What are the top game design programs in Michigan for 2020?

Top Michigan Game Design Schools - 2020 College Rankings
1Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing
2College for Creative StudiesDetroit
3Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids
4Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti
5Lawrence Technological UniversitySouthfield

Our 2020 ranking of the top game design school programs in Michigan. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

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

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University (MSU) serves around 50,350 students from 142 countries, every state in the United States and every county in Michigan. 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 and Development Program.

Founded in 2005, the program offers 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.

“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,” says the school. 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 and a PhD in Information and Media. The PhD program offers a range of research areas including Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Games and Meaningful Play, Game Design and Development, Human-Centered Technology Design, Computational Communication, Media Innovation, and Design and Entrepreneurship, to name a few.

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

Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the College for Creative Studies serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 329 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department. The Department offers a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, Concept Design 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 including 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, which the school says is designed to provide them with an understanding of the larger social and cultural context in which they live.

Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions such as Character Artist, Environment and Vehicle Designer, Technical and VFX Artist, Creative Director, and AR/VR Developer.

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

Ferris State University was founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School. Celebrating its 135th anniversary, the school announced that Fall 2019 enrollment was 14,472 students across all campuses, including 9,175 on the main campus in Big Rapids. Ferris offers more than 190 educational programs through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Engineering Technology, Health Professions, Pharmacy, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), and Michigan College of Optometry.

Programs for aspiring game designers are offered through both the School of Digital Media in the College of Education and Human Services and Kendall College of Art and Design. 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. Per 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. 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 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 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. 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.

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

Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) offers more than 200 undergraduate majors, minors and certificates, plus more than 150 graduate programs to nearly 18,850 students. CMU houses the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health & Human Services, and Technology, along with seven centers and institutes. The School of Visual & Built Environments is part of the College of Technology (pop. 2,120). Here students can earn a BS with a Focus in Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) or they can take a 21 credit hour 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.

Graduates of the program are prepared to seek careers such as Graphic Designer, Computer Animator, Concept Artist, Character Designer, Effects Artists, Modeler and Storyboard Assistant.

Head over to the College of Arts and Sciences' School of Communication, Media & Theater Arts where you will find a BA in Entertainment Design and Technology. The multidisciplinary program allows students to choose a Minor in SAG or other area and up to nine elective hours. Sample electives include Texturing and Mapping, Environment Design, Story Development, Graphics for Simulation, and Introduction to Simulation, Animation and Gaming.

Other program highlights include a hands-on work environment and collaboration with faculty and other students, an internship, and connections with corporate affiliates who regularly provide support for productions and offer employment opportunities for students.

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

Founded in 1932, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) serves around 2,915 students. The school, which also has 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 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.

“In hands-on interactive studios,” says the school, 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.