Illinois is home to 181 Title IV degree-granting institutions. These schools (1) have been in business for at least two years, (2) they have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, (3) they grant an associate's degree or higher, (4) they have signed a participation agreement with the Department, and (5) they offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length. Once these requirements have been met, the school becomes eligible for federal financial aid programs. This makes them more accessible to students with financial need. 

Many of the state’s Title IV schools offer excellent programs for aspiring game designers and developers. Some are expensive, while others are considered affordable. Continue reading to find out which Illinois schools offer top-tier game design and development programs and what you can expect to pay.  

Most Expensive Illinois Game Design & Development Schools

DePaul University, Chicago – Tuition Cost: Undergraduate $35,680 for the 2015 – 2016 school year.

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Bradley University, Peoria – Tuition Cost: Undergraduate $31,110; Graduate $14,940 ($830 per credit hour/9 credit hours per semester) for the 2015-2016 school year.

Tribeca Flashpoint College, Chicago – Tuition Cost: Undergraduate $25,375 per year for the 2011-2012 school year. Most current tuition information available.

Columbia College, Chicago – Tuition Cost: Undergraduate $23,640 for the 2015-2016 school year.

Least Expensive Illinois Game Design & Development Schools

Western Illinois University, Macomb – Tuition Cost: Undergraduate residents $6,905 (12 credit hours per semester), nonresidents $10,358 (12 credit hours per semester) 2014-2015 school year. 

More Illinois Schools with Game related programs:  

Illinois Game Design & Development Scene

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment and salary information for game designers and developers. However, while game designers and developers are both artists and software developers, BLS information for software developers best reflects what you can expect in the areas of employment and salaries for this group. 

According to the Bureau, the U.S. is home to more than 1 million software developers, averaging $90,060 to $99,000 per year. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $55,190, and the top 10 percent earn more than $138,880. Illinois is home to 39,380 software developers averaging $85,740 to $99,030 per year. 

Several other sources offer salary information for game designers and developers. According to Gamasutra’s latest Game Developer Salary Survey (2014), game developers nationwide averaged $83,060 in 2013. It is important to note that salaries for Game designers and developers vary based on location (city), company, experience, employer, and more. For example, according to Indeed, Chicago-based game designers and developers average around $123,000 per year, while Aurora-based designers average $98,000 per year and Rockford-based designers average $111,000 per year. According to the site, Illinois-based game designers and developers average $116,000 per year, overall.

A variety of game design and development studios can be found in and around Chicago. Just a few options include:

  • Babaroga, Chicago
  • Day 1 Studios, Chicago
  • High Voltage Software, Hoffman Estates
  • Incredible Technologies, Arlington Heights
  • Iron Galaxy Studios, Chicago
  • Jackbox Games, Chicago
  • Robomodo, Chicago
  • WB Games/NetherRealm Studios, Chicago
  • Zynga Games, Chicago

While opportunities can be found in a number of cities across the state, Chicago (the state’s largest city) is still the most active place for game designers and developers. However, other larger cities such as Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, and Naperville are worth exploring as well.

Awesome Animation Fact: Computer animation was first used in video games, but as the technology developed, it spread to movies and television for special effects and animated features. Computer animation has evolved from both cel and stop-frame animation techniques. –Fact Monster, Dorling Kindersley