Game Design Programs

Choosing a college can be one of the most difficult decisions we make, and while rankings offer some insight, we believe the best way for you to know for sure is to spend some time on campus, or to interact with a current student/alumna. GMG’s fellows have attended some of the best schools and we’re happy to make introductions if you’d like to chat with them! :)

This list is a great start and is by no means exhaustive. For more colleges and the original source, please visit https://successfulstudent.org/best-video-game-colleges/

//University of Southern California

USC offers two Bachelor’s and two Master’s level programs dedicated to Interactive Media and Game Design. Students focusing on design and production can pursue the Interactive Media and Games degrees through the School of Cinematic Arts, while those more concerned with the technical aspects of game development should choose the Computer Science (Games) degrees through the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Website: https://www.usc.edu/

//University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

The University of Utah’s Video Game Design degree combines art orientated students and more technically minded students in the programs offered through the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS). Princeton Review has ranked this studio as number one in the world for its comprehensive undergraduate game design track and number three for the graduate program.

Undergraduates may enroll in the:

  • BS in Computer Science with an EAE emphasis

  • BS in Game Design

  • BA in Film and Media Arts with an EAE emphasis

      Website: https://www.utah.edu/

//University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)

The Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida is part of the school’s Center for Emerging Media. Entry into the Academy is more competitive in comparison to other creative media programs. Students are expected to have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum score of 300 on the GRE, a 3.0 GPA, and a portfolio that showcases their game development talent. Once selected for entry into the Academy, there are three major academic tracks from which to select: Art, Production, Programming.

Website: https://www.ucf.edu/

Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carnegie Mellon University has long been known as one of America’s leading science schools. It has in recent years developed the Entertainment Technology Center. This program provides a two-year Master’s degree in Entertainment Technology offered jointly with the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science, (both of which are top 10 programs in their own respective areas).

Students here have the opportunity to study under industry leaders such as Jess Schell, the first individual to receive the “Game Changer Award”.

Website: https://www.cmu.edu/

DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)

With substantial support from Nintendo, DigiPen began accepting students in 1994. It is a for-profit degree granting school that exclusively specializes in preparing students to enter the industry as skilled software developers, artists, designers, and computer engineers.

DigiPen offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Students can specialize in subsets of the field such as:

    • Real-time interactive simulation

    • Engineering and sound design

    • Digital art and animation

    • Music and sound design

Website: https://www.digipen.edu/

//Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)

Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the nation’s most well established technical schools and resides in one of America’s premier college towns. It was here that the nation’s first laboratory for social computing was established in 2005. In addition to its various other departments, Rochester runs its Interactive Games and Multimedia (IGM) department, which is one of the largest of its kind. The Princeton Review has ranked Rochester’s IGM as a top 10 video game design program for four straight years.

Website: https://www.rit.edu/

//Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)

The Savannah College of Art and Design has numbers reminiscent of a research university, with over 11,000 students, 23% of which are international, and multiple campuses, (one of which is in Hong Kong). Yet, nearly all of its academic programs are built for budding artists. There are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Master’s degrees within a variety of artistic fields.

Website: https://www.scad.edu/

//Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)

Full Sail University’s online Bachelor of Science in Game Design can be taken as an online degree, and focuses on four major topics:

  • production methodologies

  • project management

  • team leadership

  • game capstone project

Production methodologies teaches students concepts from computer code to color theory. Project management covers areas of software production, including asset management and quality assurance.

Website: https://www.fullsail.edu/

//Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

Drexel University was the first university to require students to have micro-computers (1983), the first major university to have a fully wireless campus (2000), provided the first mobile web portal for students (2002), and developed the first university portal app across all five major platforms (2011).This love of cutting edge technology translates well into a competitive Video Game Design program that works in tandem with its Computer Science and its Digital Media departments.

Website: https://drexel.edu/

//Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)

At Hampshire College, the Bachelor’s degree in Game Design and Development takes an average of four years to complete. Course work is project-based in an effort to expand student portfolios. To assist with research, students have access to a game laboratory with both modern and historic consoles as well as an ever-increasing game library with hundreds of digital and analog games available to rent.


Website: https://www.hampshire.edu/

Game Art & Animation

//California Institute of the Arts

The Character Animation program gives you an understanding of the art of character performance in story-driven digital designs. Individuals receive top-level artistic and technical training in both computer-generated environments as well as traditional animator methods.

Website: https://calarts.edu/

//Ringling College of Art and Design

This computer animation program will teach you how to create characters for the purpose of storytelling. This includes designing, modeling, texturing, painting, animating, lighting, and editing your own animation films. Many of today’s top digital design companies have Ringling College alumni.

Website: https://www.ringling.edu/

//Savannah College of Art and Design

This animation school offers a robust selection of animation degrees at various levels. Each one focuses on the various types of animation, including 2D, 3D, and even stop-motion, while providing training in digital modeling, rigging, lighting, and more. The provided tools and software are used by the top professional animators in America.

Website: https://www.scad.edu/

//Rhode Island School of Design

RISD’s program will give you an understanding of the art of moving image while you master the tools needed to create your own film, animation, and/or interactive projects. A combination of aesthetic, technical, and conceptual questions are used by professors to help graduates create their own voice.

Website: https://www.risd.edu/

//School of Visual Arts, New York

This college degree program has some of the best animators in New York City helping you create your own voice and art with the latest software and hardware. 36 different animation courses are offered, and graduates get to show their thesis films at the Dusty Film & Animation Festival.

Website: www.sva.edu/

//University of Southern California

The Animation & Digital Arts program offers you training in character design, visual effects, 3D computer graphics and modeling, interactive animator classes, science visualization, and experimental animation.

A Game Animation minor focuses more on the combination of programming and design skills required to make game art

Website: https://www.usc.edu/

University of California, Los Angeles

This program works to provides you with a strong balance of technology and creativity while also touching on other areas in filmmaking. This includes scriptwriting, editing, and other skills needs to become an effective storyteller. Individuals also get to participate in a number of student film productions to build their portfolio and gain experience.

Website: www.ucla.edu/

//Carnegie Mellon University

One of the greatest strengths of Carnegie Mellon’s academic programs is the connection with other interdisciplinary fields.

This means that most 4-year university degree students can also choose a concentration of Animation and Special Effects, as well as one in Media Design, Sound Design, Game Design, and more.

Website: https://www.cmu.edu/

//Rochester Institute of Technology

The B.F.A. program is designed to give you a curriculum that develops your skills in film, animation, video, and other creative medias. The M.F.A. degree allows you to then continue your studies by creating your own productions in 2D, 3D, stop motion, or even live-action. Screenwriting courses are also involved.

Website: https://www.rit.edu/

//Full Sail University

Full Sail offers a host of college courses valuable to future animators. The best choice is a B.S. in Computer Animation that prepares you for the role of animator in any field. The other strong choice is the Game Art degree that focuses on creating characters, environments, and other objects for games. Both degrees are available online and on-campus.

Website: https://www.fullsail.edu/

Scholarships, Grants & more

  1. Change the Game Challenge (win $15K for college, deadline June 7)

  2. GMG Summer Fellowship Program (deadline May 31)

  3. ESA Foundation Scholarship Program (deadline April 26)

  4. IGDA Scholars Program (deadline November 30th)

  5. IGDA Women in Games Ambassadors Program (join anytime)

  6. Society of Women Engineers Scholarships (deadline March 24)

  7. Women Techmakers Scholars Program (join anytime)

  8. Microsoft Scholarship Program (join anytime)

  9. Google Scholarships (rolling basis)

  10. WWDC Scholarships (deadline March 24)

  11. Dotcom-Monitor Women in Computing Scholarship (deadline April 1)

  12. Grace Hopper Conference Scholarship (deadline March)