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Best Programs in Game Design, Game Development, and Animation

The game industry is expanding, and the global gaming market is expected to double by 2027.
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The game industry is expanding, and the global gaming market is expected to double by 2027. Social and mobile gaming, as well as play psychology, graphics tools, game mechanics, game evaluation methods, artificial intelligence, and storytelling tactics have all evolved significantly in recent years and will continue to advance.

If you wish to work in this highly competitive market, you need to obtain interdisciplinary skill sets and learn to understand players' behavior and psychology.

Institutions all over the world offer diploma, undergraduate, and graduate programs in this field. Most of them focus on computer science, design, and animation. Sometimes universities combine their programs with business elective courses to better prepare the students for entering the industry.

Let’s take a look at some of the world’s best programs for those pursuing a career in game design and game development.

DigiPen Institute of Technology, USA

DigiPen is famous in the gaming industry for educating students in game creation for over 30 years. The school offers three bachelor's programs in game development.

BS in Computer Science focuses on technical aspects and aims at programmers and developers rather than game designers. The program provides a foundation in math and computer science of games and graphical simulations.

BA in Game Design covers theory, the mechanics of game design and emphasizes human behavior, motivation, and the crafting of memorable interactive experiences. BS in Computer Science and Game Design is best for those who want to learn both computer science and coding aspects of game creation, as well as the storytelling side of things.

BA in Game Design

Tuition fee: $39,700 a year

BS in Computer Science and Game Design

Tuition fee: $39,700 a year

BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation

Tuition fee: $39,700 a year

University of Southern California, USA

USC is regarded as one of the best universities to study video game design. The school offers several degree programs on undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on various aspects of game design. The courses are offered in collaboration with the Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Cinematic Arts.

The bachelor programs are four-year courses that combine a broad liberal arts background with a variety of concentrations (character animation, visual effects, etc).

MA and MFA programs cover all aspects of game design, but also put an emphasis on applications in neuroscience, public health and medicine, and can be combined with other programs (e.g., social work, neuroscience, physical therapy, public health) of the student's interest. There is a wide variety of minors in gaming offered by the USC as well.

Game Art (BFA)

Tuition fee: $27,660 per semester

Interactive Entertainment (BA)

Tuition fee: $27,660 per semester

Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health) (MA)

Tuition fee: $27,660 per semester

Interactive Media (MFA)

Tuition fee: $27,660 per semester

Interactive Media (Games and Health) (MFA)

Tuition fee: $27,660 per semester

Northeastern University, USA

This school offers six gaming-related programs: two BFAs, a BS with several optional concentrations, an MS, a Minor, and a College Graduate Certificate. Practical and technical experiential training is offered via Northeastern’s world-renowned co-op program.

The focus of the BFA degree is mastering visual arts and animation within the game medium. The BS program engages students in building and developing games while completing courses in computer science. The Game Design and Music BS program has a concentration in Music Technology and prepares students to manage all aspects of sound design.

The Master of Science (MS) two-year 34-credit-hour program gives students a comprehensive understanding of how successful game products are created in a player-centric environment. The university has partnerships with companies like Microsoft Game Studios, Tapwalk, Zynga, Tencent Boston, and SAIC Corporation.

Game Design, BFA

Tuition fee: $27,180 per term

Game Art and Animation, BFA

Tuition fee: $27,180 per term

Computer Science and Game Development, BS

Tuition fee: $27,180 per term

Game Design and Music with a concentration in Music Technology, BS

Tuition fee: $27,180 per term

Game Science and Design, MS

Tuition fee: $1,660 per credit hour

Michigan State University, USA

Michigan State University boasts alumni working for employers such as Rockstar San Diego, Microsoft Xbox Team, Sony Computer Entertainment, as well as other large game and digital companies in the world.

The school offers a bachelor’s program, a minor, and a concentration in Games and Interactive Media. The program provides a depth of knowledge of the art, design, and programming fundamentals, as well as the history, social impacts, and business of games.

The students and faculty of the university have created Plunder Panic, a team-based multiplayer game that received multiple awards, including the coveted People’s Choice Award at IndieCade 2018.

Bachelor of Arts in Games and Interactive Media

Tuition fee: $42,226 per year

New York University, USA

Tisch School of New York University has the Game Center, which focuses on video games as a creative form of art and a cultural phenomenon. The Center offers both a four-year bachelor’s degree and a two-year master’s of fine arts.

The school teaches fundamentals of game design, digital programming, and development. The end of the program is a one-year thesis. NYU connects students to potential internships and jobs throughout their studies.

Game Design BFA

Tuition fee: $31,031 per semester

Game Design MFA

Tuition fee: $34,096 per semester

Technical University of Munich, Germany

One of Europe’s top universities, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) offers a master’s program in the Department of Informatics (Computer Science) which is one of the most renowned informatics departments in Germany.

Games Engineering explores theoretical foundations of interactive computer game technologies, as well as their technological implementation. Games Engineering is mainly taught in English (some elective courses are taught in German, but can be substituted by ones taught in English).

The Department provides a wide range of modules and research areas connected to games engineering, as well as several elective modules such as business planning and management skills.

Informatics: Games Engineering (MSc)

Tuition fee: €117 per semester

Toronto Film School, Canada

For those who wish to fast-track their career in video games, Toronto Film School offers diploma programs. Students are coached by working professionals in the field and work together with their peers in a variety of creative activities.

From concept to completion, they learn the full game development process from designers who've worked on titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, Asteroids, GTA 4, and Max Payne 3. They learn about the whole 2D and 3D game development process and graduate with a diversified video game portfolio that demonstrates industry-ready abilities.

Video Game Design and Development Diploma

Tuition fee: For 18-month diploma programs, the total international fee is CAD 53,610. For 12-month diploma programs, the total fee is CAD 35,044. 

Video Game Design and Animation Diploma

Tuition fee: For 18-month diploma programs, the total international fee is CAD 53,610. For 12-month diploma programs, the total fee is CAD 35,044.

University of Leeds, UK

One of the largest universities of the UK, the University of Leeds boasts being the top 5 targeted universities by graduate recruiters in the UK (The Graduate Market in 2021, High Fliers Research).

The school offers a master's program in games engineering that has been developed in collaboration with a prestigious steering group from industry (Barog Game Labs, Double Eleven, Epic Games, NVIDIA, Team 17, Sumo Digital, Weaseltron).

Students have the opportunity to engage directly with the games industry through co-curricular industry lectures, visits to games development companies, and attending UK games events. The university is a partner of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. 

High-Performance Graphics and Games Engineering MSc

Tuition fee: £25,000 (total)

University of Sussex, UK

Located on the UK’s south coast, the University of Sussex offers three-year and four-year bachelor’s programs in gaming. The four-year program includes a one-year placement in the industry.

Students can learn computing as well as technology for creating and processing the multimedia content used in games. They study in £12-million Future Technologies Labs, which includes a student-focused hub, teaching labs with suites of high-spec computers, and project workspaces.

Games and Multimedia Environments BSc (Hons)

Tuition fee: £22,500 per year

Games and Multimedia Environments (with an industrial placement year) BSc (Hons) 

Tuition fee: £22,500 per year

If you're an undergraduate student starting in 2021/22 or 2022/23, you pay 20% of your tuition fees during your placement year if the placement is for a year or the normal tuition fee if the placement is for less than a year.

Middlesex University London, UK

This school boasts state-of-the-art facilities, industry-standard software, and award-winning career support for its students. Graduates have gone on to work for companies such as Rockstar Games and Cloud Imperium Games, as well as animation studios such as Treat Studios and Blue Zoo.

A bachelor's degree in 3D animation and games is the first step toward a career as a game or animation artist. The BSc focuses on the technical side (games programming, design, and testing), while the BA focuses on producing a working level or game using scripting and a games engine to generate pleasant gameplay experiences, depending on your interests.

3D Animation and Games, BA Honours

Tuition fee: £14,700

Games Design, BA/BSc Honours

Tuition fee: £14,700 

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