What are the top game design programs in Texas for 2022?

Top 5 Texas Game Design Schools - 2022 College Rankings
1Southern Methodist UniversityDallas
2University of Texas at AustinAustin
3Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station
4University of Texas at DallasDallas
5Baylor UniversityWaco

Our 2022 ranking of the top game design school programs in Texas. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University (SMU) houses the SMU Guildhall, which launched in 2003 with 32 full-time students. When it opened, the Guildhall became the first graduate-level digital game development program of its kind. Today, the program has partnerships with hundreds of studios and companies across the globe. Some 860+ SMU Guildhall alumni have worked at more than 270 studios worldwide.

A sampling of Guildhall industry partners includes Disney Interactive, Blizzard Entertainment, Gameloft, Insomniac Games, Riot Games, Unity, Bethesda Softworks, Samsung, Epic Games, Microsoft Game Studios, Bungie, and Gearbox Software, to name a few. 

Other Guildhall highlights include professional development coursework, career fairs, guest speakers, workshops, lectures, mentorship programs, team game projects, and portfolio reviews.

Program offerings at SMU Guildhall include a Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development (thesis required) and a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development (no thesis). Guildhall specialization options include Art Creation, Level Design, Production, and Software Development. To graduate, students will develop a minimum of three industry-ready 2D and 3D games.

Southern Methodist University has several additional program options for game designers. Meadows School of Art houses the Division of Art, which offers an Art BFA. In collaboration with the Guildhall, the BFA program allows students to add the Art Creation or Level Design Specialization offered in the MIT Digital Game Development Program.

Lyle School of Engineering houses the Computer Science Department, which offers a BS in Computer Science. Core requirements for the program include Programming Languages, Assembly Language Programming and Machine Organization, Digital Computer Design, Graphical User Interface Design and Implementation, and Software Engineering Principles.

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 final Gaming Design Project.

Southern Methodist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Founded in 1911, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students from all 50 states, DC, and 90 foreign countries. SMU offers 250 programs at all degree levels across seven colleges and schools.

2. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
University of Texas at Austin

The College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, which offers a BS in CS (BS CS) with a Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) Concentration. Graduate students may also study game design through the MS in CS (MS CS), and Five-Year BS/MS Integrated Program in Computer Science. In all options, students will study game technology and computer graphics. An internship and project-based capstone are also part of the program.

Students will also have opportunities to complete an internship with both local and national companies. Many internships lead to job offers.

A Game Design and Development curriculum was created in 2020 by the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET) in the College of Fine Arts’ School of Design and Creative Technologies, the CS Department, and Moody College of Communication-Department of Radio-Television-Film (RTF). AET offers courses focused solely on gaming, the CS Department covers visualization and coding for games, and cinematic arts, emergent media, and narrative design coursework is offered through RTF Department.

Students may focus in games through minor programs and concentrations offered in all three departments.

The University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1883, UT Austin serves nearly 52,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in Texas. Across 18 colleges and school, the University of Texas offers 156 undergraduate degree programs with more than 170 fields of study, 139 graduate degree programs, and nearly 100 doctoral programs.

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

The College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (TAMU) is home to the Visualization Program (VISL or Viz Lab). Established in 1988, VISL consists of BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization and a Game Development Minor. Across programs, student have opportunities to study game design through free electives or emphasis areas such as Gaming or Interactive Design. Students may also add the Game Development Minor.

Course options across Viz Lab degree programs include Principles of Design, 2D and 3D Visualization Techniques, Visual Studies Studio, and Computing for Visualization. The 16 credit hour Game Development Minor consists of courses such as Computer Graphics, Programming, Communication and Video Games, HCI, and Interactive Virtual Environments.

The VISL MS program has thesis and non-thesis tracks. The thesis option is designed for students interested in games research development or entering a PhD program. The non-thesis track is a popular option for TAMU students who would like to focus on portfolio development in a specific area.

Texas A&M University VISL graduates are often hired at major studios such as Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, and Pixar.

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

4. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
University of Texas at Dallas

The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at the University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is a research school that offers multidisciplinary STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering, and management) programs. Serving more than 1,800 students today, ATEC launched in 2015 after the merging of two departments: Arts and Technology and Emerging Media and Communication. Programs lead to the BA, MA, MFA, or PhD in ATC.

All ATEC Programs offer opportunities to study game design and development. For example, the ATEC BA has an Animation & Games (A&G) Concentration, and the MFA has a Game Development Concentration. Students may also create a specialization through electives and other courses.

Other ATEC Program highlights include access to the following studios and facilities: Game Lab, Motion Capture Studio, Games Research Lab, Surround Studio, The Studio for Mediating Play, Animation Lab, ATEC Lecture Hall, CG Animation Lab, 3D Studio, experimenta.l., Render Farm, Mixed Media Lab, Games and Media Library, Render Farm, Surround Studio, and the Narrative Systems Research Lab. The ATEC Lecture Hall has hosted speakers from Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks.

Graduates of the ATEC Program at University of Texas at Dallas have been recruited by major studios and companies such as Pixar, Google, Capital One, DreamWorks, Apple, Toyota, and Disney.

University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in the 1960s by the creators of Texas Instruments, UT Dallas opened in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. University of Texas at Dallas is a member of the University of Texas System, serving nearly 29,700 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across eight schools.

5. Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Baylor University

The School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) at Baylor University offers several ABET-accredited programs for designers looking to develop skills in game design, software engineering and computer science. Options are housed in the ECS Department of Computer Science and include a BS in Computer Science (BSCS), a BA with a Major in Computer Science, a BS in CS with a Software Engineering Concentration, and an MS and PhD in CS.

Students in all programs may focus in games through electives. The curriculum for the undergraduate programs includes a semester-long Gaming Capstone, where students will create a full-blown gaming system. Course options may include Introduction to Game Development, Gaming Platform Frameworks, Interactive Media, 2D and 3D Design, Introduction to Video Game Design, Advanced Digital Production, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Audio Production, Computer Graphics, Topics in Media Genres (film, television, gaming, and other media), and Topics in Media Storytelling (film, television, radio/audio, games, or other form of digital media storytelling).

Graduates of the School of ECS CS Programs at Baylor University Baylor work at some of the world’s largest companies and research institutes.

Baylor University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Established in 1845 and serving more than 20,000 students, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas and the largest Baptist educational institution in the world. The school offers 260 degree programs across 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.