best colleges for animation and game design

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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With a large variety of degree and non-degree programs available at video game design colleges and universities of all sizes, potential game designers of all backgrounds can bring their passion for creative arts to the program that fits their needs and interests, qualifying them for a variety of careers in the field.

A Bachelor of Science in Game Design degree can provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to start designing games professionally, but so can a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, or a Master of Science degree.

With such a wide variety of options for study, including online Game Design degrees, and so many ways to enter and specialize in a rewarding career in the video game industry, potential students have a difficult task figuring out where to begin. Our list of the 50 best video game design schools in the U.S. makes the task easier. The list includes programs that fit the individual needs of everyone.

animation and game design degree

In short, video game designers make ideas come to life. They work with other designers to flesh out the concept of a game, draft it, identify how it should play and what demographics it fits, and get their company to give the “go-ahead” on it. As an inherently interdisciplinary career, game designers must be creative, adaptable, and able to comfortably occupy several roles at once. The job includes:

  • Artistic development
  • Character development
  • Concept development
  • Control Interface Design
  • Drafting
  • Gameplay Mechanics
  • Graphic Design
  • Programming
  • Sketching
  • Storyline development
  • Writing

Working with a team composed of members with various specializations, video game designers develop a game from top to bottom, start to finish, program to package.

Featured Online Video Game Design Programs

best colleges for animation and game design

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1

The University of Texas at Dallas

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationRichardson, TX

GRADUATION RATE72%
RECEIVING LOANS43%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT18%

UT Dallas offers a bachelor of arts, technology, and emerging communication with animation and games concentration. The program introduces students to game design and development through its games research lab, critical studies, and innovative research applications. The school also hosts talks and panels from major industry players for networking opportunities.

The 120-credit program offers coursework in animation, project management, digital audio, and computer animation. A senior seminar or capstone project completes the degree.

UT Dallas automatically admits first-year Texas applicants who graduate in the top 10% of their class from an accredited Texas high school and reach minimum SAT/ACT scores. Transfer students may apply credit to coursework.Accreditation: University of Texas is regionally accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).View School Profile2

Indiana University-Bloomington

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationBloomington, IN

GRADUATION RATE78%
RECEIVING LOANS33%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT18%

Taught through its Media School, IU’s bachelor of science in game design looks at gaming through a social systems lens. The program emphasizes the creative connection that happens when designers combine the art of storytelling with cutting-edge animation and media platforms.

The curriculum includes a three-semester intensive where students develop and publish an original game. Students may select from six tracks and concentrations, including art, programming, sound, and games and the mind.

First-time students must submit official transcripts (3.6 minimum GPA) and show an ACT composite score of 27 or an SAT combined score of 1280. Transfer students must submit transcripts from previously attended institutions (minimum 2.3 GPA for Indiana residents, minimum 2.5 GPA for nonresidents).Accreditation: Indiana University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).View School Profile3

Michigan State University

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationEast Lansing, MI

GRADUATION RATE80%
RECEIVING LOANS42%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT22%

Taught through MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the serious game design and research graduate certificate offers a fully online or in-class hybrid curriculum. For undergraduates, the school also offers a bachelor’s with a concentration in game and interactive media design and a minor in game design and development.

The master’s certificate program gives designers, teachers, and other professionals insight into game theories, design, and development. Studies include foundations of serious games, theories of games and interaction design, and understanding users.

Certificate applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and apply as graduate certificate students. The program is available to students enrolled in an MSU graduate program and as a stand-alone, three-course graduate certificate program.Accreditation: Michigan State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).View School Profile4

University of California-Irvine

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationIrvine, CA

GRADUATION RATE83%
RECEIVING LOANS35%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT14%

UCI’s bachelor of science in game design and interactive media prepares students as innovative designers, developers, and industry leaders of games. Internationally recognized faculty and experts teach programming, visual design, and interactive storytelling. The Silicon Beach location provides access to industry partners including Electronic Arts, Disney, Tencent, and the Cartoon Network.

Coursework includes multiplayer game systems, modeling and world-building, algorithms, and human-computer interactions. In-state first-year applicants must submit high school transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA minimum (3.4 out-of-state) and complete A-G course minimum. California transfer applicants must earn a 2.4 GPA in transferrable coursework (2.8 out-of-state).Accreditation: University of California, Irvine is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).View School Profile5

Arkansas Tech University

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationRussellville, AR

GRADUATION RATE40%
RECEIVING LOANS41%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT47%

ATU offers a bachelor of fine arts in game and interactive media design accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The program introduces students to the latest in visual communication arts interactive digital technology sciences.

Studies focus on game development, design theory, digital art, and animation techniques. It also covers general education courses in English, math, and social sciences.

First-year students must submit high school transcripts (2.0 GPA minimum) and ACT (minimum 19 composite) or SAT (minimum 1010 composite) scores. Transfer submission requirements include transcripts from previously attended institutions (2.0 GPA minimum).Accreditation: Arkansas Tech University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).View School Profile6

University of Wisconsin-Stout

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationMenomonie, WI

GRADUATION RATE58%
RECEIVING LOANS59%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT48%

The bachelor of fine arts in game design and development offered through UW-Stout teaches core skills in art and design, such as drawing, 3D modeling, and animation. Students learn about concept art, characters, and level design.

Required classes for the 120-credit program come from the game design core (games design and development), studio requirements (drawing and graphic design), and studio “selectives” (art and design coursework).

First-year applicants must submit official high school transcripts. Transfer applicants must submit transcripts from high school and previously attended institutions (2.0 minimum GPA). Test scores are optional.Accreditation: University of Wisconsin Stout is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).View School Profile7

Drury University

LocationSpringfield, MO

GRADUATION RATE64%
RECEIVING LOANS55%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT18%

DU’s bachelor of science in computer science-game development targets those interested in careers as game developers and students who want to pursue graduate work in computer science or a related digital media field.

The program requires computer science and mathematics courses, with additional credits in game development (computer animation and multimedia storytelling) and media arts.

Submission requirements for first-year students include official high-school transcripts and either SAT/ACT scores or a 250-500-word essay. Transfer applicants must submit high school and previously attended college transcripts. SAT/ACT scores may also be required.Accreditation: Drury University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).View School Profile8

Savannah College of Art and Design

LocationSavannah, GA

GRADUATION RATE68%
RECEIVING LOANS43%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT18%

SCAD offers a bachelor of arts in digital media with a concentration in interactive design. In addition to learning from experienced faculty, students have access to AR/VR labs, game showcases, and competitions.

The 180-credit BA degree requirements include foundation and general education coursework and the concentration (including game art, interactive design, and digital design aesthetics). SCAD also offers internships.

First-time applicants must submit official high school transcripts and SAT/ACT scores. Transfer applicant requirements include official transcripts from previously attended institutes. All applicants must submit portfolios.Accreditation: Savannah College of Art and Design is regionally accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).View School Profile9

Northeastern University

LocationBoston, MA

GRADUATION RATE88%
RECEIVING LOANS36%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT9%

Northeastern offers a 120-credit bachelor of fine arts in game design that teaches students to communicate ideas through interactive media. The degree explores games as an aesthetic form through critical analysis and creative practice.

Students learn a wide variety of genres and contexts and are encouraged to think up innovative new approaches to game content. The program groups courses into game studies, design, development, aesthetics, and critical play. Graduation also requires a game design capstone.

Submission materials for first-year applicants include high school transcripts and teacher/counselor recommendations. Transfer applicants must submit high school and college transcripts and an academic evaluation. College courses with a 2.0 GPA or higher might be considered for transfer credit. Portfolio submissions are highly encouraged.Accreditation: Northeastern University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).View School Profile10

Southern Arkansas University Main Campus

Average Net Price$$$$$LocationMagnolia, AR

GRADUATION RATE41%
RECEIVING LOANS76%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT52%

SAU’s bachelor of fine arts in game, animation, and simulation teaches students to apply technical and theoretical skills to problem-solving with open source and software applications.

In addition to general education requirements, the 121-credit program’s core curriculum includes studies in game design management, physics of animation, concept art, and virtual reality.

First-year applicants must be high school graduates with a 2.0 minimum GPA and ACT scores of 16 or higher. Transfer applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Official transcripts are required.

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