18 June 2022

Top Game Design Programs for Undergraduates

Posted in Your College List

Great Game Design Programs for UndergraduatesTurn your gaming passions into a career! As the billion-dollar gaming industry rapidly expands into the world of modern entertainment and technology, more universities are beginning to offer game design programs.

Games are not only popular sources of entertainment and leisure, but also serious tools for rehabilitation and education. Now, due to a fusion of advancing technology, burgeoning esports scene, and more, demand for games is exceptionally high. Contrary to longstanding opinions, games are not merely “brain-damaging” activities, but valid academic pathways with high career potential. So go for it!

With help from sources Animation Career ReviewGameDesigning and Princeton Review, we’ve curated a list of great game design programs for undergraduates in the United States. The list includes relevant information about the academic profile, resources offered, and degree programs offered from each institution.

Click on Continue Reading to see our list of top undergraduate game design programs.


Top Game Design Programs for Undergraduates

The following factors are included to help you gain better insight into each program:

  • Academic Profiles inform you about the general academic standing of the school, which includes the admit rate and standardized test score statistics for the mid-50th percentile.
  • Degrees Offered: Academic institutions offer a variety of degree types, including majors, minors, specializations, concentration, tracks, and emphases. The listed institutions all offer at least one games-related major, but may also offer other types of degrees as well. When considering each degree program, it would be helpful to understand whether the curriculum would have a greater focus on the artistic or technical side of games. In some cases, the major’s direction is clear, like Game Arts or Game Programming. However, for degrees with ambiguous titles, we recommend taking a look at the college each major is offered in. For example, a degree offered in an engineering school would have greater emphasis on the developmental aspect of games while a degree from an arts and design school would highlight the arts more.
  • Resources Offered: Top programs also offer a multitude of resources for undergraduate students to flourish.
    • Industry opportunities: Industry opportunities are important for advancement, as it prepares students for their future careers and extends the experience that employers look for. Examples include co-op programs, professional collaborations and partnerships, studio tours, and more.
    • Showcase events: Showcase events are excellent milestones for students in creative, project-based pathways like game education. These events are great ways for students to receive helpful feedback, learn more about games, and gain exposure to industry professionals.
    • Incubators: Some schools also offer incubators, which provide financial resources and mentorship for students to kickstart their games.
    • Research Centers and Opportunities: For students who love research, many schools also house research centers and labs for games. These programs and centers use games to create a strong impact in fields even beyond entertainment, from medicine to psychology.
    • Facilities and Tools: Games also frequently depend on advanced instruments for development and play. Top institutions offer state-of-the-art facilities and tools for game education majors to use. This criteria is primarily assessed on whether there are facilities and resources constructed specifically for games.
  • Notes are included for extra information and additional resources that distinguish the institution.


Great Game Design Programs for Undergraduates

College Kickstart LLC

Institution/Major(s)StateAdmit Rate (%)Mid 50 SAT/ACTResourcesNotes
Academy of Art University
  • Game Development
  • Game Programming
CA 100           School of Game Development has a strong insider network that bring unique opportunities for students to pursue game development internships, mentorship opportunities, and lectures from professionals. Partnerships include Blizzard Entertainment and Riot Games.
Bradley University
  • Computer Information Systems - Game Technology
  • Computer Science - Game Technology
  • Game Art
  • Game Design
IL 76 1070-1270
        A notable component of the curriculum at Bradley is that as students progress, the size of the project development teams increase as well.
Champlain College
  • Game Design
  • Game Art
  • Game Business & Publishing
  • Game Production Management
  • Game Programming
  • Game Sound Design
VT 85 1140-1290
        Collaborative learning experience where students across all majors work together on projects (""Six Majors. One Experience"")
Cleveland Institute of Art
  • Game Design
OH 66 1040-1270
        Focus on working on real-world projects with external partners or clients, or in the public sphere prior to graduation.
Columbia College Chicago
  • Game Design
  • Game Art
IL 90 960-1200
       Many external events for game students in the area, including Game Developers Conference, Chicago Toy and Game Fair (requirement for some students), Industry Night and Manifest
Depaul University
  • Game Design
  • Game Programming
IL 69 1080-1290
        Opportunities to learn about Japanese entertainment and animation in Japan.
DigiPen Institute of Technology
  • Game Design
  • CS/Game Design
  • CS in Real-Time Interactive Simulation
  • CS/Digital Audio
  • Digital Art & Animation
WA 46 1180-1390
        Institution focuses exclusively on interactive media and video game development.
Drexel University
  • Game Design & Production (BS)
  • eSport Business (BSBA)
PA 83 1210-1400
            Focus on experiential learning. Students not only frequently work in team-based projects, but also complete a six-month co-op program.
Full Sail University
  • Game Art
  • Game Business and eSports
  • Game Design
  • Game Development
  • Simulation and Visualization
FL 100        Incorporates real-world experience into the learning journey, through relationships with entertainment and media industry. Degrees offered at an accelerated pace, allowing students with the option to graduate earlier.
High Point University
  • Game Design
NC 75 1090-1260
       Student projects presented at external conferences; opportunities to visit game studios as a communication fellow
Indiana University
  • Game Design (BS)
IN 85 1170-1370
     Offers opportunities for students to dive into different focal areas, from art to sound to programming. At IU Bloomington's Media School, students will undergo a three-semester workshop to publish an original game. Offers internship programs abroad
Kennesaw State University
  • Computer Game Design and Development
GA 82 1060-1240
        1. Strong gaming community, with many conference opportunities, game-related resources and other events. Students are required to select an upper-level concentrations in: media-production, distributed-mobile, education-serious, planning-management, and simulation-informatics
Laguna College of Art & Design
  • Game Art
CA 83        Partners with USCGames, Breda University of Applied Sciences and Norco Collegence; students have opportunities to feature in the Independent Game Festival
Marist College
  • Games and Emerging Media
NY 55 1160-1330
          Games and Emerging Media majors have the opportunity to focus on a Technical Development and Programming Track or a Design, Writing, and Culture Track. Students are also directly involved in Marist College's Cloud Computing initiatives and partnership with IBM.
Maryland Institute of College of Art
  • Game Design
MA 86        Students can work with programming students in the Hybrid Games Studio, a collaborative studio between the MICA Game Lab and Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's Computer Scince department. Students work in a team-based, open lab model.
Miami University - Oxford
  • Games + Simulation
OH 89 1180-1350
          Interdisciplinary collaboration between the Emerging Technology in Business + Design program and the Art and Computer Science departments. Opportunity to participate in Game Developers Conference and study abroad in London
Michigan State University
  • Games and Interactive Media
MI 83 1110-1310
          Along with its rich curriculum, MSU also offers the West Coast Field Experience Trip, giving students opportunities to gain exposure to professional environments and network.
New York University
  • Game Design
NY 13 1390-1510
            NYU has a strong gaming community and encourages participation in lecture series, showcases, and Playtest Thursdays, where students can meet with a diverse group of gaming enthusiasts and experts to share prototypes.
Northeastern University
  • Computer Science/Game Development (BS)
  • Game Art and Animation (BFA) (Concentration)
  • Game Design (BFA)
MA 7 1440-1530
        Focus on portfolio development, with emphasis on co-op opporutnities and multidisciplinary learning, research and collaboration
Quinnipiac University
  • Game Design and Development
CT 82 1080-1250
            Ability to concentrate in Programming, Technology, Design Process, Art, Game Studies, Business, Writing, and Audio
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (BS)
  • Electronic Media
  • Arts
  • and communication (BS)
NY 57 1310-1460
          RPI is a designated NYSTAR Center of Excellence in Digital Game Development
Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Game Design and Development
NY 71 1270-1450
            RIT accepts co-op credit and also offers an accelerated dual-degree program (BS/MS course sequence)
Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Interactive Design and Game Development (BA) or (BFA)
GA 78 1050-1240
     SCAD GamingFest is an enriching event for students to interact with industry insiders, network with professionals, and learn from speaker panels and workshops. Most student showcase opportunities occur in external events.
Shawnee State University
  • Game & Simulation Arts
  • Game Programming
OH 100           11 specialized lab facilities for game development.
University of California - Irvine
  • Game Design and Interactive Media (BS)
CA 29 1240-1410
          Major emphasizes design and development; students can start building games from the start instead of waiting until junior year
University of California - Santa Cruz
  • Art and Design: Games and Playable Media (B.A.)
  • Computer Science: Computer Game Design (B.S.)
CA 59 1160-1350
        Prioritizes research in the games field, as the institution hosts many opportunities and resources for undergraduate research
University of Denver
  • Game Development (BA) or (BS)
  • Emergent Digital Practices (BFA)
CO 64 1220-1370
   BA in game development requires a double major, with the other major being either digital media studies, electronic media art design, or studio art. BS in game development requires a mior in mathematics and a second art-related minor
University of Southern California
  • Interactive Entertainment (BA)
  • Computer Science (Games) (BS)
  • Game Art (BFA)
CA 12 1330-1520
            USC has its own publishing label for games.
University of Utah
  • Games
UT 84 1190-1380
        Utah's Entertainment Arts and Engineering program uniquely offers ample research opportunities as a leading research university and teaches its students to apply games to interactive entertainment and beyond.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Interactive Media & Game Development (BS) or (BA)
MA 60 1320-1450
          One of the earliest gaming programs in the nation; those pursuing a BA degree can also concentrate in animation, 3-D sculpting, technical artistry, design and writing.
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