32. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California (top 30% of schools reviewed)
31. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Established in 1898, Northeastern University is a global, experimental research university that sits on a 73-acre campus in the heart of Boston. This ideal setting offers access to art, entertainment, and a number of game design companies such as Seven45 Studios, Subaltern Games, Owlchemy Labs, and Zapdot. Home to more than 21,000 students, Northeastern University houses nine schools and colleges. The College of Arts, Media, and Design, Department of Art + Design maintains the school’s diverse collection of art and design programs.
Students interested in game design may choose from several programs and related programs. Students may also choose from a variety of combined programs. The Department offers BFA degrees in Game Design, Digital Art, and Graphic Design. Combined programs/majors include BFA degrees in Digital Art and Game Design; Graphic Design and Interactive Media; Graphic Design and Game Design, and Cinema Studies and Digital Art.
A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science and Interactive Media is also on the menu as well as BS degrees in Computer Science and Digital Art, and Interactive Media and Music-Music Technology.
The University of Southern California, Santa Cruz was established in 1965 with just 650 students. Today, the school’s 2,000-acre campus is home to nearly 18,000 students, enrolled in more than 60 majors in 30 fields of study. Commonly called UC Santa Cruz or UCSC, the University of California, Santa Cruz has some of the top science programs in the country. However, the 10 most popular undergraduate degrees are Film and Digital Media, Psychology, Business Management Economics, Literature, Politics, History, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, and Community Studies.
Although the Film and Digital Media program is one of the school’s most popular programs, many aspiring game designers typically choose the BS in Computer Science-Computer Game Design. This program “provides students with a deep understanding of the technical aspects of computer game engineering and a broad background in the artistic, narrative, and dramatic elements of game design.”
The interdisciplinary BS program offers hands-on work experience through an internship, fieldwork or study abroad experiences. During their senior year, students may also gain valuable experience by working at the school’s own Game Design Studio. Here, students work in teams (and with faculty) to develop games from concept to the finished product.
Several related program options for aspiring game designers are offered through the Division of the Arts. These include the BA in Film and Digital Media (F+DM) with a Production concentration, an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media, and a Minor in F+DM. The Division of Arts even offers a PhD in Film and Digital Media for students seeking a terminal degree in the field.
33. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Although Drexel University is famous for being a leader in the field of research, the school has a stellar reputation in the areas of art & design and technology. In fact, the school is number six on Princeton Review’s list of “Top 15 Undergraduate Schools to Study Video Game Design for 2013.” In addition, Drexel became the first university to operate a fully wireless campus back in 2000 on a network appropriately named DragonFly. Established in 1891 and home to more than 22,000 students today, the school also created the world's very first Engineering Degree in Appropriate Technology (BS).
The Digital Media Program of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to Drexel’s top-ranked BS in Game Art & Production. The Computer Science Department, College of Engineering is home to the top-ranked BS in Game Programming and Development. In addition to making the Top 15 list, Drexel’s game programs also made the Top 10 list for Video Game Design by Gamepro Media.
Among Drexel University’s more than 200 academic programs are several related programs for aspiring game designers. Other offerings include a BS in Animation & Visual Effects, a BS in Web Development & Interaction Design, and a MS in Digital Media. A Minor in Digital Media is also available.
34. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Southern Methodist University (SMU) was established in 1911 and the school opened in 1915. This private research university has grown into three campuses, totaling 685 acres, with a student population of more than 11,000. The school has its main campus in Dallas (five miles north of downtown Dallas), and other campuses in Plano, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. Offering more than 100 majors and 75 minors through seven schools, SMU ranks in the top one-fourth of the “Best National Universities” by U.S. News & World Report, and 58 among 280 national universities in the 2013 report.
Southern Methodist University has a number of impressive offerings for artists and designers from Studio Art and Dance to Film, Music, and more. Aspiring game designers will find several top-rated offerings through the SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Listed in Parade Magazine's 2010 College A-List, the Meadows School (in partnership with the Guildhall—SMU’s school of video game development), offers a BFA in Studio Art/Master’s of Interactive Technology (M.I.T.) in Digital Game Development. The program “coordinates with the Art Creation and Level Design tracks in Game Development.”
Head over to Southern Methodist University’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and you will find another excellent program for game designers. The School offers a BS in Computer Science with a specialization Game Development. Back at the Meadows School of the Arts, other related programs include a Minor in Graphic Design and a BFA in Film and Media Arts.
35. Stony Brook University, Stony Brook New York (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Stony Brook University is one of the State University of New York's four University Centers. It was established in 1957 and it is ranked in the top one percent of all universities in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Located on 1,039-acres just 60 miles east of New York City, Stony Brook University is home to 13 colleges and schools and more than 24,000 students. The school offers more than 200 academic programs.
The Stony Brook University, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with specializations in Game Programming and Human-Computer Interaction.
Related programs include Minors in Digital Arts, Media Arts, and Computer Science. The Department also offers an accelerated BS/MS program. Also called the “5-year program,” the BS/MS program allows students to complete the undergraduate and graduate degree in five years instead of the standard six to seven. Computer Science majors may apply in their junior year.
36. Woodbury University, Burbank, California (top 30% of schools reviewed)
Woodbury University was established in 1884 as “Woodbury Business College.” The college was originally located in a Los Angeles storefront situated in the city’s historic center. Today, Woodbury University is located on a 22.5-acre campus in Burbank California, with a satellite campus in San Diego. The school is now home to more than 1,500 students, enrolled in over 20 academic programs, throughout four schools.
The School of Media, Culture & Design offers eight popular majors. Among them are BFA programs in Game Art and Design, Animation, Graphic Design, and Filmmaking. The Game Art and Design BFA offers two emphases including Game Art, which focuses on “character and environmental design and animation,” and Game Design, which focuses on “elements of design such as game conceptualization, play mechanic creation, and prototyping.”
Because Woodbury University is located near many of the city’s top entertainment studios, the school offers access to a number of excellent internship opportunities. Just a few past sponsoring companies include Disney Imagineering’s Blue Sky Department, DreamWorks, Universal Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Warner Brothers Animation.
37. University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, Arizona (top 40% of schools reviewed)
Established in 1983, the University of Advancing Technology began as the CAD Institute—a school for engineers and architects. The school offered professional development training and certifications. CAD Institute became the University of Advancing Computer Technology in 1997 and the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) in 2002. Today, UAT sits on a 50,000-square-foot campus in Tempe (near the heart of downtown Phoenix), and it is home to more than 800 students from all 50 states and 4 continents.
The University of Advancing Technology offers 20 undergraduate degrees. Among the most popular programs are Game Design (BA, AA), Game Programming (BS, AS), and Digital Video (BA, AA). The school also offers BA and AA programs in Game Art and Animation, Serious Game and Simulation, Digital Media, and Virtual Modeling and Design. A MS in Game Production and Management is also on the menu.
38. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan (top 40% of schools reviewed)
Founded in 1932, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) is one of the nation’s top colleges for applied technology, engineering, architecture, and science. The school, which sits on a 102-acre campus in the City of Southfield Michigan, ranks number 40 among regional universities by U.S. News & World Report. LTU is home to more than 3,000 students, enrolled in more than 50 academic programs, throughout four colleges.
Lawrence Technological University offers several top programs for game designers through the College of Architecture and Design, Department of Art + Design and the College of Arts & Sciences. Offerings though the College of Architecture include BA and BFA degree program in Game Art and BFA degrees in Interaction Design and Graphic Design. The College of Arts & Sciences offers a BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Game Software Development. The Computer Science major is listed as one of the school’s most popular programs.
39. Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California (top 40% of schools reviewed)
The Art Center College of Design is listed as one of the “World’s Best Design Schools” by Bloomberg Businessweek. The school has welcomed famous artists such as Ansel Adams and Keith Haring, and it was the first design school to install computer labs. Established in 1930 with 12 teachers and just eight students, Art Center College of Design is now home to more than 1,600 students.
The Art Center College of Design was originally located “in a courtyard of buildings on West Seventh Street in Los Angeles.” Today the school sits on a 175-acre campus, on a wooded hillside in Pasadena. The school’s eclectic group of aspiring artists agree that the Pasadena campus is the perfect setting to cultivate and practice creativity.
Among Art Center’s 11 undergraduate programs and six graduate degree programs are several top-tier programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include BS degrees in Interaction Design and Entertainment Design, and a BFA in Illustration. Related programs include BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Film. The Entertainment Design program is the number one choice for aspiring game designers and animators.
In addition to preparing students to work in the game design and animation industries, the Entertainment Design program allows students to collaborate with peers in other departments through the Transdisciplinary Studios and Designmatters projects. The program also offers the opportunity to take a combination of Illustration and Industrial Design classes. This will help students further develop their portfolios and skills. An added bonus is the Art Center College of Design Internship program. All students are eligible for these paid opportunities.
40. The University of Texas-Dallas, Dallas, Texas (top 40% of schools reviewed)
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was established in 1969. It is home to 19,727 students, 50 centers, labs, and institutes, and 134 degree programs. The school, which sits on a 500-acre campus in the heart of North Texas, ranked in the top 100 by Kiplinger's and the Times Higher Education ranks UT Dallas as one of the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years old.
The University of Texas-Dallas has an impressive collection of degree offerings for aspiring game designers. Few universities offer all degree levels for game designers. Even fewer offer a PhD. In addition to the PhD, UT Dallas offers a BA, MA, and MFA in Arts and Technology with a strong focus in game design and animation.
Introduced in 2004, the Arts and Technology program (ATEC) is listed as one of the school’s most popular majors. The program helped UT Dallas secure a spot on Princeton Review’s "Top Schools for Video Game Design" list (2011). In addition, the ATEC program is the Princeton Review list of “Top 10 Graduate Programs.”
The ATEC program features courses such as Computer Game Design, Computer Game Development, Computer Animation, Serious Games, Sonification, Game Pipeline Methodologies, Translations of Time & Space, and Interactive Narrative. A final project is required, and complementary majors are on the menu. The Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) major is the most popular complementary major.