What are the top Washington game design programs for 2024?

Top Washington Game Design Schools and Colleges - 2024 College Rankings
1DigiPen Institute of TechnologyRedmond
2University of WashingtonSeattle

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

1. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of Technology (DigiPen) was the first college in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in Video Game Technology and Development. Since then, this Houdini Certified School has accumulated 57 IGF awards—more than any other school in the world, and students have won close to 315 awards for game projects and academic papers. In addition, DigiPen graduates are credited on more than 2,000 commercial video games. 

The Video Game Technology and Development program has expanded to include a BS in Computer Science (CS) & Game Design; BS in CS in Real-Time Interactive Simulation; and a Game Design BA. 

A Digital Art MFA is also available. This program allows students to customize a specialization from courses across any area at DigiPen. Students have access to courses such as Game Design, Development and Production; Scripting for Games; Lighting and Rendering; Character Rigging; Organic and Hard Surface Modeling; Storyboarding; Advanced Character Creation; and Hair and Clothing Simulation. 

The Digital Art MFA requires a Final Thesis Project completed across three courses: Thesis Pre-Production, and Thesis I and II. MFA students will leave the program with a Professional Portfolio. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in both Games and Animation. 

The DigiPen Game Design BA is an interdisciplinary degree that explores design theory, games, applications, and interactive media. The Computer Science & Game Design BS explores artificial intelligence (AI); system, level, and technical design; user interface design; programming languages; and game design.   

The BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. Students in this option will master programming languages; 2D and 3D simulation; graphical user interfaces (GUIs); game engine software; artificial intelligence (AI); graphics rendering; and software engineering. 

For exceptional students, DigiPen offers an accelerated BS/MS program that can be completed in just five years. 

Students in all programs will work in multidisciplinary teams in a studio environment to create software and a series of original video games. 

Graduates of all programs at DigiPen Institute of Technology enjoy a high job placement rate. To date, more than 1,500 companies have hired DigiPen graduates. Examples include Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, Nintendo, DreamWorks Interactive, Google, Amazon, Walt Disney Imagineering, SpaceX, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, Activision, Insomniac Games, Zynga, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel Corporation, Ubisoft Shanghai, Bungie, Take-Two Interactive, and ArenaNet.

Established in 1988 as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company, DigiPen Institute of Technology serves 1,200 students enrolled in 10 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Engineering, Game Design and Development, and Music and Audio. In addition to the Redmond, Washington campus, DigiPen has international campuses in Singapore and Bilbao, Spain. 

DigiPen also has educational partnerships with Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Keimyung University in South Korea; The One Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Thammasat University in Thailand. DigiPen Institute of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

2. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) has a Game Design Certificate (GDC) for students with at least two years of college experience. The program was developed in partnership with the UW Bothell Digital Future Lab, and approved by UW’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. Housed in the College of Professional & Continuing Education (PCE), the GDC is ideal for students interested in launching a career in game design or working designers seeking advancement opportunities in the games industry. 

This intensive eight-month (three-quarter) consists of Fundamentals of Game Design; Game Mechanics and Systems Design; and Game Studio Roles and Development. Throughout the program, students will conceptualize, create, and complete a game design document for their professional portfolios. Students will also complete a game prototype to pitch to industry executives. In addition to a certificate, graduates of the program will earn a digital achievement badge and separate badges for each course. Digital badges can be shared on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. 

GDC program alumni enjoy an 80% job placement rate. Top employers include Microsoft, Hi-Rex Studios, Boeing, Hourglass Escapes, and Bungie. 

For students seeking a degree, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) at University of Washington has several options that are suitable for game designers. Degree programs include the BS in CS or Computer Engineering, the combined BS/MS in CS or Engineering, the Professional Master’s Program (PMP), and a CSE PhD. 

All programs provide access to four main labs in the Allen School including Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL); the Center for Game Science; Animation Research Labs (ARL); and the UW Reality Lab.  

GRAIL provides opportunities to work with researchers from Adobe, Google, Intel, and Microsoft. The researchers at the CSE Center for Game Science create projects designed to solve problems through games. The multidisciplinary Animation Research Labs is a collaboration between CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, Drama, Music, and the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). Students have opportunities to interact with industry experts from Xbox Game Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, and Disney Animation Studios, among others. 

In the UW Reality Lab, designers have opportunities to work on research projects in a variety of areas. Computer vision, lighting rendering, character animation, and 3D reconstruction are just a few. Established in 2018, the UW Reality Lab also houses ongoing programs such as The Reality Studio and The Reality Lab; courses and lectures; the Mentorship Program; and the Idea Incubator. 

The Reality Studio explores production and storytelling techniques for immersive environments through classes and productions. Students in The UW Reality Lab can take courses such as Introduction to Computer Graphics; Virtual Reality Production for Storytelling; Computer Vision; and Machine Learning. 

Graduates of the Game Design and Computer Science programs at University of Washington are prepared to pursue roles across all areas of game design and development, technology, and entertainment. UW graduates are hired by hundreds of different employers each year. Examples include Apple, Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, and Meta.   

Established in 1861, University of Washington serves approximately 60,705 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school provides around 845 degrees and 470+ programs across its campuses and 18 colleges and schools. University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). The school is also a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at UW is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).