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Top 15 Game Design and Development Schools in the Southwest - 2014

Written by ACR StaffApril 28, 2014
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Our 2014 rankings of the Top 15 schools for game design and development in the Southwest US. 

We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Established in 1850 as Deseret University, the University of Utah (The U) sits on a 1,535-acre campus and it is home to more than 32,000 students enrolled in more than 190 degree programs. Included in this large collection of programs are several unique and highly-respected programs for aspiring game designers.

Developed by the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing, The U’s innovative Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) Program features a BS in Computer Science with an Entertainment Arts & Engineering Emphasis and a BA in Film and Media Arts with an Entertainment Arts & Engineering Emphasis. Both programs prepare students for careers in Video Games, Computer Generated Special Effects, Digital Animation, and more.

The U also offers a Master’s of Entertainment Arts & Engineering (MEAE) of the Entertainment Arts and Engineering: Master Games Studio (EAE: MGS). The Master’s Program offers 4 tracks including Game Arts, Game Engineering, Game Production and Technical Art. Students will immerse in 4 semesters of study and complete a mandatory professional level internship, an internal internship, or an individual research project. In addition, all EAE students have access to labs, classes, and personal space in the Master Games Studio.

2. The University of Texas-Austin, Austin, Texas
The University of Texas-Austin (UT Austin) offers one of the region’s best game programs, and it is the school’s most popular major. Developed by the Radio-Television-Film, Computer Science, and Fine Arts Departments, the Game Development program is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program dedicated to preparing students to “design, develop, create assets, and provide leadership for the rapidly growing video game industry both in Texas and around the world.”

The Program—Games and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA), features immersive study in  Game Development, Art Creation, UI/UX Design, Scene/World Building, Sound Design and Production, and 2D/3D Visual Effects Art & Animation. Just a few GAMMA electives include Creating Music: Film/Vid/Games, Interactive Digital Storytelling, Interactive Media & Game Development, and Writing for Interactive Games & Media. UT Austin also offers MFA degrees in Film & Media Production and Screenwriting and a BS in Radio-Television-Film (RTF).

Established in 1883 in a single building with just 2 departments, 8 instructors, and 221 students, UT Austin is now the largest institution of the University of Texas System. The school, which sits on a 350-acre main campus, is home to more than 50,000 students enrolled in 17 colleges and schools, more than 170 undergraduate programs, more than 150 graduate programs, and 80+ Doctoral programs.

33. University of Texas-Dallas, Dallas, Texas
Founded in 1969, the University of Texas-Dallas (UT-Dallas) is home to 19,727 students enrolled in 134 academic programs across 7 schools including the School of Arts and Humanities, Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Naveen Jindal School of Management, and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) School of Arts and Humanities is home to the famed Arts and Technology Program (ATEC). The Program is famous because it offers an impressive number of advanced programs for aspiring game designers. In fact, UT Dallas is one of the few schools to offer a PhD in Arts and Technology. The ATEC program, which is home to more than 1,100 students, offers a BA, MA, and MFA in Arts and Technology. All programs have a strong emphasis in Gaming and Animation.

Students may also consider the BA and MA in Emerging Media and Communication or several popular programs offered through the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. The School offers a BS, MS, and a PhD in Computer Science.

4. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts and The Guildhall at SMU (the University’s School of Video Game Development) offer several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development and a Dual BFA/MIT (Master of Interactive Technology (M.I.T.)) in Digital Game Development. The Game Programs “coordinate with the Art Creation and Level Design Tracks in Game Development.”

A BS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development is also on the menu as well as a BA and a Minor in Creative Computing. These programs are offered in collaboration with the Meadows School and the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering.

Southern Methodist University opened its doors in 1915. It sits on a 685-acre main campus just 5 miles north of Downtown Dallas. Home to 11,000 students from all 50 states, DC, and 90 foreign countries, SMU also has 2 other campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. The school offers 250 undergraduate and professional degrees across 7 schools.

5. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs offers a distinctive collection of programs for aspiring game designers dubbed the “Bachelor of Innovation Family of Degrees.” Each program includes a “per student choice of a cross discipline core, which is a coherent collection of 15 credits from one ‘cross-over’ area.”  Cross-over options include Business, Creative Communication, Engineering, and Globalization.

Bachelor of Innovation (BI) programs include a BI in Game Design and Development and a BI in Computer Science. Related program offerings include the Film Studies program offered through the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and the BA in Communications with a Digital Filmmaking & Media Arts Track. The BA in Communications is offered through the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences-Communications Department.

Established in 1965, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) is home to 10,614 students enrolled in 60 programs at all degree levels. The school—one of the fastest growing universities in the country, sits on a 510-acre campus, just under 70 miles from Denver. UCCS is home to 7 colleges, schools, and departments. The school’s game design programs belong to the Bachelor of Innovation Family of Degrees.

6. University of Houston-Victoria, Victoria, Texas
Established in 1973 the University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) is one of 4 universities of the University of Houston System. The school sits on a 20-acre campus and it is home to 4,491 students enrolled in more than 60 degree programs and concentrations. UHV houses 4 schools including the School of Business Administration, the School of Nursing, the School of Education and Human Development, and the School of Arts & Sciences—home of the Game Program.

Offerings include a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) in Digital Gaming and Simulation, a BS in Computer Science with a Digital Gaming and Simulation Concentration, a BS in Computer Science, and the BA in Communication Design. The Communication Design features study in the areas of Technology, Drawing, Time-Based and Interactive Media (Computer Multimedia, Film, and Video), and more.

The School of Arts & Sciences also offers a Minor in Computer Science and Digital Gaming, and an MS in Computer Science. UHV’s Digital Gaming and Simulation programs are offered at both the Victoria and Sugar Land, Texas campuses. 

7. University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
Established in 1864, the University of Denver is the oldest independent university in the Rocky Mountain region. The school, which sits on a beautiful 125-acre campus just a few miles from Downtown Denver, is home to 1,778 students enrolled in more than 190 programs across 14 academic units. Many of these programs are well-known in the art and design community and among the region’s top employers in the art, design, and technology fields. 

Offered through the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science (Ritchie School) options for game designers include a BA and a BS in Game Development, a BA in Applied Computing, and a BS in Computer Science. The BA in Applied Computing offers a number of electives that are also part of the curriculum for many Game Development programs.

The Ritchie School-Department of Computer Science also offers an aggressive Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science that prepares students for multiple careers within the design and technology industries. Other options are offered through the Department of Mass Communication in collaboration with the Department of Art and Art History and the Department of Computer Science.

The Digital Media Studies program features a BA in Digital Media Studies or a Minor or Double Major in Digital Media Studies and Applied Computing (or other major). The Double Major program is an excellent choice for students looking to enhance their education and career opportunities.

8. St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas
St. Edward’s University houses 6 schools and colleges that offer more than 90 programs of study. This includes top-notch graduate and undergraduate programs for aspiring game designers. Offered through the School of Humanities-Management & Business Department, game options include a BA in Interactive Game Studies, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Interactive Games Management, and a BBA in Digital Media Management. Graduate offerings include a Digital Media Management MBA (DMBA).

St. Edward’s University encourages all design students to take advantage of the school’s lively internship program (both paid and unpaid/college credit internships are available) and considerable Study Abroad Program. The Program offers 1,000+ Study Abroad options in more than 90 countries. Students may enroll in their junior or senior years and they may choose a summer, semester or year-long program.

Established in 1885 by Father Edward Sorin (who also founded the University of Notre Dame) St. Edward’s University is a Catholic Liberal Arts college of more than 5,000 students. The school sits on a 160-acre campus just 3.6 miles from Downtown Austin and it has 2 additional campuses in Austin & North Austin and an overseas campus in Western France. The school also has partner universities in 11 countries including Spain, Scotland, Hong Kong, Argentina, Germany, and more.

9. Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Baylor University is home of the competitive School of Engineering and Computer Science-Department of Computer Science. The Department (in collaboration with the Film and Digital Media Division of Communication Studies) offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science with a Video Game Development Specialization. The program consists of a “Computer Science core, with a three-course Game Development sequence, and a four-course Media Production sequence.”

The Film and Digital Media Division of Communication Studies also offers a Bachelor's Degree and a Minor in Film and Digital Media (FDM) and the Department of Art offers a BFA in Graphic Design. All students are eligible to participate in the Baylor University Internship Program, which offers opportunities to work with a variety studios throughout the State of Texas and many others across the U.S. 

Founded in 1845, Baylor University is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Home to 15,616 students from across the U.S. and 80 foreign countries, Baylor University sits on a 1,000-acre campus just 82 miles from Fort Worth and Arlington, and 88 miles from Dallas.
The school offers more than 250 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs across 11 colleges and schools.

10. University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, Arizona
When it opened in 1983, the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) was a school for engineers and architects bearing the name “CAD Institute.” Today, the school offers 20 undergraduate degrees in multiple areas of art, design, and technology. Game Design is one of the school’s most popular programs. Offerings include AA and BA Degrees in Game Design, AS and BS Degrees in Game Programming, and BA and AA Degrees in Game Art and Animation, Serious Games and Simulation, Digital Media, and Virtual Modeling and Design. UAT also offers MS Degrees in Game Production and Management and Emerging Technologies.

Students may consider several other programs that will enhance their education and career opportunities. These programs will also allow students to study from just about anywhere in the world. UAT Online features degrees in Game Design, Game Programming, Virtual Modeling and Design, and Game Art and Animation. Back on campus, UAT also offers AA and BA Degrees in Digital Video.

Whether you decide to study on campus or online, the training you will receive at UAT will place you ahead of the pack in the competitive game design & development industry. In fact, UAT graduates have landed jobs at top technology companies such as Microsoft, Electronic Arts: EA Games, Motorola, Neversoft, Intel, LexisNexis, NASDAQ, the NSA, and more.

The University of Advancing Technology sits on a 50,000-square-foot campus in Tempe—near the heart of Downtown Phoenix and just a few hours from the mountains. The school is home to more than 800 students from all 50 states and 4 continents.