Two people with virtual reality glasses in a conference-like room with other people testing out VR glasses in the background.

Video game greatness

The University of Utah’s video game development program just made the top high score in game design greatness.

The U’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering program, under the College of Engineering, was ranked No. 1 in the list of Top Public Game Design Schools and Colleges in the U.S. for 2021, according to the newest rankings from Animation Career Review released March 3.

The rankings, which began in 2012, looked at 149 schools in a survey last September by evaluating each program based on academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program faculty, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, graduation rate, geographic location, and employment data.

“This is a remarkable ranking,” said EAE Director Michael Young. “It reflects the longstanding strengths of our professional graduate program and the innovation in the design of our new Bachelors of Science in Games. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

The U’s program also was ranked fourth in the country among all public and private institutions, according to Animation Career Review. Last year, the U was ranked second in public schools and fifth overall. EAE is also one of the top-ranked game design schools according to The Princeton Review, regarded as the most prestigious rankings for video game development programs. In the latest Princeton Review list, EAE’s undergraduate program was ranked first in the country for public institutions and sixth in the country overall, while the graduate program was ranked second in the country for public schools and 5th overall.

Entertainment Arts and Engineering launched in 2007 and quickly became one of the most highly regarded video game development programs in the world. It offers a Bachelor of Science in Games; a Minor in Games; a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Entertainment Arts and Engineering Emphasis; and a Master’s of Entertainment Arts & Engineering. The program also offers—in collaboration with the U’s David Eccles School of Business—a unique dual MBA/MEAE degree that gives students the necessary business skills to start or run game-centric companies.

A woman in a red beanie and black shirt stands, discussing animation on a computer screen, to a male student sitting at the computer. He is wearing glasses and a long sleeved green and white striped shirt. She seems to be giving feedback.

PHOTO CREDIT: Vince Horiuchi/U College of Engineering

EAE students showing their games in development at an event pre-pandemic.

EAE’s courses integrate all aspects of art, humanities, social science and computational research. The curriculum covers areas such as game design, rapid prototyping, game engineering, production, digital content creation, ethics in games, digital storytelling, 2-D and 3-D art and marketing management.

EAE faculty and students also conduct cutting-edge research in gaming that delves into subjects including modeling, simulation and game artificial intelligence, as well as games for health, learning and training through a number of faculty-led research labs.

In 2017, EAE also launched Utah Varsity Esports, the first college-sponsored varsity esports program from any school in a Power Five athletics conference (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern). The U’s esports team consists of four squads, each for the games “Overwatch,” Hearthstone,” “Rocket League” and “League of Legends.”

“Both our graduate and undergraduate programs have seen remarkable growth in the last five years, and our strong engagement with games industry partners helps our students land jobs where their skills can be used to change the way games are made.,” said Young.

Animation Career Review is an online resource for people aspiring for careers in animation, game design, graphic design, digital art and related fields.

Media Contacts

Vincent Horiuchipublic relations associate, College of Engineering