What are the top Arizona game design programs?

Top Arizona Game Design Schools and Colleges - 2024 College Rankings
1University of ArizonaTucson
2University of Advancing TechnologyTempe

Our 2024 ranking of the top game design school programs in Arizona. 

For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona

The School of Information (iSchool) at University of Arizona (UA or UArizona) is a member of the iSchools consortium. This international organization of over 120 universities focuses on research and teaching in areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI), bibliometrics, information access and organization, and information integrity. 

Arizona’s only iSchool, the School of Information at UA also emphasizes cross-disciplinary studies in a collaborative, hands-on learning environment with opportunities to intern at places such as Amazon, Octavia Digital Media, Tesla, Hydrant, Lum.ai, the Enterprise Technology Division of State Farm, Genentech, and Lunewave. All iSchool students also have opportunities to study abroad in more than 60 countries. 

The UA iSchool provides more than a dozen undergraduate majors, minors, and certificates, as well as 10 master’s, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. For game designers, the school has several undergraduate options including the Game Design and Development BS; Games and Behavior BA; and the Certificate in Games & Simulation. Both the BS and BA programs can be taken as a minor. 

The Game Design and Development BS and minor programs explore games for entertainment, healthcare, simulations, education, and other applications. Across programs, students will take courses such as Game Programming; Introduction to Game Design; Computational Thinking and Doing; Algorithms for Games; Ethics in a Digital World; and Introduction to Game Development in Unity. 

BS students may take five elective courses and minor students can take three. Examples include Virtual Reality; eSports Industries; Digital Storytelling and Culture; Narrative Practices in Digital Games; Advanced Game Development; and Gamification in Society. The BS requires 120 units to graduate, and the minor requires 18. 

Graduates of the Game Design and Development programs at University of Arizona go on to establish careers in game design, game development, UI/UX design, and digital marketing. 

The Games and Behavior BA and minor programs at University of Arizona explore game design, human behavior in games, and gamification in society. In addition to games for entertainment, the programs emphasize games for health and wellness, education, job training, and social support. Course examples across programs include Gamification in Society; Monetizing Independent Gaming; eSports Industries; Ethics in a Digital World; Digital Engagement; and Introduction to Game Design. 

To enhance the degree, BA students may choose four elective courses. Minor students will select all required units (18) from a pre-determined list of courses. BA elective examples include Computing and the Arts; Information, Multimedia Design, and the Moving Image; Narrative Practices in Digital Games; Technology of Sound; Digital Games and Society; Legal Aspects of Game Industries; Disruptive Technologies; Introduction to Human Computer Interaction (HCI); and Digital Commerce. 

The Games and Behavior BA at University of Arizona requires 120 units to graduate. Upon completion of the program, graduates are prepared to pursue careers such as Gamification Design Consultant, Digital Marketing Specialist, and UX/UI Designer. 

In addition to games programs provided through the iSchool, University of Arizona has an option in the College of Humanities, Department of Public and Applied Humanities. Leading to a BA in Applied Humanities with a Game Studies emphasis, the program consists of courses such as Introduction to Game Design; Computing and the Arts; Tabletop Games: Play, Culture, and Design of Board and Role-Playing Games; Game Development; Global Video Game Cultures & Their Origins; Gamification in Society; and The Video Game Industry: An Introduction to the Business of Making Money with Play. 

To graduate, students in this BA program will complete an internship, professional portfolio, and Senior Capstone. Graduates are prepared to pursue positions in the areas such as Global Games, Digital Culture Studies, Finance, Game and Media Journalism, Digital Humanities, Entrepreneurship, Law, and New Media Policy. 

University of Arizona is Arizona’s first university. Established in 1885, this land-grant institution opened with just a few students. Today, UA serves approximately 46,930 students, making it one of the state’s largest post-secondary institutions. UArizona offers more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in 150+ areas of study. Programs are provided across 21 colleges and nearly two dozen specialized schools. University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, Arizona
University of Advancing Technology

University of Advancing Technology (UAT) houses one of the nation’s only fully accredited game design (GD) programs that provides degrees across the discipline. Launched in 1995, UAT GD consists of the Game Design BA (GD BA), Game Programming (GP BS), Game Production and Management MS (GPM MS), and Game Art and Animation (GAA BA). 

Undergraduate programs consist of 120 credit hours, with 36 credits in the major. All programs feature live simulation and mentors; the opportunity to work on technology-based and community projects; the option to work on projects individually, in teams or both; and a mandatory industry internship is also part of every program. 

Coursework for the Game Design BA explores game programming, interactive storytelling, systems design, game balancing, user experience design, play-testing, and design documentation. Students will work through the game creation process with other artists and programmers to complete a number of projects.

The Game Programming BS, also known as the Game Coder Degree, focuses on C++ programming, C# programming, gameplay interaction, scripting, artificial intelligence, networking, data handling, and the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), industry standard middleware, and game engines. 

The Game Art and Animation BA explores 2D/3D art and animation for mobile, PC, console, virtual reality platforms, and online. In this program, students have the opportunity to work their way through the entire game production pipeline to create an original game. In addition, GAA BA students will complete a professional portfolio and the Student Innovation Project. 

The Game Production and Management (GPM) MS consists of four, nine-credit modules. In addition to the required GD and GPM modules, students may select two additional modules based to support their goals. Examples include Robotics and Kinematics, App Development, Technology Startup, Digital Maker, Data Cloud A.I., and Technology Leadership. The UAT MS may be completed on campus or online in 1-2 years. 

Graduates of the Game Design programs at University of Advancing Technology are prepared to pursue roles in games for entertainment, serious games, architecture, science and medicine, aerospace, defense, simulation training, advertising, television and film, law enforcement, and more. Program alumni have been hired by major agencies, organizations, and studios such as the U.S. Department of Defense, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Intel, Nickelodeon, Microsoft, and Google. 

University of Advancing Technology was established in 1983 at the CAD Institute. The school is a 100% STEM-based, private, family-owned institution that serves more than 700 students enrolled in 20+ technology degree programs. University of Advancing Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).