Here are 5 important questions to ask when you are choosing a game-design school.
1. What are the entrance requirements to get into the game-design program?
If a school has minimal requirements or only requires a GED, then you know the program isn’t very selective. And as a result, the education you receive might not be very useful.
FIEA is a selective graduate program that requires every student to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a minimum of 300 on the GRE, 3.0 GPA and a portfolio that showcases their game-development talent. This ensures that you’ll be working with the most talented future game developers in the country.
2. Is the school nationally accredited and do they offer an accredited degree?
Many people fail to ask this question when looking for the right video game education, but it’s very important. There are six recognized regional accreditation agencies in the country.
For the Southeast, if a school is not SACS accredited, then they may not be recognized by employers and other schools as legitimate. SACS stands for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and it is the national accrediting body for all Southeastern colleges and universities. Go to a non-SACS accredited school, and you may end up with a less-valuable degree.
Schools that receive regional accreditation go through a rigorous review process that ensures that their educational programs, faculty and resources are the best available and meet national standards.
This process ensures that the video game curriculum is of the highest educational quality and that the courses and credits earned will transfer to virtually any other school or university in the country. Go here to see a list of SACS accredited schools.
Some trade or vocational schools are not accredited or have been accredited by national organizations that sponsor vocational and trade schools. By knowing a school’s accreditation, you’ll know whether or not the credits from that degree will transfer to another school and whether the degree you’ll earn will be a valuable marketplace commodity.
FIEA is part of the Center For Emerging Media at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the country’s second-largest university. Since UCF is SACS accredited, FIEA offers a fully accredited Master’s in Interactive Entertainment.
3. Do the faculty have real industry experience?
Industry experience is one of the most valuable assets a faculty member can have. When looking at schools, the amount of real experience the faculty have working on AAA games and blockbuster films is crucial.
How many times have they taken a game from idea to completion and what was their role? These are the questions you should be asking.
FIEA faculty have dozens of years in working in some of the most recognizable gaming studios: Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Take Two. Read their bios and you’ll find they’ve collectively shipped more than 45 video game and film titles, including Madden NFL Football, Ultima Online, Toontown Online and movies like Antz, Face Off and Godzilla.
4. What is the faculty-to-student ratio?
All schools talk about the personal contact with faculty, but the fact is that if there are 30 students to every faculty member, significant time with faculty just isn’t possible. FIEA’s student-to-faculty ratio is 10-to-1, allowing faculty to mentor students every step of the way.
5. What about internships and placement?
Any school can throw placement rates at you. But what kind of jobs are their former students getting? Are they becoming successful producers and programmers or are they working as game testers? At FIEA our goal is produce leaders in the interactive entertainment industry and not just put people into entry-level positions with no chance of promotion.
FIEA has a full-time Industry Relations coordinator who assists students with creating resumes and researching companies. And our faculty and staff have dozens of industry contacts to help you attract interviews and offers. The result? A $63,000 average starting salary for 2013 FIEA grads. See other FIEA stats.
In addition FIEA brings in well-known national video game makers from across the country to lead workshops, give presentations and network with students.