The Best Game Design Programs, Ranked by Princeton Review 2020

Almost everyone who has ever played a game has wondered what it would be like to create their own, but childhood dreams don’t have to be dreams. With a lot of hard work and a few tips, you can help create new worlds that will forever change the way we play. First of all, however, you will need a good education to make it happen.

That’s where these great college game design programs come in. The Princeton Review has done all the work to determine and rank the best undergraduate and graduate game design programs in North America and Europe. Wondering which school has the best teachers, the most prestigious graduates, or perhaps the best classrooms and resources? We’ve got you covered for all of this and more.

So take a moment to think about what kind of game developer you want to be. The one who works with the big lines of design, or maybe the little details of programming and coding? Maybe you want to do business with the biggest brands, escape to the independent scene, or maybe even the growing world of esports. Either way, your first steps are often the most important, so read on to learn a thing or two before you set off on your adventure.

Want to know more? Check the Princeton Review website for more information on game design programs: princetonreview.com/game-design

The 50 Best Undergraduate Game Design Programs

1. University of Southern California

(Image credit: University of Southern California)

Total number of lessons: 230
2019 graduates hired: 90%
Salary of graduates 2019: $ 65,000
Faculty: Marianne Krawcyzk (screenwriter, God of War series)
Graduates: George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) and Jenova Chen (travel director).

(Image credit: Becker College)

Total number of lessons: 132
2019 ranks hired: 67%
Salary of graduates 2019: $ 56,978
Faculty: Jonathan Rudder (The Lord of the Rings online).
Fun fact: Becker College also offers an esports management program.

3. New York University

(Image credit: New York University)

Total number of lessons: 539
2019 graduates hired: 39%
Salary of graduates 2019: $ 48,000
Faculty: Dr Bennett Foddy (Getting over it with Bennett Foddy).
Fun fact: The NYU Game Center Incubator helps students turn their projects into fully funded and published games, including Ape Out and others.

(Image credit: Digipen Institute of Technology)

Total number of lessons: 409
2019 ranks hired: 69%
Salary of graduates 2019: $ 75,425
Faculty: Claude Comair (co-founder, Nintendo Software Technology).
Fun fact: Graduates include Kim Swift (Portal), Adam Brennecke (Obsidian Entertainment), Jon Schecter (EA).

2019 graduates hired: 97%
Salary of graduates 2019: $ 64,500

Salary of graduates 2019: $ 72,662
Graduates: Doug Bowser (COO, Nintendo of America) and Nolan Bushnell (Founder, Atari).

7. Michigan State University

2019 graduates hired: 80%
Fun fact: MSU offers an annual field travel experience in the West Coast gaming industry, providing opportunities for networking and learning.

8. Bradley University

Faculty: Mark Hamer (Art Director, Telltale Games and Double Fine).
Fun fact: The game development teams at Bradley are almost 50% male and 50% female.

2019 graduates hired: 80%
Faculty that worked in a games company: 100%

Graduates: Armando Troisi (narrative director, Ubisoft).
Fun fact: Focuses on coding, game art, and level design.

Total number of lessons: 85
Graduates: Anna Nguyen (Schell Games, NetherRealm), Glen Winters (Rockstar Games)

12. Worcester Polytechnic

Faculty: Brian Moriarty (co-founder of GDC, LucasArts), Keith Zizza (BioShock Infinite).
Fun fact: One of the premier game design schools in the United States, offers learning style classes every term.

13. University of Abertay

Graduates: David Jones (creator of Grand Theft Auto), Liam Wong (art director, Ubisoft).
Fun fact: Home of the oldest game development study program in Europe.

Total number of lessons: 138
Graduates: Richard Ugarte (Epic Games), Alexa Madeville (Facebook Games), Melissa Yancey (EA).

15. Hampshire College

Faculty: Chris Perry (Pixar), Rob Daviau (Risk Legacy designer).
2019 graduates hired: 60%

16. Champlain College

Total number of lessons: 119
2019 ranks hired: 75%

17. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

2019 graduates hired: 71%
Faculty: Maurice Suckling (Driver series, Borderlands)

18. Cogswell Polytechnic College

Faculty that worked at Game Company: 96%
Faculty: Jérôme Salomon (ILM, LucasArts, EA), Stone Librande (Riot, Blizzard).

19. The University of Texas at Dallas

Total number of lessons: 208
Faculty that worked at Game Company: 80%

20. Breda University of Applied Sciences

2019 ranks hired: 75%
Faculty: David Wessman (Star Wars: X-Wing, Chronicles of Riddick), Chris Rothwell (Grand Theft Auto).


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