Top 5 Florida Game Design Schools - 2018 Rankings
1University of Central Florida Orlando
2Full Sail UniversityWinter Park
3Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota
4The Digital Animation & Visual Effects SchoolOrlando
5The Art Institute of Fort LauderdaleFort Lauderdale

Our 2018 rankings of the top 5 gaming programs in Florida. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

Established in 1963 and home to more than 66,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university and one of the nation’s youngest institutions. The school offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The game design program is offered through UCF’s Florida Interactive Academy (FIEA).

The Academy opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA is one of the school’s largest programs and its only graduate video game design school. Students at FIEA can earn am MS in Interactive Entertainment with one of three Tracks in Art, Production or Programming. In addition, through FIEA and the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), students can earn a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, an MFA in Emerging Media with a Track in Digital Media or an MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media. A Minor in Digital Media is also available. 

2. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Full Sail University was established in 1979. The school serves approximately 15,000 students enrolled in 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degree programs. Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts are also available.

The Game School at Full Sail University offers several programs for aspiring game designers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 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. 

3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
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 serves 1,400 students enrolled in 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.

The Game Art Program at RCAD is part of the Computer Animation Department, which has 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.

The school says that students in the program 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.

4. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, Orlando, Florida
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in Game Production, 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, and 3D Visual Effects. Programs for aspiring game designers include a Game Production Diploma, a Game Production Associate Program, and Bachelor’s Degrees in Game Production, Motion Graphics, and Production Programming.

The Production Programming is an online program with seven tracks including Game Design, Game Programming, Graphics Programming, Mixed Reality Development, Mobile App Development, Productivity, and Simulation. The 12-month Game Production Diploma that covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals.

The Game Production Associate Program offers online general education courses, and the Bachelor’s Degree in Game Production offers both general education and electives online. The Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics can be completed entirely online in just 30 months.

5. The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Established in 1968, the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale is one of The Art Institutes, a system of nonprofit schools throughout the United States. The Fort Lauderdale campus, which serves more than 1,000 students, is composed of 16 art departments, two applied-art schools, The International Culinary School, and the Chef's Palette restaurant. The school offers one program for aspiring game designers—a BS in Game Art & Design.

The school says that students in the BS program will start with the fundamentals like the principles of design, drawing, and color, in both traditional and digital art. Students will then build skills in game design, level design, 2D concept art, 3D modeling, texturing, and real-time lighting.

The focus is on the principles of gaming, balance, and usability, says the school, as well as creating the entire gaming experience and developing games that’ll be used in industry-standard engines. Students will explore the planning, scope, problem-solving abilities, and economics of creating a market-ready game.

Sample courses for the program include 2D Animation, Digital Storytelling, Character and Object Design, 3D Modeling, Game Art & Design, Game Modeling, Game Production Pipeline, and Designing Interior Spaces and Worlds.