What are the top Wisconsin game design programs for 2024?

Top Wisconsin Game Design Schools and Colleges - 2024 College Rankings
1University of Wisconsin – StoutMenomonie
2University of Wisconsin – WhitewaterWhitewater

Our 2024 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 in the school’s College of Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences (CACHSS), and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and Management (CSTEMM). 

The CACHSS houses the School of Art and Design, which serves more than 1,000 students served 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 the first and only Game Design BFA in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The program is also accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Students in the GDD BFA benefit from collaborative studios and hands-on experience gained at UW-Stout labs, studios, and other facilities. Students also gain field experience through internships in San Francisco and LA internships; industry projects with the Jim Henson Company and National Park Service; and faculty-led study abroad courses in San Francisco and LA. 

The culminating experience for the GDD BFA is the Game Design and Development Capstone and final portfolio presentation at the Stout Game Expo (SGX). 

Graduates of the Game Design and Development program at University of Wisconsin-Stout are Game Designers, 3D Artists, Animators, and Modelers. They have been hired at local studios and firms such as Big John Games, Finn Daniels Architects, and Pixel Spill Games.

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

The College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and Management at University of Wisconsin-Stout serves 2,700 students led by more than 200 faculty. The college also houses the Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Department, home to the Computer Science BS with a Game Design and Development concentration. This is the world’s first and only game design and development program accredited under the Computer Science curriculum by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. 

The CS BS features of a full computer science major, a mathematics minor, and the concentration. With a 100% job placement rate, the CS program highlights a co-op industry experience as part of the curriculum. Co-op students earn an average of $16/hour. Other program highlights participation in game competitions, exhibitions, film festivals, and game conferences; graduate research; and the opportunity to publish in peer-reviewed papers. 

A 21-credit hour CS minor that explores game design, algorithms, programming languages, systems architecture, and web programming is also available. The minor provides opportunities to participate in the co-op program as well as field experiences and independent study. 

Graduates of the UW Stout Computer Science program enjoy a 100% job placement rate. Program alumni are Game Programmers, Game Software Engineers, Mobile Software Engineers, and Software Developers, among others. They work at companies and studios such as Boeing, Big John Games (developer for Nintendo), Lockheed Martin, HB studios (develops console games for Electronic Arts), Concrete Software (mobile games), and Degica Japan (publisher of RPG Maker). 

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 6,940 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout provides more than 145 programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. Programs are organized across two colleges, five schools, and a graduate school. 

University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Graphic Design and Interactive Media program is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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. Within the department is the Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) program with BA and minor options. 

The MAGD minor at UW-Whitewater can be added to other programs such as Computer Science, Film Studies, Electronic Media, or Graphic Design. The BA has three emphasis areas including Gaming Technology, Communication/Gaming, and Media Arts. The Gaming Technology emphasis within the BA program explores programming and software development as it relates to game design and development. 

Communication/Gaming explores games,  emerging technology roles in society, audio and video, and writing for digital media. Students in the Media Arts emphasis will learn to create digital content for computer games, special effects, motion graphics, animation, and 3D. Across options, students will take core courses and electives such as Introduction to Media Arts and Game Development; Video Games and Learning; Game Studies and Design; Drawing for Digital Media; Game Development; Interactive Communication; Electronic Music and Sound Design; Motion Graphics Studio; Data Structures; and Screenwriting. 

Other MAGD features include access to facilities such as the Motion Capture Studio and a gaming room that hosts the departments weekend-long game jams; participation in student organizations such as GAMED (Game and Media Entertainment Developers), Gaming Group of Whitewater, Anime, and Smash Bros.; and participation in regional game design expos and competitions such as M-Dev, 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 Assassin’s Creed, Baby Driver, God of War, Transformers, and Madden NFL. 

All MAGD students will participate in two team-based projects (The Senior Capstone), and complete a professional internship, which provides the opportunity to gain work experience in the UW-Whitewater Digital Media Lab or off campus at a game studio, animation studio, film and video production company, or media production firm. 

Students may also participate in an optional study abroad experience at HAN University in Holland. During the experience, students will collaborate with HAN students on a team game project from the UW-Whitewater campus, then travel to Holland during the spring semester to complete the game with them. 

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

MAGD alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Bethesda Game Studios, Obsidian Entertainment, Filament Games, Image 360, PerBlue, Concurrency, Raven Software, iCombat Equipment, and Bird. Some MAGD graduates go on to enroll in a graduate program such as UW-Whitewater's Computer Science MS program. Others go on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses. 

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater opened in 1968 as Whitewater Normal School. The school serves approximately 11,520 students, making it the third largest campus by enrollment in the University of Wisconsin System. UW - Whitewater is also the system’s second oldest member. University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).