Our 2017 rankings of the Top 10 game design schools and colleges in the Midwest.
We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
The College of Computing and Digital Media CDM at DePaul University houses three schools—the School of Design (SoD), the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), and the School of Computing (SoC). CDM SoD and SoC offer several programs for aspiring game designers. SoD options include a BS in Game Design, MFA in Game Design, and Minors in Game Design and Game Programming. SoC offers BS and MS degrees in Game Programming and Minors in Game Design and Game Programming. The Minors are jointly offered by CDM SoD and SoC.
DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema, and Animation Summer Academy and the DePaul Game Experience (DGE). The Summer Academy is a weeklong program that features “hands-on instruction using the latest equipment and technology.” Participants may focus on Computer Game Development, 3D Computer Modeling and Animation for Games and Cinema or Digital Cinema Production.
The DePaul Game Experience allows a select group of students to work on a game to submit to the Student IGF Competition. Past DGE teams have made entries that were finalists in the IGDA student competition.
About DePaul: Established in 1898 and home to more than 23,000 students, DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic University and one of the oldest. The school offers more than 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools. In addition to CDM, other creative schools include the College of Communication, the School of Music, the Theatre School, and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
2. Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
The College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU) houses the Media and Information (MI) Department—home of the game design program. Undergraduate degree options include BA and BS degrees in Media and Information with a Game Design and Development Specialization, a BS in Computer Science with a Game Design and Development Specialization, and a BA or BFA in Studio Art with a Game Design and Development Specialization.
The Specialization is also available to other majors “on a case-by-case basis, particularly those in the Honors College.” An interdisciplinary Game Design and Development Minor is also available. According to the school, “the minor brings together students in Media and Information, Computer Science, and Studio Art. For most majors outside of MI, the Minor often nearly fulfills the student's cognate requirements.” The College of Engineering, College of Arts & Letters, and College of Communication Arts and Sciences administer the Minor jointly. The College of Communication Arts and Sciences is the lead administrative unit.
Graduate game offerings include an MA in HCI with a Games and Meaningful Play Focus, a PhD in Media and Information Studies (Research Area: Games and Meaningful Play), and a Graduate Certificate in Serious Games. Besides offering a wide variety of program offerings for game designers, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is home to the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab. According to the College, the mission of the GEL Lab is to “design innovative prototypes, techniques, and complete games for entertainment and learning and to advance state of the art knowledge about social and individual effects of digital games.”
About MSU: Michigan State University was founded in 1855. The school is home to more than 50,000 students enrolled in over 200 programs across 17 degree-granting colleges. A few include Arts and Letters, Engineering, Education, Lyman Briggs College, and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities.
3. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The game design program at Columbia College Chicago is housed within the School of Media Arts, Interactive Arts & Media (IAM) Department. Programs include a BA in Game Design with Concentrations in Game Development or Game Sound Design, BA and BA degrees in Game Programming, a BA in Game Art, and a BA in Interaction Design. Minor options include Game Art, Game Design, and Programming.
About Columbia: Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College is an arts and media college that prepares students for careers in the visual, performing, media, and communication arts. Home to 8,000 students, Columbia offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
4. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) is home to the Department of Art. The Department offers an interdisciplinary three-year MFA in Art, a four-year BFA program in Art with an Emphasis in Art and Technology, and an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media. The Art and Technology program focuses on Game Art, Video Art, Participatory Design, Art History, and Art Criticism.
The Digital Animation and Interactive Media program concentrates on Videogame Prototyping and Production, Digital Cinematography, 3D Virtual Environments, Experimental and Independent Animation and Interactive Arts Media. All programs highlight project-based learning. Students will create interactive installations, invent electronic objects and interfaces, produce moving image and 3D animations, 3D modeling/rapid prototyping, art games, virtual reality, hacking, bio-art, tactical media, digital imaging, holography, internet art, sound, and emerging experimental forms.
About OSU: Established in 1870, The Ohio State University (OSU) is home to more than 66,000 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, specializations, and minors across more than a dozen colleges and schools. The school has several other regional campuses and locations including Lima, Mansfield, Marlon, and Newark, Ohio, and the Agricultural Technical Institute (Wooster, Ohio), Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (Columbus, Ohio), and Stone Laboratory (Columbus, Ohio).
5. Purdue University - Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute. The Institute houses the Department of Computer Graphics Technology, which offers 68 academic options in six subject areas, including games. Offerings include a BS with Specializations in Game Studies and Computer Graphics Technology, an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, and a PhD in Technology. A 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology is also available.
About Purdue Polytechnic Institute: Purdue Polytechnic Institute, formerly named the College of Technology, is one of 10 colleges at Purdue University offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Institute includes seven academic schools, departments, and divisions. Purdue University was established in 1869 and it is home to 39,409 students enrolled in more than 200 majors.
6. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University is home to the School of Media Arts & Studies. The School houses the game program, along with more than 650 undergraduate students. Options include a BSC in Media Arts & Studies with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A). Highlighted courses include Digital Game Design, 3D Modeling & Animation, Visual Storytelling, Game Development, Narrative Animation, Sound for Moving Images, Compositing, and Motion Graphics.
Another program highlight is the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. “An initiative of Ohio University's Scripps College of Communication, GRID was developed by the School of Media Arts and Studies faculty and staff to provide the Appalachian Ohio region with training, education, and an opportunity to develop technical and creative skills with digital game technology. The GRID Lab serves as an innovative and creative center for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff research and project development.”
About Ohio University: Established in 1804, Ohio University is home to more than 23,000 students enrolled in 250-plus programs across 11 colleges and 15 schools. Other prominent creative schools include the School of Art + Design, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, School of Dance, Film, and Theater, School of Communication Studies, School of Visual Communications, and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts.
7. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
The College of Creative Studies (CCS) is home to the Entertainment Arts Department. The Department has an enrollment of 285 students, making it the largest academic unit at CCS. The Department of Illustration, which enrolls more than 200 students, is the second largest.
The Entertainment Arts Department offers several programs for aspiring game designers. Options include a BFA in Entertainment Arts with a Focus in Games, Animation, or Digital Film. As a complement to the BFA program, students may choose coursework from other areas or a Minor in Animation & Digital Media, Illustration, Fine Arts, or Visual Culture.
About CCS: The College of Creative Studies (CCS) was established in 1906 as The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. The school is home to more than 1,400 students pursuing MFA degrees in Color and Materials Design, Interaction Design, Integrated Design and Transportation Design and BFA degrees in Advertising: Copywriting, Advertising: Design, Art Education, Crafts, Entertainment Arts, Fashion Accessories Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Illustration, Interior Design, Photography, Product Design and Transportation Design.
8. Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio
The Fine, Digital and Performing Arts Department at Shawnee State University offers several for aspiring game designers. Options include a BS in Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology, a BFA in Game and Simulation, an AA in Art with a Game Design Concentration and a BFA in Visualist Design and Interactive Media with a 3D Design or Interactive Media Track. Minor options include Gaming Arts and Digital Simulation and Gaming Engineering Technology.
Students in all programs have access to the Motion Capture Studio Lab and they may participate in the Annual Art & Technology Game Conference. Hosted by Shawnee State, this interactive digital technology conference attracts game developers, students, and industry leaders from all over the country.
About Shawnee State University: Shawnee State University was established in 1986. The school is home to more than 4,400 students enrolled in 80 associate, bachelor, and master degree programs. Colleges include the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Professional Studies, and University College.
9. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin
The College of Arts and Communication at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) is home to the Department of Art and Design. Here, students can earn a BA in Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) with a Visual Media Emphasis or they may declare a Minor in Media Arts and Game Development. Students in the MAGD program may choose additional elective courses from one of the other MAGD Emphases including Communication/Gaming and/or Technology. Two team-based projects courses provide a capstone for the degree program.
About UW-W: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UW-W) was founded in 1868. The school is home to 12,628 students enrolled in dozens of programs across five colleges and schools. In addition to the College of Arts and Communication, schools include the College of Letters and Sciences, College of Education and Professional Studies, College of Business and Economics, and the School of Graduate Studies.
10. Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana
Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) is home to the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the Media School. Here, students can earn a BS in Game Design with the option to complete up to three Specializations. Thirty options are available. Game related specializations include Game Art, Game Audio, and Game Production. Students might also be interested in Graphic Communication, Art, Aesthetics and Experimental Media, Creative Industry Management, or Web.
About IU Bloomington: Indiana University Bloomington was founded in 1820 as State Seminary. The school became Indiana College in 1828 and Indiana University in 1838. Today, IU Bloomington offers more than 500 academic programs to 39,000 students. Programs are spread across 16 degree-granting colleges and schools, plus the Hutton Honors College.