Future Graduate Students

Visit us

Prospective graduate students should e-mail Shameelah Thomas at scwigm@rit.edu to coordinate a visit or explore alternate options.

For all future students, IGM provides small-group tours and presentations from 3-5pm Monday - Friday, which we have found extremely effective for students to learn about our programs. Please reserve your spot by filling out this interest form: forms.gle/hTKrCm2ipUNLQVC66. After making a reservation, you will receive specific directions on when/where/how to meet us.


Courses for all first year MS GDD Students Core Courses

You will be automatically signed up for all core (required) MS courses that first year students take in their fall semester at the end of July. These courses are the following and will account for seven of the nine credits required for full time status as a graduate student:

IGME 601 Game Development Processes: This course examines the individual and group roles of the development process model within the game design and development industry. Students will transform design document specifications into software and hardware needs for developers, testers, and end users. Students will examine team dynamics and processes for technical development, content development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Students will explore the design process through the deconstruction of the game industry's software lifecycle model.

IGME 602 Game Design: This course presents students with core theories of game design, informed by research results from media theory, narrative methods and models, theories of ideation, and the nature of games, play and fun. Specific emphasis is placed on the examination of historical successes and failures, along with presentation of ethical and cultural issues related to the design of interactive software. Students will engage in formal critique and analysis of media designs and their formal elements.

IGME 695 Colloquium in Game Design and Development: This required colloquium will introduce students to a range of emerging topics and themes in the field of game design and development. Students will attend lectures by and discussions with RIT faculty and visitors, complete related readings, and offer both oral and written responses to readings and presentations.


Students will sign up for one three-credit elective after arriving on campus for a total of 10 credits of coursework. Students taking a bridge course may elect to take just the bridge course and an elective the next semester. The following electives may be taken by first year MS students.

IGME 622 – Game Balance: This course is an in-depth exploration of the sub-field of game design known as balance. Topics include: transitive mechanics and cost/power curves; economic systems in games; probability and the psychology of randomness; pseudorandom numbers; situational balance; level/XP curves, advancement and pacing; tuning; statistics, metrics, and analytics; intransitive mechanics, game theory, and payoff matrices; and the applied use of spreadsheets.

IGME 680 – Production Studio (Aaron Nieboer; adjunct faculty): This course will allow students to work as on their own project either in a group or individually. Students should generally have a project in mind when they sign up for the course.

IGME 690 – Seminar on Multiuser Development of Games and Media: This course examines the design and development of multiuser game and interactive media applications. This course starts with the fundamentals of hardware and protocols for networked applications and advances through the construction of client/server applications. In this course, students will examine the construction of networking architectures and protocols for open game and media engines and will learn to create their own systems to address issues related to latency and error. Students in this course will be introduced to modern techniques for prediction and interpolation. Topics related to authoritative process and security will also be discussed in this course. Students will be expected to work on projects individually or in teams through the creation of their own multiuser experiences or through extending an existing framework and/or application.

IGME 742 – Level Design: This course introduces level design theory and best practice through game level analysis, evaluation, and creation. Students will explore the history of various game genres and the design of their levels, analyze game levels from existing games, and discuss what made those levels successful or unsuccessful. Through their analysis and hands-on experience, students will gain an understanding of overall level design including layout, flow, pacing, narrative, and balance. They will enhance their understanding of level design principles by creating their own game levels.

IGME 760 – AI for Gameplay : This course explores artificial intelligence concepts and research through both a theoretical perspective and a practical application to game development.  In particular the course focuses on AI concepts and paradigms such as search and representation, reasoning under uncertainty, intelligent agents, biologically inspired computing and machine learning to real-time situations and applications as relevant to the field of entertainment technology and simulation.

IGME 796 Topics in Game Design (War Game Design – taught online): Course about the design of war games taught by an individual from the Army War College.

IGME 797 - Topics in Game Development – Machine Learning for Games (taught online): Course that will primarily involve machine learning topics such as reinforcement learning and deep neural networks as taught by an industry professional that works with the machine learning group at Unity Technologies.



Things to Do  Before Arriving at RIT

Employment Opportunities at RIT


A portfolio is a sample of your previous work that may be given as part of your application to the Game Design and Development MS degree program. Portfolios may include (but are certainly not limited to) the following types of articles:

  • Small games or programming exercises from undergraduate work
    • Simple game engines
    • Game artificial intelligence
    • Level or map systems
    • Computer graphics
    • Usage of current APIs
  • Level designs
  • Character designs
  • Work in user-interface or control systems for games / entertainment
  • Game “mods” for existing titles, constructed using scripting languages
  • Game development narratives
  • Audio treatments (music, audio effects, etc.)
  • Internal and external documentation samples
  • 2D or 3D game art / models / etc.
  • Group work at the undergraduate level

The primary focus of the portfolio review is to ensure that students have appropriate background preparation for the Game Design and Development degree. The portfolio process is also designed to provide baseline samples of core concepts such as object-oriented programming, computer literacy, and other desired skills. All entering students are expected to exhibit these skills and all portfolios are expected to contain source code in order to demonstrate proficiency in software development.

A portfolio submission can be very simple. Most individuals choose to put their portfolio materials on a website or Dropbox along with a description of the materials and then they just submit the website or Dropbox link to us. This is the preferred submission method. Some individuals choose to send us a CD or DVD with the materials. If portfolio items are done as part of a group (like a group project), then please make sure to include the role in design/development of the person applying for admission.

A faculty committee is constituted in February in order to review applications. In contrast to some other degrees within GCCIS, there will be ONE entry point into the program, in the fall

semester. Students may submit an application at any time, but these will be held in a queue. Applications are reviewed as they come in and priority for financial aid is given to those applications submitted before March 31st. Each entering class is estimated at 30 students.

Students should submit a paid deposit in order to hold an acceptance slot.

Application fees for existing RIT students applying to the MS degree program are waived.

This is an issue that will need to be addressed on a course-by-course basis.

In any case, where a course is waived at the graduate level, a suitable replacement course would need to be found, with the consent of the graduate director.

Standard rules for transfer credit, as they relate to RIT graduate programs, apply here. These credits may count towards the completion of the degree, as deemed appropriate by the admissions committee. These credits cannot then count towards any other graduate degree. In cases where transfer credit allows a student to fall below the full-time enrollment requirements, students will have the option of filing for equivalency for the given semester or taking an elective course in another area.

Yes, a student may choose to co-op. If a student chooses to do a co-op during their degree, because of the cohort nature of the program, the student really only has two options for a co- op experience: either the nature of their work experience could be completed in the summer between the first and second year, or the student could work an entire year, skipping a year between their first and second academic experiences. Such a scenario would mean that a student would enter with one cohort and finish with another, but would be “on track” for both the seminar sequences and capstone experience with respect to scheduling and enrollment.

Most MS degrees are more specialized than their BS counterparts. This is true of the MS in GDD. While students need background competency in programming and web and interactive media development, this degree program is specifically tailored for individuals who aspire to

work in the commercial games industry or a closely related field such as computer simulation, edutainment, or serious games. This is not a general computing MS degree.

MS-GDD is a two-year, full-time, Master of Science program that is designed to build solid technical depth along with the professional competencies necessary for successful employment in the commercial games industry or a closely related field.

No. Courses in the MS-GDD are only available to other department's MS students on a case- by-case basis with instructor approval. Even when a student petitions the instructor and enrolls in an MS GDD course, this is not the same experience as being enrolled in the MS-GDD degree. Instead of a customized course or concentration, MS-GDD students take many MS GDD courses and have a cohorted capstone experience at the end of the degree.

When we switched from quarters to semesters at RIT, the faculty chose to remove tracks from the degree program. We found that no two students have exactly the same goals and that design and development commonly overlap. Thus, we do not offer the experience where students only take design or development courses. We give students the flexibility to determine what goals they want to achieve with their own coursework in terms of 5 electives in the field.

A MS capstone is the culminating creative experience for masters-level graduate study. The MS-GDD has a decidedly different capstone experience from a normal individual thesis or project that is expected in most computing MS degree programs. It is an intensive six-credit project implemented as a two-course sequence in the second year of study focusing on first the design, and then the development of a complete game implementation. These courses are designed for team work that reflects the game industry software production experience.

Students develop capstone ideas that include both individual and team goals and responsibilities. These ideas are then reviewed and approved by the MS-GDD faculty. The MS- GDD faculty evaluate capstone projects in the spring term of the second year of study.

Successful students then defend their work by participating in a public showing before members of the academic community and invited guests from the game and entertainment industries. An optional backup showing can be scheduled for the subsequent term if necessary.

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