DigiPen was founded in 1988 by Mr. Claude Comair as a computer simulation and animation company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As the demand for production work increased, DigiPen faced difficulty finding qualified personnel, and in 1990, it began offering a dedicated training program in 3D computer animation to meet this growing need.
That same year, DigiPen approached Nintendo of America to jointly establish a post-secondary program in video game programming. The result of this collaborative effort was the DigiPen Applied Computer Graphics School, which in 1994, officially accepted its first class of video game programming students to its Vancouver campus for the two-year Diploma in the Art and Science of 2D and 3D Video Game Programming. In 1995, DigiPen implemented a revised two-year 3D computer animation program and graduated student cohorts over each of the following four years.
Around this time, the video game industry underwent a paradigm shift from dealing primarily with 2D graphics and gameplay to fully 3D worlds that players could freely explore. As these worlds became more sophisticated, so did the task of programming, designing, and animating them. In anticipation of this change, DigiPen developed a four-year bachelor’s degree in video game programming (the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation) that would prepare students for the challenges of creating complex 3D game and simulation software.
In 1996, the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) granted DigiPen the authorization to award both Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees in Real-Time Interactive Simulation. Two years later, in 1998, DigiPen Institute of Technology opened its campus in Redmond, Washington, USA. In 1999, DigiPen began offering the Associate of Applied Arts in 3D Computer Animation. At this time, DigiPen phased out its educational activities in Canada, moving all operations to its Redmond campus. On July 22, 2000, DigiPen held its first commencement ceremony, where it awarded Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees.
In 2002, DigiPen received accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). In 2004, DigiPen began offering three new degrees: the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, the Master of Science in Computer Science*, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation. In 2008, DigiPen added two more degree programs: the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design and the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design.
Also in 2008, DigiPen partnered with Singapore’s Economic Development Board to open its first international branch campus, offering the following degrees: the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation, and the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design. In 2010, DigiPen announced plans to open its first European campus in Bilbao, Spain.**
That same year, DigiPen relocated its US campus to its current location at 9931 Willows Road Northeast in Redmond, Washington. In addition to uniting DigiPen’s BFA and BS programs under one roof, the larger campus provides more spaces for students to learn, meet, and collaborate on group projects.
On September 26, 2011, DigiPen launched DigiPen Institute of Technology Europe – Bilbao offering two bachelor’s degree programs: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation and Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Digital Art and Animation, to forty students.
On October 11, 2011, DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore was granted accreditation by ACCSC as a branch campus of the main school located in Redmond, Washington, USA.
In 2012, DigiPen added three new degree programs: the Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design, the Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Sound Design, and the Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts.
*ACCSC granted approval for this degree in 2006.
** DigiPen’s international branch campus (DigiPen Europe-Bilbao) does not fall within the scope of ACCSC accreditation.