The Best Colleges and Graduate Schools to Study Game Design

Gallery: The 25 Best Colleges to Study Game Design

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One of the best schools in the world to study computer game design started as a private company. DigiPen Institute of Technology, a for-profit school with 1,200 students in Redmond, WA, was founded in 1988 as a Vancouver-based computer simulation and animation company. As the business grew, it struggled to find skilled workers, which is why, in 1990, it started offering a training program in 3D animation. That same year he approached

of America to form a post-secondary program in video game programming. The collaboration grew into the DigiPen Applied Computer Graphics School, which opened in 1994. arts. In 1998, he opened the Redmond campus. It also has campuses abroad, in Singapore and in Bilbao, Spain.

If your ambition is to pursue a career as a computer game designer, look beyond the well-known institutions that offer engineering degrees. This week, Princeton Review, the New York-based test preparation and educational services company, released a ranking of the best schools for undergraduates and postgraduates to study game design. You’ll find household names like the University of Southern California, # 1 among undergraduate schools, Carnegie Mellon (# 12), and MIT (# 14). But in addition to DigiPen, at least half of the Top 25 Schools list is made up of institutions that don’t feature prominently in most college guides. Another example: Abertay University in Dundee in Scotland, a school of 5,000 students which dates back to 1888. The first school in the world to offer a degree in computer gaming, in 1997 it counts among its alumni David Jones, creator of Grand Theft. Auto (Jones left school before graduation but later received an honorary degree).

Check out our slideshow above for the top 25 undergraduate institutions and the list below for graduate schools.

To compile its list, Princeton Review examined 150 schools in the United States, Canada, and internationally that offer game design courses and / or degree programs.

I will include more on the methodology below. It includes questions about the curriculum, facilities, technology, and career services, and also takes into account faculty credentials, graduate starting salaries, and work experience. Undergraduates at these schools do well in the workforce, earning an average starting salary of $ 58,000, 28% more than the average salary of all 2014 graduates, according to calculations by Princeton Review. Many students in these programs work while they’re in school, with 48% of undergraduates and 66% of graduate students shipping a game before they’ve even graduated.

“For students aspiring to work in the burgeoning field of game design, these are truly the ‘crème de la crème’ institutions from which to launch a career,” said Robert Frank, senior vice president of Princeton Review, in a statement, “All of them are renowned for their exceptional faculties and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Princeton Review teams up with PC player magazine as a ranking reporting partner.

Below is a summary of the Princeton Review methodology used to establish the ranking, based on a survey conducted in 2014-15. He organized the survey with an advisory committee made up of teachers from schools offering game design courses and professionals from the game industry. The survey has more than 50 questions. Here is a sample:


  • What courses related to game design do you offer undergraduates?
  • The number of game-related courses available to students.
  • Whether the school hosts an annual play competition, showcase, or symposium.
  • What if your students took part in outdoor competitions and festivals were ranked or won? What game design skills does your program teach?
  • Does your gaming program use a team-based approach? If so, in this team, are the students paired with other students from different disciplines?
  • Is it a requirement for students in your program to have created a functional game before graduation?
  • The number of research opportunities available to students.


  • What percentage of your undergraduate video game teachers have started, led, or worked for a game studio?
  • How many gaming teachers do you have?
  • How many departments do they represent?
  • Percentage of game teachers with doctorates (or the equivalent of a terminal degree).
  • Has your faculty funded research into game design?


  • What technologies or engines does your school use?
  • Does your school offer play labs for students?
  • Does your school have a library of games for students to use?


  • What professional opportunities does your school provide for undergraduates in gaming?
  • For the most recent promotion, what percentage of graduates worked on a game that delivered?
  • During the 2014 academic year, how many game companies visited your school for one of the following reasons: recruitment, conferences, seminars, demos, collaborations?
  • What percentage of graduates accepted a job in some aspect of video game development before or upon graduation? What was their salary?

Here is the list of the 25 best doctoral schools in game design:

  1. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
  2. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
  3. Southern Methodist University (Plano, Texas)
  4. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
  5. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
  6. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  7. Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  8. University of California at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, California)
  9. New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
  10. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  11. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  12. The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, Texas)
  13. DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois)
  14. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
  15. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  16. Ohio State University – Columbus (Columbus, OH)
  17. Worcester Polytechnic (Worcester, MA)
  18. Full Sail University (Winter Park, Florida)
  19. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  20. University of Abertay (Dundee, Scotland)
  21. American University (Washington, DC)
  22. Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)
  23. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
  24. University of the Sacred Heart (Fairfield, CT)
  25. University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

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