Top 5 Michigan Game Design Schools - 2018 Rankings
1Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing
2Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids
3College for Creative StudiesDetroit
4Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti
5Lawrence Technological UniversitySouthfield

Our 2018 rankings of the top 5 gaming programs in Michigan. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) is home to 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. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences houses the Media and Information (MI) Department—home of the game design program.

Undergraduate degree 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.”

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

Founded in 1884, Ferris State University serves close to 13,800 students enrolled in more than 190 educational programs through eight academic colleges. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through two of these colleges including the College of Education and Human Services (School of Digital Media) and Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD).  

The School of Digital Media offers 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.

Founded in 1928 and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kendall College of Art and Design serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 programs. Among them is a BFA in Digital Art and Design, which allows students to work in one of two focus areas: 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.

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

Founded in 1906, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) 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. Here, aspiring game designers can earn 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.

4. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) serves approximately 21,105 students, enrolled more than 200 undergraduate majors, minors and certificates, and 150+ graduate programs across seven colleges and schools, and an additional seven centers and institutes.

EMU’s 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.

5. Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan
Lawrence Technological University

Founded in 1932, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) serves approximately 4,500 students representing 25 states and 50 countries. The school offers nearly 100 associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Architecture and Design (CoAD).

Options include a BS in Computer Science with a Concentration in Game Software Development, a BFA in Game Art, and Minors in Game Design or Game Art. A unique Minor in Game Design with a Dual Major in Computer Science & Other Major is also available.

Per the College of Arts and Sciences, “in hands-on interactive studios,” BS students “explore animation, interactive computer graphics, two- and three-dimensional representation and transformation, modeling, game genres, and graphics programming.” Students will also create their own completely envisioned computer games. The Minor in Game Design highlights courses such as Intro to Games & Animation and Game Genre Development. 

Delivered through the College of Architecture and Design, the BFA is a project-focused, multidisciplinary program that highlights courses such as 3D Animation, Integrated Game Studio, Game Mechanics, Scripting for Game Design, Computer Games and Animation, New Media, Electronic Methods for Imaging, and Life Drawing.

The CoAD Minor in Game Art allows current students to pursue expertise secondary to their major and to receive recognition for completing the study. Students will take courses such as Integrated Game Studio, 2D and 3D Animation, and Basic Design.