What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Game Design?

What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Game Design?

A master’s in game design is a great way to become a leader or specialist in the fast-growing gaming industry.

Game design refers to the design, development, marketing, and distribution of video games for computers, consoles, arcades, smart devices, and interactive web media. An advanced degree could provide you with the specialized skills and credentials to stand out in a highly competitive field. The multibillion-dollar video game industry offers countless opportunities for career advancement for designers, programmers, graphic artists, writers, and more.

Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the game design major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in game design.

If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Game Design.

Or read on to find out what you can expect as a game design master.

Featured Programs

Why get a master’s degree in game design?

As a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry, game design offers opportunities for a wide variety of professionals, whether you bring computer science, technical design, graphic arts, production planning, or business administration skills to the field. Game design is a uniquely multidisciplinary field, one in which a wide variety of talents must come together to design, develop, test, and market innovative new games, consoles, and concepts.

In other words, one of the best reasons to get a master’s degree in game design is because there may be a place for you in this industry no matter what your talents and professional ambitions are. Indeed, today, top influencers in game design are breaking new ground in video game storytelling, arcade console development, interactive fiction gaming, and much more.

Learn more about these and other top influencers in the game design field today!

How can I qualify to get a master’s degree in game design?

There is no specific entrance exam for gaining admission into a game design master’s program, though some programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of game design. Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one game design master’s program to the next.

If no GRE is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into a game design master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.

Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!

For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements such as computer science or programming language courses, and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals. If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the game design major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in game design.

What kinds of advanced game design degrees are there?

The growing number of advanced degrees available in this highly specialized field is strong proof of how much credibility the game design field has achieved in just the last decade. In the past, it was more common for the advanced game design degrees to be offered as a computer science master’s degree concentration. And this may still be the case in many schools. However, an increasing number of universities are offering advanced degrees in game design at both the master’s and doctoral levels:

  • Master of Game Design: Earning a master’s degree in game design can set you on a path toward high earnings and industry leadership. This two-year program gives you the chance to immerse yourself in a specific area of design, from software development and game engineering to sound editing and web security. In addition, your master’s degree will give you an edge with employers, as well as qualify you to advance within your organization.
  • PhD in Games: As a sign of this field’s incredible growth, schools are increasingly offering this terminal degree in game design. Often housed in a larger school such as the School of Computer Science, or the School of Communication, this doctoral degree will give you the chance to conduct research in a field defined by technological innovation. You could also qualify to become a professor in game design or a related subject area.

What are some popular game design specializations?

One of the best reasons to earn a master’s degree in game design is because it gives you the opportunity to dedicate your energy to a specific area of focus. This highly interdisciplinary industry offers inroads to those with creative, technical, and organizational skills. You’ll choose your specialization based on the aspects of the field that most interest you. Popular specializations include:

  • Design and Visual Communications
  • Commercial and Advertising Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Game and Interactive Media Design

What courses will I take as a game design master?

Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a game design major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Computer Graphics and Programming Languages, as well as develop an original research thesis or complete a practicum. But you’ll also have a chance to choose an array of classes that most interest you and align with your professional goals. Common game design courses include:

  • Computer Animation
  • 3-D Modeling
  • Game History
  • Game Industry Themes and Perspectives
  • Game Development Processes
  • Design Methods for Interactivity
  • Game Design Perspectives
  • Immersive Human-Computer Interaction
  • Production Management and Interactive Media

Is a master’s degree in game design worth it?

In May 2022, Statista reported that the video game industry would top $203 billion in revenue for the year, with growth expected in 2023 in both sales and career opportunities. Because this is such a competitive field, earning a master’s degree can help you stand out and it can arm you with a valuable specialization. This is a great way to improve your earning potential in an industry filled with opportunity.

What are the top jobs with a master’s in game design degree?

The growth in the game design field is about more than recreational gaming. In addition to rapid growth in areas like eSports, augmented reality, and RPG, game design masters go on to work in educational technology, mobile app development, and more. The combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and creative thinking that you’ll master as part of your advanced game design degree program will apply in many different workplace settings. Your game design master can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:

Career Outlook for Students with Game Design Degree

Go to Degree Finder tool

Game And Interactive Media Design

Degree Level: Master's

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Cost of Degree*: $15,088
  • Avg. Expenses*: $16,514
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $42,476
  • Avg. Salary after 4 Years*: $58,895
  • Avg. Cost Recoup Time**: 7 years
  • Job Growth: 4.77%
  • Number of Jobs: 352,100
  • * denotes ‘annually’
  • ** denotes ‘at 15% of annual salary’

Career Salaries

CareerJob GrowthAvg. Salary
Special Effects Artists and Animators8.17%$78,763
Art, Drama, and Music Teachers, Postsecondary3.15%$71,919
Postsecondary Teachers, All Other3.61%$68,169
Designers, All Other3.28%$64,158
Artists and Related Workers, All Other3.57%$55,275

Average Career Salaries

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%

Promising Job Markets

StateCost of LivingAvg. Salary
#2 Missouri16% higher than average$69,366
#3 New York5% higher than average$85,597
#4 Georgia13% higher than average$70,653
#5 California26% higher than average$98,508
#6 Arkansas16% higher than average$64,600

Top Industries

IndustryAvg. Salary
Motor Vehicle Manufacturing$179,860
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities$165,490
Computing Infrastructure Providers, Data Processing, Web Hosting, and Related Services$129,630

Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in game design? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!


Now that you know how to earn a masters in game design, check out The Most Influential Schools in Game Design:

Check out the full list here and get started on your path to an advanced game design degree.

And if you’re still shopping for the right college, be sure to bookmark our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!

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