Game Design Schools in Portland with Degree Program Overviews

Feb 11, 2019

Portland Schools with Game Design Programs

Few Portland-area schools offer game design programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that game designers can still earn industry skills through multimedia, animation computer graphics, computer science and programming programs. Several schools within 25 minutes of downtown Portland offer these types of programs, and this article profiles the schools and the programs they offer. It also includes a table of information that is useful to prospective students, including tuition, enrollment numbers and the percentage of students who graduate on time. At the end of the article is the name of another school in the area that offers relevant courses.

  • Mt. Hood Community College offers Portland's only degree program in computer game development, awarding an associate's degree. This school is about eight miles from downtown Portland.
  • For students on a budget, Portland Community College offers multimedia and computer science programs with coursework related to game design at the certificate and associate's degree levels. This school has a campus about five miles from downtown, and another that is about eight miles away.
  • The University of Portland is a four-year university about 16 miles from the heart of the city. This school offers computer science programs that feature game design electives at the bachelor's degree level. It also offers an associate's degree program in multimedia, and a minor option in computer science.

Comparison of Schools

Individuals considering a school should be aware of many factors. This table presents data about all three schools in a format that makes it simple to compare them.

Mt. Hood Community College Portland Community College University of Portland
School Type Two-year; public Two-year; public Four-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 8,680* 28,005* 4,396*
Campus Setting Large suburb Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $5,126 in-state; $10,031 out-of-state* $4,088 in-state; $8,840 out-of-state* $44,026*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2016-2017) 77%* 70%* 99%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) N/A - open admissions N/A - open admissions 70%*
Retention Rate (Fall 2016 to Fall 2017) 60% for full-time students; 83% for part-time students* 67% for full-time students; 47% for part-time students* 88% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate 26%; 15% transfer-out rate (students who started Fall 2014)* 15%; 20% transfer-out rate (students who started Fall 2014)* 82%; 6% transfer-out rate (students who started Fall 2011)*

Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics

Mt. Hood Community College

This school offers one associate's degree program that can prepare students for work in the video game industry. Other programs students may find interesting include computer information systems, information technology and web management.

AAS in Computer Game Development

The game development program will provide instruction on topics like modeling, rigging, three-dimensional character development, character textures and animations. Industry software like Maya, Flash and Unity will be used in several courses, so students need to have a strong affinity for computer software and technology. Students participate in game team and studio courses to gain practical experience in game creation. Other coursework includes digital drawing, computer concepts, game design theory, Web development and spreadsheets.

Portland Community College

Portland Community College doesn't offer a specific game design program, but students may still take electives related to the field. Students can study either computer science or multimedia, depending on their personal interests. The computer science program offers a technical option for computer-savvy students. The multimedia program is best suited for students interested in audio production, Web design and multimedia design.

Certificate in Multimedia

While this one-year program has a multimedia focus, students can still choose electives like game programming, computer games and animation. The certificate has 60 credits, and students may take courses in video production, digital video editing and multimedia graphics. Students may be able to discuss with their advisor other courses that may prepare them for the game design field. Electives in three-dimensional modeling, animation and character rigging can supplement these courses.

AAOT in Computer Science

In this transfer program, students take courses in game programming and introduction to computer games. Both classes will help students understand current gaming platforms, game graphics, two-dimensional computer games, animation and object-oriented architecture. Other courses focus on math, physics, software design and problem solving for computers.

AAS in Multimedia

This 98-credit associate's degree is similar to the certificate program, and it will prepare students for entry-level jobs like production artist, interface designer or game designer. Coursework includes multimedia design, multimedia authoring, intro to art and writing for multimedia. Electives in game design and game art are offered. Modeling and animation courses can also be beneficial.

University of Portland

Unfortunately, this university doesn't offer a game design program, but the computer science major offers a specialty in game design. The computer science program is offered through the Shiley School of Engineering's computer science department.

Minor in Computer Science

Students in this minor program can take courses in computer science, object-oriented design and data structures. Students choose six upper-division courses like game design/theory and computer graphics.

BS in Computer Science

The computer science program provides diverse education on programming languages, object-oriented design, calculus, software engineering and discrete structures. Students develop their problem-solving skills and prepare for professional or graduate work. Those interested in making games can also choose game design/theory and computer graphics for electives. These topics provide info on three-dimensional modeling, rendering and graphic images. Students should keep in mind that these courses are only offered during even-numbered years.

Other School Options

Game design courses are also available at Portland State University, which is located downtown.

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