16 Best Colleges for Video Game Design – 2024

May 10, 2024

best colleges for video game design

Getting paid to design the next Fortnight or Overwatch may sound like a fanciful dream to obsessed young gamers. Yet, for those with the programming and design acumen, it can very much be a reality. Video game design programs are popping up at additional universities every year as the $130 billion gaming industry clamors for fresh talent. While earning a degree in video game design, you’ll take courses in animation, sound, 3D modeling and graphics, computer science, and programming. Given that this is a very new field, you’ll want to make sure that your prospective institution has a strong faculty, opportunities for hands-on learning, and top labs/facilities loaded with the latest technologies. The schools that are included on this list of the best video game design colleges all meet and even exceed these criteria.

Methodology 

Click here to read our methodology for the Best Colleges for Video Game Design.

Best Colleges for Video Game Design

Here’s a quick preview of the first video game design institutions that made our list. Detailed profiles and stats can be found when you scroll below.

1) Carnegie Mellon University

2) Georgia Institute of Technology

3) Purdue University

4) Rochester Institute of Technology

5) University of Southern California

6) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

7) Northeastern University

8) New York University

9) Drexel University

10) Savannah College of Art and Design

All of the schools profiled below have stellar reputations in the field of video game design and commit substantial resources to undergraduate education. For each of the best video game design colleges, College Transitions will provide you with—when available—the university’s:

  • Enrollment
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Acceptance Rate
  • Median SAT
  • Median ACT
  • Retention Rate
  • Graduation Rate

We will also include a longer write-up of each college’s:

  • Academic Highlights – Includes facts like student-to-faculty ratio, average class size, number of majors offered, and most popular majors.
  • Professional Outcomes – Includes info on the rate of positive outcomes, companies employing alumni, and graduate school acceptances.
#1 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Pittsburgh, PA

Academic Highlights: There are a combined 80+ undergraduate majors and 90 minors available across the six schools. Impressively, particularly for a school with more graduate students than undergrads, CMU boasts a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio and small class sizes, with 36% containing single digits. In a given school year, 800+ undergraduates conduct research through the University Research Office. The most commonly conferred degrees are in engineering (21%), computer science (16%), mathematics (12%), business (10%), and visual and performing arts (9%).

Professional Outcomes: By the end of the calendar year in which they received their diplomas, 66% of 2022 grads were employed, and 28% were continuing to graduate school. The companies that have routinely scooped up CMU grads include Google, Meta, Microsoft, Apple, Accenture, McKinsey, and Deloitte. With an average starting salary of $105,194, CMU grads outpace the average starting salary for a college grad nationally. Of those pursuing graduate education, around 20% typically enroll immediately in PhD programs.

  • Enrollment: 7,509
  • Cost of Attendance: $84,412
  • Median SAT: 1540
  • Median ACT: 35
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

#2 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Atlanta, GA

Academic Highlights: Georgia Tech’s engineering and computer science programs are at the top of any “best programs” list. Being a large research university, the student-to-faculty ratio is a less-than-ideal 22:1, leading to some larger undergraduate class sections. In fact, 49% of courses had enrollments of more than thirty students in 2022-23. On the other end of the spectrum, 8% of sections had single-digit enrollments. In terms of total number of degrees conferred, the most popular areas of study are engineering (51%), computer science (21%), and business (9%).

Professional Outcomes: More than three-quarters of recent grads had already procured employment by the time they were handed their diplomas. You will find graduates at every major technology company in the world. The median salary reported by that group was $80,000. Many remain on campus to earn advanced engineering degrees through Georgia Tech, but the school’s reputation is such that gaining admission into other top programs including MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, Stanford, and Caltech.

  • Enrollment: 18,416
  • Cost of Attendance: $29,950 (In-State); $52,120 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1470
  • Median ACT: 33
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%

#3 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Purdue University — West Lafayette

Purdue University — West Lafayette

  • West Lafayette, IN

Academic Highlights: Purdue offers over 200 majors at ten discipline-specific colleges, and 38% of course sections have an enrollment of 19 or fewer. Engineering and engineering technologies majors earn 34% of the degrees conferred by the university; the College of Engineering cracks the top ten on almost every list of best engineering schools. The Krannert School of Management is also well-regarded by employers; 11% of degrees conferred are in business. Other popular majors include computer science (10%) and agriculture (5%)—both are incredibly strong.

Professional Outcomes: Shortly after receiving their diplomas, 70% of 2022 grads headed to the world of employment while 24% headed to graduate/professional school. The top industries entered by grads in recent years are (1) health care, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices; (2) finance, insurance, and consulting; (3) manufacturing and machinery; (4) airline, aviation, and aerospace. Companies employing the greatest number of recent alumni were Amazon, Deloitte, PepsiCo, Labcorp, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft. The average starting salary was $68k across all degree programs.

  • Enrollment: 37,949 (undergraduate); 12,935 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $22,812 (in-state); $41,614 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1330
  • Median ACT: 31
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%

#4 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Rochester, NY

Academic Highlights: There are nine undergraduate colleges at RIT, including the top-ranked Gleason College of Engineering and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. The co-op program is the fourth oldest in the country; most students complete a one- or two-semester paid learning experience. The most popular majors are engineering & engineering technologies (34%), computer and information sciences (20%), visual and performing arts (10%), and business (9%). RIT’s game design program is the best on the East Coast, and programs in film, art, and design are also quite strong.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduation, 95% of recent grads had found employment or a full-time graduate program. Major companies presently employing more than 500 RIT alums include Xerox and Paychex, both with offices in Rochester. Between 200 and 450 employees of IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Amazon, Google, and Cisco were educated at RIT. Starting salary figures vary greatly by major with College of Business grads landing a median starting salary of $63k and computer science majors of $102k right out of school.

  • Enrollment: 13,940 (undergraduate); 2,675 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $75,390
  • Median SAT: 1350
  • Median ACT: 31
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

#5 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
University of Southern California

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA

Academic Highlights: There are 140 undergraduate majors and minors within the Dornsife College of Arts & Sciences alone, the university’s oldest and largest school. The Marshall School of Business, Viterbi School of Engineering, and programs in communication, the cinematic arts, and the performing arts are highly acclaimed. Popular areas of study are business (22%), social sciences (11%), visual and performing arts (11%), communications/journalism (9%), and engineering (8%). Most courses enroll 10-19 students, and USC does an excellent job facilitating undergraduate research opportunities.

Professional Outcomes: 96% of undergrads experience positive postgraduation outcomes within six months of earning their degree. The top five industries entered were finance, consulting, advertising, software development, and engineering; the median salary across all majors is an astounding $79k. Presently, between 300 and 1,500 alumni are employed at each of Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, KPMG, Goldman Sachs, and Meta. Graduate/professional schools enrolling the greatest number of 2022 USC grads include NYU, Georgetown, Harvard, Stanford, Pepperdine, and UCLA.

  • Enrollment: 20,699 (undergraduate); 28,246 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $90,921
  • Median SAT: 1510
  • Median ACT: 34
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%

#6 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Troy, NY

Academic Highlights: There are five undergraduate schools within the larger university: the School of Architecture; the School of Management; the School of Science; the top-ranked School of Engineering; and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. A solid 54% of sections contain fewer than 20 students. The most degrees are conferred in engineering (45%) and computer and information sciences (21%). Rensselaer has very strong programs in mechanical, aerospace, computer, electrical, and biomedical engineering as well as physics, architecture, and computer science.

Professional Outcomes: As they receive their diplomas, 54% of RPI grads have already landed a job and 32% have committed to a graduate school. The largest numbers of grads were hired by companies that included Google, Microsoft, Deloitte, General Dynamics, Boeing, and IBM. Massive numbers of alumni hold leadership positions in corporations like Google, Pratt & Whitney, General Motors, GE, and Microsoft. Recent grads enjoy starting salaries in excess of $81k.

  • Enrollment: 5,895 (undergraduate); 1,096 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $82,404
  • Median SAT: 1440
  • Median ACT: 33
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Retention Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%

#7 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Northeastern University

Northeastern University

  • Boston, MA

Academic Highlights: Northeastern offers 290 majors and 180 combined majors within nine colleges and programs. Experiential learning is had by virtually all graduates, thanks to the school’s illustrious and robust co-op program. The D’Amore-McKim School of Business is a top-ranked school and offers one of the best international business programs anywhere, and both the College of Engineering and College of Computer Science are highly respected as well. Criminal justice, architecture, and nursing are three other majors that rate near the top nationally.

Professional Outcomes: Nine months after leaving Northeastern, 97% of students have landed at their next employment or graduate school destination. Huskies entering the job market are quickly rounded up by the likes of State Street, Fidelity Investments, IBM, and Amazon, all of whom employ 500+ Northeastern alums. Between 200 and 500 employees at Wayfair, Google, Amazon, Oracle, IBM, and Apple have an NU lineage. Starting salaries are above average (55% make more than $60k), in part due to the stellar co-op program.

  • Enrollment: 20,980 (undergraduate); 15,826 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,821
  • Median SAT: 1500
  • Median ACT: 34
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%

#8 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
New York University

New York University

  • New York, NY

Academic Highlights: NYU is divided into a number of smaller (but still quite large) colleges organized by discipline; in sum, there are 230 areas of undergraduate study across nine schools and colleges. For its size, a commendable 58% of classes have an enrollment under 20 students. While all schools within NYU have solid reputations, Stern holds the distinction as one of the top undergraduate business programs in the country. For those entering film, dance, drama, or other performing arts, Tisch is as prestigious a place as you can find to study.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of exiting, 94% of Class of 2022 grads had landed at their next destination, with 78% employed and 21% in graduate school. The top industries for employment were healthcare (11%), internet and software (9%), finance (8%), and entertainment (8%). Large numbers of alumni can be found at Google, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and Amazon. The mean starting salary is $75,336. In 2022, business, arts and sciences, and law school were the most popular grad school destinations.

  • Enrollment: 29,401 (undergraduate); 29,711 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $90,222-$96,172
  • Median SAT: 1520
  • Median ACT: 34
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

#9 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Drexel University

Drexel University

  • Philadelphia, PA

Academic Highlights: There are 80+ undergraduate majors to choose from at Drexel and they offer a reasonable 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio with commensurately reasonable class sizes. Fifty-two percent of sections contain 19 or fewer students, and just a sliver under 9% of sections contain fifty or more. Looking at the number of degrees conferred by discipline, the big three at Drexel are business (25%), health professions (21%), and engineering (17%). Visual and performing arts (9%), and CS (8%) round out the list of majors with a sizable representation.

Professional Outcomes: One year after graduating, 97%, Dragons have arrived at their next destination; 81% were employed, and 13% had matriculated into graduate or professional school. The largest employers of Drexel alumni are Comcast, Merck, Vanguard, and Johnson & Johnson. The average starting salary for Drexel grads with a full-time job was $64,774. Drexel’s medical school acceptance rate was 60%, roughly 20 points higher than the national average. It offers an accelerated BS/MD program with its own Drexel University College of Medicine.

  • Enrollment: 13,881
  • Cost of Attendance: $81,508
  • Median SAT: 1330
  • Median ACT: 29
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

#10 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Savannah, GA

Academic Highlights: Savannah College of Art and Design offers more than 40 programs of study and close to half of all classes enroll no more than 19 students. The most commonly pursued degrees are Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics, and Special Effects (21%), Illustration (14%), Digital Communication (13%), Cinematography and Film Production (9%), and Fashion/Apparel Design (6%).

Professional Outcomes: A tremendous 99% of SCAD graduates report being employed or engaged in further study within ten months of graduating. Further, 91% state that they are working in a field/position related to their area of study. Many alumni are self-employed but sizable numbers also obtain employment with Amazon, Apple, Deloitte, Gensler, Google, Microsoft, Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games, and Walt Disney Imagineering.

  • Enrollment: 13,622
  • Cost of Attendance: $65,574
  • Median SAT: 1240
  • Median ACT: 24
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%

#11 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
University of Utah

University of Utah

  • Salt Lake City, UT

Academic Highlights: The university’s 16 colleges and schools house 100 undergraduate programs, including the top-ranked engineering, business, and computer science departments. Forty-four percent of courses enroll 19 students or fewer while 17% are on the larger side, enrolling 50 or more students. Popular majors include the social sciences (14%), business (13%), engineering (8%), computer science (8%), psychology (8%), communication/journalism (6%), and health professions (6%).

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduating, 63% of recent grads planned to enter full-time employment while 25% jumped directly into an advanced degree program. Employers hiring the greatest number of Utes include Intermountain Healthcare, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Pluralsight, and Lucid. The average starting salary is $65,786, and the median is $58,240.

  • Enrollment: 26,355 (undergraduate); 8,379 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $32,000 (in-state); $53,704 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1290
  • Median ACT: 25
  • Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%

#12 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Worcester, MA

Academic Highlights: Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers a hands-on and innovative project-based curriculum; all students complete a minimum of two long-term research projects that are focused on solving real-world problems. A staggering 52% of its classes enroll fewer than ten students, creating an incredible level of academic intimacy. The most popular majors are under the engineering umbrella (63%) and computer science (16%). The undergraduate engineering program is respected worldwide and frequently graces lists of top schools.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduating, 94% of 2022 grads landed jobs or enrolled full-time in graduate school. Recent grads found jobs at top companies including Airbnb, DraftKings, Amazon Robotics, and NASA. Hundreds of WPI alumni are employed at Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, Dell, and BAE Systems. The average starting salary is over $74,000 and is one of the highest in the country. Over one-quarter of grads elect to pursue an advanced degree immediately after graduation, enrolling at institutions that recently included Georgia Tech, Brown, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford.

  • Enrollment: 5,246 (undergraduate); 2,062 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $81,751
  • Median SAT: Test Blind
  • Median ACT: Test Blind
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

#13 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
George Mason University

George Mason University

  • Fairfax, VA

Academic Highlights: Fifty-two percent of class sections at GMU enroll nineteen or fewer students, 13% have fifty or more students, and the remaining sections lie in between. The most popular program is business (20%) and is followed by computer and information sciences (13%), the social sciences (8%), health professions (8%), and homeland security (8%). The Volgenau College of Engineering, which houses a top-tier Information Technology Department, and the School of Business are both extremely reputable in the eyes of prospective employers

Professional Outcomes: Six months after receiving their degrees, 87% of the class of 2022 had accepted a job offer or started work in a graduate program. GMU grads flow into major consulting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and Accenture, financial institutions like Capital One and Freddie Mac, and engineering/tech firms like General Dynamics, IBM, and Microsoft. Mason graduates tend to pursue advanced degrees either at Mason itself or at other area schools including George Washington, American University, or the University of Maryland.

  • Enrollment: 27,014
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,963 (In-State); $53,127 (Out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1240
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

#14 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
DigiPen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of Technology

  • Redmond, WA

Academic Highlights: DigiPen offers eight undergraduate degrees in five areas: computer science, digital art and animation, engineering, game design and development, and music and audio. Seven minors are also available in fields such as English, art, and psychology. The curriculum is highly project-based and hands-on. The game design program is particularly strong; other standout offerings include engineering, simulation, and animation production. Students benefit from a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 19 students.

Professional Outcomes: Post-graduation, 69% of students—across all majors—are employed in the field that their degree specifically prepared them for. Alumni have gone on to work for over 1,500 corporations and small businesses, and clusters can be found at Amazon, Microsoft, Bungie, Nintendo, and Disney. In addition, alumni have been credited on 2,000+ professional games as artists, designers, and programmers. Ten years post-grad, they also enjoy the highest median earnings among those who attended a Washington State college or university.

 

  • Enrollment: 1,190 (undergraduate); 57 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $65,279
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 46%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%

#15 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
DePaul University

DePaul University

  • Chicago, IL

Academic Highlights: There are more than 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs at the nation’s largest Catholic research university. The student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1 and 42% of courses enroll fewer than 20 students. A hefty 32% of all degrees awarded in 2022 were in the discipline of business/marketing. The next most popular areas of study were the visual and performing arts (13%), journalism (11%), and computer science (10%). The University rates well in the areas of overall value and facilitating social mobility.

Professional Outcomes: 92% of 2022 graduates found their next positive step in life within six months of being awarded their diploma. 81% were employed earning a modest median salary of $45,000. Sample employers included Epic. Xerox Business Solutions, UBS, KPMG, and a number of nonprofit entities. Less than 10% of DePaul graduates directly enter graduate or professional school right after completing their undergraduate education.

  • Enrollment: 14,134
  • Cost of Attendance: $66,798
  • Median SAT: 1190
  • Median ACT: 27
  • Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%

#16 Best Colleges for Video Game Design
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago

  • Chicago, IL

Academic Highlights: More than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs await students at Columbia College Chicago as well as a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Overall, 65% of all course sections are relatively small, containing no more than 19 students. Almost 60% come to Columbia College Chicago for the visual and performing arts, but areas such as communication technologies (20%), journalism (10%), English (4%), and business (3%) are also common selections.

Professional Outcomes: Many graduates of the visual arts program are self-employed after graduation, but companies employing large numbers of Columbia College grads include Amazon, Apple, NBCUniversal, Live Nation Entertainment, Crate and Barrel, the Walt Disney Company, AbbVie, Google, Netflix, and FCB Chicago. Remaining in Chicago or another Illinois city after graduation is the most popular move, but there are plenty of alumni situated in Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco as well.

  • Enrollment: 6,424
  • Cost of Attendance: $51,786
  • Median SAT: N/A
  • Median ACT: N/A
  • Acceptance Rate: 95%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%

We hope you have found our list of the Best Colleges for Video Game Design to be useful and informative as you continue your college search process. We also invite you to check out some of our other resources and tools including: