2018
Top 25 Private Game Design Schools and Colleges - 2018 Rankings
RankingSchool% of Schools Considered
1University of Southern Californiatop 1%
2Rochester Institute of Technologytop 2%
3Carnegie Mellon Universitytop 3%
4New York University top 4%
5Digipen Institute of Technologytop 5%
6DePaul Universitytop 6%
7Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutetop 7%
8Massachusetts Institute of Technology top 8%
9Savannah College of Art and Designtop 9%
10Worcester Polytechnic Institutetop 10%
11Drexel Universitytop 15%
12Southern Methodist Universitytop 15%
13The New School/Parsonstop 15%
14Full Sail Universitytop 15%
15Northeastern Universitytop 15%
16Becker Collegetop 20%
17Gnomon School of Visual Effectstop 20%
18Academy of Art Universitytop 20%
19Ringling College of Art and Designtop 20%
20Columbia College Chicagotop 20%
21Otis College of Art and Designtop 25%
22Baylor Universitytop 25%
23Champlain Collegetop 25%
24University of Pennsylvaniatop 25%
25American Universitytop 25%

Our 2018 list of the Top 25 Private Game Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (top 1% of schools considered)
University of Southern California

University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880. The school serves 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Program options for aspiring game designers are offered through Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences’ Interactive Media & Games Division. Dornsife programs are offered in in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts.

Viterbi School of Engineering offerings include a BS in Computer Science – CSCI (Games), an MS in Computer Science (Game Development), and a PhD in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development or Virtual Reality research area. A Minor in Computer Science and a Progressive Degree Program (PDP) are also available.

The PDP allows exceptional undergraduate students to “start graduate-level classes during their senior year and request a reduction in the units required for the Master’s degree.” This “allows students to earn the MS in Computer Science with one or two additional semesters of study.” The PDP is available for the MS in Computer Science (Game Development).

The Interactive Media & Games Division offers a BA in Interactive Entertainment, an intensive three-year MFA in Interactive Media and an MFA in Interactive Media (Games and Health), and an MA in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health). The Division’s extensive list of minors include Game Design, Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Entrepreneurism, Game User Research, Themed Entertainment, Video Game Design and Management, Video Game Programming, 3D Computer Modeling and Graphics, and Computer Science.        

In addition to a wide variety of program options for aspiring game designers, USC is home to the GamePipe Laboratory. Sponsored by Intel, Sony, and other technology companies, the Lab produces a "Demo Day," which allows students to showcase their work. The semiannual event attracts game industry reps, reporters, faculty, students, and hundreds of spectators from across the country.

2. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 2% of schools considered)
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. When it opened, the school offered mechanical drawing, which attracted more than 400 students. Today, RIT is home to nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from everything from 3D Digital Design to Web and Mobile Computing.  

The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development, and a BS in New Media Interactive Development. The Game Design and Development program emphasizes game programming and cooperative education (co-op). These full-time paid work experiences provide students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings.

Students in the BS in New Media Interactive Development program can explore casual games, physical computing, production, web, mobile, and more. All GCCIS students have the opportunity to minor in Game Design or Game Design and Development or enroll in a double major.

3. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (top 3% of schools considered)
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was founded in 1900 and it serves nearly 14,000 students representing 109 countries. The school has more than 100 programs across seven colleges.  In collaboration with the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department, the College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) 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. An IDeATe Game Design Minor is also available.

Head over to CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) where you will find another game design option. Founded in 1998, ETC offers a Masters of Entertainment Technology (MET), which is jointly conferred by CMU’s School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts. MET is currently considered a terminal degree.

4. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York (top 4% of schools considered)
New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts

Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU) and home to the NYU Game Center, Department of Game Design. Also known as Tisch or TSOA, the school has more than 3,000 students 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.

The NYU Game Center, Department of Design offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a Game Design BFA or MFA. A Minor in Game Design is also available. The BFA program is organized in three primary areas including Game Studies, Game Design, Game Development, and four production areas including Programming, Visual Design, Audio Design, and Game Business. 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."

5. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (top 5% of schools considered)
Digipen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 984 undergraduates and 78 graduate students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BA in Game Design, a BS in Computer Science and Game Design, a BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation (BS in RTIS), a five-year BS in RTIS/MS in Computer Science, and a Minor in Game Design.

Although the BS in RTIS offers “extensive training in mathematics and physics,” says Digipen, students in the program also “work both individually and collaboratively to learn the fundamentals of Game Design, Production, and Programming. Additionally, they write game design documents and technical design documents, learn how to schedule tools and techniques, and participate in the full production of several games.” The Game Design programs at Digipen Institute of Technology are offered through the Department of Game Software Design and Production.

6. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 6% of schools considered)
DePaul University

DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. In keeping with the university’s commitment to diversity and access to education, 35% of total enrollments are students of color and 86% of students receive some type of financial aid.

The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), where the game programs are housed, is also home to programs such as animation, computer science, and sound design, offering cross-disciplinary courses and collaboration among students. CDM offers a BS in Game Design, a BS in Game Programming, an MFA in Game Design, an MS in Game Programming, and game-related concentrations in other degrees, including the BFA and MA in Animation and the BS and MS in Computer Science/Software Engineering. 

CDM has over 40 labs with roughly a dozen dedicated to gaming, including game development and research labs, a gameplay lab, playtest and usability labs, and, new in 2018, a Virtual and Augmented Reality Design Lab that supports multiplayer, room-scale VR and AR game dev on cutting-edge devices.

DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students, with tracks in game development and 3D modeling/animation for games.

7. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York (top 7% of schools considered)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the oldest technological research university in the U.S. Home to just under 7,650 students, RPI offers 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.

8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts (top 8% of schools considered)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded 1861. The school serves nearly 11,500 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 the MIT Game Lab, the MIT Education Arcade, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.

Together, the labs provide the opportunity to study, design, and develop games as a supplement to several degree programs. Simply put, students who are interested in games can create their own program is study. Students may choose the BS or MS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster.” BS and MS in Computer Science and Engineering degrees 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.

9. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 9% of schools considered)
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from around 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including game design. Programs are offered through the School of Digital Media and include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD).

The BA is available at the Savannah, Atlanta, eLearning campuses. The BFA is offered in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong. SCAD’s MA and MFA in IDGD are available in Savannah, Hong Kong, and through eLearning. Minors in IDGD, Game UX, Mobile and Interactive Design, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Concept Art for Games, and Character Technical Direction are also available.

10. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts (top 10% of schools considered)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in 50 degree programs through several divisions and schools. The Division of Arts & Sciences offers several programs 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.” Students will explore diverse topics such as Writing for Games, Game Audio, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Painting, Virtual Reality, and 3D Modeling. As such, graduates of the IMGD are prepared to work in the gaming industry, and apply their technical and creative skills in areas such as education, health care, art, and social sciences.

11. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 15% of schools considered)
Drexel University

Established in 1891, Drexel University 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 or 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).

12. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas (top 15% of schools considered)
Southern Methodist University

Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to nearly 11,800 students enrolled in 261 degree programs through seven schools. The Meadows School of the Arts offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include a BFA in Digital Game Development and a BFA/Masters of Interactive Technology (M.I.T) in Digital Game Development.

The BFA/M.I.T is supported by the Guildhall—SMU’s School of Video Game Development (est. 2003). BFA/MIT and MIT Specializations include Art, Design, Production, or Programming for Games.

In addition to the M.I.T in Digital Game Development, the Guildhall offers a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development with a Specialization in Art Creation, Level Design, Production, or Software Development.

13. The New School/Parsons, New York, New York (top 15% of schools considered)
The New School/Parsons

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/Parsons, 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. The BFA has a Game Design Pathway. The MFA program consists of major studios, collaborative studios, and the thesis studios. Students have many elective options to choose from and may create their own “coherent” study plan.

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.

14. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 15% of schools considered)
Full Sail University

Established in 1979, Full Sail University serves approximately 15,000 students, enrolled in 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees, as well as Graduate Certificates, in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. The Game School at Full Sail offers several programs for aspiring game designers.

Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Mobile Development. Graduate degrees include an MS in Game Design or Mobile Gaming. The Game Art and Game Design BS degrees are available on campus and online, while the MS in Mobile Gaming is available entirely online.

Fifty-three Full Sail graduates were credited on 21 nominated projects at The Game Awards 2015. Graduates worked on nominated and winning projects in categories including Game of the Year, Best Narrative, Best Multiplayer, and Best Score/Soundtrack. 

15. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (top 15% of schools considered)
Northeastern University

Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves more than 30,000 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) and the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS). CAMD has six programs for game designers including a BFA in Digital Art and Game Design, a BFA in Games, a BS in Computer Science and Game Development, an MS in Game Science and Design, a Graduate Certificate in Game Analytics, and a Minor in Game Design.

CCIS offers several programs for game designers including a BS in Computer Science and Design (formerly Computer Science and Interactive Media) and a BS in Computer Science and Game Development. These combined majors focus on “the specific skills needed to succeed in the highly competitive game industry.”

16. Becker College, Worcester, Massachusetts (top 20% of schools considered)
Becker College

Founded in 1784, Becker College is the nation’s 19th oldest campus. The school, which enrolls more than 2,000 students annually 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 has several offerings for aspiring game designers. Options include a BA in Interactive Media Design with Concentrations in Game Arts, Game Development and Programming, Game Production and Management, and Game Design, an MFA in Interactive Media, a BA 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.

Besides a variety of game programs, 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,” according to the school. It is a statewide center, “designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.”

17. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. The school, which has 600 graduates to date, offers a four-year Digital Production BFA, a three-year Entertainment and Digital Production Certificate, and a two-year Digital Production for Entertainment Certificate.

Gnomon also offers single courses such as Game Creation, Game Design, Anatomy of Games, Animation for Games, Character Creation for Games, Creature Design, Texturing and Shading for Games, Digital Sculpting, Visual Effects for Games, Props and Weapons for Games, Hard Surface Modeling, Photoshop for Digital Production, and Introduction to 3D with Maya. Students can mix and match courses to meet their career goals, and some courses are available 100% online.

18. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online.

The School of Game Development offers a variety of degree programs for aspiring game designers. Options include AA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Game Development and a BS in Game Programming. According to the school, these multidisciplinary programs provide a “well-rounded education in the arts with an emphasis on understanding and applying techniques including 3D modeling, animation and lighting in video game production.” 

The Game Development programs at Academy of Art prepare students for positions such as game designer, 3D modeler, concept artist, UI/UX designer, and many others.

19. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 20% of schools considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design

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

Programs for game designers are part of the Computer Animation Department, which boasts eight state-of-the-art computer labs in addition to three open labs. Game Art students are also experimenting with VR technology using the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Degree options include a BFA with a Game Art Major, which is one of the few programs available that focuses on visual art for computer games. Students in the program will study “the basics of game design mechanics, meaningful play, interactivity, and options for creating and refining game content.” The technical aspects of 3D animation software and game engines will also be explored.

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

20. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 20% of schools considered)
Columbia College Chicago

Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through Columbia’s School of Media Arts, Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department. Options a BA in Game Art, a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development and Game Sound Design, and BA and BS degrees in Programming with a Concentration in Game Programming. Game Art and Game Design Minors are also available.

21. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (top 25% of schools considered)
Otis College of Art and Design

Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918. The school serves approximately 1,100 full-time students enrolled in 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available.

Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BA in Digital Media with a Game and Entertainment Design Emphasis and a Minor in Digital Media. The school says students in the Game and Entertainment Design Major “develop their skills in concept art and visual development, learning the principles and processes involved in creating the first visual representations of characters, environments, and props for films and games.”

Students will also acquire the skills to “design the gameplay, environment, storyline, and characters of interactive games, apps, and websites. Using the most advanced CGI technologies, students acquire the techniques to create stunning visual effects for films, commercials, and videos.” All OTIS students have access to nine labs and shops from audio/video to the model shop.

22. Baylor University, Waco, Texas (top 25% of schools considered)
Baylor University

Chartered in 1845, Baylor University serves more than 16,100 students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 89 countries. The school offers a broad range of degrees (more than 250) among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. The School of Engineering and Computer Science houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers a Game Development Concentration within the BA and BS in Computer Science (BSCS) programs.

The school says the concentration is designed to provide an understanding of the development and application of interactive digital media technologies. This program is offered in cooperation with the Film and Digital Media Division of Communication Studies and combines media course offerings with technical content in order to produce a graduate with skills that go beyond design and implementation.

The program features the Computer Science core, with a three-course game development sequence, and a four-course media production sequence taught in the Film and Digital Media department. As a specialization of the BSCS, the curriculum features the breadth of an undergraduate Computer Science degree along with specialization in areas central to the game development industry. Graduates of the program are awarded a fully-accredited Computer Science degree with all the associated career and graduate education opportunities.

23. Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont (top 25% of schools considered)
Champlain College

Established in 1878, Champlain College serves more than 2,200 students from 44 states and 18 countries. The school offers more than 80 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 Creative Media is also available, as well as a Game Programming Minor. The BFA has Game Media and Interaction Design Specializations.

Creative Media students have the option to choose one primary and two complementary specializations to enhance their degree. 

An 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 students 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.

24. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 25% of schools considered)
University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to 25,367 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through both the School of Design-Department of Fine Arts and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The School of Design-DFA offers a BFA in Fine Arts with an Animation or 3D Modeling Studio. The program combines studio practices, seminar courses, and interactions with visiting artists and professionals in order to provide an open intellectual framework to foster critical awareness and independent methods of artistic research and learning.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). The School also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT), which leads to an MS in CGGT. 

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 students 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.

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 designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers. 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 areas as art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.

25. American University, Washington, DC (top 25% of schools considered)
American University

Founded in 1893, American University (AU) serves more than 13,000 students enrolled in over 160 programs, through eight schools and colleges. 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.

Both an MA degree and a Certificate program in Game Design are offered jointly by the School of Communication (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). AU says that the MA in Game Design is the only program of its kind in the U.S. SOC also offers an MFA in Games and Interactive Media, as well as a concentration on Games and Interactivity within the MFA in Film and Electronic Media. 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 like the Educational Testing Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and WAMU 88.5.