The best game design programs, ranked by the Princeton Review 2020

(Image credit: Princeton Review)

Almost anyone who has ever played a game has wondered what it would be like to make their own, but childhood dreams don’t need to stay dreams. With a lot of hard work, and some guidance, you can help create new worlds that change the way we play forever. First things first, though, you’ll need a good education to get there.

That’s where these awesome game design college programs come in. The Princeton Review has done all the heavy lifting of determining and ranking the best undergraduate and graduate game design programs across North America and Europe. Wondering which school has the best teachers, the most prestigious graduates, or maybe the best classrooms and resources? We’ve got you covered on all that and more.

So take a moment to think about what kind of game developer you want to be. One who works with the broad strokes of design, or maybe the fine details in programming and coding? Maybe you want to do business with the biggest brands, break free into the indie scene, or perhaps even the rapidly growing world of esports. Either way, your first steps are often the most important ones, so read up to learn a thing or two before adventuring out.

Want to know more? Check out The Princeton Review’s website for further information on game design programs:

The top 50 best undergraduate game design programs

1. University of Southern California

(Image credit: University of Southern California)

Total Courses: 230
2019 Grads Hired: 90%
2019 Grads Salary: $65,000
Faculty: Marianne Krawcyzk (writer, God of War series)
Graduates: George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) and Jenova Chen (Journey director).

2. Becker College

(Image credit: Becker College)

Total Courses: 132
2019 Grades Hired: 67%
2019 Grads Salary: $56,978
Faculty: Jonathan Rudder (The Lord of the Rings Online).
Fun Fact: Becker College also features an esports management program.

3. New York University

(Image credit: New York University)

Total Courses: 539
2019 Grads Hired: 39%
2019 Grads Salary: $48,000
Faculty: Dr. Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy).
Fun Fact: The NYU Game Center Incubator helps students turn projects into fully funded and published games, including Ape Out and others.

4. DigiPen Institute of Technology

(Image credit: Digipen Institute of Technology)

Total Courses: 409
2019 Grades Hired: 69%
2019 Grads Salary: $75,425
Faculty: Claude Comair (Co-founder, Nintendo Software Technology).
Fun Fact: Graduates include Kim Swift (Portal), Adam Brennecke (Obsidian Entertainment), Jon Schecter (EA).

5. Rochester Institute of Technology

2019 Grads Hired: 97%
2019 Grads Salary: $64,500

6. University of Utah

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

7. Michigan State University

2019 Grads Hired: 80%
Fun Fact: MSU offers a west coast game industry field trip experience each year, offering networking and learning opportunities.

8. Bradley University

Faculty: Mark Hamer (art director, Telltale Games and Double Fine).
Fun Fact: Game development teams at Bradley are close to 50% male, 50% female.

9. Shawnee State University

2019 Grads Hired: 80%
Faculty Who Worked at a Game Company: 100%

10. Vancouver Film School

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

11. Drexel University

Total Courses: 85
Graduates: Anna Nguyen (Schell Games, NetherRealm), Glen Winters (Rockstar Games)

12. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Faculty: Brian Moriarty (GDC co-founder, LucasArts), Keith Zizza (BioShock Infinite).
Fun Fact: One of the first game design schools in the U.S., offers apprenticeship-style classes every term.

13. Abertay University

Graduates: David Jones (creator of Grand Theft Auto), Liam Wong (art director, Ubisoft).
Fun Fact: Home of Europe’s oldest game development degree program.

14. University of Central Florida

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

15. Hampshire College

Faculty: Chris Perry (Pixar), Rob Daviau (designer of Risk Legacy).
2019 Grads Hired: 60%

16. Champlain College

Total Courses: 119
2019 Grades Hired: 75%

17. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

2019 Grads Hired: 71%
Faculty: Maurice Suckling (Driver series, Borderlands)

18. Cogswell Polytechnical College

Faculty Who Worked at Game Company: 96%
Faculty: Jerome Solomon (ILM, LucasArts, EA), Stone Librande (Riot, Blizzard).

19. The University of Texas at Dallas

Total Courses: 208
Faculty Who Worked at Game Company: 80%

20. Breda University of Applied Sciences

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