What are the top New York game design programs for 2023?

Top 5 New York Game Design Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1New York University New York
2Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester
3Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy
4The New School's Parsons School of DesignNew York
5Cornell UniversityIthaca

Our 2023 ranking of the top game design school programs in New York. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. New York University (NYU), New York, New York
New York University

The Game Center is the Department of Game Design at New York University’s (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts. Founded in 2008, The NYU Game Center hosts events and programs such as the NYU Game Center Lecture Series, No Quarter Exhibition (est. 2010), and the professional game conference known as PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail. The Center, which also hosts workshops, playtests, and tournaments, has two degree options—the Game Design BFA and MFA. A Games Minor is also available as well as a wide variety of courses for NYU students who might be interested in games.

The Game Minor consists of 18 credit hours of study and it explores foundation game studies and other areas through elective coursework. Graduate students will complete a thesis project to be presented at the NYU Game Center Spring Show.

All programs at the NYU Game Center consist of immersive academic seminars and hands-on experiences in the Center’s development studios and play labs. Students may focus on programming, design, or visual design for games, game criticism, game art, or other areas.

A major component of the NYU Game Center is the internship program. Students have completed internships with Disney, Ubisoft, Arkadium, and TreSensa.  NYU Game Center graduates will leave the program with a resume and several finished games.

New York University Game Center alumni are Game Artists, Game Designers and Developers, Software Publishers, AI Engineers, and Entrepreneurs. They work at companies and studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games, Amazon, Tencent, Take-Two Interactive, ESPN, Nickelodeon, and IGDA Japan. 

New York University was founded in 1831. Serving nearly 55,000 students, NYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities. In addition to the New York campus, NYU has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, along with 11 global academic centers in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. With an estimated 400+ programs, New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Founded in 1965, Tisch School of Arts at New York University serves more than 4,000 students from 48 states and 39 countries. Programs are offered at all degree levels through Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, the Institute of Performing Arts, and the Institute of Emerging Media.

2. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has several paths to study game design. Within RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) is the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM), which has both BS and MS programs in Game Design and Development. An Accelerated BS/MS is also available. All programs explore animation, math and science, interactive media, modeling, user interaction, and of course, game design and development.

Course examples across programs include Games Balance, IGM Production Studio, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Gameplay, Gameplay and Prototyping, Casual Game Development, Systems Concepts for Games and Media, Game Engine Design and Development, Console Development, Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms, Game Development Processes, Level Design, and Physical Computing & Alternative Interfaces. Seminars, game development and research studios, and independent study are also part of the programs.

RIT IGM Game Design and Development students will also have the rare opportunity to complete two paid blocks of cooperative education, which will allow them to gain experience in the games industry through a full-time employment at a studio. Google, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Interactive Entertainment, Epic Games, and Microsoft are just a few recent co-op companies. Students will also have the opportunity to develop and commodify their own games at RIT’s MAGIC Spell Studios.

Housed in the College of Art and Design is the School of Design, which an additional option for students interested in studying games. The 3D Digital Design BFA includes courses such as Game Development and Algorithmic Problem Solving, Computer Science, Environment Design, Layers and Effects, and Modeling and Motion Strategies.

Rochester Institute of Technology is a top research university that dates back to 1829. With global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, the school serves more than 19,000 students, making it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. RIT offers more than 200 academic programs across 11 colleges and institutes. Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

3. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a designated New York State Center of Excellence (NYSTAR) in Digital Game Development. Programs for game designers are housed in the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Department, which is part of the RPI’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS). Pathways to study game design include the GSAS BS, the Critical Game Design MS, and the Critical Game Design Co-Terminal MS Program.

The GSAS Department emphasizes interdisciplinary study, allowing students in all degree programs to explore experimental game design, music and audio for games, programming, software engineering, digital arts, and 3D animation. RPI GSAS students will also take courses in leadership and management, complete an internship, and participate in optional study abroad programs such as the semester abroad in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University.

A major component of the program is the opportunity to build a number of professional games in teams. Students will graduate from the GSAS Programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a professional portfolio of their best works.  

RPI GSAS alumni go on to establish careers in a variety of fields such as Game Design and Development, Animation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Visualization, Interactive Simulation, Computer Science, and Fine Arts, among others.

Established in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s first technological research university. Serving approximately 6,910 students, RPI offers more than 50 degree programs across five schools. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS). 

4. The New School's Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
The New School Parsons

The School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) at The New School's Parsons School of Design (Parsons) houses a Design and Technology (DT) Program with options leading to a BFA or MFA in DT. Programs in the School of AMT are STEM-designated and provide networking opportunities and collaborations with external partners; studios and lab courses led by experts in the field; industry-oriented internships; and study abroad experiences in places such as London, Paris, and Florence.

The DT BFA at Parsons requires 120 credit hours taken over four years. Like all undergraduate programs at Parsons, the first year of the BFA covers the liberal arts, along with art and design concepts such as drawing, digital design, and 2D and 3D processes. All first-year students at Parsons, regardless of major, will take their required courses together. 

The DT BFA has two pathway options including Game Design and Creative Technology. Students in the Game Design Pathway will work on projects that explore wearable technology, digital art, and socially conscious video games. Creative Technology students will work on projects with major companies and studios such as Nickelodeon, Apple, Atari, MTV,  UNESCO, Rockwell Interaction Lab, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, and Siemens.

AMT course examples include Time, Game Design as Play Design, Objects as History, Concept and Illustration for Games, Core Studio Systems, Design Studies, Game Craft, Communication Design Studio: Experience in Space, The New Arcade, Digital Development, Experimental Animation, Storytelling, Motion Graphics, Narrative and Dynamic Systems, and Visual Design Concepts.

The DT MFA at The New School Parsons is studio-based and consists of Collaboration Studio and Thesis Studio courses. In Collaboration Studio courses, students will work with partner companies on real-world projects. Examples of past partners include Apple, Samsung, NASA, Intel, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Mozilla, and Red Bull. Projects explore areas such as game design, web and mobile apps, visualization, new media art, interaction design, digital fabrication, and critical design. 

Graduates of the Design and Technology Programs at The New School Parsons are prepared for careers in Game Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Digital Filmmaking, New Media Art, Motion Graphics, Wearable Technology, Mobile and Application Design, Software Design, Advertising, Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Hardware Engineering, Physical Computing, Graphic Arts, WEB/UI/UX Design, and Data Visualization.

The New School Parsons was established in 1896 as The Chase School. The school serves approximately 10,815 students enrolled more than 120 degree and diploma programs across six colleges and schools, including Parsons Paris. The New School Parsons is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University

The Cornell Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (CIS) at Cornell University is home to the Computer Science Department, which houses the Computer Science (CS) BS Program. Students in this program have the opportunity to study game design by adding the Game Design Minor. Consisting of a minimum of 18 credit hours, the Minor requires the following courses: Introduction to Computer Game Architecture/Design and Advanced Topics in Computer Game Architecture/Design or Analytics-Driven Game Design.

For the remaining courses, students may choose titles from areas such as Art, Information Science, Psychology, Performing and Media Arts, Music, and Computer Science. Course examples across areas include Screenwriting, Advanced Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Design, Sound Design, Creative Character Design, Interactive computer Graphics, Game Studies and Japan, Communication and Technology, and Novel Interaction Techniques.

CS Majors at Cornell University will explore modeling, programming, and system design, they will learn about applications in computer science and engineering, and perform research in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), computer graphics, computer architecture, machine learning, computer vision, scientific computing, programming languages and compilation, robotics, computational logic, computing systems, and natural language processing. In addition, all CS students have the opportunity  to complete an internship and participate in the study abroad program. 

Ninety-nine percent of Cornell University CS alumni were either employed (66%) or attending graduate school (33%) shortly after graduating. Some top employers for graduates include Amazon, Google, Tencent, IBM, Meta, Apple, Epic Systems, Microsoft, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Cornell University is a private research university founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. The school opened in 1868 Morrill Hall—the first building constructed on the campus—Morrill Hall. Today, the Cornell University Campus encompasses 608 buildings and more than 2,300 acres. Cornell also has additional campuses in Geneva, NY, New York City, DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy.

Roughly 10,500 faculty and staff serve more than 25,500 students enrolled in 300+ majors, minors, and graduate fields of study across 16 colleges and schools. Cornell University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921.