11. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts (top 10% of schools reviewed)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Interactive Media & Game Development (IMGD) program is one of the top eight game design programs in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review. The program, which focuses on learning by doing, highlights content creation, design, programming, project management, and testing. IMGD is a four-year program that leads to a BS. Other programs include a Minor and a MS in Interactive Media & Game Development.
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private, research institute with a solid reputation in the worlds of science and engineering. The school, which sits on 80 acres on a private hilltop, is just 35 miles west of Boston and a short distance from renowned art museums, shopping centers, and 13 other colleges. WPI is home to more than 5,500 graduate and undergraduate students, enrolled in more than 50 programs.
12. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia (top 10% of schools reviewed)
Established in 1885 as the Georgia School of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology ranks among the Top Ten Best Public Universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Famous for its award-winning engineering programs, Georgia Tech is listed at number seven and it is home to eight undergraduate engineering programs ranked in the top five by U.S. News & World report. With more than 21,500 undergraduate and graduate students, Georgia Tech has also made its mark in the world of interactive games.
Among Georgia Tech’s 100+ academic programs is the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computational Media. Offered through the College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC), the BS program offers three specialty areas including Interactive Games Design, Special Effects, and Culturally Informed Program Design. The program prepares students for careers in game design and development, digital arts, and software design.
13. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood California (top 15% of schools reviewed)
The Gnomon School of Visual Effects has one of the largest collections of course offerings for aspiring animators, game designers, and visual effects artists. Divided into four categories including Digital on-campus, Traditional on-campus, Online, and Maya Fast Track, Gnomon offers nearly 170 courses, at all levels. Students have their pick of programs that take one, two, or three years to complete.
The Entertainment Design program is a full-time, one-year track program for aspiring game designers and related fields, and the Digital Production for Entertainment program is a two-year, full-time program. The Entertainment Design & Digital Production program is also full-time and takes three years to complete and the Maya Fast Track program lasts 10 weeks. While the programs do not lead to a degree, the curriculum is well-respected in the entertainment industry.
Founded in 1997, the Gnomon School of Visual Effects has a 96 percent placement rate. The school has helped graduates land positions at Sony Entertainment, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, Blizzard, Disney Interactive Media Group, Thatgamecompany, and more. In addition, Gnomon faculty are respected members of the entertainment community and have worked for or consulted top companies such as Activision, Blizzard, Digital Domain, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Imageworks, Rock Star Games, Sony Interactive, and Sony Pictures, to name a few.
14. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 15% of schools reviewed)
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was founded in 1931 by “art collector, real estate developer and circus impresario,” John Ringling. This independent, not-for-profit visual arts and design college is situated on 48 acres just north of downtown Sarasota, Florida. The school is home to more than 1,300 students, enrolled in 14 majors from Animation and Game Design to Printmaking and Sculpture.
Aspiring game designers typically choose to enroll in Ringling’s second most popular program—the BFA in Game Art & Design. Worthy related programs include the BFA in Motion Design, Graphic & Interactive Communication, Computer Animation, Digital Filmmaking, or Illustration. Illustration is RCAD’s most popular program and the third most popular program is Graphic & Interactive Communication.
Ringling College of Art and Design attracts more than 60 recruiters each year, so it has an excellent record of accomplishment when it comes to providing job opportunities for future graduates. Just a few frequent recruiters include Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar Animation, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, and Universal Studios.
15. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (top 15% of schools reviewed)
With a 94 percent placement rate and instructors that work with major players in the industry such as Blizzard Entertainment and Sony Online Entertainment, Laguna College of Design (LCAD) is considered one of the top game design schools in the country. The school’s unique Game Art program is “project-based and highly collaborative,” yet students still receive “a foundation in classical training.” The program offers training using state-of-the-art industry software and partnerships with USC’s graduate program, GamePipe.
Laguna College of Art and Design was established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art. This intimate art and design school is located in a beautiful beachside community filled with art galleries and public art installations. Located just 50 miles from Los Angeles—the entertainment capital of the world, this artsy beach town attracts more than 3 million visitors per year.
LCAD is home to just under 500 students, enrolled in five undergraduate majors and one graduate program. Undergraduate offerings include BFA programs in Game Art, Animation, Illustration, Drawing and Painting, and Graphic Design. The graduate program awards a Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and in Painting. In addition, LCAD is a member of an elite group of institutions that hold both regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and national accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
16. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 15% of schools reviewed)
DePaul University is the nations largest Catholic University and it is among the nations 10 largest private universities. The school is home to just under 25,000 students and it offers nearly 300 undergraduate majors and graduate programs. DePaul's Communication, Accounting, and Finance programs helped the school secure a spot in the "Great Schools for 15 of the Most Popular Undergraduate Majors" category by Princeton Review (2010).
DePaul University also has a number of popular majors for aspiring game designers. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), School of Cinema and Interactive Media offers BS degrees in Computer Game Development, Animation, Digital Cinema, and Interactive and Social Media. The School also offers BA degrees in Animation and Digital Cinema.
DePaul offers a number if impressive programs at the graduate level as well. Game design graduates may choose to enroll in the MS in Computer Game Development, the MA in Animation, the MS in Cinema Production, or the MA in Communication Media Arts. Academically gifted students have an additional option. Through the combined degree program, these students may combine many College of Computing and Digital Media BA degrees with CDM Master’s degrees.
17. The University of Texas-Austin, Austin, Texas (top 15% of schools reviewed)
The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is the largest school in the University of Texas system. With a student body of more than 50,000 students, UT Austin is also one of the largest public universities in the U.S. Listed at number 25 in the 2012-13 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, UT Austin offers more than 170 undergraduate programs, more than 150 Master’s programs and 80+ Doctoral programs.
Among these programs is the recently launched Game Development program.
Developed by the Radio-Television-Film, Computer Science, and Fine Arts departments, the Game Development program is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program that is 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.” A number of internal and local organizations have also committed to helping aspiring game designers succeed in the field. Just a few include the Austin IGDA (a nonprofit advocacy group for the video games industry in Austin, Texas) and UT Austin’s Electronic Game Developers Society—EGaDS!
The University of Texas-Austin has several related programs that may enhance the Game Development BS, which may open the door to additional opportunities in the entertainment industry. The College of Communication, Radio, Television, Film Department (RTF) will launch the nation's first 3D Production curriculum in Fall 2013. In addition to producing a range of 3D content, students will "explore recent 3-D innovations, such as “glasses-free” 3-D for television, tablets, cellphones and small display devices." UT Austin also offers MFA degrees in Film & Media Production and Screenwriting and a BS in Radio-Television-Film (RTF).
18. Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Orlando, Florida (top 20% of schools reviewed)
Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy is a program offered at the University of Central Florida Center for Emerging Media (CEM). The program, which is home to more than 300 graduates from 102 undergraduate schools, features a Master’s of Interactive Entertainment. Located in a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Orlando, FIEA offers three tracks including Art, Production, and Programming.
The Art track covers areas such as game art, lighting, modeling, and capture editing, and the Production track teaches students how to develop video game ideas, manage game developers, and how to market and distribute games. Programming students learn how to write their own game engine and tackle issues in the game industry such as memory management. UCF's Center for Emerging Media (CEM) also offers an MFA in Studio Art and the Computer, an MFA and MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media, a BFA in Emerging Media: Character Animation track, and a BD in Architecture.
At UCF’s main campus, students may enroll in the Art BA program with a concentration in Drawing or Illustration and at UCF Research Park, a Digital Media BA with Web Design and Game Design tracks is offered. Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy accepts students from these majors and many others. However, typical undergraduate majors include Art, Animation, Illustration, Graphic Design, Visual Art, Computer Science, Digital Media, Computer Engineering, Communications, Game Design, Digital Art, Theater, Architecture, and even Technical Writing. Regardless of major, many UCF/FIEA graduates have landed positions at EA Tiburon, Lockheed Martin, Iron Galaxy Studios, Monster Media, Ubisoft, Lucas Film Animation, n-space, Zynga, and more.
19. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (top 20% of schools reviewed)
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988 as “DigiPen.” The Institute began as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company. Today, DigiPen Institute of Technology is an accredited college with campuses in Redmond, Washington, Bilbao, Spain, and Singapore. The school also has a student body of more than 1,000 students, enrolled in nine degree programs.
DigiPen offers a BA in Game Design, a BS in Computer Science and Game Design, and a BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. Related offerings for aspiring game designers (and developers) include the BFA in Digital Art and Animation, the MFA in Digital Arts, and the MS in Computer Science. Students interested in sound design for games may opt for the BS in Engineering and Sound Design or the BA in Music and Sound Design.
DigiPen has another unique program for students. The school allows students to take individual courses through the Non-Matriculated Studies program. The program does not lead to a degree, but it may be useful for individuals that may be interested in enhancing existing skills or who may be interested in studying specific areas of Game Design, Animation, Digital Arts, or other fields.
20. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (top 20% of schools reviewed)
The College for Creative Studies (CCC) was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The organization officially became a college in 1962, when the Michigan Department of Education granted permission to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. Since then, the school has added 12 BFA majors, several MFA programs, 12 minors, and a variety of continuing education and certificate programs. In addition, CCC is accredited by two agencies including the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Located on a 10-acre campus in midtown Detroit, the College for Creative Studies is home to more than 1,400 students. Many are enrolled in the schools top three programs—Illustration, Entertainment Arts, and Transportation Design. The Entertainment Arts program is the top choice for aspiring game designers. The BFA in Entertainment Arts offers three concentrations including Game, Animation, and Video. A Minor in Entertainment Arts and Illustration are also available.
The Game concentration teaches students “how to produce 2-D and 3-D images and concepts for games.” Career options range from Game Designer to Visual Effects Artist. The BFA program also offers access to CCA’s unique Study Abroad program. Students may enroll in a variety of experiences that will take them to Ireland, Malaysia, Germany, Mexico, or Florence.