New rankings push game design program to elite national level

Princeton Review lists UW-Stout No. 5, including No. 1 in Wisconsin and four-state region, among public schools
​Jerry Poling | April 22, 2021

The game design and development bachelor’s degree programs at University of Wisconsin-Stout are among the very best in the nation.

That’s according to new rankings from Princeton Review, an educational services company that surveyed 150 colleges and universities with game design majors.

The 2021 rankings put UW-Stout at No. 5 in the U.S. among public universities, as well as the No. 1 ranking in Wisconsin.

Erik Evensen
Andrew Williams, game design-art program director. / UW-Stout photo

"Our programs in game design and development are a success story because of the quality of our students and faculty. They are some of the most driven, dedicated and skilled people you will ever get the pleasure to work with,” said Associate Professor Andrew Williams, director of UW-Stout’s BFA game design and development-art program.

UW-Stout is No. 2 in the Midwest after Michigan State University and is No. 1 in the four-state region that includes Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Other U.S. public schools ranked ahead of UW-Stout are University of Utah, University of Central Florida and University of Texas at Dallas.

The program is why Jose Estrada, of Miami, Fla., chose UW-Stout. He graduates Saturday, May 8, and will begin a summer internship with Riot Games, a Los Angeles company that created the popular game League of Legends.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Stout. I felt myself growing and saw myself becoming better, transitioning into a professional,” Estrada said.

UW-Stout’s game design and development programs teach virtual reality, along with other game development skills.
A visitor to the 2019 Stout Game Expo tries out a VR game made by students. / UW-Stout

Students learn how to create video, mobile, board and other types of games, graduating with skill sets that provide opportunities to work at industry leaders in game design and animation, corporations and more. Margaret Clarke Rigotti, 2018 graduate, is a technical director at DreamWorks in California.

In the overall Princeton Review rankings, which include private, Canadian and European schools, UW-Stout was No. 25.

The university’s MFA in design program, which offers courses in game design, also was ranked among the best — sixth among U.S. public universities and 24th overall.

"This ranking proves that our graduate students continue to break barriers and redefine game design research,” said Associate Professor Erik Evensen, MFA program director. “Our transdisciplinary approach allows them to leverage all the excellent resources of the game design area with faculty expertise across campus to produce cutting-edge scholarship."

More national rankings

New rankings from an industry organization, Animation Career Review from San Francisco, also put UW-Stout’s BFA game design program in elite company.

Erik Evensen
Erik Evensen, MFA in design program director. / UW-Stout

The university was ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin, No. 7 in the Midwest and No. 19 nationally among public universities, as well as No. 43 nationally overall. UW-Stout repeated as the best in the state and improved six places overall nationally and slightly in the other categories.

In addition, among schools offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts in game design, UW-Stout was 11th overall nationally. Along with the BFA, UW-Stout offers a Bachelor of Science in computer science with a concentration in game design.

The ninth annual rankings by Animation Career Review considered programs at 125 schools.

The six BFA programs in UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design include the animation and digital media program, also ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin by Animation Career Review.

UW-Stout’s game design and animation lab spaces include a state-of-the-art Vicon Motion Capture Studio.

UW-Stout has a competitive esports team that began playing last fall.


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