Top 15 Game Design Schools in the Midwest - 2018 Rankings
1DePaul UniversityIllinois
2Michigan State UniversityMichigan
3Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
4Purdue University Indiana
5The Ohio State UniversityOhio
6Ferris State UniversityMichigan
7Miami UniversityOhio
8Indiana UniversityIndiana
9University of Wisconsin – WhitewaterWisconsin
10University of Wisconsin – StoutWisconsin
11Indiana University-Purdue UniversityIndiana
12College for Creative StudiesMichigan
13Eastern Michigan UniversityMichigan
14Ohio UniversityOhio
15Case Western Reserve UniversityOhio

Our 2018 rankings of the Top 15 game design schools and colleges 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. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. In keeping with the university’s commitment to diversity and access to education, 35% of total enrollments are students of color and 86% of students receive some type of financial aid.

The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM), where the game programs are housed, is also home to programs such as animation, computer science, and sound design, offering cross-disciplinary courses and collaboration among students. CDM offers a BS in Game Design, a BS in Game Programming, an MFA in Game Design, an MS in Game Programming, and game-related concentrations in other degrees, including the BFA and MA in Animation and the BS and MS in Computer Science/Software Engineering. 

CDM has over 40 labs with roughly a dozen dedicated to gaming, including game development and research labs, a gameplay lab, playtest and usability labs, and, new in 2018, a Virtual and Augmented Reality Design Lab that supports multiplayer, room-scale VR and AR game dev on cutting-edge devices.

DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students, with tracks in game development and 3D modeling/animation for games.

2. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University

Michigan State University (MSU) is home to the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, which houses the Media and Information (MI) Department. Here, students have access to a number of game design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate options include BA and BS degrees in Media and Information with a Game and Interactive Media Design 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.

The Specialization is also available to other majors “on a case-by-case basis, particularly those in the Honors College.” An interdisciplinary Game Design and Development Minor is also available.

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.” The College of Engineering, College of Arts & Letters, and College of Communication Arts and Sciences administer the Minor jointly. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences is the lead administrative unit.

Graduate game offerings include an MA in Media and Information with a Focus in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) + Serious Game Design & Research Certificate.

Besides offering a variety of programs for game designers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses 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.”

About MSU: Michigan State University was founded in 1855. The school serves more than 50,000 students from all 82 counties in Michigan, all 50 states, and more than 133 other countries. MSU students have access to more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. A few include Arts and Letters, Engineering, Education, Lyman Briggs College, and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.

3. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College’s School of Media Arts houses the Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department. Here, aspiring game designers can earn a BA in Game Art, a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development and Game Sound Design, and BA and BS degrees in Programming with a Concentration in Game Programming. Game Art and Game Design Minors are also available.

About Columbia: Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

4. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute

Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute is home to the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT), which offers game design programs at all degree levels. Undergraduate offerings include a BS in CGT with a Game Development and Design Major. The CGT program provides STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and games. Studies will include trigonometry, calculus, and physics, as well classes in video game design and development, animation, visualization, rendering and programming.

Graduate offerings include an MS in CGT and a PhD in Technology offered through the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT). The MS offers several focus areas including Game Studies, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Computer Graphics Programming, and Computational Art. The PhD Program offers a CGT Specialization that covers Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, Animation, and Web Programming and Design.

Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more if pursued separately. Graduates of the game design programs at Purdue Polytechnic Institute have gone on to work for EA Games, Riot Games, and more.

About Purdue Polytechnic Institute: Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to more than 41,500 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas.

5. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a specialization in Computer Graphics and Game Design. Ohio State also introduced an interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production in Autumn, 2017.

Students utilize state of the art facilities, equipment, and interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).

About The Ohio State University: Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University (OSU) serves 66,444 students enrolled in offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations. In addition to the main campus in Columbus, OSU has regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion and Newark, and the Ohio Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) in Wooster.

6. Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University

Ferris State University offers programs for aspiring game designers through two of its eight academic colleges: the College of Education and Human Services’ School of Digital Media and Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD). School of Digital Media programs include a BS in Digital Media Software Engineering (DMSE) and a BAS in Digital Animation and Game Design (DAGD). A Digital Media AS is also available. According to the school, the BS in DMSE is designed as an engineering degree focused on the technologies, procedures, and methodologies involved in the software development process. Per the school, the program offers students the opportunity to actively compete in many growing industries such as Video Game Development, Information Technology, and Entertainment.

Students in the BAS in DAGD program will learn how to create and manipulate 2D textures and images, model, rig, light, animate and render 3D characters and scenes, build content in industry leading game engines, author interactive applications and games, and design and create 3D game level mods. In addition to game design and asset creation, the program prepares students to pursue careers in medical visualization, legal simulation, film, and more.

The AS program combines existing courses within the DAGD, DMSE, and Television and Digital Media Production (TDMP) programs into an introductory and exploratory degree within the School. It allows students to complete their general education requirements while enrolling in courses from across the digital media curriculum.

KCAD offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design. The program allows students to work in one of two focus areas including Entertainment Art (animation, digital 3D, visual development for games and animation, and sequential arts like comics and storyboards) and Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation).  

Students in the program will gain knowledge and hands-on experience via high-end equipment and on-campus facilities such as Cintiq Studios and a wide range of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, and via access to The Dow Center FlexLab, and KCAD Library. Graduates will leave the program with the skills and experience needed to pursue career paths in areas such as 2D animation, 3D game art, visual development, interaction design, and motion design.

About Ferris State University: Founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School, Ferris State University began its 2017-2018 academic year with a total enrollment of 13,798 students across all campuses, including 9,860 on the main campus in Big Rapids. Ferris offers more than 190 educational programs through eight colleges including Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, Pharmacy, KCAD, and Michigan College of Optometry.

About KCAD: One of the eight colleges of Ferris State University, KCAD was founded in 1928. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the school serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs.

7. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Miami University

Miami University consists of seven colleges, including the College of Creative Arts, which houses the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS). This cross-disciplinary institute “works with students and faculty from across Miami University offering undergraduate, graduate certificate and graduate programs exploring the intersection of technology, design business and how digital technology is transforming traditional areas of inquiry.”

Program options include a BA, Certificate and a Minor in Interactive Media Studies (IMS), a Game Minor, and an Experience Design MFA with a Concentration in Studio Art (xdMFA). The xdMFA is offered jointly by Graphic Design and AIMS.

About Miami University: Founded in 1809, Miami University serves around 24,500 students across one main campus (Oxford, Ohio), three regional campuses in Hamilton, Middletown, and West Chester, Ohio, and the European Center in Luxembourg. Miami offers bachelor's degrees in over 120 areas of study and graduate students choose from more than 60 master's and doctoral degree programs. Several associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees are offered through study at the regional locations.

8. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana
Indiana University

Indiana University Bloomington’s (IU Bloomington) College of Arts and Sciences is home to The Media School. Here, students can earn a BS in Game Design with a Specialization in Game Art, Game Audio, or Game Production; a BA in Media with a Concentration in Interactive and Digital Media: Specialization Game Art, Game Audio, or Game Production, or an MS with a Concentration in Design and Production. A Certificate in New Media and Interactive Storytelling is also available.

All students also have the opportunity to select 15 elective credits to further refine their career path. In addition, BS students may take Human Computer Interaction courses in the School of Informatics and Computing and study abroad courses such as Game Development: Programming and Practice, Rhetoric of Gaming, and Game Development Lab in Copenhagen, Denmark.

About IU Bloomington: Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) was founded in 1820. The school is the largest and oldest Indiana University campus, serving 43,710 students with a record 583,745 credit hours. The school has more than 550 academic programs across 16 degree-granting colleges and schools, plus the Hutton Honors College.

9. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) is home to the College of Arts and Communication, which houses the Department of Art and Design. Program offerings here include BA and BS degrees in Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Visual Media, and a BA with a Major in Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) - Visual Media Design Emphasis. A Minor MAGD is also available.

The school says that Visual Media Design develops aesthetic sensibility and artistic design skills important in the production of original, creative, digital media content for interactive and time-based computer games, animation, websites, video, special effects, 3D and motion graphic industry and artistic productions.

Students in the MAGD program may choose additional elective courses from one of the other MAGD emphases including Communication/Gaming and/or Technology. Two team-based projects courses provide a capstone for the degree program. In addition, all students may participate in the MAGD Expo—a juried show of interactive entertainment, 3D, 2D, aural, virtual and animated creative work held annually at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

About UW-W: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) was founded in 1868. The school is home to 12,628 students enrolled in dozens of programs across five colleges and schools. In addition to the College of Arts and Communication, schools include the College of Letters and Sciences, College of Education and Professional Studies, College of Business and Economics, and the School of Graduate Studies.

10. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Stout

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is home to The College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences (CACHSS), which houses the School of Art And Design. Serving more than 1,000 students, the School of Art and Design offers BFAs in Game Design and Development and Entertainment Design, and an MFA in Design. The school says that the BFA is the first and only BFA in Game Design in Wisconsin, Minnesota, & Iowa.

Students in the program gain core skills in art and design such as drawing, 3D modeling, and animation. As a game artist, students will create the visual elements necessary for games including concept art, characters, level design, and animations.

The cross-disciplinary MFA program consists of study in the areas of Entertainment Design, Studio Art, Game Design, Interactive Media, Graphic Design, and more. Courses for the program are delivered through a variety of methods including on-site courses, online, evening, weekend and intensive summer courses. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue roles in the academic community and as design professionals and leaders.

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM), Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with Game Design and Development (GDD) and Mobile Applications (MA) Concentrations, and a Computer Science Minor with nine hours of electives.

A charter member of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance, the Game Design and Development Concentration prepares students to design and develop software programs that use digital imagery and physics to create games, simulations or other applications. The school says, these programs can improve healthcare delivery, transform education, strengthen national security, shape public policy and continue to create social networks.

About UW-Stout: Established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School, UW-Stout is a Polytechnic University that serves more than 9,500 students from the U.S. and 47 countries. The school offers 45+ undergraduate majors and 20+ graduate programs across three colleges and six schools.

11. Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indiana
Indiana University-Purdue University

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) offers several programs for aspiring game designers through the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). Degree 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. A Game Design and Development Minor is also available.

Graduates of the Media Arts and Science programs at IUPUI SoIC “design and develop projects that focus on entertainment, serious game design, mobile applications, video and audio production, animation, and innovative web design and technologies.” All students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Media Arts Research and Learning Arcade, the Advanced Visualization Lab, and a virtual reality theater.

About IUPUI: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis was established in 1969. The school serves 29,790 students enrolled in more than 250 degree programs across 19 schools.

12. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
College for Creative Studies

The College for Creative Studies (CCS) offers a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Digital Film. Games teaches students how to produce 2-D and 3-D images and concepts for video games. As a complement to the program, students may choose coursework from other areas or a Minor in Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, Fine Arts, or Visual Culture.

All BFA students will take 126 credit hours: 84 in studio areas and 42 in general studies courses.  The school says that in addition to coursework in their chosen major, first-year students take courses in the Foundation Department, where they study drawing, color theory and basic design. Students in all majors also take courses in the Liberal Arts Department, designed to provide them with an understanding of the larger social and cultural context in which they live.

About CCS: Founded in 1906, the College for Creative Studies is home to more than 1,300 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department.

13. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) School of Visual & Built Environments is part of the College of Technology. Here students can earn a BS with a Focus in Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) or they can take a Minor in SAG.  The school says the SAG degree is a multidisciplinary area of study, combining traditional art mediums, programming, creative writing and story development with coursework focusing on modeling, rigging, animation, lighting, and camera work in 3D.

The program gives students a wide variety of experiences in their course of study, which includes courses such as Game Development and Planning, Game Engines, Advanced Modeling, SAG Rigging, and Environment Design, to name a few. Graduates of the program go on to become Game Designers, Character Designer, Effects Artists, Modeler and Storyboard Assistants, Graphic Designers, Computer Animators, Concept Artists, and more.

About EMU: Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University offers more than 200 undergraduate majors, minors and certificates, plus more than 150 graduate programs to 21,105 students. CMU has seven colleges and schools, as well as seven centers and institutes.

14. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

Ohio University is home to the School of Media Arts & Studies, which serves more than 650 undergraduate students. The School houses the game program, which leads to a BSC in Media Arts & Studies with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A) or a PhD in Mass Communication with a chosen focus area, such as Games. BSC program highlights include courses such as Digital Game Design, Visual Storytelling, Game Development, Sound for Moving Images, and Motion Graphics, and the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. GRID is an initiative of Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication. The program was developed by the School of Media Arts and Studies faculty and staff to provide the Appalachian Ohio region with training, education, and an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills with digital game technology. The GRID Lab serves as an innovative and creative center for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff research and project development.”

About Ohio University: Established in 1804, Ohio University is home to more than 23,000 students enrolled in 250-plus programs across 11 colleges and 15 schools. Besides the School of Media Arts & Studies, Ohio University houses creative schools such as E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, the School of Dance, Film, and Theater, and the Schools of Communication Studies, Visual Communications, and Interdisciplinary Arts.

15. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University (Case) is home to the Case School of Engineering, which has a number of degree options for aspiring game designers. Offerings are part of the Computer Science Program and include BA, BS, BA/MS, and BS/MS degrees in Computer Science. The programs require five technical electives.

Game design electives are plentiful, and the program includes an Advanced Game Development project. Undergraduate students can also receive a Minor in Computer Gaming or Artificial Intelligence.

About Case: Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University serves more than 11,800 students from the U.S. and 81 other countries. The university consists of nine colleges and schools that offer nearly 95 undergraduate degree choices, about 135 graduate and professional options, and almost 140 dual-degree programs. In addition, Case has 100 interdisciplinary academic and research centers and institutes.