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

Top Ohio Game Design Schools - 2020 College Rankings
1The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
2Miami UniversityOxford
3Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland
4Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
5Ohio UniversityAthens

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

1. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University (OSU) serves 68,100 students enrolled in over 200 majors, minors and specializations through hundreds of departments, colleges, and schools and campuses. The school’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.

OSU's Department of Art offers a BFA in Art and Technology that allows students to “focus on the creative use, misuse, and investigation of technology in an art-making practice,” says the school. Students in the program will “engage the meaning and material of science and technology through the production of interactive installations, electronic objects and interfaces, moving images, 3D modeling and animation, art games, tactical media, bio-art, performance, digital imaging, rapid prototyping, holography, Internet art, sound, and emerging forms.”

The Department of Design offers an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track. The program requires 60 credit hours of study including core design courses (18 credits), thesis project and writing development (15 credits), and open electives in the themes of studio/lab (12 credits), history/theory/criticism (9 credits), and collaborative/interdisciplinary studio (6 credits). “Students work closely with a three-person thesis committee to develop their thesis topics and the vehicles best used for their development.” Most students complete the program within a period of six semesters.

Course highlights include Digital Image Manipulation, Podcasting, Internet Art, 3D Modeling, Holography I and Holography II, Moving Image Art, New Media Art, Computer Animation, and Video Art I and Video Art II.

Students in all programs 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).

2. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Miami University

Miami University was founded in 1809. The school serves around 24,600 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 70 master's and doctoral degree programs. Several associate's degrees as well as bachelor's degrees are offered through study at the regional locations.

The school consists of seven colleges, including the College of Creative Arts, which houses the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies (AIMS). Per the school, 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 for aspiring game designers include a BS in Games + Simulation, a BA in Interactive Media Studies (IMS), and a Game Minor.

The BS in Games + Simulation offers three concentrations: Game Art, Game Development, and Game Studies. The program “provides students with an interdisciplinary plan of study covering all aspects of creating and interpreting games. With a focus on making and praxis, the BS in Games + Simulation prepares students for a career or graduate study in game design, development, 3D modeling, creative development, writing or designing, esports, and games in other industries, all while encouraging students to take creative risks, to build things, and to think critically about audiences, narratives, and aesthetics.”

The interdisciplinary BA in IMS “sits at the intersection of Design, Technology, and Business.” The program “exposes students to each of these three foundational areas, which provide a foundation for students to customize an advanced concentration, to focus their experience on a particular area of interactive media.” 

The program requires 124 credit hours of study to graduate, including 64 in the IMS major. Course highlights include Game Programming, Game Studies, Game Development, Game Usability & Human Factors, The Business of Games, Research Methods in Games, Game Engine Scripting, Indie Game Development, and Game Prototyping, Pipeline, & Production. Students will also complete a Senior Degree Project and an internship. 

The internship component of both programs allow students to gain hands-on experience at a local game design studio or other company. Miami University’s location offers access to a number of studios such as Wraith Games, SGM Games, Max Gaming Technologies, Green Door Games, and many others.

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

Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University (Case) 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 more than 100 interdisciplinary academic and research centers and institutes that provide just about any program of study.

The school houses 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, so there are opportunities to take a variety of game courses. Course highlights include Introduction to Computer Game Design and Implementation, Programming in Java, and Software Engineering. An Advanced Game Development project is part of the program and students can add a Minor in Computer Gaming or Artificial Intelligence.

4. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Established in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is an independent college of art and design that serves 645 total students from 32 states and nine countries around the world. The school offers 15 majors in the fine arts, design, craft, and interactive media. The school offers a BFA in Game Design that “focuses on collaboration and mentoring by accomplished experts in digital media and game design, who will help students build connections and network with other professionals in the field,” says the school.

Game students at CIA work with “innovative production processes” including game production, 3D modeling, animation, programming, visual design, interactive storytelling, and audio, as well as theory, criticism, and context of video game culture and digital media. “While creating interesting and usable content, students build character development skills through coursework that analyzes and synthesizes physical, cognitive, cultural, and political aspects of human interaction.”

Course highlights include Game Production I-IV, Serious Game Design: Theory + Applications, Special VFX/Simulation + Virtual Reality, Game Testing + Level Design, and 3D Texture, Mapping, Digital Lighting. Students will also complete the BFA Research + Preparation course, the BFA Thesis + Exhibition, and the Game Design Internship course worth three elective credits upon approval by the Department Chair.

Graduates of the CIA Game Design Program are prepared to seek positions such as Game Designer, Storyboard Artist, Animator, Layout Artist, Visual Effects Supervisor, and many others.

5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

Ohio University (OU) was established in 1804 as Ohio’s first university. The school serves nearly 35,000 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across 11 colleges. The E.W. Scripps College of Communications houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Serving nearly 700 undergraduates, the school offers a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation and an MFA in Communication Media Arts.

The Games & Animation (G&A) emphasis area “encourages students to explore the production of computer animation and digital games while also providing an understanding of the management and leadership roles in these industries,” says the school. Students will take a combination of foundation/core courses, G&A intro classes, and advanced coursework.

Course highlights include Video Production Basics, Global Media Systems, Digital Game Design, 3D Modeling & Animation, Audience Research, Sound for Moving images, Motion Graphics, Game Development, and Media Arts Management. Students have the opportunity to complete a Digital Games Capstone as well as an internship.

The MFA in Communication Media Arts is a three-year program that provides the opportunity for students “hone new creative production skills, contextualized through hands-on, collaborative projects in order to graduate prepared for the leading edge of industry.” Candidates for the program must have at least three years of professional experience in the communication field and at least one high-level production skill.

While in the program, each graduate student will add to their current skill(s) by studying in at least two additional areas including animation, digital games and animation, documentary, interactive media/web design, publication design, data visualization and info graphics, and virtual and augmented reality, to name a few. Hands-on, experiential projects are a required part of the program as well as declaring a Cognate Area outside of the student’s production skills. Examples include art history, educational technologies, education, public media or a wide variety of humanities areas.