What are the top Michigan game design programs for 2023?

Top 5 Michigan Game Design Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing
2Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids & Grand Rapids
3College for Creative StudiesDetroit
4Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti
5Baker CollegeOwosso

Our 2023 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

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).

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

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).

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

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).

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

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).

5. Baker College, Owosso, Michigan
Baker College

Baker College (Baker) has a Game Software Development (GSD) BS that allows students to complete general education and prerequisites on any campus in Michigan, through Baker Online (100% online/log in on your own schedule/eight-week semesters/flexible), or Online Live (100% online/set meeting times/live real-time virtual sessions/eight- to 16-week semesters). Major courses for this 120 credit hour program are taught exclusively through Baker Online.

Housed in the College of Information Technology and Engineering, the GSD BS includes 90 credit hours in the major. Course examples include Game Development, C# Programming, Unreal Game Programming I-II, Advanced Java Programming, Game Design and Analysis, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Android Mobile Application Development, and Data Structures and Algorithms. Students will also complete a Project Management course, Senior Design Project in Game Software Development, and the 150-hour Work Experience course.

Graduates of the Baker College GSD BS Program will enter the job market with advanced game development and computer science skills, a professional game, and a polished portfolio of their best work. In addition to careers in game design, development, and programming, Baker BS graduates are prepared for careers in computer programming, web development, software engineering and design, mobile app development, and systems management.

Founded in 1911 as Baker Business University, Baker College is an independent, non-profit institution with more than 100 programs offered on campus and online. Baker serves nearly 16,000 students through campuses and extension centers located across the state of Michigan. Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).