Columbia College Chicago

Game Programming, BA

At Columbia, Game Programming students are creative artists, not simply technicians. Our Game Programming major isn’t built out of an engineering or computer science department. It’s one of the most creative, forward-thinking programs in the country. In addition to scripting and programming courses, you’ll take Liberal Arts and Sciences Core classes to gain a well-rounded education that prepares you for the collaborative, ever-changing technology industry.

You’ll learn and work in a team environment. You’ll learn how to (and how not to) work with others, making you a valuable candidate for employers. We believe in the “fail up” mentality, wherein you learn and grow as an artist, student and person by making mistakes and learning something new along the way.

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll take Intro to Game Development your first semester, a requirement for all students in Interactive Arts and Media game programs. This course identifies the characteristics of the diverse game genres and the career paths within them. We’ll dive into key concepts that differentiate game designers, programmers, sound artists and everything in between to help you ensure you’re in the program that best suits your interests.

Beyond that, you’ll hit the ground running, learning core theory and immediately putting it into practice. You’ll take the programming theory learned in your first semester and practice it through a variety of exercises in Object Oriented Programming, taken your second semester.

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll take part in a small-group (Indie Team Game Studio) or large-group (Large Team Game Studio) capstone. But this is not your average senior project—the creative power is yours. Capstone projects are pitched and led by students. Perhaps you have your eye on a leadership role, or a role as a valuable member of the production team? You’ll work not only with peers in your program, but also with students throughout the college.

Game-industry-veteran faculty members are there to supervise the process, but you and your fellow students are the producers and bosses. You’ll be empowered to make your own creative decisions and see them through to the finished game. This immersive, experiential approach requires professional-level work and commitment, and it prepares you to launch successfully into a career in the game industry.

BA vs. BS: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature a flexible curriculum that allows for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major. Bachelor of Science (BS) programs feature more focused required coursework in the major.

If you wish to pursue entry to the Game Programming BS program, you must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. If eligible, you will be evaluated individually by the Interactive Arts and Media department sometime during your first or second year of enrollment.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia prides itself on giving you real-world opportunities while you’re in school. The lineup differs from year to year, but in the past, students have tested their skills, networked with professionals and shown off their work at events like:

  • The Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco—the world's largest professionals-only game industry event.
  • The Chicago Toy and Game Fair—Indie Team Game Studio students are required to show there each year.
  • SXSW in Austin—compete in events like a Music Hackathon, where participants develop a prototype for a music app in just 24 hours.
  • Industry Night—the Interactive Arts and Media Department’s annual event to showcase graduating seniors’ work to industry professionals from across the country.
What are my internship options?

Interning is the best way to get real-world industry experience. Our students have interned at places like Bethesda Softworks, Braintree, NetherRealm Studios, High Voltage Software, and WMS Industries.

See the Career Center website for information on internships.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.