The Best Training for
Game Design in 2021

Creative and passionate students tend to flourish in game design schools. Game designers work to create fluid gameplay and bring virtual characters to life. The gaming industry is huge and growing. If you want to become a video game designer or developer, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design should be on your to-do list.

There are many ways to get into game design. This article will cover the best game design schools and programs in 2021. We’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the top 10 game design programs in the United States. This guide will help you to hunt down the perfect school and program for you.

Rundown: The Top 10 Game Design Programs in 2021

To get an idea of what’s available, we’ve listed the best game design colleges, their relevant programs, and associated tuition costs in the table below. Some schools also offer additional certifications, which might be worth considering.

The list is arranged in alphabetical order. The cost of each program was sourced from its host school’s website and refers to the estimated annual rate.

School State Programs and Cost Certifications
Carnegie Mellon University PI BS in Game Development
Tuition: $57,560
None, but Carnegie Mellon offers micro
skills-based courses (IDeATe Courses)
DigiPen Institute
of Technology
WA BA in Game Design
Tuition: $34,700
None
Drexel University PA BS in Game Design
and Production
Tuition: $54,766
None
Massachusetts Institute
of Technology
MA BS in Computer Science
Tuition: $55,510
None, but MIT offers dozens of
certificates through the edX platform
Michigan State University MI BA in Game and Interactive Design
In-state tuition and fees: $14,524
Out-of-state tuition
and fees: $39,830
Graduate certificates in Serious Game
Design and Digital Media available
New York University NY BFA in Game Design
Tuition: $57,604
None
Rochester Institute
of Technology
NY BS in Game Design
and Development
Tuition: $52,030
XSeries Program in Video Game
Design Certification
Savannah College
of Art and Design
GA BA in Interactive Design and
Game Development
Tuition: $37,575
BFA in Interactive Design and
Game Development
Tuition: $37,575
None
University of
Southern California
CA BS in Computer Science: Games
Tuition: $60,446
BA in Interactive Entertainment
Tuition: $60,446
None
University of Utah UT BS in Games
In-state tuition and fees: $10,030
Out-of-state tuition
and fees: $31,416
BS in Computer Science:
Entertainment Arts and Engineering
In-state tuition and fees: $10,030
Out-of-state tuition
and fees: $31,416
None
How to Pick the Best Game Design School for You

How to Pick the Best Game Design School for You

To help you pick the perfect program, we’ve listed the top three factors to consider. Keep these in mind as you sift through the details of each game design program.

Tuition

University tuition in the United States can be a huge investment. Make sure that your school of choice has rates that you can afford. You should also check up on financing deals and scholarships. Many schools offer an assortment of need-based and merit-based options.

Curriculum

It is important to choose a school that offers a perfect curriculum for you. Make sure you take the time to compare programs and their components. Programs tend to have the same core curriculum, but offer different electives. Some programs include modules that others don’t. It is useful to go over game design degree programs in detail to analyze what’s on offer.

Online Options

Some universities offer fully remote programs, which can be useful for busy students or working professionals. A game design program at an online college offers the same material as an on-campus program. By studying online, you will have the flexibility to study at your own pace.

The Best Game Design Schools of 2021

We’ve gathered some more detailed information about the best game design schools and their featured programs. This list should help you figure out which university is best suited for you.

Carnegie Mellon University

Programs

BS in Game Design

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Options

No

Carnegie Mellon University has a great computer science faculty. The BS in Game Design is project-based and covers a lot of ground. Throughout the four-year degree, you will be exposed to the latest technologies and mechanisms used in video game programming. The school has good lab facilities and great networking events for tech enthusiasts.

BS in Game Design Curriculum

Game systems and mechanic design

Interactive narrative

Game programming

DigiPen Institute of Technology

Programs

BA in Game Design

Accreditation

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Online Options

Yes

DigiPen is a specialized college that is all about gaming and computer science. The degree program offered by the school is project-based and interdisciplinary. Students cover technical server-side programming as well as client-side designing. This is a great program that offers a well-rounded education.

BA in Game Design Curriculum

Systems design

Level design

UX design

Narrative design

User research

Drexel University

Programs

BS in Game Design and Production

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Options

Yes

The game design program offered by Drexel University emphasizes problem-solving and teamwork. Throughout the four-year degree, you will learn how to operate within a team to create exciting virtual worlds.

The school is equipped with state-of-the-art labs and studios. For instance, the school has a new Animation Capture and Effects Lab (ACE-Lab) for all students.

BS in Game Design and Production Curriculum

Scripting

Storytelling

Computer programming fundamentals

Advanced computer programming

Motion capture

Animation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Programs

BS in Computer Science

Accreditation

New England Commission on Higher Education

Online Options

No

MIT is the most prestigious tech school in the United States. Although MIT doesn’t offer a game design program, you can create your own program of study through MIT’s game lab. Studying computer science at MIT will always be research-based and interdisciplinary.

BS in Computer Science Curriculum

Comparative media studies

Electrical engineering and computer science

Psychology

Business

Michigan State University

Programs

BA in Game and Interactive Media Design

Accreditation

Higher Learning Commission

Online Options

No

Michigan State University has an array of media, arts, and communications programs. The BA in Game and Interactive Media Design allows students to opt for a game development specialization. The program is project-based. Throughout the four-year degree, students get to create their own projects. This is very useful to ramp up your portfolio.

BA in Game and Interactive Media Design Curriculum

Graphics and animation

Interactive media

Capstone project

New York University

Programs

BFA in Game Design

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Options

No

The BFA in Game Design offered by New York University is an academic program. Throughout the degree, you will learn about the challenges of gaming in the contemporary era. If you like critical thinking and problem-solving as much as gaming, this program could be for you.

BFA in Game Design Curriculum

Academic approaches to games

Production processes for creating games

2D and 3D animation

Computer programming

Game business

Audio design

Rochester Institute of Technology

Programs

BS in Game Design and Development

Accreditation

Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Online Options

Yes

The Rochester Institute of Technology boasts an 85 percent graduation rate. The game design degree offered by the school emphasizes computing fundamentals.

The program will provide you with an in-depth education in raw computer science as well as new gaming technologies. The curriculum is filled with math, modeling, science, and audio design elements.

BS in Game Design and Development Curriculum

Introduction to interactive media

2D animation and asset production

Data structures and algorithms

Game design and development

General and advanced electives

Savannah College of Art and Design

Programs

BA in Interactive Design and Game Development, BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development

Accreditation

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Online Options

Yes, the school has an award-winning online program

The Savannah College of Art and Design has a very exciting game design department. The school organizes regular competitions with prestigious gaming and tech companies. These include Apple, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and more. The programs offered are project-based and emphasize creativity and innovation.

BA in Interactive Design and Game Development Curriculum

Visual culture in context

Color theory and application

Digital communication

General education elective

One concentration option

BFA in Game Design and Game Development Curriculum

Drawing form and space

Digital communication

3D form in space

One concentration option

University of Southern California

Programs

BS in Computer Science: Games, BA in Interactive Entertainment

Accreditation

Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Online Options

No

USC is the perfect place to study game design. The school has many ties to Hollywood and the gaming industry. The school offers two robust degree programs in game design and development. Ambitious students who complete one of these programs are well prepared to enroll in a master’s degree program.

BS in Computer Science: Games Curriculum

Game production

Visual design

Game engine programming

BA in Interactive Entertainment Curriculum

Creative leadership

Animation fundamentals

Introduction to game development

Cinematic communication

Designing online multiplayer game environments

University of Utah

Programs

BS in Games, BS in Computer Science: Entertainment Arts and Engineering

Accreditation

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Online Options

Yes

The University of Utah has a robust computer science faculty. The department focuses on interdisciplinarity and computational research. The two gaming-focused programs offered by the school are very exciting. Both programs are firmly grounded in math and programming.

BS in Games Curriculum

Ethics in games

Traditional game development

Two senior projects

BS in Computer Science: Entertainment Arts and Engineering Curriculum

Foundations of CS

Object oriented programming

Algorithms

Data structures

Traditional game development

How Much Can You Earn as a Game Designer

How Much Can You Earn as a Game Designer?

Any of the schools on this list could lead to a high-paying game design career. There are many specialization options within game design, as it is a wide field.

According to PayScale, video game designers earn an average salary of $66,152 in the United States. The table below shows how salaries in the gaming industry vary from profession to profession.

The Highest-Paying Game Design Roles

Role Required Education Approx. Average Salary
Product Designer Bachelor’s degree $84,730
UI Developer Bachelor’s degree $76,492
Software Developer Bachelor’s degree $72,426
Video Game Programmer Bachelor’s degree $64,268
3D Artist Bachelor’s degree $54,703

Why You Should Be a Game Designer in 2021

The video game industry is constantly expanding. As of 2021, the gaming industry is bigger than the music and film industries combined. This means there is room for innovation and new ideas.

A degree in game design might be worth considering if you’ve always wanted to bring your gaming ideas to life. Many schools across the United States offer fantastic bachelor’s degree programs in computer science and game design. Whether you want to study on campus or remotely, you should be able to find the perfect program for you.

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