The Princeton Review Ranks Top 25 Undergrad & Grad Schools to Study Game Design For 2015

U-Southern Cal is #1 Undergrad and U-Utah #1 Grad School

NEW YORK, March 24, 2015 The Princeton Review today released its sixth annual ranking list naming the best schools for undergrad and grad students to study game design. The University of Southern California retained its #1 spot on the undergraduate list for the fifth time in six years. The University of Utah grabbed the #1 graduate school title — up from #4 in 2014.

Students looking to study game design will not go wrong with any of the 50 school programs that made the Princeton Review's ranking lists for 2015. The top 25 undergraduate and top 25 graduate schools were selected based on the company's 2014–15 survey of 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad offering game design coursework and/or degree programs.

The full lists follow and are also accessible at The Princeton Review's Game Design Rankings where users can find complete profiles of the schools with guidance for applicants on admission and financial aid.

Undergrads make Big Salary Gains with Gaming Degrees. They Earn Real-Life Experience.

The survey asked the school's administrators to report on everything from their academic offerings and faculty's credentials to their graduates' starting salaries and employment experience. Among the surveyed schools, The Princeton Review found that undergrads are earning an average starting salary of $58,000, a 20% increase from last year and 28% more than the average salary for all 2014 undergrads. Students studying game design at these schools also find professional achievement while still in school. Forty eight percent of undergrads and 66% of grad students work on a game that is shipped before they graduate.

For students aspiring to work in the burgeoning field of game design, these are truly the ‘cream of the crop’ institutions from which to launch a career, said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's Senior VP -Publisher. Some are nationally-known universities; others have well-deserved reputations within their regions. All are renowned for their exceptional faculties and awesome, state-of-the-art facilities. Collectively, these schools have graduated legions of the industry's most successful video game designers, developers, artists, and entrepreneurs.

The Princeton Review teamed up with PC Gamer , a monthly magazine published by Future plc, as its reporting partner on this project. PC Gamer 's May issue has a feature on the ranking lists detailing many of the schools' unique programs, class offerings, prominent professors, and alumni. The issue lands in subscriber mailboxes this week and on newsstands March 31 st .

More than 60 data points were weighted to tally this year's school ranking lists. Criteria focused on four areas: curriculum, facilities, technology, and career services.

The Princeton Review's "Top 25 Undergraduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2015" are:

  1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  2. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
  3. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
  4. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  5. The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  6. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  7. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  8. Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
  9. Becker College (Worcester, MA)
  10. Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
  11. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
  12. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  13. Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
  14. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  15. Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
  16. Ferris State University (Grand Rapids, MI)
  17. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
  18. The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
  19. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  20. New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
  21. Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland)
  22. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  23. Lawrence Technological University (Southfield, MI)
  24. Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)
  25. DePaul University (Chicago, IL)

The Princeton Review's "Top 25 Graduate Schools to Study Game Design for 2015" are:

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

The Princeton Review has reported annual ranking lists of best schools to study game design since 2010 and partnered with PC Gamer on this project since 2013. The Princeton Review is also known for its annual rankings of colleges, business schools, and law schools in dozens of categories that it reports on its site and in its books including The Best 379 Colleges and Colleges That Pay You Back .

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review is a leading test preparation, tutoring, and college admission services company. Every year, it helps millions of college- and graduate school-bound students achieve their education and career goals through online and in person courses delivered by a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. The Princeton Review is headquartered in Natick, MA, and is an operating business of IAC. For more information, visit The Princeton Review on its web site and on its Facebook page . Follow the company's Twitter feed @ThePrincetonRev .

About Future plc

Future plc is an international media group and leading digital business, listed on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR ). Future has operations in the UK, US and Australia, creating publications, apps, websites, and events. We hold market-leading positions in Technology, Games, Music, and the Creative sector. We attract more than 49 million monthly global unique users to our websites, which include: Tech Radar , Games Radar , and Music Radar . Future sold more than 14 million magazines last year. Our most well-known brands include T3 , Total Film , and Xbox: The Official Magazine . Videos created by Future had over 143 million views last year. Future, and its portfolio, reaches over 15 million people on social media. We have over 200 licensing and syndication agreements in 89 countries worldwide, and export over 55 titles. Follow Future plc on Twitter at @futureplc and on LinkedIn at future-publishing .

Source: The Princeton Review



The Princeton Review:
PC Gamer / Future plc:

Editors Note:

The Princeton Review's Robert Franek, Senior VP-Publisher, or David Soto, Director of Content Development, is available for interviews. Reporter resources including information on the rankings criteria and school lists, alpha by country/state/city/school or alpha by school, are at

Reporter Resources:

List of Programs: Alpha by Country / State / City / School

CANADA, British Columbia

  • Vancouver / The Art Institute of Vancouver (Ugrad #5)


  • Dundee / Abertay University (Ugrad #21, Grad #20)


  • Los Angeles / University of Southern California (Ugrad #1, Grad #4)
  • Santa Cruz / University of California at Santa Cruz (Grad #8)

UNITED STATES, Connecticut

  • Fairfield / Sacred Heart University (Grad #24)

UNITED STATES, District of Columbia

  • American University (Grad #21)


  • Orlando / University of Central Florida (Grad #2)
  • Winter Park / Full Sail University (Ugrad #24, Grad #18)


  • Atlanta / Georgia Institute of Technology (Grad #23)
  • Savannah / Savannah College of Art and Design (Ugrad #19, Grad #10)


  • Chicago / DePaul University (Ugrad #25, Grad #13)
  • Chicago / University of Illinois at Chicago (Grad #25)
  • Peoria / Bradley University (Ugrad #13)

UNITED STATES, Massachusetts

  • Amherst / Hampshire College (Ugrad #10)
  • Boston / Northeastern University (Ugrad #22)
  • Cambridge / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ugrad #14, Grad #11)
  • Worcester / Becker College (Ugrad #9)
  • Worcester / Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Ugrad #17, Grad #17)


  • East Lansing / Michigan State University (Ugrad #7, Grad #15)
  • Grand Rapids / Ferris State University (Ugrad #16)
  • Southfield / Lawrence Technological University (Ugrad #23)


  • Brooklyn / New York University (Ugrad #20, Grad #9)
  • Rochester / Rochester Institute of Technology (Ugrad #6, Grad #6)
  • Troy / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Ugrad #11)


  • Columbus / The Ohio State University – Columbus (Grad #16)
  • Portsmouth / Shawnee State University (Ugrad #8)

UNITED STATES, Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia / Drexel University (Ugrad #4, Grad #7)
  • Philadelphia / University of Pennsylvania (Grad #19)
  • Pittsburgh / Carnegie Mellon University (Ugrad #12, Grad #14)


  • College Station / Texas A&M University (Grad #22)
  • Plano / Southern Methodist University (Grad #3)
  • Richardson / The University of Texas at Dallas (Ugrad #18, Grad #12)


  • Salt Lake City / University of Utah (Ugrad #2, Grad #1)


  • Burlington / Champlain College (Ugrad #15)


  • Redmond / DigiPen Institute of Technology (Ugrad #3, Grad #5)

List of Programs: Alpha by School

  • Abertay University / Dundee, Scotland (Ugrad #21, Grad #20)
  • American University / Washington, DC (Grad #21)
  • The Art Institute of Vancouver / Vancouver, British Columbia (Ugrad #6)
  • Becker College / Worcester, MA (Ugrad #9)
  • Bradley University / Peoria, IL (Ugrad #13)
  • Carnegie Mellon University / Pittsburgh, PA (Ugrad #12, Grad #14)
  • Champlain College / Burlington, VT (Ugrad #15)
  • DePaul University / Chicago, IL (Ugrad #25, Grad #13)
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology / Redmond, WA (Ugrad #3, Grad #5)
  • Drexel University / Philadelphia, PA (Ugrad #4, Grad #7)
  • Ferris State University / Grand Rapids, MI (Ugrad #16)
  • Full Sail University / Winter Park, FL (Ugrad #24, Grad #18)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology / Atlanta, GA (Grad #23)
  • Hampshire College / Amherst, MA (Ugrad #10)
  • Lawrence Technological University / Southfield, MI (Ugrad #23)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Cambridge, MA (Ugrad #14, Grad #11)
  • Michigan State University / East Lansing, MI (Ugrad #7, Grad #15)
  • New York University / Brooklyn, NY (Ugrad #20, Grad #9)
  • Northeastern University / Boston, MA (Ugrad #22)
  • The Ohio State University – Columbus / Columbus, OH (Grad #16)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute / Troy, NY (Ugrad #11)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology / Rochester, NY (Ugrad #6, Grad #6)
  • Sacred Heart University / Fairfield, CT (Grad #24)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design / Savannah, GA (Ugrad #19, Grad #10)
  • Shawnee State University / Portsmouth, OH (Ugrad #8)
  • Southern Methodist University / Plano, TX (Grad #3)
  • Texas A&M University (College Station, TX) (Grad #22)
  • University of California at Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz, CA (Grad #8)
  • University of Central Florida / Orlando, FL (Grad #2)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago / Chicago, IL (Grad #25)
  • University of Pennsylvania / Philadelphia, PA (Grad #19)
  • University of Southern California / Los Angeles, CA (Ugrad #1, Grad #4)
  • The University of Texas at Dallas / Richardson, TX (Ugrad #18, Grad #12)
  • University of Utah / Salt Lake City, UT (Ugrad #2, Grad #1)
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute / Worcester, MA (Ugrad #17, Grad #17)

Game Design Survey Methodology

The Princeton Review chose the schools for its 2015 list based on a survey it conducted in 2014-15 of administrators at 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada and some countries abroad.

The selection and ranking of schools was based on criteria that broadly covered the quality of the faculty, facilities and technology. The Princeton Review also factored in data it collected from the schools on their curriculum and career services.

The Princeton Review developed the survey in 2009 with the assistance of an advisory board the company formed for this project. Advisory board members included faculty at top institutions offering game design courses and professionals at leading companies in the gaming industry. The survey, which has more than 50 questions, covers a wide range of topics, from academics and faculty credentials to graduates' employment and career achievements. Some of the survey questions asked of each school are below.


  • What game design-related courses do you offer for undergraduates?

  • The number of gaming-related courses available to students.

  • Whether the school hosts an annual gaming competition, showcase or symposium.

  • If your students have entered outside competitions and festivals have any placed or won?What game design-relevant skills does your program teach?

  • Does your gaming program use a team-driven approach? If yes, in that team are students paired with other students from different disciplines?

  • Is it a requirement for students in your program to have created a functional game before graduating?

  • The number of research opportunities available to students.


  • What percentage of your total undergraduate gaming faculty have started, run or worked for a game studio?

  • How many gaming faculty members do you have?

  • How many departments do they represent?

  • Percentage of gaming faculty with PhDs (or terminal degree equivalent).

  • Does your faculty have funded research in game design?


  • What technologies or engines does your school utilize?

  • Does your school offer game labs for students to use?

  • Does your school offer a game library for students to use?


  • What career-related opportunities does your school offer to undergraduate gaming students?

  • For the most recent graduating class, what percentage of graduates have worked on a game that has shipped?

  • During the 2014 academic year, how many game companies visited your school for any of the following reasons: recruiting, lectures, seminars, demos, collaborations?

  • What percentage of graduates have taken a job in some aspect of game development at the time of or before graduating? What was their salary?