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May 13, 2024

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The Reed College of Media and College of Creative Arts will merge to form the new WVU College of Creative Arts and Media as of July 1, 2024. Get details.

Become a Professional Game Designer

The Master of Arts degree in Game Design, offered by the College of Creative Arts, is for emerging game designers who would like to expand and build upon their conceptual, production, and project management skills, as well as to further their professional credentials.

You will learn game design, game theory, and game production, and will develop a specialized, advanced set of skills. All courses are online, except for an optional three-day residency that brings all students and faculty together for a dynamic games conference and game jam. For the capstone project, each student develops a functional and playable game prototype. Graduates are qualified for employment with game development companies, and a wide range of employers from banks to educational software developers.

Sketches and drawings of video game designs.

The MA in Game Design is a 30-credit program for emerging game designers seeking to expand and build upon their conceptual, production, and project management skills, as well as to further their professional credentials. With half the credits dedicated to the conception and creation of the capstone game project there is a strong emphasis on each student graduating with a strong portfolio of work.

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Game Design M.A. Admission Requirements

Successful completion of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

Step 1

  • WVU Online Graduate Application
  • Letter of Intent - A short 1-page essay on professional goals and reasons for seeking admission.
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended (other than WVU)
  • International Students are required to submit a TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo score.

Step 2

Submit your portfolio to the WVU School of Art & Design

Portfolio can include up to 5 representative samples of your work with a total viewing duration of no longer than 60 minutes, including interactive projects, game prototypes, game components, graphic imagery, virtual environments, virtual character studies, photographs, or video documentation of the same.

After your WVU application has been submitted, the School of Art & Design will notify you and the Office of Admissions of the results of your portfolio review. Applicants may be required to take additional course work after careful review of undergraduate transcripts.

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Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

WVU provides a comprehensive approach to helping you finance your education. Learn more by visiting the Student Financial Services website.

Students are encouraged to:

  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by the June 30, 2024 deadline to determine their eligibility for federal and state funds as well as scholarships. WVU’s FAFSA Code is 003827; and
  • Check with your employer to see if they provide financial support for earning your graduate degree.

Game Design M.A. total degree cost: $20,580 – Residents and Non-Residents

Tuition and fees are usually not the only educational expenses you may have while pursuing a degree. You may have other costs such as books, supplies and living expenses. Please see the Estimate Costs and Aid webpage for how to estimate and plan for other potential expenses.

Your future in Game Design

Graduates are qualified for employment with large game development companies such as Tencent, Sony, Microsoft, and Apple, as well as smaller companies such as Citadel Studios, GSN Games, and Little Arms Studios. Graduates are also qualified to work in the gamification industry which has a wide range of employers from banks to educational software developers.

The Benefits to Choosing Our Program

Our selective enrollment ensures regular individual contact with dedicated, diverse faculty who are committed to a sustained professional exchange with each student. Students must be able to apply and communicate a diverse body of knowledge of historical, cultural, contemporary, and aesthetic issues to their professional practice. Students are expected to articulate and defend their capstone project proposal and final prototype within the context of the contemporary game field.

Currently only 14% of employees in this industry have advanced degrees, consequently a master’s degree in Game Design will give a graduate a competitive edge for promotion and advancement. In addition, upon program completion the graduate will have a completed game prototype that demonstrates their capabilities to show to a future employer.

Career Outlook for Game Design

Employment of special effects artists and animators (which includes game designers) is projected to grow 5 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for game designers is driven by the popularity of video games and the increasing complexity of game development. Game designers are responsible for creating the gameplay mechanics, levels, characters, and storylines that make a game engaging and fun to play. As games become more advanced and sophisticated, there is a growing need for skilled designers who can create innovative and immersive experiences for players.

Game designers typically work in the video game industry, which includes game development studios, publishers, and other related companies. Many game designers work on a project basis, moving from one project to another as they are completed. Some may also work as freelancers or start their own independent game development companies.

Course Title Credit Hours
Art 502 Game Design 3
Art 503 Game Theory 3
Art 505 Game Production 3
Art 603 Concept and Research 3
Art 604 Project Plan 3
Art 606 Project Launch 3
Art 607 Project Production 6
Art 506 Residency (Optional) 3
Art 507 Focus Module (Taken 3 – 6 times depending on use of Residency option) 3

Total Hours: 30

Frequently Asked Questions

What else can you tell me about the Game Design M.A. curriculum?

The curriculum includes a 3-course foundational sequence that addresses game design, game theory and game production. In addition, a series of 1-credit micro-courses (ART 507 Focus Module) allows each candidate to advance a specialized skill set. All courses are only available online, however an optional campus residency component (ART 506 Residency) brings all students and faculty together for a dynamic games conference and game jam.

Early in the degree course sequence a capstone project is conceived and planned out for which the candidate designs and develops a functional and playable game prototype, in order to complete the degree. For the capstone project each candidate is simultaneously the director of their project while working in a production role in their specialization for a peer’s capstone project. The final requirement of the program is that each student present their capstone game project.

How long will it take me to graduate with an M.A. in Game Design?

Courses are scheduled in eight-week terms and can be completed in a 12-month period with a full time commitment and year-round attendance. A typical course schedule for a student on the 2-year completion track would be one three-credit course plus a one-credit Focus Module per eight-week term. (see Suggested Course Sequence). This track is designed for graduate candidates already working in the industry.

What is a capstone project in Game Design?

The capstone project anchors the entire degree, with 50% of the course credits dedicated to its completion which takes place over three to four terms. A capstone project is proposed by each candidate, approved by the WVU faculty, and developed with the support of other graduate students. Each graduate candidate is a leader of their own capstone project and participates on the capstone production team of a peer in a supportive role.

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