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The best video game graduate school in North America is the University of Central Florida’s in downtown Orlando, according to The Princeton Review and PC Gamer magazine.

The Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, an anchor of UCF’s planned downtown campus, achieved its first No. 1 ranking after two years as the second-ranked school in North America.

“I’m thrilled that the Princeton Review recognizes the quality of our outstanding faculty and students, our facilities and our close partnerships with industry,” said executive director Ben Noel. “Every day we look forward to preparing the next generation of filmmakers, game makers and digital media entrepreneurs from Central Florida and around the world.” 

This is the sixth time that The Princeton Review has ranked graduate-level video game development schools, and FIEA has been ranked in the top five every year.  

Since opening its doors in 2005, FIEA has enrolled more than 500 students. Graduates are working at more than 130 companies around the world, including Google, Electronic Arts, Blizzard, Bungie, Zynga, Ubisoft, Disney, Microsoft, Bethesda, Nintendo and Industrial Light & Magic. The program celebrated its 10-year anniversary this past fall.

“The Princeton Review’s No. 1 ranking is a testament to UCF’s success as an intellectual anchor and education partner to this growing industry cluster in Orlando,” said UCF Provost and Executive Vice President Dale Whittaker. “Our students thrive in the classroom and in the job market when they learn in an environment so closely immersed in their industry.”

The average starting salary for recent FIEA graduates is $63,000. Graduates are working on some of today’s most popular franchises. Those include Fallout 4, Fortnite, Star Wars Battlefront, Madden NFL 17, NBA Live 17, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5.

The school is located in UCF’s Center for Emerging Media building, across from the site of the former Amway Arena. Plans for UCF Downtown call for a renovated Center for Emerging Media to join a new academic building that UCF and Valencia College would share.

UCF has garnered $16 million in community support to help fund construction of the new academic building. UCF intends to raise $20 million in community support, alongside $20 million from the state and $20 million in university resources.

FIEA is designed to graduate talented and well-qualified professionals to work in video games, new media, film and simulation industries.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in 2015 of 150 institutions offering game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

In addition to being published today on The Princeton Review website, the listing will also be featured in the May issue of PC Gamer magazine, on newsstands March 29.

See the full rankings online now