It’s that time of year in the United States – when prospective college students begin sweating as they await their acception/rejection letters from the universities to which they have applied for admission. In order to be helpful, The Princeton Review has released its eighth annual ranking lists naming the fifty best undergraduate and twenty-five best graduate schools for students to study for a career in game design.
The University of Southern California captured the #1 spot on the undergraduate schools list, up from #2 in 2016. Runners-up include the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Utah, the DigiPen Institute of Technology, and Becker College. In terms of graduate schools, Southern Methodist University also rose to the top spot from second place this year, and is followed by the University of Central Florida, the University of Utah, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California.
The Princeton Review has reported its game design program rankings annually since 2010. The schools are chosen based on a 2016 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.
Originally an ad hoc field, the visibility of dedicated game design majors has gained ground in the industry. As an example, fourth-ranked DigiPen’s first game design graduates have worked on over a thousand commercial game titles, including hits like Overwatch, Final Fantasy XV, and Titanfall 2. Perhaps the most famous example of successful game design majors would be of how Valve hired the DigiPen alumni who would create two Portal games.
Not that all the successes reserved for the the alumni. According to The Princeton Review’s 2016 survey of administrators at the schools, about 89% of their undergrad and/or graduate game design students that graduated in their 2016 classes developed actionable plans to launch games while in school. Moreover, 57% of undergrads and 65% of grad students at these school programs worked on games that were shipped before they graduated.
“Game design is an exciting field and programs are springing up in colleges all over the world,” 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.”