2024 Top Game Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S

By Susan Guillory · March 08, 2024 · 8 minute read

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2024 Top Game Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S

Turn your passion for playing video games into a career by attending one of the top game design colleges in the country.

Game design is an in-demand industry, with new video games for gaming systems, tablets, and phones continually being developed and released. Here, we’re exploring 20 of the best gaming development programs you might want to consider.

What to Look for in a Game Design School

If you’re looking into colleges for video game design, you’ll quickly realize that not all programs are created equally. Some schools only offer a class or two in game design, while others go deep into the field, offering internships and hands-on experiences.

If you’re interested in attending a game design school, it’s important to research schools and programs prior to making your decision. Make sure to look into the specific type of degree you want (undergraduate degree or certificate, for example), the length and commitment of the program, what current and former students have to say about the program, the helpfulness of the faculty and staff, and more.

Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and have narrowed down the top colleges offering game design programs.

The Top 20 Best Colleges for Game Design

There are several video game design colleges and programs in the United States. Here, we’ve created a list starting with the most affordable game design colleges all the way up to those with higher tuition expenses.

1. Shawnee State University

Shawnee’s Game Design School has made it on The Princeton Review’s Top Undergraduate Schools for Game Design list for 13 consecutive years, and with such low tuition, it might be a great bargain. Located in Portsmouth, OH, you can elect to study Game Programming or Game & Simulation Arts.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state $9,621.52; Out-of-state $16,156

2. University of Silicon Valley

USV is available on-campus in the heart of Silicon Valley or 100% online. The university offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Game Design and Game Art, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Game Engineering. After graduating, students are qualified for roles including animator, modeler, game writer, computer programmer, and more.

•   1 year of tuition: $27,850 for both in-state and out-of-state students

3. Arizona State University

ASU’s Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies offers a concentration in Computer Gaming with three tracks to choose from: Programming, Art, or Education. Located in stunning Tempe, AZ, courses in the program include Introduction to Graphics and Game Development, Fundamentals of Game Art, Game Engine Architecture, and 3D Modeling and Texturing.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state $12,051; Out-of-state $32,193

4. University of Utah

The Utah Division of Games, located in Salt Lake City, is a college for game designing that combines art, humanities, social science, and computational research and practice to prepare students for careers in the field. Students can choose from multiple gaming bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and even a minor in gaming. The Bachelor of Science in Games includes courses like Survey of Games, Ethics in Games, and Alternative Game Development.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state $9400; Out-of-state $31,104

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5. University of Southern California

USC’s Interactive Media & Games program offers three undergraduate options: a BFA in Themed Entertainment, a BFA in Game Development and Interaction, and a BFA in Game Art. Located in sunny Los Angeles, the program also offers four graduate degrees and nine minors.

•   1 year of tuition: $33,320 for both in-state and out-of-state students

6. Laguna College of Art and Design

Laguna College of Art and Design Game Art program, located in Laguna Beach, CA, prepares students for employment in any studio or software environment. Students learn the fundamentals of storytelling at every phase of the creation process, how to use a workflow methodology, and how to solve problems in concept challenges.

•   1 year of tuition: $37,500 for both in-state and out-of-state students

7. Full Sail University

Full Sail’s Interactive Technology Bachelor of Science Completion Program in Winter Park, FL offers a Game Design concentration that includes high-level game design and production courses that prepare students to work in game studios after graduation. Recognized as a Top Game Designs Schools by The Princeton Review, the program offers multiple start dates throughout the year and has an accelerated schedule for students looking to finish early.

•   1 year of tuition: $38,750 for both in-state and out-of-state students

8. Drexel University

Drexel University in Philadelphia offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Design & Production, and is recognized as one of the country’s top undergraduate game design programs. Students learn skills like scripting and storytelling, computer programming, computer graphics, animation, motion capture, and more.

•   1 year of tuition: $38,862 for both in-state and out-of-state students

9. Bradley University

Bradley University in Peoria, IL offers both a BA and a BS in Game Design. During your studies, you’ll have the opportunity to intern for a design company, participate in competitions, and show your work at an annual exhibit.

•   1 year of tuition: $39,248 for both in-state and out-of-state students

10. Savannah College of Art and Design

SCAD’s Interactive Design and Game Development degrees offer locations in Atlanta and Savannah, GA with the option to study abroad in Lacoste, France. Students can study at any of the three locations each semester, with the option to switch locations during their time in the program. Courses in the program include Digital Communication, Visual Culture in Context: Pre-Modern Global Perspectives, Aesthetics, and Core Principles: Game Art.

•   1 year of tuition: $41,130 for both in-state and out-of-state students

11. Michigan State University

MSU offers a Game Design and Development Program, a Top 10 Ranked program by The Princeton Review, that was founded in 2005. Students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts in Games and Interactive Media, a Minor in Game Design and Development, or a Serious Games Graduate Certificate. All students get the opportunity to design prototypes and conduct research on the effects of gaming.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state $16,051; Out-of-state $43,435

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12. University of California – Irvine

The Bachelor of Science degree in Game Design & Interactive Media at UC Irvine includes coursework in game programming, game design and development, visual design, interactive storytelling, data science, and game studies. Students graduate the program well-prepared for a career as a designer, developer, and industry leader. Students also get access to well-respected industry mentors.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state $17.205.74; Out-of-state $32,574

13. Champlain College

Champlain’s Bachelor of Science in Game Programming provides hands-on experience, with students collaborating to create and complete game projects. Located in gorgeous Burlington, VT, Champlain was named a “Most Innovative School” by U.S. News & World Report in 2022. Upon graduation, students are well-prepared to work in gaming studios.

•   1 year of tuition: $47,400

14. Quinnipiac University

Level up your creativity with Quinnipiac University’s Game Design & Development Program. Ranked as one of The Princeton Review’s Top Game Design Programs, students can choose a concentration to focus on, including programming, technology, design process, art, game studies, and more. Located in Hamden, CT, the program also gives students the chance to collaborate with partners both within and outside the community.

•   1 year of tuition: $50,400

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15. Rochester Institute of Technology

The Game Design, Development, and Arts program at RIT has been rated one of the best programs in this field of study by many organizations, including U.S. News & World Report. Degree options include 3D Digital Design, Film & Animation, Illustration, New Media Interactive Development, and more.

•   1 year of tuition: $56,136

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16. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

The Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD) program at WPI dives into different aspects of gaming design, including digital painting, 3D modeling, writing for games, game audio, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. Located in Worcester, MA, the program is recognized as one of the oldest gaming programs in the country.

•   1 year of tuition: $57,960

17. New York University

New York University’s BFA in Game Design has three primary areas of study: Game Studies, Game Design, and Game Development. You can also choose from one the following Production Areas: Programming, Video Design, Audio Design, and Game Business. Though tuition here is a bit higher than at some of the other schools, you can pay for it with a federal or private student loan.

•   1 year of tuition: $60,438

18. Carnegie Mellon

The Game Design undergraduate program at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA will give you a solid foundation in game systems and mechanics design, interactive narrative and character development, visual and audio asset creation, game programming, interface design and user testing, and collaboration and the iterative design process.

•   1 year of tuition: $62,260

19. University of California – Santa Cruz

In USC Santa Cruz’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, you’ll learn about the construction and design of interactive computer games. In your final year of study, you’ll be immersed in an intensive year-long game project sequence.

•   1 year of tuition: In-state: $30,567; Out-of-state: $65,148

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20. Cornell University

Cornell, another of the best game design colleges located in Ithaca, NY, offers a minor in Game Design that includes classes like Intro to Computer Game Architecture, Advanced Computer Game Architecture, Analytics-Driven Game Design, Graphics and Art, the Psychology of Gaming, and Human-Computer Interaction.

•   1 year of tuition: $65,204

The Takeaway

With so many game design colleges available, it might be hard to make a decision. Factors to keep in mind include the type of program, the location, the faculty and staff, and the cost.

However, don’t let cost deter you from going to the school of your choice. To pay for school, you can look into federal student loans, scholarships, and grants.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

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What’s the most affordable game design program?

Shawnee State University offers a nationally acclaimed game design program with low tuition. Tuition for in-state residents is $16,156 per year.

What’s the most expensive game design program?

Cornell University has one of the most expensive game design programs in the U.S. at over $65,000 per year.

How much does game design school cost?

Game design schools can range from $16,000 per year all the way up to more than $65,000 per year.

Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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