Our 2016 rankings of the Top 15 game design and development programs in the Midwest.
We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is home to approximately 50,543 students. enrolled in more than 200 programs across 17 colleges. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ Media and Information (MI) Department. Program offerings include a BA and a BS in Media and Information with a Game Design and Development Specialization, a BS in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development Specialization, and a BA or BFA in Studio Art with a Game Design and Development Specialization.
Also on the menu is an interdisciplinary Game Design and Development Minor. According to the school, “the minor brings together students in Media and Information, Computer Science, and Studio Art. For most majors outside of MI, the Minor often nearly fulfills the student's cognate requirements.”
Graduate game offerings include an MA in HCI with a Games and Meaningful Play Focus, a PhD in Media and Information Studies (Research Area: Games and Meaningful Play), and a Graduate Certificate in Serious Games. Besides offering a wide variety of program offerings for game designers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is home to the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. According to the College, the mission of the GEL Lab is to “design innovative prototypes, techniques, and complete games for entertainment and learning and to advance state of the art knowledge about social and individual effects of digital games.”
2. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic University. Established in 1898, the school is home to 23,539 students enrolled in more than 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include an MS in Computer Game Development and a BS in Computer Game Development with Concentrations in Game Design, GamePlay Programming, and Systems Programming.
In addition to a variety of game design offerings, DePaul University offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy as well as the DePaul Game Experience (DGE). The Summer Academy is a weeklong program that features “hands-on instruction using the latest equipment and technology.” Participants may focus on Computer Game Development, 3D Computer Modeling and Animation for Games and Cinema or Digital Cinema Production.
The DePaul Game Experience allows a select group of students to work on a game to submit to the Student IGF Competition. Past DGE teams have made entries that were finalists in the IGDA student competition.
3. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1890, Columbia College is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in over 100 academic majors or programs. The School of Media Arts, Department of Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) offers a variety of programs for aspiring game designers. Programs include a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Art, Game Development, or Game Sound Design for Games, a BA or BS in Game Programming, a BA in Interactive Arts and Media, a BA in Game Art, and a BA in Interaction Design. Minor options include Game Art, Game Design, and Game Programming.
4. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
Established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the College of Creative Studies (CCS) is home to more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. The Entertainment Arts Department has an enrollment of 285 students, making it the largest department at CCS. The Department of Illustration, which enrolls more than 200 students, is the second largest.
The Department offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Video. Students may customize their curriculum by choosing coursework from other areas or a Minor in Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, Fine Arts, or Visual Culture as a complement to the BFA program.
CCS graduates have been hired at Pandemic Studios, Stardock Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Bento Box Entertainment, Pixomondo, Blur Studio, and many others.
5. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. It is home to 45,289 undergraduate students and 10,219 graduate students enrolled in more than 200 majors, specializations and minors across more than a dozen colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art offers interdisciplinary three-year MFA, a four-year BFA program in Art with an Emphasis in Art and Technology, and an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media.
The Art and Technology program focuses on 3D modeling, 3D animation, 3D virtual environments within unity and oculus, art games, interactive projection mapping environments, video Art, interactive robotics, speculative design and professional Practices. The Digital Animation and Interactive Media program concentrates on Videogame Prototyping and Production, Digital Cinematography, 3D Virtual Environments, Experimental and Independent Animation and Interactive Arts Media.
6. Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio
Shawnee State University was established in 1986 and it is home to more than 4,400 students enrolled in 80 bachelor’s and associate degree programs, and several master’s degree programs. The Fine, Digital and Performing Arts Department has several for aspiring game designers—a BFA in Game and Simulation Arts, an AA in Art with a Game Design Concentration, a Minor in Gaming Arts, and a BFA in Visualist Design and Interactive Media with a 3D Design or Interactive Media Track.
7. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Chartered in 1809, Miami University is home to nearly 24,000 students and campuses in Oxford, Hamilton, Middletown, West Chester, Ohio, and Luxembourg, Europe. The school offers more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools, and the European Center in Luxembourg. The College of Creative Arts and the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS) offer several programs for aspiring game designers.
The College of Creative Arts offers an MFA in Experience Design (XD:MFA). The program is collaboratively offered by Interactive Media Studies (IMS) and Graphic Design. AIMS offers a BA in IMS with game-related Tracks in Game Design, Game Development, Game Studies, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction. AIMS also offers a co-major in IMS with Game Design, Game Development, Game Studies, Interactive Business, and Art and Interaction Tracks, a Graduate Certificate in IMS, and a Minor in IMS. All students will have the opportunity to study at the AIMS/Entrepreneurship Institute’s Digital Innovation Center in San Francisco and they also have the opportunity to design their own advanced track.
8. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana,
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was established in 1969. It is home to 30,488 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across 19 schools. Several programs are available for aspiring game designers through the School of Informatics and Computing (SOAC). Offerings include a BS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Game Design and Development and a five-year BS+MS in Media Arts and Science with a Specialization in Human-Computer Interaction.
9. Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois
Bradley University was chartered in 1896 as Bradley Polytechnic Institute. The school is home to 5,300 students enrolled in more than 130 programs across five colleges and a graduate school. The Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts houses the Department of Interactive Media, which offers a BS and a Minor in Game Design. The Game Design program is a “technology heavy program” that emphasizes “design and production of games, focusing on the creative process from conception to implementation.”
10. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan
Lawrence Technological University (Lawrence Tech, LTU) was founded in 1932. It is home 4,500 students representing 25 states and 50 countries. The school, which has a full-service campus in Southfield and learning centers in southeastern and northern Michigan, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and Taiwan, offers nearly 100 associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management
Programs for game designers are available through two schools—the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Arts and Sciences. The College of Architecture and Design-Department of Art and Design offers BA degrees in Game Art and Interaction Design. The College of Arts & Sciences-Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Software Development. Also on the menu are a Minor in Computer Science and Minor/Dual Major in Computer Science and another discipline.
11. Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University was founded in 1884 as the Big Rapids Industrial School by two-term Michigan governor and U.S. senator Woodbridge Nathan Ferris and Helen Gillespie Ferris.
The school, which offers more than 180 majors, is home to over 14,000 students enrolled at its main campus in Big Rapids, Ferris’ Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), and 21 off-campus sites across Michigan. The College of Education and Human Sciences, School of Digital Media offers a BAS in Digital Animation & Game Design (DAGD).
This technology intensive program is also multidisciplinary and covers 3D Animation, Programming, Design, and Business. Ferris State has another option for aspiring game designers—a BFA in Digital Media. Offered through KCAD, the Digital Media program gives students the opportunity to develop a portfolio in 3D Game Art, Digital Imaging (Production Art and User Interface Design for Games, Animation and Film), and Interactive Design (Design and Motion Graphics for Game, Mobile Device, Web and Advertising Interfaces).
12. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin – Stout was established in 1891. It is home to 9,535 students enrolled in 119 majors and minors through eight colleges and schools. The College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the School of Art & Design offer several programs for aspiring game designers. The Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science of the College of STEM offers a BS in Game Design and Development.
The School of Art & Design-Department of Design offers BFA degrees in Game Design and Development - Art and Entertainment Design. An MFA in Design is also on the menu. MFA students may study Game Design, Interactive Media, or Entertainment Design.
13. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University was established in 1804. It home to 40,025 students enrolled in more than 250 programs through 11 colleges. The Scripps College of Communications-School of Media Arts and Studies offers an intensive program for aspiring game designers (and animators). The Games and Animation program focuses on Games Production and Design, Computer Animation, and Digital Effects. The program also covers Leadership in Games and Animation and Management, and it leads to a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games and Animation.
14. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to 39,409 students enrolled in more than 200 majors across 10 academic colleges and schools. The College of Technology-Department of Computer Graphics Technology offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Offerings include a BS with Specializations in Game Studies and Computer Graphics Technology, an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, and a PhD in Technology. A 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology is also on the menu.
15. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) dates back to 1882 when it was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. Today, this co-ed art and design school is home to approximately 550 students enrolled in 15 majors in Art, Design, Craft, and Interactive media. Options for aspiring game designers include a BFA in Game Design. Related programs include BFA degrees in Illustration and Animation.