|Ranking||School||% of Schools Considered|
|1||University of Southern California||top 1%|
|2||Rochester Institute of Technology||top 2%|
|3||Carnegie Mellon University||top 2%|
|4||University of Utah||top 3%|
|5||New York University||top 4%|
|6||Digipen Institute of Technology||top 4%|
|7||DePaul University||top 5%|
|8||University of California, Santa Cruz||top 6%|
|9||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||top 6%|
|10||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||top 7%|
|11||Georgia Institute of Technology||top 7%|
|12||University of Central Florida||top 8%|
|13||Michigan State University||top 9%|
|14||Savannah College of Art and Design||top 9%|
|15||Worcester Polytechnic Institute||top 10%|
|16||Drexel University||top 15%|
|17||University of California, Irvine||top 15%|
|18||Southern Methodist University||top 15%|
|19||The New School/Parsons||top 15%|
|20||Full Sail University||top 15%|
|21||Texas A&M University||top 15%|
|22||Northeastern University||top 15%|
|23||Becker College||top 15%|
|24||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||top 20%|
|25||University of California Los Angeles||top 20%|
|26||Academy of Art University||top 20%|
|27||Ringling College of Art and Design||top 20%|
|28||University of Texas at Austin||top 20%|
|29||Columbia College Chicago||top 20%|
|30||University of Texas at Dallas||top 20%|
|31||Purdue University||top 20%|
|32||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||top 25%|
|33||University of Washington||top 25%|
|34||The Ohio State University||top 25%|
|35||University of Denver||top 25%|
|36||Otis College of Art and Design||top 25%|
|37||University of North Carolina at Charlotte||top 25%|
|38||Ferris State University||top 25%|
|39||Miami University||top 25%|
|40||Baylor University||top 30%|
|41||Champlain College||top 30%|
|42||University of Pennsylvania||top 30%|
|43||Indiana University||top 30%|
|44||University of Wisconsin, Whitewater||top 30%|
|45||University of Wisconsin, Stout||top 30%|
|46||American University||top 30%|
|47||Indiana University-Purdue University||top 30%|
|48||Laguna College of Art and Design||top 35%|
|49||College for Creative Studies||top 35%|
|50||Cornell University||top 35%|
Our 2018 list of the Top 50 Game Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) is home to 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Program options for aspiring game designers are offered 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 in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts.
Viterbi School of Engineering offerings include a BS in Computer Science – CSCI (Games), 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 Minor in Computer Science and a Progressive Degree Program (PDP) are also available.
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 a BA in Interactive Entertainment, an intensive three-year MFA in Interactive Media and an MFA in Interactive Media (Games and Health), and an MA in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health). The Division’s extensive list of minors include 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.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. When it opened, the school offered mechanical drawing, which eventually attracted more than 400 students. Today, RIT is home to nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from everything from 3D Digital Design to Web and Mobile Computing.
The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include BS and MS degrees in Game Design and Development, and a BS in New Media Interactive Development. The Game Design and Development program emphasizes game programming and cooperative education (co-op). These full-time paid work experiences provide students with an opportunity to learn on the job in real-world industry settings.
Students in the BS in New Media Interactive Development program can explore casual games, physical computing, production, web, mobile, and more. All GCCIS students have the opportunity to minor in Game Design or Game Design and Development or enroll in a double major.
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home to nearly 14,000 students representing 109 countries. The school has more than 100 programs across seven colleges. In collaboration with the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department, the College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) offers a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) with a Concentration in Game Design.
IDeATe Collaborative Studios include Game Engine Programming offered by the Robotics Institute, Research Issues in Game Development offered by the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at CMU, and Programming for Game Designers—also offered by the ETC. An IDeATe Game Design Minor is also available.
Head over to CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) where you will find another game design option. Founded in 1998, ETC offers a Masters of Entertainment Technology (MET), which is jointly conferred by CMU’s School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts. MET is currently considered a terminal degree.
The University of Utah (The U) was founded in 1850. Home to more than 31,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world, the school offers 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools, and nearly 100 departments. The College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts house 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 BS, five-year BS/MS, and Minor in Computer Science and a BA in Film and Media Arts. The BS in Computer Science and the BA in Film and Media Arts offer an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE). The BA is available through the School of Computing and Department of Film and Media Arts, and the BS is offered through the School of Computing.
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU) and home to the NYU Game Center, Department of Game Design. Also known as Tisch or TSOA, the school has more than 3,000 students enrolled in games, animation, film, interactive media, acting, dance, design, performance, writing for musical theatre, stage, screen & television, preservation, recorded music, photography, and public policy programs.
The NYU Game Center, Department of Design offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a Game Design BFA or MFA. A Minor in Game Design is also available. The BFA program is organized in three primary areas including Game Studies, Game Design, Game Development, and four production areas including Programming, Visual Design, Audio Design, and Game Business. Students may specialize in Game Programming, Visual or Audio Design, or Game Development.
The Game Center MFA is a two-year degree that includes classes in Game Design, Game Production, Game Studies, and Game History. Students will gain hands-on experience by taking studio courses and participating in play labs, and electives will allow students to “explore everything from Game Journalism to Games and Players (a class on the psychology and emotions of game play).”
Classes and events for all Game Center programs take place at the Media and Games Network (MAGNET) at the NYU Brooklyn campus. MAGNET also houses the Game Center Open Library, which is "the largest collection of games held by any university in the world."
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 984 undergraduates and 78 graduate students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BA in Game Design, a BS in Computer Science and Game Design, a BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation (BS in RTIS), a five-year BS in RTIS/MS in Computer Science, and a Minor in Game Design.
Although the BS in RTIS offers “extensive training in mathematics and physics,” says Digipen, students in the program also “work both individually and collaboratively to learn the fundamentals of Game Design, Production, and Programming. Additionally, they write game design documents and technical design documents, learn how to schedule tools and techniques, and participate in the full production of several games.” The Game Design programs at Digipen Institute of Technology are offered through the Department of Game Software Design and Production.
DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. In keeping with the university’s commitment to diversity and access to education, 35% of total enrollments are students of color and 86% of students receive some type of financial aid.
The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), where the game programs are housed, is also home to programs such as animation, computer science, and sound design, offering cross-disciplinary courses and collaboration among students. CDM offers a BS in Game Design, a BS in Game Programming, an MFA in Game Design, an MS in Game Programming, and game-related concentrations in other degrees, including the BFA and MA in Animation and the BS and MS in Computer Science/Software Engineering.
CDM has over 40 labs with roughly a dozen dedicated to gaming, including game development and research labs, a gameplay lab, playtest and usability labs, and, new in 2018, a Virtual and Augmented Reality Design Lab that supports multiplayer, room-scale VR and AR game dev on cutting-edge devices.
DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students, with tracks in game development and 3D modeling/animation for games.
The University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC) opened in 1965. The school is home to more than 18,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs across 10 colleges. The Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE), Department of Computer Science (CS) and Computational Media (CMPM) Department, offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BS in Computer Science: Computer Game Design, an MS in Games & Playable Media, and MS and PhD degrees in Computational Media or Computer Science with a Research Focus in Computer Games.
The UCSC Art Department houses the Arts Division, which offers an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) with a Playable Media Research Option. UCSC is also 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.”
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the oldest technological research university in the U.S. Home to just under 7,650 students, RPI offers more than 145 programs across five schools including Architecture, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), Lally School of Management, and Science. Programs for aspiring designers are offered through HASS and include a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (BS GSAS) and a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC).
BS GSAS students may choose a concentration or dual BS degree from the following options: Arts (Electronic Arts), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Science, Management/Entrepreneurship, Cognitive Science, or Writing for Games.
Established in 1996, the BS in EMAC program is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses in communication as well as in digital art and animation, video, electronic music, and graphic design, supported by RPI’s strong technological infrastructure. The EMAC curriculum offers concentrations in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Sound Design and Popular Culture.
RPI also offers several advanced degree programs for game designers. Graduate offerings include MFA and PhD degrees in Electronic Arts (EART). Offered through the Department of Arts, both degree programs allow students to explore everything from Gaming and Animation to Communication Technologies.
Students may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded 1861. The school serves nearly 11,500 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five schools including the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (HASS), MIT Sloan School of Management, and the School of Science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology is also 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. Simply put, students who are interested in games can create their own program is study. Students may choose the BS or MS in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster.” BS and MS in Computer Science and Engineering degrees are also available.
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.” Minors in CMS with Games and Interactive Media and Computer Science are also available. The CMS programs are available through the HASS Department of Comparative Media Studies/Writing.
Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) was founded in 1885. The school opened for classes October 8, 1888, with just 129 students enrolled in a BS in Mechanical Engineering program. Today, GeorgiaTech is home to more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in over 80 degree programs and 50-plus minors. Offerings for aspiring game designers are available through GeorgiaTech’s College of Computing.
Known as [email protected], this “institute-wide initiative” was “designed to advance the game community through interdisciplinary research, funding opportunities, tech transfer and expansion of industry collaborations.” Degree options include a BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Games or Interaction Focus, an MS degree 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 BS in Computational Media (BSCM) with a Game Studies Focus is also supported by the School of Literature Communication and Culture within the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. All [email protected] students have access to resources offered by the GVU Center at Georgia Tech and the Institute for People and Technology.
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. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. One of the school’s largest programs is game design.
The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) 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 dozens of students enrolled in the MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks. Track options include Art, Production, and Programming.
FIEA and the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) also offer 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. A Minor in Digital Media is also available.
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is home to more than 50,000 students from all 82 counties in Michigan, all 50 states, and more than 133 other countries. MSU students have access to more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses the Media and Information (MI) Department—home of the game design program.
Undergraduate degree options include BA and BS degrees in Media and Information with a Game and Interactive Media Design 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. The Specialization is also available to other majors “on a case-by-case basis, particularly those in the Honors College.” An interdisciplinary Game Design and Development Minor is also available.
According to the school, “the minor brings together students in Media and Information, Computer Science, and Studio Art. For most majors outside of MI, the Minor often nearly fulfills the student's cognate requirements.” The College of Engineering, College of Arts & Letters, and College of Communication Arts and Sciences administer the Minor jointly. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences is the lead administrative unit.
Graduate game offerings include an MA in Media and Information with a Focus in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) + Serious Game Design & Research Certificate.
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. 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.”
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from around 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including game design. Programs are offered through the School of Digital Media and include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Interactive Design and Game Development (IDGD).
The BA is available at the Savannah, Atlanta, eLearning campuses. The BFA is offered in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong. SCAD’s MA and MFA in IDGD are available in Savannah, Hong Kong, and through eLearning. Minors in IDGD, Game UX, Mobile and Interactive Design, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Concept Art for Games, and Character Technical Direction are also available.
Established in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in 50 degree programs through several divisions and schools. The Division of Arts & Sciences offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include BA and BS degrees in Interactive Media & Game Development (BA IMGD and BS IMGD) and a BS in Computer Science. Minors in IMGD and Computer Science are also available.
Graduate offerings include an MS in 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.” Students will explore diverse topics such as Writing for Games, Game Audio, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Painting, Virtual Reality, and 3D Modeling. As such, graduates of the IMGD are prepared to work in the gaming industry, and apply their technical and creative skills in areas such as education, health care, art, and social sciences.
Drexel University was established in 1891. It serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The College of Computing & Informatics offers several programs for aspiring game designers including a BS in Computer Science (BSCS) and a BA in Computer Science (BACS). Both programs offer a Concentration in Game Programming and Development (GMPD) and the school lists Game Development and Design and Artificial Intelligence Concentrations. A Minor in Interactive Digital Media is also available.
The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include BS degrees in Game Art and Production or Game Design & Production, and MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media. The two-year MS program features comprehensive studies in Gaming and Digital Media History, Theory and Methods, 3D Modeling, Interactivity, and Animation.
A final option is for students interested in teaching game design. The School of Education offers a Graduate Certificate in Learning in Game Based Environments. 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).
The University of California - Irvine (UC Irvine) was established in 1965. It is home to nearly 36,000 students enrolled over 100 programs across more than a dozen schools. The Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences offers a BS in Computer Game Science (CGS). According to the School, throughout the major CGS students will “gain hands-on experience in creating a variety of digital games, for entertainment purposes, but also for education, training and engendering social change.”
Working in teams, students “will employ a variety of different programming languages, game platforms and hardware.” Overall, the program “strongly emphasizes the technical aspects of creating games, as well as working in teams to design and implement them.”
Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to nearly 11,800 students enrolled in 261 degree programs through seven schools. The Meadows School of the Arts offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include a BFA in Digital Game Development and a BFA/Masters of Interactive Technology (M.I.T) in Digital Game Development.
The BFA/M.I.T is supported by the Guildhall—SMU’s School of Video Game Development (est. 2003). BFA/MIT and MIT Specializations include Art, Design, Production, or Programming for Games.
In addition to the M.I.T in Digital Game Development, the Guildhall offers a Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development with a Specialization in Art Creation, Level Design, Production, or Software Development.
The New School was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Back then, the school was known as The Chase School, and later as New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today, known as The New School/Parsons, this art and design college is home to nearly 5,500 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, School of Art Media and Technology, School of Constructed Environments, School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology. The BFA has a Game Design Pathway. The MFA program consists of major studios, collaborative studios, and the thesis studios. Students have many elective options to choose from and may create their own “coherent” study plan.
A related program, the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, is offered at the Parsons Paris campus. This interdisciplinary program, which explores design, art, media, and technology, prepares graduates to pursue careers in Animation, Game Design, Interactive and Social Media, Motion Graphics, and more.
Full Sail University was established in 1979 and it is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees, as well as Graduate Certificates, in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. The Game School at Full Sail offers several programs for aspiring game designers.
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.
Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school is home to 68,625 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture founded the Visualization program in 1989. It features gaming-oriented study options in the MS and MFA degrees as well as enhanced game design curricula at the undergraduate level. Degree options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. A Minor in Game Design and Development is also available.
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.”
Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 125 graduate programs, across nine colleges and schools. Programs for game designers are offered through the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) and the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS). CAMD has six programs for game designers including a BFA in Digital Art and Game Design, a BFA in Games, a BS in Computer Science and Game Development, an MS in Game Science and Design, a Graduate Certificate in Game Analytics, and a Minor in Game Design.
CCIS offers several programs for game designers including a BS in Computer Science and Design (formerly Computer Science and Interactive Media) and a BS in Computer Science and Game Development. These combined majors focus on “the specific skills needed to succeed in the highly competitive game industry.”
John Hancock and Samuel Adams signed Becker College’s founding charter. Notable graduates and students include Eli Whitney (1788), William Morton (1836), and Elliott P. Joslin. Founded in 1784, Becker College is the nation’s 19th oldest campus. The school, which enrolls more than 2,000 students annually, from around the country and across the globe, offers 29 areas of study across six academic divisions including Animal Studies, Business, Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Design, Education and Psychology, and Nursing and Health Sciences.
The Design Division houses the Interactive Media Design program, which has several offerings for aspiring game designers. Options include a BA in Interactive Media Design with Concentrations in Game Arts, Game Development and Programming, Game Production and Management, and Game Design, an MFA in Interactive Media, a BA Interactive Media Design/MFA Fine Arts 4+1 (Game+) Program, and a BS in Applied Computer Science with a Game Programming Specialization. A Minor in Interactive Media Management is also available.
Besides a variety of game programs, Becker College houses the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). Established in 2011, “MassDiGI is the result of creative collaboration among academia, industry and government, aimed at fostering the growth of the game industry and innovation economy,” according to the school. It is a statewide center, “designated by the Commonwealth, for entrepreneurship, academic cooperation and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem.”
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. The school, which has 600 graduates to date, offers a four-year Digital Production BFA, a three-year Entertainment and Digital Production Certificate, and a two-year Digital Production for Entertainment Certificate.
Gnomon also offers single courses such as Game Creation, Game Design, Anatomy of Games, Animation for Games, Character Creation for Games, Creature Design, Texturing and Shading for Games, Digital Sculpting, Visual Effects for Games, Props and Weapons for Games, Hard Surface Modeling, Photoshop for Digital Production, and Introduction to 3D with Maya. Students can mix and match courses to meet their career goals, and some courses are available 100% online.
Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to nearly 45,500 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments, and more than 40 graduate programs.
The School of Arts and Architecture is home to the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA), which offers both BA and MFA degrees in Design Media Arts (BA DMA and MFA DMA). The DMA program highlights game design study, interactivity and games, video and animation, visual communication, and more. With support from the School of Theater, Film, and Television, DMA also houses the UCLA Game Lab.
The primary function of the Lab is as “a research and production space for collaborative teams to pursue focused work on gaming projects.” It supports exploration of Game Aesthetics, Game Context, and Game Genres, while emphasizing the “conceptual risk-taking and development of new modes of expression and form through gaming.” In addition to producing games and research, the lab “functions as a center that develops public programming around critical issues in gaming, including: public lectures, workshops, exhibitions, a visiting artist program, and an annual public festival at the Hammer Museum.”
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online.
The School of Game Development offers a variety of degree programs for aspiring game designers. Options include AA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Game Development and a BS in Game Programming. According to the school, these multidisciplinary programs provide a “well-rounded education in the arts with an emphasis on understanding and applying techniques including 3D modeling, animation and lighting in video game production.”
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.
Established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school is home to 1,400 students, offering 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.
Programs for game designers are part of the Computer Animation Department, which boasts 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. Students in the program will 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.
Founded in 1883, the University of Texas - Austin (UT Austin) serves more than 51,300 students enrolled in over 300 academic programs across 13 colleges and schools. A unique program for aspiring game designers is available through a collaboration between the College of Fine Arts (CoFA), the Computer Science Department (CS), the Radio-Television-Film Department (RTF), and the Center for Arts and Entertainment Technologies (CAET).The interdisciplinary program is known as Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA).
The 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,” and with local game and mobile studios, and industry professionals.
GAMMA students may earn a certificate in CS Game Development, CS Mobile Computing, CoFA Digital Art Production, CoFA Digital Audio Composition & Production, CoFA Digital World Designer or RTF Visual Effects & Animation. Certificates are awarded in addition to the undergraduate degree in any given program outside of GAMMA.
Other program offerings include a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Development (BS CS), an MS in Computer Science (MS CS), and a Five-Year BS/MS Integrated Program in Computer Science.
Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through Columbia’s School of Media Arts, Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department. Options a BA in Game Art, a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development and Game Sound Design, and BA and BS degrees in Programming with a Concentration in Game Programming. Game Art and Game Design Minors are also available.
The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school is home to around 37,650 students enrolled in more than 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) was created in 2015. It 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.
Undergraduate offerings include a BA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (BA ATEC), an MA in ATEC, an MFA in ATEC with Gaming Studies, and a PhD in ATEC. Undergraduates may choose between several pathways such as Game Design or Animation. BA 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.
Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to more than 41,500 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas. The Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) offers game design programs at all degree levels.
Undergraduate offerings include a BS in CGT with a Game Development and Design Major. The CGT program provides STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and games. Studies will include trigonometry, calculus, and physics, as well classes in video game design and development, animation, visualization, rendering and programming.
Graduate offerings include an MS in CGT and a PhD in Technology offered through the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT). The MS offers several focus areas including Game Studies, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Computer Graphics Programming, and Computational Art. The PhD Program offers a CGT Specialization that covers Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, Animation, and Web Programming and Design.
Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more if pursued separately. Graduates of the game design programs at Purdue Polytechnic Institute have gone on to work for EA Games, Riot Games, and more.
North Carolina State University (NC State) was founded in 1887. The school serves 33,755 students across 12 colleges representing all major academic fields. The College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science houses the game program. Degree options include a BS in Computer Science with a Game Development Concentration and an Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s (ABM) degree.
The BS program “produces skilled computer scientists with deep knowledge in the algorithms, processes and technologies used to make games.” Highlighted courses include Game Design and Development, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Building Game AI, Computer Models of Interactive Narrative, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Graphics, Advanced Graphics Projects, and Advanced Game Development Projects. Electives run the gamut from Game Studies and Fantasy to Film and Science Fiction.
The ABM program allows students to complete the requirements for a Bachelor’s degree and a non-thesis Master’s in the same field within 18 months of completing the Bachelor’s degree.
Established in 1861, University of Washington (UW) is home to more than 56,000 students across three campuses located in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The school offers more than 570 degree options across 300+ programs and 16 colleges and schools. The Paul G. Allen School Computer Science & Engineering offers a BS in Computer Science, a BS in Computer Engineering, a Combined BS/MS, and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). Students may choose the Graphics, Vision, Games, and Animation Pathway for all programs.
In the BS degree programs, students can work with faculty and graduate students on research; collaborate with industry partners; tackle complex design and implementation projects in capstone courses; and tailor their degree to meet their interests and goals. Sample courses include Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Data Visualization, and Artificial Intelligence. In addition, students can earn a Certificate in Game Design.
Students in all programs have access to three main labs at UW CSE. All are engaged in research spanning the areas of animation, computer game science, graphics, vision, and visualization. Labs include the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs. Per UW, The GRAIL group is known for “groundbreaking” research in computational photography, games for science and education, 3-D reconstruction, Internet photo collections, object recognition, human shape and motion analysis, information visualization, and animation, while researchers at the Center for Game Science use gaming to solve grand challenges, crowdsource human problem-solving to aid scientific discovery, and improve student interest and achievement in mathematics.
The Animation Research Labs is a multi-disciplinary effort that brings together faculty and students from UW CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, DXARTS, Drama, and Music. The ARL is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in animation through teaching, research, and computer-animated production in collaboration with experts from Disney Animation Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar, and many others.
In addition to the Computer Science and Engineering Programs, University of Washington offers a BFA with a Major in Digital Arts and Experimental Arts (BFA DXARTS) and a PhD in DXARTS. Students in both programs have the opportunity to focus their work in a particular area of experimental arts (computer animation, digital video, digital media art, computer music and sound art, design computing, mechatronics, and so on). Whatever the chosen area, “artists and scholars working at DXARTS engage in teaching, learning, and research within the synergistic, multidisciplinary setting of the center's labs, studios, and classrooms.”
Additional programs include a Certificate in Game Design and nine-week Game Studio Roles & Development and Game Mechanics & Systems Design courses.
Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations. The school’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a specialization in Computer Graphics and Game Design. Ohio State also introduced an interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production in Autumn, 2017.
Students utilize state of the art facilities, equipment, and interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
Founded in 1864, University of Denver (DU) serves more than 11,400 students. The school offers more than 200 programs across eight undergraduate schools and colleges and 14 graduate schools and colleges. Just a few include the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, University College, the Division of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Daniels College of Business, and Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science offers a BA or BS in Game Development. The program, which is a joint effort between Computer Science, Emergent Digital Practices, and Art, requires specific minors for each degree. The BS requires a Minor in Mathematics, and a second Minor of the students’ choice. A cognate of five approved classes from Art and Emergent Digital Practices is also required.
The BA requires a major in Game Development and a Minor in Emergent Digital Practices. The program also requires “more courses in the allied art fields than the BS, and is balanced by having fewer required Math and Computer Science courses.” Graduates of this program will be able to study and work as a developer, game designer and artist. Graduates of the BS program will be able to “help in the programming and development of games, while understanding and being able to communicate effectively with the artists and designers who are part of any game development project.”
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, General Harrison Gray Otis. The school serves approximately 1,100 full-time students enrolled in 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available.
Offerings for aspiring game designers include a BA in Digital Media with a Game and Entertainment Design Emphasis and a Minor in Digital Media. The school says students in the Game and Entertainment Design Major “develop their skills in concept art and visual development, learning the principles and processes involved in creating the first visual representations of characters, environments, and props for films and games.”
Students will also acquire the skills to “design the gameplay, environment, storyline, and characters of interactive games, apps, and websites. Using the most advanced CGI technologies, students acquire the techniques to create stunning visual effects for films, commercials, and videos.” All OTIS students have access to nine labs and shops from audio/video to the model shop.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) opened as an evening college center for returning veterans on September 23, 1946. When it opened, the school was home to 278 students. Today, UNC Charlotte is home to 29,317 students enrolled in 170 degree programs across seven professional colleges. The College of Computing and Informatics houses the Department of Computer Science, which has a number of programs for aspiring game designers.
Options include BA and BS degrees in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, an MS in Computer Science, and a PhD in Computing and Information Systems, with a Computer Science Track. Sample courses for the undergraduate programs include AI for Computer Games, Game Design and Development, Advanced 3D Computer Graphics, Interactive Computer Graphics, and Intelligent Robotics. The Capstone requirement highlights Game Design and Development Studio or Intelligent and Interactive System Studio.
The Department also offers certificates and a minor for game designers. Options include a Game Design (GDD) Certificate, Graduate Game Design (GDD) Certificate, and a Minor in Software and Information Systems. Sample courses for these non-degree programs include Game Engine Construction, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, and AI for Computer Games.
Ferris State University was founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School. The school began its 2017-2018 academic year with a total enrollment of 13,798 students across all campuses, including 9,860 on the main campus in Big Rapids. Ferris offers more than 190 educational programs through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, Pharmacy, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), and Michigan College of Optometry.
Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through both the School of Digital Media in the College of Education and Human Services and Kendall College of Art and Design. School of Digital Media programs include a BS in Digital Media Software Engineering (DMSE) and a BAS in Digital Animation and Game Design (DAGD). A Digital Media AS is also available. According to the school, the BS in DMSE is designed as an engineering degree focused on the technologies, procedures, and methodologies involved in the software development process. Per the school, the program offers students the opportunity to actively compete in many growing industries such as Video Game Development, Information Technology, and Entertainment.
Students in the BAS in DAGD program will learn how to create and manipulate 2D textures and images, model, rig, light, animate and render 3D characters and scenes, build content in industry leading game engines, author interactive applications and games, and design and create 3D game level mods. In addition to game design and asset creation, the program prepares students to pursue careers in medical visualization, legal simulation, film, and more.
The AS program combines existing courses within the DAGD, DMSE, and Television and Digital Media Production (TDMP) programs into an introductory and exploratory degree within the School. It allows students to complete their general education requirements while enrolling in courses from across the digital media curriculum.
Founded in 1928 and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kendall College of Art and Design serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. KCAD offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design. The program allows students to work in one of two focus areas including Entertainment Art (animation, digital 3D, visual development for games and animation, and sequential arts like comics and storyboards) and Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation).
Students in the program will gain knowledge and hands-on experience via high-end equipment and on-campus facilities such as Cintiq Studios and a wide range of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, and via access to The Dow Center FlexLab, and KCAD Library. Graduates will leave the program with the skills and experience needed to pursue career paths in areas such as 2D animation, 3D game art, visual development, interaction design, and motion design.
Miami University was founded in 1809. The school serves around 24,500 students across one main campus (Oxford, Ohio), three regional campuses in Hamilton, Middletown, and West Chester, Ohio, and the European Center in Luxembourg. Miami offers bachelor's degrees in over 120 areas of study and graduate students choose from more than 60 master's and doctoral degree programs. Several associate's degrees as well as bachelor's degrees are offered through study at the regional locations.
The school consists of seven colleges, including the College of Creative Arts, which houses the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS). This cross-disciplinary institute “works with students and faculty from across Miami University offering undergraduate, graduate certificate and graduate programs exploring the intersection of technology, design business and how digital technology is transforming traditional areas of inquiry.” Program options include a BA, Certificate and a Minor in Interactive Media Studies (IMS), a Game Minor, and an Experience Design MFA with a Concentration in Studio Art (xdMFA). The xdMFA is offered jointly by Graphic Design and AIMS.
Chartered in 1845, Baylor University serves more than 16,100 students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 89 countries. The school offers a broad range of degrees (more than 250) among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. The School of Engineering and Computer Science houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers a Game Development Concentration within the BA and BS in Computer Science (BSCS) programs.
The school says the concentration is designed to provide an understanding of the development and application of interactive digital media technologies. This program is offered in cooperation with the Film and Digital Media Division of Communication Studies and combines media course offerings with technical content in order to produce a graduate with skills that go beyond design and implementation.
The program features the Computer Science core, with a three-course game development sequence, and a four-course media production sequence taught in the Film and Digital Media department. As a specialization of the BSCS, the curriculum features the breadth of an undergraduate Computer Science degree along with specialization in areas central to the game development industry. Graduates of the program are awarded a fully-accredited Computer Science degree with all the associated career and graduate education opportunities.
Established in 1878, Champlain College serves more than 2,200 students from 44 states and 18 countries. The school offers more than 80 subject areas, including undergraduate majors, minors and specializations as well as online and on-campus graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain has four academic divisions including the Division of Communication & Creative Media, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, the Division of Education & Human Studies (EHS), and the Division of Information Technology & Sciences.
The Division of Communication & Creative Media offers BS degrees in Game Art & Animation, Game Design (with an optional specialization in Sonic Arts), Game Production Management, and Game Programming. A BFA Creative Media is also available, as well as a Game Programming Minor. The BFA has Game Media and Interaction Design Specializations.
Creative Media students have the option to choose one primary and two complementary specializations to enhance their degree.
An important aspect of the Game program is the collaborative environment of the school’s Game Studio. Here, Game Programming majors work with their counterparts in Game Art & Animation and Game Design as well as Game Production Management to build games from start to finish. The Game Studio replicates a professional game development setting to give students a firsthand understanding of how creative teams collaborate to develop individual game assets and coordinate them into a functional product.
All students have the opportunity to study abroad in Montreal, Canada, with internship opportunities at the Montreal Game Summit and the Montreal International Game Developers Association. Recent internship opportunities (outside of the Canada options) include Microsoft Game Studios and Wired Magazine.
Students may also participate in the Game Development Senior Show where students present games they create with their Game Studio team to recruiters from all over the East and Canada, including Square Enix/Eidos, Gameloft, Warner Bros./Turbine, Behaviour and Activision/Vicarious Visions.
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to 25,367 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through both the School of Design-Department of Fine Arts and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The School of Design-DFA offers a BFA in Fine Arts with an Animation or 3D Modeling Studio. The program combines studio practices, seminar courses, and interactions with visiting artists and professionals in order to provide an open intellectual framework to foster critical awareness and independent methods of artistic research and learning.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). The School also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT), which leads to an MS in CGGT.
Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE DMD program was designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies. A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also available. BSE DMD students 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.
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 designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers. 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 art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.
Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) was founded in 1820 as “State Seminary.” The Seminary became Indiana College in 1828 and Indiana University in 1838. Today, Indiana University is the largest and oldest Indiana University campus, serving 43,710 students with a record 583,745 credit hours. The school has more than 550 academic programs across 16 degree-granting colleges and schools, plus the Hutton Honors College.
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to The Media School. Here, students can earn a BS in Game Design with a Specialization in Game Art, Game Audio, or Game Production; a BA in Media with a Concentration in Interactive and Digital Media: Specialization Game Art, Game Audio, or Game Production, or an MS with a Concentration in Design and Production. A Certificate in New Media and Interactive Storytelling is also available.
All students also have the opportunity to select 15 elective credits to further refine their career path. In addition, BS students may take Human Computer Interaction courses in the School of Informatics and Computing and study abroad courses such as Game Development: Programming and Practice, Rhetoric of Gaming, and Game Development Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) was founded in 1868. The school serves 12,430 students enrolled in more than 50 undergraduate majors and 119 minors, and many areas of emphasis, as well as dozens of graduate programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Communication is home to the Department of Art and Design. Program offerings here include BA and BS degrees in Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Visual Media, and a BA with a Major in Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) - Visual Media Design Emphasis. A Minor MAGD is also available.
The school says that Visual Media Design develops aesthetic sensibility and artistic design skills important in the production of original, creative, digital media content for interactive and time-based computer games, animation, websites, video, special effects, 3D and motion graphic industry and artistic productions.
Students in the MAGD program may choose additional elective courses from one of the other MAGD emphases including Communication/Gaming and/or Technology. Two team-based projects courses provide a capstone for the degree program. In addition, all students may participate in the MAGD Expo—a juried show of interactive entertainment, 3D, 2D, aural, virtual and animated creative work held annually at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.
Established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School, University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is a Polytechnic University that serves more than 9,500 students from the U.S. and 47 countries. The school offers 45+ undergraduate majors and 20+ graduate programs across three colleges and six schools. The College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences (CACHSS) houses the School of Art And Design, which serves more than 1,000 students. Program offerings here include BFAs in Game Design and Development and Entertainment Design, and an MFA in Design. The school says that the BFA is the first and only BFA in Game Design in Wisconsin, Minnesota, & Iowa. Students in the program gain core skills in art and design such as drawing, 3D modeling, and animation. As a game artist, students will create the visual elements necessary for games including concept art, characters, level design, and animations.
The cross-disciplinary MFA program consists of study in the areas of Entertainment Design, Studio Art, Game Design, Interactive Media, Graphic Design, and more. Courses for the program are delivered through a variety of methods including on-site courses, online, evening, weekend and intensive summer courses. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue roles in the academic community and as design professionals and leaders.
The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM), Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with Game Design and Development (GDD) and Mobile Applications (MA) Concentrations, and a Computer Science Minor with nine hours of electives.
A charter member of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, the Game Design and Development Concentration prepares students to design and develop software programs that use digital imagery and physics to create games, simulations or other applications. The school says, these programs can improve healthcare delivery, transform education, strengthen national security, shape public policy and continue to create social networks.
American University (AU) was founded in 1893. The school serves more than 13,000 students enrolled in over 160 programs, through eight schools and colleges. AU is also 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.
Both an MA degree and a Certificate program in Game Design are offered jointly by the School of Communication (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). AU says that the MA in Game Design is the only program of its kind in the U.S. SOC also offers an MFA in Games and Interactive Media, as well as a concentration on Games and Interactivity within the MFA in Film and Electronic Media. CAS offers a Game and Computational Media track with the MS in Computer Science.
Students in all programs get real-world experience by working on projects with the Game Studio, and with clients like the Educational Testing Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and WAMU 88.5.
Established in 1969, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) serves 29,790 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across 19 schools. Several programs are available for aspiring game designers through the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). Degree offerings include a BS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Game Design and Development and a five-year BS+MS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Human-Computer Interaction. A Game Design and Development Minor is also available.
Graduates of the Media Arts and Science programs at IUPUI SoIC “design and develop projects that focus on entertainment, serious game design, mobile applications, video and audio production, animation, and innovative web design and technologies.” All students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Media Arts Research and Learning Arcade, the Advanced Visualization Lab, and a virtual reality theater.
Established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) serves more than 600 students and it offers twelve undergraduate majors and four graduate degrees. Options for aspiring game designers include a BFA in Game Art and an Art of Game Design MFA. The Game Art BFA is a project-based program that highlights a collaborative environment, partnerships with USC’s graduate program (GamePipe), among others, and exclusive access to teachers and mentors that come from Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, Appy Entertainment, Double Helix, Obsidian Entertainment, NCsoft Carbine Studios, Insomniac, and Highmoon.
The school says that students may choose to further develop and perfect their skills through industry internships that apply theory to real world situations. Additionally, the Game Art program hosts workshops that have featured such inspirational giants as Steven Huston and Nathan Fowkes.
The Art of Game Design MFA is an online two-year terminal degree that explores the design and development of games as a creative practice. Sample courses for the program include Game Narrative, Specialized Programming, Game Audio, Game Production, Mechanics Based Game Analysis, Management Psychology, and Prototyping. The program also features a Meaningful Games Summer Session worth six credit hours.
Founded in 1906, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) is home to more than 1,300 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department. Here, aspiring game designers can earn a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Digital Film.
Games teaches students how to produce 2-D and 3-D images and concepts for video games. As a complement to the program, students may choose coursework from other areas or a Minor in Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, Fine Arts, or Visual Culture.
All BFA students will take 126 credit hours: 84 in studio areas and 42 in general studies courses. The school says that in addition to coursework in their chosen major, first-year students take courses in the Foundation Department, where they study drawing, color theory and basic design. Students in all majors also take courses in the Liberal Arts Department, designed to provide them with an understanding of the larger social and cultural context in which they live.
Founded in 1865, Cornell University serves more than 23,000 students enrolled in more than 80 formal majors, 70 minors, and dozens of graduate programs across 15 colleges and schools. The program for aspiring game designers is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering, Computing and Information Science Department (Cornell CIS). Known as the Game Design Initiative at Cornell University (GDIAC), the program was formed in 2001.
It offers a Game Design Minor, as well as informal support to graduate students and faculty interested in pursuing game-related research. Here’s how the GDIAC works: students pick a major in a core area (e.g., Computer Science, Information Science, Art, Music, Writing, etc.). They may take as many game courses as they can, and build a portfolio of games through independent studies. A few course options include Computer Game Development and Advanced Projects in Computer Game Development.
GDIAC students will work in interdisciplinary teams of four to six to create a game. Students may present their projects at the GDIAC showcase, which is open to the public. Per the school, “any undergraduate student in any college at Cornell University can pursue the Game Design Minor and have it added to their transcript.”