9 Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Game Design in 2023

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If you’re a skilled and talented art or design student that dreams of combining your traditional art and design skills with the latest and most innovative cutting-edge technologies, then it’s best to consider earning an online master’s degree in game design.

There are many reasons to earn a Master’s in Game Design online. Maybe you’re a video game enthusiast wanting to go full-time in the field. You are not alone. So many interested video game development enthusiasts who want to do more.! Thankfully, there are different master’s programs in Video Game Design today designed for those who plan to become leaders in game development companies or for people who love to create games or stories.

Featured Programs

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In Game Design, you can earn three types of degrees: Master of Arts, which gives you more freedom in the course electives; Master of Fine Arts, which focuses more on artistic practices; and the Master of Science, which concentrates on your choice of electives.

Some of the popular titles of master’s degree programs in game studies include:

  • MFA Video Game Design
  • MS Game Design and Development
  • MS Video Gaming
  • MS Game Design
  • MS Mobile Gaming
  • MFA Game Design

An online master’s in game design is designed primarily to allow students to continue working and doing other life commitments while simultaneously earning a program that offers convenience and flexibility to study from their workplaces or at home.


We have listed the country’s best online graduate degree programs for game development designed specifically for students who are looking for affordable and convenient top-rated schools.

Each of these online master’s graduate degree programs in Game Design in this list made it to our top picks based on these factors:

  • Offers the flexibility of distance learning with 100% online or partially online and on-campus coursework to accommodate students seeking to earn the Game Design degree at a comfortable pace,
  • Features rigorous coursework that introduces Game Design students to the fundamentals of the job, underscoring the technologies, techniques, and skills needed for a successful Game Design career,
  • Prepares undergraduates for numerous career pathways while also enabling them to take the next academic level by pursuing a master’s degree,
  • Emphasizes projects that allow students to craft effective portfolios while working through their degree program,
  • Taught by skilled professors who are Game Design terminal degree holders and industry experts,
  • Received accreditation from academic agencies that promote and safeguard the standards of teaching, particularly for online Game Design programs.

Read our Methodology to find out more about our undergraduate degree ranking process.

9 of the Best Online Master’s in Game Design Programs

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University

180 New Montgomery St., San Francisco, California 94105, United States

+1 800-544-2787

Master of Fine Arts in Game Development

The MFA Game Development program at the Academy of Art University is perfect for students who wish to further their careers by synthesizing design fundamentals and traditional art with today’s technologies.

  • Students in this game development degree program will enhance their skills through hands-on prototyping of art creation and game mechanics.
  • This fine arts master’s degree is completed with a thesis project and an industry-quality portfolio.
  • Thru this online game design master’s degree, students can translate visual references and research in creating 3D characters suitable for the artistic style of a project.
  • The MFA thesis project of this program allows students to create a project that shows their professional-level achievement in their specialty.

The Academy of Art University is National Association of Schools of Art and Design-accredited. It also received its regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2007.

Standout Features of the Academy of Art University Online Master of Fine Arts Degree Program:

This online program is a perfect choice for a future game designer because students will engage in various communities outside the classroom through study abroad programs, internship opportunities, student interest clubs, and athletics, as well as civic, collaborative, and pro bono projects.

Did you know?

The Academy of Art University is still one of the country’s biggest private art and design schools in the US.

Lindenwood University

Lindenwood University

209 S Kingshighway St., St. Charles, MO 63301, United States

+1 636-949-2000

Online Master of Arts in Game Design

Lindenwood University offers an online master’s degree in game design for post-graduate students who wish to explore more advanced degrees and topics in game design and development.

  • This online master’s degree, which is also offered on-campus, is one of the most affordable game design graduate degree programs that offer flexible and convenient course schedules to help students further their career goals and manage their demanding and busy lives.
  • Students will explore key concepts in the video game industry, from aesthetics to game economics to immersion and usability, as well as foundational topics like character development and storytelling.
  • Portfolio courses and projects are woven throughout the degree program for a more comprehensive and relevant experience.
  • This graduate degree program integrates immersive reality technologies throughout the whole course using a virtual reality headset identified by the department. Thru these technologies, students will have a fully immersive educational experience that leads to a better understanding and greater engagement of subjects covered in their classes.

Lindenwood University is Higher Learning Commission-approved.

Standout Features of Lindenwood University’s Online Master of Arts in Game Design:

Students have the chance to earn their graduate degree in game design in just one thru Lindenwood University’s fast-track program. This is a flexible program that requires 30 credit hours that allows students to combine traditional classroom and online courses in a schedule that works for them.

However, students who will consider the Fast Track option must hold an undergraduate degree in a field of specialization or any related area with extensive coursework. They should also have a 3.5 GPA in their coursework and must submit GRE test results.

Did you know?

Lindenwood University offers an extensive range of scholarships to support student success. According to the NCES or National Center for Educational Statistics, 88% of the total school population, both in undergraduate and graduate programs, at Lindenwood receive scholarships.

Full Sail University

Full Sail University

3300 University Boulevard, Winter Park, FL 32792, United States

+1 407-679-6333

Online Master of Science in Game Design

This is an online master’s degree with coursework that focuses on project management, production, design, and user experience research.

  • This Full Sail University Master’s degree program is designed to prepare students for specialized roles in the gaming industry by teaching them the skills they need to contribute to multidisciplinary development teams.
  • Students get to choose a track that will allow them to concentrate on their chosen field of expertise, whether it’s working as producers, user experience researchers, or game designers to make and publish interactive games. They can even specialize in an industry niche or genre in evaluating and improving current real-world products.

This graduate education has course highlights, including:

  • Methods and the User Experience: This will provide students with a scientific framework to help them define and test variables that presently exist within the usually-ambiguous and challenging process of game design.
  • Prototyping and Content Creation: This focuses on providing students with the necessary techniques and tools for the development of working prototypes. This will allow them to test and further refine their design concepts.

Full Sail University Winter Park is Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Collegesa-approved.

Standout Features of Full Sail University’s Online Master of Science in Game Design:

Project Lunchbox, a Full Sail program, is offered at the school and is designed to provide students with the most powerful technologies to help them create their projects. All of the student’s multimedia creations, files, and coursework, can easily be accessed any time of the day.

Did you know?

Both undergraduate and graduate programs at Full Sail University Winter Park are offered at a faster pace than conventional schools so that students can easily adapt to the nature of their chosen industries. They will learn more in a shorter period, thus allowing them to start out their professional path earlier.

DePaul University

DePaul University - College of Computing and Digital Media

1 E. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, United States

+1 312-362-8000

Online Master of Science in Game Programming

The online master in game programming at DePaul University is ideal for those who are interested to be adept in game development programming at the highest level. This includes computer graphics, real-time computing for game studios, and professional retooling for the game industry.

  • Students delve deeper into computer graphics, software development and engineering, artificial intelligence, computer animation, networking, and software architecture.
  • This degree addresses the needs of industry through special, topic-based classes. The courses are delivered with a mixture of practice and theory and cover proven knowledge and emerging trends in the industry.
  • Thru the course curriculum, which is available online or on campus, students will further understand the connection between realized issues and applied systems that they are likely to professional face in years to come.

DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Standout Features of DePaul University’s Online Master of Science in Game Programming:

This game programming curriculum is designed to address the current needs of the industry. Specialized and hands-on experience in software development, software methodologies, and parallel computing architecture. All these will give students a huge competitive edge in today’s job market.

Did you know?

DePaul University introduces the DePaul Esports Gaming Center open to all DePaul students. This is a perfect place for students to flex their competitive edge in different esports titles. Whether they are seasoned veterans or just new players, the center is where they can find all esports-related games.

Savannah College of Art and Design


342 Bull Street, PO Box 3146, Savannah, GA 31402, United States

+1 912-525-5532

Online MA in Interactive Design and Game Development; Online MFA in Interactive Design and Game Development

Savannah College of Art and Design, a nationally renowned for its degree programs related to creativity and the arts. Thru its graduate-level eLearning degrees, it offers two game design master’s programs: the Master of Arts in Interactive Design & Game Development, and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interactive Design and Game Development.

  • Both of these degree tracks combine basic art concepts with topics relevant to high-level jobs in the field.
  • Courses include Character Development, Contemporary Art, Interactive Design and Media Application, Scripting for Interactivity, and Visual Interface and Information Design.
  • The main difference between these two master’s degree programs is the level to which the principles and concepts of the fine arts are applied. In the MFA track, they are viewed as of equal importance as game development mastery, whereas in the MA track, they are used in a supplemental fashion.

Savannah College of Art and Design is Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges-recognized.

Standout Features of Savannah College of Art & Design – Online MA/MFA in Interactive Design and Game Development:

Students have the freedom to choose their coursework within the curriculum according to their career goals and personal interests. This can be achieved through a capstone project.

Did you know?

Savannah College of Art and Design offers GRADpath@SCAD, a program that allows incoming freshmen to earn their undergraduate and graduate programs in a continuous and accelerated program of study. By using summer quarters, students in this program can complete a BFA and MA in just four years, or a BFA and MFA in just five.

University of Advancing Technology

University of Advancing Technology

2625 W Baseline Road, Tempe, Arizona 85283, United States

+1 800-658-5744

Online Master of Science – Game Production and Management

The University of Advancing Technology offers an online MS in Game Production and Management primarily dedicated to helping graduate students develop and hone their management skill sets that set them apart from others.

  • This game design program is suited for those who intend to take on more of a business and leadership role in the video gaming industry.
  • Classes are offered year-round and include course topics like Critical Game Studies, Game Marketing and Advertising, The Business of Gaming, and Game Processes and Pipeline.
  • The ultimate goal of this master’s degree is to develop the needed skills to develop games from start to end, and to provide students with the necessary materials in bringing a game to market.
  • Thru this online learning, students are provided with the standard tools necessary in building a collaborative working environment that promotes teamwork that is mirrored in the real world.

The University of Advancing Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Standout Features of the University of Advancing Technology’s Online MS in Game Production and Management:

This program provides immersion in an innovative culture and intellectual atmosphere where multidisciplinary minds design and thrive, and where innovation is a must for each student’s educational goals.

Did you know?

Through skill-based and innovative learning modules, the University of Advancing Technology came up with a program that allows graduate students to take modules toward a degree. They can take these modules independently, as a certificate, or combined with more modules to afford them the degree options most suited to their passion.

University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri - Online

Columbia, Missouri 65211, United States

+1 573-882-2121

Online Master of Science in Learning Technologies and Design

This online master’s degree is designed to help students develop the skills and knowledge usually needed to design learning systems.

  • This online program further develops and hones every student’s knowledge of network applications and digital media.
  • This degree is ideal for those who prefer to collaboratively work with faculty and other students in producing a portfolio documenting their work and accomplishments.
  • Instruction includes research methods in IT, design courses, and front-end analysis of systems. An internship in information science and learning technologies is required to complete the program.

The University of Missouri-Columbia is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Standout Features of the University of Missouri-Columbia’s MS in Learning Technologies and Design:

This online course requires 30 credit hours to complete and only costs $15,315.00 ($510.50 per credit hour). Federal financial aids are also available, and military and veteran students are eligible for a 10% reduced rate on their base tuition.

Did you know?

The University of Missouri System is a multi-billion enterprise with a massive statewide reach, composed of four universities, an extension division, and a health system, together with numerous business incubators, research parks, affiliates, health centers, and more.

University of Southern California

University of Southern California - Viterbi

University Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90089

+1 213-740-2311

MS in Computer Science – Game Development

  • The objective is to produce students equipped with knowledge of computer science, a concentration in one of the major research directions in game development infrastructure, and an engineering-oriented game development core.
  • Students who complete this program become more capable of engineering next-generation simulation and games and their corresponding technologies in the entertainment and serious games fields.
  • The long-term goal of this program is to establish a firm research and development direction that will create a science of games.

The University of Southern California is a Western Association of Schools and Colleges-approved institution.

Standout Features of USC’s Online MS in Computer Science: Game Development:

For international students, this online master’s program will qualify them for the OPT STEM extension, a program where students are eligible for a 24-month extension of their work authorization, provided that they have earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctoral degree in a STEM field.

Did you know?

Since 1912, USC is the only institution in the world to have a gold medalist athlete in every Summer Olympiad. The school excels in nearly all aspects of college, from community involvement to sports and international relations.

Brandeis University

Brandeis University

415 South St., Waltham, MA 02453, United States

+1 781-736-2000

Online Master of Software Engineering

Students who are interested in game design should understand that software engineering is the foundation of becoming a great game designer. At Brandeis University, their 30-credit online master of software engineering program is designed to help students keep up with the ever-constant changes in the software engineering sector.

  • This master’s degree expands the student’s skills in game science and software development, as well as in other areas like developing, designing, validating, and maintaining software systems.
  • Students will immerse themselves in cutting-edge technologies and life cycle approaches and develop a solid project portfolio they can show to present and future employers.
  • This program includes six required courses on major topics that are aligned with the life cycles of software development like expert software development, object-oriented design, and software testing techniques.
  • Students can choose up to four elective courses, including Mobile Games and Applications, Cloud Computing, and Responsive Web Design.

Brandeis University New England Commission on Higher Education or NECHE-accredited.

Standout Features of Brandeis University’s Online Master in Software Engineering:

Students in this master’s degree have the chance to declare a concentration in cybersecurity using their chosen elective courses.

Did you know?

Brandeis University is not the first institution to be the home of its present location. The place used to be the home of Middlesex University, a medical and veterinary school. Also, the school used to have a castle until it was completely renovated in 2016.

Careers in Game Design Master Degree Holders

With a master’s degree in game design, your goal, obviously, is to secure a job as a game designer. However, like with most careers, there are various levels you need to move through before finally reaching the top. Below are some of the possible jobs you will qualify for if you hold a master’s degree in game design.

  • Lead Game Designer: You will be responsible for supervising a team on a particular area or level of design like world-building or animation. You will also be creating the storyboard and flowchart that your team will follow when designing a game.
  • Senior Video Game Designer: You are in charge of an entire team and will have a handful of details to monitor during project development- from concept to quality assurance testing.
  • Senior Project Manager, Game Design: You will oversee the whole project of your team, making sure that the gaming projects remain on schedule and stay within the budget. You will also handle the hiring and scheduling to guarantee each department has the right number of team members.
  • Senior Software Engineer/Developer/Programmer: Since game design and development are taught in the same program, you may opt to work as a developer, monitoring all the practical aspects of the game development and production process.
Best Grad Schools with Online Master's in Game Design - fact

Common Courses Required in a Master’s Degree in Game Design and Development

Level Design: Students will learn this course by studying example games throughout history and by creating their level designs. By assessing different game levels from different various genres, students can easily discern what makes a successful level design.

Virtual World Building: This course provides students an extensive knowledge of game design; from materials to texture to common methodologies. They will work use various methods in building an entire virtual world as they work within a game engine.

Computer Animation: This is where students will gain more skills in technical programming. They will learn how to properly use different algorithms usually used in the gaming industry. Students will also work on behavioral systems and programming motion within a game setting.

User Experience Design: When developing games, it’s crucial to always keep the user experience in mind. Thus, students in game design and development should learn how they can implement human-centered designs. They should learn how to assess how user-friendly a product is and also focus on various human-centered design strategies.

Key Takeaways

  • A Master’s in Game Design and Development can improve your creative skills and stimulate your entrepreneurial skills both as a developer and designer.
  • Enrolling in the best master’s program in Game Design can push your gaming career to the next level by honing your skills in planning, business strategies, marketing, and branding for the modern gaming industry.
  • Game Design and Development programs teach students how to build innovative games and help them how to program computer and mobile games.

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor