What non-traditional animation and game design programs exist in the South?
So we’ve already covered the first three states in the country’s South Atlantic Division. Now it’s time to move on to the next three on the list—Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Each state is home to a number of leading art and design schools that offer a range of unique programs for aspiring animators and game designers. For starters, Georgia is home to the renowned Savannah College of Art and Design, which has at least a dozen offerings at all degree levels, while Maryland Institute College of Art offers an unusual, but in-demand, Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program that combines animation and humanistic studies. And then there’s the young but influential Living Arts College—North Carolina’s only freestanding, accredited college dedicated to Studio Level training, with both Professional Intensives and Degree Programs.
Let’s take a look at these and a few other celebrated schools in the South Atlantic area that offer unique bachelor’s and master’s programs for animation and game design.
Savannah College of Art and Design – Savannah, Georgia
What makes Savannah College of Art and Design’s animation and game design programs unique is the sheer number of academic offerings for both disciplines. No other school offers more programs at every degree level. Known as SCAD, the school offers accredited BFA, Master of Arts (MA), and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in Animation as well as Bachelor of Arts (BA), BFA, MA, and MFA’s in Interactive Design and Game Development. A bonus is the programs are available in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah, and online via eLearning.
The school also offers more than 70 minors and certificates to complement their degree programs. Most are offered in multiple locations, so students have the unique opportunity to start in one place and finish in another. Minor options that complement the animation programs include Animation, Animated Illustration and Publication Design, Character Technical Direction, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Design for 3D Action Figures, Motion Media Design, Previsualization, Producing for Film and Media, Scientific Illustration, Sound Editing, Storyboarding, Technical Direction, and Visual Effects.
Minors and certificates that complement the Interactive Design and Game Development program include Concept Art for Games, Character Technical Direction, Concept Design for Animation and Games, Illustration for Entertainment, Interactive Design, Interactive Design and Game Development, Mobile and Interactive Design, Storyboarding, Technical Direction, Themed Entertainment Design, and Visual Effects.
Other noteworthy degree options include an MFA In Themed Entertainment Design, BFA, MA and MFA degrees in Visual Effects, Sound Design, Motion Media Design, and Film and Television, and BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Illustration. How’s that for unique?
Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor's and master's degrees
Georgia State University – Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia State University (GSU) is home to a new initiative called the Creative Media Industries Institute. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the program is designed to give students a better chance to land jobs in the game, film, music, and media industries. To reach this goal, the Institute offers a rare Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) Concentration in Video Game Design and Development and an Interdisciplinary Minor in Game Design and Development.
Per the Institute, the programs “explore the interactive entertainment landscape, along with other related areas of software development and interactive storytelling.” The programs also have “technical roots in computer and information science, while simultaneously covering the breadth of courses in many academic disciplines, including writing, film, graphic design, music, and psychology.”
The Video Game Design and Development Concentration consists of 27-33 credit hours outside of other degree requirements. Sample courses include Interactive Computer Graphics, Game Design, System-Level Programming, Programming Language Concepts, Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, Digital Cinematography, Game Studies, Screenwriting & Visualization for the Short Film/Video, Narrative Techniques, Production, Digital Video for Artists, Writing Interactive Fiction, Lighting Design, and Computer Applications in Music. The Minor requires 15-18 credit hours and students choose from course offerings listed for the BIS program.
Georgia State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist and doctoral degrees.
Maryland Institute College of Art – Baltimore, Maryland
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) offers a unique program for animators that combines animation and humanistic studies. The humanistic studies component of this integrative BFA program prepares artists to be “public intellectuals who contribute to our cultural life as creators and thinkers--redefining our ideas of what it means to be human in relation to ourselves, others, and the world,” says the school. Besides animation, humanistic studies has been integrated into MICA’s Fiber, Ceramics, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interaction Design, and Video & Film programs, among others.
The BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies consists of 126 credit hours of study. Forty-eight credit hours are dedicated to humanistic studies. Sample courses include Arts of Japan, Ancient Through Gothic, Aspects of Contemporary Art, Zines Workshop, Language of Artists, Writing the Short Film, and Museums, Nature, and Power. Animation requirements include courses such as 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Animation Pre-Production, Digital Tools for Animation, Stop Motion, and Character Animation. Other required courses include Drawing, Painting, Sculptural Forms, Electronic Media & Culture, and Elements of Visual Thinking, to name a few.
During their Junior year, students will complete projects such Astro-Animation, Stop Motion Open Studio, Otherworldly: Puppet and Set, Documentary, Animation in Unique Spaces, and Independent Projects.
MICA also offers a Game Arts Studio Concentration that consists of 15 credits. Per MICA, “Game Arts will provide students with an understanding of the influence and potential of games within society, with a focus on their enormous ability to educate, critique, and function as an art form. The curriculum will facilitate development of a critical language to evaluate games and play, expand the student’s use of drawing and painting into digital realms, and increase understanding of narrative and storytelling.” Courses include Game/Play, 2D and 3D Game Design, 2D and 3D Game Studio, Level and Narrative Design, TableTop Game Studio, Designing 3D Levels and Worlds, and Virtual and Augmented Realities.
Maryland Institute College of Art is fully accredited by the Middle State Association of College & Schools Commission on Higher Education (MSA/CHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).
University of Baltimore – Baltimore, Maryland
The University of Baltimore (UB) is home to the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences (YGCAS), Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies, which offer a Simulation and Game Design program that is the oldest and largest game design program in Maryland. Founded in 2003, the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Simulation and Game Design serves more than 200 students across two campuses—UB and UB at the Universities at Shady Grove. The program covers applied game design theory, the fundamentals of computer programming, 3D modeling and animation, usability design, the application of simulation to education and other non-entertainment fields, and design of multiplayer games.
Just a few unique components of the program are the opportunity to choose from two content areas including Technical Art and Level Design, dual capstone seminars, the option to “accelerate” the Online Master of Science (MS) in Interaction Design and Information Architecture, and access to UB GameLab. Per UB, the Lab is “an educational research facility equipped with immersive, visualization and interactive game technologies.” It is designed to support “interdisciplinary research in games and media, and is an ideal training ground for Simulation and Game Design students.”
Sample courses for the 90+ credit hour program include 3D Modeling, 3D Production, Game Development Project I & II, Programming, Design of Multiplayer Games, Level Design, Programming for Interactive Design, Game Concept and Design, Designing for Humans, The Business of Game Development, Frontiers of Game Design, Programming for Interactive Design, Game Scripting, and Internet Technologies: Mastering the Basics.
The University of Baltimore is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Living Arts College – Raleigh, North Carolina
Living Arts College is one of the few schools in the South Atlantic Division dedicated exclusively to VFX & Animation. Offerings include the innovative Professional Intensive Diploma (PID), BA degrees, and single courses in areas such as Animation, Audio Production and Design, Filmmaking, Games, Interactive Media, Interior Design, and Photography. The PID programs take just 12 months to complete. Graduates are prepared to enter the job market immediately, enroll in the Living Arts BA program, or both. BA programs take just three years to complete, and prepare students for entry to mid-level careers in animation, game design, web design, and more.
Per Living Arts College, sample program content includes:
Foundation Study - Visual Construction - Color Construction - Creative Thinking - Personal Branding Strategies - Web Design & Self Promotion - Studio Business Practices - Advertising Design
Animation Design Studio - Story Development - CG Modeling - Human & Animal Form - Character Development - Character Setup - Lighting, Shading & Effects - Visual Special Effects - Animation Production - Character Animation - Animation Production Studio - Broadcast Design - Animation Business Practices
Game Development - Game & Internet Technology - Game Engines & Production - Games Design Strategies - Game Level Design - Games Development Team - Game Portfolio
General Education (partial listing for Degree program) - Art Appreciation - Computer Applications - Civics and Economics - Oral Communications - Geometry - Environmental Science - Life Science - Geography - Psychology
Website Marketing & Development - Website Campaign & Control - Website Design & Production - Website Front End Coding - Website Media Design - Website Marketing
Portfolio Development - Portfolio Studio I & II - Portfolio Critique & Development
Graduates of the programs at Living Arts College have been hired at companies such as Third Track and the Georgia Aquarium, they have won Telly Awards, and some have started their own production studios.
Living Arts College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Washington, D.C.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University – Greensboro, North Carolina
Don’t let the name fool you. The BS in Graphic Communication Systems at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina AT&T University) prepares students for a multitude of careers in the areas of animation, game design, architecture, design drafting, geographic information systems, and more. Offered through the Department of Graphic Design Technology at the College of Science and Technology, the program highlights a number of intensive animation and game design courses, as well as numerous support courses for the discipline.
Sample courses include Game Technology and Design (I & II), Architectural Animation and Rendering, Graphic Animation, 3D Technical Visualization, Multimedia and Videography, Technical Illustration, Image Editing and Illustration for Graphic Design, Solid Modeling (I & II), Color Management, 2D Design Drafting, and Web Design (I, II & III). Courses for this 120 credit hour program also cover the sciences, communications, and mathematics.
The Graphic Communication Systems program is accredited by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). North Carolina AT&T University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.
Other Schools to Consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
"Accredited Institutions Search." NASAD. National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), 2017. Web. 30 July 2017.
Census Regions and Divisions of the United States. Suitland: U.S. Census Bureau, 2016. PDF.
"South Atlantic Summary." NOAA. NOAA Office of Science and Technology National Marine Fisheries Service, 2007. Web. 30 July 2017.
Note: Program information has been obtained from each school’s official website. All information was accurate at the time of publication.