What are the top ranked game design schools in the South?
|1||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|2||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|3||Full Sail University||Florida|
|4||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida|
|5||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|6||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||North Carolina|
|7||University of Florida||Florida|
|8||Clemson University||South Carolina|
|9||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||North Carolina|
|10||The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School||Florida|
|11||Louisiana State University||Louisiana|
|12||Kennesaw State University||Georgia|
|13||Georgia State University||Georgia|
|14||University of South Carolina||South Carolina|
|15||University of Louisiana at Lafayette||Louisiana|
|16||Eastern Kentucky University||Kentucky|
|17||East Tennessee State University||Tennessee|
|18||Loyola University New Orleans||Louisiana|
|19||University of Alabama Huntsville||Alabama|
|20||Georgia Southern University||Georgia|
Our 2021 rankings of the top 20 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 Academy, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida (UCF) opened its doors in 1968 as Florida Technological University with 1,948 students. The first graduating class consisted of 423 students, and the school granted its first doctoral degree in 1977. Today, UCF leads all universities in Florida in conferring more than 17,000 degrees a year. Serving nearly 72,000 students, the school is also the largest university by enrollment in Florida and one of the largest universities in the nation.
UCF offers 103 bachelors and 91 master’s degrees, 31 research doctorates, three professional doctorates, and three specialist degree programs in 13 colleges.
UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication & Media, Games & Interactive Media Department offers a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design that, “allows students to integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology," says the school. In the Game Design Track, students "learn the history, design cultural impact and implementation of video games and video game technologies." Students will complete courses that will allow them to "build a series of prototype, casual and longer form games throughout the semester as individuals and in teams."
Other program highlights include the opportunity to participate in game jams and meet-ups, which offer networking opportunities and possible job placement.
UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) offers an MS in Interactive Entertainment. This graduate video game design school opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA serves dozens of students enrolled in a 16-month MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks including Art, Production, and Programming.
Each specialization requires nine credit hours of study. Students in all specializations will complete a three credit hour capstone that will allow them to complete a large-scale project. A six credit hour practicum allows students to engage in supervised training with a research team, through an on-site internship, by developing a start-up, or with a faculty member on research in an area of interest.
The base curriculum teaches specific skills in the areas of 3D artistry, game design, and programming as well as essential skills such as problem solving, project management, and teamwork.
“Student production teams are mentored by industry trained faculty who provide instruction in” 3D animation and modeling, game design, level design, motion capture, postmortems, preproduction, rapid prototyping, software engineering, and technical design. The program also covers creative collaboration and legal and technical issues.
Graduates of all programs have access to internship and venture opportunities as well as job interviews with media and game companies from across the country.
UCF also offers an MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media through the Nicholson School of Communication & Media. Students in this program may pursue a non-thesis option and portfolios might include works of art, software or games. Active areas of work at UCF include Digital Media and Instructional Applications, Interactive Performance, and Serious Games for Training and Education, to name a few. Digital Media faculty have extensive professional and academic experience in animation, digital storytelling, game development, immersive design environments, motion graphics, multimedia, and more.
2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) began in a renovated armory, serving as the first classroom and administration building. Since then, the school has grown into a multi-campus art college with locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The school, which serves more than 15,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, offers 40+ majors and over 75 minors—more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college.
The School of Digital Media at SCAD offers a BA in Digital Media with a Concentration in Game Development or Interactive Design, and BFA, MA and MFA degrees in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD). Minors in Concept Art for Games, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Games UX, Interactive Design and Game Development, and Mobile and Interactive Design are also available.
The 180 credit hour BA is available at the Atlanta, Savannah, and eLearning campuses. This program requires 45 credit hours in the concentration. Game Development course highlights include Applied Principles: Game Art and Game Design, Core Principles: Programming, Digital Communication, Digital Design Aesthetics, and Introduction to Interactive Design and Game Development.
Interactive Design course highlights include Anatomy, Form, and Space, Digital Design Aesthetics, Interactive Design and Game Development, Interactive Web Design, Programming, and Social Media Applications. Students may choose additional game design courses thanks to 20 hours of free electives. Both concentrations offer internship opportunities.
The 180 credit hour BFA is offered in Atlanta and Savannah. The program requires 75 hours in the major including courses such as Interactive Design and Game Development Postproduction, Interactive Design and Game Development Studio I & II, and Programming. Students in the BFA program will choose between two concentrations: Game Development or Interactive Design and Physical Computing. Course highlights include Game Art, Game Tech, User-Centered Design, and Visual Design for Interactive Media.
Offered at the Savannah campus and via eLearning, the MA consists of 45 credit hours of study and the opportunity to select a concentration. Options include Game Development and Interactive Design. Sample Game Development courses include Game Art: Art Direction and Look Development, Game Art: Character Creation and Digital Sculpting, Game Art: Engine Pipeline and Practices, Game Design: Professional Production Pipeline, Game Tech: Real-time Materials and Shaders, and Game Art: Virtual World Building. Students in this program will also complete an Interactive Design and Game Development MA Final Project.
The Interactive Design Concentration includes courses such as Human Experience Prototyping, Human-centered Interactive Design, Physical Computing for Immersive Environments, Physical Computing for Tangible Interfaces, and Visual Hierarchies and Digital Affordances. Note that up to five additional graduate-level intensive courses may be assigned, bringing the student's required course of study to a total of 50 to 70 hours.
The MFA program consists of 45 credit hours of study including courses such as Character Development, Environment for Games, Game Design Documentation, and Scripting for Interactivity. Students will also take Thesis Studio I & II, and complete a Graduate Internship. The MFA program is offered at the Savannah campus and through eLearning.
At SCAD, professionals visit with students every quarter, interviewing for positions and reviewing portfolios. Recent visitors include representatives from Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Crystal Dynamics, Electronic Arts, and Zynga. Graduates have been recruited by Epic Games, Firaxis Games, Sucker Punch Productions, and many others.
3. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University was established in 1979. The school offers AS, BS, BFA, MS and MFA programs in Entertainment, Media, and the Arts. Graduate certificates are also available. Located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios, the school also offers unique internship opportunities to a population of 15,000 students.
The Game School at Full Sail offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Mobile Development. A Game Design Certificate is also available.
Graduate degrees include an MS in Game Design or Mobile Gaming (online). In the Game Art BS students will create 3D content and “take traditional art and animation principles and apply them to models that look, move and articulate artistically,” says the school. Course highlights for the program include Game Animation, Motion Capture, and Level Assembly & Lighting.
The Game Design BS is designed to enhance the students “ability to work in a game studio environment.” The program “is comprised of high-level game design and production courses that will take” students “deep into the game development pipeline.” The program covers key industry concepts influencing both systems and level designs that will prepare students to prototype and evaluate their game projects. Course highlights include Game Balancing, Game Mechanics, and Prototyping.
The BS in Game Development guides students through the entire game development cycle, from pre-production to finished product. Course highlights include Artificial Intelligence, Engine Development, and Data Structure and Algorithms. Graduates will have the ability to create program code for 3D graphic display, multiplayer gaming, artificially intelligent opponents, and real-time virtual environments.
The BS in Simulation & Visualization equips students with the programming and critical-thinking skills needed to study and design virtual systems. Course highlights include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Graphics. Through hands-on experience, students will develop their “tech savvy in order to keep pace with an ever-evolving industry.”
The Game Design Certificate “gives students foundational knowledge in the structure and rules of gameplay, workflows, and game design theory.” Students in the program will gain basic skills in analyzing decision-making in gameplay, scripting testable algorithms, and using digital tools. “With curriculum in C# programming, logic, and functions,” this seven-month campus or online certificate “equips students to pursue roles in creating and testing interactive designs in the game design industry.”
MS in Game Design coursework focuses on user experience research, production, and design. Course highlights include Methods and the User Experience, Prototyping and Content Creation, and Game Usability and Testing. The program, which allows students to choose a track that allows them to focus on a chosen area of expertise, culminates in a Game Capstone Experience.
The Mobile Gaming MS consists of graduate level mobile gaming research, emerging technologies, and the application of theoretical concepts to game design and development. Course highlights include Computer Science for Engineers, Game Development Frameworks, and Mobile Gaming Business. The program culminates in a thesis, which allows students to complete a fully playable mobile game of their own design.
The Game Art and Game Design BS degrees are available on campus and online, while the MS in Mobile Gaming is available entirely online.
4. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Founded by Dr. Ludd M. Spivey, president of Southern College (now Florida Southern College) and circus baron, John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened in 1931 with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school serves more than 1,600 students from 45 states, 60 countries, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.
A private, not-for-profit college, RCAD offers BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Students in all programs benefit from the school’s “rigorous curriculum” that “employs the studio model of teaching,” says the school, and “immediately engages students through a comprehensive program that is both specific to the major of study and focused on the liberal arts.” Students also benefit from visiting artists from major studios such as DreamWorks and Blue Sky Studios, focused internship opportunities, and the chance to work with local businesses on real-world projects.
The Game Option is offered in the Computer Animation Department, which serves around 20% of the student population. The Department also houses eight state-of-the-art computer labs in addition to three open labs. Students in the Department are also experimenting with virtual reality (VR) technology using the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
The BFA with a Game Art Major is one of the few programs available that focuses on visual art for computer games. Students in the program will study “the basics of game design mechanics, meaningful play, interactivity, and options for creating and refining game content,” says the school. 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 at Activision, Blizzard, Cartoon Network Game Studios, Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Gameloft, Hasbro, Intel corporation, LucasArts, Microsoft Game Studios, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Riot Games, Sony Imageworks Interactive, Zynga and many others.
5. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) 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 serves more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in over 80 degree programs and 50-plus minors in six colleges and 28 schools.
Degrees are offered through the colleges of Design, Computing, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Programs for aspiring game designers are available through GeorgiaTech’s College of Computing in collaboration with the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts’ School of Literature, Media, and Communication.
Degree options include a BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Games Studies 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 game programs are part of an institute-wide initiative designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations. Course highlights include Computer Animation, Constructing the Moving Image, Experimental Media, Game Design as a Cultural Practice, Principles of Interaction Design, and Video Game Design.
Graduates of the Game Programs at GeorgiaTech are prepared to seek careers in 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactive Game Design and Simulation, Robotics, Robotics, Special Effects Creation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Web Design. Many have been hired at major video game studios and interactive media firms. Others are now pursuing graduate degrees in digital media, human-computer interaction, and even film studies.
6. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State) began as a land-grant institution in 1887 focusing in agriculture and research. Today, the school is a leader in agriculture, business, education, natural resources, and textiles. Serving more than 36,000 students, NC State is also one of the nation’s largest schools, offering more than 300 degree programs in 12 colleges and over 60 academic departments.
The College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science houses the game program. Degree options include a BS in Computer Science (CSC) with a Game Development Concentration and an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree.
The BS program “allows the student to develop an understanding of the scientific and technological principles associated with the design and development of computer and console games for both entertainment and serious applications,” says the school. Students will take all of the courses required for the computer science degree, as well as courses such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Game AI, Computer Graphics, Computer Models of Interactive Narrative, Game Design and Development, and Human-Computer Interaction.
Students are also required to take Advanced Graphics Projects and Advanced Game Development Projects. Internships and study abroad opportunities are also available, and electives run the gamut from Game Studies and Fiction Writing to Fantasy, 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.
Students in all programs will benefit from The Digital Games Research center (DGRc). Created in May of 2007, the center was designed to “undertake an ambitious agenda of research, education and outreach activities in the area of games and games technologies.”
“Housed in the Department of Computer Science, the center’s faculty include colleagues from the colleges of Education, Engineering, Design, Management and Humanities and Social Sciences that collaborate on a wide range of research and educational initiatives which focus on new modes of entertainment and interaction in digital worlds.”
Students interested in multiple areas of art and design as well as game design might consider two other degree pathways offered at NC State—the Bachelor of Art and Design and the Master of Art and Design (MAD). Offered in the College of Design, Department of Art and Design, the undergraduate program allows students to develop “creative portfolios through a wide-range of 2D and 3D hand-based and computer-based processes.”
In addition to game design, these processes include 3D modeling, animation, digital fabrication, drawing and illustration, fibers, graphic and interactive narratives, interactive and computational media, motion graphics, soft materials construction, virtual and augmented reality, visual composition, visual effects, web design, and more. Students will gain additional skills through the required International Experience.
MAD students will have the opportunity to explore Computer Gaming Serious Games, which focuses on “the creation and application of training models and simulations to balance adaptive learning with natural learning environments used with commercial game companies, simulation developers, and technologies that create immersive learning environments.” Animation and Digital Storytelling, Kinetic Interaction Design, and Mechatronics and Electronic Art are other areas MAD students will explore. A final project is also part of the program.
7. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
The University of Florida (UF) was founded as Gainesville Academy in 1858 by educator and senator James Henry Roper. The small school opened with just a few students. Today, UF sits on a 2,000-acre campus with more than 900 buildings, including the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-certified building in the state of Florida. UF also serves 56,570 students, making it one of the largest schools in the U.S. Programs include 30 certificates, 100 undergraduate majors, and 200 graduate programs in 14 colleges and schools.
Established in 1925, the UF College of the Arts offers fully accredited schools of Art and Art History, Music, Theatre and Dance along with the Center for Arts in Medicine and the Digital Worlds Institute. At the Institute, aspiring game designers can earn a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS), a DAS Minor or a Masters in Digital Arts and Sciences (MiDAS).
BADAS students may choose elective courses from current offerings in Animation, Digital Production, and Game Design. Course highlights include 3D Digital Animation, Design Production Studio, Digital Storytelling, Entrepreneurship in New Media, Game Design Practices, Game Development, Wearable & Mobile Apps, and Writing for Interactive Media. Undergraduate Research Forum and a Senior Project are also part of the program.
Other BADAS highlights include the opportunity to gain experience working on team projects, access to high-tech facilities such as the UF Reality Lab, and a 5-screen Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater (PICT) and a Virtual Production Studio (VPS). In addition, a cohort experience allows a select group of students to “join a community of learners in taking a set sequence of courses together.” Students will network and build relationships with their classmates, work one-on-one with faculty, and participate in discussions.
Graduates of the BADAS program have gone on to form their own successful startups or work for companies such as DreamWorks and Microsoft.
MiDAS is a one-year accelerated program for individuals “seeking to further their professional career goals at the intersection of interactive media, innovation, and emerging technologies.” MiDAS students will have the opportunity to work in a collaborative environment with “personal attention from faculty and content area experts.”
The program covers digital storytelling, game engines and development, software and hardware integration, UI/UX, Audio, and Digital Compositing, and Visual Design Tolls/Technology/3D for virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR). The program also covers project proposals, production pipelines, and project management.
Course highlights include Applied 3D Modeling, Digital Arts & Sciences Convergence, Digital Design and Visualization, Entertainment Technology, Interaction Design, Movement, Media and Machines, Project Methodologies, and Protocols for Multimedia Interfaces. Students will have access to the UF Reality Lab and a Capstone Project is part of the program.
8. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University began as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893. On the day it opened, the school welcomed 446 male students. Today, the Clemson serves a coeducational population of nearly 26,000 students enrolled in more than 290 majors, minors, and graduate degree programs in more than a dozen colleges and schools.
The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences houses the School of Computing, which offers 10 degree programs and two minors. Among these programs are BA and BS degrees in Computer Science, an MFA and MS in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA or MS DPA), and a fast-track Bachelor’s/Master’s (BS/MS) in Computer Science.
In addition to Game Design, students in the Computer Science programs will take courses such as Algorithms and Data Structures, Computer Graphics, Computer Security, Network Programming, and Software Engineering.
Launched in 2017, the MS DPA is offered within the Division of Visual Computing in the School of Computing. The MFA DPA is offered through the Division as well. Both programs offer 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 credits. The MS has both thesis and non-thesis options. Students in either program can study at the main campus in Clemson or Charleston, South Carolina.
All students have the opportunity to Minor in DPA, which emphasizes Computer Animation, Games, and Visual Effects.
Graduates of the Computer Science and DPA Programs at Clemson can pursue employment in 3D graphics programming, animation, commercial virtual reality, game design, software engineering, technical direction in the digital production entertainment industry, tool building, visualization, and more.
9. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
On September 23, 1946, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) opened as an evening college center for returning veterans. The school had just 278 students. Today, the school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in 171 majors in 77 programs leading to bachelor's degrees, 65 master's degrees, and 24 doctoral degrees in seven professional colleges.
The College of Computing and Informatics 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 or Human-Computer Interaction (with optional game design electives), an MS in Computer Science with an optional AI, Robotics, and Gaming Concentration, and a PhD in Computing and Information Systems with a Computer Science Track.
The Department also offers undergraduate and graduate Game Design (GDD) Certificates and a Minor in Software and Information Systems. Sample courses for these non-degree programs include AI for Computer Games, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, and Game Engine Construction.
Course highlights for the undergraduate programs include Advanced 3D Computer Graphics, AI for Computer Games, Game Design and Development, Intelligent Robotics, Interactive Computer Graphics, Machine Learning, and Visualization and Visual Communication. The Capstone requirement for the program highlights Game Design and Development Studio or Intelligent and Interactive System Studio.
Students in the MS program must take the gaming core, which consists of Computer Vision, Computer Graphics, and Intelligent Systems. The concentration consists of nine credit hours with course options such as Game Design and Development Studio, Game Engine Construction, Natural Language Processing, Real-Time Rendering Engines, and Virtual and Augmented Reality. The MS program requires 30 credit hours to graduate.
10. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida
Founded in 2000, the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) offers specialized training in Visual Effects with extensive practice under industry level supervision. The DAVE School introduced fully online bachelor’s degree programs in Motion Graphics in 2017 and on-campus bachelor’s degrees in Visual Effects and Game Production. Diploma programs in Game Production and Visual Effects are also available.
Diploma programs are 60 credit hours and take 12 months to complete, Bachelor’s degree programs are 120 credit in the BS and Diploma Game Production programs will learn 3D animation, character, prop and environment modeling, level design, lighting and texturing, rigging, and visual effects. Course highlights include Advanced Asset Creation & Look Development, Digital Modeling & Sculpting, Emerging Real-Time Tech & Pipelines, Fundamentals of Computer Animation, and Real-Time Rendering & Emerging Technologies. Students will also create a demo reel and portfolio.
The DAVE School is located in an 18,000 square foot facility situated on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25, which provides unlimited access to learning and interactive labs, a dedicated Virtual and Real-Time production stage, a Vicon motion capture system, and 3D printing and VR/AR labs.
DAVE school graduates and instructors have worked on major productions such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America, Game of Thrones, Godzilla, Green Lantern, Jurassic World, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Terminator Genisys, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, and many others. Compositor, Environmental Artist, Gameplay Animator, Lighting Artist, and Pipeline Supervisor are just a few DAVE School alumni job titles.
11. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. Today the school is in the elite 1% of U.S. universities having land-, sea-, and space-grant designations. LSU provides more than 235 academic fields of study in 15 colleges and schools to 34,290 students.
The College of Engineering houses the Digital Media Arts and Engineering (DMAE) Program and the Division of Computer Science and Engineering. DMAE program options include a 22-month Master’s 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 a number of campus units at LSU including the School of Art, Department of Computer Science, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of English, Manship School of Mass Communication, and the School of Music. This interdisciplinary program helps students develop the skills needed to seek careers in the video game development, animation, digital media, film, and web development industries.
The DMART is a complementary, interdisciplinary minor that offers a wide variety of courses for aspiring game designers. Examples include 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Applied Interactive Computer Graphics, Creative Coding, Digital Media Programming, Moving Image, Video Game Design, Video Game Prototyping, and Virtual Space and Motion.
The Division of Computer Science offers BS, MS, and PhD programs in Computer Science. A Computer Science Minor is also available. Computer Science students have the opportunity to take at least 15 credit hours of game-related electives. Available courses include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Media Programming, Graphical and Geometric Modeling, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Interactive Computer Graphics, Interface Design and Technology, Scientific Information Visualization, and Video Game Design.
12. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia
Founded in 1963, Kennesaw State University (KSU) is a member of the University System of Georgia—the third-largest university in the state, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the U.S. The school serves nearly 41,000 students enrolled in more than 170 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in 11 colleges on two campuses (Kennesaw and Marietta).
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the College of Computing and Software Engineering, Department of Software Engineering and Game Design and Development (SWEGD). Options include a BS and a Minor in Computer Game Design and Development, and an MS in Software Engineering.
The Computer Game Design and Development Program “exposes students to the breadth of the field in the areas of 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,” says the school. Students in the program are required to select a 17 credit hour upper-level track, “to ensure depth in their program of study.” Options include Creative Content, Computer Science, Educational-Serious, Distributed Mobile, Media-Production, Planning-Management, and Simulation-Informatics. Students also have the option to customize their own track.
The MS in Software Engineering provides the opportunity for students to learn game design and development through required and elective coursework. Course highlights include Game Design and Development, Mobile App Development, Modeling and Simulation, Programming, Software Architecture, Software Engineering and Computational Thinking, and Software Testing and Verification. Students in this program will also complete Independent Study and the Graduate Internship.
KSU’s Department of SWEGD supports student organizations and offers Game Jams throughout the year to encourage development of student knowledge and skills outside the classroom. Graduates will leave the SWEGD programs with the skills and knowledge needed to “apply computing and software engineering techniques to the design and production of digital media for entertainment, research, and education.”
13. Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
Founded in 1913, Georgia State University (GSU) is a public research institution with six campuses and more than 54,000 students. The school offers over 250 degree programs in 100 fields of study at the Atlanta Campus—the widest variety in the state. Programs are offered in 11 colleges and schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII).
The CMII offers several degree options for aspiring game designers including a BA in Game Design, a BS in Game Development, and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) with a Concentration in Game Design and Development. The BA in Game Design “trains interested students to integrate game arts with related advanced technology software platforms in which videogames are conceptualized, designed and created” says the school. The program covers game conceptualization, leveling, rendering and storyboarding as well as design platforms such as Blender, Unity and Unreal Engine.
The BS in Game Development is designed for students seeking “deeper training” in game programming or “whose career interests might include work in the wider data sciences.” Career options for graduates of the BS program include animation, game production, motion graphics, postproduction, and wider software development industries, including social media analytics, and web and application development.
Coursework in Game Development “introduces students to programming for games (with a focus on design languages most used in the game industry, including C#/C++, Unity, Unreal Engine, Blender, etc.), the development of sophisticated industry-level game engines and in associated technologies such as animation, virtual and augmented reality applications, and immersive design.”
The BIS is designed for students interested in gaming or related areas in interactive media. In addition to game design and development, the program covers a range of areas including computer and information science, graphic design, film, writing, and music. Lower level courses will include training common coding languages used by game designers such as C++. Upper level courses will include training in artificial intelligence, character development and animation, game design, leveling, preproduction, and visualization.
With more than 110 game development studios headquartered in Georgia, graduates of the CMII Games Programs have access to employment opportunities with companies such as Hi-Rez Studios (designer of Smite and Paladins), KontrolFreek (which designs gam accessories), Turner Studios (home to eLeague), and many others across the country and around the world.
14. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
Founded in 1801, University of South Carolina (U of SC) is the state’s flagship university. The school serves 48,730 students enrolled in more than 300 unique degrees of study, including nearly 200 master’s and PhD programs in 16 colleges and schools.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most “academically-diverse” college on campus, says the school. It houses the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD), which offers BA and MA degrees in Media Arts. The College of Engineering and Computing houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, which offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering. Applied Computing and Computer Science Minors are also available.
The SVAD BA and MA degree programs are designed for aspiring animators, filmmakers, game designers, screenwriters, and artists working on emergent digital art forms. Students in the programs will master motion capture video game work on the School’s green screen, sound recording and art design, manga writing and design, camerawork and lighting design, and much more.
Course highlights include Advanced Animation, Hong Kong Action Cinema, Narrative Production, New Media Advanced: Animation, New Media Advanced: Mobile Platforms, New Media Advanced: Video Game Design, The Art and Business of Manga and Anime, and The Moving Image. Computer Game Development, Educational Games, and Mathematical Game Theory are just a few elective options offered in other departments such as Computer Science.
During their senior year, undergraduate Media Arts students will have the opportunity to intern “at national leaders in the media industries.” MA students will also complete an internship and a Thesis or Project. The final project may be taken all at once or split over two semesters.
Graduates of both programs go on to become “creative professionals, working in industry, government, freelance media production, and as entrepreneurs.” U of SC Media Arts alumni are “globally influential media makers at Netflix, Blizzard, Marvel, IBM, iD Software, Kodansha USA, Turner Studios, HBO Films, Nickelodeon, and CBS Television. Our alumni are self-starters, global creatives, film and television industry executives, and local media pioneers.”
The Computer Science and Computer Engineering programs cover “the techniques, algorithms and theory necessary for building software, including subspecialties such as video games, bioinformatics and computational biology.” Students in the programs may specialize in game design by taking three elective courses and three courses from another major. Examples include (as mentioned) Computer Game Development, Educational Games, and Mathematical Game Theory.
Computer Science and Computer Engineering students will have opportunities to complete an internship, study abroad, and create a portfolio of their work. Graduates are prepared to seek positions in game design, game development, software development, and software engineering, to name a few.
15. University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana
University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette or UL) was founded in 1898 as Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute. The school opened in 1901 with 145 students enrolled in Agriculture, Mechanics, and Stenography degree programs. Today, UL is one of the state’s largest public institutions serving nearly 16,450 students enrolled in more than 120 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs.
Degree options are offered in more than a dozen colleges and the graduate school. The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences houses the School of Computing and Informatics. According to the most recent figures reported by UL, the School serves 531 undergraduates and 205 graduate students enrolled in six degree programs among three academic units: the Center for Advanced Computer Studies, the Computer Science program, and the Informatics program.
The Computer Science program offers a BS in Computer Science (CS) with a Concentration in Video Game Design and Development. Students in Computer Science will choose their concentration in the first two years of the program. Juniors and seniors will also have the opportunity to work on independent projects with faculty in more specialized areas, such as artificial intelligence, computer graphics, database design, and human-computer interaction, as well as apply for internships in industry.
Course highlights for the program include Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, Entertainment Computing, Fundamentals of Video Game Design, Game Engine Algorithms and Architecture, Interactive Narrative, Programming in Java, Programming Languages, and Video Game Design and Development.
Students in the BS in CS program will also complete a number of special projects, including the Senior Project, which provides the opportunity for students to showcase their skills and an original game.
16. Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky
Founded in 1906, Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) awarded degrees to just 11 people at its first commencement in 1909. Today, the school serves more than 16,000 students enrolled in 168 degree programs in six academic colleges. The College of Science houses Department of Computer Science, home to EKU Gaming Institute. Programs for aspiring game designers include a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Interactive Multimedia and a Minor in Game Content Design.
The 120 credit hour BS program offers co-operative education and internships, diverse computer science competition opportunities, hands-on project learning, independent study, poster presentations and conferences, and research experiences for students. Course highlights for the program include 3D Game Engine Design, 3D Modeling, Computer Game Design, Console Game Design, Exploring Virtual Worlds, Film Scoring, Game Level Design, Graphics Programming, and Multimedia Systems and Forensics.
The Minor in Game Content Design requires 20 credit hours of study and it is open to students in any major. Course highlights include 2D Animation, Digital Sculpting, Introduction to Game Design, Screenwriting, and Visual Storytelling.
Graduates of the Game Programs at EKU have landed positions at Google, IBM, Lexmark, OpenText, and many other major companies.
17. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
East Tennessee State University (ETSU) was founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. More than 14,500 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are enrolled in over 350 programs in 11 colleges and schools at ETSU. The College of Business and Technology houses the Niswonger Digital Media Center, home to the Department of Digital Media, which offers a BS in Digital Media with a Digital Game Design Concentration.
The program “gives students the background necessary to create games and interactive environments with strong skills in one of several specialty areas such as environment design, level design, modeling for games, materials, scripting for interaction, etc.” says the school. Students “are typically preparing for careers in the game industry in one of these fields.”
Course highlights for the program include Game Design, Game Play and Testing, High Fidelity Modeling for Entertainment, Interaction for Game Design, Intro to Computer Science, and Principles of Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. The Concentration also has 24 credit hours of guided electives and students will develop a professional digital media portfolio prior to graduation. In the portfolio course, students will also have the opportunity to work on resumes, cover letters, and presentation skills.
Program alumni have gone on to work on “Kung Fu Panda, World of Warcraft, The Last Jedi, The Walking Dead, Thor Ragnarok, Halo, Charlie Brown and other large entertainment properties.” Places that have hired recent Digital Media graduates include Adidas, Blue Sky Studios, Idol Minds, Luma Pictures, RTT Detroit, Ubisoft/Red Storm Entertainment, Vicious Cycles Games, Volition, and many others.
18. Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
Loyola University New Orleans (Loyno) was established in 1904 by Jesuit priests. Today, the school is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States and it is open to students of all faiths.
Loyno serves around 4,550 students enrolled in 110 undergraduate programs and 36 graduate and professional programs in five colleges. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Math and Computer Science Department, and the College of Music and Media’s Department of Design. Options include a BS in Computer Science with Game Programming, a Bachelor of Design in Interactive Design, and a Game Studies Minor.
The BS in Computer Science with Game Programming includes an internship for practical experience along with a computer science core, and unique electives. Course highlights include AI, Computer Graphics, Data Structures and Algorithms, Doing Things with Video Games, Game as Art, Making Games, Media Play, Physics, Programming Languages, and Videogames and Literature. Students in this concentration “will work with local, regional, and international game companies to refine talents and aptitudes,” says the school.
The Interactive Design program is for students interested in everything from user interface to video game design. During the first two years of the program, all design students will take the same core courses. At the end of sophomore year, students will have the opportunity to become part of the specialized Interactive Major. Course highlights include Electronic Multimedia, Illustration Design, Interactive Design + Narrative, Motion Design, and UX Design. Students will a have the opportunity to take at least 15 credit hours of electives in any area, including game design.
Listed under Interdisciplinary Minors at Loyno, the Game Studies “provides a rigorous analysis of digital media and their growing influence on contemporary human behavior, objects, institutions, and values.” The 18 credit hour program includes courses such as Game as Art, How to Do Things with Videogames, Interactive & Electronic Media, Media Play, and Videogames and Literature.
Graduates of the games programs are prepared to seek positions in a variety of industries including game design and entertainment, education, healthcare, multimedia and animation, software design, web design, and many others.
19. University of Alabama Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama
University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) was founded in 1950 as University of Alabama Huntsville Center. Enrollment was 137 students and the school’s 10 freshmen-level classes cost just $4 per credit hour. Today, the school serves 10,000 students enrolled in 88 degree programs in more than 100 areas of study in nine colleges. UAH also has 16 different research centers, laboratories, and institutes. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered in two colleges.
The College of Science, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with an Entertainment Computing (Gaming and Entertainment Computing) Concentration and a 24 credit hour Minor in Entertainment Computing. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences’ Department of Art, Art History, & Design offers a Game Design and Development Minor consists of 18 credit hours of computer science courses, three in dramatic media elements, and three in math. Course selections are identical to those for the BS program.
Course highlights for the BS in Computer Science with an Entertainment Computing Concentration include Advanced Computer Graphics, Animation: Modeling, Artificial Intelligence for Games & Simulation, Game Engines and Level Development, Technology for Multimedia and Gaming, and Video Game Design and Programming.
The Game Design and Development Minor in the Department of Art, Art History, & Design is an interdisciplinary program “for students interested in exposure to the full video game production pipeline,” says the school. “Students will learn the technical tools, design, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and analytical skills necessary in the production of video games from faculty in Art, Art History, & Design, Computer Science, English, and Music, and will be able to understand and effectively communicate between disciplines.”
Graduates of the Game Programs at UAH are prepared to seek entry- to mid-level positions in game design and development, software development, multimedia and animation, and many other industries.
20. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia
Founded in 1906, Georgia Southern University serves nearly 27,000 students making it the state’s largest center of higher education south of Atlanta. The school offers approximately 140 different degree programs across three campuses and in 10 colleges. The College of Engineering and Computing houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, which offers BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. A Game Programming Certificate is also available.
Active research areas in the CS Department include game programming, data and knowledge systems, broadband networking, computer security, mobile computing, robotics and software engineering. Aspiring game designers have the option to add the Game Programming Certificate or choose electives to create a specialization. Course highlights include Animation, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, Discrete Simulation, Game Programming, Human Computer Interaction, Object Oriented Design, Programming Principles I&II, and Software Engineering.
The BS in CS consists of 126 credit hours of study and the MS in CS is a 30 credit hour program. Most students compete the MS Program in five semesters, and BS students can expect to complete the program in four to five years, full-time.
The Game Programming Certificate consists of nine credit hours. Students may choose three courses from the following options: Animation, Computer Graphics, Game Programming, and Human Computer Interaction.
All students have the opportunity to complete a final project, portfolio, and internship.