What are the top Texas game design programs for 2023?

Top 5 Texas Game Design Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1Southern Methodist UniversityDallas
2University of Texas at AustinAustin
3Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station
4University of Texas at DallasDallas
5Baylor UniversityWaco

Our 2023 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

SMU Guildhall at Southern Methodist University (SMU) 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, SMU Guildhall is the only video game education program with specializations in the four key areas of game development.

SMU Guildhall has partnerships with hundreds of studios and companies across the globe. Some 860+ SMU Guildhall alumni have worked at more than 270 studios worldwide. Examples of Guildhall industry partners include Epic Games, Microsoft Game Studios, Disney Interactive, Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Gameloft, Insomniac Games, Bungie, Samsung, Gearbox Software, Unity, Bethesda, and Softworks. 

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

SMU Guildhall at Southern Methodist University has two pathways to study game design—the 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 Production, Software Development, Level Design, and Art Creation. Students will develop a minimum of three industry-ready 2D and 3D games to graduate.

Southern Methodist University has several additional program options for game designers. Meadows School of Art houses the Division of Art, home to the Art BFA Program. 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, home to 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.

Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University enrolls more than 12,000 students from all 50 states, DC, and 90 foreign countries. SMU offers 250 programs at all degree levels across seven colleges and schools. 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).

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 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).

3. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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 the Visualization BS Program.

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).

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

5. Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Baylor University

Baylor University has a number of degree programs that allow the flexibility to create a focus in games. For example, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) has an ABET-accredited Computer Science BS (BSCS) with three Tracks: Computer Science, Software Engineering, and Cybersecurity. While all Tracks share many of the same courses, the Computer Science Track explores a number of broad topics in computing. The program also provides a wide variety of advanced elective topics and a strong foundation for applying computing to many different areas, including games.

BCBS students have access to courses such as Introduction to Video Game Design, 2D and 3D Design, Gaming Platform Frameworks, Politics, Games, and Strategy, Design and Creative Technologies, Game Theory, Advanced Sound Design, Innovative Games and Adventure Activities, and the Gaming Capstone Design Project.

The Software Engineering Concentration is ideal for students seeking a career in quality assurance testing (QA) for games. In addition to access to the game design courses already listed, students will complete a significant number of courses (and research) in software quality assurance, model-driven analysis and testing, software project management, code analysis, and microservice-based enterprise application design. A Computer Science MS with a Software Engineering track is also available. This program focuses on software verification and validation.

Awarded through the College of Arts & Sciences, but housed in the School of ECS, the BA with a Major in Computer Science combines a traditional liberal arts education with core courses in computer science and access to a variety of electives. This includes game design courses. Students in this program may concentrate in CS or add a Minor from any approved field. The Baylor BA degree requires a minimum of 124 hours, with 39-52 hours in CS.

A final option for designers seeking a short-program is the Digital Game Artist Certificate. Housed in Baylor University’s Continuing Education Department, the self-paced Certificate Program requires 600 course hours that can be completed in 18 months. Students will explore digital art, character design, 3D art, environmental art design, and modeling. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be prepared to pursue positions related to 3D Art for Games and Environmental Art for Games.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Baylor University enjoy a 92% job placement rate. Program alumni have been hired by some of the world’s top companies, studios, and research centers.

Established in 1845 Baylor University is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. The school serves approximately 20,710 students, making it the largest Baptist educational institution in the world. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), Baylor University offers more than 260 degree programs across 12 nationally recognized academic divisions