What are the top game design schools on the East Coast for 2021?
|1||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|2||New York University||New York|
|3||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|4||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|6||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|8||The New School/Parsons||New York|
|11||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Massachusetts|
|12||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|13||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|14||George Mason University||Virginia|
|15||Cornell University||New York|
|16||American University||District of Columbia|
|18||Fitchburg State University||Massachusetts|
|19||University of Connecticut||Connecticut|
|20||Stony Brook University||New York|
|21||University of the Arts||Pennsylvania|
|22||Marist College||New York|
|23||Maine College of Art||Maine|
|24||Sacred Heart University||Connecticut|
|25||New Jersey Institute of Technology||New Jersey|
Our 2021 rankings of the top game design programs in the East. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Carnegie Mellon University (CMU or Carnegie Mellon) is a global university established in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In addition to the main campus in Pittsburgh, the school has more than a dozen degree-granting locations including Silicon Valley, Africa, Qatar, and Australia, to name a few. Serving more than 14,500 students representing 100+ countries, CMU has produced 10 Academy Award winners, 50 Tony Award Winners, and 20 Nobel Laureates. The school is also the former home of Andy Warhol.
Carnegie Mellon offers 80 majors and over 90 minors within its six undergraduate schools, colleges, and inter-college degree programs. Game design programs are offered through multiple areas.
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. The School of Art at CMU offers a BFA with a Concentration in Electronic and Time-Based Media.
The BFA curriculum “implicitly encourages cross-disciplinary study and as such, many students merge fine art and computer science based interests either within” the program “or through the unique BCSA degree program,” says the school. Areas of focus include animation, bioart, computational and interactive art, game arts, tactical media, tangible media, and video and performance.
The BFA also offers the opportunity to pursue an additional major in a technical field. “Particularly popular among students interested in interactive design and new media is the secondary major or the minor in Human-Computer Interaction.” The program “encompasses interdisciplinary work in design, computer science, and behavioral and social science, ideal for students who may wish to pursue a career in video game design, smartphone app design, or interactive robotics, or who are interested in gaining an understanding of human behavior to make interactive artworks.”
The Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU also offers an accelerated Master’s program, which allows undergraduate students to obtain a Master’s degree (MHCI) with an extra year of coursework. Students can customize their own path with electives from across the university.
The College of Fine Arts IDeATe Collaborative Studios include Game Engine Programming offered with the Robotics Institute, Research Issues in Game Development offered with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at CMU, and Programming for Game Designers—also offered with ETC. Students in all areas will gain skills in collaboration and the iterative design process, game programming, game systems and mechanics design, interactive narrative and character development, interface design and user testing, and visual and audio asset creation.
Two additional game design options are offered through the ETC at CMU. Founded in 1998, the Center 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. The MET is currently considered a terminal degree.
Founded in 1831 and serving more than 60,500 students, New York University (NYU) is the largest private university in the U.S. The school has the highest number of international students in America, with degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, along with nearly a dozen 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 acting, animation, dance, design, film, games, interactive media, performance, photography, preservation, public policy, recorded music, and writing for musical theatre, stage, screen & television 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 Design, Game Development, and Game Studies and four production areas including Audio Design, Game Business, Programming, and Visual Design. A Capstone is also part of the program.
The Game Center MFA is a two-year degree that includes classes in Game Design, Game History, Game Production, and Game Studies. Students in the program gain hands-on experience by taking studio courses and participating in play labs, and electives offer the opportunity to “explore everything from Game Journalism to Games and Players (a class on the psychology and emotions of game play),” says the school.
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," says the school.
In 2019, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and NYU Shanghai launched a Master of Arts in Interactive Media Arts. “The yearlong degree program pairs two online semesters with three immersive residencies at locations in NYU’s global network,” including New York, Berlin, and Shanghai. A collaboration between the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU Tisch and the Interactive Media Arts Program (IMA) at NYU Shanghai, the MA “is focused on the production, application and understanding of interactive media for creative expression and critical engagement.”
Students in this new program benefit from full access to IMA’s communal makerspace for production, prototyping and user-testing, immersion in both the commercial and cultural activities of Shanghai and surrounding areas, the local dialogue series, artist talks, industry visits, workshops and communal programming, and visits to Shenzhen—“an epicenter of design, manufacturing and innovation.”
Course highlights include Creative Coding, Design for Communication (includes hands-on experience in 2D and 3D), Designing Change, Interface Lab (VR/AR), and Virtual Worlds. The program also covers entrepreneurship and a thesis is required to graduate.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) began with the merging of the Rochester Athenaeum (est. 1829) and a technical training school known as 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 has campuses in Rochester, New York, Dubai, Croatia, Kosovo, and China and it serves nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies.
RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) houses the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM), which offers BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development and a BS in New Media Interactive Development. Minors in Game Design & Development (GAMEDD-MN) and Game Design (GAMED-MN) are also available as well as an accelerated BA/MS that takes five years to complete.
The MS and BS/MS offer unique advanced electives such as Board and Card Game Design and Development, Game Balance, Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms, IGM Production Studio, Innovation & Invention, Interactive Game & Audio, Table Top Role-Playing Game Design and Development, and Theory and Design of Role Play and Interactive Narrative.
The GCCIS IGM Game Design and Development Program (all levels) 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 workweek 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.
Graduates of the Game Design programs at RIT are prepared for careers within the professional games industry or a related field such as edutainment, simulation, or visualization. At present, the school has a 95.2% employment rate for undergraduates and a 97.4% employment rate for graduates.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded 1861. The school serves approximately 11,520 students enrolled in more than 100 programs in 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. “By their nature,” says the school, “games require an interdisciplinary approach to their 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.
Established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, Drexel University introduced a cooperative education program, which became one of the first models of its kind in the U.S. Today, Drexel’s cooperative education program remains the oldest, largest, and best-known program in the nation and it is a degree requirement for most majors. This enables undergraduate students, including game design students, to balance classroom theory with practical, hands-on experience prior to graduation. Students have had co-op experiences in Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, London, Spain, and many other places.
Drexel University has a total enrollment of 24,205 students. Over 200 degree programs are offered in 15 colleges and schools, including the College of Computing & Informatics and Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which offer several programs for aspiring game designers.
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design houses the Digital Media Department (DMD), which offers BS degrees in Game Art & Production and Game Design & Production, and MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media. The two-year MS program features comprehensive studies in 3D Modeling, Animation, Gaming and Digital Media History, Interactivity, and Theory and Methods.
The College of Computing & Informatics offers 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 school also lists other concentrations such as Game Development and Design and Artificial Intelligence. A Minor in Interactive Digital Media is also available.
For students interested in teaching game design, the School of Education offers a Graduate Certificate in Learning in Game Based Environments. Students in all programs have access to Drexel Game Design (DGD) and the RePlay Lab.
DGD and RePlay are collaborative efforts between the Digital Media and Computer Science Departments.
Established in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a designated New York State Center of Excellence in Digital Game Development, which works to support and grow New York state’s digital gaming sector. Serving 7,900 students, RPI offers more than 100 degree programs in five schools, including the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS), which houses the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Department and the Department of Art.
GSAS pathways include BS degrees in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (BS GSAS) and Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC), MS and PhD degrees in Critical Game Design, a Co-terminal Critical Game Design MS, and a BS, PhD, and Minor in Electronic Arts (EART).
BS GSAS students may choose a concentration or dual BS degree from the following options: Arts (Electronic Arts), Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Management/Entrepreneurship, or Writing for Games. Students will explore 3D Animation and Digital Arts, Artificial Intelligence in Games, Experimental Game Design, Game Audio and Music Composition, Game Programming and Software Engineering, Interactive Narrative and Game Storytelling, and Virtual and Augmented Reality.
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, Game Design, Video), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Popular Culture, and Sound Design.
The Department of Arts offers MFA and PhD degrees in Electronic Arts (EART). Both programs allow students to explore everything from Animation and Gaming to Communication Technologies.
Students in all programs may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or the co-terminal graduate program.
Established in 1878, Champlain College serves more than 2,000 students from 40 states and 18 countries. The school offers more than 90 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, Game Design (with an optional Specialization in Sonic Arts), Game Production Management, Game Programming, and Game Sound Design. 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, 3D 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 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 Activision/Vicarious Visions, Behaviour, Gameloft, Square Enix/Eidos, and Warner Bros./Turbine. Facilitated by the Game Studio Career Coach, students have additional opportunities to network with top recruiters from companies such as Activision, ArenaNet, Crystal Dynamics, Insomniac, Rockstar, Sony, Survios, Ubisoft, and many others.
The New School was founded in 1896 as “The Chase School” by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. In 1904, Arts Educator Frank Alvah Parsons joined the school, later becoming its sole director. Between 1904 and 1910, Parsons launched Advertising, Costume Design and Interior Decoration programs. Today, known as The New School's Parsons School of Design, this art and design college serves 5,100 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the Schools of Art and Design History and Theory; Art, Media, and Technology (AMT); Constructed Environments; Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT). Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology (DT). The BFA in 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 in DT is a studio-based program that consists of collaborative studios and the thesis studios. "In Collaboration Studio courses, students work on real-world projects with industry firms and nonprofits." Past partners include American Red Cross, Apple, Eyebeam, gameLab, Human Rights Watch, Intel, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mozilla, NASA, Red Bull, Samsung, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Students also have the opportunity to work with peers in related programs including Communication Design, Fine Arts, Illustration, and Photography, and they have many elective options to choose from in order to create their own “coherent” study plan. Areas of practice include critical design, data visualization, digital fabrication, game design, interaction design, new media art, and physical computing.
Two additional programs—the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, offered at Parsons Paris (est. 1921), and the BFA in Design and Technology (New York campus)—offer opportunities to learn game design.
These interdisciplinary programs explore art, design, media, and technology, preparing graduates to pursue careers in Animation, Computer Software and Hardware Design, Game Design, Interactive Design, Motion Design, and more.
Founded in 1898 as an Evening Institute of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Northeastern University began with less than two dozen students. Today, according to the school’s most recent enrollment figures, it serves nearly 38,000 students at locations in Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; Silicon Valley; San Francisco; Toronto; Vancouver; London; Portland, Maine and the Massachusetts communities of Burlington and Nahant.
Northeastern University offers 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and over 125 graduate programs in 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 programs include BFAs in Game Art and Animation and Game Design, a BS in Computer Science and Game Development, and a Game Design and Music BS with a Concentration in Music Technology. Minors include 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 138 credit hour Game Design and Music 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.
The CCIS BS in Computer Science and Game Development is a combined major, which 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.
Established in 1784, Becker College is one of the 25 oldest institutions in the U.S. The schools founding charter was signed by John Hancock and Samuel Adams and notable graduates and students include Eli Whitney (1788), William Morton (1836), and Elliott P. Joslin. The school, which enrolls 1,675 students, 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 School of Design & Technology houses the Design Division, home to 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 the Internal Revenue Service, John Hancock, Meditech, Oracle, UMass Medical School, and the U.S. Army, to name a few.
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) provides Global Scholarships to 100% of its students to complete "life-changing" project work. The school, which serves 6,870 students from more than 60 countries and 45 states, consists of 14 academic departments that offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in business, engineering, humanities and arts, social sciences, and technology, 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 1740, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. A member of the Ivy league with deep ties to Benjamin Franklin, the school has 189 research centers and institutes and it has employed 10 MacArthur Award recipients, four Pulitzer Prize recipients, one Nobel Prize winner, and a National Medal of Science recipient.
UPenn serves 26,675 students enrolled in more than 400 programs in four undergraduate and 12 graduate schools. The School of Engineering and Applied Science, houses the Department of Computer and Information Science and the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS)—home of the Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (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.
Leading to the Master of Science in Engineering (MSE), 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 MSE in CGGT program can be found in major game, film, and video companies such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, and Electronic Arts.
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 DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates.
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) was founded in 1826, making it the nation’s oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design. The school, which serves nearly 3,500, attracts more than 175 art historians, critics, designers, poets, visiting artists, and writers from around the world each year.
MICA offers around 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, or MPS degree. Study areas include art education, design, electronic media, fine arts, liberal arts, and professional studies. A number of post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also offered.
Programs for aspiring game designers include BFA degrees in Game Design and Interactive Arts with Concentrations in Game Arts Studio or Interactive Arts Studio. A Game Art Concentration is also available.
BFA students will work in “a team-based, open lab model,” says the school. They will “learn to make games from prototype to finished form and are able to focus on individual areas of interest-including game design, narrative, programing, art production, animation, sound, and more-as they work on collaborative projects with a variety of external partners.” The BFA curriculum “expands upon MICA's successful concentration in game arts, and “reflects the multidisciplinary nature of game development and draws upon the College's renowned faculty in interactive arts, illustration, and animation so that students gain an outstanding technical and conceptual skillset in preparation for a career in game design.”
Students will have the opportunity to create and collaborate in the Dolphin Design Center—a 25,000 square-foot state-of-the-art space with a designated game lab, serving as a nexus of creative ideas and output. Created specifically for designers in the 21st century, the center provides students “with the materials and tools they need to design and make whatever they can imagine.”
Students in the Game Programs at MICA can expect to take courses such as 2D Level and Narrative Design, 3D Game Design, 3D Game Studio, 3D Worlds and Level Design, Advanced 2D Game Design, Art Matters, Drawing: Tradition and Innovation, Game Collaborative Studio, Game/Play: Introduction to Design, and Form & Space. For an additional six credits, students can earn an integrated degree in Humanistic Studies, which combines in-depth coursework in academics with studio practice. Graduates will leave the program with a polished portfolio, which will help them showcase their talents at Game Design companies, technology firms, and more.
MICA designers have been hired for paid positions or internships by Abercrombie & Fitch, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Google, Kate Spade, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Modern Art, National Public Radio, Under Armour, and many others.
Founded as a branch of the University of Virginia in 1949, George Mason University (GMU) serves more than 39,000 students, including nearly 500 at GMU, Korea. The school is the largest public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and offers 200 degree programs in 11 colleges and schools, including the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), which houses the Computer Game Design Program.
Degree options include a BFA, MA or Minor in Computer Game Design and a Minor in Sport and Computer Game Design. The Computer Game Design Minor requires 15-16 credit hours of study. Offered jointly with CVPA and the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism, the Sport and Computer Game Minor requires 18 credit hours of study.
The 120 credit hour BFA Computer Game Design Program “enables students to focus on the artistic components of computer game design while providing them with the technical skills prerequisite to the field,” says the school. 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.”
Program highlights include portfolio courses, a pre-internship seminar + internship, and a senior project as well as the opportunity to network with employers at the Senior Expo. Course highlights include 2D Design and Color (offered by the School of Art), Advanced Game Design Animation, Applied Coding for Game Designers, Computer Game Platform Analysis, Game Design Studio, Music for Film and Video, and Online and Mobile Gaming.
The curriculum for the 36 credit hour MA in Computer Game Design “has been modeled after the International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA) most recent ‘Curriculum Framework’ for the Study of Games and Game Development.” It 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.”
Core courses for the program are “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.” Course highlights include Advanced Game Art, Advanced Music and Sound for Games, Game Business, Entrepreneurship and Practice, Game Production, Interactive Game Systems Design, Research Methodologies in Game Design, and Special Topics in Games. Students will complete a graduate internship and teaching practicum as well as a game or written project OR the Game Thesis.
All BFA, MA, and Minor students have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute based at GMU’s Science and Technology Campus. The institute offers Virginia schools, businesses, and universities hands-on training, certification, and 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.
Graduates of the Games Programs at GMU are prepared to seek employment in the computer game design and development fields, which include the commercial, entertainment, serious games, and even federal sectors.
Founded in 1865, Cornell University has an impressive series of firsts. The school established the first four-year schools of hotel administration and industrial and labor relations and it awarded the world's first degree in journalism, the nation's first degree in veterinary medicine, and the first doctorates in electrical and industrial engineering. The federal land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University serves 23,620 students enrolled in 80 undergraduate majors, more than 120 minors, and 102 fields of study.
Programs are offered through 15 colleges and schools and 100 academic departments. Cornell’s game design program is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering’s 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/Concentration and informal support to graduate students and faculty interested in pursuing game-related research.
Any undergraduate student in any college at Cornell University can pursue the Game Design Minor/Concentration and have it added to their transcript. To get started, students will 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 through multiple departments, and build a portfolio of games through independent studies.
Courses offered include (but are not limited to) Advanced Computer Game Architecture, Analytics-Driven Game Design, Game Studies and Japan, Graphics and Art, Human-Computer Interaction, Human Factors and Inclusive Design, Interactive Computer Graphics, Novel Interaction techniques, Project: Terrarium Imagined; World Building Through Allegory, and Psychology of Gaming.
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.
American University (AU) was founded in 1893. The school serves more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students enrolled in 79 bachelor’s, 89 master’s, and 11 doctoral degrees, plus the Washington College of Law’s JD, MLS, LLM, and SJD programs. Additionally, AU students have the opportunity to create individualized interdisciplinary programs at the bachelor’s level and more than 20 online master’s degrees and graduate certificates are available. Programs are offered in eight colleges and schools.
For aspiring game designers, AU offers an MA and a Certificate in Game Design, an MFA in Games and Interactive Media, an MFA in Film and Electronic Media with a Concentration in Games and Interactivity, and an MS in Computer Science with a Game and Computational Media Track.
The MA and 15 credit hour 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 36 credit hour program focuses on “game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges,” says the school. “Beyond traditional game design and development, students learn to tailor play design for distinct education purposes.”
Course highlights for the program include 3D Animation, 3D Modeling for Games, 3D Static Modeling, Advanced Game Development, Digital Art Tools and Techniques, Game Design & Art Pipeline Production, Game Research Methods, Making Meaningful Games, and Web and Mobile Development.
The MFAs in Games and Interactive Media and Film and Electronic Media are offered in the SOC and the MS in Computer Science is offered in the CAS – Department of Computer Science.
Students in all programs have access to the AU Game Lab, which serves as a hub for experiential education, persuasive play research, and innovative production in the fields of games for change and purposeful play. Students in all programs will also get real-world experience by working on projects with the Game Studio, and with clients such as Educational Testing Service (ETS), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and WAMU 88.5.
AU Game Design, Games and Interactive Media, and Games and Computational Media Track students will have opportunities to “connect through renowned DC-held events, such as Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian Museum, Global Game Jam, MAGfest, Games+, and more.”
Hampshire College was created by the presidents of Amherst (AC), Mount Holyoke (MHC), and Smith Colleges (SC), along with the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). The group came up with the idea for the school in 1958. In 1965, Hampshire College became a reality. Today, the school serves 745 students enrolled in a number of BA programs through the Consortium (Hampshire, AC, MHC, SC, UMass), and five interdisciplinary schools.
The School of Cognitive Science at Hampshire houses the Computer Science Department, which offers a BA in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development Study Area. 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," says the school.
Students in the program will strengthen their skills in 2D and 3D art and animation, audio design, communication, entrepreneurship, game design, game programming, iterative development, playtesting and user testing, project management, storytelling, and teamwork. 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 Advanced Computer Animation Production, Analog Game Programming, Artificial Intelligence in 3D Virtual Worlds, Computer Graphics Topics for Programmers, Designing Treasure Hunts, Game Design, Game Development Workshop, Game Programming, Software Engineering, The Art and Science of Digital Imaging, and Women in Game Programming. Sample Consortium courses include Algorithms (MHA), Computational Geometry (SC), Interactive Web Programming (UMass), Parallel Algorithms and Architecture (UMass), and Robotics (UMass).
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, which houses “a high-performance Beowulf-style computer cluster called fly,” used for 3D rendering, evolutionary computation research, physical and biological simulations, and more.
Fitchburg State University was established in 1894 as the State Normal School in Fitchburg. The school serves 7,000 students enrolled in more than 30 undergraduate programs and 22 graduate programs in 16 academic departments. The Computer Science Department offers a BS in Computer Science (CS) with a Game Programming Concentration.
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.
Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities in places such as Japan, and access to state-of-the-art multimedia classrooms and lecture/labs. Students have access to software through special educational software licenses from Microsoft and other prominent software vendors. They also have access to 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.
Course highlights for the BS program include Computer Graphics Programming, Digital Electronics, Elements of Game Design, Game Art, Game Programming, Mobile Application Development, and Systems Programming. Students will also take two Game Design Workshops. In one workshop, students will design and develop several digital game prototypes, while building proficiency in an industry-standard game engine. Students will participate in design pitches, presentations, critique, and team productions, learn to implement game logic through scripting, and deliver a final, playable game project.
In the other workshop, students will engage in the iterative design process: developing, prototyping, and play-testing games throughout the semester with the goal of creating well-balanced games that are challenging and rewarding to the player. Projects will include one or more original games designed for computer, console, or mobile platforms.
Graduates of the BS in CS Program with a Concentration in Game Programming go on to land positions at major companies and studios in the Game Programming and Design industries. Some graduates go on to enroll in graduate programs at top schools.
University of Connecticut (UConn) was established in 1881 as Storrs Agricultural School, opening with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, UConn is home to a coed population of more than 32,300 served by more than 18,000 faculty and staff members. The school has one main campus and four regional campuses that offer eight undergraduate degrees in 117 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 88 research and professional practice fields of study, and six professional degree programs (JD, LLM, MD, DMD, PharmD, SJD) in 14 schools & colleges.
The School of Fine Arts houses the Department of Digital Media Design (DMD), which offers four programs for aspiring game designers. Pathways include BA and BFA degrees in Digital Media and Design with a Concentration in Digital Game Design, and MA and MFA degrees in Digital Media & Design: Game Design.
Students in all programs are required to take the foundation curriculum, which consists of Animation Lab, Critical Perspectives of Digital Media, Design Lab, Digital Culture, Digital Foundation, Fundamentals of Web Design, Motion Graphics I, and Student Agency. Game Design course highlights include 3D Virtual Worlds, Game Production, Game System Design, Game Scripting, Interactive Storytelling, Intro to Digital Game Design, Multiplayer Game Development, Stories in Video Games, and Virtual Worlds & Simulations.
Advanced coursework covers Emerging Interactive Interfaces/Techniques, Game-Based Teaching and Learning, Human-Computer Interaction, Instructional Game Design, and Psychological Principles for Improved Design, Motivation, Education, and Character Design. Current research areas include Academic Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Game-Based Teaching and Learning, Interactive Exhibits, and Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Apps, to name few.
Besides a variety of course offerings and research areas, the Game Design Programs offer specialization areas such as 3D Modeling for Games, Advanced Game Scripting, Game System Design, and Multiplayer Game Development. The program also offers internship opportunities at companies such as Boston Interactive, Disney, and Rocket Software. Students may also participate in student clubs such as the Game Development Club, Gaming Club, League of Legends Club, and UConn Rocket League.
Game graduates are prepared to seek positions such as 3D Character Artist, Cinematic Designer, Game Designer, Gameplay Programmer, Entrepreneur, Instructional Designer, Producer/Esports Manager, Serious Games Designer, Technical Artist, User Experience Designer, VFX Artist, and many others. Graduates have been hired at Blue Sky Studios, Bit Fry, Epic Games, The Game Agency, World Walker, and many others.
Founded in 1957, Stony Brook University (SBU) is part of the State University of New York System (SUNY). Serving nearly 28,000 students, SBU offers more than 200 undergraduate programs, more than 100 master’s programs, and over than 50 doctoral programs in 12 colleges and schools. The College of Engineering and Applied Sciences houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers a BS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Programming. An accelerated BS/MS that can be completed in just five years is also available.
The BS program stresses graphics and multiplayer network programming techniques, original game development, game design methodology, and team projects and presentations. Four core courses, two electives, and a project are required. Course highlights include Advanced Game Programming, Advanced Programming in UNIX/C, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Game Programming, Fundamentals of Computer Graphics, Introduction to Visualization, Machine Learning, and Operating Systems. For the Project, students may choose Research in Computer Science, Internship in Computer Science or Senior Honors Research Project I, II, on a topic in game programming.
Graduates of the BS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Programming are prepared for a career as either a professional game developer or researcher.
University of the Arts (UArts) has educated generations of groundbreaking artists, performers, designers and creative leaders for more than 141 years. Serving 1,800 students, the school was granted university status in 1987, becoming the largest institution of its kind in the nation, offering programs in design, fine arts, media arts, crafts, music, dance, theater and writing. Today, UArts offers 30 undergraduate arts majors, 14 graduate programs and the nation’s first PhD program in Creativity. The school also offers more than 30 Minors open to all students.
Aspiring game designers can earn a BFA in Game Art and/or a Minor in Game Design. The BFA Program “addresses an area of specialization with 2D and 3D graphics for real-time systems such as games and simulations,” says the school. Course highlights include 3D Simulation & Effects, Advanced 3D Animation, Advanced 3D Computer Modeling & Lighting, Digital Studio, Game Concepts, Programming for Creatives, Sound Design, Thinking Through Science, and Virtual Environments.
Fifteen credit hours of free electives allow students to take additional classes in their primary area of interest. Students will also complete Senior Studio in a discipline of their choice and a Design Internship.
UArts says graduates of the BFA in Game Art will be able to “utilize 3D game development tools and systems to produce technically competent works of art.” They will be able to “imagine and express creative, innovative, visually engaging virtual worlds and characters, participate and collaborate successfully as effective members of creative development teams, and develop meaningful 3D virtual objects, characters and worlds across a wide range of aesthetic styles while they adapt to rapid changes in the industry.”
Whether co-founding their “own indie development studio or working on a large AAA title,” graduates will be prepared to “become an effective, creative partner.”
Marist College began as a seminary for the training of future Marist Brothers (religious community). The school offered its first college-level courses in 1929. Today, the school serves approximately 4,900 traditional undergraduate men and women, 1,000 graduate students, and 400 adult students enrolled in more than 90 programs of study in seven schools.
Programs for aspiring game designers are facilitated by two schools—the School of Communications and the Arts and the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, along with the Department of Film, TV, Games, and Interactive Media. Program options include a Minor and a BA in Games and Emerging Media.
Program highlights include project-based classes that “involve student and faculty collaboration to create games, apps, websites, prototypes, VR/AR experiences, mobile games, board games, and other design projects,” says the school, along with “frequent workshops, lectures, and Q&As with industry professionals” in order to “gain in-depth understanding of the industry.” Students may obtain Adobe and Avid Certification and take field trips to New York that often lead to invitations to apply for jobs or internships at a variety of companies and studios. The Marist in Manhattan program also offers a semester-long residential internship experience in New York City.
Students present research presentations as well as game demos at the Hudson Valley Undergraduate Games Conference and they are encouraged to participate in Play Innovation Lab, where they will have the opportunity to design and research games, as well as help organize and participate in games-related events.
The BA curriculum covers the basics in programming, art, game design, UI/UX, game writing and storytelling, and the business of games. Students can “expand” their “academic triangle” with unique electives such as Artificial Intelligence, Ethics and Gaming, and Video Production. A Technical Development and Programming Track allows students to focus on the programming and software development side of game creation, taking courses such as Game Design, Human Computer Interaction, and Software Development and Analysis.
An additional Track—Design, Writing, and Culture—allows students to take a customized mix of courses in game design, writing, and the social aspects of gaming. Course highlights include Online Culture, Storytelling Across Media, and Writing for Media.
Students may also combine programs that prepare them for interesting careers such as Game Therapist (Psychology Major + Games Minor), Game Linguist/Translator (Games and Emerging Media Major + Language Minor), Game Animator (Digital Media Major + Animation Concentration + Games Minor) and Game Studio Marketing Manager (Games and Emerging Media Major + Business Major + Marketing Concentration).
Maine College of Art (MECA) was founded in 1882 as part of the Portland Society of Art. The school serves more than 500 BFA, MFA and MAT students along with 1,500 continuing studies students. The BFA Program at MECA offers 11 majors, including Animation & Game Art (AG).
Launched in 2018, the AG Major covers art, game art, film, historical and contemporary animation, and storytelling. Course highlights for the program include 2D Game Design, 3D Modeling and Animation, Advanced 3D Game Art, Animation and Game Art Concepts and History, Cinematic Storytelling, Intermediate Game and Concept Art, and Stop Motion and FX. Students will also take Production Studio, Capstone, and Professional Studio courses.
In addition to required coursework, graduating AG students are required to present their work at MECA’s BFA Thesis Show. Students will also have opportunities to exhibit their work in organized College exhibitions and on their own during all four years of their MECA experience. Before graduation, students will complete an internship, online portfolio, resume, and professional reel.
Graduates of the AG program at MECA work as professional artists or they have entered an MFA program.
Founded in 1963 as an independent, Catholic University, Sacred Heart University was the first Catholic University in America to be led and staffed by lay people. The school serves more than 9,150 students enrolled in more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs, including online degree programs, in six distinct colleges and two schools.
The School of Computer Science and Engineering offers several programs for aspiring game designers—a BS in Game Design & Development and Computer Game Design and Development Certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The Undergraduate Certificate consists of 15 credit hours and “feeds” into a possible BS degree in Computer Science. The Graduate Certificate consists of 12 credits and it is designed for graduate student who has not pursued a computer gaming track or major at the undergraduate level.
Students in the BS program will “gain a foundation in programming languages, 3D object creation, story creation, virtual reality, and computer ethics,” says the school. Students will have the opportunity to “explore the game creation process, from game design document through beta testing to published game.” Courses and instruction cover 3D object creation, algorithms, gaming, game programming, operating systems, as well as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Blender, Maya, and Unity3D.
Students in the program will have the opportunity to work in the Motion Capture Laboratory where they will learn to animate 3D characters. Additionally, all SHU students have the chance to gain valuable workplace experience through real-world internships at places such as Engineering.com, IBM, Microsoft, NBC Sports, and more.
Graduates will leave the BS program with a published game and the experience needed to pursue positions such as Computer Animator, Digital Game Artist, Game Designer, Level Designer, Programmer, and many others.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) opened its doors in 1885 as The Newark Technical School with just 88 students. Today, the school serves more than 11,400 students enrolled in more than 120 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and 19 doctoral degrees in eight colleges and schools.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered in the College of Architecture & Design, School of Art and Design and Ying Wu College of Computing, Departments of Computer Science and Information Technology Division.
Options include a BA in Digital Design with a Game Design Track and BS degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology. The BS programs offer the opportunity to focus in Game Design, Game Production, Game Programming, Multimedia, and more. All program tracks offer an endless number of games related courses.
Course highlights include 2D and 3D Game Development, 2D and 3D Game engine Programming, 3D Modeling and Animation, Advanced Game Production, Character Modeling and Animation, Educational Game Design, Game Architecture and Design, Game Design Studio, Game Development, Game Development Workshop, Game Modification Development, Game Production, Modification Programming, Programming Language Concepts, Simulated Environments, Virtual Reality Design, and WebGL Programming.
Graduates of the games programs at NJIT have landed positions in areas such as animation, architectural and environment visualization, game design, graphic design, storyboard art, web design, and more. NJIT students have interned or worked full-time at studios such as 1st Avenue Machine, CSALAS & Co Labs, KWD – Kim Wendell Design LLC, Miskowski Design LLC, NTropic, SUSPECT vfx+design, SWDTech Games, and Tripwire Interactive.