Master’s Degree Program Track in Game Design and Development to Be Introduced in Fall 2011

News Story: April 1, 2011
Christopher Snavely works on designing his own computer game.

Randy Santossio, ’01, had his sights on a career as a software engineer, and after earning his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Computer Science at Sacred Heart University, he finds himself working at Microsoft with the Xbox Live team.

“It was simple for me,” he says. “I always wanted to be a software engineer – and SHU’s program was perfect for someone who wanted to design and create solutions. After my bachelor’s in Computer Science, I hired on at Symantec, building applications for Enterprise customers. Then I went back to Sacred Heart for my MS. I learned the most active skills and technologies there – ones that are valued and sought by employers worldwide.”

He received his bachelor’s degree in 1994 and his master’s in 2001. As for what he feels about his job at Microsoft, he says, “I love it!”

Santossio landed a plum job at the computer giant in Washington before SHU began to seriously look at launching a video game design and development track in Master of Science degree program.

Young people who spent their formative years playing video games can take that enthusiasm and turn it into a career. The surge in popularity of interactive video games created a shortage in game developers and programmers, so demand for qualified professionals is soaring: According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, gaming industry employment will grow by 30 percent or more through 2018. And by next year, some 190 million American households will own a game console.

Chris Hughes, ’04, also knows about video-gaming popularity and took the heightened interest a step further after completing his degrees. “I did the combined program at SHU, getting my bachelor’s and my master’s in five years. I amassed the skills to get a great job at QualComm, then I went out on my own, starting FlashGameLicense, a business that helps thousands of game developers, individuals and companies alike, to improve their games and then license them. I can’t say enough about Sacred Heart’s program, their faculty and all that I learned there.”

Dr. Bob McCloud teaches
a Game Design class.

Because the career opportunities in gaming are growing, Sacred Heart University will be introducing a master’s degree program track in Game Design and Development in fall 2011.

Those who already have a bachelor’s degree can earn a graduate certificate in game design and development or a master’s in computer science. An advanced degree will enable graduates to switch careers into video game design and development. For those already in the industry, the advanced degree can help to further a career. Sacred Heart offers night and weekend classes, and the program is open to undergraduates who can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

Students take computer science courses such as data structures, algorithms, operating systems and networking along with computer gaming and graphics and the fundamentals of game design. They also acquire skills in game design and development, storyboarding, animation, creation of objects, programming languages and action scripting.

Domenick Pinto, chairman of the Computer Science and IT Department, says, “In basing our curriculum on computer science, game design and development provides students with more than just gaming. This track gives students total flexibility for achieving career success.”

Additionally, an internship program lets students use their classroom-acquired skills immediately. “We have contacts with Xbox Live, Microsoft, Google, QualComm and many other local industry giants,” said Pinto. “Students get solid on-the-job training, so they establish themselves within the industry, and enjoy a major head start when they’re ready for full-time employment.”

Ryan Bodrug, ’04, agrees. “Sacred Heart University gave me a great foundation in C++ and linear algebra - two of the most critical components for landing a career in video games,” says Bodrug, who also has a Bachelor of Science in computer science. I’m working with Microsoft Game Studio, and I love my position here as a software development engineer. My Sacred Heart degree really helped to make it all possible.”