Did you know? Whether pursuing a career as a game designer, game programmer, 3D modeler, concept artist, or UI/UX designer, at Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development you will get hands-on experience creating a professional-quality game portfolio. Learn more.
What are the top game design schools in the east for 2020?
|New York University
|Carnegie Mellon University
|Rochester Institute of Technology
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
|The New School's Parsons School of Design
|University of Pennsylvania
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute
|George Mason University
|University of Connecticut
|Fitchburg State University
|Stevens Institute of Technology
|New Jersey Institute of Technology
|University at Buffalo
|University of Maryland Baltimore County
Our 2020 rankings of the top East Coast game design programs. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Founded in 1831 and serving more than 60,500 students, New York University (NYU) is the largest private university in the U.S. With the highest number of international students in America, the school has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai and operates 11 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries. With more than 19,000 employees, NYU is also one New York’s largest employers.
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of NYU and home to the NYU Game Center, Department of Game Design. Also known as Tisch or TSOA, the school serves more than 3,000 students from 48 states and 39 countries. Tisch students are enrolled in games, animation, film, interactive media, acting, dance, design, performance, writing for musical theatre, stage, screen & television, preservation, recorded music, photography, and public policy programs at the BA, BFA, MA, MFA, MPS and PhD levels.
The NYU Game Center, Department of Design offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BFA, MFA and Minor in Game Design. The BFA program is organized in three primary areas including Game Studies, Game Design, Game Development, four production areas including Programming, Visual Design, Audio Design, and Game Business, and a Capstone. Students may specialize in Game Programming, Visual or Audio Design, or Game Development.
The Game Center MFA is a two-year degree that includes classes in Game Design, Game Production, Game Studies, and Game History. Students will gain hands-on experience by taking studio courses and participating in play labs, and electives will allow students to “explore everything from Game Journalism to Games and Players (a class on the psychology and emotions of game play).”
Classes and events for all Game Center programs take place at the Media and Games Network (MAGNET) at the NYU Brooklyn campus. MAGNET also houses the Game Center Open Library, which is "the largest collection of games held by any university in the world."
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) serves more than 14,500 students representing over 100 countries. The school offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges. In collaboration with the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department and the College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology (IDeATe), CMU offers a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) with a Concentration in Game Design. IDeATe Collaborative Studios include Game Engine Programming offered by the Robotics Institute, Research Issues in Game Development offered by the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at CMU, and Programming for Game Designers—also offered by the ETC.
The School of Art at CMU offers a broad-based BFA with four primary concentrations that allow students to pursue particular areas of media-based study or to combine areas of interest to create hybrid or specialized practices. The Electronic and Time Based Media Concentration “explores the creative potential of emerging technologies and the critical impact they have on contemporary culture,” says the school.
The curriculum “implicitly encourages cross-disciplinary study.” As such, “many students merge fine art and computer science based interests either within the BFA program or through the unique BCSA degree program.” Areas of focus include animation, game arts, computational and interactive art, video and performance, tactical media, bioart, and tangible media.
Students particularly interested in the intersection of art and technology can take advantage of expanded course offerings through the IDeATe Program. Course highlights include Game Design, Game Design, Prototyping, and Production, Computer Game Programming, Experimental Game Design, Advanced Game Studio, Character Rigging for Production, and Understanding Game Engines.
Work by graduating seniors in the BFA program is showcased in a final group exhibition presented in the Miller ICA at the close of each spring semester.
Head over to ETC at CMU where you will find two additional game design options. Founded in 1998, ETC offers a Game Design Minor (in collaboration with IDeATe) and a Masters of Entertainment Technology (MET). The MET is jointly conferred by CMU’s School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts. MET is currently considered a terminal degree.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was born of an unlikely institutional marriage of an influential cultural association, the Rochester Athenaeum (est. 1829), and a technical training school, the Mechanics Institute (est. 1885). The Institute adopted the name Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944 and awarded its first bachelor of science degree in 1955.
Today, RIT serves more than 19,000 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) houses the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM). Here students can earn both BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development or a BS in New Media Interactive Development. Minors in Game Design & Development (GAMEDD-MN) and Game Design (GAMED-MN) are also available.
The GCCIS IGM Game Design and Development program emphasizes game programming and cooperative education (co-op). The co-op is a required, full-time paid work experience that provides students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings. Students must complete two semesters, full-time, which amounts to a minimum 35-hour work week over the course of an academic semester. Past co-op companies include Microsoft, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sapient-Razorfish, Google, EA, Epic Games, Cartoon Network, Seagate, Hi-Rez Studios, and many others.
In addition to the co-op experience, students in the BS in New Media Interactive Development program will explore casual games, physical computing, production, web, mobile, and more. All GCCIS IGM students have the opportunity to take any minor or enroll in a double major.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded 1861. The school serves around 11,575 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five schools including the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (HASS), MIT Sloan School of Management, and the School of Science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also home to MIT Game Lab, MIT Education Arcade, and Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.
Together, the labs provide the opportunity to study, design, and develop games as a supplement to several degree programs, so anyone interested in games can create their own program of study. Students may choose the BS or MS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster.” BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering are also available.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offers an extensive graduate program in Computer Science, which allows students to “study and participate in active research of aspects in computer science that are vital in the creation of modern digital games, such as artificial intelligence, networking, and computer graphics.” Minors in CMS with Games and Interactive Media and Computer Science are also available. The CMS programs are available through the HASS Department of Comparative Media Studies/Writing.
Other unique degree pathways include a BS in Brain & Cognitive Science for those interested in psychological games and behavioral change and a BS in Business for those interested in studying business practices required for creating their own game company. The BS in Brain & Cognitive Science is offered through the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the BS in Business is offered through MIT Sloan School of Management.
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the oldest technological research university in the U.S. The school serves nearly 8,00 students enrolled in more than 145 programs across five schools including Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), Lally School of Management, and Science. Programs for aspiring designers are offered through HASS and include a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (BS GSAS) and a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC).
BS GSAS students may choose a concentration or dual BS degree from the following options: Arts (Electronic Arts), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Science, Management/Entrepreneurship, Cognitive Science, or Writing for Games.
Established in 1996, the BS in EMAC program is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses in communication as well as in digital art and animation, video, electronic music, and graphic design, supported by RPI’s strong technological infrastructure. The EMAC curriculum offers concentrations in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Sound Design and Popular Culture.
RPI also offers several advanced degree programs for game designers. Graduate offerings include MFA and PhD degrees in Electronic Arts (EART). Offered through the Department of Arts, both degree programs allow students to explore everything from Gaming and Animation to Communication Technologies.
Students may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program.
Drexel University was established in 1891. It serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The College of Computing & Informatics offers several programs for aspiring game designers including a BS in Computer Science (BSCS) and a BA in Computer Science (BACS). Both programs offer a Concentration in Game Programming and Development (GMPD) and the school lists Game Development and Design and Artificial Intelligence Concentrations. A Minor in Interactive Digital Media is also available.
The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include BS degrees in Game Art and Production and Game Design & Production, and MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media. The two-year MS program features comprehensive studies in Gaming and Digital Media History, Theory and Methods, 3D Modeling, Interactivity, and Animation.
A final option is for students interested in teaching game design. The School of Education offers a Graduate Certificate in Learning in Game Based Environments. All students have access to Drexel Game Design and the RePlay Lab. DGD and RePlay are collaborative efforts between the Digital Media program (in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) and the Computer Science department (in the College of Computing and Informatics).
The New School was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Back then, the school was known as The Chase School, and later as New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today, known as The New School's Parsons School of Design, this art and design college is home to nearly 5,500 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, School of Art Media and Technology, School of Constructed Environments, School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology (DT). The BFA DT, which has both Game Design and Creative Technology Pathways, teaches students to code and “develop a sustainable process for researching, experimenting, designing, prototyping, iterating, and producing projects that keeps pace with evolving technology,” says the school. Program highlights include access to university’s extensive libraries, galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities and visits to industry leaders such as MTV, Nickelodeon, and Curious Pictures. Other industry partners include Apple, Atari, Human Rights Watch, MTV, Siemens, and UNESCO.
The MFA DT is a studio-based program that consists of collaborative studios and the thesis studios. Per the school, “in Collaboration Studio courses, students work on real-world projects with industry firms and nonprofits. Past partners include Red Bull, Intel, Apple, Eyebeam, gameLab, Human Rights Watch, Mozilla, NASA, the Red Cross, Samsung, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
Students also have the opportunity to work with peers in related programs including Communication Design, Photography, Fine Arts, and Illustration, and they have many elective options to choose from in order to create their own “coherent” study plan. Areas of practice include interaction design, physical computing, game design, new media art, digital fabrication, data visualization, and critical design.
A related program, the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, is offered at the Parsons Paris campus. This interdisciplinary program, which explores design, art, media, and technology, prepares graduates to pursue careers in Animation, Game Design, Interactive and Social Media, Motion Graphics, and more.
Graduates leave the Game programs at Parsons with the skills needed to pursue careers in game design, virtual reality and immersion experience design, motion graphics, animation, film, advertising, software design, hardware engineering, and graphic arts.
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. The school serves 25,860 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered The School of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT) leading to an MS in CGGT.
The Center for HMS established the CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship.
The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as game programmers, designers, technical animators, and technical directors. Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as human/computer interfaces and production management, creative design, animation and simulation technology, and art and animation.
Graduates of the CGGT program can be found in major game, film, and video companies such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Acclaim, and Crystal Dynamics.
Also housed within the School of Engineering and Applied Science is the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE DMD program was designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies. A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also available.
BSE DMD graduates go on the work at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates.
Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves nearly 37,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 125 graduate programs across nine colleges and schools. Programs for game designers are offered through the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), which serves nearly 6,000 students, and the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS) - Khoury College of Computer Sciences.
Undergraduate pathways include a BFA in Game Art and Animation, a BFA in Games, a BS in Computer Science and Game Development, a Game Design and Music BS, and Minors in Game Art, Game Design, Experience Design and Interaction Design. Graduate options include an MS in Game Science, jointly offered through CAMD and CCIS - Khoury, and Graduate Certificates in Game Design and Game Analytics.
The Game Design Certificate consists of five 12-week courses, and the Game Analytics Certificate requires 20 credit hours of study. The interdisciplinary MS requires 34 credit hours of study and it offers three concentrations: Game Analytics, Game User Research and Game Design and Development. The program highlights paid co-op work, research opportunities in the schools more than30 federally funded research centers, and in-class case studies and exercises. The MS can be completed in two years.
The 130 credit hour BFA in Game Art and Animation allows students to work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams and with students in the BS in Computer Science and Game Development and BFA in Games majors. Students in the program will also gain practical and technical experiential training via Northeastern’s co-op program. Each student will take at least two co-ops. The BFA in Game Art and Animation culminates in a two-semester Senior Capstone.
The BFA in Games requires 128-129 credit hours of study covering Art and Design, Art History, Games, Entrepreneurship, Critical Making, Creative Making, and Game Electives. While the program does not require a co-op, the school says that students “are exposed to a wide variety of genres and contexts, as well as different ways of thinking about games content, platforms, and production.” Students will have “a minimum of four games courses in which they interact with and collaborate with students in the BS in Computer Science and Game Development major.” The program culminates in a Game Design Capstone.
The BS in Computer Science and Game Development focuses on “building and developing games and playable media experiences” along with “courses in computer science and specialized game technology and design. Interdisciplinary courses enable students to develop their creative and entrepreneurial abilities, as well as create a strong portfolio of game pieces.” The program requires 133 credit hours to graduate.
The 138 credit hour Game Design and Music BS with a Concentration in Music Technology is a unique program that “focuses on the creative application of digital sound technologies to a broad range of artistic, social, and industrial purposes, including experimental composition, film, video, theatre, game design, mobile applications, sound design for urban environments, and beyond.”
In addition to plenty of co-op opportunities, the program offers a diverse set of courses ranging from Programming Basics and Game Interface Design to Hip Hop in the Music Industry and Interactive Music Programming. Students in this program will complete a Music Technology Capstone/Senior Recital or a Game Design Capstone.
Founded in 1865, Cornell University serves 23,600 students enrolled in more than 80 formal majors, 70 minors, and dozens of graduate programs in 15 colleges and schools. The program for aspiring game designers is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science Department (Cornell CIS).
Known as the Game Design Initiative at Cornell University (GDIAC), the program was formed in 2001. GDIAC offers a Game Design Minor, as well as informal support to graduate students and faculty interested in pursuing game-related research. Here’s how the GDIAC works: students pick a major in a core area (e.g., Computer Science, Information Science, Art, Music, Writing, etc.). They may take as many game courses as they can, and build a portfolio of games through independent studies. Course highlights include Computer Game Development, Advanced Projects in Computer Game Development, and Analytics-Driven Game Design.
GDIAC students will work in interdisciplinary teams of four to six to create a game. Students may present their projects at the annual GDIAC showcase, which is open to the public. Per the school, “any undergraduate student in any college at Cornell University can pursue the Game Design Minor and have it added to their transcript.”
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) serves nearly 6,500 students from more than 60 countries and 45 states. WPI's 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
The Division of Arts & Sciences has several pathways for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include BA and BS degrees in Interactive Media & Game Development (BA IMGD and BS IMGD) and a BS in Computer Science. Minors in IMGD and Computer Science are also available. Graduate offerings include an MS in IMGD and a PhD and Graduate Certificate in Computer Science.
One of the earliest gaming programs in the U.S., WPI’s IMGD program “blends the artistic and technical aspects of game development and interactive media,” says the school. Students will explore diverse topics such as Writing for Games, Game Audio, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Painting, Virtual Reality, and 3D Modeling. As part of WPI’s project-based learning model, every student will complete a Major Qualifying Project (MQP). This culminating experience “enables students to synthesize their learning and tackle real-world problems in their fields of study.”
The MQP provides the opportunity for IMGD students to “showcase their talents and immerse themselves in creating something they are passionate about.” The project “also adds another impressive piece to student portfolios and, in some cases, give students their very first game credits.”
Some students build game prototypes, while others create game development tools, interactive art exhibits, and other forms of media.
Graduates of the IMGD program at WPI are prepared to work in the gaming industry, and apply their technical and creative skills in areas such as education, healthcare, art, and social sciences.
Established in 1878, Champlain College serves around 2,130 students from 44 states and 18 countries. The school offers more than 150 subject areas, including undergraduate majors, minors and specializations as well as online and on-campus graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain has four academic divisions including the Division of Communication & Creative Media, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, the Division of Education & Human Studies (EHS), and the Division of Information Technology & Sciences.
The Division of Communication & Creative Media offers BS degrees in Game Art & Animation, Game Design (with an optional Specialization in Sonic Arts), Game Production Management, and Game Programming. A BFA in Creative Media is also available, as well as a Game Programming Minor. The BFA has Game Media and Interaction Design Specializations and students have the option to choose one primary and two complementary specializations to enhance their degree.
Through the game programs’ “Upside-Down Curriculum,” students will take relevant courses, including Game History & Development and Introduction to Game Design, in their first year at Champlain. This gives them the advantage of gaining hands-on knowledge about the major from the start. Students will have the opportunity to build their portfolios using state-of-the-art technology resources at the school’s new cutting-edge multimedia, 3-D art and game production labs.
Another important aspect of the Game program is the collaborative environment of the school’s Game Studio. Here, Game Programming majors work with their counterparts in Game Art & Animation and Game Design as well as Game Production Management to build games from start to finish. The Game Studio replicates a professional game development setting to give students a firsthand understanding of how creative teams collaborate to develop individual game assets and coordinate them into a functional product.
All students have the opportunity to study abroad in Montreal, Canada, with internship opportunities at the Montreal Game Summit and the Montreal International Game Developers Association. Recent internship opportunities (outside of the Canada options) include Microsoft Game Studios and Wired Magazine.
Students may also participate in the Game Development Senior Show where they will present games they create with their Game Studio team to recruiters from all over the East and Canada, including Square Enix/Eidos, Gameloft, Warner Bros./Turbine, Behaviour and Activision/Vicarious Visions. Networking opportunities are also part of the program. Facilitated by the Game Studio Career Coach, these opportunities allow students to meet with top recruiters from companies such as Ubisoft, ArenaNet, Crystal Dynamics, Activision, Survios, Insomniac, Rockstar, and Sony.
John Hancock and Samuel Adams signed Becker College’s founding charter. Notable graduates and students include Eli Whitney (1788), William Morton (1836), and Elliott P. Joslin. Founded in 1784, Becker College is one of the 25 oldest institutions in the U.S. The school, which enrolls nearly 1,700 students from around the country and across the globe, offers 29 areas of study across six academic divisions including Animal Studies, Business, Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Design, Education and Psychology, and Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Design Division houses the Interactive Media Design program, which offers a BA in Interactive Media Design with Concentrations in Game Arts, Game Development and Programming, Game Production and Management, Game Design and Game Audio. A rigorous 60-credit MFA in Interactive Media is also available as well as a BA in Interactive Media Design/MFA Fine Arts 4+1 (Game+) Program, and a BS in Applied Computer Science with a Game Programming Specialization. A Minor in Interactive Media Management is also available.
Established in 2006, Becker’s Interactive Media Program began with just 12 students. Today, the program has around 600 students, which led to expanded academic offerings and resources, such as the MFA in Interactive Media and the $7.3 million Colleen C. Barrett Center for Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which provides student’s access to Game Studio and an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality lab.
Besides a variety of game programs and resources, Becker College houses the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). Established in 2011, “MassDiGI is the result of creative collaboration among academia, industry and government, aimed at fostering the growth of the game industry and innovation economy.” It is a statewide center, “designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.”
Students work on real game properties, government simulation projects, and educational and serious games that the school says “are making a difference in people’s lives.” Students participate in internships and externships, and are exposed to networking opportunities with industry professionals at conferences such as the Game Developers Conference (GDC) and Boston’s PAX East, where they debut the games they created.
Becker students have produced digital technology applications for John Hancock, Meditech, UMass Medical School, Oracle, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Army, to name a few.
Founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1949 and serving nearly 37,700 students, George Mason University (GMU) is the largest public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The school offers 200 degree programs through 11 colleges and schools, including the College of Visual and Performing Arts—home of the Computer Game Design Program. Degree options include a BFA or MA.
The school says that the 36 credit hour MA “consists core courses drawn from interactive design, creative writing for games, the business of games, game design and production, and electives from CVPA or other Mason graduate programs.” The curriculum “is designed to reflect the games industry’s demand for an academically rigorous technical program coupled with an understanding of the artistic and creative elements of the evolving medium.”
Graduates of the program are prepared for employment in the computer game design and development fields, which include the commercial, entertainment, serious games, and federal sectors.
The 120 credit hour BFA program “enables students to focus on the artistic components of computer game design while providing them with the technical skills prerequisite to the field.” A charter member of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, the BFA program is interdisciplinary, which allows students to specialize in one area while “learning the language of many areas.”
Students will take portfolio courses as well as a pre-internship seminar, and they will complete an internship and a senior project. “Students can also network with employers at the Senior Expo, and those who want to start their own businesses can study Game Entrepreneurship.”
BFA and MA students also have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute based on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus. The institute offers Virginia schools, businesses and universities hands-on training, certification, research and development assistance by merging game company incubation and rapid prototype development.
The Virginia Serious Game Institute is the only one of its kind on the East Coast and one of only four global affiliated facilities established primarily to support early-entry entrepreneurship into the simulation and game design industry.
Founded in 1929 as the Connecticut College of Commerce, Quinnipiac University serves an estimated 10,000 students from 45 states and 53 countries, enrolled in more than 110 programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and eight professional schools across campuses in Hamden and North Haven, Connecticut. Quinnipiac has several programs for aspiring game designers offered through the College of Arts and Sciences. Options include a BA and a Minor in Game Design and Development, and a BA in Computer Science.
The Game Design and Development program has two Tracks: Game Design or Game Art. The Game Design Track focuses on building, designing and programming games. In the Game Art Track, students create game features, such as characters, props, architecture and levels.
Besides two in-demand Tracks, students have access to the Game Lab, where designers come together in interdisciplinary teams to build game prototypes. They may also participate in the QU in LA program, where students spend a semester interning at California companies such as Electronic Arts, Blizzard or Facebook. The Center for Game Development (CGD) is another unique option that the school says supports the continued development of select student and faculty games by providing financial support and resources during the summer and fosters a shared and continuing culture of technological know-how and innovation.
The school says that the BA in Computer Science degree takes a more holistic, interprofessional approach to the application of computer science. Students will learn the same fundamental concepts and techniques, but also how to apply them to other subject areas, such as game design, graphic design, business, and biology. The degree is designed to be flexible, allowing students to complete an additional major or minor.
American University (AU) was founded in 1893. The school serves more than 14,000 students enrolled in over 170 programs, through eight colleges and schools. AU is also home to the Game Lab, which the school says serves as a hub for experiential education, persuasive play research, and innovative production in the fields of games for change and purposeful play.
An MA and a Certificate in Game Design are offered jointly by the School of Communication (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). The school says that the MA in Game Design is the only program of its kind in the U.S. The SOC also offers an MFA in Games and Interactive Media, as well as a Concentration in Games and Interactivity within the MFA in Film and Electronic Media. The CAS offers a Game and Computational Media Track with the MS in Computer Science.
Students in all programs get real-world experience by working on projects with the Game Studio, and with clients such as Educational Testing Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and WAMU 88.5.
The University of Connecticut was founded in 1881 by brothers Charles and Augustus Storrs under the name Storrs Agricultural School. At the time, SAS was a two-year vocational school, which eventually became Storrs Agricultural College, and began officially admitting women. Today, UConn serves just over 32,250 students enrolled in 116 majors, 17 graduate degrees, 88 research and professional practice fields of study, and six professional degree programs through 14 colleges and schools.
The School of Fine Arts at University of Connecticut (UConn) houses the Digital Media and Design Department, which offers five programs for aspiring game designers. Pathways include BA and BFA degrees in Digital Media and Design with a Concentration in Digital Game Design, MA and MFA degrees in Digital Media & Design: Game Design, and an Online Digital Media Graduate Certificate.
Students in all programs are required to take the foundation curriculum, which consists of Digital Foundation, Animation Lab, Fundamentals of Web Design, Digital Culture, Motion Graphics I, Critical Perspectives of Digital Media, Student Agency (2 semesters), and Design Lab. Game design course highlights include Intro to Digital Game Design, Virtual Worlds & Simulations, Stories in Video Games, Advanced Digital Game Design & Development, Game System Design, Multiplayer Game Development, Disruptive Technologies, and Advanced Game Scripting.
Advanced coursework covers Instructional Game Design, Game-Based Teaching and Learning, Emerging Interactive Interfaces/Techniques, Human-Computer Interaction, and Psychological Principles for Improved Design, Motivation, Education, and Character Design. Current research areas include Game-Based Teaching and Learning, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Apps, Interactive Exhibits, Academic Entrepreneurship and Innovation, to name few.
Besides a variety of course offerings and research areas, the programs highlight internship opportunities at places such as Disney, Boston Interactive, and Rocket Software and participation in DMD Club, After Effects Club, and Video Game Club. Game graduates are prepared to seek positions such as 3D Character Artist, Technical Artist, Gameplay Programmer, Game Designer, User Experience Designer, Producer, VFX Artist, Cinematic Designer, Entrepreneur, Instructional Designer, and many others.
Marist College was founded in 1929. The school serves just over 6,650 students enrolled in 47 undergraduate majors and numerous graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees. Programs are offered through eight schools, with game design offered through two schools—the School of Communications and the Art and the School of Computer Science and Mathematics.
The School of Communication and the Arts offers a BA in Media Studies and Production with an Interactive Media and Game Design Concentration. An Interactive Media Minor consisting of five courses is also available. The BA is a new program that the school says prepares students to create vibrant content for those technologies shaping commerce and culture in the 21st century. Students learn the latest tools and trends in the interactive media and game industries, as well as creating social networking sites and designing mobile applications and games.
The School of Computer Science offers a BS in Games and Emerging Media in collaboration with the Media Arts Department in the School of Communication. The BS in Games and Emerging Media is also a new "interdisciplinary" program that the school says provides all majors with a foundation in programming, art, game design, UI/UX, game writing/storytelling, and the business of games. Students in the program have the opportunity to take courses in the ethics of games, online culture, storytelling across media, artificial intelligence, and other relevant topics.
All students also participate in a game studio course, which is set up like a mock game studio. All students are also required to take a capstone course, which helps students establish a portfolio of games and media work. Students can also minor in Games and Emerging Media.
Founded in 1965, Hampshire College serves just over 1,175 students from 48 states and 21 countries enrolled in around 50 areas of study through five interdisciplinary schools. The School of Cognitive Science houses the Computer Science and Digital Multimedia Programs at Hampshire College. Here, students can earn a BA in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development study area. Per the school, the "Computer Science curriculum gives students a foundation for further work by providing them with skills in programming and digital media, including computer graphics, animation, and game development."
Students in the program will have the opportunity to strengthen their skills in teamwork, communication, game programming, playtesting and user testing, 2D and 3D art and animation, game design, iterative development, storytelling, audio design, entrepreneurship, and project management.
Courses are project-based and offer opportunities for students to work in interdisciplinary teams and develop games that will enhance their portfolios. Course highlights include Game Development Workshop, Pixelbending, Women in Game Programming, Analog Game Design, The Art and Science of Digital Imaging, Computer Animation I, II, and III, Designing Treasure Hunts, Introduction to Game Programming, Introduction to Game Design, Interdisciplinary Game Project, and Radical Innovation in Digital Arts.
Other program highlights include the opportunity for students to work with peers and advisors to craft games of their own design, access to the Game Lab and Game Library and the Hampshire College Cluster Computing Facility.
Fitchburg State University was established in 1894 as the State Normal School in Fitchburg. The school serves just over 7,560 students enrolled in more than 30 undergraduate programs and 22 graduate programs in 16 academic departments. The Computer Science Department offers a Major in Computer Science (CS) with a Game Programming Concentration. The program leads to a BS degree.
The interdisciplinary Game Programming Concentration is "designed for students majoring in computer science who would like to apply their computer and programming skills in game design and development," says the school. Students in the program must take four computer science courses specifically designed for game programming and two game design courses. In addition, students have the option to apply for the Game Design Minor offered in Communication Media or choose to double major in Computer Science and Game Design.
Course highlights for the program include Game Programming, Mobile Application Development, Computer Graphics Programming, Elements of Game Design, Introduction to Game Art, and Game Design Workshop.
Other program highlights include internship opportunities and access to state-of-the-art multimedia classrooms and lecture/labs. Students also have access to required software through special educational software licenses from Microsoft, and other prominent software vendors, high speed Internet connections between computer labs and departmental network using the latest technologies, hardware labs containing equipment for teaching courses such as digital electronics, computer organization, microprocessors, digital signal processing, data communications, local area networks and embedded systems, and Windows, UNIX, LINUX, and state-of-the-art database servers.
Graduates of the BS in CS Program with a Concentration in Game Programming go on to enroll in graduate programs at top schools, as well as a variety of careers Game Programming and Design.
Stevens Institute of Technology opened in 1870. The school serves around 7,280 students enrolled in 35 undergraduate majors within four schools including Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering, the School of Business, School of Systems and Enterprises, and the College of Arts & Letters. The school also offers more than 40 master's degree programs and 20 PhD programs in the fields of Business, Computer Science, Engineering, Science, and Arts and Humanities (plus two additional interdisciplinary PhD programs).
The College of Arts & Letters offers a BA and a Minor in Visual Arts and Technology. Concentration options include Game Design, Creative Computation, Design, and Moving Image. “Creativity, critique and collaboration define the classroom, and students are encouraged to explore the intersections of their imaginations and the latest technologies,” says the school.
In the Game Design Concentration, students focus on learning “how to build 2D and 3D games using their own artwork, code, and story.” The Concentration also “critically looks at the current state of game design—from large scale studio, to small independent art projects. By seeing the entire scope of what games can do, students will explore a range of possibilities of using games to create thought provoking projects.”
Course highlights for the program include Animation, Design, Drawing, Game Design I, II & III, Foundation 2D: Color & Composition, Foundation 3D: Form & Space, Video, and Web Design. A yearlong Capstone, designed to launch students “into early career success,” is also part of the program.
With a 100% job placement rate (2016), graduates of the Visual Arts and Technology Program often go on to work in a range of creative fields, including media, production, design, game design, advertising and marketing. Graduates have been hired at 72 Pixels, Vita Coco, VaynerMedia, Scholastic Inc., BuzzFeed, Comcast, and many others.
Established in 1766, Rutgers University is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United States. The school, which serves approximately 70,876 students from all 50 states and more than 125 countries, offers more than 150 undergraduate majors and over 200 graduate programs across 30 schools and colleges. The School of Communication and Information offers several programs for aspiring game designers.
Options include a Dual BA and MI (Master of Information Degree) Pathway for Information Technology & Informatics (ITI) Majors with Game Production and Innovation Specializations and a Certificate Program. The school says that the Game Production and Innovation Specialization “benefits those who have an interest in gaming and game studies, as an addition to or instead of coding and developing games. It provides a basic understanding of game informatics and design – which includes the social dimensions of various users (e.g., designers, builders, players, managers, etc.); the technical dimensions with a focus on design; and the organizational and contextual dimensions.”
The goal of Game Production and Innovation is to provide students with the “capability to plan and design video games to address organizational and societal issues, including recreational gaming. Specific careers in gaming may include game production, game design, writing or screenwriting, animation and management.”
Students in the program have the opportunity to complete an internship in the game industry, they may complete 150 hours of independent study, and they may participate in the Information Technology and Informatics Program (ITI) Showcase. ITI provides students with experiential learning focused courses such as ITI 210 - Management of Technological Organizations and the Capstone Course.
The culmination of both courses is the ITI Showcase, where student teams from the ITI 210 class compete in the Prototype and Pitch Competition while the Capstone class presents their project to a panel of judges before an audience of their peers.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors as The Newark Technical School on Monday, February 9, 1885, with just 88 students. Today, NJIT serves 11,400 students enrolled in 50 bachelors, 59 masters and 19 doctoral degree programs across eight colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring designers are offered through the College of Architecture & Design-School of Art and Design and Ying Wu College of Computing-Information Technology Division or Computer Science Department.
“NJIT does not offer degrees in Game Design, Game Production, or Game Programming,” says the school. Instead, NJIT offers tracks from within its existing accredited degree programs. The BA in Digital Design is offered through the College of Architecture & Design-School of Art and Design, and it has a Game Design Track.
A BS in Game Production with a Game Production Track is offered through Ying Wu College of Computing-Information Technology Division. The College also offers a BS in Information Technology through the Information Technology Division and a BS in Computer Science through the Computer Science Department. Both programs have a Game Programming Track.
Course highlights for the Game Design Track include 3D Character Development, Educational Game Design, History of Games, and Simulated Environments. Course highlights for the Game Production Track include Advanced Game Production, Foundations of Game Production, Game Architecture & Design, and Virtual Reality Design.
Game Programming course highlights include 2D and 3D Game Engine Programming, Modification Programming, and WebGL Programming.
NJIT graduates have landed positions in the areas of animation, game design, graphic design, architectural and environment visualization, web design, storyboard art, and more. Among the studios where NJIT students have interned or worked full-time are 1st Avenue Machine, CSALAS & Co Labs, KWD – Kim Wendell Design LLC, Miskowski Design LLC, NTropic, SUSPECT vfx+design, SWDTech Games, and Tripwire Interactive.
Founded in 1846, University at Buffalo serves around 31,500 students making it the largest campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. The school offers more than 125 undergraduate and more than 320 graduate degrees in 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Media Study, which offers a Certificate in Game Studies.
The program requires 10 courses, including prerequisites for a total of 36 credits. The school says that the Game Studies Certificate “combines an experimental approach to technology and game design with a critical stance toward the impact of games and gaming.” The program is designed for undergraduates who want to “deconstruct, experiment with, and revolutionize gaming paradigms,” and “who want to explore alternative realities, interfaces, and narrative forms.”
Graduates of the program will have the game production skills needed to make games and the knowledge to understand the role of games in society.
Founded in 1966, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) serves around 13,600 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, minors, certificate, master’s and doctoral programs through seven colleges and schools. The College of Engineering and Information Technology houses the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, which offers a BS in Computer Science (CS) with a Game Development Track. A Minor in CS and a combined BS/MS program is also available.
Students in the BS Program must complete the Computer Science Major requirements, as well as the General Education Program (GEP) Requirements set up by the University, before moving on to the Game Development Track. Major requirements include courses such as Data Structures, Ethical Issues in Information Technology, and Discrete Structures. The Game Development Track highlights courses such as Game User Interface programming, Mobile Platform Development: iPhone and iPod Touch, Animation, Computer Graphics for Games, and Data Oriented Computing.
A Games Group Project is also part of the program, as well as electives such as Parallel Processing (massive multiplayer online game servers, using multi-core systems), Networks (peer-to-peer and client-server networked games), Databases (online game distribution systems, art content management), and Computer Graphics (all visuals, efficient rendering, interaction).
Students also have the option to take Numerical Computation which helps designers pinpoint sources of errors and ways to avoid them in both graphics and simulation. This is especially important for graphics on game consoles.
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek technical positions in the game industry. UMBC students have gone on to work in leading companies such as Bethesda Softworks, Breakaway Games, Day One Studios, Epic Games, Firaxis, Mythic Entertainment, Stardock, ZeniMax online studios and Zynga, as well as associated companies like AMD, Emergent, and Organic Motion.