Game Programming Degrees in Chicago, IL with Course Overviews

Dec 31, 2018

The Chicago area has at least five schools that offer game programming certificate and degree programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools, all within about five miles of downtown, and make an informed education decision.

Chicago Schools with Game Programming Degree Programs

Students in Chicago can find bachelor's and master's degree programs in game programming very near the city center. This article profiles three schools, none more than 15 minutes from downtown, and the game programming programs they offer. There is also a table that presents facts a prospective student should know, such as tuition, enrollment and graduation percentages. At the end of the article is some information about community colleges in the Chicago suburbs that offer certificate and 2-year degree programs.

  • Located at the heart of downtown, Columbia College - Chicago is a private arts and media college that offers a bachelor's degree program in programming with a concentration in game programming.
  • DePaul University, which is about five miles from the city center, offers bachelor's and master's programs related to game programming and development.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is part of the University of Illinois system. UIC offers its computer science degree with a concentration in human-centered computing through the College of Engineering. UIC is about two miles from downtown Chicago.

Comparison of Schools

Individuals who are looking for a college must consider many facts. The following table presents important information about these schools in a format that makes it easy to compare them.

Columbia College - Chicago DePaul University University of Illinois at Chicago
School Type 4-year; private, not-for-profit 4-year; private, not-for-profit 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 7,312 22,769 30,539
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* $26,474 $39,010 $13,704 in-state, $26,560 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2016-2017)* 88% 96% 84%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* 92% 72% 77%
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 66% for full-time students, 18% for part-time students 84% for full-time students, 33% for part-time students 80% for full-time students, 42% for part-time students
Graduation Rate (Students began in 2011)* 44% 71% 57%
Distance from Downtown N/A - located downtown 5.2 mi. (11 min) 2.2 mi. (7 min)

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

Columbia College - Chicago

Columbia College offers computer gaming degrees through the Interactive Arts and Media Department. This school hosts modern facilities and tools so that students gain the skills to work in a rapidly changing industry. Columbia also provides internship opportunities with industry leaders to help students develop contacts and experience.

Bachelor of Science or Arts in Programming (B.S. or B.A.)

These bachelor's programs each offer students the chance to concentrate their studies in game programming. The BS program requires 70 credits while the BA program requires 51 credits. Topics in the game programming concentration include game development, simulation and serious games, AI programming, a team game project and a team game studio.

DePaul University

At DePaul, computer science programs are offered through the College of Computing and Digital Media, which offers multiple undergraduate and graduate computer science degree programs. DePaul offers some undergraduate coursework and several complete master's degree programs online, including its computer game development and human-computer interaction degrees.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Game Development

The bachelor's degree program in computer game development is made up of a combination of liberal studies, electives, and major classes, as well as concentration classes in game design, gameplay programming, or systems programming. The gameplay programming concentration combines computer science, computer graphics, linear algebra, artificial intelligence, and game physics. In this concentration, students take classes in C++, object-oriented game development, and practical scripting for games along with elective courses.

The systems programming concentration offers many of the same core courses but focuses on the computer hardware and operating systems involved in game engine development. The game design concentration focuses less on programming and more on the development of the game itself, including rules and structure as well as the game experience.

Master of Science in Game Programming

The master's program is comprised of three levels of coursework. The introductory coursework, which may be waived for students with related education or experience, covers topics such as data structures, discrete structures, and computer systems. Foundation courses cover optimized C++, graphics programming, and three-dimensional geometry. Advanced coursework includes game engine programming, physics for game developers, and artificial intelligence for computer games. Students also take three electives, such as computer animation, distributed systems, or data visualization. Students complete a capstone project where they design and implement a game. Degree candidates must earn 52 credits in addition to any introductory course credits.

University of Illinois at Chicago

UIC offers several specializations within its computer science bachelor's program. Regardless of specialization, all students complete a 50-hour general education program covering subjects such as academic writing, world cultures, humanities, and science. The Department of Computer Science at UIC places a heavy emphasis on writing and communication skills.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Human-Centered Computing Concentration

To earn a degree in this major, students complete 128 credit hours comprised of general education, engineering, mathematics, and technical electives. Engineering classes cover program design, machine organization, data structures, programming, and computer systems. Specific to the concentration, students can choose from elective options such as computer vision, natural language processing, computer graphics, and video game design and development. Math requirements include calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, and statistics.

Other School Options

In the western suburbs of Chicago, the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn offers a certificate in game programming and development. Moraine Valley Community College, located in Palos Hills, a southwestern suburb of Chicago, offers an Associate in Applied Science in Computer Graphics Imagery.

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