What are the best game design master's degree programs in the US?
|1||University of Southern California||California|
|2||University of Utah||Utah|
|3||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|4||University of California||California|
|5||University of Central Florida + FIA||Florida|
|6||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|7||Southern Methodist University||Texas|
|9||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|10||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|11||Michigan State University||Michigan|
|13||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas|
|15||Full Sail University||Florida|
|16||Academy of Art University||California|
|17||Texas A&M University||Texas|
|18||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||Massachusetts|
|19||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|20||Clemson University||South Carolina|
|21||Louisiana State University||Louisiana|
|22||American University||District of Columbia|
|23||University of Florida||Florida|
|24||George Mason University||Virginia|
|25||University of Colorado at Colorado Springs||Colorado|
Our 2019 list of the Top 25 MA/MS Game Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC) offers game design programs 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 conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts. Graduate offerings in Viterbi School of Engineering include 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 Progressive Degree Program (PDP) is also available.
Per the school, 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 an MA in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health). The Division’s extensive list of complementary minors includes 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. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
The University of Utah (The U) houses the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts—home to the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS). The Studio offers a Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE). Tracks include Game Arts, Game Engineering, Game Production, and Technical Art. According to the Studio, “all students in each of the tracks have a series of common classes including Game Design, Rapid Prototyping, Pre-Production, and Final Project.” In addition, students will “develop and enhance a professional game portfolio” and they will have the opportunity to complete an internship in the game industry.
The David Eccles School of Business and the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program also offer a dual degree program “designed to take advantage of the complementary elements in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and the Masters of Entertainment Arts & Engineering.” The MBA/MEAE, which aims to bridge the ‘suits’ vs. the ‘dev’ divide, takes three years to complete. Other offerings include a five-year BS/MS offered through the School of Computing.
3. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) houses the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM). Here students can earn an MS in Game Design and Development.
The GCCIS IGM Game Design and Development program emphasizes game programming and cooperative education (co-op). The co-op is a required, full-time paid work experience that provides students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings. Students must complete two semesters, full-time, which amounts to a minimum 35-hour work week over the course of an academic semester. Past co-op companies include Microsoft, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sapient-Razorfish, Google, EA, Epic Games, Cartoon Network, Seagate, Hi-Rez Studios, and many others.
In addition to the co-op experience, students will explore casual games, physical computing, production, web, mobile, and more.
4. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
The University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) is home to the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE), which offers MS and PhD degrees in Computational Media or Computer Science with a Games Focus. Per the school, the graduate programs “provide exciting research and learning opportunities.” Students in the programs “are mentored by one or more advisors and may participate in a number of interdisciplinary programs, including robotics, rehabilitative technology, sustainability engineering, bioengineering and bioinformatics, games and playable media, mathematics and statistical modeling, information and communication sciences, software and services engineering and more.”
Students in both programs have access to The Center for Games and Playable Media (CGPM). Established in 2010, CGPM is the “largest games research group in the world.” The group is “comprised of the Expressive Intelligence Studio, Social and Emotional Technology Lab, Interactive Systems for Individuals with Special Needs Lab, Augmented Design Lab, and the Software Introspection Lab.”
CGPM partners include eBay, Google, Sony, EA, Microsoft Studios, the MacArthur Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and many others.
5. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida
The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) is UCF’s graduate video game design school. Part of the College of Arts and Humanities, the Academy opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA is home to dozens of students enrolled in the MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks. An MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media is also available.
Track options for the 16-month MS program include Art, Production, and Programming. The Art Track provides a “solid foundation in 2d design, 3d modeling, animation, and game production.” The Production Track “covers all the main skills that a producer needs, including game design, level design, scripting and project management.” Students in the Programming Track will learn programming by writing lots of code. They will “develop strong C++ skills and learn how to debug, code in optimal game design patterns, and create cross-platform code that works on any game system.”
Students in all Tracks will complete Digital Venture Practicum, Game Design Practicum-Internship, and Capstone Production.
The MA in Digital Media is offered through the Department of Games & Interactive Media in the College of Arts and Humanities. The MA Track is “embedded in a rich environment of digital media work at UCF and in the surrounding community.” Among the active areas of work at UCF are serious games for training and education, experience design, and information architecture for the World Wide Web.
Students in the MA are taught by faculty with extensive experience in game development, simulation and training, interactive and web design, immersive design environments, digital storytelling, and more. Other program highlights include both thesis and non-thesis options, internship opportunities, and full or part-time schedules.
Portfolios might include works of art, software or games students have designed, written articles, and proposals or projects they have created.
6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is 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. This means that students who are interested in games can create their own program of study.
Graduate options include an MS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster” and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering. The curriculum for the MS in CMS involves study across all media, including games. This program is a combination of coursework, a Master's thesis, and active research in one of CMS' many research groups, including the MIT Game Lab.
Per the school, 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.”
Other graduate programs at MIT allow students to work with the MIT Game Lab to supplement their educational and research goals, including the MIT Media Lab and the Sloan MBA program.
7. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts a Masters of Interactive Technology (M.I.T) in Digital Game Development and a BFA/M.I.T. Specializations include Art, Design, Production, and Programming for Games. In addition to the M.I.T in Digital Game Development, SMU is home to the Guildhall, which the school says works “collaboratively across disciplines and industries to train the next generation of game developers.”
Established in 2003, SMU Guildhall was the first in the world to offer a master's degree in interactive technology and it is the only program with specializations in all four cornerstones of game development. Specializations for the program include Art Creation, Level Design, Production, and Software Development.
As a complement to SMU programs, the Guildhall offers a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development. The certificate is “tailored to students who wish to become actively involved in the game development industry as designers or artists.”
8. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University offers game design programs at all levels through the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM). CDM is organized into three schools including the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), the School of Computing (SoC), and the School of Design (SoD). MS degree options include an MS in Game Programming.
DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema, and Animation Summer Academy and the DePaul Game Experience (DGE). The Summer Academy is a weeklong program that features “hands-on instruction using the latest equipment and technology.” Participants may focus on Computer Game Development, 3D Computer Modeling and Animation for Games and Cinema or Digital Cinema Production.
The DePaul Game Experience (DGE) allows a select group of students to work on a game to submit to the Student IGF Competition. Past DGE teams have made entries that were finalists in the IGDA student competition.
Students in all Game Design programs have access to the Deep Games Laboratory and all CDM labs, including several that intersect with the program specifically, including game development and research, gameplay, virtual reality, and playtest and usability labs. The Deep Games Laboratory is a cross-disciplinary design, research, development, and assessment game lab housed in CDM that focuses on games exploring the human experience.
Recent DePaul Game Program graduates have gone on to work at Disney Interactive Studios, NeatherRealm Studios, Owlchemy Labs, Firaxis, Wargaming, Phosphor Games, Carbine Studios, Scientific Games, and many others. Several grads have gone on to form their own gaming companies, including Young Horses, whose indie hit Octodad was developed at DePaul.
9. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) offers programs through the colleges of Design, Computing, Engineering, Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Graduate programs for aspiring game designers are available through GeorgiaTech’s College of Computing. Options include an MS in Digital Media (formerly Information Design and Technology), an MS in Digital Media – HCI, and a PhD in Digital Media. A BS/MS in Computational Media/Digital Media and an Accelerated 5-Year Bachelor's/Master's are also available.
The programs, known as Games@GT, are part of an institute-wide initiative designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations.
Graduates of the Game Programs at GeorgiaTech are prepared to seek careers in Interactive Game Design and Simulation, Special Effects Creation, Animation, 3-D Modeling, Robotics, Virtual and Augmented Reality and Web Design.
10. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to the School of Digital Media, which offers an MA in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD). Offered at the Savannah and Hong Kong campuses, the MA consists of 45 credit hours of study including courses such as Contemporary Art, Interactive Web Design, and Collaboration. Students in this program will complete an Interactive Design and Game Development MA Final Project.
At SCAD, professionals visit with students every quarter, interviewing for positions and reviewing portfolios. Recent visitors include representatives from Zynga, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Crystal Dynamics and Activision. Graduates have been recruited by Epic Games, Sucker Punch Productions, Firaxis Games, and many others.
11. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University (MSU) is home to the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, which houses the Media and Information (MI) Department’s Game Design and Development Program. Founded in 2005, the program offers an MA in Media and Information with a Focus in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) + Serious Game Design & Research Certificate. A PhD in Information and Media is also available. The PhD program offers several research areas including Human-Computer Interaction, Games, and Meaningful Play.
Besides offering a variety of programs for game designers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. Per the school, the mission of the GEL Lab is to “design innovative prototypes, techniques, and complete games for entertainment and learning and to advance state of the art knowledge about social and individual effects of digital games.”
Graduates of the game programs at MSU are prepared to seek positions in all areas of game design and development or even start their own studios.
12. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media. Students interested in teaching game design may choose the Graduate Certificate in Learning in Game Based Environments.
Per the school, the “two-year MS is a hybrid program created to offer students research as well as career opportunities in 21st century media applications.” The program features comprehensive studies in Gaming and Digital Media History, Theory and Methods, 3D Modeling, Interactivity, and Animation. The curriculum offers a mix of academic coursework and project-related activities including funded grant research opportunities, industry-sponsored projects and independent, and student-generated and faculty-approved projects.
The PhD program focuses on “translational research in digital media within an experiential learning environment.” The program is “built on a fundamentally interdisciplinary course structure and emphasizes an iterative and design -based research philosophy.”
Projects at the master’s and doctoral levels have included Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for video games, a multi-media interactive dance performance with body tracking, multi-touch games for teaching middle-school children, theme park ride and animation design, interactive online non-linear narrative comics, and advanced animation production techniques.
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).
Graduates have obtained jobs at leading companies including Pixar, Microsoft XBOX, NCSoft, DreamWorks, and Disney.
13. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) houses the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC). Created in 2015, the school merged two long-running programs at UT Dallas: the program in Arts and Technology and the program in Emerging Media and Communication. ATEC serves more than 1,500 students, including 100 MA and MFA students and 40 doctoral students.
Among the school’s graduate offerings are the MA in ATEC with Gaming Studies and a PhD in ATEC. All ATEC students may also choose electives in more than one area. Examples include User Experience Design for Games, Game Design, Interaction Design, Level Design, Modeling and Texturing, Virtual Environments, Rigging, Game Production Lab, Game Pipeline Methodologies, Serious Games, Game Production Lab, Interactive Narrative, and Educational Games.
Research areas for all graduate students include Game Studies, Game Development, Interaction Design, Computer Animation, and more. The program is a good pathway whether students are interested in teaching arts- and technology-related courses in colleges and universities or working in a professional studio or design practice. Graduate students may choose to pursue additional research opportunities.
14. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University houses the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) and Khoury College of Computer Sciences, which jointly offer an MS in Game Science and Design. Per the schools, the interdisciplinary program “gives students a comprehensive understanding of how successful game products are created in a player-centric environment.” The two-year, full-time program combines science and design, giving students a choice of three concentrations: Game Analytics, Game User Research and Game Design and Development.
Students in the 34 credit hour program can expect to take courses such as Business Models in the Game Industry, Mixed Research Methods for Games, Biometrics for Design, Game Artificial Intelligence, Information Design and Visual Analytics, Spatial and Temporal Design, Building Game Engines, Data-Driven Player Modeling, Player Experience, and Psychology of Play. Students will also complete a game seminar course and a thesis.
Other program highlights include experiential learning opportunities such as in-class case studies and exercises, research (collaborating with faculty) in more than 30 of the school’s federally funded research centers, and full-time co-op work in a paid position in the student’s area of study for three to six months.
15. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University offers an MS in Game Design or Mobile Gaming. Coursework focuses on user experience research, production, and design. Course highlights include Methods and the User Experience, Prototyping and Content Creation, and Game Usability and Testing. The program, which allows students to choose a track that allows them to focus on a chosen area of expertise, culminates in a Game Capstone Experience.
The Mobile Gaming MS consists of graduate level mobile gaming research, emerging technologies, and the application of theoretical concepts to game design and development. Course highlights include Computer Science for Engineers, Game Development Frameworks, and Mobile Gaming Business. The program culminates in a thesis, which allows students to complete a fully playable mobile game of their own design.
The MS in Mobile Gaming is available entirely online.
16. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University houses the School of Game Development, which offers MA in Game Development. Per the school, the program “allows students to further their careers by synthesizing traditional art and design fundamentals with today’s groundbreaking technologies. Students prepare their career skill-set through hands-on prototyping of game mechanics and art creation, followed by creating a final project industry-quality portfolio.”
Students will complete 33 units of major coursework and three units of graduate liberal arts courses. Course highlights include Elements of Video Games, Scripting for Video Games, Rapid Game Development, Drawing Bootcamp for Games: The Human Figure, 3D Modeling & Animation (Maya), Action Adventure & RPG Level Design, Prototype Game Development, Principles if UX, and Professional Practices & Portfolio for Game Developers.
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.
17. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University houses the College of Architecture, home of the Department of Visualization. Here, students can earn an MS in Visualization that the Department says is “designed to prepare students for a range of long-term careers in visualization. The program helps students develop the focused expertise and broad foundation knowledge needed in this rapidly developing field.” The program’s core curriculum will give students a “basic grasp of the artistic, scientific, cognitive, and technical foundations of the discipline. Beyond this broad training, the program requires students to develop a strong focus area of advanced expertise, and to complete a research thesis in this focus area.”
All Visualization students have access to the Department of Visualization’s Learning Interactive Visualization Experience Lab. Established in 2014, the Lab “provides space for graduate and undergraduate students to create game prototypes while learning about game theory, the art and science of the visual image and game history. In the lab, through research and rigorous scientific process, students collaborate with specialists from visualization, educational psychology, computer science and engineering to create innovative, interactive software.”
Visualization program alumni can be found working as creative talent for Hollywood’s leading animation and special effects studios including Pixar, Blue Sky, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light and Magic, DreamWorks Animation, Rhythm & Hues Studios and Reel FX.
18. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) houses the Division of Arts & Sciences, which offers an MS in Interactive Media & Game Development (MS 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.
19. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, which houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS). Here, students can earn enroll in the Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT), which leads to an MS in CGGT.
The Center for HMS established the CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship.
The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as game programmers, designers, technical animators, and technical directors. Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as human/computer interfaces and production management, creative design, animation and simulation technology, and art and animation.
Graduates of the CGGT program can be found in major game, film, and video companies such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Acclaim, and Crystal Dynamics.
Also housed within the School of Engineering and Applied Science is the Digital Media Design Program (DMD), which offers a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD). Students in the program “develop their own advanced study focus, working with faculty mentors on topics ranging from the core computer science discipline to diverse scholarly interactions within the School of Engineering and the University.”
Students in the programs will take four seminar courses and complete a teaching practicum and a thesis.
DMD graduates go on the work at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates. Sony, Activision, and Blue Sky Entertainment also employ many DMD and CGGT graduates.
20. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University houses the College of Engineering and Science, which offers an MS in Digital Production Arts (MS DPA), and a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Plan (BS/MS) in Computer Science. Students in the Computer Science programs will take classes such as Algorithms and Data Structures, Software Engineering, Computer Security, Computer Graphics, Game Design and Network Programming.
Launched in 2017, the MS DPA is offered within the Division of Visual Computing in the School of Computing. Per the school, the 30 credit hour program is a “technical professional degree aimed at producing graduates who intend to seek employment in the software development of the electronic arts industry.” The focus of the program is on “the technical components of visual effects production for the film, electronic games, and commercial video industries.”
The MS DPA is “designed primarily to attract technically-minded students interested in learning applied technical knowledge and gaining the related experience to become competitive and pursue employment as a 3D graphics programmer, software engineer, tool builder, and/or technical director in the digital production entertainment industry, but interest may also include related fields, such as commercial virtual reality, 3D printing, and visualization.”
Sample courses include Advanced Animation, Physically Based Visual Effects, 2D Game Engine Design, Advanced Computer Graphics, Visual Foundations for Digital Production, Software Construction, Character Animation, 3D Modeling and Animation, Rendering and Shading, Special Effects Compositing, Audio Engineering, and Visual Narrative. All students have the opportunity to Minor in DPA, which emphasizes Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation.
The program, which has both thesis and non-thesis options, takes place at the Clemson and Charleston, South Carolina campuses.
21. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Baton, Rouge Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) is home to the College of Engineering, which houses the Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) Program and the Division of Computer Science in Engineering. Graduate DMAE program options include a 22-month Master’s in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (MDMAE). Division of Computer Science graduate offerings include MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science.
Computer Science students have the opportunity to take a number of game-related electives. Course highlights include Video Game Design, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Interface Design and Technology, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Digital Media Programming, Interactive Computer Graphics, Graphical and Geometric Modeling, and Scientific Information Visualization.
Students in the MDMAE program will develop specialist skills in a focus area, work with teams in a studio environment on consequential projects, and refine and hone their technical and creative skills. Course highlights include Advanced Programming & Digital Art, Digital Media Production Management, and Interactive Design, Rapid Prototyping & Innovation. MDMAE students will also complete a team project, capstone, a production workshop, and an internship.
22. American University, Washington, DC
American University (AU) is home to the Game Lab, which the school says serves as a hub for experiential education, persuasive play research, and innovative production in the fields of games for change and purposeful play.
An MA and a Certificate in Game Design are offered jointly by the School of Communication (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Per the school, the MA in Game Design is the only program of its kind in the U.S. The multi-disciplinary, 36-credit hour program focuses on “game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges.” The program “will develop students’ intellectual capacity as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. Beyond traditional game design and development, students learn to tailor play design for distinct education purposes.”
Students will take required courses such as Games and Rhetoric and Games and Society, which go “beyond the fundamentals of building a great game.” With the opportunity to select nine credit hours of electives, students are able to choose from a variety of concentrations, or create one of their own.
The CAS also offers a Game and Computational Media Track with the MS in Computer Science. Students in the program will build a “strong theoretical foundation” with core coursework, and receive “practical training in applying computer science theory and methods to problem solving across a variety of fields, including media, games, finance, medicine, entertainment, environments, and political science.” Besides selecting a Track, students “can further personalize their degrees by choosing to pursue research and a traditional master’s thesis or a combination of research and an internship.”
Students in all programs get real-world experience by working on projects with the Game Studio, and with clients such as Educational Testing Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and WAMU 88.5.
23. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
The University of Florida (UF) is home to the UF College of Arts, which houses the Digital Worlds Institute. Here students can earn a Master’s in Digital Arts & Sciences (MiDAS). The program covers Project Management (Production Pipelines, Budgets & Proposals, Time Management), Programming (Unity 3D, Advance Unity/Physics, App Based/Web App, Hardware Design/Implementation), and Design and Interactivity (Visual Design Tools/Tech, 3D for VR/AR; UI-UX, Audio, Digital Compositing, and Projection/Display).
Per the school, the program “equips students with the programming and design skills needed to enter and thrive in contemporary interactive media industries.” This one year accelerated master’s program highlights half-semester modular courses over three contiguous semesters beginning late Summer and graduating the following Spring, small class sizes, and access to high-tech facilities including a 5-screen Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater (PICT) and a Virtual Production Studio (VPS).
Team-based studio projects provide the basis for the student’s professional portfolio “to be career ready upon graduation.” Graduates of the programs at UF have gone on to land positions at DreamWorks and Microsoft, as well as to form their own successful startups.
24. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
George Mason University (GMU) is home to the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which houses the Computer Game Design Program. The graduate program leads to an MA.
Per the school, the 36 credit hour Computer Game Design MA “consists core courses drawn from interactive design, creative writing for games, the business of games, game design and production, and electives from CVPA or other Mason graduate programs.” The curriculum “is designed to reflect the games industry’s demand for an academically rigorous technical program coupled with an understanding of the artistic and creative elements of the evolving medium.”
Course highlights include Game Production, Advanced Game Animation, Interactive Game Systems Design, Research Methodologies in Game Design, Issues in Interactive Entertainment, Advanced Music and Sound for Games, Game Business, Entrepreneurship and Practice, and Game Studio Management. Students will take the Game Design Graduate Seminar and complete a Teaching Practicum and a Graduate Internship.
All MA students have access to the Virginia Serious Game Institute based on George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus. The institute offers Virginia schools, businesses and universities hands-on training, certification, research and development assistance by merging game company incubation and rapid prototype development.
The Virginia Serious Game Institute is the only one of its kind on the East Coast and one of only four global affiliated facilities established primarily to support early-entry entrepreneurship into the simulation and game design industry.
25. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, Colorado
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) houses the College of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS), which offers an MS in Computer Science with a Games and Media Integration Option. The Games and Media Integration option is an interdisciplinary degree that gives students a firm foundation in pursuing research and development in the area of games, animation and movie making, VR/HCI, complex systems, and wearable computing. Per the school, “up to six credit hours of Portfolio Development is an important feature of this degree program. In addition to a complete Game program, a short animated movie, or a wearable computing product, portfolio development may include auditing classes in Letters, Arts and Sciences (LAS) and the College of Business.”
One of the “most exciting aspects” of this degree program “is the combination of a set of required courses to ensure all students develop a firm foundation in the basics of design and development of games and media integration products, and the opportunity for students to pursue their special interests through several elective courses and portfolio development.”
Course highlights for the program include 3D Games and Digital Contents Creation, Computer Graphics, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Virtual Reality and Human Computer Interaction, Animation and Visualization, Advanced Graphics/Morphing, Wearable Computing and Complex Systems, Advanced Web Systems and Internet, and Multi-Media.
Students will graduate with a broad understanding of the entire spectrum of games and media integration, a thorough understanding of the process of creating, designing, product development and deployment of a game, animation and movie, or a wearable computing product, and proficiency with many of the tools and techniques for implementing game and media integration product for the industry.
Graduates of the Game Programs at UCCS EAS are prepared to form their own companies, join established game development companies or pursue traditional programming employment opportunities. Graduates may also pursue careers in areas such as simulation and training games, educational games, games for healthcare, and more.