The 6 Best Master’s in Video Game Design and Development for 2019

Many students are seeking advanced degrees in their respective fields as a measure to become an expert in their degree area or to stand out amongst many job applicants in the growing video gaming industry and an online master's in video game design is an excellent way to get a leg up on the competition. The types of expertise an individual can pursue are as varied and diverse as the field of game design itself with many graduate programs reserving large portions of the curriculum to cater to students' unique specialties and career goals. Thus graduate level game design degree programs are crucial to honing students' professional expertise and marketability, and this makes these online Master's degree programs in video game design excellent choices for both the freshly graduated college student and the experienced video game design professional looking to gain a competitive edge in an existing career.

While many game design and development companies are structured so that talented individuals can advance through promotions over time, others are not. And in any case, a graduate degree can propel one's career forward when such progress would have otherwise come much later or maybe not at all. An online graduate degree is all the more helpful in this regard as it allows individuals to earn a career-advancing degree without abandoning current job opportunities. Specifically, the graduate degree programs in this ranking offer the flexibility required to accommodate even the busiest work lives and schedules, so students who might otherwise be unable to earn their degree will be able to progress through the program at a comfortable pace. In the case of video game design education, there is also the added benefit of scarcity: there are very few graduate-level programs, so earning a Master's degree is a sure-fire way of gaining professional marketability and a competitive edge. Below are the Top 6 Online Masters in Video Game Design ranked according to the metrics explained below. For more general information regarding online learning visit our ranking of the top online colleges.

Rating and Ranking Methodology

Because there are very limited options for this specific degree, our editors were unable to provide a thorough comparison. Therefore, we are simply ranking the schools based on affordability.

#6 University of Advancing Technology

Online Master of Science in Game Production and Management

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Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the University of Advancing Technology offers a Master's in Game Production and Management Online degree whose dedication to helping students develop management skills sets their program apart from others. This degree could be best suited for the student who desires to take on more of a leadership and business role in the video gaming industry. With classes offered year-round, course topics include Game Marketing and Advertising, Critical Game Studies, Game Processes and Pipeline, and The Business of Gaming. The goal of the graduate management program is to develop the skills to create a game from beginning to end, to provide students with the necessary materials to bring a game to market, to teach students how to lead a project team of designers and animators. UAT utilizes industry standard tools to build a collaborative environment that promotes a culture of teamwork that is mirrored in the real world. At the end of the 6-semester program, students create and present a market-ready graduate innovation project in lieu of a written thesis. UAT's MS degree in Game Production and Management online is a perfect fit for the business-oriented student who desires to effectively lead a team.

Tuition: $1,350 per credit hour

#5 Academy of Art University

Master of Arts in Game Development Online or Master of Fine Arts in Game Development Online

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The Academy of Art University's Online Graduate programs delivers a career-oriented curriculum that focuses on training students to become polished professionals. Particularly the University's Game Development Graduate Degree Programs emphasize hands-on experience in creating professional-quality art, game design systems, and code work that is then assembled into a marketable professional portfolio. This means that there is a very fine line (if any at all) between the degree program coursework and professional development or career advancement. For many working professionals, a graduate program must deliver fast, actionable results that will directly impact their careers–and that is exactly what The Academy of Art University's Online Graduate Programs seek to provide.

The University offers two specific graduate Game Development degrees: A Master of Arts (MA) in Game Development, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Game Development. The difference in degree names is subtle, but the difference in learning outcomes and teaching philosophy is major. In the Master of Arts program, which can be completed in 36 credits, faculty place more importance on the mastery of game development through gaining expertise in groundbreaking game technology and implementing traditional concepts of art, efficiency, and creativity. The Master of Fine Arts track, however, is a much more in-depth program and takes 63 credits to complete. The extra time commitment is due to various areas of required mastery. Students must demonstrate mastery in critically evaluating aesthetics, meaning, and effect of imagery both in traditional art forms and in game design. There is also a greater emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, and creative presentation skills. In the former degree track, (MA) mastery of the arts is conducive yet peripheral to the mastery of game development; however, in the latter degree option, (MFA) complete mastery of the arts is considered fundamental to the objective of mastering game development.

Tuition: $1,031 per credit hour

#4 DePaul University

Master of Science in Game Programming Online

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In this 52 credit graduate program, DePaul University's Master of Science in Game Programming Online weaves emerging gaming trends and proven knowledge together so students are prepared for a real-life application of the degree. The curriculum addresses real world needs of the industry through topics based courses, including Artificial Intelligence for Computer Games, Applied 3D Geometry, Mobile Games Elective, and Project Management.

As the only online or hybrid model in this ranking, the College of Computing and Digital Media's online programs are accessible 24/7 for students desiring a flexible schedule. One of the most impressive accolades to note is that DePaul is one of the first universities to develop a game development course for mobile devices. Another would be that 86% of its students receive some form of financial aid, making this online graduate degree program in video game design a viable candidate for those seeking financial help.

Tuition: $850 per credit hour

#3 Savannah College of Art & Design

Master of Arts (MA) in Interactive Design and Game Development, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interactive Design and Game Development

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Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is a school nationally renowned for its degree programs related to creativity and the arts. Because SCAD narrowed its degree offerings to those concerned with art and design, SCAD has been able to specialize in the components unique to the education of these topics. The effectiveness of this specialization is validated in national rankings and awards from various reputable ranking and review institutions. SCAD has also effectively migrated its specialized education techniques to the arena of online learning in SCAD's award-winning eLearning Department. SCAD's graduate-level eLearning Degrees deliver some of the most impressive distance learning technology in the industry, employing virtual classrooms where students can create and design projects in real-time with instructor and peer feedback.

Specifically, SCAD offers two game design graduate level degrees through its eLearning Department: A Master of Arts (MA) in Interactive Design and Game Development, and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interactive Design and Game Development. Both degree tracks combine fundamental art concepts with topics most pertinent to high-level jobs in the field in courses such as Contemporary Art, Character Development, Interactive Design and Media Application, Visual Interface and Information Design, and Scripting for Interactivity. Students can build their portfolios in agreement with personal interests and career goals through freedom of choice in coursework within these courses and through final projects, which are designed to showcase a student's individual specialties. The difference between the two degrees is the level to which the concepts and principles of the fine arts are applied. In the M.A. track, they are used in a supplemental fashion, whereas in the M.F.A. they are viewed as parallel objectives of equal importance as the mastery of game development.

Tuition: $834 per credit hour

#2 Full Sail University

Master of Science in Mobile Gaming Online

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Full Sail University's impressive ranking on the Princeton's Review's "Top 25 Graduate Schools for Game Design" is not the only unique characteristic that sets this graduate program apart from others. The degree concentrates specifically on the mobile gaming sphere, a focus that could greatly benefit students and help them stand out in today's growing gaming industry. With a degree track that only spans a 12 month period, the curriculum's goal is to develop the skills necessary to support a career in the design, production, and delivery of mobile gaming. Students focus on one class per month for the 12 month period, and courses include Computer Science for Engineers, Game Development Frameworks, and Mobile Gaming Business. At the end of the program, students will complete a culminating thesis and create a fully playable game from beginning to end. Providing graduate-level gaming research, FSU online couples cutting-edge technologies and classic theoretical concepts to craft a graduate degree suitable for today's modern gaming student or professional.

Tuition: $778 per credit hour

#1 Lindenwood University

Online Master of Arts in Game Design

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Lindenwood University, an internationally recognized four-year institution in St. Charles, Missouri, offers an online MA in Game Design that prepares the post-graduate student to explore advanced topics of game design and development. At LU online, students can conveniently learn anytime and anywhere in order to work ahead or review past work. While students can enroll in 9 credit hours per semester, the program curriculum is strategically crafted to provide students with the necessary skills to thrive in the game studio environment and to learn high-level game design and production techniques. Course topics include usability, game economics, storytelling, and character development. In this Master's degree in game design online, there are two graduation completion plans: non-thesis/applied project plan or a thesis track. In the applied project plan, students will apply culminating knowledge to create a final product as a way to document progress throughout the program. If students choose the thesis track, they will create an original body of written work that investigates a research question for one specific aspect of the given field of study.

Tuition: $430 per credit hour

This concludes our ranking of the Top Online Master's in Video Game Design and Development. Thanks for checking it out!

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