|1||University of Southern California||California|
|2||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|3||University of Utah||Utah|
|4||Digipen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|6||University of California, Santa Cruz||California|
|7||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|8||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|9||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|10||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Massachusetts|
|12||University of California, Irvine||California|
|13||Full Sail University||Florida|
|14||Texas A&M University||Texas|
|17||Academy of Art University||California|
|18||University of Texas at Austin||Texas|
|19||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
Below are the Top 20 game design schools and colleges offering Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs for 2018. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) is home to 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Viterbi School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, offers a BS in Computer Science – CSCI (Games). This interdisciplinary program is designed to provide both an academic and professional orientation. Sample courses include Programming Game Engines, Software Development, Computer Graphics, Pipelines for Games, Game Prototyping, Native Console Multiplayer Game Development, 3D Animation and Video Game Programming.
Students will also participate in a Game Design Workshop and complete a final game project worth six units. Other program highlights include the GamePipe Laboratory. Sponsored by Intel, Sony, and other technology companies, the Lab produces a "Demo Day," which allows students to showcase their work. The semiannual event attracts game industry reps, reporters, faculty, students, and hundreds of spectators from across the country.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. When it opened, the school offered mechanical drawing, which eventually attracted more than 400 students. Today, RIT is home to nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from everything from 3D Digital Design to Web and Mobile Computing.
The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) offers a BS and in Game Design and Development, and a BS in New Media Interactive Development. The Game Design and Development program emphasizes game programming and cooperative education (co-op). These full-time paid work experiences provide students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings.
Students in the BS in New Media Interactive Development program can explore casual games, physical computing, production, web, mobile, and more. All students have the opportunity to minor in Game Design or Game Design and Development or enroll in a double major.
The University of Utah (The U) was founded in 1850. Home to more than 31,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world, the school offers 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools, and nearly 100 departments. The College of Engineering, School of Computing, offers a BS and five-year BS/MS in Computer Science. Emphasis options include Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) and Games/EAE. The BS/MS also has a Graphics and Visualization option.
Sample games courses include Serious Game Creation, 3D Modeling, Digital Content Creation, Asset Pipeline, Scripting, Visual Perception, Computer Systems, Artificial Intelligence and Software Practice. The EAE Emphasis also has a series requirement, which allows students to choose an Animation or Game Design Series consisting of two courses (eight units). The Animation Series consists of Animation I and II, and the Game Series consists of Alternative Game Development and Traditional Game Development.
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 984 undergraduates and 78 graduate students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. BS degrees include a BS in Computer Science and Game Design, a BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation (BS in RTIS), and a five-year BS in RTIS/MS in Computer Science.
Although the BS in RTIS offers “extensive training in mathematics and physics,” says Digipen, students in the program also “work both individually and collaboratively to learn the fundamentals of Game Design, Production, and Programming. Additionally, they write game design documents and technical design documents, learn how to schedule tools and techniques, and participate in the full production of several games.” The Game Design programs at Digipen Institute of Technology are offered through the Department of Game Software Design and Production.
DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. In keeping with the university’s commitment to diversity and access to education, 35% of total enrollments are students of color and 86% of students receive some type of financial aid.
The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), where the game programs are housed, is also home to programs such as animation, computer science, and sound design, offering cross-disciplinary courses and collaboration among students. DePaul offers a BS in Game Design, a BS in Game Programming, and Game Art and Game Systems concentrations in other undergraduate degree programs.
CDM has over 40 labs with roughly a dozen dedicated to gaming, including game development and research labs, a gameplay lab, playtest and usability labs, and, new in 2018, a Virtual and Augmented Reality Design Lab that supports multiplayer, room-scale VR and AR game dev on cutting-edge devices.
High school students can take advantage of DePaul’s Game, Cinema, and Animation Summer Academy, which offers tracks in game development and 3D modeling/animation for games.
The University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) opened in 1965. The school is home to more than 18,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs across 10 colleges. The Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE), Department of Computer Science (CS) and Computational Media (CMPM) Department, offers a BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design.
The school says that the BS program is focused on the construction and design of interactive computer games. Reflecting both the growing cultural and economic importance of the computer gaming industry within California and the increasing complexity and specialization of computer gaming systems, the program focuses on the technical, narrative, and artistic underpinnings of these games.
Students in the BS program also have access to The Center for Games and Playable Media. Established in 2010, the Center houses the schools “five games-related research labs including the Expressive Intelligence Studio — one of the largest technical game research groups in the world.”
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the oldest technological research university in the U.S. Home to just under 7,650 students, RPI offers more than 145 programs across five schools including Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), Lally School of Management, and Science. Programs for aspiring designers are offered through HASS, and include a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (BS GSAS) and a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC).
BS GSAS students may choose a concentration or dual BS degree from the following options: Arts (Electronic Arts), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Science, Management/Entrepreneurship, Cognitive Science, or Writing for Games.
Established in 1996, the BS in EMAC program is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses in communication as well as in digital art and animation, video, electronic music, and graphic design, supported by RPI’s strong technological infrastructure. The EMAC curriculum offers concentrations in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Sound Design and Popular Culture.
Students in all programs may enhance their degree by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded 1861. The school serves nearly 11,500 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five schools including the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (HASS), MIT Sloan School of Management, and the School of Science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also home to the MIT Game Lab, the MIT Education Arcade, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.
Together, the labs provide the opportunity to study, design, and develop games as a supplement to several degree programs. Simply put, students who are interested in games can create their own program is study. The undergraduate program leads to a BS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster.” A BS in Computer Science and Engineering is also available.
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) was founded in 1885. The school opened for classes October 8, 1888, with just 129 students enrolled in a BS in Mechanical Engineering program. Today, GeorgiaTech is home to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in over 80 degree programs and 50-plus minors. BS options for aspiring game designers are available through GeorgiaTech’s College of Computing.
Known as Games@GT, this “institute-wide initiative” was “designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations.” Degree options include a BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Games or Interaction Focus, a BS/MS in Computational Media/Digital Media, and an Accelerated 5-Year Bachelor's/Master's.
The BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Game Studies Focus is also supported by the School of Literature Communication and Culture within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. All Games@GT students have access to resources offered by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in 50 degree programs through several divisions and schools. The Division of Arts & Sciences offers BS degrees in Interactive Media & Game Development (BS IMGD) and Computer Science. One of the earliest gaming programs in the U.S., WPI’s IMGD program “blends the artistic and technical aspects of game development and interactive media.”
Students in the program will explore diverse topics such as Writing for Games, Game Audio, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Painting, Virtual Reality, and 3D Modeling. As such, graduates of the IMGD are prepared to work in the gaming industry, and apply their technical and creative skills in areas such as education, health care, art, and social sciences.
The BS in Computer Science combines CS courses in diverse fields across campus, hands-on team projects, and requirements in the humanities and arts, says the school. Students in the program will take a variety of innovative courses such as Artificial Intelligence for Interactive Media and Games, Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing, Data Mining, Software Engineering, and Database Systems, providing the flexibility to focus on cybersecurity, robotics, computational science, software design, and more.
Drexel University was established in 1891. It serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The College of Computing & Informatics offers a BS in Computer Science (BSCS) with a Concentration in Game Programming and Development (GMPD). The school also says it has Game Development and Design, and Artificial Intelligence Concentrations, and BS students may also add a Minor in Interactive Digital Media.
The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also offers BS programs including Game Art and Production or Game Design & Production.
All students have access to Drexel Game Design (DGD) and the RePlay Lab. DGD and RePlay are collaborative efforts between the Digital Media program (in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) and the Computer Science department (in the College of Computing and Informatics).
The University of California - Irvine (UC Irvine) was established in 1965. It is home to nearly 36,000 students enrolled over 100 programs across more than a dozen schools. The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences offers a BS in Computer Game Science (CGS). According to the School, throughout the major CGS students will “gain hands-on experience in creating a variety of digital games, for entertainment purposes, but also for education, training and engendering social change.”
Working in teams, students “will employ a variety of different programming languages, game platforms and hardware.” Overall, the program “strongly emphasizes the technical aspects of creating games, as well as working in teams to design and implement them.”
Full Sail University was established in 1979 and it is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees, as well as Graduate Certificates, in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. The Game School at Full Sail offers several programs for aspiring game designers.
Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Mobile Development. The Game Art and Game Design BS degrees are available on campus and online.
Fifty-three Full Sail graduates were credited on 21 nominated projects at The Game Awards 2015. Graduates worked on nominated and winning projects in categories including Game of the Year, Best Narrative, Best Multiplayer, and Best Score/Soundtrack.
Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school is home to 68,625 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture founded the Visualization program in 1989. It offers a BS in Visualization, with the option to add a Minor in Game Design and Development.
Visualization students have access to the Department of Visualization’s Learning Interactive Visualization Experience Lab. Established in 2014, the Lab “provides space for graduate and undergraduate students to create game prototypes while learning about game theory, the art and science of the visual image and game history. In the lab, through research and rigorous scientific process, students collaborate with specialists from visualization, educational psychology, computer science and engineering to create innovative, interactive software.”
Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 125 graduate programs, across nine colleges and schools. Programs for game designers are offered through the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) and the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS). Offerings include a BS in Computer Science and Game Development and a BS in Computer Science and Design (formerly Computer Science and Interactive Media).
The school says that these combined majors focus on the specific skills needed to succeed in the highly competitive game industry. Students in the BS in Computer Science and Game Development will engage in building and developing games and playable media experiences while completing courses in computer science and specialized game technology and design. Interdisciplinary courses enable students to develop their creative and entrepreneurial abilities as well as create a strong portfolio of game pieces.
Sample courses for the program include Game Programming, Computer Systems, Computer Graphics, Building Game engines, Human Computer Interaction, Rapid Idea Prototyping for Games, Games and Society, The Business of Games, and Game Concept Development and Production. A Game Design Capstone is also required.
The BS in Computer Science and Design integrates fundamental design courses with a strong programming foundation. Students in the program will declare a concentration in Interaction Design, Graphic and Information Design or Experience Design. Sample game courses include Animation for Games, Virtual Environment Design, Digital Sculpture and Model Making, and Interactive Narrative.
John Hancock and Samuel Adams signed Becker College’s founding charter. Notable graduates and students include Eli Whitney (1788), William Morton (1836), and Elliott P. Joslin. Founded in 1784, Becker College is the nation’s 19th oldest campus. The school, which enrolls more than 2,000 students annually, from around the country and across the globe, offers 29 areas of study across six academic divisions including Animal Studies, Business, Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Design, Education and Psychology, and Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Design Division houses the Interactive Media Design program, which offers a BS in Applied Computer Science with a Game Programming Specialization. Students in the program have access to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI) at Becker. Established in 2011, the school says MassDiGI is the result of creative collaboration among academia, industry and government, aimed at fostering the growth of the game industry and innovation economy.
This statewide center is designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online.
The School of Game Development offers a BS in Game Programming. The school says as students progress through the program, they learn specialized aspects of design such as monetization, unique control types, rapid development via iteration, and production methods working in teams. Students graduate with a solid grasp of the fundamental game art principles, including knowledge of game engine technology and pre-production and production environments.
Potential careers include game designer, 3D modeler, concept artist, UI/UX designer, and many others.
Founded in 1883, the University of Texas - Austin (UT Austin) serves more than 51,300 students enrolled in over 300 academic programs across 13 colleges and schools. A BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Development (BS CS) is offered through the Computer Science Department, along with a Five-Year BS/MS Integrated Program in Computer Science.
Both programs offer the opportunity to participate in a unique option for aspiring game designers. Offered through a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts (CoFA), the Computer Science Department (CS), the Radio-Television-Film Department (RTF), and the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies (CAET), the interdisciplinary program is known as Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA).
The program allows students from a variety of different degree programs to “collaboratively develop 2D and 3D games for mobile, online, and social technology platforms in the program’s culminating experience: the Capstone Course.” GAMMA students also have the opportunity to work “alongside organizations such as UT’s EGaDS! and IGDA Austin,” and with local game and mobile studios, and industry professionals.
GAMMA students may earn a certificate in CS Game Development, CS Mobile Computing, CoFA Digital Art Production, CoFA Digital Audio Composition & Production, CoFA Digital World Designer or RTF Visual Effects & Animation. Certificates are awarded in addition to the undergraduate degree in any given program outside of GAMMA.
Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The School of Media Arts, Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department offers a BS in Programming with a Concentration in Game Programming. BS students also have the option to Minor in Game Art or Game Design.
According to the school, in the Game Programming BS, students will study programming as an artistic practice that combines theory and practical application to bring ideas to life. Students will create code that allows games, simulations, or other interactive experiences to function. In addition to scripting and programming courses, students will take a series of advanced mathematics classes that will prepare them for graduate study or a career in software engineering.
Students learn and work in a team environment, and by graduation, students will have had the opportunity to build a portfolio of work that includes several completed games and/or applications.
Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to more than 41,500 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas.
The Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) offers two BS programs: the BS in CGT with a Game Development and Design Major and the BS CGT/MS in Technology with a Specialization in CGT. The CGT program provides STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and games. Studies will include trigonometry, calculus, and physics, as well classes in video game design and development, animation, visualization, rendering and programming.
The BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more, if pursued separately. Graduates of the game design programs at Purdue Polytechnic Institute have gone on to work for EA Games, Riot Games, and more.