Best Game Design Schools in Canada

Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Smile Ese

Game design schools can only prepare students so much. Ultimately, games are created by teams and need to resonate with the public. This article goes over some of the top game design schools in Canada and looks at the gaming industry as a whole.

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The article below will provide you with a detailed analysis of the Top Video Game Design Schools in Canada. Here, we have enlisted the best design schools in Canada to make sure that students get a chance to choose from a variety of institutions and can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing an institution.

Are you thinking about getting into the exciting field of game design? Designing your own video games is one of the most rewarding parts of game development, whether you go with mobile game development, game design concept art, game music, game art assets with the Unity engine or writing for games. Learning to make video games can be a whole lot of fun, but it isn’t easy.   That’s why we want to talk about the best video game design schools in Canada and also in the world. If you’re looking to get into this exciting field of study, then this is how you do it.

For aspiring game designers, choosing the best game design schools in Canada is important. After all, you want to find the educational experience that offers the best value for your money. Not only that but also that gives you the best chance of getting a great job once you graduate. That means there are a lot of factors to consider like reputation, tuition level, location, etc.

You can get all the info on what is the best school for video game design and conveniently obtain it from our website. This website addresses any questions on best video game design schools in Canada, what is the best college for game design so you don’t have to go into inaccessible hunting anymore. We recommend saving time and effort when you visit the web for similar answers as soon as possible.

Best Game Design Schools In Canada

Throughout this past year we have reviewed many Art and Design schools across Canada to develop our Top 10 list Our hope is that it will help provide some insight and help guide potential art and design students to make a choice for the school that will match their specific wants and needs.

As with all top schools list, it is important to factor all of your specific criteria that would ultimately be the best choice for you. Attending an Art and Design school is a very personal experience. To help you even more, please check out Choosing the right Art and Design Program for more specific information.

As Canada has long been a favorite spot for game design education, the country is home to some of the best game design schools in the world. To help ease your search for one of these programs, we have outlined the top colleges that are setting the standard in their field.

1. Vancouver Film School

Department: Not Applicable

Degrees Offered:

  • Degree in Game Design

Here’s another school located in the video game haven that is Vancouver. As part of the application process, you’ll be asked to either successfully complete the Vancouver Film School Foundation Visual Art + Design program, OR submit a synopsis for a game that you really want to make. That’s a pretty cool way to gauge passion and interest.

As you craft your synopsis, you’ll be asked to go in-depth about the concept or the “vision” for your game. What’s the genre of your game? What other games is it like, or does it pull aspects from?

You’ll also have to describe characters, the story, and even possible level ideas. You’ll need to explain the game mechanics and certain features of your game idea, and even submit a basic map of the game world you described.

It sounds like a lot of work because it is. But the pre-planning process should never be understated. By forcing you to come up with these elements as a way to get into VFS, you’ll be able to hit the ground running once you’re admitted.

You can pick your focus, choosing between game designer, feature designer, and level designer. VFS explains the differences between those roles on their website, though the names pretty much say it all.

Vancouver Film School has a solid track record of producing industry-ready alumni. On their website, they claim their “grads are some of the most successful professionals in the Video Game Industry.” With their “grad career highlights” doing the legwork, it certainly seems to be true.

They have alumni who worked on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Mortal Kombat X, Marvel’s Contest of Champions, Fifa 14, Company of Heroes 2, NHL 14, SSX, Mass Effect 3, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, League of Legends, and many more.

As if you needed more proof that Vancouver Film School could deliver on its promise, their website offers up some handy testimonials of alumni and industry executives alike.

Philippe Boulle, the Game Director over at Sega Relic Entertainment, has said “We’re so lucky to have Vancouver Film School in our own backyard. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many graduates of the Game Design program, and their incredible contributions to our games and our studio culture can’t be overstated. I’m not sure what VFS is putting in the water, but whatever it is, I sure hope they keep doing it.”

If that doesn’t inspire confidence, we’re not sure what will.

Give VFS a look if you like the idea of working on AAA games, but it seems like just as good a spot to develop your craft if you’re into the indie or entrepreneur scene.

2. The Centre For Digital Media

Department: Not Applicable

Degrees Offered:

  • Master of Digital Media

The Centre For Digital Media is a joint effort between the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and the University of British Columbia. If you’re looking to get a Master’s degree in Canada to advance your game design career, this is the place to do it.

To borrow the Centre’s words from their website, the Master of Digital Media program is “a sixteen month internationally recognized, research-informed and industry-relevant professional graduate program that engages students in the development of digital media products.”

This program is based in Vancouver, which is a very active digital media creation zone.

The program will help you develop collaboration, communication, and leadership skills — skills that are crucial for thriving in a large team game design environment.

The Master of Digital Media program targets six essential elements, to maximize your effectiveness in the field. Those competencies are:

  • Teamwork
  • Design Process
  • Self-Awareness
  • Time Management
  • Articulation
  • Information Literacy

The full description of each can be found on their site. Over half of your work at the Centre for Digital Media will be project-based, which is uncommonly high for a Master’s program.

One member of the faculty was Head of Animation at VFS (further up our list), and also Animation Director at Dreamworks before joining the Centre for Digital Media. Another faculty member was the Studio Head at Radical Entertainment. The list goes on.

CDM also has partnerships with companies in the industry, providing easier access to internships and work opportunities at places like: Microsoft, Archiact, and Finger Food Studios.

This is an excellent option for furthering your education and is a solid choice for graduate education.

Lexington named 6th best city to be a game developer or designer

3. Sheridan College

Department: Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor Degree in Game Design

If you’re looking for a four-year degree in game design from a school in Canada, Sheridan College is your best bet. A four-year program at Sheridan College will afford you the opportunity to diversify your skillset. You’ll be able to cover more than just the art and technical sides of game design.

You can spend more time learning about the game industry, as well as project management. Studying trends and knowing how to manage a team on a project could definitely help you stand out as you pursue a career.

You will also study game design and mechanics, 2D and 3D art and animation, level design, game narrative, game audio, and more.

Because of its popularity and uniqueness in offering a four-year degree in game design, Sheridan attracts solid professors with heavy industry experience and also industry contacts.

From a course load perspective, you’ll be working on lab projects, simulations, and case studies to get a taste of the real-world game industry. As your education comes to a close, you’ll work in teams with your fellow students to build a game from the ground up.

Sheridan College is a solid choice for aspiring game designers who want extensive education and the weight of achievement that comes with a four-year degree.

4. LaSalle College Vancouver

LaSalle College Vancouver was established in the late 1970s and has won the Top Design Game Program in the 2019 Princeton Review. It is primarily dedicated to higher education in various art programs.

These programs are as follows, along with the specific years and what they’ll learn along the way. You can get both an advanced diploma & associates degree.

  • Game Art & Animation
    • This program focuses heavily on the fundamentals and aspects of 3D design, art, and character development. This program will be a two-year course, with the first year dedicated to the basics, and the second year will have students creating assets for their own game.
  • Game Programming
    • This program is all about bringing concepts and ideas to life. In the first year, students will utilize and master coding languages, while in their second year, they’ll use these skills on their major game project.
  • 3D Animation & VFX For Film
    • This is for film fans who want to explore their skills working on shows and movies. Two years will be dedicated to using the various visual effects and programs to bring 3D animation to screens everywhere.
  • Game Design & Production
    • This is where the student will learn what it takes to produce a video game and all the steps involved. This includes narrative design, time management, and testing.

5. NAD School, Canada

The NAD School is one of the oldest schools offering programs in 3D design and VFX. Since 1992.

Programs offered:


  • 3D Animation and Digital Design
    • Students can expect to earn a certificate in this field throughout 30 credits. NAD School is dedicated to replicating an authentic environment in which to involve students in 3D work.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • 3D Animation and Digital Design
    • For a higher degree, students can expect to delve more in-depth than the certification course. With the use of the most advanced 3D and design programs, students will get hands-on experience animating their projects.

Diploma of Specialized Higher Studies

  • Narrative Video Game Design
    • Over 30 credits, students will learn the basics of narrative video game design, which will introduce them to the way that some of their favorite games present story elements. Students will take part in writing exercises and eventually write their own narrative.

Master’s of Arts

  • 3D Animation and Digital Design
    • This program is a two-year-long intensive study and practice in animation and design over 45 credits. This program is aimed at students who want to integrate a research-based approach to these fields.

There are hundreds of universities and colleges in Canada with leading Art and Design Schools, to study design courses. Below is a brief about some of the prominent institutes for students to consider taking admission in design courses:

1. Emily Carr University of Art and Design

One of the oldest universities renowned for Arts and Design, Emily Carr University specializes in imparting education in Arts, Design and Media. Offering a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Design, ECU has a reputation of being the leader in excellence in the field of Arts and Design. At the bachelor’s level, the university provides a range of specialization in areas such as Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, Photography and other courses with each spanning over a 3-year duration.

2. University of Alberta

Ranked among the leading 5 universities in Canada and falling in the list of top 100 universities in the world, the University of Alberta offers a comprehensive 4-year bachelor’s degrees in various sub-disciplines of Art and Design like Drawing, Sculpture, Industrial Design, to name a few. The university also offers a number of courses in Design for students at the master’s level.

3. Concordia University

The Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University offers a variety of courses in Arts and Design at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Some of the prominent courses offered by the university include Game Design, Design for Theatre and Animation, Design and Computation Arts, etc.

4. University of Manitoba

Among the top universities in Canada, the University of Manitoba has an unmatched reputation in offering extensive programs in Design. The Faculty of Architecture at the university has comprehensive courses in Interior Design, Landscape Architecture and City Planning.

5. Ryerson University

Ryerson University has one of the richest design schools in the world. Its Faculty of Communication and Design offers a range of courses in Design and Arts. At the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the university offers intensive courses for design enthusiasts.

the best college for game design

Throughout this past year we have reviewed many Art and Design schools across Canada to develop our Top 10 list  Our hope is that it will help provide some insight and help guide potential art and design students to make a choice for the school that will match their specific wants and needs.  As with all top schools list, it is important to factor all of your specific criteria that would ultimately be the best choice for you.  Attending an Art and Design school is a very personal experience.  To help you even more, please check out Choosing the right Art and Design Program for more specific information.

Our List of Top 10 Canadian Animation, Gaming and Art and Design Schools

10. Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) – Vancouver, BC

Aspiring animators will become super engaged with every single program offered by the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts). In no particular order they include: 2D Character Animation, 3D Character Animation, Game Art and Design, Visual Effects for Film and Television.  Students attending VanArts will focus on the skills they need to break into the animation section.  Their faculty have worked with top studios like Industrial Light and Magic, DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios.  Students learn concepts like animated character performance, story and visual language and also learn Maya and 3D stream. One of the features of the school is students develop a professional demo reel and portfolio for the job market.  We find VanArts to provide good value for student’s tuition investment.

9. Emily Carr University of Art and Design – Vancouver, BC

You will notice a great number of Vancouver animation schools making the list, but this should come as no surprise given Vancouver’s incredibly successful animation scene and ability to hire a large amount of those animation graduates. The Emily Carr University of Art and Design is a Vancouver-based art and design school to make our top 10 list. Emily Carr provides a very exciting learning environment in visual arts, design and media arts. The Bachelor of Media Arts degree in Animation is structured to provide students with the option to explore a broad range of choices, or to focus on specific production skills.  In the spring semester of 3rd year, students begin development on their senior animation projects, choosing to create their own individual work, or to work collaboratively on a team project. Students gain a truly unique university experience at Emily Carr caused in some part to the very passionate and talented student body.

8. The Art Institute of Vancouver – Vancouver, BC

The Art Institute of Vancouver is a solid choice for anyone looking to get into the animation, video game design and visual effects industry as Vancouver is leading North America in available animation industry jobs. The faculty at The Art Institute of Vancouver, have deep ties to the Vancouver film and animation industry, which has given the program’s job placement rate a boost. The school’s Media Arts department offers a 3D Modeling for Animation and Games diploma program designed to provide graduates with the relevant skills necessary to enter into and maintain a career in the game, animation and visual effects entertainment industries. Students will develop the technical and creative aptitude necessary to demonstrate and present their skills to industry. Their goal is achieved by building a foundation of traditional artistic skill, and then providing students with hands on training in its modern application.  Graduates will find employment opportunities in 3D Modeler, Character Modeler, Environment Modeler, Texture Artist, Lighting Artist, Technical Artist, Junior Production Designer, Render Wrangler, and many other related entry-level production positions.  The Art Institute of Vancouver campus was ranked #6 in the Princeton Review.

7. Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) – Toronto, Ontario

In Toronto’s creative core, Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) is considered by many to be one of Canada’s top art schools and as such has arguably the top teaching talent in the country. The school’s artistic pedigree in combination with its creative course options, won them a place on this list despite not focusing on traditional animation or gaming. Their courses include: Guerrilla Entrepreneurism, Exploration, Insight and Foresight in Design, Illustrative Activism, Motion Graphics, Sequential Narrative, Virtual Communities, Play Behaviour and Game Design, Interactive Communication, Clever Devices, Media, Messages and the Cultural Landscape and Illustration and the Rise of Popular Culture. Be warned though, that admission to OCAD is highly selective so you better know how to draw and have an over the top portfolio before applying.

6. Vancouver Film School (VFS) – Vancouver, BC

The Vancouver Film School (VFS) claims that they can cram the knowledge of a 3-4 year Animation program into just one year.  Whether they can or not is really up to the student’s abilities and their students do graduate with strong portfolios and jobs at companies like ILM, Pixar, Paramount, EMI, DreamWorks and EA. Their training includes courses in filmmaking, character animation and video game design. Despite being located in Canada, the LA Times ranked VFS one of the Top 10 schools favored by video game industry recruiters.

5. Capilano University – Vancouver, BC

Capilano University’s 3D animation program has earned it honors in its field, as have its students. Former Capilano alumni are now working at 20th Century Fox, Aardman Animation (UK), Core Digital Pictures (Toronto) Big Sandwich Games, Mainframe Entertainment, Nerd Corps, Radical Entertainment, Rockstar, Relic Entertainment and Electronic Arts (Vancouver). Capilano’s ability to offer niche training to its students helps their employability in fields like character animation, character and environment modeling, texturing and lighting, character rigging and technical direction, and concept art. To get their graduates ready for the industry, the school hosts online portfolios for its students in addition to open houses and portfolio reviews. The school offers a fantastic curriculum for those who can get in. Capilano however believes that “computer animation training is a waste of your money if you are coming into this field “cold””, so a portfolio, computer skills and an understanding of traditional animation and principles along with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and what you want to do with the knowledge and experience you will acquire, is required for entry.

4. Seneca College – Toronto, Ontario

Seneca College’s Animation Arts Centre offers a wide-range of courses for any aspiring animator or video game designer; including Animation Arts, Digital Animation, Gaming and Visual Effects for Film and TV. The students that come out of Seneca are well trained in the artistic application of the theories of motion, timing and storytelling. They are industry-ready graduates. In its 6 semester Animation program, graduates will be equipped in the use of traditional animation theories, equipment and facilities, and will understand the many technical requirements of producing animation using the latest computer software. Graduates also be able to draw storyboards, design characters and sets, lay out scenes, light the environment and characters, and animate the character in a convincing and believable way. They’ll be able to produce believable characters in entertaining situations for broadcast on the web, television, film, or theatre.  The school also offers a 2 semester (8 months) 3D Computer Based Modeling and Animation program which specializes in 3D computer based modeling and animation. As a student in this program, you’ll use the latest in high-end computer workstations and learn the tools to problem solve, and to create finished portfolio projects using Maya animation software. This program allows students to focus careers in 3D animation.  Additionally, Seneca College offers post-diploma programs in 3D Animation and Visual Effects for Film and Television where students will be introduced to the various techniques used to create visual effects for film and television. Studies focus on the software tools used to create visual effects and issues involved in combining these effects with live action footage. The result of student’s final project will be a professional portfolio which would be used to apply for employment.  Software taught in this course includes The Foundry’s Nuke compositing program and Autodesk’s Maya 3D package.

3.  Max the Mutt College of Animation, Art & Design – Toronto, Ontario

Max the Mutt is a very unique school that offers diplomas in Classical & Computer Animation & Production Diploma, Illustration for Sequential Arts: Comic Books & Graphic Novels Diploma, and Concept Art for Animation & Video Games Diploma. These are in depth courses of study designed and taught by working professionals.  This unique school features an emphasis on community and professionalism and participation by instructors in curriculum changes and development.

Max the Mutt College of Animatio, Art & Design and Daemen College located in Amherst, New York have signed an articulation agreement that provides academically qualified graduates the opportunity to obtain advanced standing in Daemen College’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program giving them the opportunity to earn a BFA degree in one additional academic year which affords the student a tremendous opportunity that many other schools don’t offer.

In addition to an emphasis on traditional fine art skills including life drawing, animal drawing, anatomy, perspective and structural drawing, and respect and attention to developing the traditional classical animation skill set, Max the Mutt’s four year Classical & Computer Animation & Production Diploma Program with curriculum based on Warner Bros. and Disney guidelines, it includes a complement of computer tools and programs such as Flash, Toon Boom and Maya. This in-depth program includes a course in Animating for Video Games, but the main focus is on actual production experience with students acting as animators on a professionally directed short film.

Illustration for Sequential Arts is a unique 3-year program in Canada.  It was designed by top Canadian comic book and graphic novel artists. Students have a strong first year program that centers on developing high level traditional fine art skills including perspective and structural drawing and life drawing, anatomy, animal drawing, are part of the year 2 and year 3 curriculum. In addition to layout, penciling, inking, cinematic storytelling, scripting for comics, and writing and illustrating graphic novels, this program includes a full year of illustration for children’s books, cover illustration, and training in all relevant computer programs.

Concept Art for Animation & Video Games offers beginning to advanced fine art courses in painting and figure drawing, illustration courses, basic to advanced design courses including the use of computer programs for props, vehicles, environments, characters and creatures. After a year of cartooning, character design includes both realistic and cartoon characters.  Animation subjects include cartooning, story boarding including the use of Toon Boom Storyboard Pro, background painting, digital background painting, and layout for animation.

Software used includes Autodesk’s Maya, 3-D Coat, ZBrush and the Adobe suite of software including Photoshop and Illustrator to produce work. In year four students spend their last semester primarily on a course called “Designing in Real Time,” where student receive real life experience and act as the concept artists for a specific project. Eventually, some of them will be the concept designers for the animation film production the 4th year animation students work on. That is, they will be doing the pre-production work for the film to be produced the following year.

Classes are small, which the college says allows students to receive more attention and assistance from the instructors.  Max the Mutt offers great tuition value for the student who wants to capitalize on practical skills but also keep their options open for a degree.

2.  Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver (VCAD) – Vancouver, BC

VCAD which began as a branch of the Victoria College of Art and Design, taught artists and creative people to follow their passions for more than 35 years.  Building on those creative roots, VCAD has significantly grown into its own dynamic Vancouver-based college of creative applied arts, and is now independent of its progenitor. VCAD’s programs have grown dramatically to cover the full spectrum of fashion, graphic, interior design, and animation disciplines.

The constant evolution of digital design leads employers within the industry to continually seek out the best-trained candidates for the job. VCAD’s Applied Arts curriculum has been developed to ensure that it’s graduates are successful in meeting the employment requirements of the art and design industries. VCAD maintains close ties with the fashion, graphic design and video gaming industries to continually assess its curriculum to ensure that it meets industry needs of the most up-to-date technical skills. VCAD students receive focused and specialized training on the tools, techniques and technology used in their chosen career field. They work on uuber intense deadline-driven projects that will prepare them for the challenges they’ll face on the job. By the end of their studies, graduates will have developed the expertise needed to create a professional portfolio that showcases their creativity and talent while displaying the skill set that employers look for.  VCAD provides great value for both the time spent at school and tuition spent and for that earns the coveted second spot.

1. Sheridan College – Oakville, Ontario

In talking with top animation employers to see what the most-sought after graduates are, ALL of them said they would love to get their hands on a Sheridan College animation graduate. No surprise there though; at one point in the mid-90s Sheridan was called the Harvard of animation schools and is world renowned. Students considering attending Sheridan College better be very committed and passionate individuals because it is an extremely intensive 4-year program. However all that hard work does pay off; the school’s award-winning graduates have gone on to many industry leaders like Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Lucasfilms, Electronic Arts, Cookie Jar, Studio B, Don Bluth Productions and most other prominent studios. In fact many grads have their choice of studios.

Sheridan offers a 4-year Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation degree, a 1-year certificate program in Computer Animation, and two one-year post grad degrees in Game Level Design, and Game Development – Advanced Programming.  If you are hoping to earn the opportunity to endure the torturous workload at Sheridan, first you better prepare a winning portfolio because their portfolio requirements for entrance are unreal.  For this Sheridan earns our number one spot.

best game design schools in the world

Game Design | Vancouver Film School

To design a good game, you need to understand the basics of the idea that your game will be; how it will work, who its target audience is and what it needs to do and why. Understanding this is half of the process and with the right tools and support, the other half is executed in spectacular fashion.

Game design schools are helping students develop their skills in the use of design, art, and technology. Each year, many schools lead students to incredible opportunities, giving them the tools to develop their creativity and business sense.

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10University of HertfordshireUnited Kingdom54.52Learn More
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14FuturegamesSweden52.545Learn More
15Savannah College of Art and DesignUnited States51.18Learn More
16University of South WalesUnited Kingdom51.055Learn More
17Animum Creativity Advanced SchoolSpain49.445Learn More
18Flinders University / CDW StudiosAustralia48.445Learn More
19Breda University – IGAD – (BUAS)Netherlands47.8Learn More
20Falmouth UniversityUnited Kingdom46.7Learn More

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