31. Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont (top 20% of schools considered)
Founded in 1878, Champlain College is home to 2,200 students from 46 states and 17 countries. The school offers more than 90 programs through several academic divisions and one school. The Robert P. Stiller School of Business, the Division of Communication & Creative Media, and the Division of Information Technology & Sciences offer several programs for aspiring game designers.
The School of Business offers a BS in Management of Creative Media with a Specialization in Game Production Management. The Division of Communication and Creative Media offers a BFA in Creative Media with Specializations in Game Media and Interactive Design, a BS in Game Design with an optional Specialization in Sonic Arts, and a BS in Game Art & Animation. The Division of Information Technology & Sciences offers a BS in Computer Science & Innovation with a Specialization in Mobile Application Development or Software Engineering.
The school also offers a BS in Game Programming. Considered one of the first bachelor’s degrees of its kind in the nation, the program features a collaborative Game Studio where Game Programming majors “work with their counterparts in Game Art & Animation and Game Design as well as Management of Creative Media majors specializing in Game Management to build games from start to finish. The Game Studio replicates a professional game development setting,” which gives students a “firsthand understanding of how creative teams collaborate to develop individual game assets and coordinate them into a functional product.”
32. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas (top 25% of schools considered)
Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to 11,739 students enrolled in 246 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 that is also supported by the Guildhall—SMU’s School of Video Game Development (est. 2003).
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.
33. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (top 25% of schools considered)
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. It is home to more than 66,000 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, specializations, and minors across over a dozen colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art offers an interdisciplinary three-year MFA in Art, a four-year BFA program in Art with an Emphasis in Art and Technology, and an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media.
The Art and Technology program focuses on Game Art, Video Art, Participatory Design, Art History, and Art Criticism. The Digital Animation and Interactive Media program concentrates on Videogame Prototyping and Production, Digital Cinematography, 3D Virtual Environments, Experimental and Independent Animation and Interactive Arts Media. All programs highlight project-based learning.
Students will create interactive installations, invent electronic objects and interfaces, produce moving image and 3D animations, 3D modeling/rapid prototyping, art games, virtual reality, hacking, bio-art, tactical media, digital imaging, holography, internet art, sound, and emerging experimental forms.
34. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 25% of schools considered)
Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is home to an estimated 13,800 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs through several schools. The School of Game Development offers a variety of degree programs for aspiring game designers. Options include AA, BFA, BS, and MFA degrees in Game Development. 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.
35. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, Orlando, Florida (top 25% of schools considered)
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in Game Production, 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, and 3D Visual Effects. The school’s intensive, 15-month Game Production Diploma covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals. Launched in 2014, the Game Production Diploma is designed for those interested in working on the artistic side of game production.
36. Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts (top 25% of schools considered)
Hampshire College was founded in 1965. It is home to 1,400 students enrolled in more than 50 areas of study. Hampshire College offers an undergraduate degree in Game Design and Development that gives students the opportunity to “grow and strengthen their skills in teamwork, communication, iterative development, playtesting and user testing, storytelling, game programming, 2D and 3D art and animation, game design, audio design, entrepreneurship, and project management.”
Unique courses for the program include Radical Innovation in Digital Arts, Pixelbending, Analog Game Design, Designing Treasure Hunts, Women in Game Programming, and the Game Development workshop. Other program highlights include access to the Game Lab and Library, the Hampshire College Cluster Computing Facility, and The Liebling Center for Film, Photography, and Video and the Johnson Library Center, which house facilities for Computer Animation; Film and Video Editing; and Digital Design.
Hampshire College is a member of the Five College Consortium, so students have access to an additional 5,300 courses offered through nearby University of Massachusetts (UMass) and at Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges.
37. American University, Washington, DC (top 25% of schools considered)
American University (AU) was chartered in 1893. It is home to more than 12,500 students from 124 countries and all 50 states. The school offers more than 150 programs through seven colleges and schools. More than 100 Study Abroad programs are also available, so around 71 percent of undergraduates participate. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered jointly through the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Communication. The program is known as the “Game Lab”
Per AU, the Lab “serves as a hub for experiential education, persuasive play research, and innovative production in the fields of games for change and rhetorical play.” Academic offerings include a Graduate Certificate in Game Design and MA in Game Design and Persuasive Play. The only degree in persuasive play in the U.S., the 36 credit-hour MA program “provides an immersive curriculum that spans communication, computer science, and art.” Highlighted courses include Game Design & Art Pipeline Production, Game Development, Games and Rhetoric, Advanced Game Development, and Games and Society.
The Certificate program combines game design and game development. Required courses include Games and Society, Game Research Methods, Game Development, and Games and Rhetoric. Students may augment their Certificate with three credit hours of electives from game or non-game courses.
38. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana, (top 25% of schools considered)
Established in 1969, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is home to 29,804 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). 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.
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.
39. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (top 30% of schools considered)
North Carolina State University (NC State) was founded in 1887. The school is home to 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. This 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.
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.
40. Becker College, Worcester, Massachusetts (top 30% of schools considered)
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 offers dozens of programs in 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 Design with a Video Game Production and Management Concentration and a BA in Interactive Media Design with Concentrations in Game Design, Game Arts or Game Development and Programming.
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.”
41. George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia (top 30% of schools considered)
In 1957, George Mason University (GMU) started in a single building with an enrollment of 17 students. Today, the school is home to more than 34,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. The school has three campuses in Fairfax, Arlington, and Prince William Counties in Virginia, and an international campus in Songdo, Korea. Hundreds of programs are offered across 10 schools and colleges and in all subject areas. The College of Visual and Performing Arts is home to the Computer Game Design Program.
Degree options include a BFA and a graduate MA in Computer Game Design. Program highlights include several minors with sports management and business, and multiple international exchange partnerships. The College also hosts the only U.S. Serious Game Institute (in partnership with the University of Coventry U.K.), that concentrates on game-related applied research and new innovative game company cultivation.
42. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (top 30% of schools considered)
Ohio University was established in 1804. The school is home to more than 23,000 students enrolled in more than 250 programs across 11 colleges and 15 schools. The School of Media Arts & Studies is home to the game program, along with more than 650 undergraduate students. Options include a BSC in Media Arts & Studies with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A). Highlighted courses include Digital Game Design, 3D Modeling & Animation, Visual Storytelling, Game Development, Narrative Animation, Sound for Moving Images, Compositing, and Motion Graphics.
Another highlight of the program is the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. “An initiative of Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication, GRID was developed by the School of Media Arts and Studies faculty and staff to provide the Appalachian Ohio region with training, education, and an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills with digital game technology. The GRID Lab serves as an innovative and creative center for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff research and project development.”
43. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (top 30% of schools considered)
The College of Creative Studies (CCS) was established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The school is home to around 1,400 students enrolled in more than a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. The Entertainment Arts Department has an enrollment of 285 students, making it the largest department at CCS. The Department of Illustration, which enrolls more than 200 students, is the second largest.
The Entertainment Arts Department offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Digital Film. As a complement to the BFA program, students may choose coursework from other areas or a Minor in Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, Fine Arts, or Visual Culture.
44. University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina (top 30% of schools considered)
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 28,721 students enrolled in 170 degree programs across seven professional colleges. The College of Computing and Informatics houses the Department of Computer Science, which has two programs for aspiring game designers.
Options include a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in AI, Robotics, and Gaming, and a Graduate Certificate in Game Design and Development. Highlighted courses for the BS program 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 Certificate program highlights courses such as Game Engine Construction, Audio Processing for Entertainment Computing, AI for Computer Games, and Interactive Computer Graphics.
45. University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland (top 30% of schools considered)
The University of Baltimore (UB) was founded in 1925. The school is home to 5,627 students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree and certificate programs through four colleges and schools, and more than a dozen departments and divisions. Established in 1937, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences houses the Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies.
Programs options include a BS in Simulation and Digital Entertainment, an MS Interaction Design and Information Architecture, a Doctor of Science (DS) in Information and Interaction Design, and a Certificate in Digital Media Production. Students have the opportunity to “work on high-impact digital technology projects through cutting-edge research with such tools as a Tobii T60 eye tracker in the UB User Research Lab and the immersive visualization technologies in the UB Gamelab.”
46. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (top 30% of schools considered)
Clemson University was established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College. The school is home to more than 20,000 students enrolled in over 190 programs through five colleges and the graduate school. The College of Engineering and Science offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BA or BS in Computer Science with a Minor in Digital Production Arts (DPA), an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA), and a combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Plan (BS) in Computer Science. All students have the opportunity to Minor in DPA, which emphasizes Games, Visual Effects, and Computer Animation.
47. Woodbury University, Burbank, California (top 35% of schools considered)
Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The school is home to 1,552 students enrolled in 20 programs across three schools including the School of Architecture, the School of Business, and the School of Media, Culture & Design. The School of Media, Culture & Design “promotes cross-disciplinarity as a core attribute of the school.” This means Game Art & Design BFA students may study in other areas such as Animation, Media Technology, Filmmaking and others. Woodbury University also has a campus in San Diego.
48. Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio (top 35% of schools considered)
Established in 1986, Shawnee State University is home to more than 4,400 students enrolled in 80 degree programs. The Fine, Digital and Performing Arts Department has several for aspiring game designers. Options include a BS in Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology, a BFA in Game and Simulation, an AA in Art with a Game Design Concentration, a Minor in Gaming Arts, and a BFA in Visualist Design and Interactive Media with a 3D Design or Interactive Media Track.
Students in all programs have access to the Motion Capture Studio Lab and they may participate in the Annual Art & Technology Game Conference. Hosted by Shawnee State, this interactive digital technology conference attracts game developers, students, and industry leaders from all over the country.
49. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin (top 35% of schools considered)
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) was founded in 1868. The school is home to 12,628 students enrolled in dozens of programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Communication is home to the Department of Art and Design. Here, students can earn a BA in Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) with a Visual Media Emphasis or them may declare a Minor in Media Arts and Game Development.
Students in the MAGD program Students may choose additional elective courses from one of the other MAGD emphases - Communication/Gaming and/or Technology. Two team-based projects courses provide a capstone for the degree program.
50. Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana (top 35% of schools considered)
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 home to 39,184 students enrolled 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 the option to complete up to three Specializations. Thirty options are available. Game related specializations include Game Art, Game Audio, and Game Production. Students might also be interested in Graphic Communication, Art, Aesthetics and Experimental Media, Creative Industry Management, or Web.