What are the top Ohio game design programs for 2024?

Top 5 Game Design Schools and Colleges in Ohio - 2024 College Rankings
1The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
2Miami UniversityOxford
3Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland
4Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
5Kent State UniversityKent

Our 2024 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 Ohio State University (OSU) has several paths to study game design. In the College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, options include a BS, MS, and PhD in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Students can also earn a BS in Computer and Information Science (BS CIS). Although the CIS program is listed in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences awards the degree. 

Students in the BS and MS programs may add the Computer Graphics and Game Design (CGGD) specialization, housed in the College of Engineering. Course examples for the CGDD include Computer Game and Animation Techniques; Virtual Reality; Advanced Computer Graphics; Geometric Modeling; Real-Time Rendering; and Project: Design, Development, and Documentation of Interactive Systems. Many of these courses are offered as electives for the PhD program. 

The culminating experience for the CGGD specialization is the Capstone in Game Design and Development or Computer Animation, student’s choice. PhD students may also select either Capstone as an elective. 

The Department of Art in the OSU College of Arts and Sciences has several additional options to study game design. Students can earn a BA in Art, a BFA in Studio Art, or an MFA in Studio Art with Thesis and Non-Thesis tracks. Across programs, students may select the emphasis in Art & Technology, which explores areas such as art games, 3D modeling and animation, digital imaging, moving images, sound, interactive installations, and emerging forms. 

Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design, which has a fully-funded, three-year MFA program with tracks in Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM); Design Research and Development (DRD); and Art and Technology. The DAIM Track requires 12 studio elective credits and six credits of interdisciplinary electives, allowing for plenty of opportunities to focus in games. 

The DRD track is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program that encourages study across departments, research areas, and themes. Open electives provide many opportunities to explore games. 

Art and Technology is an interdisciplinary area that explores experimentation and new forms. Course examples include Special Topics in Art Games; Sound and Image: Aspects of Art and Technology; 3D Modeling; New Media Robotics; Computer Animation; and Digital Imaging. 

Across all options, possible elective options include Game Design I-II; Games Virtual Modeling; Computational Thinking in Context: Game Development or Image; Video Game Music; Philosophy and Videogames; Esports and Game Studies; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Computer Game Art and Design; Animation; Video Games and Society; Screenwriting, Art, and Technology; and Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The culminating experience for the MFA program is the Thesis Project.

The College of Arts and Sciences has one non-degree option for students interested in games—the  Game Studies minor. Consisting of 15 credit hours, the program is interdisciplinary, with the option to concentrate the minor by taking courses from one of four focus areas. All students will take Introduction to Video Games Analysis; Video Games and the Individual; and Introduction to Game Design. 

Focus areas with course selections include Create/Engagement (Intermediate Game Design II and II, and Aspects of Art and Technology—in relation to videogame creation); Technical Coding (Computer Game and Animation Techniques, and Capstone Design: Game Design and Development); Critique/Interpretation (Music of Video Games, Philosophy and Videogames, Special Topics in Film (focused on games), and The U.S. Experience: Writing About Videogames); and Social Analysis (Human-Computer Interaction, Social Implications of Communication Technology, and Computer Interface and Human Identity). 

Graduates of the games-related programs at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue careers in fields such as entertainment, technology, art, and engineering. Potential job titles include Game Designer, CG Specialist, Software Programmer, Virtual Reality Designer, Motion Graphic Designer, Interaction Designer, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer, Design Strategist, and User Interface/User Experience Designer (UI/UX). 

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 U) is home to the Department of Emerging Technology in Business + Design (ETBD). Within the department is a Games + Simulation program with BS and minor options. 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 specific set of required client-based, collaborative 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). Upon completion of the Capstone, students will have 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.   

Other ETBD features include access to more than 50 games courses; semester-long preprofessional experiences at locations across the U.S. and Europe; an honors program consisting of special course selections and the opportunity to work with the same cohort for four years; and access to state-of-the-art production facilities and labs. 

The Miami U ETBD Department has an additional option that is ideal for game designers seeing careers that combine game design, the game design business, and games marketing. The BA in Emerging Technology in Business and Design (ET BA) is a highly competitive program that features four foundational pillars: Design, Technology, Collaboration & Making, and Business. All students will study coding; design and design thinking; product management; artificial intelligence (AI); marketing; augmented reality (AR); The Internet of Things (IoT); communication; and entrepreneurship. 

Course examples for the program include Game Design; Principles and Practices of Managing Interactive Projects; Game Programming; Interactive Business Communication; Social Media Marketing; Online Community Management; Game Studies; Interaction Design and Development; Art and Digital Tools; and Mobile Application Development. ET BA students may also add the Games + Simulation minor. 

To gain valuable work experience in the industry, all ETBD students will complete an internship at a local or national studio. Students have access to more than 20 local game studios. Examples include Max Gaming Technologies, MouseMouse Media, Inc., SGM Games, Ganbaru Games, Funky Visions, Green Door Games, Multivarious Games, Aertherbyte Studios, Wraith Games, and Few Remain. 

Graduates of the Game Design programs at Miami University have continued on to graduate school or careers in Game Design and Development, Writing for Games, Game Art, AR/VR, 3D Modeling, UI/UX, and Multimedia Design, and many others. 

Founded on February 2, 1809, Miami University is one of the oldest public universities in the U.S. Also an original Public Ivy, the school serves approximately 18,900 students across campuses in Oxford (main), Hamilton, Middletown and West Chester, Ohio. The school has an overseas location—the John E. Dolibois European campus in Differdange, Luxembourg (Western Europe)—that welcomes 220 students each year. 

Miami University Ohio provides 200 majors and minors in more than 120 areas of study, and 70+ master’s and doctoral degree programs. Miami U’s regional campuses also provide a variety of associate degree programs. All other programs are housed across seven academic colleges and schools. Miami University Ohio is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

The School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU or Case) houses to the Department of Computer and Data Science (CDS), home to the Computer Gaming minor. This option is open to all degree-seeking students. The most common degrees for the minor include the BA, BS, BA/MS, BS/MS and PhD in Computer Science (CS). 

The Case School of Engineering CS program was established in 1987. Required courses  for the BA are part of the CDS department. However, the College of Arts and Sciences at Case awards the CS BA. 

The Computer Gaming minor explores game design and Unity 3D game engine development. Course examples across the minor and CS programs include Introduction to Video Game Design; Advanced Algorithms; Modeling and Simulation; Computer Game Design and Implementation; Play Anything: Theorizing Videogames; Computer Vision; Machine learning; Programming, Human Cognition in Evolution and Development; and Advanced Game Development Project. 

The Game Department at Cleveland Institute of Art co-teaches advanced courses for the Computer Game minor. Students from both schools will work in teams to develop and publish an original game. 

All Computer Gaming students at Case have access the Kevin Kranzusch Gaming, Simulation, and Visualization Lab, which houses 20 Alienware PCs with Nvidia 1080GTX GPUs; conference and iOS and Android mobile App development rooms; and an Oculus Rift and HoloLens development room. The Visualization Lab is also a gathering place for the Case Esports Club. 

Graduates of the Computer Science and Computer Gaming minor programs at Case Western Reserve University are prepared to pursue roles across the games, technology, and other related industries. Program alumni have been recruited by major companies and studios such as Epic Games, Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. 

Established in 1826, Case Western Reserve University is an independent research university that holds membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU). The school serves approximately 12,265 students from all 50 states and 96 countries. Case provides more than 95  undergraduate degree programs, 135 graduate and professional options, and nearly 140 dual-degree programs across nine colleges and schools. Case Western Reserve University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is home to a Game Design BFA program that combines coursework and immersive studios with opportunities to work on real-world projects with partners such as NASA and 360 Alley. Housed in the CIA Game Design Department, the BFA program is also collaborative, so students will have opportunities to work in teams to complete console games, mobile apps, and AR/VR content--from idea to implementation to finished product. Team members may come from the CIA Game Design Department or Computer Gaming at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). 

Students in the Game Design BFA program will explore areas such as animation, 3D modeling, interactive storytelling, programming, visual design, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), audio and, of course, game production. All students will master game engines such as Unreal and Unity through coursework and projects. Course examples for the program include Game Media Production I-IV; Game Testing + Level Design; Serious Game Design: Theory + Applications; Special VFX/Simulation + Virtual Reality; 3D Texture, Mapping, and Digital Lighting; Sound Design Fundamentals; and Advanced Digital Sculpting & Modeling. 

The BFA program dedicates two three-credit courses 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.

Several courses help students prepare for careers in the games industry or to launch their own studios or freelance businesses. Examples include Professional Practices: Industry; Professional Practices: Studio to Gallery; and Professional Practices: Entrepreneurial Ventures. 

Graduates of Game Design BFA program at Cleveland Institute of Art Game are prepared to pursue positions such as Game Designer, Visual Effects (VFX) Developer, Game Programmer, 

Animator; Senior Game Developer; Storyboard Artist; Game Art Lead; Modeler; Art Director; Game Production Lead, 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 employs 50 full-time and 60 adjunct faculty, who are all professional artists and designers. These active members of the creative community serve 600 students across 13 majors. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University

Kent State University (Kent State or KSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences-Department of Computer Science (CS), and the College of Applied and Technical Studies (CATS). Both provide paths to study game design. The CS Department has a Computer Science BS with a concentration in Game Programming designed for students seeking a computer science-based, game design program. 

The concentration requires 19 credit hours, with four required courses and two upper-division elective courses. Required courses include Introduction to Game Programming; Game Engine Concepts; Computer Graphics; and Game Development Practicum. Examples of upper division electives include Human-Robot Interaction; Internet of Things; Human Computer Interaction (HCI); Artificial Intelligence (AI); Software Engineering; Computer Science: Programming Patterns; and Design and Analysis of Algorithms.

The culminating experience for the KSU CS BS/Game Programming program is the Computer Science Capstone. Graduates of the Kent State University Computer Science BS program with are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as game programming, software development, game development, game design and production, software engineering, and serious game design. 

The College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State provides more than 35 undergraduate programs, seven minors, and nearly 20 certificate programs. Among these programs are an Animation Game Design BS (AGD BS), and minors in Game Design and Game Programming. The Game Design minor requires a minimum 21 credits, and the Game Programming minor requires no less than 20 credits. 

Course examples for the Game Design minor include Environmental Game Design; Modeling and Texturing I-II; Competitive Gaming; Multimedia and Game Design; and Games for Education. Game Programming students will take courses such as Game Engine Concepts; Computer Science I: Programming and Problem Solving; Computer Graphics; Introduction to Game Programming; Game Development Practicum; Competitive Gaming; and Esport Management.  

The Animation Game Design BS at Kent State University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The program allows students to concentrate in either Animation or Game Design. The Game Design concentration consists of 18 focused credits. Students will learn to create games for entertainment, education, simulation, and training using industry software and technologies for digital sculpting, 2D graphics, traditional animation, and 3D models. Students will also learn to create digital media works such as cartoons and virtual reality environments. 

In addition to game design courses, AGD BS students may take courses in art, design, and film/video. Specific course examples for the program include Game Prototyping; Character Animation; Environmental Game Design; Interactive Game Design; Multimedia and Game Design; Technical Computing; Two Dimension Graphics; Fundamentals of Mixed Reality; Gaming and Culture; Digital Sculpting; and Solid Modeling. 

AGD BS students have the option to complete the Internship in Animation and Game Design (three credits) or Individual Investigation in Animation and Game Design (three credits). The culminating experience for the program is the Senior Capstone Project or the Technical and Applied Studies Capstone--students choice. 

Graduates of the Animation Game Design BS program at Kent State will enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. Graduates go on to establish careers at top studios, companies, and organizations across the U.S. and abroad. Some program alumni go on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses. 

Kent State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training school. Today, Kent consists of an eight-campus system that serves approximately 33,000 students from across the U.S. and more than 89 countries. KSU provides more than 300 programs with 280+ majors and minors. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).