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International students who have decided to pursue a graduate degree in video game design will need to become acquainted with the curriculum, specialty, and program structure of any prospective institutions. This article offers an overview of a graduate degree in game design, as well as a typical list of courses an international student can expect. The article also distinguishes between the sorts of graduate degrees in video game design a student can acquire, and the specific jobs they equip graduates to hold.

International students pursuing a graduate degree in game design must keep several important factors in mind when deciding upon which graduate program is best for them. Given the study is at the graduate level, the demand on behalf of employers for the specialized degree being received ought to be at the forefront of any prospective students' minds. A graduate degree should enable those who possess it to achieve higher levels of employment and responsibility than their counterparts with only undergraduate degrees, though, in many fields this is simply not the case. However, a graduate degree in game design equips graduates with specialized skills that are highly prized by employers, in a field where specialization is everything. This article offers some helpful information and advice for those students taking the next step in the field of game design, such as an overview of a graduate degree in game design, as well as a list of typical courses an international student can expect. Moreover, the article also distinguishes between the sorts of graduate degrees in video game design an international student can acquire, as well as the specific jobs for which graduates will be equipped to hold.

A graduate degree in video game design can take the form of either: a Master of Science (MS), Master of Arts (MA), or Master of Fine Arts (MFA). The type of graduate degree an international student receives will importantly determine their specialization and role on a design team. There is a lengthy period between getting hired with a game developer and being given the lead on a creative project. In this period, game designers will fill specific roles as parts of a design team bringing to life the creative visions of others. The role a particular design graduate will hold is determined by the specialization of their degree. For instance, international students who pursue a Master of Science in game design will have a more robust programming foundation than many students of fine arts based game design programs. Moreover, those international students who receive graduate degrees in game design will be equipped to take on both more potential roles, as well as roles with higher levels of responsibility. Thus, individuals with graduate degrees are much more valued as members of design teams than those with only undergraduate degrees.

The programs that offer Master of Arts degrees tend to focus on the visual and narrative aspects of game design. These aspects include storytelling, atmosphere, setting, imagery, and character development and back-story. Programs that offer Master of Fine Arts degrees are similar to MA programs, with an additional emphasis on the visual arts and digital design. However, all video game design majors and graduates will be more than competent with the multitude of tasks required to create a video game.

A typical graduate degree in video game design takes anywhere between 18-24 months to complete, and will vary in cost depending on the institution at which the video game design major is located. There also tends to be a degree of flexibility with the structure and timing of these programs (as those students who already possess certain technical skills will not need re-training) such that students have a high chance of creating a schedule and academic plan that best suits them.

Typical Courses Comprising a Graduate Degree in Game Design

  • Video Game Design
  • Prototyping
  • Level Design
  • Visual Development
  • Game Art
  • Character Design
  • 3D Modeling
  • Effects Animation
  • History of Games
  • Players and Games
  • Programming and Game Coding
  • Production Leadership
  • Research Designer’s
  • Game Production Tools
  • Production Methodologies
  • Quality Assurance
  • Media and Marketing Relations
  • Game Rules
  • Capstone

Video game design majors will be well versed in a number of skills desired by employers. A robust graduate degree in video game design will prepare its graduates to take the lead on a particular aspect (say, level design) within the broader division of labor until he or she is able to move up the ladder to leading their own team of designers working on an aspect of a video game world. In fact, by the time an international student receives their graduate degree in game design, they will have, as their program's capstone project, taken part in the creation of a full-fledged game!

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