What are the top Wisconsin game design programs for 2023?

Top Wisconsin Game Design Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1University of Wisconsin – StoutMenomonie
2University of Wisconsin – WhitewaterWhitewater

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

1. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Stout

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has programs for game designers across several colleges, departments, and schools. The College of Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences (CACHSS) houses the School of Art and Design, which serves more than 1,000 students led by 60 faculty members. The largest school of its kind in the entire upper Midwest, CACHSS Art and Design is home to the Design Department, which has a Game Design and Development (GDD) BFA and a cross-disciplinary Design MFA.

The GDD BFA is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Program consists of collaborative studios and hands-on experience gained at UW-Stout labs, studios, and other facilities. Students also gain field experience through study abroad courses in LA and San Francisco, internships, and industry projects with the Jim Henson Company, among others. GDD BFA students will complete a Game Design and Development Capstone and present a final portfolio of their best work at a public exhibition presented by the School of Art and Design.

BFA graduates have been hired at local studios and firms such as Pixel Spill Games, Big John Games, and Finn Daniels Architects. They are Game Designers, 3D Artists, Animators, and Modelers, among others.

The Design MFA in the School of Art and Design allows students to create their own focus area. Examples include Game Design, Interactive Media & UX, Animation and Digital Media, Digital Cinema, Photography, and Video. Graduates of the UW-Stout Design MFA Program have been hired at companies and studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Apple, Shutterfly, and World Architects.

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM) at University of Wisconsin – Stout houses the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department, which has a Computer Science BS with a GDD Concentration. The CS BS consists of a full computer science major, a Mathematics Minor, and the Concentration.  A 21 credit hour CS Minor that explores game design, programming languages, web programming, algorithms, and systems architecture is also available. The Minor provides opportunities to engage in Field Experience, Independent Study, or Cooperative (co-op) Education. 

The BS in CS/GDD is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. With a 100% job placement rate, the CS program is the only program of its kind in the world to be accredited by the agency. Serving 2,700 students led by 200 faculty members, the CS program requires co-op industry experience as part of the curriculum. Co-op students earn an average of $16/hour. Other program highlights include graduate research, the opportunity to publish in peer-reviewed papers, and participation in game competitions, exhibitions, film festivals, and game conferences.

Graduates of the UW Stout Computer Science Program are Game Programmers, Game Software Engineers, Mobile Software Engineers, and Software Developers, among others. They work at companies and studios such as HB studios (develops console games for Electronic Arts), Boeing, Degica Japan (publisher of RPG Maker), Lockheed Martin, Concrete Software (mobile games), and Big John Games (developer for Nintendo).

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving approximately 7,700 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

The College of Arts and Communication at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-Whitewater) houses the Department of Art and Design, home to the Media Arts and Game Development Program (MAGD). Students in this BA Program have the opportunity to focus in one of three emphasis areas or take any emphasis area as a minor. The MAGD program also allows students to add a second major to enhance the degree. Popular second major options include Computer Science, Electronic Media, Graphic Design, and Film.

Emphasis options include Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Media Arts. The Gaming Technology Emphasis covers programming and software development as it relates to game design and development. Communication/Gaming explores video, audio, and writing for digital media, as well as games and emerging technology roles in society. Students in the Media Arts Emphasis will learn to create digital content for computer games, motion graphics, animation, special effects, and 3D.

All MAGD students will participate in two team-based projects (The Senior Capstone), and some will have the opportunity to participate in regional game design expos, competitions, and the MAGD Expo held annually at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In the past, the Expo has welcomed leaders in the industry who have developed games such as God of War, Assassin’s Creed, and Madden NFL.

The MAGD Program hosts a number of student organizations for game designers such as GAMED (Game and Media Entertainment Developers), Gaming Group of Whitewater, Anime, and Smash Bros. All MAGD students have access to facilities such as the Motion Capture Studio and a gaming room that hosts the departments weekend-long game jams.

Also part of MAGD is the internship program, which provides the opportunity to gain work experience ion the UW-Whitewater Digital Media Lab or off campus for a game or animation studio, film and video production company, or media production firm.

Graduates of the MAGD Programs at University of Wisconsin – Whitewater are prepared to pursue positions in game design and development, 3D art, motion graphics, animation, usability engineering, mobile app development, and multimedia production.

Recent MAGD graduates have been hired at companies and studios such as  Obsidian Entertainment,  Bethesda Game Studios, Image 360, Filament Games, Raven Software, and PerBlue.

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater opened in 1968 as Whitewater Normal School. The school serves nearly 11,500 students, making UW – Whitewater the third largest campus by enrollment in the University of Wisconsin System. It is also the System’s second oldest member. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).