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Video games have gone far, far beyond mind­less enter­tain­ment and time-killing diver­sion. They’re that, of course – and enthu­si­asm for video games has cre­at­ed a glob­al indus­try pro­ject­ed to reach $925 bil­lion by 2032. But game art, design, and devel­op­ment is becom­ing cen­tral to all kinds of indus­tries, from med­i­cine (with doc­tors and nurs­es train­ing on sim­u­la­tions) to edu­ca­tion (with the gam­i­fi­ca­tion of learn­ing) and even the mil­i­tary (with sim­u­lat­ed train­ing and drone war­fare becom­ing key to pro­tect­ing forces). Stu­dents learn­ing to pro­gram and design today will be trans­form­ing indus­tries in ways we can’t even pre­dict tomorrow.

Stu­dents look­ing for the best video game design degree pro­grams have a lot of schools to choose from, and the list is grow­ing year­ly. Com­put­er sci­ence depart­ments, engi­neer­ing schools, art and design col­leges, and many more have devel­oped gam­ing pro­grams and majors for game design. An on-cam­pus pro­gram at the best game design col­leges gives stu­dents access to cut­ting-edge labs, indus­try-expe­ri­enced men­tors, and con­nec­tions that will make their career tran­si­tion seam­less. The Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter rank­ing of the top game design col­leges is intend­ed to guide stu­dents there.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Video Game Design Degree Programs

The first step for Bachelor’s Degree Cen­ter edi­tors was a sweep­ing search for all of the accred­it­ed video game art, design, and devel­op­ment pro­grams avail­able at the bachelor’s lev­el. From there, we ranked pro­grams accord­ing to the fac­tors we con­sid­er most impor­tant for judg­ing a bachelor’s degree pro­gram. We use five fac­tors, with data drawn from IPEDS, Col­lege Score­card, and Niche stu­dent reviews: Aver­age Alum­ni Salary, Employ­ment Rate, Grad­u­a­tion Rate, Rep­u­ta­tion, and Tuition Cost.

With these five fac­tors, stu­dents can feel con­fi­dent that their pro­gram com­bines qual­i­ty, stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion, and real job mar­ket impact for an all-around great invest­ment.

1. Georgia Institute of Technology

The Geor­gia Insti­tute of Technology’s BS in Com­pu­ta­tion­al Media, from the Ivan Allen School of Lit­er­a­ture, Media & Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, has set the stan­dard for gam­ing edu­ca­tion. Stu­dents grad­u­ate pre­pared for reward­ing careers in Spe­cial Effects Cre­ation, Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty, 3D Mod­el­ing, and Inter­ac­tive Game Sim­u­la­tion, among oth­ers. Poten­tial intern­ships for stu­dents in the video game design degree are avail­able with IBM Boe­ing, Microsoft, Sapi­ent Nitro, and Gen­er­al Motors, among oth­ers. Course­work includes Prin­ci­ples of Inter­ac­tive Design, Ani­ma­tion, and Con­struct­ing the Mov­ing Image.

Geor­gia Tech was estab­lished in 1885 as the Geor­gia School of Tech­nol­o­gy, bring­ing mod­ern sci­ence and engi­neer­ing to the South. Geor­gia Tech is a space-grant insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing with satel­lite cam­pus­es in Savan­nah, France, Chi­na, Sin­ga­pore, and Ire­land. The school oper­ates with six col­leges and is ranked in the top ten of pub­lic nation­al schools in the country.

What We Like: Geor­gia Tech’s Cen­ter for Media Stud­ies is an inter­na­tion­al mod­el of the most inno­v­a­tive, trans­for­ma­tive research into applied tech­nol­o­gy.
Degree: BS in Com­pu­ta­tion­al Media

Geor­gia Insti­tute of Technology

2. University of Pennsylvania

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Pennsylvania’s Penn Engi­neer­ing offers a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Engi­neer­ing in Dig­i­tal Media Design. UP’s game art degree has been designed from an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach comb­ing course­work from com­put­er graph­ics, com­put­er sci­ence and cours­es in fine art. Degree grad­u­ates from UP’s video game design degree have found reward­ing jobs with Elec­tron­ic Arts, Google, Pixar, and Dreamworks.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia was estab­lished in 1740. It is con­sid­ered a Colo­nial Col­lege, one of nine schools estab­lished before the sign­ing of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, and was found­ed on Ben­jamin Franklin’s con­cepts of Enlight­en­ment sci­ence and rea­son. Its urban cam­pus is home to near­ly 21,600 stu­dents and more than 4,600 fac­ul­ty mem­bers. UP holds the claim that it was the first insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing with both grad­u­ate and under­grad­u­ate pro­grams in the country.

What We Like: As an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram, Penn’s DMD pro­gram puts an empha­sis on the kind of over­lap and col­lab­o­ra­tion that defines mod­ern media and game devel­op­ment.
Degree: BSE in Dig­i­tal Media Design

Penn Engi­neer­ing

3. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic Institute’s Inter­ac­tive Media & Game Devel­op­ment degree pro­gram is offered as either a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree or a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence degree. The Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design offers empha­sis paths in ani­ma­tions, tech­ni­cal artistry and sculpt­ing, and design. The BS degree pro­gram takes a more in-depth look at com­put­er game devel­op­ment from the per­spec­tives of com­put­er sci­ence, art, math, Eng­lish, and music. WPI’s stu­dents com­pete in nation­al gam­ing events and build game sys­tems to meet course requirements.

Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute was estab­lished in 1865. This pri­vate insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing focus­es on the edu­ca­tion of tech­ni­cal research and applied sci­ences. WPI is con­sid­ered one of the first engi­neer­ing insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing in the nation. The school’s sub­ur­ban cam­pus is locat­ed in the Com­mon­wealth of Mass­a­chu­setts’ 2nd largest city, Worcester.

What We Like: Among WPI’s many research ini­tia­tives, some of their most admirable work improves math edu­ca­tion for chil­dren using smart­phones and games.
Degree: BA or BS in Inter­ac­tive Media & Game Development

Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic Institute’

4. University of Southern California

The Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern California’s video game design degree pro­grams offers either a Bach­e­lor of Arts in Inter­ac­tive Design or a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Com­put­er Sci­ence (Games). The Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design pro­gram is offered through the Cin­e­mat­ic Arts School. The Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence pro­gram is avail­able through Viter­bi School of Engi­neer­ing. The game art degree pro­grams required the com­ple­tion of 128 cred­it units, which includes USC’s core cur­ricu­lum required for all bac­calau­re­ate degree programs.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia was estab­lished in 1880 and holds the dis­tinc­tion as a sea grant and space grant uni­ver­si­ty. It holds the dis­tinc­tion as the old­est pri­vate research insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing in the state and the largest pri­vate employ­er for the city of Los Ange­les. USC has played a major part in devel­op­ing South­ern Cal­i­for­nia into the enter­tain­ment cen­ter of the world, and pro­grams feed into Hol­ly­wood, the music indus­try, and the tech indus­try — includ­ing, of course, video gaming.

What We Like: With its loca­tion and rep­u­ta­tion, USC is able to pro­vide stu­dents with men­tor­ship from some of the top play­ers in the video game indus­try — and access to career-mak­ing intern­ships and jobs.
Degree: BA in Inter­ac­tive Design or BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence — Games

Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern California

5. North Carolina State University

North Car­oli­na State University’s BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence degree includes an empha­sis in Game Devel­op­ment, from one of the South’s most renowned engi­neer­ing schools. Stu­dents explore the his­tor­i­cal, tech­no­log­i­cal, and sci­en­tif­ic fun­da­men­tals required to devel­op com­put­er gam­ing pro­grams and seri­ous edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams. NC State’s video game design degree requires degree can­di­dates to com­plete 121 cred­it hours of core cur­ricu­lum and video game design coursework.

North Car­oli­na State Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1887 under the Mor­rill Land Grant Act. It holds the dis­tinc­tion of being a flag­ship Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant pub­lic insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing. NC State’s 2,100+-acre urban cam­pus is home to more than 35,000 stu­dents and 2,300+ fac­ul­ty mem­bers. NC State oper­ates with twelve colleges/academic divi­sions. The school is rec­og­nized as a “more selec­tive” school with a 46% accep­tance rate for the incom­ing class of 2019.

What We Like: NCSU’s Com­put­er Sci­ence Depart­ment was one of the first in the nation, and helped shape the Research Tri­an­gle — and those con­nec­tions make sure NCSU com­put­er sci­ence grad­u­ates have their pick of jobs.

Degree: BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence — Game Development

North Car­oli­na State University

6. University of Texas at Austin

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin’s BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence with a Game Devel­op­ment Con­cen­tra­tion degree pro­gram is one of the best gam­ing pro­grams in the world, and it’s about to get bet­ter. In 2020, UT Austin will offer a brand-new video game design degree – a BS in Arts & Enter­tain­ment Tech­nolo­gies. UT Austin’s new cut­ting-edge game art degree pro­gram is offered in part­ner­ship with the school’s Depart­ment of Com­put­er Sci­ence with the Depart­ment of Arts & Enter­tain­ment tech­nolo­gies. Ani­ma­tion Career Review rec­og­nizes UT Austin’s game design pro­gram among the top 10 offered by pub­lic insti­tu­tions of high­er learning.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin was estab­lished in 1883 and is the flag­ship uni­ver­si­ty of Texas. It is also a mem­ber school of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas sys­tem. In the 21st cen­tu­ry, Austin has seen mas­sive growth as a lead­ing tech hub, with major events like SXSW and an influx of star­tups and major cor­po­ra­tions bring­ing inter­na­tion­al attention.

What We Like: Only Cal­i­for­nia has more video game stu­dios than Texas — and Austin has more career oppor­tu­ni­ties in game devel­op­ment than any­where else in the state.

Degree: BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence — Game Devel­op­ment Concentration

Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin

7. Northeastern University

The Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design offer North­east­ern University’s BFA in Game Art & Ani­ma­tion degree pro­gram. NU’s Khoury Col­lege of Com­put­er Sci­ences offers a BS in Com­put­er Science/Game Devel­op­ment. Northeastern’s video game design degree pro­grams pre­pare stu­dents to excel at visu­al arts in game pro­duc­tion through rig­or­ous course­work and coop­er­a­tive work expe­ri­ence. The Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence degree option requires the com­ple­tion of 133 cred­it units and a coop­er­a­tive experience/internship in order to grad­u­ate. Career oppor­tu­ni­ties include web design, inter­ac­tion design, and design entre­pre­neur, among others.

North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1898. North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty oper­ates from sev­er­al cam­pus­es in the city of Boston. These include the cam­pus­es of Fen­way-Ken­more, Back Bay, South End, and Rox­bury; where more than 25,000 stu­dents. NU offers a renowned coop­er­a­tive pro­gram to its stu­dents, which coor­di­nates full-time study with hands-on work experience.

What We Like: Northeastern’s Khoury College’s coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram makes sure every stu­dent gets hands-on expe­ri­ence, and more than two-thirds are already employed at graduation.

Degree: BFA in Game Art and Ani­ma­tion or BS in Com­put­er Science/Game Development

North­east­ern University

8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Institute’s BS in Games & Sim­u­la­tion Arts/Sciences (GSAS) degree pro­gram comes from the renowned Hass School of Human­i­ties, Arts & Social Sci­ences. RPI’s video game design degree requires the com­ple­tion of 128 cred­it units of course­work to grad­u­ate. Course­work includes Data Struc­tures, Cal­cu­lus for Archi­tec­ture, Game Sto­ry­telling, Addi­tion­al­ly; degree can­di­dates are required to com­plete a GSAS Research Project. The game art degree offers sev­er­al con­cen­tra­tions – Com­put­er Sci­ence, Cog­ni­tive Sci­ence, Writ­ing, Elec­tron­ic Arts, Man­age­ment, and Music.

The Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute was estab­lished in 1824. It is a pri­vate space coast insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing in Troy with two addi­tion­al satel­lite cam­pus­es in Gro­ton and Hart­ford, CT. RPI oper­ates with five colleges/schools fur­ther divid­ed into near­ly 40 depart­ments. RPI’s 250+-acre urban cam­pus over­looks the Hud­son Riv­er and is home to near­ly 8,000 stu­dents. The schools include Human­i­ties, Arts & Social Sci­ences, Man­age­ment and Tech­nol­o­gy, Engi­neer­ing, Archi­tec­ture, and Science.

What We Like: The Hass School has pio­neered dig­i­tal human­i­ties and stands as an inter­na­tion­al mod­el of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary learn­ing and research.

Degree: BS in Games and Sim­u­la­tion Arts and Sciences

Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Institute

9. Michigan State University

Michi­gan State University’s BA in Media & Infor­ma­tion allows stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore the many ways to trans­form the pow­er of the media using com­put­er sci­ence tools to design pow­er­ful mes­sages. MSU’s Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design degree requires the com­ple­tion of 120 cred­it units divid­ed between MSU’s core bac­calau­re­ate require­ments and the game art degree require­ments. Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty video design pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of a cap­stone project from more than ten offered cap­stone courses.

Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1855 as the result of the Mor­rill Land Act. MSU holds the dis­tinc­tion of being one of the first insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing to offer sci­en­tif­ic agri­cul­ture edu­ca­tion. Michi­gan State University’s 10,000-acre cam­pus is home to more than 50,000 stu­dents and more than 12,000 staff and fac­ul­ty. The cam­pus includes a Cyclotron Lab, a Plan­e­tar­i­um, a Botan­i­cal Gar­den and Per­form­ing Arts Center.

What We Like: MSU is home to some of the most cut­ting-edge labs in the field, includ­ing the Behav­ior Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy (BIT) Lab and the Games for Enter­tain­ment and Learn­ing (GEL) Lab.

Degree: BA in Media and Information

Michi­gan State University

10. Indiana University

Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty Bloomington’s (IU) Media School offers a BS in Game Design degree pro­gram. IU’s video game design degree pre­pares grad­u­ates to cre­ate engag­ing designs that can be used to teach or enter­tain the world. Course­work cov­ers top­ics that include design & pro­duc­tion, game pro­duc­tion, art & sound, game the­o­ry strate­gies, all while stay­ing cur­rent with emerg­ing design tech­nolo­gies. Stu­dents of the IU’s Media School are required to par­tic­i­pate in a 3‑semester team-relat­ed work­shop with the objec­tive to build from pro­to­type to pub­lish­ing, a ful­ly func­tion­ing game.

Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1820. IU oper­ates across nine cam­pus­es through­out the state of Indi­ana. The com­bined stu­dent enroll­ment for Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty exceeds 100,000 stu­dents. IU’s Bloom­ing­ton cam­pus is home to near­ly half the school’s entire enroll­ment and is con­sid­ered the flag­ship cam­pus of the university.

What We Like: GameDev@IU is a stu­dent-run club open to all stu­dents who are inter­est­ed in game design, not just majors; stu­dents learn new skills and devel­op games for fun and enrich­ment.
Degree: BS in Game Design

Indi­ana University

11. University of California, Irvine

The BS in Game Sci­ence at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine’s Don­ald Bren School of Infor­ma­tion & Com­put­er Sci­ences is a video game design degree explor­ing the world of game design from sev­er­al per­spec­tives – Gam­ing, Com­put­er Sci­ence, and Math. Degree grad­u­ates in the UC Irvine Game Sci­ence pro­gram build sev­er­al com­plete video games through­out the stan­dard cur­ricu­lum. Stu­dents can opt for a focus on mobile games, mod­el­ing, and world-build­ing with­in the game art degree pro­gram. Course­work cul­mi­nates with a cap­stone game project, with sum­mer intern­ships available.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine was estab­lished in 1965. It is one of the ten mem­bers schools orga­nized under the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem. Along with oth­ers in the UC sys­tem (arguably the finest pub­lic uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem in the world), UC Irvine holds the dis­tinc­tion as being con­sid­ered a Pub­lic Ivy school. UC Irvine’s 1,500+-acre cam­pus is home to more than 35,000 stu­dents and more than 11,000 staff/faculty.

What We Like: In recent years, Irvine has emerged as a tech hub, draw­ing on con­nec­tions to Sil­i­con Val­ley and build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for entre­pre­neur­ship — all of which means job-mar­ket suc­cess for graduates.

Degree: BS in Com­put­er Game Science

Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine

12. New York University

The world-class Tisch School of the Arts offers NYU’s BFA in Game Design degree pro­gram. NYU’s Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design pro­gram is designed to pro­vide each stu­dent an in-depth look of video game design from a cul­tur­al, tech­no­log­i­cal, and design-lensed per­spec­tive. The game design pro­gram offers flex­i­bil­i­ty as stu­dents have the option to design a sched­ule that suits meet their time needs. New York University’s BFE Game Design degree cul­mi­nates with a 2‑semester project; with a team or as an inde­pen­dent project.

New York Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1831. His­tor­i­cal­ly, the school’s cam­pus began in Green­wich Vil­lage, locat­ed on the west­ern por­tion of down­town Man­hat­tan, and for near­ly two cen­turies has helped set the cul­tur­al and intel­lec­tu­al pace for the city. NYU is rec­og­nized among the top inter­na­tion­al uni­ver­si­ties by sev­er­al rel­e­vant edu­ca­tion publications.

What We Like: NYU offers the best of both worlds, art/design and tech; the Tisch School of the Arts is one of the fore­most names in art and design, and the NYU Game Cen­ter is a cen­ter for the indus­try and research.
Degree: BFA in Game Design

NYU

13. Bradley University

Bradley University’s Slane Col­lege of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions & Fine Arts offers sev­er­al game art degree pro­grams. These include a Bach­e­lor of Fine Arts in Ani­ma­tion and Game Design, a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Inter­ac­tive Media, and a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Game Design. Each bac­calau­re­ate degree pro­grams offers degree can­di­dates var­i­ous minors like Ani­ma­tion, Inter­ac­tive Media, and the Design of User Expe­ri­ences. Bradley University’s game art degree pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of 124 cred­it hours. Course­work includes Game Pro­duc­tion, Inter­ac­tive The­o­ries, Con­cepts and Prac­tices, and Crit­i­cal Game Stud­ies, among oth­ers. Aca­d­e­m­ic require­ments include a cap­stone project before graduation.

Lydia Moss Bradley, a local phil­an­thropist, estab­lished Bradley Uni­ver­si­ty in 1897. Bradley University’s 80+acre urban cam­pus is home to more than 4,350 stu­dents study­ing from five schools that offer 100+ under­grad­u­ate degrees and anoth­er 30+graduate pro­gram. Bradley Uni­ver­si­ty is one of the first insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing in the coun­try to offer an inde­pen­dent school ded­i­cat­ed to inno­va­tion and the art of entrepreneurship.

What We Like: Bradley Uni­ver­si­ty was built on tech­nol­o­gy and busi­ness, and stu­dents in Bradley’s video game devel­op­ment pro­grams have some of the most state-of-the-art labs and stu­dios in the nation.
Degree: BFA in Ani­ma­tion & Game Design, BS in Game Design, or BS in Inter­ac­tive Media

Bradley Uni­ver­si­ty

14. University of Texas at Dallas

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las BA in Arts Tech­nol­o­gy & Emerg­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (ATEC) pro­vides stu­dents with an edu­ca­tion­al path­way that focus­es on Games. This video game design degree allows stu­dents to explore the required crit­i­cal think­ing and artis­tic approach to under­stand how game play­ers learn from games and how games per­pet­u­ate social con­structs. Degree can­di­dates learn their craft in cut­ting-edge on-cam­pus stu­dios and labs.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las was estab­lished in 1969 and is a mem­ber school of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas Sys­tem. UT Dal­las’ near­ly 500-acre main cam­pus is less than 20 miles from down­town Dal­las. The school was orig­i­nal­ly a research exten­sion of the famed tech com­pa­ny, Texas Instru­ments (TI) known as the South­west Cen­ter for Advanced Stud­ies. At TI’s bequest, the school was giv­en to the state of Texas to estab­lish a tech-cen­tered research uni­ver­si­ty in the boom­ing city.

What We Like: If it wasn’t obvi­ous enough, UT Dal­las knows tech­nol­o­gy, and the mas­sive Dal­las-Fort Worth met­ro­pol­i­tan area pro­vides grad­u­ates access to For­tune 500 com­pa­nies and some of the top tech star­tups in the US.

Degree: BA in Arts, Tech­nol­o­gy, and Emerg­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tion — Games concentration

Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dallas

15. New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jer­sey Insti­tute of Technology’s (NJIT) Ying Wu Col­lege of Computing/College of Archi­tec­ture & Design offers a trio of mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary video game design degree pro­grams — the Bach­e­lor of Arts in Dig­i­tal Design, Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy, or a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Com­put­er Sci­ence. Each game art degree pulls from the IT and design dis­ci­plines in a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort to teach game pro­duc­tion, design, and pro­gram­ming. NJIT’s game devel­op­ment program’s course­work includes Game His­to­ry, 2D and 3D Game Engine Pro­gram­ming, and Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty, among others.

The New Jer­sey Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy was estab­lished in 1881 as a pub­lic research insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing. NJIT is a poly­tech­nic uni­ver­si­ty with a 50-acre cam­pus in down­town Newark. NJIT’s urban cam­pus is locat­ed less than one-half hour to Man­hat­tan by pub­lic trans­port. The New Jer­sey Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy is a Sea Grant university.

What We Like: NJIT’s inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams give stu­dents the free­dom to adapt and grow with­out being nar­row­ly defined — a val­ue in the ever-chang­ing tech industry.

Degree: Mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram: BA in Dig­i­tal Design, BS in Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy, or BS in Com­put­er Science

New Jer­sey Insti­tute of Technology

16. Stony Brook University (SUNY)

Stony Brook University’s BS in Game Pro­gram­ming degree pro­gram, from the Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing & Applied Sci­ences, also offers an accel­er­at­ed option where stu­dents can earn their BS/MS in only five years. SUNY Stony Brook’s video game design degree requires stu­dents to com­plete course­work that includes Com­put­er Graph­ics, Script­ing Lan­guages, Com­pu­ta­tion­al Geom­e­try, and Secu­ri­ty Fun­da­men­tals. Addi­tion­al­ly, degree grad­u­ates must also com­plete one of three final projects – Senior Hon­ors Research Project, Research in Com­put­er Sci­ence or Intern­ship I Com­put­er Science.

Stony Brook Uni­ver­si­ty is a mem­ber school of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York sys­tem. It was estab­lished in 1957 and is a space-grant and sea-grant uni­ver­si­ty. SUNY Stony Brook is the largest employ­er in all of Long island, NY. The school’s 1,000+-acre sub­ur­ban cam­pus is home to more than 26,000 stu­dents. Stony Brook is a mem­ber of the Brookhaven Nation­al Laboratory’s (a nuclear reac­tor) man­age­ment team.

What We Like: Stony Brook’s Depart­ment of Com­put­er Sci­ence has played a defin­i­tive role in the devel­op­ment of com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy, and con­tin­ues to inno­vate in research and learning.

Degree: BS in Game Programming

Stony Brook University

17. University of Utah

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah’s BS in Games degree pro­gram is part of the inno­v­a­tive Enter­tain­ment Arts & Engi­neer­ing (EAE) Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Teach­ing Pro­gram. U of U’s game art degree brings an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary approach to the art of game design — film stud­ies and com­put­ing. Stu­dents grad­u­ate pre­pared to enter the fields of soft­ware design and devel­op­ment, game learn­ing envi­ron­ments, and/or the devel­op­ment of dig­i­tal health­care tools for soci­ety in gen­er­al. U of U’s video game design degree requires the com­ple­tion of 121 cred­it units to graduate.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah was estab­lished in 1850 and is cur­rent­ly flag­ship insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing for the state of Utah and a space grant uni­ver­si­ty. The school’s 1,500+-acre cam­pus is only two miles to down­town Salt Lake City and home to near­ly 32,000 stu­dents. U of U oper­ates with sev­en­teen colleges/schools that offer pro­grams through near­ly 155 departments.

What We Like: UU’s Enter­tain­ment Arts and Engi­neer­ing (EAE) Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Teach­ing Pro­gram is a mod­el of con­tem­po­rary tech edu­ca­tion, com­bin­ing exper­tise from many fields to prac­ti­cal application.

Degree: BS in Games

Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah

18. Quinnipiac University

Quin­nip­i­ac University’s Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design pre­pares stu­dents to enter the design facets of gam­ing, vir­tu­al real­i­ty, edu­ca­tion­al tools, and even the world of eSports. Quin­nip­i­ac University’s, accord­ing to the Prince­ton Review, is rec­og­nized among the top game design inter­na­tion­al pro­grams. Stu­dents are pre­pared to enter the game design field as a usabil­i­ty tester, a design­er, and or writer.

Quin­nip­i­ac Uni­ver­si­ty is a pri­vate insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing that was estab­lished in 1929. It was born out of a need cre­at­ed when North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty aban­doned its local pro­grams. Quin­nip­i­ac Uni­ver­si­ty oper­ates from two cam­pus­es, in Ham­den and North Haven, CT. The New Haven cam­pus is home to the renowned Quin­nip­i­ac Uni­ver­si­ty Polling Insti­tute. Quinnipiac’s total stu­dent enroll­ment is approx­i­mate­ly 9,000.

What We Like: Quinnipiac’s 2016 grad­u­at­ing Game Design class had a 100% place­ment rate for jobs, grad­u­ate school, or start­ing their own com­pa­ny with­in 6 months.

Degree: BA in Game Design and Development

Quin­nip­i­ac University

19. Marist College

The Depart­ment of Com­put­ing Tech­nol­o­gy offers Marist College’s BS in Games & Emerg­ing Media degree pro­gram that delves deeply into the design and cre­ation of games through var­i­ous emerg­ing media options. Degree grad­u­ates for Marist’s video game design degree select from three ded­i­cat­ed con­cen­tra­tions: Design, Writ­ing & Cul­ture, and Tech­ni­cal Devel­op­ment & pro­gram­ming. Marist’s game art degree requires the com­ple­tion of 120 cred­it units. Marist game design stu­dents have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the Play Inno­va­tion Lab.

The Marist Broth­ers estab­lished Marist Col­lege in 1929. The Marist Bro­kers are a reli­gious broth­er­hood affil­i­at­ed with the Catholic Reli­gion. Marist College’s cam­pus sits along the east­ern banks of the Hud­son Riv­er. The school oper­ates study sites across the work in more than 25 coun­tries and a branch cam­pus in Italy. Marist Col­lege formed an ear­ly part­ner­ship with the near­by busi­ness giant IBM; who pro­vid­ed impres­sive equip­ment and soft­ware contributions.

What We Like: Marist’s Play Inno­va­tion Lab gives stu­dents a space to put their design and devel­op­ment skills to use for fun, from design­ing board games to pro­gram­ming mobile apps.

Degree: BS in Games and Emerg­ing Media

Marist Col­lege

20. University of Central Florida

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da offers a BA in Dig­i­tal Media-Game Design con­cen­tra­tion. UCF’s game art degree is rec­og­nized by the Prince­ton Review & Kiplinger’s as one of the country’s best val­ue insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly, Forbes Mag­a­zine con­sid­ers the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da as one of the country’s most afford­able uni­ver­si­ties. Stu­dents who plan to move on to a grad­u­ate video game design degree at UCF should know that UCF’s grad­u­ate game devel­op­ment degree pro­gram is ranked first in the world.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da was estab­lished in 1963 as a state uni­ver­si­ty called Flori­da Tech­nol­o­gy Uni­ver­si­ty. UCF holds the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing more stu­dents enrolled on cam­pus than any oth­er insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing in the nation. UCF’s main sub­ur­ban cam­pus is more than 1,400-acres and home to more than 68,400 stu­dents. It is a space-grant uni­ver­si­ty, being locat­ed only 34 miles from Florida’s Space Coast.

What We Like: One of the most diverse schools in the US — with half of the stu­dents iden­ti­fy­ing as minor­i­ty — UCF is help­ing increase diver­si­ty in the video game indus­try as well.

Degree: BA in Dig­i­tal Media — Game Design

Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Florida

21. Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Insti­tute of Technology’s cut­ting-edge School of Inter­ac­tive Games & Media offers a BS in Game Design and Devel­op­ment. Stu­dents who grad­u­ate from RIT’s game art degree pro­gram are pre­pared for reward­ing careers in the many facets of the pro­fes­sion­al gam­ing indus­try. These include spe­cial­ties in visu­al­iza­tion, sim­u­la­tion, and dig­i­tal edu­ca­tion­al tools. Appli­cants pos­sess­ing pre-approved asso­ciate degrees (i.e. engi­neer­ing sci­ence, lib­er­al arts or com­put­er sci­ence) will receive trans­fer cred­its as earned. Stu­dents have the option of earn­ing their under­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate degrees in an accel­er­at­ed fash­ion, if aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly eligible.

The Rochester Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy is a pri­vate insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing that was estab­lished in 1829. RIT was cre­at­ed as the result of the merg­er between the Rochester Athenaeum and the Mechan­ics Insti­tute. Stu­dents esti­mat­ed that RIT’s Brick City cam­pus, built pri­mar­i­ly of brick, con­tained over 14,600,000 bricks. The school’s nine col­leges pro­vide degrees to near­ly 20,000 stu­dents each year.

What We Like: RIT stu­dents do at least two blocks of coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion, tak­ing full-time, paid jobs with cor­po­rate part­ners to hone their skills in real life.

Degree: BS in Game Design and Development

Rochester Insti­tute of Technology

22. Drexel University

The renowned West­phal Col­lege of Media Arts & Design offers Drex­el University’s BS in Game Design & Pro­duc­tion that is rec­og­nized among the top four nation­al games pro­grams by the Prince­ton Review. The cur­ricu­lum includes a vig­or­ous dive into the many spe­cial­iza­tions with­in the realm of dig­i­tal media. Addi­tion­al­ly, video game design degree can­di­dates must also com­plete a half-year coop­er­a­tive project to grad­u­ate. The coop project is the back­drop upon which stu­dents can apply their new­ly acquired skill-set in the indus­try of their choice.

Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty was estab­lished in 1891. It is a pri­vate research insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing found­ed by the renowned businessman/philanthropist Antho­ny Drex­el. Drexel’s urban cam­pus is locat­ed in the City of Broth­er­ly Love, and home to near­ly 24,400 stu­dents. Drex­el Uni­ver­si­ty offers stu­dents a coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ty by work­ing in his or her field of inter­est while earn­ing their degree.

What We Like: Drexel’s exten­sive gov­ern­ment and pri­vate indus­try con­nec­tions give stu­dents the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on real projects and ini­tia­tives for an in-depth experience.

Degree: BS in Game Design & Production

Drex­el University

23. University of Wisconsin-Stout

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Stout Game Design and Devel­op­ment pro­gram has received accred­i­ta­tion from the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). UW-Stout offers both a BFA in Game Design and Devel­op­ment or a BS in Com­put­er Sci­ence-Game Design and Devel­op­ment. UW-Stout’s unique­ly inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­gram explores tech­ni­cal and artis­tic approach­es to gam­ing, edu­ca­tion, and train­ing con­tent. Cours­es are entire­ly project focused, allow­ing our stu­dents to devel­op key skills in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with dif­fer­ent areas in game production.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Stout is a state insti­tu­tion of high­er learn­ing that was estab­lished in 1891. UW-Stout’s 120+-acre rur­al cam­pus is home to near­ly 9,500 stu­dents. The school oper­ates with three col­leges the Col­lege of Arts, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Human­i­ties and Social Sci­ences, the Col­lege of Edu­ca­tion, Hos­pi­tal­i­ty, Health Y Human Sci­ences, and the Col­lege of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy, Engi­neer­ing, Math­e­mat­ics & Management.

What We Like: NASAD accred­i­ta­tion is the high­est stan­dard in design edu­ca­tion, giv­ing stu­dents the assur­ance that their cre­den­tials will be rec­og­nized anywhere.

Degree: BFA or BS in Game Design and Development

Uni­ver­si­ty of Wisconsin-Stout

24. University of Denver

The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engi­neer­ing & Com­put­er Sci­ence offers the Uni­ver­si­ty of Denver’s BA in Game Devel­op­ment. DU’s Bach­e­lor of Arts in Game Design course­work inte­grates the dis­ci­plines of art and com­put­er pro­gram­ming. Degree grad­u­ates earn their degree by explor­ing the role of 3D tex­tur­ing and mod­el­ing using vir­tu­al angling tech­niques. Pro­gram­ming course­work explores scor­ing meth­ods and ani­ma­tion. DU’s game art design pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of a Cap­stone project — each stu­dent will build, debug and cre­ate a com­plete work­ing dig­i­tal game.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Den­ver was estab­lished in 1864 and holds the dis­tinc­tion as the old­est pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty that oper­ates inde­pen­dent­ly in the Rocky Moun­tain area of the coun­try. The school’s 120+-acre arbore­tum-type cam­pus is locat­ed approx­i­mate­ly five miles from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Denver’s down­town. DU con­sis­tent­ly ranks among the top nation­al uni­ver­si­ties, accord­ing to US News.

What We Like: Minor­i­ty stu­dents are giv­en the sup­port they need by the Ritchie School’s Equal­i­ty in STEM, Nation­al Soci­ety of Black Engi­neer­ing, and Soci­ety of Women Engi­neers organizations.

Degree: BA in Game Development

Uni­ver­si­ty of Denver

25. University of California, Santa Cruz

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Cruz Jack Baskin School of Engi­neer­ing offers a BS in Com­put­er Game Design and a BA in Art & Design-Games & Playable Media. The BS game art degree com­bines the fields of com­put­er sci­ence, music, and art in the cre­ation of com­put­er games. The BA game art degree requires the com­ple­tion of a 12-month game project man­aged in a team envi­ron­ment. Prince­ton Review rec­og­nizes the UCSC game design pro­gram among the top 18 pro­grams in the country.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Cruz is one of ten mem­ber schools of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem. The school’s 2,000-acre cam­pus is locat­ed along the Pacif­ic Coast, less than 80 miles from San Fran­cis­co. Near­ly 20,000 stu­dents attend class­es along UCSC’s rolling hills that over­look Mon­terey Bay.

What We Like: In addi­tion to the Cen­ter for Games & Playable Media, UC San­ta Cruz offers one major advan­tage for game design stu­dents — the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area.

Degree: BS in Com­put­er Game Design or BA in Art & Design: Games and Playable Media

Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Cruz

How Do I Become a Game Designer or Developer?

Video game design­er edu­ca­tion require­ments depend on the stan­dards of the gam­ing com­pa­ny. You cen become a game design­er with a high school diplo­ma or first-year expe­ri­ence. Until recent­ly there was no bach­e­lor of game design, and few design­ers start with a video game design bach­e­lor’s degree. While spe­cif­ic details may vary based on the com­pa­ny, you can expect game design­er qual­i­fi­ca­tions to focus on your edu­ca­tion, as well as a port­fo­lio demon­strat­ing your real-world skills in action. A bachelor’s degree in game design or game devel­op­ment will assist with your long-term career goals.

In some cas­es, employ­ers look for spe­cial­ized video game design­er train­ing through cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams as well as tra­di­tion­al degree pro­grams. The key to any work in video game design or devel­op­ment is game design skills. You need to devel­op the pro­gram­ming skills to cre­ate the dig­i­tal world involved in video games. Graph­ic design cours­es are also key. A spe­cial­ized degree in game design will help you start your career by learn­ing the spe­cif­ic skills involved in cre­at­ing a video game, like lev­el design and mul­ti­me­dia design. Pro­gram­ming degrees with a focus on game design or game devel­op­ment will also improve your oppor­tu­ni­ties by ensur­ing you have the skills to devel­op a game. The best degree for game design may not even be called a “bach­e­lor’s degree in video game design.”

What Does a Video Game Designer or Developer Do?

Video game pro­fes­sion­als take on dif­fer­ent roles based on their spe­cif­ic inter­ests and goals. A video game design­er focus­es on the cre­ative aspects of the video game. For exam­ple, they draw out the char­ac­ters and design the appear­ance of the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ment. Video game pro­fes­sion­als on the design side take on the cre­ative tasks with a focus on sto­ry, quests, char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, and the design ele­ments of the game.

A video game devel­op­er focus­es on the prac­ti­cal aspects of the video game. They work as pro­gram­mers to breathe life into the char­ac­ters, set­tings, and artis­tic vision of the game design­er. While some video game pro­fes­sion­als take on a mix­ture of both roles, you should be aware that in most com­pa­nies, a design­er is not the same as a devel­op­er. One focus­es on cre­ative aspects to the gam­ing expe­ri­ence while the oth­er focus­es on the pro­gram­ming aspects. Both jobs play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the final out­come of the game, so you will want to eval­u­ate your options before you decide on the path that fits your per­son­al interests.

In either case, in the field of game design you need an aware­ness of the tech­ni­cal aspects of soft­ware devel­op­ment, such as game mechan­ics, game­play, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and user interface.

What Makes a Good Video Game Development Program?

When you decide to focus your edu­ca­tion on the best video game design col­leges, you want to make sure that you find the best col­leges for video game design for your goals. The best game design col­leges have spe­cif­ic advan­tages over col­leges with­out a video game design major.

The top game design col­leges have greater tech­no­log­i­cal tools for stu­dents in the class­room. They offer com­put­er labs with up-to-date tech­nol­o­gy and com­put­ers. Video game design schools help stu­dents learn the basic pro­gram­ming skills they need for a suc­cess­ful career in game design and devel­op­ment. Game devel­op­ment col­leges also have expe­ri­enced teach­ers who have worked in game design and know the indus­try. They teach stu­dents from their own expe­ri­ences and skills.

You also want to look for schools with intern­ship pro­grams or access to jobs with­in the indus­try. The best pro­grams offer hands-on expe­ri­ence to help stu­dents devel­op their skills and han­dle the tasks asso­ci­at­ed with game design. You do not want to focus on pro­grams or schools that have lim­it­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to work with pro­fes­sion­als in the industry.

Find­ing the right video game design col­lege or pro­gram depends on your goals for your career. When you want to work in game design, you need an under­stand­ing of the cre­ative aspects of the gam­ing expe­ri­ence. You need to devel­op the sto­ry and char­ac­ters of the game. Going into game devel­op­ment requires the tech­ni­cal skills to focus on pro­gram­ming. You want a col­lege or pro­gram that offers advanced edu­ca­tion in tech­ni­cal skills as well as hands-on expe­ri­ence through intern­ships and men­tor­ship programs.

Some of the oth­er biggest names include Full Sail, Savan­nah Col­lege of Art and Design, and Digipen Insti­tute of Technology.

Relat­ed Rank­ings:
15 Best Online Game Design Degree Bach­e­lor’s Pro­grams
10 Fastest Online Game Design Degree Bach­e­lor’s Pro­grams
10 Most Afford­able Game Design Degree Bach­e­lor Programs

15 Best Online Train­ing and Devel­op­ment Programs