Our 2017 rankings of the top game design programs on the East Coast.
We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
The B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has 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.
About RIT: Rochester Institute of Technology dates back to 1885 when the Mechanics Institute was established. When it opened, the school attracted 400 students and the first class offered was mechanical drawing. Today, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is home to 18,632 students majoring in everything from 3D Digital Design to Web and Mobile Computing.
2. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In collaboration with the School of Computer Science-Computer Science Department, the College of Fine Arts-Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) 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 Minor is also available.
Head over to CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and you will find another game design option. Founded in 1998, ETC offers a Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) that is jointly conferred by CMU’s School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts. MET is currently considered a terminal degree.
About CMU: Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home nearly 14,000 students and more than 100 centers and institutes. CMU students have access 100-plus programs across seven colleges and schools.
3. New York University Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York
Tisch School of the Arts (Tisch, TSOA) is home to the NYU Game Center, Department of Game Design, which 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."
About Tisch: Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU). The school is home to more than 3,000 students enrolled in dozens of programs in the areas of acting, dance, design, performance, film, animation, writing for musical theatre, stage, screen & television, preservation, recorded music, photography, interactive media, games, and public policy.
4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is home to the MIT Game Lab, the MIT Education Arcade, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Collectively, 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 in Comparative Media Studies (CMS) with a Games and Interactive Media “Cluster” or an MS with a Specialization in Games.
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.” A Minor in CMS is also available. These programs are available through the HASS Department of Comparative Media Studies/Writing.
About MIT: Founded 1861, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is home to 11,376 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.
5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) offers a BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (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 1824, 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.
About RPI: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a collection of five schools offering more than 145 programs to a population of more than 7,000 students. In addition to HASS, RPI houses the School of Architecture, School of Engineering, School of Science, and Lally School of Management and Technology.
6. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The College of Computing & Informatics at Drexel University 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).
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. 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).
About Drexel: Drexel University was established in 1891. The school is home to more than 24,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools.
7. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) and the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS) offer a range of programs for aspiring game designers. 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.”
About Northeastern: Northeastern University was founded in 1898. The school is home to nearly 20,000 students enrolled in over 150 majors across seven colleges and schools.
8. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
The School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) at Parsons The New School for Design offers game design programs that lead to a BFA or MFA. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology. BFA pathways include Game Design and Creative Technology. A related program, the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, is offered at the Parsons Paris campus. 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.
About Parsons: Parsons The New School for Design (Parsons School of Design) was founded in 1896. The school is home to nearly 5,000 students enrolled in a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs through five schools. In addition to the School of AMT, schools include the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
9. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
The Division of Arts & Sciences at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Undergraduate offerings include a BS in Interactive Media & Game Development (BS IMGD) and a Minor in IMGD. Graduate offerings include an MS in IMGD.
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.
About WPI: Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was established in 1865. The school is home to around 6,383 students enrolled in 50 degree programs through several divisions and schools. Just a few include Arts & Sciences, Computer Science, Humanities and Arts, Engineering, and Fosie Business School.
10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, which 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.
Created in 1998, the DMD program “was designed for students who have an interest in the computer programming, mathematics, and design behind computer graphics, animation, games, virtual reality environments, and interactive technologies.” This interdisciplinary major combines major coursework in computer graphics within the Computer & Information Science Department and Fine Arts courses from Penn's School of Design.
About UPenn: University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) was founded in 1740 as America’s first university. The school is home to nearly 25,000 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. Besides the School of Engineering and Applied Science, some of the most prominent UPenn schools include Annenberg School of Communication, the School of Design, Wharton School, and Perelman School of Medicine.