11. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1898, DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic University. It is home to 23,799 students enrolled in more than 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Computing and Digital Media offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include an MS in Computer Game Development and a BS in Computer Game Development with Concentrations in Game Design, GamePlay Programming, and Systems Programming.
In addition to a variety of game design offerings, DePaul University offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy as well as 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 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.
12. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 10% of schools considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling. The school opened with just 75 students enrolled in 111 courses. Today, RCAD sits on a 35-acre campus that houses nearly 1,300 students enrolled in 14 majors. Programs for aspiring game designers include a BFA in Game Art & Design.
13. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia (top 10% of schools considered)
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) was founded in 1885. It is home to more than 21,500 students enrolled in more than 80 degree programs and more than 50 minors through six colleges and more than 25 schools. The College of Computing is home to Games@GT—an “institute-wide initiative designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations.” The College also offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Game Studies Focus (also supported by the School of Literature Communication and Culture within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts), MS degrees in Digital Media and Digital Media – HCI, and a PhD in Digital Media. All College of Computing students will have access to resources offered by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.
14. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Orlando, Florida (top 10% of schools considered)
The University of Central Florida (UCF) was founded in 1963. It is home to 61,000 students enrolled in 210 degree programs across 12 colleges that house dozens of departments and schools. The University of Central Florida offers a wide variety of programs for aspiring game designers through two schools—the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which is housed within the College of Arts & Humanities, and the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA).
The School of Visual Arts & Design offers a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, an MFA in Emerging Media with a Track in Digital Media, and an MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media.
The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy is UCF’s graduate video game design school. The Academy opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA is home to around 65 Students enrolled in the MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks. Track options include Art, Production and Programming. During semesters two and three of the program, all students will work on a “final, large-scale game with fellow producers, programmers and artists.”
15. University of California - Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, (top 10% of schools considered)
The University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) opened in 1965. The school is home to 17,200 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs across 10 colleges and dozens of divisions, departments, and schools. Several departments and schools offer programs for aspiring game designers. First, the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE), Department of Computer Science (CS), offers several programs. Offerings include a BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, an MS in Games & Playable Media, and MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a (research) focus in Computer Games.
Next, UCSC’s Art Department houses the Arts Division. The Division offers an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) with a Playable Media research option. Finally, UCSC is home to The Center for Games and Playable Media. Established in 2010, the Center houses the schools “five games-related research labs including the Expressive Intelligence Studio — one of the largest technical game research groups in the world.”
16. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (top 10% of schools considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. It is home to more than 100 students enrolled in variety of computer graphics classes and programs. Offerings for aspiring game designers include one-, two-, and three-year programs leading to a Certificate. Programs include Entertainment Design (One-Year Track), Digital Production for Entertainment (Two-Year Program), Entertainment Design and Digital Production (Three-Year Program), and Maya Fast Track (10-Week Program).
Gnomon also offers a variety of online courses ranging from Games Tools and Techniques to Character Animation, and Master Classes that “focus on different elements of the visual effects and games industries in a private forum.” Master Classes are offered exclusively online.
17. University of Texas - Austin, Austin, Texas (top 15% of schools considered)
The University of Texas - Austin (UT Austin) opened in 1883. It is home to more than 51,000 students enrolled in more 300 academic programs across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts, the Computer Science Department, and the Radio-Television-Film Department offer an undergraduate program for aspiring game designers.
The interdisciplinary Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) Program allows students from a variety of different degree programs to “collaboratively develop 2D and 3D games for mobile, online, and social technology platforms in the program’s culminating experience: the Capstone Course.” GAMMA students also have the opportunity to work “alongside organizations such as UT’s EGaDS! and IGDA Austin” as well as “local game and mobile studios and industry professionals.”
GAMMA students may earn one of the following Certificates:
- CS Game Development Certificate
- CS Mobile Computing Certificate
- CoFA Digital Art Production Certificate
- CoFA Digital Audio Composition & Production Certificate
- CoFA Digital World Designer Certificate
- RTF Visual Effects & Animation Certificate
The Certificate is awarded in addition to the undergraduate degree in any given program outside of GAMMA.
18. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in more than 150 majors, dozens of combined majors in new and emerging fields, and 24 programs that allow students to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years. Programs are offered through seven colleges and schools. Among them are two schools that offer several programs for aspiring game designers.
The College of Arts, Media and Design offers six programs for game designers at all degree levels. Offerings include a BFA in Digital Arts and Game Design, a BFA in Games, an MS in Game Science and Design, a Graduate Certificate in Game Analytics, and a Minor in Game Design. The College of Computer and Information Science offers a BS in Computer Science and Game Design. Students in the BS program may choose to concentrate in areas ranging from Game Design to Interactive Media and Video.
19. University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to more than 24,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include a BS in Engineering (BSE) with a Digital Media Design (DMD) Major, an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT), and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS). A DMD Minor is also on the menu.
20. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (top 15% of schools considered)
Michigan State University was established in 1855. It is home to more than 50,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Media and Information Department offer several programs for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include a BA and a BS in Media and Information with a Game Design and Development Specialization, a BS in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development Specialization, and a BA or BFA in Studio Art with a Game Design and Development Specialization.
Graduate programs include an MA in HCI with a Games and Meaningful Play Focus, a PhD in Media and Information Studies (Research Area: Games and Meaningful Play), and a Graduate Certificate in Serious Games. Besides offering a wide variety of program offerings for game designers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is home to the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. According to the College, 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.”