Our 2015 rankings of the top programs on the East Coast for game design and development. We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was founded in 1900. It is home nearly 13,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe), and the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department offer a unique program for aspiring game designers. The Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) features 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. A Minor in IDeATe and a Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) are also on the menu. The MET is “jointly conferred by the School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts.”
2. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was established in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. It is home to 18,063 students enrolled on more than 200 programs through 11 colleges, institutes, and divisions. The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development. A Minor in Game Design and Development is also on the menu.
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1861. It is home to 11,319 students enrolled in more than 100 programs through 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. The School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (HASS) is home to MITs game design labs and programs.
The MIT Game Lab, the MIT Education Arcade, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab offer the opportunity to study, design, and develop games as a supplement to several degree programs. Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster,” an MS with a Specialization in Games, and a Minor in CMS.
4. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic was founded in 1824. It is home to 7,028 students enrolled in more than 145 programs through five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) offers a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (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.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute also offers several advanced degree programs for aspiring game designers. Graduate offerings include MFA and PhD degrees in Electronic Art (EART). Offered through the Department of Arts, both degree programs allow students to explore areas of interest ranging from Gaming and Animation to Communication Technologies.
5. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York
Tisch School of the Arts was founded in 1965. It is part of New York University (NYU) and home to the NYU Game Center – Department of Game Design. According to Tisch, the Game Center is "a nexus for the New York City game community." It offers several programs for aspiring game designers including a BFA, MFA, and a Minor in Game Design. Classes and events 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."
6. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University has been around since 1898. The school is home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in 150+ majors through seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Media and Design offers six programs for aspiring game designers at all degree levels. Offerings include a BFA in Digital Arts and Game Design, a BFA in Games, an MS in Game Science and Design, a Graduate Certificate in Game Analytics, and a Minor in Game Design. The College of Computer and Information Science offers a BS in Computer Science and Game Design. Students in the BS program may choose to concentrate in areas ranging from Game Design to Interactive Media and Video.
7. University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to more than 24,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include a BS in Engineering (BSE) with a Digital Media Design (DMD) Major, an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT), and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS). A DMD Minor is also on the menu.
8. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University was established in 1891. It is home to 26,359 students enrolled in 200 degree programs through 15 colleges and schools. The College of Computing & Informatics offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include a BS in Computer Science (BSCS) and a BA in Computer Science (BACS). Both programs offer a Concentration in Game Programming and Development (GMPD).
The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include a BS in Game Art and Production and an MS 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.
9. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Parsons The New School for Design was founded in 1896. It is home to nearly 5,000 students enrolled in 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs. Parsons houses five schools, including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. The School of Art, Media, and Technology, offers several degree programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology.
10. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York,
Established in 1865, Cornell University is home to nearly 19,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs through seven undergraduate colleges and schools, a graduate school, and 100 academic departments. The School of Computing and Information Science (CIS) is home to the Game Design Initiative at Cornell University (GDIAC). According to GDIAC, the Initiative is an “interdisciplinary collaboration of students and faculty dedicated to the academic study of game design.” Program offerings include a Game Design Minor meant to “complement” traditional majors such as Computer Science, Information Science, Art, Music, or New Media Studies.