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Game Design and Development MS

Program overview

The master of science degree in game design and development explores the entertainment technology landscape, along with other related areas of software development. The program has its technical roots in the computing and information science disciplines, while simultaneously covering the breadth of the game development field through course work in topics such as computer graphics, game engines, interactive narrative, and game design. The degree is specifically for students who aspire to careers within the professional gaming industry or a related field such as simulation, edutainment, or visualization.

This is a two-year, on-campus, cohort-based program in which students are admitted through a portfolio review process. During the second year, students form development teams that construct a working game engine and software title as the program capstone experience. This requirement includes both individual and group expectations. The capstone culminates in a defense before program faculty, as well as a public exhibition. Combined, these requirements provide a unique and comprehensive educational experience for individuals who aspire to a career in the game development industry.


The program's curriculum consists of required courses, advanced electives, and a capstone experience.

Capstone experience

During the second year, students complete a team-based capstone experience where students present and defend their work. This presentation includes a faculty review, which constitutes the capstone defense, a public presentation, and a demonstration.

Game design and development, MS degree, typical course sequence

CourseSem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
IGME-601 Game Development Processes 3
IGME-602 Game Design 3
IGME-603 Gameplay and Prototyping 3
IGME-695 Colloquium in Game Design and Development 1
IGME-795 Game Industry Themes and Perspectives 1
  Advanced Electives 9
Second Year
IGME-788 Capstone Design 3
  Advanced Electives 6
IGME-695 Colloquium in Game Design and Development 1
IGME-789 Capstone Development 3
Total Semester Credit Hours 33

Advanced electives

Students choose five of the following advanced electives:

IGME-670 Digital Audio Production
IGME-671 Interactive Game Audio
IGME-680 IGM Production Studio
IGME-681 Innovation and Invention
IGME-720 Social and Pervasive Game Design
IGME-730 Game Design and Development for Casual and Mobile Platforms
IGME-740 Game Graphics Programming
IGME-750 Game Engine Design and Development
IGME-760 Artificial Intelligence for Gameplay
IGME-790 Graduate Seminar in IGM
IGME-796 Advanced Topics in Game Design*
IGME-797 Advanced Topics in Game Development*
IGME-799 Independent Study

* Advanced topics are offered in subjects as diverse as game networking and player motivation.

Admission requirements

To be considered for admission to the MS in game design and development, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, such as information technology, computer science, software engineering, or computer graphics. Students with undergraduate degrees in related disciplines such as computer animation or human-computer interaction may be considered.
  • Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.25 or a first-class international degree with distinction.
  • Submit a portfolio that includes evidence of individual and group projects (clearly marked as such) relevant to the area that the individual wishes to study within the degree program.
  • Complete a graduate application.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 570 (paper-based) or 88 (Internet-based) is required. International applicants also are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Due to the cohort nature of the program, students are admitted in the fall semester only. Admission to the program is highly competitive. While GRE scores are not required for domestic students, students may submit scores to strengthen their application. Those applicants with a GPA below 3.25 are required to submit GRE scores.

Additional information


Students are expected to have at least one year of significant programming experience in a current object-oriented language—preferably C++ or Java—and a solid working knowledge of website development and interactive multimedia concepts. If students do not have these prerequisites, additional course work may be recommended to bridge any educational gaps.

Maximum time limit

University policy requires that graduate programs be completed within seven years of the student's initial registration for courses in the program. Bridge courses are excluded.

Career Outcomes

Recent Employers

Activision, Electronic Arts, Garage Games, Helixe, High Moon, Linden Lab, Maxis, Microsoft, Northrup Grumman Undersea Systems, Red Storm, SONY Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA), SONY Online Entertainment (SOE), The Collective, Vicarious Visions, Volition, Zynga, and many more!

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