designers include the CS BS/Game Design minor, Art BFA/Game Design minor, Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA)/Game Design minor, and the Music and Technology BS/Game Design minor. The CMU ETC also allows students across all departments to enroll in individual courses to enhance any program of study. 

The ETC IDeATe Game Design minor requires 45 units of study. Courses for the program cover topics such as game programming; character development; game systems and mechanics design; interactive narrative; the iterative design process; visual and audio asset creation; interface design; user testing; and collaboration. Course examples include Little Games/Big Stories: Indie Roleplaying Game Studio; Intermediate Studio: Creative Coding; Game Design, Prototyping, and Production; Experimental Game Design; Dynamic Motion and Game Experience; and Distributed Game Studio: Game Art Pipeline. 

All ETC students have access to labs and studios such as the Physical Computing Lab; Soft Technologies Studio; Media Lab; and Studios A and B. Other program features include internships; workshops; guest speakers; and study abroad experiences in places such as Hong Kong, the UK, France, New Zealand, and South Korea.  

Graduates of the creative and technology programs at Carnegie Mellon University are prepared for careers across industries. CMU graduates are routinely hired by companies and studios such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, ESPN, Google, IBM, Meta, Epic Systems, 31st Street Studios, and 2K Games. 

Founded on November 15, 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University opened its doors as Carnegie Technical Schools. Today, this private global research university provides more than 200 programs to approximately 16,780 students from 126 countries. In addition to the main campus in Pennsylvania, CMU has campuses in Silicon Valley and Doha, Qatar. 

Housed across seven colleges and schools, Carnegie’s academic programs are also provided in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico, and Portugal. Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

2. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design (The Westphal College) at Drexel University (Drexel) has undergraduate majors, minors, accelerated, and dual degree programs that are ideal choices for game designers. The College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel has several additional options for designers seeking programs that combine the full computer science curriculum with game design courses. 

All programs provide access to the state-of-the-art Animation Capture & Effects Lab (ACE-Lab); the URBN Center, which features an open floorplan, shared making spaces, and innovative labs and studios; advanced graphics workstations; the Immersive Research Lab for virtual reality, augmented reality, and immersive media projects; and a theme-park quality motion simulation platform.

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

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

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

In the College of Computing & Informatics, students can earn a BA or BS in Computer Science (BAC, BSCS), or a 24-credit hour CS minor. The BA/BS programs provide optional tracks in Game Development and Design; Artificial Intelligence; and Numeric and Symbolic Computation. All tracks explore games, with topics that cover 2D and 3D Games (Game Development and Design); Game Playing and Logic Programming (Artificial Intelligence); and Creating Virtual Worlds (Numeric & Symbolic Computation). 

Like all Westphal College programs, programs in the College of Computing & Informatics provide a hands-on curriculum combined with valuable co-op experiences. All programs end with a full-year capstone project. 

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

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

Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, & Industry. The school serves approximately 22,345 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) and Digital Media Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD).

3. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

Also housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Science is the Digital Media Design (DMD) program. Launched in 1998, this interdisciplinary program combines coursework from the UPenn School of Design and the CIS Department. Leading to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a DMD major, the program explores games, animation, computer graphics, interactive technologies, and virtual reality design. A programming-intensive Digital Media Design (DMD) minor is also available. 

Graduates of the UPenn DMD BSE are frequently hired at major companies and studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, EA, Microsoft, Disney Animation, and Google. 

Established in 1740, University of Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s oldest universities. The school serves approximately 28,710 students making it one of the largest universities in Pennsylvania. UPenn houses more than 170 research centers and institutes and 400 programs across 12 schools. UPenn’s Wharton School (est. 1881) was the world’s first collegiate business school. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

4. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of the Arts

The School of Film at University of the Arts (UArts) has two paths to study games: the Game Art BFA and the 15 credit hour Game Design minor. Both options provide access to the Center for Immersive Media (CIM). Launched in 2019, the CIM consists of a 5,600 square feet space dedicated to emerging technologies such as human-computer interaction (HCI), performance motion capture, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).  

Across programs, course examples include Game Concepts; Advanced 3D Animation; Game Play; 3D Simulation & Effects; Writing for Games; Virtual Environments; Computer Art Studio; Interface Design; Sound Design; Digital Studio; and Professional Practice. Free electives allow students to take additional courses in an area of interest, pursue other areas in the arts, or select a minor from more than 20 options. Examples include Animation; Film; Screenwriting; Music Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology; Figurative Illustration; Music Technology; Graphic Design; Film and Media Studies; and Creative Writing. 

Other features for the Game Art BFA include guest artists; the opportunity to work on real-world projects through the Digital Studio and Professional Practice courses; workshops and studios; frequent visits by recruiters from studios such as Bethesda Softworks and Sony; participation in the Global Game Jam; and internships with local or regional companies. Examples include Comcast, Perfect Prototype, PHL Collective, and Analytical Graphics Inc. 

The culminating experience for the Game Art BFA program at University of the Arts is the final project, which will be presented at the Game Art Senior Thesis Exhibition. 

UArts BFA graduates have worked on major games such as the World of Warcraft and the God of War series. Program alumni have also been hired at major studios such as Blizzard Entertainment and Sony, and many other studios across the U.S. and around world. 

Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves approximately 1,315 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs in fine arts, design, media arts, dance, music, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. UArts programs are provided across the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies. University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Pennsylvania Western University Edinboro, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Western University Edinboro

The College of Science and Health Professions at Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro (PennWest Edinboro) is home to the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, which has an Applied Computing BS program with a Game Programming concentration. Consisting of 120 credit hours, The BS program begins with a foundation in computer science and math, including machine learning, programming, computer language, operating systems, and computer architecture. Students may then select electives that align with their career goals or enroll in the Game Programming concentration. 

Elective examples for the Computer Science BS include 2D Game Programming; 3D Game Programming; Technical Computing Using Java; Computer Graphics; Mobile Application Development; Python; Systems Programming; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Machine Learning; and Web Programming II. The Game Programming concentration requires 15 credit hours. Courses include 2D Game Programming; 3D Game Programming; Computer Graphics; Mobile Application Development; and Artificial Intelligence. 

Students in the concentration may select two courses from Computer Science electives and two from Art. Examples of Art courses include 2D Animation Special Topics; 3D Animation Special Topics; Motion Design; Digital Storytelling; Surface Design; and Designing for the Web. 

Besides access to a variety of game design, development, and programming courses, Computer Science and Game Programming students at PennWest Edinboro have access to state-of-the-art facilities and software such Maya and the 2D Cintiq Lab; the Animation Club; and the internship program, which provides opportunities to work at local, regional, and national production studios. 

Graduates of the Computer Science program at Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro are prepared to pursue advanced roles across the games, technology, and entertainment industries, among others. PennWest Edinboro alumni have been hired by companies and studios such as Pixar, NASA, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Disney, Lockheed Martin, Blizzard Entertainment, and General Electric. 

Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro was founded in 1857 as a private training school for teachers. Today, PennWest Edinboro serves approximately 4,320 students enrolled in more than 180 programs leading to a degree or certificate. Programs are provided across five schools and 21 departments. Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).