What are the top Ohio game design programs for 2023?

Top 5 Ohio Game Design Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
2Miami UniversityOxford
3Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
4Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland
5Columbus College of Art & DesignColumbus

Our 2023 ranking of the top game design school program in Ohio. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

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

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).

2. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Miami University

The College of Creative Arts at Miami University (Miami Oh or Miami) is 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).

3. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

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).

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

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).

5. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art & Design

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).