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What are the top game design schools in the Midwest for 2023?
|2||Michigan State University||Michigan|
|4||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|5||Indiana University, Bloomington||Indiana|
|7||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|8||University of Wisconsin – Stout||Wisconsin|
|9||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio|
|10||Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis||Indiana|
|12||Case Western Reserve University||Ohio|
|13||Ferris State University||Michigan|
|14||College for Creative Studies||Michigan|
|15||University of Wisconsin – Whitewater||Wisconsin|
|16||Columbus College of Art & Design||Ohio|
|17||Kent State University||Ohio|
|18||Eastern Michigan University||Michigan|
|19||Shawnee State University||Ohio|
Our 2023 rankings of the Top 20 game design schools and colleges in the Midwest. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
The Game Design Program at DePaul University (DePaul) is housed in the College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM). Undergraduate pathways here include BS degrees in Game Design, Game Programming, and Computer Science (CS)/Game Systems. Graduate programs include a Game Design MFA and a Game Programming MS.
Game Design at DePaul University emphasizes collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. Design students will have opportunities to work with fine art, audio, programming, and writing students. The curriculum includes coursework that helps students navigate the game production process from inception to the testing phase. Course examples include Game Development, Practical Scripting for Games, Game Sound Design, 3D Design and Modeling, and Animation.
Students in all programs have access to the Deep Games Laboratory, the game development studio known as DePaul Originals, and CDM facilities such as the gameplay, playtest and usability, virtual reality, and game development and research labs. Other program benefits include participation in a variety of exhibitions, internship opportunities at local and national studios, and the biennial Japan Study Abroad Program. Students will leave the DePaul Game Design Program with a portfolio of their best work.
Some of the top careers for DePaul Game Design graduates include Game Design and Development, Animation, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, Commercial Production, and Project Management. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Epic Games, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Fast Radius, iiRcade, and Speegs Media.
With around 23,800 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges and schools, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. Founded in 1898, DePaul is also America’s 13th-largest private, not-for-profit university, and the largest private, not-for-profit college in the Midwest. DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University (MSU) houses the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci) and the College of Engineering. Both offer pathways to study game design.
Serving more than 3,500 students, the College of ComArtSci houses the Department of Media and Information (MI)—home to the Game Design and Development Program. Established in 2005, the program consists of a Games and Interactive Media BA and an 18 credit hour Game Design and Development Minor that can be added to the BA Program or any other major at MSU. A Media and Information MA with a Games Studies and Design Focus is also available.
The MSU Games and Interactive Media BA is a project-based program that explores topics such as the game design process, emerging interactive media, and production. Focus areas include Game Design, Game Development, and Games Graphics and Animation. Course examples across focus areas include Building Virtual Worlds, Serious Game Design, Game Writing, Compositing and Special Effects, and Media Sketching and Graphics. Students will graduate from the MSU Games and Interactive Media BA Program with a professional portfolio of their best work.
The Michigan State University MI MA with Games Studies includes courses such as Foundations of Serious Games, Game and Film Design Studio I-II, Theories of Games and Interaction Design, Interaction Design, and Interactive Usability and Accessibility: Design and Evaluation. To graduate, students must complete two final courses: Master’s Thesis Research (4-6 credits) and the Master’s Project (4-6 credits). Graduates of the MI MA Program are prepared for careers in 3D Game Design, UI/UX, and 3D Technology, among others.
Michigan State University Games and MI alumni work for major studios such as Insomniac Games, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts (EA), Ubisoft, and Bungie.
The College of Engineering at Michigan State University houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, home to the Computer Science Program. Available pathways for game designers include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science. All programs offer a Specialization in Media and Information Studies with the option to take games-related courses offered in other departments. Students in all programs will also take courses in Systems Design and Analysis, Theory and Algorithms, and Data Analysis and Applications.
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University began as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. On the first day of classes on May 14, 1857, the College welcomed five faculty members and 63 students into three buildings: College Hall, Saints’ Rest, and a brick horse barn. When it opened, the school became the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to teach scientific agriculture. Today, MSU is one of the nation’s premier land-grant research universities and it serves nearly 50,000 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. Michigan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute (formerly the College of Technology), which houses the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and the Game Design Programs. Degree options include a CGT BS with a Game Development and Design Major, a CGT MS, and a Technology PhD T.
The CGT BS provides a STEM-based curriculum, coursework that covers game design, programming, rendering, animation, and visualization, and immersive, collaborative projects with peers and professors. Past final projects have focused on games utilization in entertainment; sustainable energy, medicine, and therapy; and information visualization, among others. CGT BS graduates are Game Designers, Animators, and Technical artists at major studios such as Electronic Arts (EA), Riot Games, Zynga, and Volition, Inc.
The CGT MS at Purdue Polytechnic has four specialization areas including Games, Animation, Information Visualization, and UX Design. Graduate students may also customize a plan of study to meet their professional goals. The program offers small class sizes, research opportunities, and the chance to work on real-world projects. Graduates are Game Developers, UX Designers, and Technical Directors at places such as Google, DreamWorks, Salesforce, and Deloitte.
The Technology PhD Program at Purdue University allows a minimum of 30 credit hours to be taken in a custom specialization, along with 27 credit hours from any Purdue college or school other than Purdue Polytechnic. Courses may come from computer science, engineering, art and design, instructional technology, quality, and many other areas. PhD students must complete a Thesis to graduate. Program alumni are Designers, Educators, Researchers, Entrepreneurs, and Artists.
Founded in 1869, Purdue University began classes in 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school serves approximately 50,885 students, with around 5,600 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Purdue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) provide several pathways to study games.
In the OSU College of Engineering, options include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A Computer Graphics and Game Design Concentration is available. In the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Art has BA and BFA Programs in Art with a Specialization in Art & Technology. The specialization explores art games, 3D modeling and animation, emerging forms, moving images, sound, and more.
Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design, which has an MFA Program with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track and a Design Research and Development (DRD) Track. The DAIM Track requires 12 studio elective credits and six credits of interdisciplinary electives, allowing plenty of opportunities to create a focus in games. The DRD Track is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program that encourages study across departments, research areas, and themes. Open electives provide additional opportunities to explore games. The Department of Design also offers a 15 credit hour minor in Game Studies which introduces students to an interdisciplinary approach to understanding what games are, how they are made, how to interpret games as critical narratives, and how to understand the roles they play in society.
Examples of possible elective courses across all programs and departments include Games Virtual Modeling, Game Design I-II, Video Game Music, Esports and Game Studies, Computer Game Art and Design, Video Games and Society, Computational Thinking in Context: Game Development or Images, Animation, Screenwriting, Art and Technology, Philosophy and Videogames, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
Graduates of the Art, Design, and CS Programs at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue positions in entertainment, technology, art, and engineering, among others. Potential job titles include Game Designer, CG Specialist, Motion Graphic Designer, Interaction Designer, Software Programmer, Virtual Reality Designer, Design Strategist, User Interface/User Experience Designer (UI/UX), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer.
The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 67,800 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Indiana University, Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana
Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) provides several pathways to study game design. Programs are housed in Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering (Department of Computer Science), and The Media School, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Luddy School Department of Computer Science serves 950 students enrolled in 11 programs at all degree levels. Students seeking an undergraduate degree can earn a BS in Computer Science (CSCIBS) with a Game Development Specialization. The School also houses a distinctive Minor in Animal-Computer Interaction, which includes courses such as Game Art and Sound, Game Development, and Game Programming. A CS BA is also conferred from IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The Media School at Indiana University Bloomington is a multidisciplinary division that attracts students seeking careers in game programming, animation, sound production, music composition, or graphic design for multimedia. Students in all Media School programs have the opportunity to select elective courses from the Luddy School, Architecture and Design, Jacobs School of Music, and Eskenazi School of Art. Specific program options suitable for game designers include the Game Design BS and Minor, the Media BA, and a New Media and Interactive Storytelling Certificate.
Media BA students may pursue a Concentration such as Media Technologies, Games and Culture; Interactive and Digital Media; or Media Science. Students may also pursue a Media Specialization such as Game Art, Game Production, or Game Audio. Concentrations consist of five courses. Specializations consist of at least three courses.
Course examples across concentrations include Game Technology, Digital Media, Game Production, Cultures, Games, Culture, and Society, Media Technology and Difference, Game Experience Design, Media Technologies and Culture I-II, Game Art and Sound, Narrative Design, Story Lab, and Animation for Digital Media. Course examples across specializations include Game Art and Sound, Game Character Art, Game Environment Art, Game Design, Game Analytics, The Videogame Industry: Systems and Management, Sound for Games and Playable Media, Game Experience Design, Game Production, Introduction to Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and Computer Music, and Sound Design.
Game Design BS students at Indiana University Bloomington will work their way through a mix of seminars, hands-on production classes, and a three-semester workshop modeled after professional game studios. Across Game Workshop I, II and III, students will work in teams to develop a game prototype, produce a demo, and publish an original game.
Elective areas are available for students who would like to design an area of expertise. Areas include Design: Games and Mind, Programming, Art, Sound, Design: Game Design Theory, and Management, Advertising, and Public Relations.
Upper division Game Design students will work their way through the Game Workshop Sequence, which includes three workshops: Prototype, Demo, and Publish. Modeled after game studios, the sequence ends with an industry-ready published game.
Students in all IU Bloomington Game Design and Media Programs have access to [email protected]. This student-run organization provides hands-on experience for student game designers. Highlights include the opportunity to collaborate on game design projects, workshops, and participation in game jams. Game design students can also gain valuable hands-on experience through the Indiana University Bloomington Internship Program. Students have interned everywhere from General Motors to Google.
Graduates of the Game Design and Media Programs at Indiana University Bloomington are prepared to compete for positions such as Game Designer, Game Artist, World Designer, Game Developer, Creative Director, Software Developer, and Animator. Potential employer’s include Blizzard Entertainment, Zynga, Electronic Arts (EA), and Ubisoft.
Established in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington was one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains and one of the first universities to admit women. The school serves more than 71,000 students enrolled in 930+ academic programs across seven campuses and two regional centers. Indiana University Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
The College of Creative Arts at Miami University (Miami Oh or Miami) houses the College of Creative Arts, home to the Department of Emerging Technology in Business + Design (ETBD)—formerly AIMS. The ETBD has a Games + Simulation Program with both BS and Minor pathways. The Games + Simulation BS has Concentrations in Game Art, Game Studies, and Game Development.
Students in all concentrations will complete a total of 124 credit hours including 76 in the Games + Simulation Major. Concentration areas are 21 credit hours, with a set of required courses for each. The Games + Simulation Program culminates with the 12 credit-hour Capstone Studio, consisting of Game Pipeline and Production (three credits), Game Pre-production (three credits) and Game Production (six credit hours). In the Studio, game designers will produce an industry-ready game.
The cross-disciplinary Games + Simulation Minor consists of 19 total credit hours, with collaborative courses between ETBD and the Art and Computer Science Departments. Electives within the program allow students to create a specialty area such as Game Development, Writing for Games, or 3D Art and animation.
The Miami Oh ETBD Department has an additional option that attracts game designers interested in the business and marketing side of games. The Emerging Technology in Business and Design BA (ET BA) is a highly competitive program that features four foundational pillars: Design, Technology, Collaboration & Making, and Business. Students in this program will take courses such as Game Studies, Game Design, Game Programming, Art and Digital Tools, Interaction Design and Development, Interactive Business Communication, and Social Media Marketing and Online Community Management. Students may also add the Games + Simulation Minor.
To gain valuable work experience in the industry, all Miami University students have the opportunity to complete an internship at a local or national company. There are more than 20 local game companies. Examples include SGM Games, Ganbaru Games, Green Door Games, Aertherbyte Studios, Wraith Games, Max Gaming Technologies, Few Remain, Funky Visions, Ganbaru Games, Multivarious Games, Green Door Games, and MouseMouse Media, Inc.
Graduates of the Games Programs at Miami University have continued on to graduate study or careers in Game Art, Game Design and Development, Writing for Games, Multimedia Design, AR/VR, 3D Modeling, and UI/UX, among others.
Established in 1809, Miami University Ohio is an original Public Ivy that serves more than 23,000 students across campuses in Oxford (main), Hamilton, Middletown and West Chester, Ohio, and Luxembourg (Western Europe). More than 200 majors and minors in over 120 areas of study and 70+ master’s and doctoral degree programs are offered across seven colleges and schools. Miami Oh’s regional campuses provide a variety of associate degree programs. Miami University Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (CCC) is home to the Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department, which provides cross-disciplinary training in game development, animation, programming, visual effects, virtual reality (VR), user experience design, and app development. Students in all programs will work with traditional and emerging technologies to create games, animations, and immersive experiences beginning on the first day of class.
All CCC IAM students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment such as The Game Lab, The Equipment Cave (assets: game consoles, equipment, digital cameras, and more), The Motion Capture Studio, The Sound Studio, The Open Lab, and Animation Production Spaces.
Specific IAM Programs for game designers include BA degrees in Game Art and Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development and Game Sound Design, BA/BS degrees in Programming with Concentrations in Game Programming and Application Programming, and Minors in Game Art and Game Design.
The Games Studio Capstone provides opportunities for students to work in teams in an environment that mirrors a small, independent studio or a large studio. Final games are eligible to be presented at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, CA, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX, Industry Night at Columbia College Chicago, and the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.
Graduates of the IAM Programs at Columbia College Chicago are Game Programmers and Coders, Serious Game Designers, Simulation Designers, Game Designers, Sound Effects Designers, and Quality Assurance Testers. Program alumni have been hired at major companies and studios such as Sony, Pixar, Bungie, Weta Digital, NetherRealm Studios, Iron Galaxy, Jellyvision, High Voltage Software, Incredible Technologies, Inc., Walmart, and John Deere.
Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school serves nearly 6,700 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has programs for game designers across several colleges, departments, and schools. The College of Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences (CACHSS) houses the School of Art and Design, which serves more than 1,000 students led by 60 faculty members. The largest school of its kind in the entire upper Midwest, CACHSS Art and Design is home to the Design Department, which has a Game Design and Development (GDD) BFA and a cross-disciplinary Design MFA.
The GDD BFA is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Program consists of collaborative studios and hands-on experience gained at UW-Stout labs, studios, and other facilities. Students also gain field experience through study abroad courses in LA and San Francisco, internships, and industry projects with the Jim Henson Company, among others. GDD BFA students will complete a Game Design and Development Capstone and present a final portfolio of their best work at a public exhibition presented by the School of Art and Design.
BFA graduates have been hired at local studios and firms such as Pixel Spill Games, Big John Games, and Finn Daniels Architects. They are Game Designers, 3D Artists, Animators, and Modelers, among others.
The Design MFA in the School of Art and Design allows students to create their own focus area. Examples include Game Design, Interactive Media & UX, Animation and Digital Media, Digital Cinema, Photography, and Video. Graduates of the UW-Stout Design MFA Program have been hired at companies and studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Apple, Shutterfly, and World Architects.
The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM) at University of Wisconsin – Stout houses the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department, which has a Computer Science BS with a GDD Concentration. The CS BS consists of a full computer science major, a Mathematics Minor, and the Concentration. A 21 credit hour CS Minor that explores game design, programming languages, web programming, algorithms, and systems architecture is also available. The Minor provides opportunities to engage in Field Experience, Independent Study, or Cooperative (co-op) Education.
The BS in CS/GDD is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. With a 100% job placement rate, the CS program is the only program of its kind in the world to be accredited by the agency. Serving 2,700 students led by 200 faculty members, the CS program requires co-op industry experience as part of the curriculum. Co-op students earn an average of $16/hour. Other program highlights include graduate research, the opportunity to publish in peer-reviewed papers, and participation in game competitions, exhibitions, film festivals, and game conferences.
Graduates of the UW Stout Computer Science Program are Game Programmers, Game Software Engineers, Mobile Software Engineers, and Software Developers, among others. They work at companies and studios such as HB studios (develops console games for Electronic Arts), Boeing, Degica Japan (publisher of RPG Maker), Lockheed Martin, Concrete Software (mobile games), and Big John Games (developer for Nintendo).
University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving approximately 7,700 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
The Game Design Department at Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is home to the Game Design BFA Program, which combines coursework and immersive studios with opportunities to work on real-world projects with partners such as NASA and 360 Alley. The program is also collaborative, so students will have opportunities to work in teams to complete console games, AR/VR content, and mobile apps from start to finish. Team members may come from the CIA Game Design Department or the Computer Gaming Minor Program at Case Western Reserve University.
Through coursework and practice, CIA Game Design students will master game engines such as Unity and Unreal. Course examples for the program include Serious Game Design: Theory + Applications, Game Media Production I-IV, Game Testing + Level Design, Special VFX/Simulation + Virtual Reality, Sound Design Fundamentals, Advanced Digital Sculpting & Modeling, and 3D Texture, Mapping, and Digital Lighting.
Two three-credit courses are dedicated to the Game Design BFA Thesis + Exhibition. This solo project will represent the student’s best work at the CIA Game Design Show. Instead of the Engaged Practice component of the program, which provides the opportunity to work with CIA partners, students may complete an internship with a game production studio, animation studio, or other company.
Graduates of Design BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art Game are prepared to pursue positions such as Game Designer, Game Production Lead, Game Programmer, Senior Game Developer, Game Art Director Lead, Visual effects (VFX) Developer, Technical Artist, Animator, Storyboard Artist, Modeler, Layout Artist, and Virtual Reality (VR) Designer.
Cleveland Institute of Art was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882. This independent, not-for-profit college serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 entertainment arts, design, fine arts, and craft majors. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana
Luddy School of Informatics, Computing & Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has several pathways to study games. Options include the Media Arts and Science (MAS) BS with a Game Design & Development Specialization, a Game Design and Development Minor, and a five-year MAS BS/Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) MS Program.
The IUPUI MAS BS with a Specialization in Game Design & Development provides access to the Media Arts and Science Research and Learning Arcade (MARLA), where students have the opportunity to work in teams to complete hands-on game development projects that explore game testing, digital animation and sound, concept art, experience technology, scriptwriting, and more. The program also features an endless number of game design courses. Examples include Creature and Character Design for Videogames, Comics, Film, and Animation, Serious Games and Simulations, Digital Storytelling, Game Production, Game Testing and Evaluation, Virtual World Design and Development, and Game On! A History of Video Games.
The HCI Program at Luddy IUPUI provides opportunities for students to develop skills that are in high demand in information technology, the Internet of Things, and Voice Recognition. MAS BS/HCI MS students will also develop skills in areas such as 3D simulations, gaming, video, and web design. In addition to the MAS BS courses listed earlier, course examples include Interaction Design Methods, Programming for Interaction Designers, Experience Design for Ubiquitous Computing, Visualization Design and Analysis, Prototyping for Interactive Systems, UX Design Ethics, and Tangible and Embodied Interaction. Open electives allow students to focus in an additional area of interest.
In the Luddy IUPUI Game Design and Development Minor, students will learn to create 2D and 3D games using Unity and Unreal 4. Consisting of 15-16 credit hours, the program features courses such as Game Design Psychology: Theory and Prototyping, Game Design and Development, Virtual World Design and Development, Serious Games and Simulations, and Game Production.
Upon completion of the IUPUI Game Design and Development Minor, students are prepared to pursue positions such as Video Game Designer, Level Designer, Unity 3D Game Developer, Creative Director, Unreal 4 Game Developer, World Designer, and Sound Designer for Games. Graduates will have the skills required to compete for jobs at major studios and companies around the world.
Graduates of the MAS and HCI Programs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis have been recruited by Rockstar Games, Gearbox Software, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Digital Domain, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Google-owned Owlchemy Labs, Pipeworks Studios, HTC Corporation, 4A Games, and Treyarch (owned by Activision), among others.
Indiana University (est. 1820) and Purdue University (est. 1869) merged in 1969 to create what is known today as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The school serves approximately 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degrees and majors across 17 degree-granting schools. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois
Bradley University has a production-focused Game Design Program that provides degrees at all levels. For undergraduates, the program has BA/BS degrees in Game Design and Game Art, and a Game Design Minor. At the graduate level, the program has a Game Design and Development MS. The 18-21 credit hour Minor is open to all students in the Department of Interactive Media and the Department of Computer Science.
Game Design and Game Art BA/BS students are mentored by faculty who have worked on the popular, team-based game League of Legends, Red Faction (developed by Volition), and Far Cry (published by Ubisoft). Students also benefit from hands-on learning with industry software, participation in game jams, internship experiences, and opportunities to show their work at the annual FUSE exhibit.
Course examples across programs include 2D for Game Art, Game Production, Critical Game Studies, Environment Art, and Survey of Games. The Game Capstone allows students in both programs to develop a polished game and portfolio.
The Game Design and Development MS consists of 30 credit hours or 31 credit hours for students who would like to earn a Concentration in Game Programming. Course examples across both options include Game Production, Game Engine Programming, Game Prototyping, Computer Information Systems Analysis, Design and Integration, Game Seminar, and Game Post-Production. Elective examples include Advanced Mobile Programming, Algorithms, Advanced Topics in Computer Information Systems, Directed Individual Studies in Computer Information Systems, Software Project Management, and Computer Game Capstone Project.
Graduate Game Design and Development students at Bradley University work and learn in an environment that simulates an industry production studio. They will have the opportunity to form their own corporation inside the Bradley University Interactive Media Department, where they will spend a year developing games.
Graduates of the Game Design Programs at Bradley University have been hired at Blizzard Entertainment, Oculus VR, Warner Bros. Games, and NetherRealm Studios.
Bradley University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded by Lydia Moss Bradley in 1897, the school serves approximately 5,900 students from the U.S. and 49 other countries. Bradley University offers 185 programs across eight colleges and schools. Leading to degrees at all levels, programs are available in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology.
12. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
The School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU or Case) is home to the Computer Gaming Minor—a program that can be added to just about any major or degree. The most common options include the BA, BS, BA/MS, BS/MS and PhD in Computer Science (CS). Established in 1987, the CS Program is part of the Department of Computer and Data Sciences (CDS). While the College of Arts and Sciences at Case awards the BA, required courses are part of the Department of CDS.
The CWRU Computer Gaming Minor explores game design and Unity 3D game engine development. Course examples across the Minor and CS Programs include Computer Game Design and Implementation, Introduction to Video Game Design, Machine Learning, Modeling and Simulation, Play Anything: Theorizing Videogames, Advanced Algorithms, Programming, Computer Vision, Human Cognition in Evolution and Development, and Advanced Game Development Project.
Advanced courses for the Computer Game Minor are co-taught with the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Game Design Department. Students from both schools will work in teams to develop and publish an original game.
All CWRU students have access the Kevin Kranzusch Gaming, Simulation and Visualization Lab, which houses conference and iOS and Android mobile App development rooms, 20 Alienware PCs with Nvidia 1080GTX GPUs, and an Oculus Rift and HoloLens development room. The Visualization Lab is also a gathering place for the Case Esports Club.
Graduates of the Case Western Reserve University Computer Science and Computer Gaming Minor Programs have been recruited by major companies and studios such as Epic Games, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Boeing, among others.
Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University serves approximately 12,200 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Case provides 95+ undergraduate degree programs, 135 graduate and professional options, and nearly 140 dual-degree programs. Programs at Case Western Reserve University are housed across nine colleges and schools, and more than 100 interdisciplinary academic and research centers and institutes. Case Western Reserve University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
13. Ferris State University, Big Rapids & Grand Rapids, Michigan
Game Design at Ferris State University (Ferris State) takes place across several colleges and schools. The College of Business houses the School of Digital Media (SDGM), which has a Digital Animation and Game Design (DAGD) BAS Program and a Digital Media Software Engineering (DMSE) BS Program. Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) of Ferris State University has a Digital Art and Design BFA.
The SDGM DAGD BAS Program consists of coursework that explores game design, 3D animation, programming, and business. DAGD students have the opportunity to focus in a specific area through electives. Examples include Programming, Digital Effects, and 3D Animation. A mandatory internship is also part of the program.
The DMSE BS at Ferris State University requires 125-126 credit hours of study. Twelve hours are dedicated to Application Domain Electives offered in four-course sequences. The Game Design and Development sequence consists of 3D Modeling and Animation OR Introduction to Game Design and Development, Game Programming 1-2, and Level Design. The DMSE BS also consists of coursework in mathematics, engineering fundamentals, business and management, and professional development.
During the final year of the program, Ferris DMSE BS students will complete the mandatory Software Development Industry Certification, Capstone in Software Engineering, and Software Engineering Applied Internship. Consisting of nine credit hours, these required courses are part of the professional development component of the program.
The Digital Art and Design BFA at Kendall College of Art and Design explores 3D game art, interaction design, motion design, visual development, and 2D animation. Students may focus in Entertainment Art (2D animation, 3D game art, and concept and production art for games and animation) or Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation).
Graduates of the KCAD Digital Art BFA Program will have a professional portfolio that reflects their best work in either focus area.
Ferris State University was established in 1884. Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design is one of the seven colleges within Ferris State University. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, KCAD serves 565 students enrolled in dozens of specialized undergraduate degree programs and several graduate and certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design is accredited by the HLC. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
14. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
The BFA Programs at College for Creative Studies (CCS) require 126 credit hours to graduate. Studio areas account for 84 credits, with 42 in general studies. All first-year students, regardless of major, will take courses in the Foundation Department. Areas explored include drawing, color theory, and basic design. In the Entertainment Arts Department at CCS, students can earn an Entertainment Arts BFA with a Game Design, Animation, Concept Design, or Digital Film Emphasis. All emphasis areas are STEM-designated programs.
Program benefits for all Entertainment Arts students include small class sizes, internship opportunities, courses taught by industry professionals, and access industry-standard, state-of the art labs and equipment such as the Gaming Lab, AR/VR Lab, software and hardware, and editing suites. Course examples for the Game Design Emphasis include Drawing I: Rapid Concept, 3D Computer Graphics, Modeling & Texturing, Digital Techniques, Processing & Making, Game Ideation, and 2D Design Principles.
Graduates of the College for Creative Studies Entertainment Arts Program have worked on more than 15 Marvel movies, they have created game environments for World of Warcraft at Blizzard Entertainment, and they designed one third of the six Batmobiles. Other studios where CCS alumni work include Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Disney Television Animation, Pixomondo, ustwo Games, and Outloud Media, among others.
College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. This private, nonprofit college serves more than 1,400 students enrolled 12 majors leading to a BFA, four programs leading to an MFA, and one program lading to an MA. College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
15. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin
The College of Arts and Communication at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) houses the Department of Art and Design, home to the Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD). Students in this BA Program have the opportunity to focus in one of three emphasis areas or take any emphasis area as a minor. The MAGD program also allows students to add a second major to enhance the degree. Popular second major options include Computer Science, Electronic Media, Graphic Design, and Film.
Emphasis options include Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Media Arts. The Gaming Technology Emphasis covers programming and software development as it relates to game design and development. Communication/Gaming explores video, audio, and writing for digital media, as well as games and emerging technology roles in society. Students in the Media Arts Emphasis will learn to create digital content for computer games, motion graphics, animation, special effects, and 3D.
All MAGD students will participate in two team-based projects (The Senior Capstone), and some will have the opportunity to participate in regional game design expos, competitions, and the MAGD Expo held annually at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In the past, the Expo has welcomed leaders in the industry who have developed games such as God of War, Assassin’s Creed, and Madden NFL.
The MAGD Program hosts a number of student organizations for game designers such as GAMED (Game and Media Entertainment Developers), Gaming Group of Whitewater, Anime, and Smash Bros. All MAGD students have access to facilities such as the Motion Capture Studio and a gaming room that hosts the departments weekend-long game jams.
Also part of MAGD is the internship program, which provides the opportunity to gain work experience ion the UW-Whitewater Digital Media Lab or off campus for a game or animation studio, film and video production company, or media production firm.
Graduates of the MAGD Programs at University of Wisconsin – Whitewater are prepared to pursue positions in game design and development, 3D art, motion graphics, animation, usability engineering, mobile app development, and multimedia production.
Recent MAGD graduates have been hired at companies and studios such as Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Game Studios, Image 360, Filament Games, Raven Software, and PerBlue.
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater opened in 1968 as Whitewater Normal School. The school serves nearly 11,500 students, making UW – Whitewater the third largest campus by enrollment in the University of Wisconsin System. It is also the System’s second oldest member. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) has two paths to study game design—the Game Art & Design BFA and an Animation/Game Concentration that can be added to any major. CCAD concentrations require nine credit hours of coursework. The BFA consists of 120 credit hours including 60 hours of program requirements, 21 in CORE Studio, and 39 in CORE Liberal Arts.
During the first three years of the CCAD Game Art & Design Program, students will take courses such as Game Art Production 3D, Game Theory and Design, Programming for Play, Drawing for Entertainment Design, 3D Animation Models & Surfacing, New Realities AR and VR Production, and Acting for Animators. The senior year consists of the Game Pipeline Capstone, Game Projects Capstone, and the Game Collaboration Practicum. Students may participate in the CCAD Internship Program during this time and take courses such as Table Top Prototype Play and Level Design for Games.
During the four years of the Game Art & Design Program students have access to CCAD facilities such as the play-testing area, Mac and PC labs, editing suites, and a sound room.
Graduates of the Game Design Programs at Columbus College of Art & Design can pursue positions with regional employers such as Game-U, Multivarious Games, and Pixel Park. Graduates are also well-equipped to compete for positions at major studios such as Insomniac Games, BioWare, and Riot Games.
Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving around 1,010 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, 18 Minors, an MFA in Visual Arts, and a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Retail Design.
Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
17. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University (Kent State or KSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences (home to the Department of Computer Science) and the College of Applied and Technical Studies. Both provide paths to study game design. A Computer Science BS with a Concentration in Game Programming is available in the Department of Computer Science. An Animation Game Design BS and a Game Design Minor are available in the College of Applied and Technical Studies.
The Game Design Minor consists of 21 credit hours. Course examples include Competitive Gaming, Games for Education, Multimedia and Game Design, and Environmental Game Design. The Animation Game Design BS allows students to concentrate in either Animation or Game Design. Students in the Game Design Concentration will develop skills to create games for entertainment, education, simulation, and training. In addition to game design courses, students may take courses in design, film/video, and art. Animation Game Design Graduates of the Animation Game Design BS Program at Kent State University will enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. The Animation Game Design BS is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
The Computer Science (CS) BS with a Concentration in Game Programming is designed for students seeking a computer science-based, game design program. Courses for the program include Introduction to Game Programming, Computer Graphics, Game Engine Concepts, Software Engineering, Computer Science, Human Interface Computing, and the Game Development Practicum. A Computer Science Capstone is also part of the program.
Graduates of the Kent State University Computer Science BS Program with a Game Programming Concentration are prepared to pursue careers in game programming, software development, game development, game design and production, software engineering, and serious game design, among others.
Kent State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training school. Consisting of an eight-campus system, Kent State serves more than 28,000 students from across the U.S. and 116 countries. The school offers more than 300 programs with 280+ majors and minors. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
The College of Arts & Sciences at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) houses the School of Art & Design, home to the multidisciplinary, STEM-designated, Simulation, Animation and Gaming (SAG) Program. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the SAG Program provides BS and Minor options to approximately 140 SAG students.
The SAG BS requires 124 credits and the Minor requires 20 credits. Course examples for the Minor include Introduction to Game Design, Graphics for Simulation, and Web Publishing Technology. The BS requires 81 credits in the major. Course examples include Simulation and Animation Dynamics, Vector Illustration for SAG, Environment Design, Unity I-II, Organic Rigging, and Studio Simulation. BS students will complete the Senior Project and an internship (optional).
Graduates of the SAG Programs at Eastern Michigan University can pursue positions in the games industry such as Game Designer, Game Artist, Special Effects Artist, Character Designer, Concept Artist, Modeler, Graphic Designer, and Storyboard Artist, among others.
Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University is the state’s second oldest public university. The school provides around 200 undergraduate majors and 150 graduate programs to more than 14,000 students. Programs at EMU are offered across five colleges, the Graduate School, and the Honors College. Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
19. Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio
Shawnee State University (SSU or Shawnee State) has several paths to study game design. The College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Fine, Digital, and Performing Arts has a Game & Simulation Arts BFA Program and a Gaming Arts Minor. The College of Professional Studies’ Department of Engineering Technologies has a Digital Simulation & Gaming Engineering Technology (Game Programming) BS Program and a Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology Programming Minor (SIM/Gaming).
Students in all programs have access to SSU’s state-of-the-art Motion Capture Studio and the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Lab. Students will also participate in Game Jams and varsity Esports, as well as immersive course assignments. During the final year of the programs, BFA and BS students will collaborate on a joint senior project that will become the centerpiece of their professional portfolio.
The Shawnee State University Simulation & Game Arts BFA explores game design, art asset development, animation, and the gaming pipeline. The Game Programming BS focuses on software development, computer science, game programming and the entire production process as it relates to programming. Course examples across programs include Computer Graphics, Game Audio, Realtime Interactive Programming, Electronic Music, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Layout and Design, Optimization Techniques, Acting, and Graphical User Interface Design.
The Gaming Arts Minor at Shawnee State takes place in a professional game studio environment. Students will explore multiple areas of game and simulation development. The core consists of Game Studio, Game Design, and UI for Games. Student may focus the minor through the 12 required credit hours of electives. Elective examples include Game Programming, Recording Studio, and Inorganic 3D Studio.
The SSU SIM/Gaming Minor is an ideal complement to many programs, especially in the College of Arts and Sciences. Examples include Engineering Technology and Math and Science. Consisting of 21 credit hours, the Minor includes courses such as Game Programming Foundations, Structured Programming, Graphics 1-2, and Concepts of 3D Graphics.
Graduates of the Games Programs at Shawnee State University have established careers in the entertainment industry and serious games, as well as other emerging industries for game design and development such as technology, government, and health care. Job titles include Game Designer, Game/Simulation Programmer, Game Animator, Software Engineer, Art Director, Game/Simulation Engine Developer, Game Artist, and Technical Director, among others.
Shawnee State University dates back to 1945. The school serves just under 3,700 students enrolled in more than 70 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs. Degree options at SSU are offered the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, and Professional Studies. Shawnee State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University is home Scripps College of Communication, which houses J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, home to the new VR & Game Development (VRGD) Program. This flexible major replaces the old Games and Animation (G&A) Program that was part of Scripps’ School of Media Arts & Studies.
Consisting of 120 total credit hours, the VRGD Program leads to a BSC and includes a required minor in Business or Communication Studies. The Minors are designed to help students develop leadership, problem-solving, and entrepreneurial skills, while the curriculum for the program explores emerging technologies such as digital games, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Course examples include Game Development, Digital Tools for Virtual Reality and Game Development I & II, Digital Game Design: World Creation, Virtual Reality Production: Interactive, Animation I &II, Composing in New Media, Special Topics in VR and Game Development, Virtual Reality Production: cineVR, Scripting Projects, New Media Storytelling, and Digital Game Design: Concepts.
All Ohio University VRGD students have access to The Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. Developed by faculty and staff in the School of Media Arts & Studies faculty, GRID is an initiative of Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication that provides the Appalachian Ohio region with education and training, and the opportunity to develop creative and technical skills in digital game technology.
The GRID Lab is also a creative center for students, and a research lab that explores serious and educational games, virtual reality, simulations, and computer animation. GRID Lab also collaborates with The CREATE_space, the Virtual Immersive Technologies and Arts for Learning Laboratory (VITAL Lab), Adena Ventures, and Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service.
Scripps College of Communication graduates have been hired at major companies and studios such as Apple, Sony, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), Activision Blizzard, Walt Disney Imagineering, Ubisoft Corporation, Bungie, and Unity.
Established in 1804, Ohio University is the oldest college in the state. The school opened with one building, three students, and a professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve 28,000+ students across more than 10 campuses and centers in Ohio, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges that house 16 schools and dozens of departments.