What are the top Massachusetts game design programs for 2024?

Top Massachusetts Game Design Schools and Colleges - 2024 College Rankings
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge
2Northeastern UniversityBoston
3Worcester Polytechnic InstituteWorcester

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

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is home to the MIT Game Lab. This research and development hub helps students customize a plan of study that matches their goals. Students may study game design through programs with built-in “clusters” or through electives across MIT departments. Popular departments for game design include Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), and Comparative Media Studies (CMS).   

Part of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), the Department of Comparative Media Studies (CMS) provides programs leading to a BS or MS. The CMS Games and Interactive Media Cluster here consists of more than 20 game design course options. 

The Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department (EECS) is part of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. EECS is the largest department at MIT. Degree options include the BS and MS in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE). Programs are highly interdisciplinary and emphasize on-campus team and independent projects; lab work and research; and internships with MIT partner companies. 

MIT CSE students will explore areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI) and graphics; programming languages; artificial intelligence (AI); software engineering; algorithms and theory; machine learning; and computer systems. 

Elective requirements allow students to take additional courses that focus on games. Courses are available within and outside the department. Examples from the CMS Department include Game Design Methods; Games for Social Change; Advanced Game Design Studio; Game Design; Design and Development for Games and Learning; Fun and Games: Cross-Cultural Perspectives; Designing Interactions; Videogame Theory, Computation & Expression Studio; Games and Culture; and Interactive Narrative. 

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has an additional pathway for designers looking to specialize in emerging areas such as psychological games and behavioral change. The Brain & Cognitive Science BS is provided in partnership with the EECS Department. 

Finally, students who would like to explore the business side of game development, or those looking to launch their own studios, can enroll in the Business BS program. This program is provided by MIT Sloan School of Management. For both the BCS BS and the Business BS, students have the opportunity to work with the MIT Game Lab to customize a focus area that aligns with their goals. 

Graduates of the Computer Science and Engineering programs (with MIT Game Lab) have been hired at studios such as Fire Hose Games (founded by MIT alumni in 2008), Blizzard Entertainment, Harmonix Music Systems, Bungie Studios, Muzzy Lane (educational game studio), Learning Games Network (LGN), and Moonshot Games. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded on April 10, 1861—just two days before the start of the Civil War. The school serves 11,920 students from all 50 states, DC, two territories, and 130 foreign countries. MIT provides more than 115 undergraduate majors and minors, with 50 departments and programs offering graduate degrees. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

2. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

The College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) and Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University (Northeastern) provide several pathways to study game design. CAMD undergraduate options include a Game Design BFA; Game Art & Animation BFA; Game Design and Music BS with a Concentration in Music Technology; and minors in Game Art and Game Design. 

Graduate programs include a Game Science and Design MS, jointly provided through CAMD and the Khoury College, and Certificates in Game Experience Design and Game Science. Khoury College also has a Computer Science & Game Development BS that focuses on developing and building games and playable media experiences. 

All programs are interdisciplinary, with courses led by industry professionals. Across options, course examples include Building of Game Engines; Game Design and Analysis; Level Design and Game Architecture; Prototyping for Experience Design; Mixed Research Methods for Games Generative Game Design; Advanced Topics in Game Design; Business Models in the Game Industry; Game Studio; Spatial and Temporal Design; Game Concept Design; Psychology of Play; Human-Computer Interaction; Game Artificial Intelligence; Player Experience; Games and Society; and Data-Driven Player Modeling. 

In addition to a wide range of in-demand courses taught by faculty experts, 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.

A graduate co-op program is also available for full-time graduate students. Northeastern University partners with more than 20,000 co-op employers nationwide and in 65+ countries around the world. Examples include Hasbro, Mass DiGi, Live Nation, Harmonix, Jamspot, Greenbrier Games, Splash Damage Games, and Demiurge Studios. 

In addition to gaining work experience through Northeastern University's co-op program, students in all programs enjoy hands-on learning in collaborative classrooms and studios; access to state-ot-the-art production facilities; and access to more than 3,350 employer partners, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and global companies.  

Graduates of the Game Design programs at Northeastern University are prepared to pursue positions in Game Design, Development, and Programming. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Xbox Game Studios (a division of Microsoft), Zynga, Google, and Cognizant.  

Northeastern University began as the Evening Institute of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in 1898. The school serves approximately 36,630 full-time students enrolled in more than 500 programs across nine colleges and schools. Northeastern has campuses in Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; the Massachusetts communities of Nahant and Burlington; Charlotte, North Carolina; Silicon Valley; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Toronto, Ontario Canada; Vancouver, BC Canada; and London, UK. Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

3. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) houses the School of Arts and Sciences, home to the Interactive Media & Game Development (IMGD) program. One of the earliest gaming programs in the U.S. IMGD provides BA, BS, MFA, MS, and BS/MS degrees in IMGD. In addition, the program recently launched an interdisciplinary Computational Media PhD that focuses on play and art. While the program requires 15 credit hours in the computational media core, the PhD allows students to create an individual path such as Games and Game Engines; Visual and Sonic Media; Human-Computer Interfaces; or Narratives. 

The dual IMGD BS/MS at Worcester polytechnic Institute allows students to complete two degrees at an accelerated pace. This means students can complete two degrees in four to five years instead of six or more. 

The IMGD BA has concentrations in Visual Art, Design, Technical Art, and Writing. In the Visual Art concentration, students will explore games, concept art, 2D and 3D animation, environmental modeling, and 3D character design. 

The IMGD BS has a Technology major with a strong emphasis on software engineering and programming. Students in this program will complete projects and specialized courses in game engine programming, creative coding, computer graphics, artificial intelligence, procedural content generation, networking, and live coding performance. 

The WPI IMGD MFA is an interdisciplinary, art- and studio-based program that has three focus areas: Serious Games; Production and Management; and Technical. Students will leave the IMGD MFA program with a group or solo thesis project, and a professional portfolio. 

The interdisciplinary IMGD MS is a two-year program designed for students interested in careers in game design, game development, and interactive media. Like MFA students, MS students may specialize in Serious Game; Production and Management; or Technical. The IMGD MS culminates with a thesis or group project. 

For students who would like to major in a different area, WPI has an IMGD minor that provides the opportunity to design a focus. This 18-credit hour option allows students to select from courses that explore game design, animation, game studies, audio arts, social impact of games, visual art, technical development, and creative writing. 

All IMGD programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute provide access to state-of-the-art labs and studios such the dedicated IMGD Lab equipped with industry-standard software and hardware tools; an Artificial Intelligence & Intelligent Tutoring Lab; a Sound Recording Studio; and a Digital Art Studio. In addition, all programs blend art, technology, and real-world experience through a co-op or professional internship. 

As part of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, IMGD graduates enjoy frequent on-campus recruiting events and a 92.7% employment success rate. Examples of companies that have hired WPI IMGD graduates include NextGen Interactions, Centre Technology, Kaon Interactive, and Zudy. 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute was established in 1865. A Top 25 STEM college, WPI has more than 50 global project centers on six continents. The school provides 70+ degree programs to approximately 7,230 students across the schools of Arts & Sciences; Engineering; and Business, and The Global School. Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).