Our 2017 rankings of the top 10 game design schools in the South. We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida is home to one of the largest game design schools in the region. The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) is UCF’s graduate video game design school. The Academy opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA is home to dozens of students enrolled in the MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks.
Track options include Art, Production, and Programming. FIEA and the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) also offer a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, an MFA in Emerging Media with a Track in Digital Media, and an MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media.
About UCF: The University of Central Florida (UCF) was founded in 1963, making it one of the nation’s youngest universities. With more than 64,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 13 colleges, UCF is also the largest university in Florida by enrollment, and one of the largest in the U.S.
2. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is home to the College of Computing and Games@GT. This “institute-wide initiative” was “designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations.” Degree options include a BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Game Studies Focus, an MS degree in Digital Media (formerly Information Design and Technology), an MS in Digital Media – HCI, and a PhD in Digital Media.
The BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Game Studies Focus is also supported by the School of Literature Communication and Culture within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.
All Games@GT students have access to resources offered by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.
About Georgia Tech: Founded in 1885, the Georgia Institute of Technology opened for classes October 8, 1888 with just 129 students enrolled in a BS in Mechanical Engineering program. Today, Georgia Tech is home to more than 25,000 students enrolled in over 80 degree programs and 50-plus minors.
3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) is home to the Computer Animation Department, which offers a BFA in Game Art. Students in the program will study “the basics of game design mechanics, meaningful play, interactivity, and options for creating and refining game content.” The technical aspects of 3D animation software and game engines will also be explored and students have access to eight state-of-the-art computer labs in addition to three open labs.
Per the school, “Game Art students are also experimenting with VR technology using the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.”
About RCAD: Established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design opened with 111 course offerings and just 75 students. Today, the school is home to 1,300 degree-seeking students enrolled in 13 majors and five minors across a number of departments. Just a few include Film, Illustration, Motion Design, Fine Arts, and Photography and Imaging.
4. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
School of Digital Media offers at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a number of programs for game designers. Options include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD). The BA is available at the Savannah, Atlanta, eLearning campuses. The BFA is offered in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong. SCAD’s MA and MFA in IDGD are available in Savannah, Hong Kong, and through eLearning.
Minors in IDGD, Concept Art for Games, Design for 3-D Action Figures, and Illustration for Entertainment are available as well as a Graduate Certificate in Interactive Design.
About SCAD: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was established in 1978 and it is home to around 13,000 students from nearly 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 70 minors and certificate programs across four campuses including Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France.
5. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
The Game School at Full Sail University offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Mobile Development. Graduate degrees include an MS in Game Design or Mobile Gaming.
The school has produced a number of successful graduates. Fifty-three Full Sail graduates were credited on 21 nominated projects at The Game Awards 2015. Grads worked on nominated and winning projects in categories including Game of the Year, Best Narrative, Best Multiplayer, and Best Score/Soundtrack.
About Full Sail: Full Sail University was established in 1979. The school consists of 880,000 square feet of media production facilities, 110+ studios and labs, and more than 60 classrooms. Located just a few miles from Orlando, Full Sail University is home to approximately 15,500 students from 50 states and 67countries. The school offers 78 degree programs in the areas of Entertainment, Media, and the Arts, leading to a certificate or a degree.
6. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, Orlando, Florida
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a 15-month Game Production Diploma that covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals. Launched in 2014, the Game Production Diploma is designed for those interested in working on the artistic side of game production.
About DAVE: The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in Game Production, 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, and 3D Visual Effects.
7. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
The College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NC State) is home to the Department of Computer Science, which houses the game program. Degree options include a BS in Computer Science with a Game Development Concentration and an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree. This program allows students to complete the requirements for a Bachelor’s degree and a non-thesis Master’s in the same field within 18 months of completing the Bachelor’s degree.
The BS program “produces skilled computer scientists with deep knowledge in the algorithms, processes and technologies used to make games.” Highlighted courses include Game Design and Development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Game AI, Computer Models of Interactive Narrative, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Graphics, Advanced Graphics Projects, and Advanced Game Development Projects. Electives run the gamut from Game Studies and Fantasy to Film and Science Fiction.
About NC State: North Carolina State University was founded in 1887. The school is home to 33,755 students enrolled in hundreds of programs representing all major academic fields. NC State has 12 colleges and three campuses—the Main Campus, Centennial Campus, and Centennial Biomedical Campus.
8. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
The College of Computing and Informatics at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) is home to the Department of Computer Science. The Department offers two programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, and a Graduate Certificate in Game Design and Development. Highlighted courses for the BS program include AI for Computer Games, Game Design and Development, Advanced 3D Computer Graphics, Interactive Computer Graphics, and Intelligent Robotics. The Capstone requirement highlights Game Design and Development Studio or Intelligent and Interactive System Studio.
The Certificate program highlights courses such as Game Engine Construction, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, AI for Computer Games, and Interactive Computer Graphics.
About UNC Charlotte: On September 23, 1946, University of North Carolina at Charlotte opened as an evening college center for returning veterans. When it opened, the school was home to 278 students. Today, UNC Charlotte is home to 28,721 students enrolled in 170 degree programs across seven professional colleges.
9. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University is home to the College of Engineering and Science, which offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BA or BS in Computer Science with a Minor in Digital Production Arts (DPA), an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA), and a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Plan (BS) in Computer Science. All students have the opportunity to Minor in DPA, which emphasizes Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation.
About Clemson: Established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson University is home to more than 20,000 students. The school offers 190-plus programs through the graduate school and the colleges of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Architecture, Arts and Humanities; Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences; Business; Education; Science, and Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. Calhoun Honors College and Emeritus College are also part of Clemson.
10. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw Georgia
Kennesaw State University (KSU) is home to the College of Computing and Software Engineering, Department of Software Engineering and Game Design and Development. The Department offers a BS and a Minor in Computer Game Design and Development. The BS program covers digital media, human-computer interaction, the history and theory of gaming, game design, 2D and 3D graphics, simulation, modeling, software engineering, artificial intelligence, data structures, and algorithms.
Students are required to choose a concentration, which will enhance the degree. Current options include Media Production, Distributed Mobile, Education Serious, Planning Management, and Simulation Informatics. The Minor requires 19 credit hours. Sample course titles include Fundamentals of Game Design, Digital Media and Interaction, and Programming and Problem Solving.
About KSU: Founded in 1963 and home to more than 35,000 students, Kennesaw State University is Georgia’s third largest university and one of the fifty largest public universities in the U.S. Part of the University System of Georgia, KSU offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees across 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses including Kennesaw and Marietta.