What are the top New York game design programs for 2024?

Top 5 Game Design Schools and Colleges in New York - 2024 College Rankings
1New York UniversityNew York
2Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochester
3Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy
4The New School’s Parsons School of DesignNew York
5Cornell UniversityIthaca

Our 2024 ranking of the top game design school programs in New York. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. New York University, New York, New York
New York University

New York University (NYU) is home to Tisch School of the Arts (est. 1965), which houses the Department of Game Design. Founded in 2008 and known as NYU Game Center, the department hosts events and programs such as the No Quarter Exhibition (est. 2010); NYU Game Center Lecture Series; and the professional game conference PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail. The Center also hosts workshops, playtests, and tournaments. 

NYU Game Center programs include the Game Design BFA, MFA, and minor. Single courses are also available for students in any major at NYU. Examples include 3D Game Studio: Unity; Game Development: Team Studio; Game Design I and II; and Code Lab. 

All NYU Game Center programs consist of immersive academic seminars, and hands-on experiences in the Center’s development studios and play labs. In addition, a major component of the NYU Game Center is the internship program. Students have completed coveted internships with Disney, Ubisoft, Arkadium, and TreSensa. 

With a strong foundation in the liberal arts, the Game Design BFA consists of primary areas (game design, game studies, and game development), production areas (programming, audio design, visual design, and the business of games), and the Senior Capstone. Students in this 128 credit-hour program have the option to specialize in any of the four production areas and complete up to 34 open credits in the Game Center or any other area. 

The Senior Capstone for the Game Design BFA may consist of a group game, exhibition, or game-related research paper. 

The NYU Game Center MFA is a two-year program that consists of coursework in game history, game design, game studies, game production, studio, and play labs. Students will also take a number of electives that explore areas such as the psychology of game play and games journalism. Course examples for the program include American Computer Games of the 1980s; 3D Game Studio: Unity; Game Design I and II; Horror Games; Intermediate Programming for Games; Prototype Studio; UI/UX for Games; Mobile Game Studio; Shader Lab; Tech Art Studio; and Tackling Representation in Games. 

The Game Design MFA program culminates with a thesis, completed across two courses (12 credit hours). Thesis projects may consist of digital games, card games or a sport, smartphone games, or a series of small games, among others. Thesis programs may also be individually directed or completed in teams. Thesis projects are presented at the NYU Game Center Spring Show. 

The Game Design minor at NYU Game Center explores design, production, and the study of games. Consisting of 16 credit hours, the program requires Games 101 and any other Game Center courses. Minor graduates are prepared to work in the game industry. Some graduates go on to become critics or scholars. 

NYU Game Center BFA and MFA graduates will enter the job market with a resume, several finished games or related works, and the assistance of NYU’s extensive Wasserman Career Center. As part of Tisch School of the Arts, NYU Game Center graduates also have access to school’s own Office of Career Development, which helps students launch their creative careers. 

The Game Center Incubator is yet another resource for graduating students. Launched in 2014, the incubator provides expertise, funding, and space for projects with commercial potential. Incubator leaders help select students see projects through to a public launch. 

Graduates of the NYU Game Center are Game Artists, Game Designers, Software Publishers, Game Developers, AI Engineers, Game Programmers, and Entrepreneurs. Program alumni have gone on to work for companies and studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games, Amazon, Tencent, Take-Two Interactive, ESPN, Nickelodeon, IGDA Japan, Arkadium, and Avalanche Studios.   

New York University is the largest private university in the U.S. Founded in 1831, the school serves approximately 61,950 students across degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. NYU also operates 12 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries. With more than 19,000 employees, New York University is one of the largest employers in New York City. These professionals manage an estimated 400+ programs. NYU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was the first university to publish to the Xbox One platform. RIT also houses the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS)—home to the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM). Within the school are several paths to study game design. Options include BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development (GDD), an accelerated BS/MS that takes five years to complete, and minors in Game Design and GDD.   

The College of Art and Design at RIT houses the School of Design, which has an additional option for students interested in studying games. The 3D Digital Design BFA is a STEM designated program that provides both Game Arts and 3D Visualization specializations. Consisting of 120 credit hours, bot options allow students to study games. Course examples include Game Design & Development I and II; IGM Production Studio; Layers and Effects; Scripting; Game Development and Algorithmic Problem Solving; Modeling and Motion Strategies; Contemporary Practices: Environment Design; Character Design and Rigging; Simulating Natural Phenomena; Technology in Game Arts; and Game Arts Seminar. 

Graduates of this program are prepared to pursue titles such as Game Designer, CG Artist, AR/VR Designer, Visualization Artist, Game Developer, Level Designer, Special Effects Artist, Environment Designer, Lighting Technical Director, Rigger, Character Designer, and Digital Asset Designer. Program alumni have been hired by major studios such as Insomniac Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment. 

Students in both the RIT School of Design and the School of Interactive Games & Media benefit from seminars, lectures, discussions, and demos by industry professionals; game development and research studios; independent study; access to the Digital Games Hub, which provides mentoring and resources for students and independent developers to create new games, launch start-ups, and enter the games industry; and Creative Industry Days. 

Creative Industry Days is a series of events that allow students to network with major companies and studios, and participate in panels and portfolio reviews. Examples of past companies include Walt Disney, Epic Games, NetherRealm Studios, Adobe, Iron Galaxy Studios, Ogilvy, DraftKings, Enduring Games, CGI Digital, MahiGaming, and Zash Global Media & Entertainment.

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

The Game Design and GDD minors at Rochester Institute of Technology are require 15 credit hours. Students in both options will complete Game Design & Development I and II. Other course examples include New Media Interactive Design and Algorithmic Problem Solving I and II; 2D Animation and Asset Production; Data Structures for Games & Simulations I and II; and Interactive Media Development. 

The Game Design and Development degree programs at RIT GCCIS explore game design and development, animation, interactive media, modeling, user interaction, math, and science. The BS consists of 121 credit hours, the MS requires 33 credits, and the BS/MS is 145 total credit hours. 

Students in the BS have opportunities to specialize in areas such as narrative, engines, audio, or graphics through electives across the entire university. Course examples for the program include Interaction, Immersion, & the Media Interface; Game Design & Development I and II; Introduction to Web Technology for Game Developers; and Data Structures & Algorithms for Games & Simulation I and II. 

RIT GDD BS students have the opportunity to complete approximately 40 credit hours of open, advanced, and general education electives throughout the program. Examples of advanced electives include Casual Game Development; Geographic Visualization; Digital Video for the Web; Games for Change; Maps, Mapping and Geospatial Technologies; and International Game Industry. 

Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of industries such as entertainment industry, aerospace, internet and software, defense, media and publishing, computer hardware, and health care. 

The Game Design and Development MS is a cohort-based program designed for students seeking careers in the games industry, visualization, simulation, or edutainment. Course examples include Game Development Process; Gameplay and Prototyping; Colloquium in Game Design and Development; Game Design; and Game Industry Themes and Perspectives. Advanced electives allow students to develop additional skills in a variety of areas. 

Elective examples include Artificial Intelligence for Gameplay; Game Graphics Programming; Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms; Console Development; Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization; IGM Production Studio; and Board and Card Game Design and Development. 

The MS program culminates with the group Design and Development Capstone completed across two courses. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as Game Developer, Software Engineer, Full Stack UI Developer, Game Designer, Associate Engine/Graphics Automation Engineer, Junior C++ Developer, and Systems Design Engineer. 

Rochester Institute of Technology was founded in 1829 as the Rochester Athenaeum. With global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, this research university serves more than 20,000 students, making it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. RIT provides 200+ academic programs across 10 colleges and institutes, and the School of Individualized Study. 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 home to the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS). Within the school is the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Department and Program. The GSAS leads the Center of Excellence in Digital Game Development, which is funded by the Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR) within New York’s department of economic development known as Empire State Development. 

The RPI Center of Excellence provides lectures and technical workshops; participation in trade shows and conferences such as the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco; and it houses ongoing programs such as GameFest, an annual student games showcase and research symposium; Ripcord, a joint blog-and-podcast series that focuses on games; and an intensive, yearlong games incubator known as the Level Upstate Mentorship Program. 

The Center also hosts game jams and hackathons; STEAM educational programs; research in games-related fields such as game AI, wargaming, historical simulations, and virtual reality; and training activities for gaming startups. 

Students in all RPI GSAS programs have access to everything the RPI Center of Excellence in Digital Game Development has to offer. GSAS programs are available at all degree levels. Options include a BS in GSAS; an MS Critical Game Design; and a PhD in Critical Game Design. 

The GSAS Department at RPI emphasizes interdisciplinary study, allowing students in all degree programs to explore experimental game design, 3D animation, music and audio for games, digital arts, software engineering, and programming. RPI GSAS students will also take courses in leadership and management. 

A major component of the program is the opportunity to build a number of professional games in teams. Students will also complete an internship, and they have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs such as the semester abroad in Singapore at Nanyang Technological University. 

Graduates of the GSAS program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. 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. 

Some of the top hiring companies for RPI graduates include Walt Disney, Hasbro, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Pratt & Whitney, Boeing, IBM, Dell, Facebook, LG, Cruise, and Boston Scientific. 

Established in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s first technological research university. Serving approximately 7,065 students, RPI houses 32 research centers; 746 labs, studios, and technology spaces; five schools; and more than 145 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MCSHE) and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and technology (ABET).

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

The New School’s Parsons School of Design (Parsons) is home to the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT). Within the AMT is a Design and Technology (DT) program with BFA and MFA options. These STEM-designated, interdisciplinary programs feature collaborations between artists and designers across The New School; studios and lab courses led by experts in the field; networking opportunities and sponsored projects with external partners; industry internships; and study abroad experiences in places such as Florence, Paris, and London. 

The Parsons DT BFA explores interaction technologies, emerging art and design practices, and media storytelling. The first year of this 120-credit hour program explores the liberal arts, as well as art and design concepts such as 2D and 3D processes, digital design, and drawing. All first-year students at Parsons, regardless of major, will complete their required courses as a cohort.  

The DT BFA has two paths: Game Design and Creative Technology. Game Design students will work on original projects that explore socially conscious video games, digital art, and wearable technology. Creative Technology students will visit and+ work on projects with major companies and studios such as Apple, Nickelodeon, Atari, Siemens, MTV, UNESCO, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, and Rockwell Interaction Lab. 

Examples of available courses within the AMT include Game Design as Play Design; Creative Coding; Digital Asset Creation 2D and 3D; Core Studio: Environments; Anatomy and Perspective for Visual Storytellers; CG 1 and 2; Interaction Studio; Communication Design Studio: Motion Graphics; Introduction to Animation; Experimental Animation; Drawing/Imaging; Communication Design Studio: JavaScript; Physical Computing; Communication Design Foundations: Interaction; Data Visualization and Information Aesthetics; Web Design; Light and Image; and Critical Computation Lab. 

In the fourth year of the DT BFA at The New School’s Parsons School of Design, students will complete a thesis project. A new course called Pro Launch Studio, prepares students for careers in the industry.   

The DT MFA at Parsons School of Design is a studio-based program consisting 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, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), NASA, Intel, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Ralph Lauren, Mozilla, One Plus, and Red Bull. Projects explore areas such as game design, web and mobile apps, film and video, and audiovisual performance.  

Other program features include access to state-of-the-art facilities and labs; elective options across Parsons and The New School; and the Cloud Salon Series—a webinar series consisting of designers, artists, technologists, and industry professionals. Past speakers have included New Red Order, Zach Lieberman, Yuri Suzuki, Audrey Bennett, and Lauren Lee McCarthy. 

Graduates of the Design and Technology programs at The New School’s Parsons School of Design are prepared to pursue leadership roles and others in areas such as Game Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Digital Filmmaking, New Media Art, Motion Graphics, Graphic Arts, Wearable Technology, Mobile and Application Design, Software Design, UI/UX Design, and Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Hardware Engineering, Advertising, Physical Computing, Data Visualization, and Web Desigin. 

The New School was founded in 1919. Parsons School of Design was established as The Chase School in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. In 1904 Frank Alvah Parsons joined the school, eventually becoming its sole director. The Chase School became Parsons in 1941, and joined The New School in 1970. Today, The New School serves 10,000 students, with 5,000+ enrolled in Parsons School of Design. 

The New School provides more than 120 degree and diploma programs across six colleges and schools, including Parsons Paris. The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), with Parsons School of Design included within the scope of MSCHE accreditation.

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 Game Design Initiative at Cornell (GDIAC). Launched in 2001, the GDIAC was one of the first official computer game programs of its kind, and the first established at an Ivy League School. The Game Design Initiative features a Game Design minor that highlights project-based learning and a curriculum that emphasizes gameplay design, software development, game analytics, and project management. 

Consisting of a minimum of 18 credit hours, the minor requires Introduction to Computer Game Architecture/Design; and Advanced Topics in Computer Game Architecture/Design or Analytics-Driven Game Design. Students will choose four courses from Art, Computer Science, Information Science, Performing and Media Arts, Music, and Psychology. 

Across areas, ideal courses for game designers include Psychology of Gaming; Interactive Computer Graphics; Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures; Machine Learning for Intelligent Systems; Graphics and Art; Natural Language Processing; Advanced Human-Computer Interaction Design; Creative Character Design; Screenwriting; Novel Interaction Techniques; Introduction to Rapid Prototyping and Physical Computing; and Communication and Technology. 

Students may select courses from other departments on a petition basis. Examples include Game Studies and Japan; History and Theory of Digital Art; and Human Factors and Inclusive Design. 

While the Game Designer minor is an ideal complement to the CS BS, it is open to all Cornell students, regardless of major. The CS BS is housed in the Cornell Bowers CIS Department of Computer Science. 

The curriculum for CS BS explores algorithms, programming languages, systems, logic, data structures, and theory. Electives allow students to develop skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, computer graphics, computer vision, scientific computing, cryptography, networks, and databases. Sample courses related to games include Algorithmic Game Theory; Advanced Topics in Computer Game Architecture; Machine Learning; and Cloud Computing. 

All CS students have the opportunity to complete a professional internship and participate in any one of Cornell’s study abroad programs. The school’s portfolio includes Cornell Global Hubs with locations such as China, Ghana, India, and Denmark; short-term study (winter, spring, or summer break) in places such as Paris, Madrid, or the UK; and semester- or year-long study in one of dozens of locations. 

Graduates of the CS/Game Minor program are prepared to pursue careers across the gaming, technology, advertising, science and medicine, architecture, aerospace, legal, education, and business  industries, among others. Ninety-nine percent of Cornell University CS alumni are either employed (66%) or attending graduate school (33%) shortly after graduating. 

Examples of top employers for CS graduates include Epic Systems, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Amazon, Google, Tencent, Meta, Twitter, and Snapchat. 

Morrill Hall was the first building constructed on the Cornell University campus. The school was founded in 1865, with Morrill welcoming its first class in 1868. Today, the Cornell University Campus sits on 2,300 acres housing 608 buildings. In addition to the main campus in Ithaca, New York, Cornell has campuses in Geneva, New York; New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; Rome, Italy; and Doha, Qatar. 

Roughly 11,325 faculty and staff members serve approximately 26,285 students enrolled in 300+ majors, minors, and graduate fields of stud. Programs at Cornell are housed across 16 colleges and schools. Cornell University has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921.