2018
Top 10 Game Design Schools in the South - 2018 Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1Georgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgia
2University of Central FloridaFlorida
3Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
4Full Sail UniversityFlorida
5Ringling College of Art and DesignFlorida
6North Carolina State University at RaleighNorth Carolina
7University of North Carolina at CharlotteNorth Carolina
8Clemson UniversitySouth Carolina
9Louisiana State UniversityLouisiana
10The Digital Animation & Visual Effects SchoolFlorida

Our 2018 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. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) offers several programs for aspiring game designers through the school’s College of Computing. Known as [email protected], 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 Games or Interaction Focus, an MS degree in Digital Media (formerly Information Design and Technology), an MS in Digital Media – HCI, and a PhD in Digital Media. A BS/MS in Computational Media/Digital Media and an Accelerated 5-Year Bachelor's/Master's are also available.

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 [email protected] students have access to resources offered by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.

About GeorgiaTech: Georgia Institute of Technology was founded in 1885. The school opened for classes October 8, 1888, with just 129 students enrolled in a BS in Mechanical Engineering program. Today, GeorgiaTech is home to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in over 80 degree programs and 50-plus minors.

2. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

The game design program at University of Central Florida (UCF) + Florida Interactive Academy (FIEA) is one of the school’s largest programs. 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. A Minor in Digital Media is also available. 

About UCF: Established in 1963 and home to more than 66,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges.

3. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to the School of Digital Media, which offers 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, Game UX, Mobile and Interactive Design, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Concept Art for Games, and Character Technical Direction are also available.

About SCAD: Savannah College of Art and Design was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from around 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors.

4. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Full Sail University is home to The Game School, which 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 Game Art and Game Design BS degrees are available on campus and online, while the MS in Mobile Gaming is available entirely online.

Fifty-three Full Sail graduates were credited on 21 nominated projects at The Game Awards 2015. Graduates 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 serves approximately 15,000 students. Program offerings include 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees, as well as Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts.

5. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design

The Game Art Program at Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) is part of the Computer Animation Department, which boasts eight state-of-the-art computer labs in addition to three open labs. Game Art students are also experimenting with VR technology using the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Degree options include a BFA with a Game Art Major, which is one of the few programs available that focuses on visual art for computer games.

The school says that students in the program 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.

Other program highlights include visiting artists from major game studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games, and Riot Games, and internships at these studios and others such as Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, and Sony Online Entertainment. Graduates of RCAD enjoy a high professional placement rate as well.

About RCAD: Established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school is home to 1,400 students, offering BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Just a few majors include Game Art, Computer Animation, Motion Design, Film, and Visual Studies.

6. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University at Raleigh

North Carolina State University (NC State) is home to the College of Engineering, which houses the Department of Computer Science. Degree options here include a BS in Computer Science with a Game Development Concentration and an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree. The school says that 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.

The ABM 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.

About NC State: North Carolina State University was founded in 1887. The school serves 33,755 students across 12 colleges representing all major academic fields.

7. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The College of Computing and Informatics at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) houses the Department of Computer Science, which has a number of programs for aspiring game designers. Options include BA and BS degrees in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, an MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Computing and Information Systems, with a Computer Science Track.

Sample courses for the undergraduate programs 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 Department also offers certificates and a minor for game designers. Options include a Game Design (GDD) Certificate, Graduate Game Design (GDD) Certificate, and a Minor in Software and Information Systems. Sample courses for these non-degree programs include Game Engine Construction, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, and AI for Computer Games.

About UNC Charlotte: University of North Carolina at Charlotte opened as an evening college center for returning veterans on September 23, 1946. When it opened, the school was home to just 278 students. Today, UNC Charlotte serves 29,317 students enrolled in 170 degree programs across seven professional colleges.

8. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University

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, an MFA or MS in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA; MS DPA), and a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Plan (BS/MS) in Computer Science. All students have the opportunity to Minor in DPA, which emphasizes Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation.

The MS DPA launched in 2017. The program, along with the MFA DPA, is offered within the Division of Visual Computing in the School of Computing, with significant collaboration with the departments of Art and Performing Arts. The MFA requires 60 credit hours including an MFA thesis and the MS requires 30 credit hours and has both a thesis and a non-thesis option. Students in either program can study in Clemson or Charleston, SC.

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.

9. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) is home to the College of Engineering, which houses the Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) Program and the Division of Computer Science in Engineering. DMAE program options include a 22-month Master in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (MDMAE) and Minors in DMAE Technology (DMAET) and Digital Media Arts & Engineering in Art (DMART). Students in the master’s program will develop specialist skills in a focus area, work with teams in a studio environment on consequential projects, and refine and hone their technical and creative skills.

The DMAET Minor is a collaborative endeavor with seven campus units at LSU. This interdisciplinary academic program helps students learn the skills they need for careers in the field of video game development, film, animation, web development and digital media.

The Division of Computer Science offers BS, MS and PhD programs in Computer Science. A Computer Science Minor is also available. Students have the opportunity to take a number of game-related electives to refine their degree. Available courses include Video Game Design, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Interface Design and Technology, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Digital Media Programming, Interactive Computer Graphics, Graphical and Geometric Modeling, and Scientific Information Visualization.

About LSU: Louisiana State University was founded in Pineville, Louisiana in 1853 under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. Today, LSU serves 29,292 students enrolled in more than 235 academic fields of study across more than a dozen colleges and schools

10. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, Orlando, Florida
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) offers a variety of programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a Game Production Diploma, a Game Production Associate Program, and Bachelor’s Degrees in Game Production, Motion Graphics, and Production Programming. The Production Programming is an online program with seven tracks including Game Design, Game Programming, Graphics Programming, Mixed Reality Development, Mobile App Development, Productivity, and Simulation.

The 12-month Game Production Diploma that covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals. The Game Production Associate Program offers online general education courses, and the Bachelor’s Degree in Game Production offers both general education and electives online. The Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics can be completed entirely online in just 30 months.

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.