The Best Schools for Video Game Design

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With an online degree in video game design, you can participate in the growing international industry, with hardcore and casual gamers alike playing video games on high–end gaming computers, home consoles, portable systems, and smartphones. E–sports—professional competitive gaming for titles and prizes—draw huge crowds, and even televised coverage, at large events all over the world.

With a large variety of degree and non–degree programs available at video game design colleges and universities of all sizes, potential game designers of all backgrounds can bring their passion for creative arts to the program that fits their needs and interests, qualifying them for a variety of careers in the field.

A Bachelor of Science in Game Design degree can provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to start designing games professionally, but so can a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, or a Master of Science degree.

With such a wide variety of options for study, including online Game Design degrees, and so many ways to enter and specialize in a rewarding career in the video game industry, potential students have a difficult task figuring out where to begin. Our list of the 50 best video game design schools in the U.S. makes the task easier. The list includes programs that fit the individual needs of everyone.

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We selected the schools based on the quality of the schools, the types of programs and courses offered, and the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation.

The Best Video Game Design Schools

1. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

Established in 1880, the University of Southern California (USC) enrolls more than 43,000 students in more than 500 undergraduate and graduate programs and more than 150 minors across 18 schools and colleges. USC offers programs for game designers through several schools and colleges, including the Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Cinematic Arts.

The Viterbi School of Engineering, founded in 1905, is home to nine major research centers, such as the Institute for Creative Technologies, the Integrated Media Systems Center, and the Information Sciences Institute. It also boasts more than 40 research faculty members from the world–renowned Information Sciences Institute.

Founded in 1929, the USC School of Cinematic Arts is among the oldest and largest film schools in the nation and has more than 10,000 living alumni. The school is home to the USC Warner Bros. Archives and the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive.

USC also houses GamePipe Laboratory, sponsored by Sony, Intel, and other technology companies.

Through the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, students can pursue four degree programs in game design and development: a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media & Games; a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with an emphasis in Games; a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media & Games; and a Master of Science in Computer Science with an emphasis in Games.

The USC programs incorporate elements of artistry, design, engineering, and production with rigorous, hands–on instruction. All gaming students work together across disciplines and degrees.

The Bachelor in Interactive Entertainment degree program combines a broad liberal arts background with specialization in the design of interactive entertainment and games. The curriculum explores new models of interactivity and emerging markets and platforms for playful media with an emphasis on team–building, collaboration, creative leadership, and innovation.

The Bachelor in Computer Science with an emphasis in Games provides students with a solid foundation in computer science and a cross–disciplinary background in game development. The curriculum covers topics such as video game programming, computer animation, visual design for games and interactives, game engine programming, and game design. Students complete two semester–long final game projects.

An intensive three–year program, the MFA in Interactive Media, prepares students to be innovators and creative thought leaders in the evolving fields of interactive entertainment and games. The program draws on—–and brings together the resources of—–Game Design, Critical Studies, Screenwriting, Sound Production, Animation, and Critical Studies.

The MS in Computer Science with an emphasis in Game Design features courses in computer science and game development with concentrations in game development infrastructure, cognition and games, immersion, and serious games.

Students can complete a range of minors in Game Design, Game Animation, Game Entrepreneurism, Game Audio, Game User Research, Themed Entertainment, Video Game Programming, and 3D Computer Modeling and Graphics, among others. A computer science minor allows students to achieve mastery in current programming languages.

Accreditation

University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

2. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University enrolls about 13,650 students in more than 100 programs across seven schools and colleges. The Integrative Design, Arts and Technology (IDeATe) Network connects strengths across the university to advance research, education, and creative practice. The network supports eight interrelated undergraduate concentration areas, including Game Design, Animation and Special Effects, Media Design, and Physical Computing.

The Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network’s (IDeATe) Collaborative Studios include research issues in game development and programming for game designers through the Entertainment Technology Center, as well as game engine programming from the Robotics Institute.

IDeATe has sponsored the development of 30 interdisciplinary technology–arts courses, focused on hands–on collaborative learning. Faculty from across 15 academic departments provide the curriculum.

The degree offerings include a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts with a concentration in Game Design. Students also can complete a minor in game design.

The Game Design program combines skill and theory in areas such as dramatic narrative and character development, programming and engine development, special effects and performance capture, visual and sound synthesis, interface and interaction architecture development, and game assessment and redesign.

With the minor, students must complete a portal course and four courses from the collaborative and supportive course options. With the concentration, students must complete the portal course and three courses from the collaborative and supportive course options.

Arts and Humanities students must complete Intro to Computing for Creative Practice as their portal course, whereas Engineering/Computer Science students must complete Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis.

Collaborative/supportive courses include:

  • Designing Achilles in a Video Game
  • Character Rigging for Production
  • Team Communication
  • Game Design
  • Role Playing Games Writing Workshop
  • Design for Educational Games
  • Programming for Game Designers
  • Game Design, Prototyping, and Production

Carnegie Mellon also is home to the National High School Game Academy.

Accreditation

Carnegie Mellon University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

3. DigiPen Institute of Technology

Redmond, Washington

DigiPen Institute of Technology, founded in 1988, enrolls about 1,084 students from around the world. The school offers 10 undergraduate and graduate programs in Art, Design, and Computer Science. The Department of Game Software Design and Production prepares graduates for careers as software architects, gameplay programmers, artificial intelligence programmers, and more.

DigiPen’s degree offerings include a BS in Computer Science and Game Design, a BA in Game Design, a BS in Computer Science in Real–Time Interactive Simulation, a MS in Computer Science, and a five–year BS in Real–Time Interactive Simulation/MS in Computer Science. Students also can pursue a minor in Game Design.

DigiPen also offers online courses and two–week exploratory workshops for middle and high school students.

The Bachelor in Game Design degree prepares graduates for careers as modern game designers with an understanding of art, technology, narrative, audio, and psychology. Its curriculum focuses on game history, game mechanics, game aesthetics, modeling, animation, and communication.

The Bachelor in Computer Science and Game Design degree prepares graduates to be hybrid designers/engineers with strong programming and mathematics skills, as well as formal training in game design. Courses focus on game mechanics, character behaviors, AI programming, writing, linear algebra, and computer science.

The Bachelor in Computer Science in Real–Time Interactive Simulation, a four–year degree, focuses on the technical aspects of computer graphics and simulations. Course topics include programming simulations and games, drafting game design, implementing graphical interfaces, creating artificial intelligence algorithms, and applying computer networks and Internet programming to multiplayer video game environments.

The Master in Computer Science, geared toward professional software engineers, includes courses in game creation, advanced computer science, mathematics, and physics.

The BS/MS in Computer Science Accelerated Schedule allows students to complete a BS in Computer Science in Real–Time Interactive Simulation and a MS in Computer Science in five years through an accelerated schedule.

Accreditation

DigiPen Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

4. Rochester Institute of Technology – RIT Online

Rochester, New York

Rochester Institute of Technology, founded in 1885, enrolls more than 18,000 students. The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, which opened in 2003, offers several programs in computer science, computer security, information sciences and technologies, and software engineering. The college also features internationally recognized faculty.

The School of Interactive Games and Media prepares graduates for careers in media–centric, computing–related fields.

Through the Golisano College and the School of Interactive Games and Media, students can pursue BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development and a BS in New Media Interactive Development, as well as minors in Free Open Source Software, Game Design and Development, and Game Design.

The BS in Game Design and Development degree emphasizes game programming and exposes students to the breadth of design and development processes. Students receive a core computing education and can specialize in production, game design, engines and systems, graphics programming and animation, mobile, web, and audio. Students gain real–world experience through full–time, paid work experiences via cooperative education.

The two–year cohort–based Master of Science in Game Design and Development degree program includes study in computer graphics, interactive narrative, game engines, and game world design. The program prepares graduates for careers in the professional games industry or a related field.

The four–year Bachelor of Science in New Media Interactive Development degree program focuses on design principles and programming using current and emerging technologies.

RIT’s student clubs include the Game Developers Club, the Electronic Gaming Society, and CodeRIT and more. The Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has unveiled a new competitive club offering eSports, which is also an intramural program at RIT. During eSports’ first year on campus, the club won a national collegiate championship in "DropZone."

Accreditation

Rochester Institute of Technology – RIT Online is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded in 1850, the University of Utah enrolls more than 31,000 students from around the world. The university allows students to complete nearly 100 undergraduate and 90 graduate programs through 17 schools and colleges.

The College of Engineering offers the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MSG), which prepares graduates for careers in interactive development. EAE:MSG features a diverse faculty with expertise in every facet of game development.

EAE:MSG offers a master’s level program focused on game development, which prepares graduates to design, develop, create assets, and provide leadership for the video game industry. Students choose from tracks in Technical Arts, Game Arts, Game Engineering, and Game Production.

The master’s program follows a cohort model, and all students take classes in game design, rapid prototyping, pre–production and final project. Students develop a professional game portfolio through the “studio simulation” projects courses.

The Games Arts track focuses on the techniques and tools needed to use and understand components of drawing, design, 2D and 3D asset creation, storyboarding, and animation.

Students in the Game Engineering track focus on the technical aspects of video game development, such as game engines, artificial intelligence, graphics, and novel input devices.

The Game Production track focuses on project management, business development/marketing, and design—all focused on facilitating game creation.

Students in the Technical Art track focus on 3D modeling and motion capture and rigging, as well as proficiency in game programming.

The David Eccles School of Business and the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program also offer a three–year, dual degree program which combines the elements of the Master of Business Administration and the Master’s of Entertainment Arts & Engineering.

The university also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, each with an emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. In 2017, the University of Utah Board of Trustees approved a new Bachelor’s of Science in Games to be offered through the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program.

Students at the university can also participate in cutting edge games research. From the development of technologies for the future of games, to the application of games in novel or serious contexts such as medical games and apps, data analytics and crime scene analysis, the University of Utah is becoming a leader in the study of the scientific, engineering, artistic, social, and educational challenges of digital entertainment.

Accreditation

University of Utah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

6. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, New York

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute enrolls more than 7,000 students in more than 145 programs through five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences offers rigorous and innovative degree programs to provide students with the skills needed to address complex social issues. Its offerings include an interdisciplinary BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, a BS in Electronic Arts, and a Ph.D. in Electronic Arts.

The Bachelor in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences degree program helps students develop an understanding of interactive digital media and a balance of disciplinary competencies. Students also hone their design, communication, technical, and leadership skills.

Students pursuing a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences can choose from concentrations in Electronic Arts, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Management/Entrepreneurship, or Writing for Games.

Designed for students with strong science, math, and technology skills who also aspire to be artists, the Bachelor in Electronic Arts degree combines studio and theory courses in the Fine Arts with Electronic Art disciplines.

Students can tailor their degree with concentration options in Visual Arts & Animation; Video and Emerging Media; Computer Music & Sound Art; and Art, Technology & Culture.

RPI also offers a Ph.D. in Electronic Arts, an interdisciplinary arts degree which combines arts practice with historical and theoretical research. Focused on students’ personal creative practice, ranging from Performance, Contemporary & Community Practices, Electro–acoustic Music Composition & Performance, New Interfaces for Artistic Expression & Interaction, and Gaming and Animation.

Accreditation

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

7. Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State University, founded in 1855, enrolls about 50,500 students and offers more than 200 programs across 17 colleges. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ programs prepare graduates for careers as programmers, information architects, technical writers, mobile app developers, and more. The College leads federally funded research projects and cross–college collaborations, and hosts international conferences. It also offers study–abroad and internship opportunities.

Many of MSU’s courses incorporate experiential learning.

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Media and Information Department offers several game design—related programs.

The BA in Media Information degree with a Game Design and Development Specialization’s curriculum includes instruction in game design, building virtual worlds and innovative interfaces, and database management.

The MA in HCI with a Games and Meaningful Play Focus includes courses in game design, interaction design, foundations of serious games, and theories of games and interaction for design. Graduate students also can complete a graduate certificate in Serious Games.

Students can tailor the Ph.D. in Media and Information Studies program to meet their interests with a research area in Games and Meaningful Play. Course topics include information and communication technology for development, and new media uses and effects.

Students enrolled in the BS in Computer Science, BA or BFA in Studio Art, or the BA in Media and Information can pursue a minor in Game Design and Development. The minor program’s curriculum includes technology, design fundamentals, and development process of digital games. Students also gain communication and collaboration skills.

The College is home to the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab, which designs prototypes, techniques, and games, as well as the Media Sandbox, an integrated program which allows students and faculty to collaborate with writers, artists, musicians, and scientists.

The College also offers the Video Design Camp and the Advanced Video Game Design Camp. Both allow student to develop game design skills and knowledge.

Accreditation

Michigan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. New York University

New York, New York

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, founded in 1965, enrolls students from around the world in its range of programs, from bachelor’s degrees to doctorates. Renowned professional artists and scholars instruct classes and provide hands–on training.

The Tisch School houses the NYU Game Center, dedicated to exploring games as a cultural form and game design as creative practice. Programs prepare graduates for careers as game developers, designers, critics, and entrepreneurs.

Tisch offers a BFA in Game Design and an MFA in Game Design, as well as a Game Design minor.

The four–year Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Game Design degree’s curriculum includes game design, game scholarship, and game development, as well as a liberal arts foundation. Students also complete a senior project.

Course topics include:

  • 2D and 3D animation
  • Sound effects
  • Marketing
  • Academic, scholarly, and journalistic approaches to games
  • Game design
  • AI programming

The two–year Master’s degree in Game Design program allows students to study the development and design of games in a context of advanced critical literacy.

The curriculum includes:

  • Game Design
  • Game Production
  • Game History
  • Game Studies

Students also complete a thesis and enroll in Play Labs, where they can delve deeper into the play of a game genre.

Tisch is home to the Global Institute for Advanced Study and the Cinema Research Institute.

Accreditation

New York University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

9. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

Founded in 1885, Georgia Institute of Technology (also known as Georgia Tech) enrolls more than 25,000 students in more than 80 degree programs through 31 schools and colleges. The College of Computing is a national leader in research and the creation of real–world computing breakthroughs. The college allows students to customize their undergraduate degrees.

Georgia Tech’s degree offerings include the BS in Computational Media with a Game Studies focus, the MS in Digital Media, the MS in Digital Medi–HCI, and the Ph.D. in Digital Media. The School of Literature, Media, and Communication offers the master’s and doctoral programs.

The Bachelor in Computational Media with a Game Studies focus program allows students to gain theoretical and hands–on knowledge of computing and an in–depth understanding of visual design and the history of media. The Game Design focus includes courses in Interactive Narrative, Game Design as a Cultural Practice, and Game AI.

The Master in Digital Media degree offers arts–and–humanities–based advanced study in media design and critique. The program prepares graduates for leadership positions as critical analysts, producers, and designers in a digital culture. Courses include Principles of Interactive Design, the Computer as an Expressive Medium, and Project Studio.

The interdisciplinary MS in Digital Media–HCI features a set of core courses related to a student’s chosen specialization, electives, and a master’s project. Students develop theoretical and practical skills.

The Ph.D. in Digital Media program provides students with a practical and theoretical foundation for careers as digital media researchers. Courses include Visual Culture and Design, Principles of Interactive Design, and Historical Approaches to New Media.

Students have access to resources in the Institute for People and Technology and the GVU Center at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech houses several research centers, including the Algorithms and Randomness Center, the Center for Experimental Research in Computing Systems, and the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, among others.

Accreditation

Georgia Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, Georgia

Founded in 1978, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers four programs for aspiring game designers through its School of Digital Media. A private, nonprofit institution, SCAD enrolls more than 12,000 students in more than 40 majors with campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and France. Its interactive design and game development program has won the top prize in the E3 College Game Competition.

Savannah College of Art and Design offers a BA in Digital Media with a concentration in Game Development, a BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development, a MA in Interactive Design and Game Development, and an MFA in Interactive Design and Game Development.

The Bachelor in Digital Media degree with a concentration in Game Development includes courses in Digital Design Aesthetics, Applied Principles: Game Design, and Introduction to Game Development.

Students pursuing the BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development take courses in Game Art, Game Design, Programming, and Digital Design Aesthetics.

The college’s Master in Interactive Design and Game Development degree program includes courses in Game Design Perspectives, Game Art Methods, Character Development, and Scripting for Interactivity.

The MFA in Interactive Design and Game Development’s courses include Environments for Games, Visual Interface and Information Design, and Game Design Perspectives.

Savannah College of Art and Design also offers a minor in Interactive Design and Game Development and a certificate in Interactive Design, as well as BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in animation.

Accreditation

Savannah College of Art and Design is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

11. The New School

New York, New York

Founded in 1896, Parsons the New School for Design has an enrollment of nearly 5,000 students and offers more than two dozen associate, bachelor and master degree programs through five schools. The School of Art, Media, and Technology allows students to pursue BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology. The degrees prepare graduates for careers in interactive design, motion graphics, game design, and more.

Parsons’s BFA in Design and Technology with a Game Design pathway focuses on emerging art and design practices, interaction technologies, and media storytelling. It also emphasizes the aesthetic aspect of game design. BFA students learn code and develop a process for researching, designing, and prototyping projects.

Course topics include Drawing/Imaging, History of Design, Core Studio Systems, and Core Studio Objects.

Students receive hands–on experiences through internships and collaborations.

The studio–based MFA program’s students investigate interactive, visual, and narrative aspects of design technology with an emphasis on computation and software programming. The courses include Design for this Century, Collaboration Studio, and Creativity and Computation Lecture and Lab.

Students enrolling in the MFA Design and Technology program complete a pre–orientation summer program, Bootcamp, which helps deepen their understanding of the critical design process.

Parsons participates in initiatives such as Games for Change and Quest to Learn.

Accreditation

The New School is regionally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

12. University of California – Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

The University of California–Santa Cruz, established in 1965, offers more than 100 degree programs across 10 colleges and enrolls more than 17,000 students. The Jack Baskin School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science offers nearly two dozen degree programs, including several game design—related programs. Programs offer hands–on experiences and prepare graduates for a range of game–related careers.

The degree offerings include a BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, a BA in Art+Design: Games and Playable Media, a professionally oriented MS in Games & Playable Media, and research–oriented MS and Ph.D. degrees in Computational Media with a focus in Computer Games.

The BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design program focuses on the design and construction of interactive computer games. The four–year program provides a rigorous education in computer science, as well as an introduction to art, music, digital media, narrative, and computer engineering. The BA in Art+Design: Games and Playable Media program focuses on the design and programming of computer games. The four–year program focuses on the creation of novel game systems, spaces, and configurations that can produce broad ranges of player experiences. Both degrees share a year–long game project sequence.

The MS in Games & Playable Media is a one–year program offered at the UCSC Santa Clara campus in Silicon Valley. With a curriculum rooted in code and design, the program prepares students for careers in professional game development.

The MS and Ph.D. programs in Computational Media provide practical training and knowledge for students interested in video games, social media, smartphone apps, interactive narrative, and more. The MS program allows students to deepen their understanding, while the Ph.D. program helps students develop knowledge to change what is possible and how people understand it.

The college’s Art Division houses the Arts Division, which offers an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media. The two–year program emphasizes technological and artistic innovation, social action, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The DANM Playable Media emphasis focuses on artistic expression via computer games.

UCSC houses the Center for Games and Playable Media.

Accreditation

University of California – Santa Cruz is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

13. DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

DePaul University, a Catholic university established in 1898, enrolls about 23,100 students through more than 300 programs across 10 schools and colleges. Through its College of Computing and Digital Media, DePaul University offers several programs for would–be game designers.

Students can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a Game Systems concentration, a Bachelor’s degree in Game Design, a Bachelor’s in Game Programming, an MS in Game Programming, and an MFA in Game Design.

The Bachelor’s in Computer Science with a Game Systems concentration enables students to develop an understanding of modern computer systems and master software development and programming skills. The program also includes instruction in computer vision, robotics, intelligent systems and gaming, and mobile systems.

The Bachelor’s in Game Design program allows students to develop a foundation in game design and prepares graduates for careers in computer gaming and interactive media. Courses include 3D Design and Modeling, Animation, Game Sound Design, and Game Development.

The Bachelor’s degree in Game Programming allows students to collaborate with artists, programmers, game designers, audio designers, and producers. Courses include Game Engine Programming, Computer Graphics Development, and Computer Systems.

Designed for individuals interested in game development programming, the Master in Game Programming degree includes courses in software engineering, computer graphics, animation, artificial intelligence, and software architecture. Courses combine theory and applied practice.

The MFA in Game Design enables students to explore and apply emerging theories. The terminal degree also allows graduates to enter an academic tenure–track career.

DePaul University also offers master’s degrees in animation.

Students have access to development and research labs, a game play lab, and the augmented reality lab.

The university also offers the DePaul Game Experience and the Game, Cinema, and Animation Summer Academy.

Accreditation

DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Founded in 1861, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers more than 100 programs across five schools, including the School of Engineering, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the School of Science. MIT enrolls 11,300 students. Established in 1861, the School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences houses the Department of Comparative Media Studies/Writing, which prepares graduates for careers in game programming and design.

MIT also is home to the MIT Game Lab, the Singapore–MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, and the MIT Education Arcade. The labs allow students to study, design, and develop games as a supplement to the degree programs.

The School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences degree offerings include a Bachelor of Science in Comparative Media Studies with a Games and Interactive Media cluster, a Master of Science with a Specialization in Games, and a minor in Comparative Media Studies.

The BS in Comparative Media Studies with a Games and Interactive Media cluster is an interdisciplinary study of television, game design, digital artworks, interactive writing, and more.

All students must complete two courses: The Film Experience and Introduction to Media Studies.

Students in the Games and Interactive Media cluster also take courses in:

  • Creating Videogames
  • Network Cultures
  • Designing Interactions
  • Fundamentals of Computational Design
  • Games for Social Change
  • Fun and Games: Cross–Cultural Perspectives
  • Games and Culture
  • Media Industries and Systems

The two–year Master of Science with a Specialization in Games features a core curriculum of media studies. The program combines coursework, a thesis, and research.

Courses include Media Theories and Methods and Media in Transition.

Accreditation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

15. Ringling College of Art and Design

Sarasota, Florida

The Ringling College of Art and Design, established in 1931, offers several BFA degrees as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Business of Art and Design. Through its Computer Animation Department, students can pursue a BFA in Game Art. The program includes the basics of game design mechanics, interactivity, meaningful play, and options for creating and refining game content.

Ringling College of Art and Design features award–winning faculty, a supportive, creative community, and cutting–edge technology. Its rigorous curriculum combines liberal and studio arts.

The Game Art major provides students with the professional artistic skills needed to create believable and compelling interactive experiences. Students create visually sophisticated and texture–rich gaming environments which educate, entertain, and inform.

Game Art students experiment with VR technology using the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Students have access to eight state–of–the–art computer labs and three open labs.

Visiting artists participate in critiques of fourth–year students’ work.

The BFA in Games Arts curriculum includes courses in:

  • Design
  • Writing Studio
  • History of Game Art
  • Computer Animation for Games
  • 3D for Games
  • Programming for Artists
  • Literature & Media Studies
  • Development of Art & Ideas

Students also gain real–world experience through an internship.

Game Arts students complete a thesis project.

Accreditation

Ringling College of Art and Design is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

16. University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

Established in 1963, the University of Central Florida enrolls about 61,000 students. Among the largest universities in the nation, the University of Central Florida offers 200 degree programs. The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) is the university’s graduate video game design school. Video–game experts and experienced teachers comprise its faculty.

FIEA features a comprehensive, industry–focused curriculum created in partnership with companies such as Disney, Monster Media, and Microsoft.

Through the College of Arts & Humanities, the Florida Interactive Academy, and School of Visual Arts & Design, students can pursue several degrees including a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, an MFA in Emerging Media with a Track in Digital Media, an MA in Digital Media–Visual Language and Interactive Media, and an MS in Interactive Entertainment with tracks in Programming, Art, and Production.

The Bachelor in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design allows students to integrate technology, art, and storytelling. Students receive a solid foundation in theory and techniques, as well as a broad understanding of humanities, arts, and technology. Students also learn about the culture, history, design, and implementation of video games and video game technologies.

A terminal creative and scholarly degree, the MFA in Emerging Media with a Track in Digital Media prepares graduates for careers as creative leaders or professors in higher education. The cohort–based program includes electives, theory courses, a thesis project, and supervised research. The Digital Media track focuses on the creation of story–driven content and new forms of interactive media.

The Master in Digital Media–Visual Language and Interactive Media, a generalist degree, allows students to increase their understanding of digital media as an applied interactive art. The program follows an apprenticeship model and students receive guidance from a faculty member on research and creative projects. Students can pursue a thesis or non–thesis option.

In the Master in Interactive Entertainment with tracks in Programming, Art, and Production program, all students work on a final, large–scale game with fellow producers, programmers, and artists. Students develop skills in project management, problem–solving, and teamwork, as well as the techniques and tools needed for successful careers in the gaming industry.

Accreditation

University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

17. Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

Northeastern University, founded in 1898, offers a range of degree programs from undergraduate to doctorate. The university enrolls more than 20,000 students across nine schools and colleges, including two that offer programs for aspiring game designers. Northeastern University also has graduate campuses in Charlotte, NC; Seattle, WA; Silicon Valley; and Toronto, Canada.

Through the College of Computer and Information Sciences students take part in rigorous academic study and real–world co–op experiences, which allow students to gain up to 18 months of hands–on professional experience. The college features renowned faculty and an interdisciplinary and innovative curriculum.

The College of Arts, Media, and Design offers several game–related programs, such as the BFA in Digital Art and Game Design, the BFA in Games, and the MS in Game Science and Design, as well as a graduate certificate in Game Analytics and a Game Design minor. The college’s faculty, composed of respected scholars and leaders in their fields, offer a flexible curriculum with co–ops and service–learning opportunities.

The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Digital Art and Game Design program includes courses in Game Interface Design, Rapid Idea Prototyping for Games, Programming for Games, and Games and Society. Students also complete a two–semester senior capstone project.

The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Games program allows students to develop the skills needed to create innovative, high–quality and expressive games and playful experiences. The degree emphasizes the creative side of game development and includes fine art, critical practice, and game design courses.

The two–year Master of Science in Game Science and Design program provides students with comprehensive understanding of the creation of successful game products in a player–centric environment. The curriculum focuses on design and technological skills, the science of game development, and an understanding of playability and analytics.

Students in the BS in Computer Science and Game Design program build and develop games and playable media experiences, while receiving a foundation in computer science and specialized game design and technology. Coursework includes algorithms, game AI, game programming, theory, and program design. Students develop portfolio game pieces.

Northeastern University houses more than 30 federally funded research centers, including the Institute for Information Assurance, the Humanities Center, the Advanced Scientific Computation Center, and the PLAIT (Playable Innovative Technologies) Lab.

Accreditation

Northeastern University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

18. Full Sail University

Winter Park, Florida

Full Sail University, established in 1979, enrolls approximately 15,000 students from around the world. Students can pursue a range of entertainment, media, and arts degrees and certificates. Full Sail University delivers instruction through immersive teaching methods—–in real–world production studios, classrooms, and online. All programs follow an accelerated pace, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 20 months and a master’s degree in 12 months.

The university operates on a 24–hour–a–day basis. To mimic entertainment industry schedules, labs may be scheduled at any time of the night or day.

Students can join chapters of the Audio Engineering Society, MEISA (Music & Entertainment Industry Student Association), Digital Art and Design Association, Special Effects Society, and LAN Games Group, among others.

The university’s games programs prepares graduates for successful careers as animators, developers, writers, designers, and more.

Some of the degrees Full Sail University provides include a BS in Game Art, a BS in Game Design, a BS in Game Development, an MS in Game Design, and an MS in Mobile Gaming.

All bachelor’s degree students develop a portfolio, allowing them to showcase their work.

The Bachelor of Science in Game Art degree program provides students with a foundation in interactive graphics development, including environment and prop creation, character creation, in–game effects, animation, and the game production pipeline. Students apply traditional art and animation principles to models that move, look, and articulate realistically.

The Bachelor of Science in Game Design degree program provides students with knowledge of production processes, as well as the building blocks of narrative design. Composed of high–level game design and production courses, the program enhances students’ ability to work in a game studio environment. Course topics include game economics, storytelling, usability, and character development.

Students in the BS in Game Development program master the tools and technology to develop and program multi–player and single–player video games for personal computers, networks, and gaming consoles. Students hone their ability to program code for artificially intelligent opponents, 3D graphic display, real–time virtual environments, and multiplayer gaming.

The Master of Science in Game Design program focuses on leadership, teamwork, project design, development and prototyping, and marketing, as well as a grounding in software. Students complete a game capstone project. Students also can choose a track which meets their goals, such as working as a producer, game designer, or user–experience researcher.

The MS in Mobile Gaming degree program allows students to explore the production processes used to produce content for mobile gaming platforms, including level design, character sketches, and story development. Students explore emerging technologies, conduct mobile gaming research, and apply theoretical concepts to game development and design. As their thesis project, students create a fully playable mobile game.

Accreditation

Full Sail University is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

19. Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

Champlain College, founded in 1878, offers a host of programs, including more than 40 undergraduate degrees and two dozen graduate degrees and certificates, through several academic divisions and the Robert P. Stiller School of Business. The non–for–profit, private college enrolls about 2,100 students from around the world. The college also has campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland.

Champlain boasts small class sizes and faculty members with research and industry experience.

The college emphasizes innovation, creativity, professionalism, technological expertise, and hands–on learning opportunities.

Champlain College offers several game design—related programs.

Through the Division of Communication & Creative Media, students can complete several degrees, including a BFA in Creative Media with Specializations in Game Media or Interactive Design; a BS in Game Design with an optional Specialization in Sonic Arts; and a BS in Game Art & Animation.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Media degree with Specializations in Game Media helps students develop the skills needed to combine technology and aesthetics with courses in 2D and 3D images, digital sculpture, and user interface design. The Interactive Design specialization introduces students to the sensory side of interface—images, sounds, and how pages move—–as well as interactivity as a design element.

The Bachelor in Game Design degree with an optional Specialization in Sonic Arts allows students to develop extensive game–design skills in system design, narrative design, and level design. Students learn to map out, develop and create gameplay, and develop a portfolio. The specialization focuses on immersion in technical aspects of music and sound production.

The Bachelor in Game Art & Animation degree program provides students technical and artistic skills, as well as time management skills. The curriculum includes courses in creating 2D and 3D game environments, animation, and characters. Students create a portfolio.

Through the Division of Information Technology & Sciences, students can pursue a BS in Computer Science & Innovation with a Specialization in Mobile Application Development or Software Engineering. The program combines technical theory and classroom instruction on topics ranging from the lightest wireless applications to complex software systems. Students create operating systems, develop advanced mobile programming, and design back–end database support. The Mobile Application Development specialization allows students to develop the skills needed to build and program effective websites and evaluate the role mobile systems play in the technology field, while the Software Engineering specialization allows students to design programs for specialized domains and build software systems.

The Division of Information Technology also offers a Bachelor in Game Programming degree, which combines games with the challenge of software creation. Students develop cutting–edge skills and gain real–world experience.

Through the School of Business, students can pursue a BS in Management in Creative Media with a Specialization in Game Production Management. Students develop the skills needed to organize, motivate, and oversee groups of game designers, artists, and programmers. Students also evaluate trends in game technology.

Champlain College houses the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation and the Collaborative Game Studio, which replicates a professional game development setting.

Students can intern at Wired Magazine, Big Point Inc., and Microsoft Game Studios.

Accreditation

Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

20. Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1891, Drexel University is among the largest private universities with about 26,000 students enrolled. Drexel University offers hundreds of degree programs across more than a dozen schools and colleges, including the College of Computing and Informatics and the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. The university is recognized as a model of best practices in translational, use–inspired research.

The university is home to Drexel Co–op, which provides professional employment experiences for students before they enter the workforce.

Among its degree offerings are a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Computer Science, both with a concentration in Game Programming and Development; a BS in Game Design and Production; an MS in Digital Media; and a Ph.D. in Digital Media.

The BS in Computer Science/BA in Computer Science programs with a Concentration in Game Programming and Development include instruction in theory and practice of effective computing, as well as writing code and applying computer science to solve complex computing problems. The concentration includes courses in the fundamentals of game development and design, large–scale game development, and experimental and educational game design.

The BS in Game Design and Production degree program combines interactivity and animation with an understanding of programming and design. The curriculum includes courses in digital media, as well as a six–month co–op. The school also allows Computer Science majors to complete a concentration in Game Programming and Development.

The MS in Digital Media, a two–year program, features comprehensive studies in gaming and digital media theory, history and methods, 3D modeling, animation, and interactivity. Students complete several projects, including grant–funded research opportunities, student–generated projects, and industry–sponsored projects.

The Ph.D. in Digital Media program focuses on translational research in digital media in an experiential learning environment. The program emphasizes a design–based research philosophy.

The university offers a major in Animation and Visual Effects.

Accreditation

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

21. University of Wisconsin – Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin–Stout, a four–year college founded in 1891, enrolls more than 9,600 students. Part of the University of Wisconsin System, UW–Stout offers more than 70 majors at the undergraduate to doctoral levels. The university boasts an alumni network of nearly 72,000 students. The University offers two game design–related programs: a BFA in Game Design and Development and a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Design and Development. Both allow students to gain hands–on experience through co–ops and internships.

The BFA and BS programs emphasizes graphically based, user–friendly software. Students develop the skills to design and develop software programs which use physics and digital imagery to create games and simulations. Students complete a capstone project.

BFA and BS students take the following courses together, allowing them to work together in teams:

  • Introduction to Game Design
  • Video Game Development
  • Two–Dimensional Game Design and Development
  • Three–Dimensional Game Design and Development
  • History of Interactive Media

The School of Art & Design offers the BFA program, which focuses on the visual aspects of game design. The School of Art & Design enrolls about 1,000 students and offers faculty–led study–abroad courses in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The BFA in Game Design and Development provides student with foundational skills in drawing, animation, and 3D modeling, as well as the ability to create characters, level design, and concept art.

BFA courses include:

  • Introduction to Video and Computer Game Design and Development
  • Introduction to 2D Digital Imaging
  • Pixel and Vector Art
  • Life Drawing
  • Introduction to Digital Narrative
  • 3D Game Art and Engines
  • Design Drawing and Concept Visualization

BFA students also choose an emphasis allowing them to specialize in areas such as game design, 2D art, 3D art, UX Design or pursue a generalist role. Available courses include User Experience Design, Animation Studio, 3D Modeling–Hard Surface, 3D Modeling–Organics, Transmedia Studio and Board Game Production and Process

Offered through the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, the Bachelor of Science program focuses on the programming aspects of game design and development.

Students enrolled in the BS in Computer Science also complete a mathematics minor along with the concentration in Game Design and Development.

The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Design and Development includes courses, such as:

  • Data Structures
  • Web and Internet Programming
  • Algorithm Design and Analysis
  • Mathematical Foundations of Computer Graphics
  • Programming in Game Engines
  • Physics Modeling for Game Programmers
  • Mobile Development in Android

The Game Design and Development program is a member of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance.

UW–Stout was a national co–champion at the E3 College Game competition and received the Student Showcase Award at the International Digital Media and Arts Association Conference.

Accreditation

University of Wisconsin – Stout is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

22. Columbia College

Chicago, Illinois

Columbia College, founded in 1890, enrolls more than 10,000 students across more than 100 academic programs. Its School of Media Arts’ Department of Interactive Arts & Media offers several programs for would–be game designers, including a BA in Game Design with concentrations in Game Sound Design or Game Development; a BA or BS in Game Programming; a BA in Interaction Design; and a BA in Game Art.

Students can pursue minors in Game Art, Game Programming, and Game Design.

The college incorporates new technologies into creative communications coursework.

The college is home to several student organizations, including the Columbia College Chicago Animation Association and the Illustration Student Group.

The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design program allows students to create fun, engaging game experiences while collaborating with a team. Courses emphasize the fundamentals and application of game design theory, as well as the cultural and theoretical roles of game design.

Students choose from concentrations in Game Development, which includes courses in game design theory and analysis, narrative, and user engagement; and Game Sound Design, which includes courses in aesthetics of sound, acoustics and digital audio, and studio production technology.

Students in the BA in Game Programming degree program develop simulations, games, and game–like interactive experiences. Students work collaboratively and develop a portfolio.

The Bachelor of Science in Game Programming curriculum combines practical programming application and mathematics–heavy coursework. Students learn programming languages, artificial intelligence, and graphics application. Students develop strong teamwork skills and develop a portfolio.

The BA in Game Art provides students with fundamentals to state–of–the–art tools and techniques with a 3D–oriented curriculum. Students learn game–oriented animation concepts and computer art.

Students in the BA in Interaction Design program invent user–centered, creative design solutions that prepare them for careers in interactive development and design.

Accreditation

Columbia College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

23. Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Los Angeles, California

Established in 1997, the Gnomon School of Visual Effects enrolls more than 100 students in a host of computer graphics programs.

Aspiring game designers can complete certificate programs in Entertainment Design and Digital Production, and Digital Production for Entertainment.

The school has nine computer labs and offers specialized courses for high school students and more than 100 courses for professional enrichment, including those in Character Animation, Character Texture and Shading, and Digital Matte Painting.

The four–year BFA in Digital Production program is the school’s first accredited bachelor’s program. Designed to produce production–ready artists, the program features foundational arts, 3D production, visual arts, and general education studies. Students create a demo–reel.

The three–year Entertainment Design and Digital Production certificate program consists of one year of foundational art and design courses and two years of digital production instruction. Students tailor their program with tracks in 3D Generalist, Games, Visual Effects Animation, Modeling & Texturing, Animation, and Character & Creature.

The two–year Digital Production for Entertainment certificate program allows students to hone their 3D skills with a focus on production skills for games, movies, or broadcast. Students tailor their degree with tracks in 3D Generalist, Animation, Character & Creature, Visual Effects Animation, Modeling & Texturing, and Games.

Accreditation

Gnomon School of Visual Effects is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

24. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania offers more than 400 programs across a dozen schools, including the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The university enrolls about 25,000 students. The university has a 6:1 student–faculty ratio. Through its School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Department of Computer and Information Science, students can pursue several degrees which prepare them for careers as technical directors, game programmers, technical animators, and designers.

The university offers international study–abroad programs.

The University of Pennsylvania offers a BS in Engineering with a Digital Media Design major, an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology, and a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science.

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a Digital Media Design major is an interdisciplinary major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program combines computer graphics coursework within the Computer and Information Science Department and fine arts courses from the School of Design. Students develop skills in programming, mathematics, and computer graphics, and enhance their fine arts skill sets.

The university also offers a minor in Digital Media Design.

The Master of Science in Computer Graphics and Game Technology program, offered through the Department of Computer and Information Science, exposes students to interactive media design principles, state–of–the–art graphics and animation technologies, engineering entrepreneurship, and product development methodologies. Students can specialize in areas such as creative design, art and animation, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces, and production management.

Students have access to resources and equipment through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics.

The Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science program, designed to develop the intellectual skills needed to meet the demands of industry and academe, allows students to develop an advanced–study focus. Students work with faculty mentors to work on topics ranging from graphics to programming languages, as well as interdisciplinary collaborations.

The University of Pennsylvania is home to several research centers, including the Penn Institute for Computational Science, the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation, the Penn Research in Embedded Computing and Integrated Systems Engineering, and the ViDi Center.

Students also can take part in service learning opportunities.

Accreditation

University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

25. Laguna College of Art and Design

Laguna Beach, California

Laguna College of Art and Design, established in 1961, enrolls about 500 students. The college offers five undergraduate majors and three graduate programs, including a project–based BFA with an Emphasis in Game Art, 3D Environment, or 3D Character, and an MFA in Art of Game. The college’s programs incorporate the latest technologies and upgrades in computer software and hardware. Laguna also features dedicated faculty and small student–to–teacher class ratios.

The Game Art BFA combines a foundation in classical training with state–of–the–art industry software. Students gain experience through a partnership with USC’s graduate program, GamePipe, as well as internships and workshops. Students learn to apply color theory effectively, use effective conscious polyflow methodologies, and use effective problem–solving techniques.

Students can tailor the degree to their career and personal goals with an emphasis in Game Art, 3D Character, or 3D Environment.

The BFA curriculum includes courses in:

  • Art of Costume in Game
  • Visual Development
  • Advanced Drawing for Game
  • Animal Drawing
  • Rigging and Animation for Game
  • Architectural Visualization
  • Environment Design for Game

The Art of Game Design MFA is a two–year terminal degree. Students explore the development and design of games as a creative practice. The programs’ multidisciplinary approach bridges the gap between practice and theory in game design.

Courses include:

  • Mechanic–Based Game Analysis
  • Comparative Engine Technology
  • Game Audio
  • Game Production
  • Engine Technology
  • Prototyping
  • Meaningful Games
  • Game Narrative

Students also complete a thesis.

Students in the MFA program can complete the program in two years with evening and weekend online classes and a six–week on–campus intensive.

The college also offers animation programs.

Accreditation

Laguna College of Art and Design is regionally accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

26. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), founded in 1865, enrolls more than 6,000 students in 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs through several schools and divisions. WPI emphasizes project–based learning. The Division of Arts & Sciences offers several programs for those seeking careers in game design. Its gaming programs blend technical and artistic aspects of interactive media and game development and feature renowned faculty researchers and industry advisors.

The Interactive Media & Game Development programs combine artistic and technical aspects of interactive media and game development. Students create games and interactive environments which shape advances not only in the gaming industry, but also in the areas of education, art, social sciences, and health care, as well.

WPI offers a test–optional application path for all students, so art students can submit an art and design portfolio in lieu of—or in addition to—ACT and SAT scores.

The degree offerings include a BS or BA in Interactive Media & Game Development, an MS in Interactive Media and Game Development, a five–year BS/MS option, and a six–course minor.

Undergraduates complete a Major Qualifying Project, which allows them to synthesize their learning to build a game or interactive mediated project. Students have the opportunity to complete this in Japan or Silicon Valley as well.

The Bachelor of Science or Art in Interactive Media & Game Development curriculum includes courses in digital painting, writing for games, 3D modeling, 2D and 3D animation, artificial intelligence, game audio, and virtual reality.

The curriculum provides an interdisciplinary education in the principles of interactive applications and computer–based game development and provides students with the skills to create interactive environments and games.

Students choose to focus on either the technical or artistic side of the field—all students gain a broad understanding of both, as well as a foundation in mathematics, computer science, art, science, English, and music.

Through rigorous projects and courses, students explore topics in interactive media and game development, ranging from storytelling to the social impact of games to digital painting, and more.

The Bachelor’s degree in Interactive Media & Game Development includes courses such as:

  • Game Development Process
  • Storytelling in Games
  • Critical Studies
  • Game Audio
  • Tabletop Strategy
  • Electronic Arts
  • Advanced Storytelling
  • Novel Interfaces

Students also complete a team–based, multi–term project.

The Master’s degree in Interactive Media and Game Development prepares professionals who can balance technical and design expertise. Students tailor the program to their interests and career goals with three focus areas: Serious Games, for those who want to apply their knowledge to healthcare, education, social sciences, or simulation; Production and Management, for those who plan to work on the business side of gaming; or Technical, for those who have a software development background and want to expand their understanding of IMGD.

All students must complete a Game Design Studio course, a set of core courses, and two courses in their focus area. They also complete a substantial group project or culminating thesis.

Master of Science in Interactive Media and Game Development core courses include:

  • History and Future of Immersive and Interactive Media
  • Immersive Human–Computer Interaction
  • Design of Interactive Experiences
  • Production Management for Interactive Media

WPI is home to the Human Interaction in Virtual Environments Lab, the Human–Robot Interaction Lab, and the Performance Evaluation of Distributed Systems Lab.

Accreditation

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

27. University of California – Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Founded in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) enrolls about 43,000 students from around the nation and the world. Students can pursue more than 300 degree programs through a dozen schools and colleges.

The School of Arts and Architecture’s Department of Design and Media Arts offers a BA in Design Media Arts and an MFA in Media Arts. Distinguished faculty teach rigorous and innovative programs which combine creativity and academic research.

The UCLA Department of Design and Media Arts offers a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to media creation which fosters innovative thinking and individual exploration.

The Bachelor in Design Media Arts degree program emphasizes innovative creation with mass and digital media. Students receive a solid foundation in color, space, form, typography, motion, and interactivity. The program also features a selection of area studies courses, including those in game design.

BA students complete a senior project based on their interests in video and animation, interactivity and games, and visual communication and image.

The BA in Design Media Arts includes the following courses:

  • Media Arts Introduction
  • Word + Image
  • Game Design
  • Three–Dimensional Modeling and Motion
  • Design Features
  • Narrative
  • Network Media
  • Video and Animation

The two–year Master in Fine Arts in Media Arts program focuses on a student’s personal development within the media arts context. Students complete a thesis project which incorporates theoretical exploration and research with the goal of creating a body of work for an MFA exhibition.

MFA students can collaborate with faculty members on research projects and work as teaching assistants.

Students must take a Graduate Critique and two Graduate Tutorials each quarter.

Students also must complete 16 units of electives. The school encourages students to select electives from outside the department.

The Department of Design and Media Arts, with support from the School of Theater, Film and Television, houses the UCLA Game Lab. The lab allows students to explore game context, game aesthetics, and game genres.

Accreditation

University of California – Los Angeles is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

28. Hampshire College

Amherst, Massachusetts

Established in 1965, Hampshire College offers more than 50 areas of study and enrolls 1,400 students. A member of the Five College Consortium, the college provides access to thousands of courses through nearby universities. The undergraduate degree in Game Design and Development allows students to strengthen their skills in communication, teamwork, playtesting, storytelling, game design, and more.

The Game Design and Development curriculum provides students with the freedom to design their own courses. Students work with advisors and peers to craft games.

Project–based courses allow students to work in interdisciplinary teams to develop games which enhance their portfolios.

Game Design and Development courses include:

  • Interdisciplinary Game Studio
  • Pixelbending
  • Women in Game Programming
  • Analog Game Design
  • Designing Treasure Hunts
  • Computer Animation
  • Radical Innovation in Digital Arts
  • The Art and Science of Digital Imaging
  • Women in Game Programming

Students have access to the Hampshire College Cluster Computing Facility, the Game Lab and Library, the Liebling Center for Film, Photography and Video, and the Johnson Library Center.

Accreditation

Hampshire College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

29. Academy of Art University

San Francisco, California

Founded in 1929, Academy of Art University enrolls about 8,800 students. The Academy offers dozens of design, art, fashion, and architecture programs through several schools, including the School of Game Development. Its multidisciplinary programs provide a well–rounded education in the arts with an emphasis on applying and understanding techniques, including animation, 3D modeling, and lighting in video game production.

The School of Game Development prepares graduates for careers as game programmers, game designers, concept artists, 3D modelers, and UI/UX designers.

Students receive hands–on experience creating professional–quality programming or art and game design portfolio. They also collaborate with other students to produce memorable and fun video games.

Degree offerings include AA, BFA, BS, MA, and MFA degrees in Game Development.

The Associate of Arts Degree in Game Development provides students with an introduction of the fundamentals of game engine technology and game construction.

The BFA in Game Development provides students with a well–rounded education in the arts with an emphasis on applying and understanding techniques, including animation, 3D modeling, and lighting in video game production. Students receive instruction in fundamental game art principles, such as game engine technology and pre–production and production environments.

The BS in Game Development program integrates programming and engineering techniques used in game creation. With an emphasis on objective–oriented programming and math through the use of complex algorithms, students develop skills to write efficient code and solve problems.

The Masters in Game Development programs allow students to synthesize traditional art and design fundamentals with groundbreaking technologies. Students take part in hands–on prototyping of game mechanics and art creation and create a final project.

Accreditation

Academy of Art University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

30. Digital Animation & Visual Effects School

Orlando, Florida

Digital Animation Visual Effects School, DAVE School, Orlando, Florida
Photo by Jen Vargas

The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School, founded in 2000 on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, is an academic unit of Florida Technical College. The school offers comprehensive and intensive training in 3D modeling, game production, 3D animation, and 3D visual effects.

The school’s 12–month Game Production diploma includes courses in modeling and sculpting, game engine fundamentals, game production, game asset production, and animation fundamentals.

Students receive solid career training in core competencies.

For the final 10 weeks of the year–long program, students work together to create a final project. Students create a demo real and online portfolio.

Accreditation

Digital Animation & Visual Effects School is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

31. Becker College

Worcester, Massachusetts

Becker College, founded in 1784, is among the oldest colleges in the nation, with two campuses in Worcester and Leicester, Mass. The college offers a wide range of programs across several academic divisions and schools, including the School of Design & Technology, which houses the Interactive Media Design program.

The School of Design & Technology offers hands–on and experiential learning, real–world knowledge and skills to fully prepare students to enter high–growth career fields including video game design and development, computer science and business management. The state–of–the–art Colleen C. Barrett Center gives students access to a VR/AR lab, and game studio labs and collaborative team spaces, provides space for the college’s Esports club, and more.

Degree options include Becker’s internationally ranked BA in Interactive Media Design Degree Program with concentrations in Game Design, Game Development and Programming, Game Art, and Game Production and Management and a BA in Graphic Design. Its MFA in Interactive Media launches in Fall 2018.

The Game Development and Programming concentration focuses on code development, while the Game Design concentration focuses on the world building and systems design.

The Game Arts concentration includes courses in foundation arts, digital art, and the game art development pipeline targeted at the creation and evaluation of digital game assets.

The Video Game Production and Management Concentration, designed for students who seek production roles in the game industry, provides students with the project management skills and business acumen needed to analyze trends and apply the data to lead game development projects in an agile environment.

The MFA in Interactive Media is a deep dive into an area of Interactive Media Design and includes Advanced Game Studio work, in which the student, under the direction of experienced mentors, completes an original interactive media project based on their own personal skill sets and vision.

Students also can gain real–world experience through internships and Becker’s exclusive studio–based learning process. Becker College is home to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute. MassDiGi aims to foster the growth of the game industry and innovation economy.

Accreditation

Becker College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).

32. The University of Texas at Dallas

Dallas, Texas

Established in 1969, the University of Texas at Dallas enrolls about 27,000 students through more than 140 academic programs. Part of the University of Texas System, the university features seven schools, including the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication. Founded in 2015, the School enrolls about 1,500 students in bachelor to doctoral programs.

Students, faculty, and researchers explore cutting–edge topics through the study of artistic experimentation with new technologies, emerging media, and critical engagement with social issues.

The University’s degree offerings include a BA in Arts and Technology, an MFA in Arts and Technology, an MA in Arts and Technology, and a Ph.D. in Arts and Technology.

Bachelor’s degree students choose a pathway of study in one of five areas, including Game Design and Animation.

Students can choose from electives, including those in Interaction Design, User Experience Design for Games, Game Pipeline Methodologies, Interactive Narrative, and Educational Games.

The Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Technology emphasizes the interaction of the arts and technology, including the interplay of narrative and visual art. The curriculum stresses the creation of interactive media, as well as their cultural implications and potential applications.

Graduate students choose from research areas including game development, game studies, computer animation, and interaction design.

Designed for students engaged in professional practice who want to enhance their knowledge and skills, the Master in Arts and Technology offers advanced studies in computer–based art and interactive media. The program also emphasizes the fusion of critical with creative thinking and practice with theory. Students also complete an advanced project.

The school designed the MFA in Arts and Technology degree for students planning to engage in professional studio or design practice, as well as those seeking careers teaching arts– and technology–related courses at the university level. The program emphasizes creative and critical thinking, and the creation and application of computer–based arts and narrative. Students complete an advanced project.

The Ph.D. in Arts and Technology program integrates creative and critical thinking, practice, and theory. The school designed the 60–semester–hour program for those who want to develop new cultural, artistic, or commercial applications of digital technology, or who seek careers teaching arts– and technology–related courses in universities and colleges. Students must complete and defend a dissertation.

The university is home to several research labs and studios, such as the ArtSciLab, the 3–D Fabrication Studio, the Games and Media Lab, and the Motion Capture Lab.

Accreditation

The University of Texas at Dallas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

33. Shawnee State University

Portsmouth, Ohio

Shawnee State University, established in 1986, enrolls about 3,800 students in a host of programs, ranging from associate degrees to master’s degrees. The student–focused public university features small class sizes, allowing for one–on–one interaction between faculty and students. Through its Fine, Digital, and Performing Arts Department, students can pursue several game design degrees, including a BFA in Game and Simulation Arts, an AA in Art with a Game Design Concentration, a BFA in Visualist Design and Interactive Media with a 3D Design or Interactive Media track, and a Minor in Gaming Arts.

Shawnee State University is home to more than 50 student clubs and 17 intercollegiate athletic teams.

The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Game and Simulation Arts degree helps students develop high skill and creativity levels in 3D graphics. The 120–credit program includes courses in Life Drawing, Digital Scene Design & Layout, Lighting Studio, Graphical User Interface Design, and more.

The 60–credit AA in Art with a Game Design Concentration consists of general education courses, concentration courses, and electives. Students select 21 hours from the Game Design concentration to complete the concentration. Students also complete a portfolio.

The 124–credit Bachelor in Fine Arts in Visualist Design and Interactive Media degree with a 3D Design or Interactive Media track, focuses on converting traditional design and color skills to the digital realm. The 3D track focuses on 3D animation as art for video and film, while the Interactive Media track focuses on interactive development for screen–based media.

Students have access to three high–end computer labs.

The school also offers animation programs.

Accreditation

Shawnee State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

34. The University of Texas at Austin

Austin, Texas

The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883, enrolls more than 51,000 students in hundreds of academic programs. The University comprises 18 colleges and schools, including the College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts, Radio–Television–Film Department, Computer Science Department, and the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies offer an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate program for would–be game designers.

Students and faculty work together to change the world through cutting–edge teaching and learning techniques and groundbreaking research.

Through the interdisciplinary Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) program, students from a variety of degree programs collaborate to develop 2D and 3D games for online, mobile, and social technology platforms in the Capstone Course.

GAMMA students also work with local game and mobile studios, industry professionals, and organizations such as UT’s EGaDS! and IGDA Austin.

GAMMA prepares graduates to design, develop, and provide leadership for game, mobile app, and creative media studios and agencies.

GAMMA students can earn certificates in:

  • CS Game Development
  • CS Mobile Computing
  • CoFA Digital Art Production
  • CoFA Digital Audio Composition & Production
  • CoFA Digital World Designer
  • RTF Visual Effects & Animation

Students can receive the certificate in addition to an undergraduate degree in any program outside of GAMMA. Course options include:

  • Game Aesthetics
  • Designing Virtual Worlds
  • Technical Art Production
  • Writing for Interactive Games
  • Digital Production Art 3D
  • Animation and Rigging
  • Game History and Theory
  • Advanced Game Programming

Accreditation

The University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

35. Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

Bradley University, established in 1896, offers more than 130 programs across six schools and colleges. Bradley enrolls 5,300 students from around the world. Housed in the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, the university’s Department of Interactive Media prepares students for careers in a field requiring theoretical, interdisciplinary, and application knowledge in the development, design, and production of interactive media. Graduates’ career options include interactive media coordinators, web designers, 3D animators, interactive application designers, and more.

Students have access to labs, studios, and technology, as well as the department’s Service Bureau with its state–of–the–art equipment.

Students design games, create animations, and design user experiences throughout their four years at Bradley University.

Students also gain real–world experience through internships.

The Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts offers several game design—related degree options, including a BS in Game Design and a BFA in Animation & Game Design.

The 124–semester–hour Bachelor of Science in Game Design degree program includes the following courses:

  • Introduction to Interactive Media Design
  • Fundamentals of Interactive Design
  • Introduction to Scripting Languages
  • Game Production
  • Quality Assurance in Games
  • Critical Game Studies
  • Interactive Media Practicum
  • Game Design
  • New Media Theory

The 124–semester–hour Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation & Game Design degree program allows students to showcase their skills in a portfolio. The curriculum focuses on theory and technical skills of game production, as well as the art of animation. The technology–heavy program emphasizes game design and production and focuses on the creative process from conception to implementation.

BFA students show their projects at the annual interactive media department showcase.

Courses include:

  • Two–Dimensional Animation
  • Game Design
  • Life Drawing
  • History of Animation
  • Interactive Media Practicum
  • Critical Game Studies
  • 3D Animation
  • Game Production
  • Animation for Games

Students can pursue majors in Animation, Interactive Media, and User Experience Design, as well as minors in Game Design, Game Production, and Interactive Media.

Accreditation

Bradley University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

36. Southern Methodist University

Dallas, Texas

Southern Methodist University, founded in 1911, enrolls 11,000 students in hundreds of degree programs. The university houses seven schools, including the Meadow School of the Arts and The Guildhall, which offer programs for aspiring game designers. The Guildhall, SMU’s School of Video Game Development, was established in 2003 as a graduate–level video game education program. The Guildhall features accomplished faculty and award–winning student games. Established in 1969, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts prides itself on being one of the foremost arts education institutions in the nation.

Industry veterans who have produced top–selling game titles teach SMU’s courses.

At SMU students can pursue a BFA/Masters of Interactive Technology (in Digital Game Development. The five–and–a–half–year program combines a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Meadows School of the Arts and a graduate professional certificate or a Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) degree from the Guildhall.

Students complete 63 hours of general undergraduate art education at Meadows, and in their final semester of their senior year, begin 15 hours of concurrent work on an MIT at the Guildhall.

The 24–month MIT program allows students to focus their studies on Level Design, Art Creation, Production, or Programming.

The program emphasizes teamwork and interdisciplinary thought and action, as well as the development of a professional portfolio. Course topics include:

  • 3D component creation
  • 2D art
  • Storytelling
  • Gameplay mechanics
  • Game design documentation
  • Character modeling
  • Texturing

The Guildhall also enables student to complete a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development with a Specialization in Level Design, Art Creation, Software Development, or Production.

The university houses several research centers and institutes, including the Center for Creative Computation, the National Center for Arts Research, and the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center.

Accreditation

Southern Methodist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

37. George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia

Founded in 1949, George Mason University is among the largest public research universities in Virginia. The university enrolls about 35,000 students in a range of programs from economics to computer science to creative writing. The College of Visual and Performing Arts provides students with real–world training, including internships and portfolio development. George Mason University features dedicated artist–teachers who provide individualized instruction, collaborative work, and career mentoring.

George Mason University offers a BFA in Computer Game Design, a Master of Arts degree in Game Design, and undergraduate minors in Game Design and Sport and Game Design.

The 120–credit BFA in Computer Game Design program focuses on the artistic components of computer game design and technical skills. Students study the arts and the sciences in a team– and project–based environment.

Core courses include:

  • History of Computer Game Design
  • Game Design Studio
  • Basic Game Design
  • Computer Animation for Games
  • Introduction to Computer Programming
  • Music for Film and Video
  • Writing and Editing Music and Sound

Students also can choose from electives in Video Art, 3D Experimental Animation, Figure Drawing, Darkroom Photography, and more.

The MA in Game Design consists of 36 credits, modeled after the International Game Developers Association’s recent curriculum framework.

Students take electives in subjects such as games and society, critical game studies and research, game business and entrepreneurship, and game design and production.

Courses include Game Production, Research Methodologies in Game Design, a seminar in Computer Game Design, and an internship.

George Mason University hosts the Serious Play Conference.

Accreditation

George Mason University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

38. College for Creative Studies

Detroit, Michigan

Established in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the College of Creative Studies offers more than a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. The nonprofit, private school enrolls more than 1,400 students. The college prepares graduates for careers as animators, cinematographers, concept artists, level designers, and more.

The 126–credit–hour BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Video program consists of 84 hours in studio areas and 42 in general studies.

The BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games provides students with skills to produce 2D and 3D images and concepts for games.

Courses include:

  • 2D Design
  • Digital Fundamentals
  • 3D Techniques
  • Environments and Characters
  • Computer Character Animation
  • Game Art
  • Lighting and Rendering
  • Digital Character Sculpture

Students also take electives in animation and liberal arts.

The Animation Focus introduces students to the art of sequential storytelling and uses material–based, stop–motion, and computer–generated imagery techniques, while the Digital Film focus prepares students to use film as an expressive and exploratory medium.

The college allows students to customize their curriculum. Students can tailor their degree program with a minor in Fine Arts, Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, or Visual Culture.

Accreditation

College for Creative Studies is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

39. Woodbury University

Burbank, California

Woodbury University, founded in 1884, is among the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. Woodbury University offers more than 20 programs.

The School of Media, Culture & Design promotes cross–disciplinarity, allowing Game Art and Design BFA students to study animation, filmmaking, and media technology. Woodbury’s School of Media, Culture & Design provides innovative learning opportunities in an interdisciplinary environment and offers programs ranging from animation to fashion design to game art.

Through the School of Media, Culture & Design, Woodbury students can pursue a BFA in Game Art & Design. The program allows students to conceptualize and develop video games. The curriculum combines art, computer technology, animation, sound design, game design, and story development.

Students can tailor their degree with tracks in Game Design, which focuses on two–dimensional and three–dimensional character, animation and environmental design; and Game Art, which focuses on play mechanics, program flow, game rules, scoring systems, prototyping, and game conceptualization.

Students must complete an internship; internship opportunities include Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Lukewarm Media LLC.

Foundation courses include:

  • Game Design Fundamentals
  • Game Design Documentation
  • Game Code Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Game Engines
  • 3D Game Fundamentals
  • Environmental Design & Modeling
  • Sound Design
  • Color Theory and Interaction

Students also take courses in animation and game history.

Accreditation

Woodbury University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

40. American University

Washington, D.C.

American University (AU), established in 1893, offers academic programs through seven schools and colleges, as well as more than 100 study–abroad programs. AU enrolls 12,300 students from around the world. AU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s largest school, offers programs ranging from humanities to the arts to sciences. The college provides students with opportunities for hands–on interdisciplinary internships, research, and creative expression.

The College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Communications house the Game Lab, which serves as a hub for persuasive play research, experiential education, and innovative production in the field of games.

Together, the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Communication offer a Master’s degree and certificate program in Game Design. The MA in Game Design features a curriculum focused on computer science, communication, and art.

Students gain real–world experience through the Game Studio, which provides a range of services to non–profits, government agencies, and companies.

The 36–credit–hour Master in Game Design focuses on game design, game theory, and game engagement mechanics designed to influence non–game challenges and contexts.

Students develop skills as developers, designers, consumers, and games administrators.

Core courses include:

  • Game Design and Art Pipeline Production
  • Games and Society
  • Game Research Methods
  • Games and Rhetoric
  • Advanced Game Development

Students also complete nine credit hours of electives; they can build a concentration with director and advisor approval.

The game design certificate program combines game development and game design. Required courses include Game Research Methods, Games and Society, Games and Rhetoric, and Game Development.

Accreditation

American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

41. Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio State University, established in 1870, enrolls more than 55,000 students in a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Students can pursue more than 200 majors, minors, and specializations through a dozen schools and colleges.

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Art offers several programs which prepare graduates for careers in game design and development.

Students experiment with content and material through the production, evaluation, and examination of the visual arts. They gain skills in persuasion, networking, and project management.

Degree offerings include an interdisciplinary, three–year MFA in Art, four–year BFA in Art with an Emphasis in Art and Technology, and an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media.

The BFA program features a studio–based foundation and includes courses in Two–Dimensional Art, Three–Dimensional Art, and Digital Media, among others. The Art and Technology emphasis focuses on 3D animation, 3D modeling, 3D virtual environments within Oculus and Unity, interactive projection mapping environments, art games, interactive robotics, video art, and speculative design. Courses include Internet Art, Moving Image Art, Computer Animation, and Digital Image Manipulation.

The MFA in Art and MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media allow students to explore emerging design issues and partner with various disciplines to propose innovative solutions. The Digital Animation and Interactive Media program focuses on videogame prototyping and production, 3D virtual environments, digital cinematography, and interactive arts media.

Accreditation

Ohio State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

42. Miami University–Hamilton

Oxford, Ohio

Miami University, established in 1809, enrolls about 24,000 students across five campuses. The university offers more than 200 programs through seven schools and colleges, including the College of Creative Arts and the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies. The College of Creative Arts combines professional or pre–professional education with a liberal arts experience. A transdisciplinary program, the Armstrong Institute, examines how digital media disrupt traditional disciplines.

Aspiring game designers can pursue several degree options, including an MFA in Experience Design; a BA in Interactive Media Studies with tracks in Game Design, Game Studies, Game Development, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction; a co–major in Interactive Media Studies with Game Design, Game Development, Game Studies, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction tracks; a Graduate Certificate in Interactive Media Studies; and a minor in Interactive Media Studies.

All students can study at the AIMS/Entrepreneurship Institute’s Digital Innovation Center in San Francisco. Miami University also allows students to tailor their degree by designing their own advanced track.

Designed for students who want to expand their understanding of interactive media, the MFA in Experience Design is a collaboration between Interactive Media Studies and Graphic Design. The university offers two–year and three–year tracks. The program allows students to expand skills in coding and designing interactive experiences, as well as design, develop, deploy, and test ideas through applied research.

The interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media Studies degree complements traditional liberal arts education content. Students complete 54 hours within the major, including a capstone requirement. Students tailor the degree to their personal and career goals with tracks in Game Design, Game Studies, Game Development, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction.

The co–major in Interactive Media Studies with Game Design, Game Development, Game Studies, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction tracks includes courses which span the breadth of the university’s offerings and incorporates the world of technology. All students complete two foundation tracks—–making and analyzing—–and then select an advanced concentration, allowing them to focus their experience on a specific area of interactive media.

Accreditation

Miami University–Hamilton is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

43. New Jersey Institute of Technology

Newark, New Jersey

The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a public research university founded in 1881 as Newark Technical School, enrolls approximately 11,400 students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The institute’s Enterprise Development Center is among the largest high technology and life science business incubators in the nation. NJIT houses six specialized schools and features courses taught by expert faculty. NJIT’s School of Art and Design and Department of Information Technology offer programs for aspiring game designers.

Offered through the School of Art and Design, the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design prepares graduates for careers in web design, game design, video production, animation, and more.

Students receive technical skills and creative opportunities to become leaders in the design field. Students have access to Foundation Year Labs, the Art Teaching Lab, the Animation Lab, and the Physical Computing Lab, among others.

The four–year program’s curriculum includes courses in design and graphics, color theory, art history, and traditional media. Students choose from tracks in Entertainment or Interactive Media/Production, and they can broaden their education with free academic and design electives.

Courses include:

  • History of Games
  • Video & Animation
  • Digital Design Studio
  • Game Modification
  • Simulated Environments
  • Web/Exhibit Development

The Department of Information Technology offers a BS in Information Technology with a Game Development Specialization. The program allows students to hone their programming skills, as well as develop skills in 2D and 3D graphics and game logic.

Specialization courses include:

  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • Game Development
  • Programming Language Concepts
  • Game Architecture and Design
  • Game Modification Development
  • Foundations of Game Production
  • 3D Game Development
  • Character Modeling

Accreditation

New Jersey Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

44. Ferris State University

Big Rapids, Michigan

Founded in 1884, Ferris State University (FSU) is among the largest universities in the state with 14,500 students enrolled. FSU offers a range of undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degree programs through several colleges. The university boasts small class sizes. FSU’s College of Education and Human Services comprises three schools, including the School of Digital Media.

The school offers real–world, hands–on experiences to its students.

FSU’s BAS in Digital Animation Game Design Program helps students develop skills to create 3D art and entertaining games. The program features professional–grade software, state–of–the–art technology, and innovative teaching approaches.

The 124–credit–hour program includes the following courses:

  • Digital Imaging
  • 3D Modeling – Animation
  • Interaction Design
  • Digital Imaging for 3D
  • Introduction to Computer Programming
  • Interaction Design
  • Digital Media Productions

Students also complete an internship and a capstone course.

Ferris State University offers a DAGD Peer Mentor Program, which enables sophomore, junior, and senior Digital Animation and Game Design students to volunteer as role models and help first–year or transfer students.

Accreditation

Ferris State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

45. Kennesaw State University

Marietta, Georgia

Kennesaw State University, founded in 1963, enrolls more than 35,000 students in more than 150 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State has two campuses and is among the largest universities in the state. Both its College of Computing and Software Engineering and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences offer undergraduate degrees for aspiring game designers.

Offered through the College of Computing and Software Engineering’s Department of Software Engineering and Game Design, the BS in Computer Game Design and Development program provides students with the knowledge and skills to apply software engineering and computing techniques to the design and production of digital media for research, education, and entertainment.

The Bachelor in Computer Game Design and Development degree program includes the history of theory of gaming, as well as game design, modeling, software engineering, data structures, and more.

Courses include:

  • Digital Media Interaction
  • User–Centered Design
  • Mobile and Casual Game Development
  • Educational and Serious Game Design
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Programming and Problem Solving

Students also choose a concentration from options such as Media–Production, Distributed–Mobile, Educational–Serious, and Planning–Management.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Digital Writing and Media Arts offers a BS in Interactive Design, which provides students with a hands–on approach to interactive design.

The program combines technical knowledge and aesthetic creativity with courses in front–end digital design and culture, as well as studio–based courses. The curriculum includes visual design and coding, and students develop a portfolio.

Students also can complete a Minor in Computer Game Design and Development, which includes courses in the Fundamentals of Game Design, Digital Media and Interaction, and Programming and Problem Solving.

The university’s Division of Global Affairs leads many educational, scholarly, and service–related programs, while administering more than 60 international studies programs in more than 100 courses.

Accreditation

Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

46. Academy of Interactive Entertainment

Seattle, Washington

Established in 1996, the Academy of Interactive Entertainment offers programs for aspiring game designers at its seven traditional campuses and one online campus. The college was among the first to offer specialized training for video game development and 3D animation. The college features a practical, industry–focused education in a studio–style environment.

During 1,600 contact hours with faculty, AIE students complete team projects, create show reels, and learn through a task–based system. Full–time students can complete the program in two years.

AIE offers two primary paths for students, one in art and the other in programming. Both paths prepare students for a career with a development studio or as an independent game developer.

Game programming and game art students work collaboratively to design and produce a playable video game demo.

The Advanced Diploma of Professional Game Development–Game Programming program helps students develop strong analytical–thinking, problem–solving, and communication skills. Students also develop skills and knowledge of industry–standard software, languages, and middleware.

Courses include:

  • 3D Graphics
  • Game Programming with C
  • Open GL
  • Version Control
  • Profiling
  • Networking Physics and Collision
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Game Programming with C#

The Advanced Diploma of Professional Game Development–Game Art & Animation program’s curriculum includes 3D modeling, animation, level design, texturing, and more.

Course topics include:

  • UV Unwrapping
  • Rendering
  • Level Design
  • Environment Modeling
  • Game Design
  • Animation
  • Custom Texturing
  • 3D Modeling

AIE also offers an advanced diploma in animation.

The Academy partners with Seattle Public Schools for a Skills Center course in Digital Animation & Game Design. High school students learn the tools, principles, and concepts used in animation, video game production, and video game programming.

Accreditation

Academy of Interactive Entertainment is regionally accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.

47. Ex’pression College for Digital Art

Emeryville, California

Ex’pression College for Digital Art, a for–profit college founded in 1998, enrolls more than 1,000 students in six programs, including several for would–be game designers. Part of SAE Institute, Ex’pression College is known for its around–the–clock schedule and eight–week terms. All its programs feature intensive theoretical and practical training.

Among its game design—related programs are a BAS in Game Development, a BAS in Game Art & Design, and a BAS in Audio.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Game Development allows students to develop skills in game design, 3D modeling, and game engine programming. Courses include Programming for Games, Principles of Game Design, Animation for Games, Game Feel and Juice, and Logic and Math for Games, and more.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Game Art & Design allows students to specialize in Environmental Art, 3D modeling, or Character Art. The curriculum features courses in 3D Modeling, History of Games, Texture & Lighting, User Interface Design, Game Production, Character Rigging, among others.

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Audio allows students to specialize in Game Audio, among other options. Students develop skills in video game audio creation and integration, audio engineering, recording and mixing, and more.

Accreditation

Ex’pression College for Digital Art is regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology.

48. Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana University–Purdue University, founded in 1969, enrolls more than 30,000 students and offers more than 250 degree programs. The university houses 19 schools, including the School of Informatics and Computing, which offers programs for aspiring game designers. The School of Informatics and Computing integrates social science, information systems design, and computing in unique ways to explore how people use technology and computing. Programs prepare graduates for careers as video game designers, creative directors, level designers, 3D game developers, and more.

The school offers degrees such as a BS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Game Design and Development, an accelerated BS+MS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Human–Computer Interaction, and a minor in Game Design and Development.

The 120–credit–hour BS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Game Design and Development focuses on creativity and digital storytelling, as well as career–building skills. The program helps students develop skills to develop smartphone apps, interactive education, entertaining and serious games and simulations, animations, and more.

The Game Design and Development specialization’s curriculum features coursework in character animation, game design/development, programming, and storytelling.

Courses include:

  • Game Testing and Evaluation
  • Introduction to Creature and Character Design
  • Introduction to 3D
  • Game Production
  • Virtual World Design and Development
  • Game On! A History of Video Games
  • Serious Games and Simulations
  • Virtual World Design and Development

Students can choose up to 12 hours of “selectives,” including courses in informatics project management, human–computer interaction, and building physical prototypes. Students also can add a Studio Art and Technology minor.

The five year BS+MS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Human–Computer Interaction program prepares marketable, highly skilled graduates with an accelerated format.

The program integrates user experience, interactive computing, interaction and interface design, usability, and the social sciences in the design, research, and development of socially acceptable and user–centered interactive technologies.

Courses include:

  • Interaction Design Practice
  • Meaning and Form in HCI
  • Prototyping for Interactive Systems
  • Visualization Design, Analysis, and Evaluation
  • Collaborative and Social Computing

Accreditation

Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

49. Lawrence Technological University

Southfield, Michigan

Lawrence Technological University, founded in 1932, enrolls approximately 4,500 students from around the world. The university offers nearly 100 academic programs leading to a host of undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university focuses on theory and practice.

The College of Architecture and Design and College of Arts and Sciences offer programs for aspiring game designers. The programs prepare graduates for careers in animation, game development, web design, and human interface design.

The College of Architecture and Design’s Department of Art and Design offers a BFA in Game Art and a BFA in Interaction Design, and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Software Development.

Students can pursue a minor in Computer Science, as well as a minor/dual major in Computer Science and another discipline.

The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Game Art, a multi–disciplinary project–focused program, provides students with the skills and tools for successful careers in game design. The curriculum includes narrative and storytelling techniques, design principles, critical thinking, and art asset creation. The program also features a thesis project and public exhibition.

The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Interaction Design explores the use of images, graphics, and objects in time–based media. The 125–credit–hour curriculum includes prototyping, conceptual models, information visualization concepts, and animated information graphics.

The BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Software Development provides students with a solid foundation in computer science with a combination of state–of–the–art labs and industry–relevant courses. The Game Software Development concentration allows students to explore interactive computer graphics, animation, 2D and 3D representation and transformation, graphics programming, and game genres. Students also create their own computer games.

Students can join Infinite Machine, the university’s extracurricular game development team.

Accreditation

Lawrence Technological University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

50. Abilene Christian University

Abilene, Texas

Abilene Christian University (ACU), founded in 1906, enrolls about 4,500 students from around the world. Its faculty of Christian professionals and scholars teach courses in 135 areas of study leading to undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. ACU’s School of Information Technology and Computing delivers a high–quality education in a small–school Christian environment. The school features an innovative curriculum, designed to prepare graduates for careers as game designers, software engineers, computer scientists, and more.

ACU’s students complete 40,000 hours of service annually, as well as study–abroad opportunities in nearly a dozen countries.

The BS in Digital Entertainment Technology, a portfolio–driven program, provides students with the skills for careers or graduate studies in game development, level design, or film production.

Students explore theories in design, art, and storytelling, and learn about the entire creative process from concept to production.

The 128–credit–hour Bachelor in Digital Entertainment Technology degree features courses in Game Development, 3D Animation, Advanced Video Production, and Mobile Computing. Students also choose from concentrations in Digital Design, Game Development, and Film & Media Production.

Courses include:

  • Applied Programming with Scripting
  • Game Development
  • Mobile Computing
  • Introduction to Databases and DBMS
  • Web Technologies
  • Two–Dimensional Design
  • Human Computer Interaction

ACU houses the Women in Technology club, the Digital Entertainment Technology club, and the LA Film School—associated Abilene–Sweetwater Film Connection.

ACU also offers the Interactive Design Workshop, a two–day boot camp focused on cutting–edge processes and practices used in developing interactive media.

Accreditation

Abilene Christian University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

What Do Video Game Designers Do?

In short, video game designers make ideas come to life. They work with other designers to flesh out the concept of a game, draft it, identify how it should play and what demographics it fits, and get their company to give the “go–ahead” on it. As an inherently interdisciplinary career, game designers must be creative, adaptable, and able to comfortably occupy several roles at once. The job includes:

  • Artistic development
  • Character development
  • Concept development
  • Control Interface Design
  • Drafting
  • Gameplay Mechanics
  • Graphic Design
  • Programming
  • Sketching
  • Storyline development
  • Writing

Working with a team composed of members with various specializations, video game designers develop a game from top to bottom, start to finish, program to package.

Video Game Designer Education Requirements

According to Sokanu.com, professional video game designers most commonly hold Bachelor degrees in Game Design. While a variety of degrees at different levels and with specific focuses can prepare students for careers as video game designers, students should make sure the program they select provides a well–rounded foundation that incorporates concepts and coursework from a variety of fields.

Types of Video Game Design Programs

With so many programs available, students have the flexibility of earning a wide variety of educational qualifications, with everything from undergraduate certificates, to full–blown Ph.D. programs, which meet different personal interests and needs.

Undergraduate Certificate in Game Design
Numerous schools offer some variation of this type of certificate program; these programs provide quick, entry–level qualification for potential game designers.
Associate of Arts in Game Development
A common, two–year game design program, an AA in game development prepares students in a short timespan to enter careers in game design, and later pursue Bachelor degrees.
Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
A common type of game design program, the program approaches game design from a basis in the humanities, merging art and storytelling with programming.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Arts
The program provides an aesthetic and artistic basis for game design, treating the field as an intersection of art, culture, and computer science. The program focuses on the cultivation of the creative process in students.
Bachelor of Science in Comparative Media Studies with a Games and Interactive Media Cluster
The program provides a critical approach to games in a new media context, examining the theory of games in a cultural context, beyond just their design.
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with emphasis in Game Design
A common bachelor degree for game design, the program provides a well–rounded approach to game design with a heavy foundation in computer science.
Master of Fine Arts in Game Design
This program takes the BFA one step further, allowing for an in–depth study of the creative and artistic processes present in game design.
Master of Science in Computer Science with emphasis in Game Design
Another common game design program, and the next logical step after a BS, this type of program maintains a computer science focus as the basis for game design, but with graduate–level depth and specificity.
Master of Science in Mobile Gaming
This program allows students to focus specifically on game design for mobile platforms and the casual gaming market.
Doctor of Philosophy in Media and Information Studies
The program allows students to take game design, theory, and criticism to the highest academic level, even opening the possibility for them to become professional academics of video game studies.

Subjects Video Game Design Programs Cover

Video game design requires an interdisciplinary approach. Video game design programs, at any level, cover a variety of subjects, including:

  • 2–D and 3–D Animation
  • Aesthetic Theory
  • Algebra
  • Algorithms
  • Art History and Appreciation
  • Calculus
  • Color theory
  • Computer and Gaming Hardware
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Programming Languages, including C++ and Java
  • Drawing
  • Gaming Culture, Attitudes, History
  • Game Mechanics
  • Geometry
  • Interactive Media
  • Modeling
  • Media Studies
  • Operating Systems
  • Physics
  • Storytelling
  • Trigonometry

Video Game Design Salary

According to Sokanu.com, as of 2015, the average yearly salary in the US for video game designers, out of 233,000 individuals, sits at $85,240, with an average hourly wage of $40.98. At the entry level, video game designers make an average yearly salary of $45,320 and average hourly wage of $21.79. At the top end, video game designers earn an average yearly salary of $129,700 and average hourly wage of $62.36.

Video Game Designer Careers

Video game design programs prepare students to pursue a variety of general or specialized video game design careers, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence Programmer
  • Audio Engineer
  • Character Designer
  • Creative Director
  • Environment Designer
  • Game Animator
  • Game Artist
  • Game Designer
  • Game Programmer
  • Game Tester
  • Producer
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Project Manager
  • User Interface Designer
  • Video Game System Designer
  • Writer

Video Game Designer Job Outlook

With a current estimated 233,000 video gamers in the United States, Sokanu.com anticipates the job market will grow by 3.3% between 2014 and 2024. Employment depends on location, with the most video game design jobs located in California, Illinois, and Maryland.

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