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The Nation's Best Game Design Schools 2017

Today’s video games have come a long way since the early days of Space Invaders and Pong. Advancements in design technology over the past few decades has facilitated exponential growth within the industry and brought an experience to the consumer that could hardly be imagined in the days of one-dimensional gaming. Competitive gamers and novices alike seem to have an insatiable thirst for gaming features and content that push the limits of the creative mind. The introduction of mobile devices and consoles, along with improvements in the quality of visual display, have also fueled explosive growth and consumption across the world.

Because of competition and growth within the video game industry, consumers expect innovation from the games they play. Not surprisingly, the video games produced today are more dynamic and feature more robust design than ever before. As a result, rising video game designers must not only harness their creative ability but also master the increasingly demanding technical requirements of game design. On this page, we provide a list of the nation's best video game design schools, who are consistently recognized for their high-quality curriculum and rate of graduate success.

  • School Name

    27 schools ranked

  • USC Games is one of the world’s most respected educational gaming programs. They successfully combine design, engineering, art and production; often in collaboration with other schools within the university.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 43,401
  • Focusing on teaching students how to create a life in the arts, the Art Department values the development of critical thinking skills, exploration, innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 31,592
  • DigiPen is a committed leader in education & research in the field of computer interactive technologies. They offer undergraduate and graduate degrees; as well as high school programs, continuing education & international opportunities.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 1,076
  • RIT is a private college whose fine arts programs are consistently ranked in the “Top 10” by US News. Conferring associates, undergraduate and graduate degrees, it has 4 galleries and a Center for Design.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 16,639
  • Embracing a forward-looking approach to artistic academia, SCAD is a student-centered institution determined to provide educational excellence within the context of a positive learning environment. Students learn to create art, as well as live creatively artistic lives.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 11,861
  • Drexal’s Westphal College offers an impressive range of degree options; 19 in the undergraduate program alone. Building on a solid foundation of visual studies, Westphal inspires a sense of experimentation and expansion of visual horizons.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 25,595
  • UCF’s SVAD offers 13 bachelor level degrees and 2 masters level programs. Their amazing gallery presents works in the areas of Film, Photography, Sculpture, Painting, Digital Media and Illustration.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 62,953
  • Eight academic majors lead to IDeATe. Successfully integrating technological knowledge with the arts; the college offers 30 different courses which are tech-art; courses which incorporate 15 of the school’s academic departments.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 12,963
  • The Department of Art & Art History at Michigan State University has been recognized by US New & World Report as being one of the finest in the nation.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 50,538
  • The undergraduate Design Program at Becker College has been recognized by The Princeton Review as being #5 in the list of 25 best colleges in which to study game design.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 2,153
  • Since 2002, graduates from the Vancouver Institute have been co-creators on 66 films nominated for an Oscar; eight of these were in the top-ten grossing movies of all time.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 1,530
  • Founded in 1824, RPI is the nation’s oldest university for research technology. It offers 145 programs at 3 degree levels: BA/MA/PhD. Their motto? “Why Not Change the World?”

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 6,982
  • Tisch School of the Arts at NYU is famous not only for its ability to develop scholars, artists and entrepreneurs, but also for the well-known success of its graduates. The accomplishments of alumni are annually recognized by world-renowned achievement at festivals, awards and via fellowships.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 50,027
  • The Studio/Video Arts program at Hampshire prepares students for success with its combination of critical theory, studio courses and art history. Graduates are honored in galleries and museums worldwide.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 1,410
  • Unique to SSU’s Department of Fine, Digital and Performing Arts, is the emphasis faculty place on balanced growth in aspects of media, traditional and digital. Successful development of artistic identity is a core value.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 3,881
  • UT at Dallas gives students nonpareil opportunities to immerse themselves in innovative Art & Performance programs providing a unique interdisciplinary context for the study of the visual arts.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 24,554
  • The WPI Plan is unlike any other in the nation. It has 7-week terms and is focused upon students: pursuing their passion; project-based learning and global immersion, to name a few.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 6,573
  • Terms like: mindful reflection, refreshing ideas, revitalizing lives, culture-sensitive and society-based; all characterize the College of Arts, Media and Design. Students learn how to take their place in the global marketplace of ideas.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 19,940
  • Champlain's degree in Game Art & Animation was established 11 years ago, and was one of the first in the nation. It remains a preeminent college in the field.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 4,006
  • Because the Art, Culture & Technology Program at MIT is part of the School of Architecture & Planning; students are exposed to a vibrant ecosystem of disciplines and the interplay of art and science.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 11,331
  • Unique in its educational approach, Parsons prioritizes humanity and culture; ever-seeking a connection to global urban centers with project-based learning. Founded in 1896, Parsons confers both undergraduate and graduate degrees at 5

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 10,344
  • The Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts provides a fully-comprehensive, global education in the areas of interactive media, music education and theatre arts. Core program values include imagination and communication.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 5,338
  • The Digital Animation Game Design Program (DAGD) is every future game designer’s dream. Rated 16th in the nation by The Princeton Review; if offers leading-edge technology and an exemplary faculty.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Public
    • imgEnrollment : 14,715
  • Offering a diverse range of studies, LTU believes creative development is key to advancement in an art career. A cross-disciplinary environment and dedicated educators ensure students acquire the skills needed for success.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 3,516
  • Its emphasis on entrepreneurial development, educated leadership, new technologies and evolving business models, has made Cogswell College one of the most globally prestigious and respected educational institutions.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 633
  • Offering online and on-campus undergraduate and graduate degrees, Full Sail’s game design program was named a "Top Graduate & Undergraduate School to Study Game Design" in 2016 by The Princeton Review and Electronic Gaming Monthly.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private, For Profit
    • imgEnrollment : 20,025
  • The School of Fine and Performing Arts upholds that living a creative life is a calling to be answered with driving force. To that end they offer over 50 programs upon which to build success.

    • imgAccredited
    • imgSchool Type : Private
    • imgEnrollment : 8,961

How to Choose a Game Design School

The vast field of game design intersects with the disciplines of computer science, computer programming, graphic design, and even creative writing. Game designers bring those worlds together to create video games using their imagination, creativity, and technical talents. But, not everyone who enjoys playing video games will enjoy a career in game design. After all, it is a long and often arduous process that entails contributing to the programming, image rendering, digital editing, level design, and other aspects of game construction.

If you’ve decided that creating video games is in line with your career goals, then choosing a school – college, university, of private art institute – to match your goals is important. But, it’s also important to set some personal priorities to make the choice easier.

TUITION & COSTS OF ATTENDANCE

For most students enrolling in a college or university, things like tuition, housing, food, transportation, books, and other costs can really add up. Unfortunately, it costs money to attend college... sometimes a lot of money. If the overall cost of attending college is at the top of your list of factors for selecting a school, then researching scholarships, in-state programs, and technical or online programs may be the best place to start. Finding a game design degree program that’s inexpensive, but accredited, can be difficult, but not impossible.

One of the biggest advantages of earning a game design degree online is that the costs of attending an online program can be substantially lower than a traditional school when you consider the overall costs of attendance, which include commuting costs, housing, food, and some class materials. Online programs also offer a student the flexibility to balance their coursework with a part-time work schedule if they need a source of income while earning their degree. There are several high quality, accredited online programs that allow students to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in game design without attending classes on-campus. Online classes offer students the chance to study when they can, whether it’s early morning or late at night. Course materials are also always available online, so students have more flexibility to work around other commitments.

What to Expect from a Game Design Program