The gaming sector is a multibillion-dollar industry that is constantly looking for talented future game developers with a degree in game development. While having a passion for game design and development may be innate, finding the best schools for game development may be a hassle without the right help.
This article will help you in your school search by providing details about the best game development schools. You will also learn about the successful career opportunities that a degree from one of the best game development universities can afford you.
Best Game Development College and University Rankings: Top 10 Game Development Schools at a Glance
|School||State||Formats Available||US News Ranking|
|Carnegie Mellon University||PA||Hybrid||#25|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||GA||Hybrid||#38|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||MA||Hybrid||#2|
|New York University||NY||In-Person||#28|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||NY||In-Person||#55|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||NY||Hybrid||#117|
|University of California, Santa Cruz||CA||In-Person||#103|
|University of Southern California||CA||Online||#27|
|University of Utah||UT||Hybrid||#99|
Game Development School Rankings: Best Game Development Colleges and Universities
The best game development colleges and universities offer various degrees in game design and related fields to prepare students for careers in the gaming industry. Below is a detailed overview of game development school rankings, accreditation, and graduation and acceptance rates.
Best Bachelor’s Degree Programs
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
The Best Schools for Game Development: Types of College Degrees and University Programs Offered
Your desire to learn basic game design skills, accelerate your job role, or make a career change into the interactive design and game development sector will determine what type of degree in game design you should pursue. Below is a categorization of the best schools for game development according to the kinds of college degrees and university programs they offer.
Game Development Community College Certificate
A game development community college certificate is a certificate that you can obtain in less than one year after a short-term focused course offering in game design. The certificate presents you with the introductory design concepts, logic, and programming theory common to all programming languages to prepare you for entry-level employment or a game design major.
Game Development Associate Degree
Game development associate degrees are two-year degrees that combine arts, designs, and computer science to give students exposure to the fields of game design, animation, and user experience design. Students can earn this degree from a community college, junior college, or university after completing 60 credits.
The curriculum gives students a well-rounded education in arts and emphasizes concept art, 3D, and game design. Unfortunately, associate degrees are usually limited in choices. Therefore, you may not learn all you need to begin a career in the video game industry and might want to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree after graduating.
Game Development Bachelor’s Degree
Game development bachelor’s degrees are undergraduate degree programs in interactive design and game development. This four-year degree program explores various aspects of game development to broaden students’ choices and career options.
This degree’s curriculum combines theory and hands-on experience to explore multi-faceted digital technology concepts such as 2D and 3D graphic design, operating systems, and artificial intelligence in gaming and simulation. At the end of this degree, students will be ready for careers in interactive media design, video game development, and project management.
Game Development Master’s Degree
Game development master’s degrees are advanced programs that provide students with technical and social science knowledge of how computer games operate, how they are developed, and the social impact they have on us. This two-year degree program prepares students for an advanced career in game design.
The program’s curriculum explores students’ approach to game creation by imploring them to combine their game design education with technology specializations and critical analysis. Students will also develop skills in 3D modeling, game design application, and sculpting.
Game Development Graduate Certificate
A game development graduate certificate is a specialized qualification that offers professional development training. If you already have a career in game design, you can obtain this certificate in about one year to fine-tune your knowledge and skills and advance your future in game design.
Game Development Doctorate
A game development doctorate focuses on applied and theoretical research of human-computer interaction. Students will work with industry professionals and advanced technology in a game studio to understand virtual settings, complex interactive media design, identity, and customization.
This degree typically takes between three to six years to complete. On completion, students will become gaming professionals and have the advantage of a boatload of opportunities in the niche industry and academic sector.
Comparing Popular Degree Options
Best Game Development Schools: Other Game Development University Rankings
A degree’s flexibility and the amount of time you’re willing to commit can affect your choice of any of the best game development schools. Below are other game development university rankings to help your school search conveniently.
Best Online Game Development Schools
- Lindenwood University. George and Mary Sibley founded this private university in 1827. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees to over 6,000 students through nine colleges and schools. Lindenwood’s Bachelor of Arts in Game Design is ranked number one by the Best Schools for the Best Online Bachelor’s in Game Design Programs.
- Savannah College of Art and Design. This private art school was founded in 1978 and offers degree programs to over 14,000 students. SCAD’s BA in Digital Media with a concentration in Game Development provides students with opportunities to collaborate with industry giants and capitalize on their passion for interactive design.
- Southern New Hampshire University. This private university was established in 1932 and offers degree programs to 135,000 students online and 3,000 students on campus. SNHU’s game development degree online employs experts to help students gain invaluable skills, experience, and connections.
Best Community Colleges for Game Development
- Anne Arundel Community College. This public community college was founded in 1961. It offers letters of recognition, 46 associate degrees, and 62 certificate programs at its five schools. AACC’s game development program graduates can transfer to four-year universities, create their own games, or seek entry-level employment in the field of game art.
- Johnson County Community College. This public community college was established in 1969. It offers a wide range of undergraduate programs to over 16,000 students and has transfer agreements with regional universities. JCCC’s game development program has instructors that stay on top of trends to help students develop relevant technical skills.
- Wake Technical Community College. This public community college established in 1958 is the largest community college in North Carolina. Wake Tech’s simulation and game development program uses project-oriented classes to give students hands-on experience that will help them thrive in their niche industries.
Best Undergraduate Schools for Game Development
- Drexel University. This private research university was established in 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry before assuming its current name in 1970. The Princeton Review recognizes its Bachelor Of Science in Game Design and Production as one of the top undergraduate game design programs in the US.
- Michigan State University. This public-land grant research university was founded as the Agricultural College of Michigan in 1855. Its admissions process is considered somewhat selective. MSU’s game design and development program is among the top 10 ranked programs by Princeton Review.
- Rochester Institute of Technology. This private research university has one of the largest co-op programs in the world. RIT’s Bachelor of Science in Game Design students can specialize in game engine, graphic design, and sound design. The school’s co-op program also helps students land roles at Microsoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Best Graduate Schools for Game Development
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This private university ranks among the top institutions globally and has received more Sloan Research Fellowships than any other university in North America. MIT’s media arts and science graduate students work closely with a research advisor in an apprenticeship relationship.
- University of California, Santa Cruz. This public university is a member of the Association of American Universities, the most prestigious alliance of research universities in the US and Canada. UC Santa Cruz’s MS Games and Playable Media prepare students to make professional contributions to the game industry.
- University of Southern California. USC has awarded degrees to 29 alumni who became billionaires and has graduated more alumni who have won academy awards than any other institution. USC’s Master of Science in Game Development prepares students to engineer and simulate next-generation games.
Best Game Development Schools With Dual Degree Programs
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences BS. The school of humanities, arts, and social sciences offers this program. It provides the option of concentrations or dual majors in arts, computer science, and human-computer interaction. Students will also get the opportunities to collaborate with art and visual design disciplines.
- Rochester Institute of Technology | Game Design and Development BS. This dual degree program allows you to add an MBA to your undergraduate design degree and complete them simultaneously. Students save time and money while still taking advantage of cooperative education experiences, research, and internships.
- University of Utah | Dual MBA/MEAE. This dual degree takes advantage of the complementary elements of the Master of Business Administration and the Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering. The program incorporates a comprehensive knowledge of both sides to give MBA/MEAE graduates the appropriate experience.
Best Schools With Accelerated Game Development Programs
- Carnegie Mellon University| Accelerated Master of Human-Computer Interaction. The program allows undergraduates in the BS-HCI major to offer an accelerated two-semester master’s degree instead of the usual three semesters. Students will complete four electives and a pro seminar to earn the degree.
- Rochester Institute of Technology | Game Design and Development Bachelor’s/Master’s. This accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree is designed for exceptional undergraduate students that have shown outstanding academic performance. Students can complete the standard six or seven years of education in just five years.
- University of California, Santa-Cruz| Film and Digital Media BA. This intensive program includes all courses for the film and digital media major and general education requirements. Students should begin this pathway in their first year to complete their degree in three years instead of four.
Easy Colleges to Get Into
Is Graduate School for Game Development Worth It?
Yes, graduate school for game development is worth it for anyone who wants to climb the corporate ladder and increase their career options. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also projects the employment of special effects artists and animators to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
What Jobs Can You Do With a Game Development Degree?
The jobs that you can do with a game development degree include graphics design, computer programming, and web development. The best game development schools will help you land these job roles after you learn how to become a game developer. They will also provide you with career support services such as job placements and internship opportunities.
How Much Can I Earn With a Degree in Game Development?
According to PayScale, you can earn an average salary of $67,604 as a video game designer. This salary will vary according to your years of experience, skills, education, and employer. An employee with additional C# programming skills will earn up to $70,552, while an experienced video game designer with 20 years of experience can earn as much as $98,639.
Highest-Paying Game Development Careers
|Profession||Minimum Education||Average Salary|
|Art Director||Bachelor’s degree||$100,890|
|Computer Programmer||Bachelor’s degree||$93,000|
|Producers and Director||Bachelor’s degree||$79,000|
|Special Effects Artists and Animator||Bachelor’s degree||$78,790|
|Web Developers and Digital Designer||Bachelor’s degree||$77,200|
|Industrial Designer||Bachelor’s degree||$77,030|
|Film and Video Editor||Bachelor’s degree||$60,360|
|Graphic Designer||Bachelor’s degree||$50,710|
|Crafts and Fine Artist||Associate degree||$49,960|
|Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technician||Associate degree||$49,050|
Best Jobs With a Game Development Degree
The best jobs with a game development degree include graphic design, computer programming, special effects art, and animation. These jobs vary according to the degree level that the prospective employee possesses. Below is an overview of the best game development jobs depending on their degree level.
How Can I Pay for Game Development School?
You can pay for game development school by applying for grants, scholarships, or loans. If you are employed, your employee might offer a plan to pay for your education. These financing options help to cover your tuition if you cannot afford to pay for it yourself. Below are the top ways you can pay for game development school.
- Savings. The primary way to pay for your tuition and other expenses is to use your income or savings. Some students who do not have enough college funds can take a gap year to save up for their school expenses.
- Scholarship. Scholarships are suitable ways to pay for game development school because you don’t need to pay them back. You can inquire if your school offers any scholarships that you might qualify for and apply to cover all or part of your tuition.
- Grants. The federal and state government offers several types of grants which you do not need to refund. Your college, private and non-profit organizations may also provide various grants to help you pay for game development school once you’re eligible.
- Loans. Loans should be your last resort after exhausting all other payment options. You should also prioritize federal student loans before private ones. This priority is due to the benefits of loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans that federal loans grant to students.
How to Pay for Your Chosen School Education Path
Choosing the Best Game Development School for You
To choose the best game development school for you, you should consider accreditation, the cost of the program, and flexibility. These factors will help you achieve a reasonable degree conveniently and at a price that fits your budget. Below are details of the factors you must consider before choosing a game development school.
The potency of your degree sometimes depends on whether you obtained it from an accredited school or not. Accreditation means that an official body recognizes the school as having a qualified status to offer academic programs in game development. This recognition licenses schools to provide a well-rounded education and recognizes the school’s legitimacy.
It is important to consider your budget and factor in the cost of the degree you are aiming for before choosing a game development school. If the cost is above your budget, you can consider cheaper schools or devise alternative means such as applying for grants, scholarships, or enrolling part-time to afford your degree.
Your schedule might make it impossible for you to get a traditional in-classroom education. In this case, the program’s flexibility is something you must look out for. Instead of in-person classes, you could opt for schools that offer online programs in game development. Your schedule will also determine whether you enroll part-time or full-time.
Since the aim of game development schools is to make industry professionals out of their students, some often set the stone rolling to give students a successful career in the gaming sector after they complete their degree. These schools offer job guarantees and other career services such as internship opportunities, mock interviews, and portfolio tailoring.
Degree Levels Offered
Game development schools offer degrees at various levels. If you are a beginner, you may want to consider schools that offer certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. If you aim for mid-level roles, then a bachelor’s degree is perfect. However, you would want to consider schools that offer advanced degrees such as masters and PhDs for senior-level roles.
How to Get Into the Right School for Your Profession
Does It Matter What College I Go to for Game Development?
Yes, it matters what college you go to for game development. Game development colleges all have a primary goal of helping you gain highly in-demand skills to turn your love for gaming into a lucrative career. Regular colleges might not have state-of-art equipment or tailor their curriculum to meet this requirement.
Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees
Game Development University Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Schools for Game Development
We ranked the best game development schools by consulting the university rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education. To further refine our game development university ranking methodology, we gave special consideration to things like reputation, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and breadth and depth of game development degree program offerings.
Additional Reading About Game development
[query_class_embed] https://careerkarma.com/blog/best-online-game-development-bachelors-degrees/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/game-design-colleges/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/best-game-design-associate-degrees/
Best Game development Schools FAQ
Game development schools use state-of-the-art-equipment and facilities such as computer labs to give students hands-on experience in game development. Students can use this equipment, which is usually industry standard, to produce game prototypes that they can add to their portfolios. These additions will increase their chances in the job market after graduation.
As a game developer, you must have skills in working with various programming languages and be able to work as part of a team. You must also have a passion for gaming. This passion will fuel your creativity to combine a strong analytical mind with your knowledge of gaming trends.
You can complete your game development degree quickly, depending on the type of degree that you are seeking. For example, if you want to focus on basic game design skills, you will be able to obtain an associate degree in one or two years. However, a managerial position in the game field will require a graduate degree which takes between three and seven years.
No, it is not very hard to study game development. Game development gets easier as long as you already have the passion and continue to learn the relevant skills. In addition, the gaming types of equipment and facilities that the school uses to teach game design students make the program less challenging to study.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.