UC Santa Cruz Computer Game Design Degree

The University of California Santa Cruz opened its doors to students in 1965. Now, over 16,000 students are enrolled in the University’s 60 undergraduate programs and 30 graduate fields of study. The school is known for being a world-class research facility. 

The Computer Game Design degree program offered by the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) is a relatively new program offered by the school. Developed as the result of the growing computer and video game industry in the state, the UCSC program gives first-year students the opportunity to take design courses. By the time they get to their senior year, students work in a group on a lab project where they have the opportunity to develop their own new video game.

In Focus: The Game Design Program at UCSC

Students who choose to take the Computer Science Design program at UCSC get a good foundation on the subject by taking courses in art, writing, and music. They are also required complete classes in computer engineering and digital media. Required general education courses in humanities and social sciences help to give students a well-rounded education.


The course of study for Computer Game Design students is as follows:

  • Advanced Programming
  • Algorithms and Abstract Data Types
  • Analysis and Design of Communication Protocols
  • Applied Discrete Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Artificial Intelligence for Games
  • Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Computational Models
  • Computer Architecture
  • Computer Systems and Assembly Language Laboratory
  • Database Systems
  • Digital Media Workshop: Computer as a Medium
  • Distributed Systems: File Sharing, Online Gaming, and More
  • Embedded Software
  • Game Design Experience
  • Game Design Studio
  • Graphic Elements for Computer Games
  • Honors Calculus
  • Hypermedia and the Web
  • Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms
  • Introduction to Computer Graphics
  • Introduction to Computer Networks
  • Introduction to Data Structures
  • Introduction to Digital Media Production
  • Introduction to Operating Systems
  • Introduction to Physics
  • Introduction to Probability Theory
  • Introduction to Programming
  • Linear Algebra
  • Mathematical Methods for Engineers
  • Multimedia Processing and Applications
  • Parallel and Concurrent Programming
  • Social Information Spaces

How to Apply to the University of California Santa Cruz

Prospective first-year students at UCSC must be eligible to be admitted to the University of California and then successfully be selected for admission to Santa Cruz.

Being eligible for admission to UC doesn’t necessarily mean that the applicant will be able to attend classes at Santa Cruz.

There are three ways a prospective student may establish eligibility to attend UC.

To demonstrate "eligibility in the statewide context," a student must have achieved a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 in his or her college preparatory courses in high school. The minimum GPA for out-of-state applicants is 3.4. SAT or ACT scores must also be submitted to the University.

Students may also be deemed eligible to attend UC by "eligibility in the local context." California residents who place in the top four percent of their high school class in their junior year are notified of their eligibility status. To keep it, they are required to apply to the school in November of their senior year and score above a certain threshold on the SAT or ACT test as well as complete the courses required for acceptance.

The third way to be declared eligible for admission to UC is by examination alone. Students who score above the minimum UC score of 410 (425 for applicants from out of state) as well as obtain a minimum of 63 on each section of the SAT or ACT Reasoning Test and each SAT Subject Test are deemed eligible for admission.

Application forms are available online. The University accepts application forms for the fall term between November 1 and November 30.


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