Before jumping on the game design bandwagon, it’s crucial to consider the place that you’ll be taking game design courses. There’s a vast majority of options available, including art schools, universities and online programs, though here we’re going to focus on the top five colleges that offer game design programs. Our top 5 game design colleges were picked based on comprehensive lists provided by the Princeton Review, Kotaku and Huffington Post. We’ve also included information found on AnimationCareerReview.com, which has a separate, extremely detailed list as well for their top 50 picks. Every one of these schools ranked in the top fifteen of all the lists, based on a number of factors such as:
- Admission Selectivity
- Geographic Location
The Top Colleges for Game Design
- 1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
The University of Southern California has been ranked the number one game design college three years in a row according to the Princeton Review, along with other news outlets such as the Huffington Post, NY Times, Kotaku, and Gamepro Magazine.
USC utilizes a relationship between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, so that anyone looking to get into design integration has multiple outlets open to them.
Their Available Game Design Degrees:
- B.A. in Interactive Entertainment (SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS)
- M.F.A. in Interactive Media (SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS)
- B.S. in Computer Science (Games) – (VITERBI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING DEGREES)
- M.S. in Computer Science with Specialization in Game Development – (VITERBI SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING DEGREES)
- 2. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
The Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS) is truly a unique academic program. U of U says “We’ve brought together the Department of Film and Media Arts, the School of Computing, and top industry professionals to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience in game production.
Students enrolled in the EAE program are typically interested in pursuing a career in interactive entertainment. The program is built around this goal and offers students a world-class education from the state’s leading research university, as well as an opportunity to develop a professional game portfolio, and a chance at an internship in the game industry. “
There are 3 tracks to choose from to get a Masers Degree: Game Art, Game Engineering, and Game Production, and for undergraduates they have:
- Bachelor of Science Degree
- Bachelor of Arts Degree
- 3. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, Washington)
The designers and creators of electronic and digital entertainment fill a unique role that combines art, technology, innovation, storytelling, history, psychology, and a variety of other disciplines. This multidisciplinary program leads to two degrees: the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design (CSGD) and the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design (BAGD). Students graduating with either degree are prepared to begin working in the computer software and video game industries.
All game design students (CSGD and BAGD) are also required to take a certain number of general education courses in order to complete the degree. For a complete list of required coursework, see CSGD Degree Requirements and BAGD Degree Requirements.
Available Degrees for Game Design at DigiPen:
- BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation
- BS in Computer Science and Game Design
- BS in Computer Engineering
- BS in Engineering and Sound Design
- BFA in Digital Art and Animation
- BA in Game Design
- BA in Music and Sound Design
- MS in Computer Science
- MFA in Digital Arts
DigiPen Institute of Technology is authorized by the Washington Student Achievement Council and meets the requirements and minimum educational standards established for degree-granting institutions under the Degree-Granting Institutions Act.
- 4. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York)
Here are some quick facts about RIT (cited from AnimationCareerReview):
- Top Ten Regional Universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report
- Graduate studies in Multimedia/Visual Communications ranks #12 in the US
- RIT’s School of Design was ranked 11th among “The World’s 25 Best Design Schools” in 2012
The school’s “game design and development programs rank fourth at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.” (Based on the Princeton Review, the de facto standard of game design school rankings)
RIT’s game design falls under their School of Interactive Games and Media, though it is also integrated with the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences and in affiliation with the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC).
The School of Interactive Games & Media offers three degrees spanning two academic programs:
- Bachelors of Science in Game Design & Development
- Masters of Science in Game Design & Development
- Bachelors of Science in New Media Interactive Development
- Minor in Game Design and Minor in Game Design & Development
- 5. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
Savannah College of Art and Design offers 40 majors and more than 60 minors. Game design students have several game design and related programs to choose from including a BA, BFA, MA, MFA, and a Minor in Interactive Design & Game Development, an Interactive Design Certificate, a Minor and MFA in Themed Entertainment Design, and a BFA, MA, MFA, and Minor in Motion Media Design. Related programs include a BFA, MA, MFA, and a Minor in Animation, and a BFA, MA, MFA, and a Minor in Visual Effects.
This school also ranked in the top ten of the Princeton Review for both Graduate (9th) and Undergraduate (8th) video game design schools.
Interactive Design and Game Development Degrees Available:
- Bachelor of Arts
- Bachelor of Fine Arts
- Master of Arts
- Master of Fine Arts
- Minor and Certificate are Also Available
If you’re interested in seeing the entire list of top undergraduate schools, visit Princeton’s undergraduate review. They also have a list of graduate courses as well for people that already have their bachelor’s degree. Inversely, if you’re looking for online courses, be sure to take a look at TheBestColleges.org top ten list of online game design schools.
Are you ready for a career in Game Design? Get information on programs in your area and online using our game design school finder at the top of this page. ↑
If you would like to know more about Animation programs at various universities, check out the links below.