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You can’t just program the next great triple-A video game in your garage. It takes years of hard book learning to make shaders and pixels and ocular flaring (I skipped that year in school). Thankfully, the next generation of creators can check out The Princeton Review’s best schools for game design.

The education-services company revealed the top 15 undergraduate schools and the top 15 graduate schools to study video game design in 2013. The University of Utah places first on the undergraduate list while the University of Southern California has the best graduate program.

“These schools are turning out grads who are ready for the workforce,” Princeton Review spokesperson David Soto told GamesBeat. “Of the top schools on our list, both undergrad and grad, two-thirds [of students] are employed at graduation. The average undergrad salary is $55,622, and the average grad salary is $70,534.”


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Here are the full lists:

Top 15 undergraduate schools to study game design

  1. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  2. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  3. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, Wash.)
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, N.Y.)
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)
  6. Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  7. Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, Ohio)
  8. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Ga.)
  9. The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, British Columbia / Canada)
  10. Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.)
  11. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.)
  12. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.)
  13. Becker College (Worcester, Mass.)
  14. New England Institute of Technology (East Greenwich, R.I.)
  15. North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.)

Top 15 graduate schools to study game design

  1.  University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  2. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  3. Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, N.Y.)
  5. University of Central Florida (Orlando, Fla.)
  6. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, Wash.)
  7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)
  8. University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, Calif.)
  9. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Ga.)
  10. Southern Methodist University (Plano, Texas)
  11. The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, Texas)
  12. New York University / NYU-POLY (New York, N.Y.)
  13. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  14. Parsons The New School for Design (New York, N.Y.)
  15. DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.)

To determine these lists, The Princeton Review looked at a number of factors across 150 total schools. The firm looks at the raw academics, the faculty, the available technology, and career output of recent grads.

“We salute the schools on our 2013 list for their commitment to this professional field,” The Princeton Review senior vice president Robert Franek said in a statement. “We hope our project will guide students considering careers in game design to schools best for them on our lists and on to companies at which they can apply their creative ideas and skills for the next generation of game players.”

Game design is a burgeoning field in higher education. The industry is only a few decades old, and many universities have only started these programs in the last few years, but The Princeton Review’s assessment is a clear indicator of the demand that students have for these courses.


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