Game Programmer Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Game programmers and game designers are trained to create engaging, technologically sound computer games. Some schools provide game programming and design majors, while others include training within broader computer science programs.

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Aspiring game programmers can find relevant training programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Public and private colleges and universities around the country offer training in this emerging field.

Schools with Game Programming Programs

The schools listed in this table offer undergrad programs in computer science, game design or animation.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)*
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate $2,805 (in-state)
$9,450 (out-of-state)
Brigham Young University Provo, UT 4-year, Private Bachelor's $5,150
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Certificate $50,277
Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's $7,618 (in-state)
$16,978 (out-of-state)
Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's $37,124
Madison Area Technical College Madison, WI 4-year, Public Associate's $4,217 (in-state)
$6,143 (out-of-state)
East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,153 (in-state)
$24,977 (out-of-state)
Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,970 (in-state)
$17,562 (out-of-state)
University of Idaho Moscow, ID 4-year, Public Bachelor's $7,020 (in-state)
$21,024 (out-of-state)
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $47,750 (undergraduate), $40,984 (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider these factors when looking for game programming schools.

  • For students who are interested in learning specific programming languages, such as Java, Direct X or C++, it is important to ensure that courses in that language are available.
  • Technological expertise is crucial for game programmers, so it's important to find colleges that provide access to up-to-date computer hardware and software.
  • When considering programs that include internships, students should make sure that opportunities are available in a setting where they might someday like to get a job, such as with a large video game company or a mobile app development firm.
  • Prospective students may want to find out if the school offers workshops and networking events where students can interact with experienced game designers and get the information they need for professional success in the gaming industry.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in game design and game development introduce students to the basics of information technology and its applications within the entertainment industry. Over the course of these two-year programs, students must also fulfill general education requirements. Programming-focused courses cover topics such as user interface design, 3D programming and object-oriented programming.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

In Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs in game design and development, students begin with foundational courses in computer science and design processes before advancing to more specialized electives in topics such as graphics programming and web development. Students may also be required to participate in one or more cooperative education experiences in the field. BS programs usually take four years, but at some schools it is possible to enroll in an accelerated dual degree BS/MS program, which can be completed in five years.

Master's Degree Programs

Experienced game programmers can hone their artistic and technical skills by enrolling in a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in game science, game design or a closely related field. These programs take two years to complete, and they combine advanced classroom courses in game history and critical theory with hands-on studio training, in which students work independently and in groups to create digital games. Prior to graduation, students may be required to submit a final thesis project.

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs provide a short series of courses in game programming and computer animation for students who want a basic introduction to the field. There are also professional certificates that provide job-focused training for individuals who want to redirect their careers toward the field. Another option is a graduate certificate program, which allows experienced programmers to apply their skills to game design without committing to a full master's degree program.

Master's degrees, bachelor's degrees, associate's degrees and certificates are among the different levels of education offered in game programming. When examining different programs, students should look for schools that provide top-notch computer technology and networking opportunities in the gaming industry.

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