BS Degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences

The Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program has two components. The first component is a program leading to the Bachelor of Science in games and simulation arts degree. It is designed to ensure every graduate has a suite of integrated skills that are recognized as critical for leaders in the field. The second component of the program is a concentration in one of several disciplines directly related to existing or emerging career paths in the games and simulation/entertainment industry.

The courses in the games and simulation curriculum provide many team experiences and iterative cycles of design and analysis, as well as a formal research component rare in undergraduate programs.


Program Goals

Students should graduate prepared to:

  • Be able to work effectively in goal-oriented game development teams and have well-developed leadership and management skills.
  • Have a strong sense of "procedural literacy" (how to construct, analyze, and manage processes).
  • Be fluent in at least one programming or scripting language used in the production of interactive games or interfaces, and expert in at least one game development platform.
  • Be able to produce written, oral, and visual communication that clearly express their ideas.
  • Understand basic psychological theories of human perception, learning, social interaction, and play.
  • Have a basic foundation in mathematics and the physical, biological, and social sciences, including an understanding of the scientific methods of inquiry.
  • Develop a solid portfolio illustrating their abilities and work experience. This may include examples of industry experience, research, writing samples, and creative works.


For students entering Fall 2012 or later:
  • 9 courses in the major (36 credits), one of which also fulfills an H&SS Core requirement
  • 9 Concentration courses (36 credits)
  • 6 Math and Science Core courses (24 credits)
  • 5 HASS Core Elective courses (20 credits)
  • 3 free elective courses (12 credits)

for a total degree requiring 128 credits.

GSAS Core Sequence

  • Introduction to Game Design (COGS 2520)
  • History and Culture of Games (COMM 1600)
  • Art for Interactive Media (ARTS 1xxx)
  • Game Mechanics (COGS 4320)
  • Character and Story for Games(COMM 4960)
  • Game Development I (COGS/CSCI/ARTS 4520)
  • Game Development II (COGS/CSCI/ARTS 4969)
  • Experimental Game Design (ARTS 4510)
  • GSAS Research Project (IHSS 4xxx)

Suggested Course Template

FallYear One

COGS-2520 Game Design ARTS-1xxx Art for Interactive Media MATH-1010 OR MATH-1500Calculus CSCI-1100 Computer Science I

SpringYear One

COGS-4320Game Mechanics COMM-1600History & Culture of Games  Concentration Course BIOL-1010 Biology I

FallYear Two

COMM-4960Character and Story for Games PHYS-1110Physics I  Concentration Course  Concentration Course

SpringYear Two

 Concentration Course  Concentration Course  HASS Core Elective  Math/Science Elective

FallYear Three

COGS-4520Game Development I  Concentration Course  HASS Core Elective  Free Elective

SpringYear Three

COGS-4960Game Development II  Concentration Course  HASS Core Elective  Math/Science Elective

FallYear Four

ARTS-4510 Experimental Game Design  Concentration Course  HASS Core Elective  Free Elective

SpringYear Four

IHSS-496x GSAS Research Project   Concentration Course  HASS Core Elective  Free Elective


Portfolio Requirements

Applicants are required to submit a statement of intent and a portfolio that demonstrates creative excellence and preparation for interdisciplinary studies in games.  The portfolio should contain up to 10 examples representing  what the applicant considers to be their best work in any medium.

Successful portfolios may include any of the following:

  • Games created by the applicant, either digital or non-digital
  • Interactive digital media and artworks
  • 3D models
  • Animation, either digital or non-digital
  • Visual art and design in any media (drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video, etc)
  • Audio recordings
  • Creative writing samples
  • Game mods
  • Level designs
  • Computer programs  (including programs other than games), written by the applicant that demonstrate originality and problem-solving ability

Notes for specific media types

  • Digital games, Mods, Levels, and Interactive Media: Windows, Mac, or Linux compatible. Include:
    • All required files for your game to run
    • Detailed installation and play instructions
    • Written description of the game, tools used to create it, and your role if it was a team project
    • Image and/or video documentation of the game
  • Playable Physical Games (board games, card games, etc):
    • Submit image and/or video documentation
    • Include written description of the game and rules
  • Images: still images in JPG or PNG format.
  • Video: Video DVD or digital files on CD-ROM or Data DVD
    • Recommended resolution: 640x480 or higher
    • Recommended formats for video files: AVI, Quicktime, WMV, Flash, or Ogg/Theora
    • Recommended compression: for AVI, Quicktime, and WMV: MPEG-4 or H.264
  • Audio: MP3 or Ogg/Vorbis

Incoming Students (Freshmen and External Candidates)

Submitting a portfolio is optional for students applying as freshmen, but should you decide to include one with your application Rensselaer strongly recommends that you use the online portfolio system to upload your portfolio with digital files.  The online portfolio link can be found here and supports the following formats for each media type:
  • Images (5MB each: jpg, png, gif)
  • Videos (60MB each: mov, wmv, flv)
  • PDF (10MB each: pdf)
  • Audio (10MB each: mp3)

If the online portfolio system does not support your desired submission format, applicants can also submit their digital portfolio on CD or DVD. Do not submit original work with your application. Your CD or DVD portfolio should be mailed to:

Rensselaer Admissions
Undergraduate Programs
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, New York 12180-3590

Current Rensselaer Students

Prepare a digital portfolio on CD or DVD and submit it with your application submit a link to an online portfolio. Submit completed application to:

School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Student Services
Sage 2106
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180-3590

Notes for Programmers and Engineers

Portfolios may include work specifically in games and simulation, as well as work that demontrates originality and talent in a relevant discipline.  For example, students intending to major in GSAS with a Computer Science Concentration might include any of the following:
  • Digital or non-digital games, created solo or with a team, created in a class, a summer camp, a game development club, a game jam, or just on your own
  • Programs written by the applicant that demonstrate originality and problem-solving ability.  May include standard CSCI assignments/projects; be sure to note any extensions beyond the original homework.
  • Participation in the RPI UPE Programming Competition or other programming competitions
  • Summer internship projects
  • Independent study projects
  • Projects completed through the RPI Undergraduate Research Program or Rensselaer Center for Open-Source Software, or similar programs

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