Fort Worth Game Design Colleges with Degree Program Overviews

Feb 01, 2019

There are roughly five schools in the Fort Worth area offering game design academic options. Learn details about three of these colleges' admissions and program requirements -- all of which are located within 50 miles of downtown -- to make an informed education decision.

Game Design Programs in Fort Worth

Students in the Fort Worth, TX, area who want to study game design may need to travel a little outside the city to find the training they're looking for. This article focuses on three area schools and their program and coursework requirements. Check out the table, which highlights some stats about each institution such as student enrollment figures and acceptance rates. There's also some info on a couple of additional colleges offering training relevant to game design.

  • The largest school in the area offering a bachelor's degree in game design is the University of Texas at Dallas, a public university located about 36 miles from downtown Fort Worth in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Master's and doctoral degrees are also available at UT - Dallas.
  • Nearby Southern Methodist University, also in Dallas, is a private university affiliated with the Methodist church and is located around 39 miles from central Fort Worth. It offers bachelor's and master's degrees as well as a certificate program.
  • The only school within the Fort Worth city limits with game design programs is Tarrant County College, a community college that offers an associate's degree and a certificate in this field at one of its five academic campuses. The school is situated about 13 miles from the city center.

Comparison of Schools

Factors like tuition costs can be just as important as program offerings when it comes to selecting the right college. Take a look at this table, which displays some attributes for each profiled school.

University of Texas at Dallas Southern Methodist University Tarrant County College
School Type 4-year; public 4-year; private not-for-profit 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 27,642 11,789 52,957
Campus Setting Midsize city Large suburb Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $11,528 in-state; $29,656 out-of-state $52,498 $1,593 in-district; $2,862 in-state; $6,885 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 74% 79% 65%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 76% 49% N/A - Open admissions
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 88% for full-time students; 74% for part-time students 91% for full-time students 64% for full-time students; 50% for part-time students
Graduation Rate* 69% (2011 start date) 81% (2011 start date) 20% (2014 start date)

Source: *NCES College Navigator

University of Texas at Dallas

This university offers students the chance to study through different labs and studios. Students can engage in research, community interaction, creative projects, game development, and virtual reality interfaces.

Bachelor of Arts in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication

This bachelor's degree program offers students the chance to select from four areas of specialization: games, design and production, animation, and critical media studies. The games pathway includes coursework in areas like drawing, digital imaging, the basics of game design, project management, the development of technology in America, and content design. Students will also be responsible for a senior seminar and a capstone project.

Master of Fine Arts in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication

This master's degree program also offers students the chance to participate in three different areas of emphasis: game development, creative practice, or animation. Admission to the program includes three letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field of study. The 54-credit specialization requires coursework in topics like game production techniques, games that are educational, interactive environments, and the construction of virtual worlds. A master's thesis and project will also be required.

Doctor of Philosophy in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication

This degree program is designed for aspiring college professors and researchers. Students complete nine hours of core courses related to interactive media, including one course on research methodology. They also complete 18 hours in prescribed electives, which may involve advanced projects in game design, simulation, and independent research. After completing these courses and passing a series of doctoral exams, doctoral candidates write and defend a dissertation.

Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University (SMU) is notable for its prestigious program in game design, called The Guildhall at SMU. SMU also offers The Tate Distinguished Speaker Series, which gives students the opportunity to listen to lectures by industry experts. SMU also offers a bachelor's degree program in creative computing that includes classes from both the engineering school and the fine arts school.

Bachelor of Arts in Creative Computing

Students enrolled in this degree program are expected to graduate with functional literacy in at least one programming language and one scripting language, along with expertise in different creative disciplines related to computers. Coursework includes nine hours in computing fundamentals and nine hours in creative fundamentals. Additional classes cover web programming, 3-D animation, computer graphics, film audio, visual effects, sound design, music technology, and technical drawing. The degree program ends with a capstone project, which may entail programming a piece of original software, creating a piece of art, giving an artistic performance, or writing a scholarly article.

Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development

In order to be eligible for this certificate program, students must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students may specialize in art creation, level design, or software development. Because of the highly interactive nature of this program, students are admitted in creative teams called cohorts; they attend the same classes as their cohort members throughout the program.

The curriculum is presented to each cohort in seven successive modules that encourage teamwork. Group projects include a 2-D game engine, a 3-D game mod demo using a pre-made game engine, and, as the capstone project, a 3-D game demo using an original game engine. All students take courses in game design, game studies, and team game production, as well as courses related to their specialization.

Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development

This master's degree program contains all the requirements of professional certificate program, but expands upon them in several ways. In the master's program, there is an additional specialization in game production; students are also required to write a master's thesis.

Tarrant County College

Founded in 1965, Tarrant County College (TCC) is a 2-year community school that offers associate's degree programs and certificates on five different academic campuses. The school is the seventh-largest university or college in Texas.

Undergraduate Certificates in Game and Simulation Programming

These certificate programs, offered only on the South Campus, are designed to teach beginning game development skills. They may serve as a foundation for the associate's degree program. The Level I certificate requires 20 credits of coursework in areas like level and video game design and audio that's interactive with users. A Level II certificate consists of 42 credits in topics like the fundamentals of computer programming, networking technologies, 3D animation, and the development of a game development portfolio.

Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology: Game, Simulation, and Animation Design

This degree program covers entry-level game development skills and provides an academic foundation for individuals who wish to seek further education. In addition to general education classes, students learn about programming, operating systems, personal computer hardware, information security, storyboarding, level design, game development, and interactive audio. The program concludes with a capstone project.

Other Schools

There are two other schools within a 50-mile radius of Fort Worth offering degree programs in game design. Weatherford College, located 30 miles from downtown Fort Worth, offers a gaming design and programming certificate, as well as an associate's degree in information technology with a gaming design and programming option. Richland College, located in Dallas about 44 miles from Fort Worth, offers an associate's degree in interactive simulation and game technology.

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