Online Master's Degree in Game Design

Individuals looking to start a career in the video game industry designing and programming games might consider an online master's degree in game design. Explore these online degree options and get information on common courses and standard admission requirements. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Game Design Online Master's Program Information

An online master's degree program in game design or programming can help qualify successful graduates for work in the video game industry in a variety of positions. These programs can be completed in as few as 36 credit hours and can involve a thesis or project wherein students generate an original academic piece about the field of video games or a product. Students can learn about topics such as research, design, programming, and computer science as they relate to video game design through a series of graduate-level online courses. Students in these programs may also be encouraged or required to complete an internship program as part of their master's degree curriculum. Associated coursework can commonly include an evaluation or an in-class discussion of the internship.

Art & Design

These courses may be interdisciplinary courses within the art department and allow students to gain a foundational understanding of art concepts and studio skills that may prove useful in the field of video game design, such as digital painting, 3D modeling, and concept art. Students may also study art from an academic standpoint. These topics could potentially include the history of digital art, studies in different art styles, and concept design theories.

History and Theory

A course that discusses the history of video games as well as a history of analog games, and a history of the technologies involved, can help students contextualize video games within a larger framework and understand them on a more fundamental level. Students in courses such as these may look at the various genres and styles of video games that have developed over the past few decades as the medium has matured. Students may also discuss the impact that video games have had over the years, both as an industry and in terms of the psychological questions that this new medium of storytelling and entertainment might raise.

Level/Environment Design

These courses can instruct students on the conceptual, thematic, and artistic design of 3D levels and spaces in games. Students may learn how to conceptualize and model both indoor and outdoor spaces and how to layout these spaces in a way that allows for and enhances movement, storytelling, and gameplay in general. Students may also learn about the technical side of 3D asset handling, such as exporting and transferring 3D assets and mastering 3D assets for use in multiple rendering programs and graphics playback engines.


This course introduces students to the scripting languages used to create computer graphics. In some courses, students might explore the benefits of using scripting languages versus other graphics programming methods and get hands-on experience creating complex animations. Other courses might require students to focus on developing interactive applications using scripting languages.

Research Methods and Writing

A course about research methods can offer students a foundation in the skills needed to discover the answers to their questions while developing games. These courses can give students an overview of various research methods and instruct them on how to properly compose and publish research of their own. Students typically have opportunities to undertake research under the guidance of faculty members.

Online Master's in Game Design Admission Requirements

Students applying to these online master's degree programs are generally required to have maintained at least a 2.5 GPA. This will have to be demonstrated through official transcripts of all previous postsecondary schools attended. GRE scores may also be submitted, but they are optional for some schools, or else may be supplemental for any student whose GPA does not meet the university's minimum threshold. Students may also need to have references or recommendations from up to three previous professors. A statement of purpose is also common for admission, wherein students describe their academic and professional goals as they relate to video game design and the program. Students might also be asked to provide samples of previous work in the field of video game design, such as undergraduate projects, 3D assets, concept art, or anything else that might go in a portfolio.

Online master's degree programs in game design can be a good option for students wishing to advance their studies through online courses such as game history and theory and level design. Admissions requirements for these programs are pretty standard for a master's degree in the arts, with schools typically requiring at least a 2.5 GPA, a statement of purpose, and a portfolio.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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