SANTA CRUZ -- UC Santa Cruz has been ranked as one of the Top 10 graduate schools in the country for game design according to the Princeton Review, an education services company.
At No. 8 on Princeton's list, UCSC is rubbing shoulders with such famed institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and the University of Southern California.
UCSC has three paths for graduate students studying game design. Students are able to pursue both doctorates and master's degrees in computer science with a focus on game design, or earn a master's degree in Digital Arts and New Media.
Jim Whitehead, chairman of the school's Computer Science Department and founder of the Computer Game Design program, said he gives credit to his colleagues for the program's success.
"What really stands out is the depth of faculty doing leading edge research in game technologies," Whitehead said. "That's our single biggest distinguishing factor."
Students pursuing doctorates or master's degrees in computer science work toward expanding their computer science knowledge in classes focusing on topics such as computer animation, interactive narrative and artificial intelligence in games.
The master's program in Digital Arts and New Media focuses on the study of digital media and the cultures they have helped create and influence. Students and faculty in this concentration pursue both artistic and scholarly research, and comefrom a variety of backgrounds such as humanities, sciences, computer engineering and the arts.
Jane Pinckard, associate director of the Center for Games and Playable Media at UCSC, said she believes that this combination of research and design-based programs is what makes game design at UCSC so exceptional. "We have a very strong technical focus because we are in computer science, but then we also have faculty with backgrounds in art and theater," Pinckard said. "The versatility of our faculty group is really unique."
UCSC also offers an undergraduate program in game design. The university's undergraduate program also made the Princeton list as an honorable mention.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of UCSC's ranking is in the game design program's increased visibility among students looking to attend UCSC. "It increases graduate and undergraduate applications," Whitehead said. "I was surprised that students look at these rankings."
On the Net
Top rated Universities
1. University of Southern California
2. University of Utah
3. Drexel University
4. Rochester Institute of Technology
5. University of Central Florida
6. DigiPen Institute of Technology
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
8. UC Santa Cruz
9. Savannah College of Art and Design
10. Southern Methodist University