21. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (top 20% of schools reviewed)
Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) was established in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. The school became the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1949, and today it offers 16 majors in art, design, craft, and interactive media to a coed student population of 525. Located on a 5-acre campus, just east of downtown Cleveland, the Cleveland Institute of Art has nearly 50 full-time and 40 adjunct faculty, making the student-to-faculty ratio 8:1. This is just one reason aspiring artists and designers choose CIA.
Cleveland Institute of Art offers a BFA in Game Design, which prepares students for a career in Game Design, Animation, Layout and Storyboard Art, Visual Effects, and many others. The school also offers a number of related majors such as Illustration, Animation, Video, and Drawing. Based on enrollment, CIA's Game Design and Illustration programs are among the school's top five programs.
All CIA students have access to one of the school’s most unique offerings. CIA is “one of the only art and design schools to assign studio space in a student’s sophomore year.” The school ensures that all students will have personal studio space until graduation.
Founded in 1998, Ex’pression College for Digital Art (ECDA) had a vision to “prepare passionate people for careers in the upcoming industries of sound and visual arts with a very hands on curriculum.” True to its vision, since 1998, the school has helped develop talent for companies such as Google, Zynga, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Clear Channel Entertainment, Digital Domain, Pixomondo, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, to name a few.
Home to more than 500 students (up from just 48 when it opened), Ex’pression College for Digital Art offers a BAS degree in Game Art & Design. The program prepares students for a career in the Interactive Entertainment industry through “immersive training in core-competency areas.” Students may choose a main focus area such as Character Art, Texture Art, Modeling, Level Design, Environmental Art, and more.
Ex'pression College for Digital Art offers a number of related majors between its two campuses in Emeryville and San Jose, CA. Related programs include BAS degrees in Motion Graphic Design, Animation & Visual Effects, and Digital Filmmaking. Students interested in sound design for games have two options—the BAS in Interactive Audio or Sound Arts.
Both ECDA campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and are easily accessible from San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, and the San Jose areas.
23. Becker College, Worcester, Massachusetts (top 20% of schools reviewed)
Becker College (est. 1784) is home of the recently launched Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDIGI). Founded in 2011, MassDIGI is the first video games institute to be established in Massachusetts. The Institute was created to “help to foster the growth and continued collaboration among the local gaming community” and “to support entrepreneurship and strengthen the talent pipeline between higher education and the game industry.” MassDIGI accomplishes this through a variety of initiatives, services, and more.
One MassDIGI initiative—the Summer Innovation Program (SIP), allows student teams to create and launch an original video game in seven short weeks. Another initiative—the Virtual Production Lab (VPL), offers a "complete development environment" that houses the latest game development technology for Mobile, PC, Console, and Social gaming. MassDIGI is just one reason aspiring game designers choose Becker College.
Becker College, dubbed “a destination for game designers” by U.S. News & World Report, is home to 2,081 students and it offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interactive Media Design. Students may choose from two areas including Game Design or Game Development and Programming. The Interactive Media Design (also Interactive Entertainment) program is Becker’s number one major and “among the most innovative and best in the nation, consistently ranked in the top 10 by The Princeton Review.”
For the last three years, Becker College has been listed in the Top 10 on The Princeton Review Video Game Design list. Becker is the only college in the state of Massachusetts to maintain a Top 10 spot on the list for three consecutive years.
24. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 20% of schools reviewed)
The Academy of Art University dates back to 1929. The school opened with 50 students in a rented loft in the magnetic city of San Francisco. Today, the Academy of Art sits on a 20+ acre campus, and it is home to around 18,000 students, making it the largest private art and design school in the nation.
Academy of Art University offers six degree types including the Associate of Arts (AA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and the Master of Architecture (MArch). Certificate Programs and Continuing Art Education courses are also available, along with more than 30 areas of academic emphasis. Major offerings range from Acting to Web Design & New Media.
Game Design and related programs are offered through several Academy “Art Schools.” The School of Game Design offers AA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Game Design, and the School of Animation & Visual Effects offers AA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Animation & Visual Effects. AA, BFA, and MFA degrees are offered in Motion Pictures & Television, Illustration, and Music Production & Sound for Visual Media. The School of Multimedia Communications offers BA and MA degrees in Multimedia Communications.
Some degree programs are offered online, while others lead to an Award of Completion. For example, the BFA and MFA in Game Design are offered online. Students that are interested in a certificate-type program will enroll in the Online Award of Completion (OAC) program in Games Environments. An OAC in Animation & Visual Effects is also available. The OAC program requires completion of five undergraduate courses. Should the student decide to enroll in a degree program later, the OAC may be applied towards the corresponding degree.
25. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Established in 1963, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is home to more than 59,000 students, making it the second largest school in the U.S. and the largest in the state of Florida. The school, which sits on a 1,415-acre main campus, houses 12 colleges that offer more than 212 degree programs and over 125 certificates and minors. UCF also has 10 regional campuses located throughout Central Florida.
The University of Central Florida School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) is home to the school’s Digital Media program. The program offers a Game Design track leading to a Bachelor of Art degree. SVAD also offers an Art BA with concentrations in Drawing and Illustration, as well as a BFA in Emerging Media with Graphic Design and Experimental Animation tracks.
UCF is home to several other game design programs and initiatives at UCF Research Park and UCF Downtown. The Orlando Tech Center building at Research Park
“is designed for the Digital Media BA” with Game Design and Web Design tracks. The Center For Emerging Media (CEM) at UCF Downtown offers MFA and MA degrees in Visual Language and Interactive Media, a BFA in Emerging Media: Character Animation track, and an MFA in Studio Art and the Computer. The Center is also home to the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) and Vicon Entertainment's House of Moves Motion Capture Studio.
26. The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah (top 30% of schools reviewed)
The University of Utah (The U) is a unique institution located on a 1,535-acre campus in “the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain range.” Established in 1850 as Deseret University and home to more than 30,000 students, the U is the oldest and largest university in the state of Utah. In addition to holding these coveted titles, the U ranked number one in generating startup companies by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) and it ranked number 35 in Web Presence in North America by Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.
The University of Utah offers more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate degree programs. Among them is the Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program. Developed by the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing, the EAE program offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.
The Entertainment Arts and Engineering: Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS) offers three tracks including Game Arts, Game Engineering, and Game Production and it includes four semesters of study plus a mandatory internship. EAE:MGS leads to a MS degree.
The undergraduate program offers a Game Engineering Emphasis, which leads to a BS in Computer Science. The Game Art Emphasis leads to a BFA degree in Film and Media Arts.
27. New York Film Academy, New York, New York (top 30% of schools reviewed)
New York Film Academy (NYFA) was established by Hollywood producer Jerry Sherlock. Sherlock opened the Academy in 1992, within Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Center in New York City. Today, New York Academy sits in historic Tammany Hall, with a location in Los Angeles (adjacent to the Universal Studios backlot) and a branch campus in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
New York Film Academy offers one & two-year hands on intensive programs, a one-year Master of Arts (MA), a two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA), a three-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and an Associate of Fine Art (AFA). The Game Design School offers AFA, BFA, and MFA degrees, as well as the one-year conservatory in Game Design. The conservatory program includes eight game design classes, a game development studio, and improvisational acting.
New York Film Academy offers a wide variety of related programs as well. Students may choose 3D Animation (BFA, conservatory, and three-four week workshops), Digital Editing (four and 12-week workshops), and Filmmaking (AFA, BFA, MA, and MFA). Depending on the program, NYFA students may study at summer locations around the world from Florence to Moscow or at Harvard University or Disney Studios, Florida.
28. Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Founded in 1897, Bradley University is a private, independent university that has a number of accolades to its credit. The school, which sits on 84 acres just one mile from downtown Peoria, is the top Illinois University "of its type" and number six overall among Midwest universities according to U.S. News & World Report. The school is one of the top ten schools for entrepreneurship programs according to Entrepreneur Magazine. Bradley University also happens to be one of the nation’s “Top Undergraduate Schools to Study Video Game Design,” by Princeton Review.
Home to 6,000 students enrolled in more than 130 academic programs, Bradley University offers Game Design programs through the Slane College of Communications and Fine Art and the Computer Science and Information Systems Department. The Slane College Department of Interactive Media is home to the undergraduate program in Interactive Media (BA or BS) with concentrations in Game Design, Animation and Visual Effects, and Web and Application Design. The Department also offers a Minor in Interactive Media and in Game Design.
Head over to the Computer Science and Information Systems Department (CSIS) and you will find several other impressive programs for aspiring game designers. CSIS offers a BS in Computer Science with a Game Technology or Game Software concentration and a BS in Computer Information Systems—also with a concentration in Game Technology or Game Software. The Department also offers a Master of Computer Science and a Master of Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Computer Game Technology. A Minor in Computer Game Technology is also available.
29. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Full Sail University was established in 1979 as Full Sail Recording Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. At its founding, the schools main goal was to train students in music and sound. Today, the school offers 40 degree programs in all areas of entertainment. Situated on a 212-acre campus in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail is home more than 18,700 students and over 110 studios and production environments.
Full Sail University’s Game School offers both online and on-campus programs for game designers including BAs in Game Art and Game Development. Related programs include BAs in Digital Arts & Design, Computer Animation, and Film. The School also offers a Master’s in Game Design. Full Sail graduates have worked as game designer son Halo 4. Call of Duty, Dead Space, Sony’s Starhawk, and more. Other graduates have landed positions at Disney Interactive, EA Tiburon, Insomniac Games, Microsoft, and more.
30. University of California, California, Irvine (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Established in 1965, the University of California Irvine (UCI or UC Irvine) is part of the University of California system. The UC system consists of 10 campuses, 234,000 students, and 207,000 faculty and staff. Located in beautiful Orange County, California, the Irvine campus sits on 1,500 acres and it is home to more than 22,000 students. UC Irvine offers 79 undergraduate majors, 66 undergraduate minors, and more than 100 degree programs for graduate and doctoral students.
Among UCI’s major programs is the BS in Computer Game Science (CGS). Offered through the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, Department of Computer Science, the CGS program prepares students to work with games that run on cell phones and mobile devices, PCs, consoles, Macs, websites, and more. Computer Game Science students study computer programming, artificial intelligence, graphics, database management, network design, and more.
In addition to being ranked 28th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, the Computer Game Science program has produced a number of graduates that currently work at top gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Gameloft, Insomniac Games, Sony Computer Entertainment, and more. The program also works with students of Laguna College of Art and Design’s top-rated Game Art program to “develop innovative, visually engaging games.”