Master of Arts Game Design

Innovate with purpose.

Design Games with Impact

As the only program of its kind in the United States, the Master of Arts in Game Design drives students to stretch their capacities as designers, developers, consumers, and game administrators and apply that to their unique field of interest. Students bring to the program their own experiences—whether in politics, science, art, history, marketing, or international studies—and can choose from multidisciplinary courses across our schools of communication, business, and arts.

Bring your creativity into play. Through game design theory, development, and design, our students bring about behavior change, expand awareness, and make a difference. Students leave with the skills and experience they need to succeed in applying game design to non-game contexts.

Well-rounded Learning Experience

With a 4:1 full-time student to faculty ratio, Game Lab students benefit from one-on-one interaction with world-renowned faculty. From working with Game Studio clients to performing scholarly research, students are able to learn from, and work side-by-side with faculty.

Admissions

The School of Communication reviews graduate applications on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity. Learn more about our admissions process.

Administered jointly by the School of Communication and the Department of Computer Science College of Arts and Sciences, the Game Design (MA) is a unique, multi-disciplinary 36-credit hour program focused on game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. The program develops the intellectual capacity of students as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. Beyond traditional game design and development, students learn to tailor play design for distinct education purposes.

Cost and Financial Assistance

The MA in Game Design is a 36 credit program. To estimate the cost of tuition, please see the current cost per credit hour for graduate students.

The School of Communication offers graduate students both merit-based and need-based financial aid. Merit awards are administered by the SOC Graduate Admissions Office, while need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. Additional financial support is available for veterans.

75 percent

of students receive financial assistance

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no typical Game Center student! Students bring their unique backgrounds and passions to the program, having addressed diverse topics such as mental health, social justice, journalism, politics, money management, and advertising. The program can lend itself to your particular area of interest.

You do not need to have a background in coding to become a Game Design student, just a love for games and the desire to learn.

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, Washington, DC, offers game design master’s students unparalleled access to private and public sector opportunities. 

Take advantage of institutional relationships with government agencies, locally based companies, and not-for-profits alike. Clients you may contract with include the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and WAMU 88.5.  

Connect through renowned DC-held events, such as Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian MuseumGlobal Game JamGames+, and more. 

Whether your next career step is local or global, you’ll gain the skills and network you need to succeed.

The Master of Arts in Game Design is a unique, multi-disciplinary 36-credit hour program focused on game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. 

The program will develop students' intellectual capacity as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. Beyond traditional game design and development, students learn to tailor play design for distinct education purposes

Required courses such as Games and Rhetoric and Games and Society take students beyond the fundamentals of building a great game. With their 9 credit hours of electives, students are able to choose from a variety of concentrations, or create one of their own.

Complete Degree and Course Requirements

Program Director Andy Phelps is an augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) expert with a wide-ranging background in game design, education, art and interactive experiences. He is co-founder and currently serves as president of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) and he is also a professor at the Human Interface Technologies Laboratory NZ (HITLabNZ)within the College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury.

With a 4:1 full-time student to faculty ratio, Game Lab students benefit from one-on-one interaction with world-renowned faculty. From working with Game Studio clients to performing scholarly research, students are able to learn from, and work side-by-side with faculty.

Still have questions? Check our general admission FAQ or send us an email: GradComm@american.edu