How George R.R Martin used his Northwestern University degree to create his Game of Thrones

06/05/20193 minute read
How George R.R Martin used his Northwestern University degree to create his Game of Thrones

““A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge””

- Tyrion Lanister in George R.R Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Not long ago, on a campus flanked by the sparkling waters of a great lake but a mere scenic ride from the great windy city, a world famous writer made a confession to the students at his alma mater.

George R.R Martin - author of the groundbreaking ‘Game of Thrones’ series - admitted to current Northwestern University students that while he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Northwestern’s world class Medill School of Journalism, he ‘felt vaguely guilty, because I failed to do any actual, you know, journalism.”

Martin, who was recently honoured with Medill’s Hall of Achievement alumni award which represents the school’s highest honor and recognizes alumni whose careers have had a significant impact on their field, speaks freely of the pride he feels at having studied at Northwestern and the opportunities it provided him.

He credits his journalism training with shaping his distinctive fiction-writing style explaining that, while he always tended to over play the ‘adjectives’, his days at Northwestern taught him the importance of applying rigorous journalistic detail to his intricate fantasy tic world.

Of course, since Martin walked the paths of Northwestern’s Evanston, Illinois campus, the university’s globally respected Medill School of Journalism and Media has expanded to offer courses in all facets of communications, including diversity and media, media management, marketing and advertising and technology and innovation.

Medill was recently ranked one of the best schools of media and communication in the US with those choosing to major at Medill completing a core curriculum in journalism. The Medill Journalism Residency allows students to work as full-time reporters or PR specialists for one quarter, and students also may report in Washington, D.C. as part of the Medill on the Hill Program (like George R.R Martin!). Further, in the Bay Area Immersion Experience, students spend a quarter in San Francisco immersing themselves in the world of entrepreneurship.


Of course, in order to gain entry to Medill, students must first gain entry to Northwestern University itself and given the university is currently ranked 34th in the world (by QS World University rankings) and 10th in the US by US News Rankings, admission competition is as fierce as ever.

This year Northwestern received 40,579 total applications, setting a new record after last year’s high of 40,425. Of those applications, only 8.9% gained admission. In comparison, Crimson Education student who applied to Northwestern reported a 25% admission rate thanks to the hard work and dedication both of the students themselves and their dedicated mentors and tutors.

Visit Northwestern's website for more information on Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.