The Princeton Review Announces 2018 Rankings:
Top 50 Undergrad & Top 25 Grad Schools to Study Game Design

USC is #1 Undergrad and SMU #1 Grad School for 2nd Year in a Row

NEW YORK, March 13, 2018 The Princeton Review today released its ninth annual ranking lists naming the best undergraduate and graduate schools for students to study—and launch a career in—game design.

The University of Southern California captured the #1 spot on the undergraduate schools list, and Southern Methodist University ranked #1 on the graduate schools list, both for the second year in a row.

The full lists, which name the "Top 50" undergraduate and "Top 25" graduate schools, are posted at Top Schools for Game Design 2018. There, users can also get information on The Princeton Review's methodology for this project and its detailed profiles of the schools with guidance for applicants on their programs, admission requirements, and financial aid.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on its 2017 survey of 150 institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad offering game design degree programs or courses. The 40-question survey gathered data on everything from the schools' game design academic offerings and lab facilities to their graduates’ starting salaries and career achievements. More than 40 data points in four areas (academics, faculty, technology, and career) were analyzed to tally the lists.

Game design is an exciting field and for students aspiring to work in this field, the schools on our list offer extraordinary opportunities to launch a career in this industry, said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor in Chief. We want to help students find the best program for their needs and interests. The top schools on our lists have outstanding faculties and great facilities which will give students the skills and experience they need to pursue a career in this dynamic and burgeoning field.

Undergrad and grad students enrolled in the schools that made the lists also gain valuable professional experience while in school. According to The Princeton Review's 2017 survey of administrators at the schools, 88% of their undergrad and/or graduate game design students that graduated in their 2017 classes developed actionable plans to launch games while in school. Moreover, 52% of undergrads and 75% of grad students at these school programs worked on games that were shipped before they graduated.

The Princeton Review has reported its game design program rankings annually since 2010. It has teamed up with PC Gamer, a monthly magazine published by Future plc, as its reporting partner on this project since 2013. PC Gamer's  May issue has a feature on the ranking lists that details the schools' unique programs, prominent professors, and alumni. The issue lands in subscriber mailboxes this week and on newsstands 3/27.

The "Top 25" schools on The Princeton Review 2018 ranking list, "Top 50 Undergraduate Schools for Game Design," are:

  1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  2. New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
  3. DigiPen Institute of Technology (DIT) (Redmond, WA)
  4. Becker College (Worcester, MA)
  5. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  6. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
  7. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  8. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
  9. Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
  10. LaSalle College Vancouver (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  11. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  12. Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
  13. Cogswell College (San Jose, CA)
  14. Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  15. Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
  16. Miami University (Oxford, OH)
  17. University of California—Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
  18. Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
  19. Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland)
  20. Laguna College of Art and Design (Laguna Beach, CA)
  21. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  22. Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
  23. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  24. University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie, WI)
  25. The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)

For the full list of top 50 undergraduate schools, please go to Top Schools for Game Design 2018.

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

  1. Southern Methodist University (SMU) (Plano, TX)
  2. New York University (Brooklyn, NY)
  3. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
  4. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  5. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
  6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)
  7. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  8. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  9. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
  10. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
  11. Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland)
  12. Laguna College of Art and Design (Laguna Beach, CA)
  13. University of California—Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
  14. The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
  15. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  16. Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)
  17. DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
  18. University of Wisconsin-Stout (Menomonie, WI)
  19. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
  20. Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT)
  21. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  22. University of Malta (Msida, Malta)
  23. The Ohio State University—Columbus (Columbus, OH)
  24. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
  25. American University (Washington, DC)

The Princeton Review is also known for its annual rankings of colleges, business schools, and law schools in dozens of categories, which it reports on its site and in its books includingThe Best 382 Colleges and  Colleges That Pay You Back.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test prep 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, online resources, and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. Its brand is the largest online tutoring service in the U.S. It comprises a community of more than 3,000 tutors who have delivered more than 15 million one-to-one tutoring sessions. The Princeton Review is headquartered in New York, NY. The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University. For more information, visit The Princeton Review. Follow the company on Twitter @ThePrincetonRev.

About Future plc

Future plc is an international media group and leading digital publisher, listed on the London Stock Exchange (symbol: FUTR). The Group operates two separately managed brand-led divisions: Media and Magazine. The Group has a reach of 100m+ globally, including 62m online users and 63m social media reach. The Magazine division is brand-led. It has over 100 market-leading publications, with 10 key titles. The Media division focuses on being at the forefront of digital innovation, in particular the high growth technology and games markets, with three complementary revenue streams: eCommerce, events and digital advertising. It has a number of leading brands including TechRadar, PC Gamer, GamesRadar+, The Photography Show, Generate, The Homebuilding and Renovating Show and Golden Joysticks Awards.

Source: The Princeton Review



The Princeton Review:
PC Gamer / Future:

Note to Editors:

The Princeton Review's Robert Franek, Editor in Chief, or David Soto, Director of Content Development, are available for interviews. Reporter resources including lists of ranked schools two ways (alphabetical by country/state/city/school and alphabetical by school), and information on the survey methodology are below.

Reporter Resources:

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


British Columbia
  • Vancouver / LaSalle College Vancouver (Ugrad #10)
  • Vancouver / Vancouver Film School (Ugrad #14)
  • London / Western University (Ugrad #50)
    • Oakville / Sheridan College (Ugrad #29)


  • Msida / University of Malta (Grad #22)


  • Dundee / Abertay University (Ugrad #19, Grad #11)


  • Laguna Beach / Laguna College of Art and Design (Ugrad #20, Grad #12)
    • Los Angeles / University of Southern California (Ugrad #1, Grad #4)
  • San Francisco / Academy of Art University (Ugrad #26)
    • San Jose / Cogswell College (Ugrad #13)
  • Santa Cruz / University of California--Santa Cruz (Ugrad #17, Grad #13)
  • Fairfield / Sacred Heart University (Ugrad #43, Grad #20)
  • Hamden / Quinnipiac University (Ugrad #30)
District of Columbia
  • Washington / American University (Grad #25)
  • Coral Gables / University of Miami (Grad #24)
  • Orlando / University of Central Florida (Ugrad #36, Grad #3)
  • Sarasota / Ringling College of Art + Design (Ugrad #27)
  • Winter Park / Full Sail University (Ugrad #32, Grad #16)
  • Marietta / Kennesaw State University (Ugrad #31)
  • Savannah / Savannah College of Art and Design (Ugrad #21, Grad #15)
  • Chicago / DePaul University (Ugrad #28, Grad #17)
  • Peoria / Bradley University (Ugrad #15)
  • Richmond / Eastern Kentucky University (Ugrad #47)
  • Maryland
    • Baltimore / Maryland Institute College of Art (Ugrad #39)
  • Amherst / Hampshire College (Ugrad #8)
  • Boston / Northeastern University (Ugrad #23, Grad #19)
  • Cambridge / Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ugrad #49, Grad #21)
  • Worcester / Becker College (Ugrad #4)
  • Worcester / Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Ugrad #9, Grad #6)
  • Dearborn / University of Michigan-Dearborn (Ugrad #45)
  • East Lansing / Michigan State University (Ugrad #7, Grad #8)
  • Grand Rapids / Ferris State University (Ugrad #18)
  • Southfield / Lawrence Technological University (Ugrad #34)
New Jersey
  • Bloomfield / Bloomfield College (Ugrad #44)
    • Newark / New Jersey Institute of Technology (Ugrad #33)
New York
  • Brooklyn / New York University (Ugrad #2, Grad #2)
  • Ithaca / Cornell University (Ugrad #46)
  • Poughkeepsie / Marist College (Ugrad #37)
  • Rochester / Rochester Institute of Technology (Ugrad #5, Grad #7)
  • Troy / Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Ugrad #35)
  • Cleveland / Cleveland Institute of Art (Ugrad #41)
  • Columbus / The Ohio State University—Columbus (Grad #23)
  • Oxford / Miami University (Ugrad #16)
  • Portsmouth / Shawnee State University (Ugrad #22)
  • Edmond / Oklahoma Christian University (Ugrad #48)
  • Philadelphia / Drexel University (Ugrad #11, Grad #10)
Rhode Island
  • East Greenwich / New England Institute of Technology (Ugrad #42)
  • South Dakota
    • Madison / Dakota State University (Ugrad #40)
  • Abilene / Abilene Christian University (Ugrad #38)
  • Plano / Southern Methodist University (Grad #1)
  • Richardson / The University of Texas at Dallas (Ugrad #25, Grad #14)
  • Salt Lake City / University of Utah (Ugrad #6, Grad #5)
  • Burlington / Champlain College (Ugrad #12)
  • Redmond / DigiPen Institute of Technology (Ugrad #3, Grad #9)
  • Menomonie / University of Wisconsin - Stout (Ugrad #24, Grad #18)

List of Programs: Alpha by School

  • Abertay University / Dundee, Scotland (Ugrad #19, Grad #11)
  • Abilene Christian University / Abilene, TX  (Ugrad #38)
  • Academy of Art University / San Francisco, CA (Ugrad #26)
  • American University / Washington, DC (Grad #25)
  • Becker College / Worcester, MA (Ugrad #4)
    • Bloomfield College / Bloomfield, NJ (Ugrad #44)
  • Bradley University / Peoria, IL (Ugrad #15)
  • Champlain College / Burlington, VT (Ugrad #12)
    • Cleveland Institute of Art / Cleveland, OH (Ugrad #41)
  • Cogswell College / San Jose, CA (Ugrad #13)
  • Cornell University / Ithaca, NY (Ugrad #46)
    • Dakota State University / Madison, SD (Ugrad #40)
  • DePaul University / Chicago, IL (Ugrad #28, Grad #17)
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology / Redmond, WA (Ugrad #3, Grad #9)
  • Drexel University / Philadelphia, PA (Ugrad #11, Grad #10)
  • Eastern Kentucky University / Richmond, KY (Ugrad #47)
  • Ferris State University / Grand Rapids, MI (Ugrad #18)
  • Full Sail University / Winter Park, FL (Ugrad #32, Grad #16)
  • Hampshire College / Amherst, MA (Ugrad #8)
  • Kennesaw State University / Marietta, GA (Ugrad #31)
    • Laguna College of Art and Design / Laguna Beach, CA (Ugrad #20, Grad #12)
      • LaSalle College Vancouver / Vancouver, British Columbia (Ugrad #10)
  • Lawrence Technological University / Southfield, MI (Ugrad #34)
  • Marist College / Poughkeepsie, NY (Ugrad #37)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Cambridge, MA (Ugrad #49, Grad #21)
  • Miami University / Oxford, OH (Ugrad #16)
  • Michigan State University / East Lansing, MI (Ugrad #7, Grad #8)
  • New England Institute of Technology / East Greenwich, RI  (Ugrad #42)
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology / Newark, NJ (Ugrad #33)
  • New York University / Brooklyn, NY (Ugrad #2, Grad #2)
  • Northeastern University / Boston, MA (Ugrad #23, Grad #19)
  • Oklahoma Christian University / Edmond, OK (Ugrad #48)
    • Quinnipiac University / Hamden, CT (Ugrad #30)
  • Purdue University / West Lafayette, IN (Ugrad #44)
  • Quinnipiac University / Hamden, CT (Ugrad #28)
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute / Troy, NY (Ugrad #35)
  • Ringling College of Art + Design / Sarasota, FL (Ugrad #27)
  • Rochester Institute of Technology / Rochester, NY (Ugrad #5, Grad #7)
  • Sacred Heart University / Fairfield, CT (Ugrad #43, Grad #20)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design / Savannah, GA (Ugrad #21, Grad #15)
  • Shawnee State University / Portsmouth, OH (Ugrad #22)
  • Sheridan College / Oakville, Ontario (Ugrad #29)
  • Southern Methodist University / Plano, TX (Grad #1)
    • The Ohio State University University—Columbus / Columbus, OH (Grad #23)
  • The University of Texas at Dallas / Richardson, TX (Ugrad #25, Grad #14)
  • University of California, Santa Cruz / Santa Cruz, CA (Ugrad #17, Grad #13)
  • University of Central Florida / Orlando, FL (Ugrad #36, Grad #3)
  • University of Malta / Msidi, Malta (Grad #22)
  • University of Miami / Coral Gables, FL (Grad #24)
  • University of Michigan-Dearborn / Dearborn, MI (Ugrad #45)
  • University of Southern California / Los Angeles, CA (Ugrad #1, Grad #4)
  • University of Utah / Salt Lake City, UT (Ugrad #6, Grad #5)
  • University of Wisconsin-Stout / Menomonie, WI (Ugrad #24, Grad #18)
  • Vancouver Film School / Vancouver, British Columbia (Ugrad #14)
  • Western University / London, Ontario (Ugrad #50)
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute / Worcester, MA (Ugrad #9, Grad #6)

Game Design Survey Methodology

The Princeton Review chose the schools for its 2018 list based on a survey it conducted in 2017 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 40 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?

  • Does the school offer a game design center where students can engage in the study and or practice of game design?

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

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

  • 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?

  • How many game design students developed an actionable plan to launch a functional game while at school?

  • 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?

  • How many faculty members are supported by funded research in game design?

  • How many students are supported by funded research in game design?


  • What technologies or engines does your school utilize?

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

  • 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 2017 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?

  • How many different game design studios have hired your graduates?