The computer game design program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is listed among the top five game/simulation development programs in the country according to rankings released today by US News and World Report. The program tied for fifth place with Rochester Institute of Technology.

“As the gaming industry continues to grow in importance and complexity, our Computer Game Design program equips students with the technical, narrative, and creative skills needed to excel in this dynamic field,” said Chancellor Cynthia Larive. “This recognition is well-deserved, and also underscores the vital role of game development in today’s cultural and economic landscape.”

The computer game design industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, with a size and scope that continues to grow. Its vast ecosystem includes developers, publishers, and a passionate player base in the hundreds of millions.

Promote excellence in game development and design

The Computer Game Design program, part of Baskin Engineering’s Computational Media Department, provides students with unique opportunities to engage in research and education that pushes boundaries. Students combine technical expertise, interpretive skills, and design work to create human-centered media solutions that address complex societal challenges.

The campus is home to one of the only professional master’s degree programs in Dangerous games Shown in the United States. Serious games are designed to fulfill a purpose other than pure entertainment and aim to influence measurable social goals.

UC Santa Cruz has been a leader in game development education since 2004 when computer media professor Jim Whitehead launched a program for computer science students interested in game development. The introduction of the undergraduate program in Computer Game Design in 2006 was a major milestone, being the first of its kind in the University of California system and one of only a few nationwide.

In the intervening years, computer game design faculty have received recognition for their outstanding contributions to the field. Among the highest honors for researchers in the field of computer games is the distinction of becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (HEVGA). UC Santa Cruz holds the record for having the highest number of HEVGA Fellows among all universities worldwide – an unmistakable testament to their commitment, dedication and excellence.

“I am thrilled that UC Santa Cruz has been recognized for its overall excellence in games education,” Whitehead said. “The campus is committed to educating a diverse student body that will actively contribute to the growing diversity of California’s computer gaming industry. We take pride in our track record of providing an economically accessible education to students from diverse backgrounds.”

While the Computer Game Design program is housed within the Baskin College of Engineering, students also have the flexibility to enroll in courses offered by the Department of Performance, Play, and Design within the Department of Arts.

The Performance, Play and Design program is grounded in the spirit of experiential learning, immersing students in the fundamentals of artistic practice while delving into the rich history of digital and non-digital game design. This interdisciplinary program ensures that students receive a comprehensive education that includes art, technology, theory and practice, enhancing adaptability and creativity.

Empower students and amplify our impact

UC Santa Cruz’s unwavering commitment to nurturing intellectual curiosity, promoting critical thinking, and instilling a sense of social responsibility underscores its dedication to providing a world-class education and making a positive societal impact. The campus is one of very few members of the Association of American Universities (AAU) to hold the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American Native Pacific Islander Serving (AANAPISI) designations.

In keeping with the university’s mission of empowering students from diverse backgrounds and promoting social and economic equity, UC Santa Cruz is ranked No. 16 among national universities for top performers in social mobility, reflecting a two-point increase from the previous year.

The campus’s dedication to creating a dynamic and engaging learning environment is demonstrated by its ranking in the top 20 among public universities for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

In recognition of the university’s commitment to providing world-class education and resources, UC Santa Cruz is ranked No. 40 among the nation’s best public schools and No. 82 among national universities overall.

UC Santa Cruz combines cutting-edge research with a cohesive, student-centered environment through its ten distinctive undergraduate residential colleges. These colleges are characterized by unique subjects that profoundly influence academic and student life programs, creating a rich and diverse learning environment.

UC Santa Cruz’s achievements in the 2024 US News and World Report rankings underscore the university’s commitment to empowering students, fostering innovation, and strengthening communities.

“These rankings reflect the dedication and hard work of our faculty, staff and students, who collectively contribute to making UC Santa Cruz a world-class institution,” said Chancellor Cynthia Larive. “We are pleased to see our commitment to excellence and inclusion recognized, and we look forward to continuing our pursuit of academic excellence and societal impact.”

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