Five Highest-Rated Design Schools in the United States

This is a guest post written by Thomas Lourdeau.

In the dynamic, ever-changing field of video game design, one of the most crucial items on an extensive itinerary for a would-be designer is getting an undergraduate degree relevant to the field.

Unsurprisingly, not all degree programs are created equal. Before you embark on any educational program, it's important that you do your due diligence to find potential career opportunities that will be opened to you upon completion. The last thing you want is to end up with a degree not worth the paper it was written on.

1. University of Southern California

As an extension of the Cinematic Arts program, USC offers a Video Game Design Specialization that benefits in part from a very advantageous location. Being close to the technology haven of Palo Alto, those who earn a degree will take part in a comprehensive program that begins with an introduction to game development and concludes with a comprehensive course on designing video game levels.

2. University of Utah

With a reputation for cutting-edge research and design, the University of Utah's Entertainment Arts Program consistently ranks near the top of its field. They have smaller class sizes in comparison to the other schools on this list, and students will gain valuable real world experience as they learn the steps to effective video game presentation.

3. DigiPen Institute of Technology

Easily the most specialized school on this list, DigiPen is a leader in the gaming industry and provides an employment pipeline to top video game companies like Blizzard. Their video game degree programs are really just the beginning, and they offer field specialties not seen at other universities. In fact, they are known to be one of the leaders in artificial intelligence innovation around the country.

4. Michigan State University

Michigan State is one of the only accredited residential video game design programs to offer the complete course catalog online, making them a convenient choice for those who already have a career or just can't balance work and school with a traditional schedule. Their program relies on three core principles: theory, content and game design. They use each of these to give the students a balanced view of what is required to design a quality product. Their highly practical approach is a major reason for their success. Additionally, they offer summer camps and "pre college" courses to students in high school who may be interested in their programs.

5. Drexel University

Drexel's degree programs actually span 13 different universities, allowing them to offer a diverse program of study. With a comprehensive degree in Media Arts and Design, students will be taught how to identify, implement and adapt to all forms of design, including video games. While they do offer some specialized programs in the field, it's worth noting that this general program doesn't get into the same specifics as the others listed. Still, given the well-rounded nature, Drexel is still a great choice for video game design students.

Each of the schools on this list presents its own set of benefits. Factors like location, cost of attendance and campus life should also be considered when making an education decision. However, when it comes to the programs themselves, any of these will lead you on the right path.

Thomas Lourdeau is a graduate of Liberty University with a degree in Communication Studies. His articles have been featured in a variety of media outlets and publications including Degree Jungle. He can be reached at

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