What is the top game design program in Virginia for 2021?

Top Virginia Game Design Schools - 2021 College Rankings
1George Mason UniversityFairfax

Our 2021 ranking of the top game design school program in Virginia. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
George Mason University

Founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1949, George Mason University (GMU) serves more than 39,000 students, including nearly 500 at GMU, Korea. The school is the largest public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and offers 200 degree programs in 11 colleges and schools, including the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), which houses the Computer Game Design Program.

Degree options include a BFA, MA or Minor in Computer Game Design and a Minor in Sport and Computer Game Design. The Computer Game Design Minor requires 15-16 credit hours of study. Offered jointly with CVPA and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism, the Sport and Computer Game Minor requires 18 credit hours of study.

The 120 credit hour BFA Computer Game Design Program “enables students to focus on the artistic components of computer game design while providing them with the technical skills prerequisite to the field,” says the school. A charter member of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, the BFA program is interdisciplinary, which allows students to specialize in one area while “learning the language of many areas.”

Program highlights include portfolio courses, a pre-internship seminar + internship, and a senior project as well as the opportunity to network with employers at the Senior Expo. Course highlights include 2D Design and Color (offered by the School of Art), Advanced Game Design Animation, Applied Coding for Game Designers, Computer Game Platform Analysis, Game Design Studio, Music for Film and Video, and Online and Mobile Gaming.

The curriculum for the 36 credit hour MA in Computer Game Design “has been modeled after the International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA) most recent ‘Curriculum Framework’ for the Study of Games and Game Development.” It is “designed to reflect the games industry’s demand for an academically rigorous technical program coupled with an understanding of the artistic and creative elements of the evolving medium.”

Core courses for the program are “drawn from interactive design, creative writing for games, the business of games, game design and production, and electives from CVPA or other Mason graduate programs.” Course highlights include Advanced Game Art, Advanced Music and Sound for Games, Game Business, Entrepreneurship and Practice, Game Production, Interactive Game Systems Design, Research Methodologies in Game Design, and Special Topics in Games. Students will complete a graduate internship and teaching practicum as well as a game or written project OR the Game Thesis.

All BFA, MA, and Minor students have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute based at GMU’s Science and Technology Campus. The institute offers Virginia schools, businesses, and universities hands-on training, certification, and research and development assistance by merging game company incubation and rapid prototype development.

The Virginia Serious Game Institute is the only one of its kind on the East Coast and one of only four global affiliated facilities established primarily to support early-entry entrepreneurship into the simulation and game design industry.

Graduates of the Games Programs at GMU are prepared to seek employment in the computer game design and development fields, which include the commercial, entertainment, serious games, and even federal sectors.