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Best Game Development Master’s Degree Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Princess Ogono-Dimaro - July 11, 2022


Game development is a growing field with lots of career opportunities for professionals. Experts in this field can work as game developers, game producers, game testers, and game artists. To enter this field, most employers require a bachelor’s degree. However, the best Master’s Degrees in Game Development can help you advance in your career.

Game development master’s degree programs can also increase your potential earnings. If you want to pursue this advanced degree, this article will help you make an informed decision by highlighting the best game development master’s degrees. It will highlight some of the top Master’s Degrees in Game Development along with potential career options after you graduate.

What Is Game Development?

Game development is a technical field that involves game design and production. It also involves the entire process of creating a game from ideation to deployment. This process may also include the stages that follow creation and development.

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Where Can I Get a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

The colleges where you can get a Master’s Degree in Game Development include American University, DePaul University, and New York University, among others. In fact, there are many colleges around the country where you can get a game development master’s degree.

What Schools Offer the Best Game Development Master’s Degrees?

  • University of Central Florida
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Full Sail University
  • Bradley University
  • Academy of Art University

What Are the Admission Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

The admission requirements for a Master’s Degree in Game Development include having a bachelor’s degree and a portfolio of previous work. However, the exact requirements will vary from school to school. Many Master’s in Game Development requirements include a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, transcripts from previous degrees, and a professional resume.

Other institutions may require an interview to check that you meet the education requirements for the academic program. In addition, students who do not have bachelor’s degrees in similar programs may be required to take extra classes.

Game Development Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Portfolio of past work
  • Recommendation letters
  • Resume
  • Personal statement

How to Get a Master’s Degree in Game Development

You can get a game development master’s degree by attending an advanced academic program and adhering to all of the graduation requirements. Usually, you will need to study for one to two years to get a Master’s in Game Development. Further, you may also need to complete a thesis or capstone project towards the end of your program.

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

You need at least 30 credits for a Master’s in Game Development. However, some programs require you to have more. In addition, programs that work on the quarter system may require upwards of 45 credits to complete a game development master’s degree program.

Game Development Degree Requirements

  • Thesis or capstone project
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA (varies by school)
  • Completion of all core classes
  • Completion of required elective credits
  • Final presentation

Best Game Development Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Academy of Art University Master of Arts in Game Development Western Association of Schools and Colleges
American University Master of Arts in Game Design Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
Bradley University Master of Science in Game Design and Development Higher Learning Commission
DePaul University Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Higher Learning Commission
Full Sail University Master of Science in Game Design Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Laguna College of Art and Design Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Western Association of Schools and Colleges
New York University Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Rochester Institute of Technology Master of Science in Game Design and Development Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Savannah College of Art and Design Master of Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
University of Central Florida Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Best Schools for Game Development: Top Game Development Master’s Degree Programs

The best schools or game development master’s degrees are those that offer you industry-relevant knowledge and hands-on experience. In this section, we will break down the best schools for a Master’s Degree in Game Development.

If you want to advance your career and thrive in the video game industry, attending one of the top game development master’s programs is a great way to reach your goals. Learn more about the admissions requirements for the best game development master’s programs below.

1

Academy of Art University

San Francisco, CA

Academy of Art University is a private for-profit institution. Founded in 1929, the university has had students from more than 112 countries. Academy of Art University comprises 17 different facilities around the city of San Francisco.

Master of Arts in Game Development

This program emphasizes UI/UX design, game design, and 3D character modeling. The coursework covers specialized practices for gameplay mechanics, complex 3D software usage, and other useful tools in the field. The program offers hands-on experience. Students also work in groups on real-world projects.

Master of Arts in Game Development Overview

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,218/credit (domestic); $1,276/credit (international)
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: Hybrid
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 47%

Master of Arts in Game Development Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum
  • Standardized Tests: Not specified
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Statement of intent, resume, portfolio

Applying to Academy of Art University

  1. Complete an online application.
  2. Pay the $50 application fee.
  3. Submit your official undergraduate transcripts.
  4. Provide a one-page statement of intent.
  5. Submit your resume and portfolio.

2

American University

Washington, DC

As a private research institution, American University offers more than 170 different academic programs at varying degree levels. The university was chartered by Congress in 1893 and since then has helped thousands of students become top scholars in their respective fields.

During the fall of 2021, American University had about 14,852 enrolled in its programs. One notable fact is that it also became the first university to be carbon neutral in 2018.

Master of Arts in Game Design

The main focus of this program is game engagement mechanics and game design. It offers several concentrations and students can customize the program to suit their career aspirations. Some of the courses in the curriculum include Games and Society and Games and Rhetoric. Students also need to complete nine credit hours of electives.

Master of Arts in Game Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,866/credit
  • Required Credits: 36 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 79%

Master of Arts in Game Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $55
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, resume, admissions essay

Applying to American University Washington

  1. Complete an online application and pay the application fee.
  2. Send your unofficial undergraduate transcripts.
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation.
  4. Provide a resume.
  5. Submit your 500-to-1,000-word admissions essay.
  6. Submit a portfolio of previous work, if desired.
  7. Complete an interview, if requested by the admissions team.

3

Bradley University

Peoria, IL

With almost 6,000 students, Bradley University is a small private institution. Nonetheless, the university still offers more than 185 different academic programs for students to choose from. Founded in 1897 by Lydia Moss Bradley, the university now has over 70,000 alumni around the world.

Master of Science in Game Design and Development

Students in this 30-credit graduate degree program can earn their master’s degree within a calendar year. The program has a game programming concentration for students, however, and this concentration requires additional credits to complete. Students in this concentration master professional skills in software design and development and build a professional portfolio.

Master of Science in Game Design and Development Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition and Fees: $990/credit
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Learning Format: Hybrid
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 76%

Master of Science in Game Design and Development Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0 (unconditional admission); 2.5 (conditional admission)
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $40
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two recommendation letters, resume, statement of interests, portfolio

Applying to Bradley University

  1. Fill out the online application form.
  2. Pay the $40 application fee.
  3. Provide your official undergraduate transcripts.
  4. Submit two recommendation letters and your resume.
  5. Provide a statement of interest or short admission essay.
  6. Submit a portfolio of previous game development work.

4

DePaul University

Chicago, IL

Located in the middle of Chicago, DePaul University hosts 21,670 students, of which 7,376 are graduate students. DePaul University is a private, nonprofit school that was established in 1898. Today, the university comprises 10 different colleges and schools.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design

This program focuses on interactive design and game development. It prepares students for the field of game design. It features a design lab and game center for virtual and augmented reality, study trips, exhibitions, and symposiums. The projects students create are exhibited by the faculty. This program also includes a thesis project.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition and Fees: $900/credit
  • Required Credits: 64 credits
  • Program Length: 2.5-3 years
  • Learning Format: Hybrid
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 71%

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 2.5
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $25
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, statement of creative intent, digital portfolio, resume

Applying to DePaul University

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Pay the $25 application fee.
  3. Send in your official undergraduate transcripts.
  4. Provide two letters of recommendation.
  5. Submit your statement of creative intent and your resume.
  6. Submit your digital portfolio showcasing past work.

5

Full Sail University

Winter Park, FL

Established in 1979, Full Sail University currently has about 21,000 students. The private, for-profit university offers a variety of both online and in-person degree options. Full Sail University helps students learn through its innovative approach to project-based education. Overall, the institution focuses on entertainment, art, technology, and media.

Master of Science in Game Design

This program features 41 credits and focuses on production, user experience research, and design. Students are also allowed to customize their programs to fit different roles in the field.

The roles include producer, user experience researcher, game publisher, and game designer. Some of the main courses in the program include game design, project and team management, game production tools, and user experience.

Master of Science in Game Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition and Fees: $867/credit
  • Required Credits: 41 credits
  • Program Length: 1 year
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 44%

Master of Science in Game Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 2.5
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $75
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Previous coursework in topics related to game design

Applying to Full Sail University

  1. Fill out the online application.
  2. Pay the $75 application fee.
  3. Send in your official undergraduate transcripts.

6

Laguna College of Art and Design

Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna College of Art and Design offers three graduate degree programs and a handful of undergraduate degrees. The school was founded in 1961 and had 766 students in the Fall of 2021. Each student who is studying for a Master’s in Fine Arts at this school will also get their own private studio to work in.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design

This 60-credit program in game design focuses on game creation and development. It can be completed in two years and students are trained in player interaction and design fundamentals. Some courses in the curriculum include game production, game programming, prototyping, engine technology, and mechanics-based game analysis.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,334/credit
  • Required Credits: 60 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 67%

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: None
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Statement of purpose, portfolio, resume, letters of recommendation

Applying to Laguna College of Art and Design

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Write and submit your statement of purpose.
  3. Submit your portfolio of previous game development and design work.
  4. Provide your undergraduate transcripts.
  5. Submit your resume and any recommendation letters you have.

7

New York University

New York, NY

Established in 1831, New York University is now comprised of 19 different schools and colleges. It is a large, private university that offers instruction to more than 65,000 students. In addition to the New York location, the university also has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design

This program focuses on game design and development. Most students can complete this program within two years. It also includes cultural and critical literacy. The coursework covers game studies, game production, game design, game history, and studio courses.

Students also write a thesis during their second year. You will work on individual and group projects to develop engaging game experiences. The program structure is also quite flexible as classes can be taken from any department.

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,046/credit
  • Required Credits: Information not available
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 88%

Master of Fine Arts in Game Design Admission Requirements

  • GPA: Information not available
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: Information not available
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, a portfolio containing your resume, a personal statement, a critical analysis of a game, a design statement, and one or two previous projects

Applying to New York University

  1. Fill out an online application form.
  2. Send in your unofficial undergraduate transcripts.
  3. Provide two letters of recommendation.
  4. Submit your creative portfolio with all of the necessary documents.

8

Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester, NY

Rochester Institute of Technology was born out of two different institutions merging, the Rochester Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institute, which were both founded in the 1800s. The school currently has around 19,718 students, with 3,050 being graduate students. In addition, the school has global campuses in places such as Croatia and China.

Master of Science in Game Design and Development

This program allows students to enhance their game development skills by exploring topics such as world building, computer graphics, game engines, and more. In the second year of the program, students will work on developing a game engine in designated development teams. Students will study topics such as digital audio, level design, and console development.

Master of Science in Game Design and Development Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition and Fees: $2,257/credit
  • Required Credits: 33 credits
  • Program Length: 2 years
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 71%

Master of Science in Game Design and Development Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.25
  • Standardized Tests: GRE (only applies to students with a GPA lower than 3.25)
  • Application Fee: $65
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two recommendation letters, resume, portfolio, personal statement, one year of object oriented programming experience

Applying to Rochester Institute of Technology

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Send your undergraduate transcripts.
  4. Provide two letters of recommendation.
  5. Submit your resume and portfolio.
  6. Submit a personal statement.

9

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, GA

Savannah College of Art and Design was founded in 1978 as a private, nonprofit institution. The school now offers more than 100 academic degree programs and has over 15,000 students. In addition, this art and design school also has two galleries in Atlanta and six galleries in Savannah, Georgia.

Master of Arts in Computer Game Design

This program requires 45 credits and covers a variety of essential game development topics. Students can expect to study concepts such as virtual world building and character creation. Students in this program will also have access to cutting-edge technology, like virtual reality labs.

Master of Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition and Fees: $890/credit
  • Required Credits: 45 credits
  • Program Length: 1-1.5 years
  • Learning Format: In person, online
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 73%

Master of Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development Admission Requirements

  • GPA: Information not available
  • Standardized Tests: None
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Two letters of recommendation, portfolio, resume, statement of purpose, optional interview

Applying to Savannah College of Art and Design

  1. Fill out an online application form.
  2. Pay the $100 application fee.
  3. Submit two letters of recommendation and your resume.
  4. Provide a portfolio.
  5. Submit a statement of purpose.
  6. Complete an in-person or phone interview, if requested.

10

University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

Founded in 1963, University of Central Florida now offers over 230 different degree programs covering a wide range of topics. With 70,406 students, the university offers both online and in-person degree options. As of August 2021, the university had awarded 382,857 degrees.

Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment

This program covers game programming, video game design, 3D artistry, technical design, level design, creative collaboration, modeling, motion capture, rapid prototyping, technical art, and software engineering. In the 30-credit program, students also learn the ethical and legal issues that accompany mobile game design. They also learn about pre-production and the initial concept phases of entertainment.

Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,098/credit (in state); $1,922.40/credit (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 30 credits
  • Program Length: Information not available
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 74%

Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment Admission Requirements

  • GPA: None
  • Standardized Tests: GRE
  • Application Fee: $30
  • Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Other Requirements: Three personal references, portfolio

Applying to University of Central Florida

  1. Fill out an online application.
  2. Pay the $30 application fee.
  3. Send in your official undergraduate transcripts.
  4. Provide three personal references with their contact details.
  5. Submit your portfolio of past work.

What Is a Game Development Master’s Degree?

A game development master’s degree is an advanced degree that focuses on different aspects of game development. The coursework may cover production methodologies, practical application, team leadership, and project management. A Master’s Degree in Game Development allows you to gain a more in-depth understanding of the hard skills and theoretical concepts you need to thrive in the game industry.

Some game development master’s degree programs are available online. Others are held on campus. Institutions often provide high-tech software for game design courses. Most game development master’s degrees last for two years. However, some can be completed in as little as one year.

How Important Is a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

Though an advanced degree is not essential, a Master’s Degree in Game Development is important for career advancement. One of the reasons a game development master’s degree is important is that it allows you to become an expert in the field, and subsequently qualify for higher-paying roles.

By earning an advanced degree, you will both refine and expand your game development skills and become a more valuable employee. As such, if you want to be at the top of your profession, getting a Master’s Degree in Game Development is important.

What Types of Master’s Degree Can You Get in Game Development?

You can get the following types of Master’s Degrees in Game Development:

  • Master of Science
  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Fine Arts

Each of the game development master’s degree types listed above will teach students both theoretical and technical skills pertaining to the game development industry. However, the different degree types may have varying focuses.

Is It Better to Get a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Game Development?

It is better to get a Master of Science Degree in Game Development if you want to work more on the technical side of the industry. A Master of Science in Game Development will focus more on coding and programming concepts than a Master of Arts degree will.

However, when deciding which is better, a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Game Development, you should primarily consider your own career goals. If you would like to focus professionally on visual game design or the creative aspect of the game development process , then it would be wise to opt for a Master of Arts in Game Development.

What Is the Difference Between a Game Development Master’s Degree and a Game Development Certificate?

The main differences between a game development master’s degree and a certificate in game design are that a master’s degree is a more intensive and in-depth program. In addition, when comparing a game development certificate vs a master’s degree , you should know that it is typical for a master’s degree to take longer to earn.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Game Development requires students to adhere to many more academic requirements than earning a certificate does. As such, master’s degrees are generally more respected by employers. However, earning a certificate in game development can be helpful if you already have a master’s degree in a similar field.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

A game development master’s degree costs $19,792 per year on average. This is according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ average tuition for all graduate institutions . However, the average Master’s in Game Development cost can vary widely depending on the type of institution you attend.

The average tuition at a public university for graduate studies is just $12,410. On the other hand, the cost is a lot higher for graduate programs at private institutions where students pay an average of $26,597 per year.’

How Long Does It Take to Get a Game Development Master’s Degree?

It takes one to two years to get a Master’s Degree in Game Development. Each individual Master’s in Game Development program length will vary along with the number of credits required and course availability. However, some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to earn a game development master’s degree in as little as 12 months.

How Hard Is It to Get a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

Relative to earning an undergraduate degree, getting a game development master’s degree is hard. As an advanced degree program, a Master’s Degree in Game Development will require intensive study and research. Graduate students will also need to adhere to strict academic requirements.

That being said, a game development master’s degree is not harder than the average master’s degree program. If you are interested in the field and able to fully commit to your studies, you will be able to earn a Master’s in Game Development.

Why Should You Get a Game Development Master’s Degree?

You should get a game development master’s degree because it is a great way to access higher-paying roles in the industry. Further, one of the benefits of getting a Master’s Degree in Game Development includes becoming an expert in your field. By obtaining an advanced degree, you will be able to work in more senior-level and management roles.

What Courses Do You Need to Take in a Master’s Degree Program in Game Development?

The required courses in a Master’s in Game Development program will cover both technical and theoretical topics surrounding game development. Some Master’s in Game Development courses will help students gain familiarity with the common software and tools used in the profession.

To learn more about what to expect, check out our detailed Master’s in Game Development course list below. These are some of the main courses or topics you will need to master in order to get a game development master’s degree.

Game Engine Design and Development

This course helps students build both theoretical and technical skills. It covers the connection between mathematical principles and various features of game design, such as collision systems, control systems, and more. Students will likely work in teams to develop a game engine using different software.

Level Design

Students will learn level design by examining example games throughout history and also creating their own level designs. By evaluating game levels from various genres, students will be able to discern what makes level design successful. This course will provide hands-on experience in game development.

Virtual World Building

This course offers students a breadth of knowledge on everything from texture and materials to common methodologies for game design. Students will work within a game engine and use various methods to build an entire virtual world.

Computer Animation

In this course, students will gain more technical programming skills. They will learn to use various algorithms that are common in the gaming industry. Students will work on programming motion and behavioral systems within a game setting. This type of course often has prerequisites.

User Experience Design

When creating a video game, it is important to keep the user experience in mind. With that, game development students will need to learn how to implement human-centered design. Students will learn how to gauge the user-friendliness of a product as well as different human-centered design strategies.

Continuing Education Paths for Game Development Master’s Degree Graduates

When it comes to continuing your education, the best path to take with a game development master’s degree is to get a PhD in Game Development. A PhD degree will allow you to dive deep into the field of game development. In fact, in order to earn a PhD, you will be required to conduct your own research within the field.

After earning a PhD in Game Development, you have the highest form of education for your profession. As such, you will be able to choose from any job in the industry, including teaching courses for a Master’s Degree in Game Development program.

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What to Look For in the Best Game Development Master’s Degree Programs

The best game development master’s degree programs offer students high-quality education within a flexible timeframe. There are many different programs available in game development. With ample choices, it can be challenging to know what to look for in a college for a Master’s Degree in Game Development.

To help you determine how to choose a game development master’s program, we have detailed some of the key factors to consider. Learn more about five crucial elements of a Master’s in Game Development program below.

Accreditation

Choosing a game development master’s degree program that is properly accredited should be paramount. Accreditation shows that a school or program was evaluated by a third party. With this, receiving accreditation shows that the school offers quality education and, in turn, it is more likely to be respected by potential employers.

Cost

It is no secret that higher education in the US can be extremely costly. However, some programs are more expensive than others. As an advanced degree, many master’s degree programs will come with significant tuition costs. However, you can still make sure that the amount you pay in tuition is justified by the value you will get from the program.

Accelerated Degree Options

After spending four years earning a bachelor’s degree, continuing to study for two more years may seem daunting. In fact, another two years of studying may seem even longer if you have already started working. Thankfully, many colleges allow students to earn a master’s degree in just one year.

If you do not want to spend another several years studying, you should look into accelerated degree options. By taking classes online or over the summer, many students are able to earn a Master’s Degree in Game Development in less than two years.

The Reputation of the Program

Along with general accreditation, the reputation of the program you attend is an important consideration. For example, if a program has an industry-wide reputation for producing students who are not properly prepared for professional careers, that program may not be worth your time and money.

Flexibility

Many students choose to pursue a master’s degree after they have already entered the workforce. For these students, flexible learning options are essential. If you already have a busy schedule, it is important to check if the game development master’s degree program you’d like to attend offers evening, weekend, or online classes.

What Is the Most Affordable Game Development Master’s Degree?

The most affordable Master’s Degrees in Game Development include the following:

  • Master of Science in Game Design from Full Sail University
  • Master of Science in Game Design and Development from Bradley University
  • Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Design and Game Development from Savannah College of Art and Design

The most affordable game development master’s program in the list above is offered by Bradley University at just $990 per credit, with 30 total credits required. At Full Sail University, students will pay $867 per credit for a total of 41 credits to complete this program. Lastly, the Savannah College of Art and Design program requires 45 credits at a rate of $890 per credit.

Salary and Job Outlook for Game Development Master’s Degree Graduates

Man wearing headphones and working on two computer screens. Game Development Master's Degrees
Master’s Degrees in Game Development teach students how to develop innovative games and playable experiences using groundbreaking technologies.

There are a wide range of game development master’s degree jobs available to graduates. Since game development is part of the tech industry, many Master’s Degree in Game Development jobs are well-paying. Learn more about these jobs and the typical Master’s in Game Development salary below.

How Hard Is It to Get a Job With a Game Development Master’s Degree?

It is easy to get a job with a game development master’s degree. As the gaming industry continues to grow, there are ample opportunities available. Further, with a Master’s Degree in Game Development, you have advanced credentials that will set you apart from other applicants. After getting a master’s degree, you will be a sought-after job candidate.

What’s the Average Game Development Master’s Degree Salary?

The average salary for a Master’s in Game Development degree holder is $79,000 per year, according to PayScale. However, this figure largely depends on the exact role you have and the location where you work. With a few years of experience, many professionals in game development earn much more than the game development master’s degree average salary.

What Types of Jobs Can You Get With a Game Development Master’s Degree?

The jobs you can get with a game development master’s degree include VFX artist, project manager, game animator, and more. The highest-paying game development jobs for master’s degree holders include working as a game engineer or game developer. However, there are numerous well-paying jobs available with a game development master’s degree.

Game Development Degree Jobs

  • Lead quality assurance
  • Software engineer
  • Gaming programmer
  • Simulations programmer
  • Game writer

Potential Careers With a Game Development Degree

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How Much Money Can You Make With a Master’s Degree in Game Development?

You can make between $50,000 and $130,000 with a Master’s in Game Development. The average amount of money that game development majors make out of college can fluctuate greatly due to a variety of factors. For example, the location of the job and the company that someone works for can influence the amount of money that they can make.

Highest-Paying Game Development Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Game Development Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Game engineer $138,716
Lead quality assurance analyst $110,140
Software engineer $110,140
Game developer $100,985
Project manager $94,500
Gaming programmer $87,243
Simulations programmer $79,561
Game animator $78,790
VFX artist $78,790
Game writer $55,757

Best Jobs for Game Development Master’s Degree Grads

In this section, we will look closer at the best jobs for a Master’s Degree in Game Development graduate. Since a master’s program offers well-rounded knowledge, the best jobs for a game development master’s degree holder include a range of different positions. Learn more about the best-paying game development jobs below.

1

Game Engineer

Average Salary: $138,716

Game engineers produce digital games as they work with other professionals like designers, engineers, and programmers. They are also responsible for artificial intelligence and other programs that control character movement, action, and appearance.

2

Lead Quality Assurance Analyst

Average Salary: $110,140

Lead quality assurance professionals oversee product testing to ensure that it meets the standards of the organization. They also take part in developing testing plans, liaising with members of the product team, and creating strategies for risk mitigation. These experts also suggest process improvements to ensure a game of the highest possible quality.

3

Software Engineer

Average Salary: $110,140

Software engineers design and develop software solutions for clients. These experts work on web apps, databases, content management systems, and operating systems. Software engineers apply mathematical analysis to design computer software.

4

Game Developer

Average Salary: $100,985

Game developers specialize in creating video or computer games. They may work on one or several platforms and have an in-depth understanding of digital media and the video gaming industry. These experts may also be responsible for artificial intelligence and virtual landscape programming in games.

5

Project Manager

Average Salary: $94,500

Gaming project managers create and meet target deadlines for different projects in a game studio. These professionals are experts in effective communication and are responsible for project organization for the studio, which ensures that objectives are met. They also design plans and introduce processes to make sure others on the team produce quality work.

6

Gaming Programmer

Average Salary: $87,243

Gaming programmers develop software that is used to create video games. The role of mobile gaming programmers may include assembling game engines and platforms to power a game and writing code for custom software that will support the requirements of the game.

7

Simulation Programmers

Average Salary: $79,561

Simulation programmers are responsible for developing computer simulations that allow users to test, view, and manipulate real products, systems, services, issues, and conditions. All this can be done by the users without having to take risks or incur costs.

8

Game Animator

Average Salary: $78,790

Game animators bring 3D and 2D art to life by making these creations move. They often work with a storyboard and create movement for the vehicles and characters of a game. These experts are responsible for adding emotion, personality, and realism to a game.

9

VFX Artist

Average Salary: $78,790

Visual effects (VFX) artists are responsible for adding effects to playable games. They create things that move in a game. Some examples include water, dust, explosions, and superpowers. These artists use digital art software and create stunning effects to make the game more realistic.

10

Game Writer

Average Salary: $55,757

Game writers develop video game plots for various game genres. They are also responsible for writing the dialogue in the video game. These experts work during pre-production and create characters to further the game narrative. Their work is passed on to programmers and designers who craft the game structure.

Best Jobs According to Your Major

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Game Development Bootcamp vs Game Development Master’s Degree: Which Is Better?

Both game development bootcamps and game development master’s degree programs can help you to advance your career in the field. The best option for you depends on your long-term career goals and resources. Here are some advantages of both options to help you compare a game development degree vs a bootcamp.

Benefits of a Game Development Master’s Degree

  • Advanced skills training. A Master’s Degree in Game Development can help you learn advanced skills. This means that more organizations will be willing to pay for your skills.
  • Diverse career options. This approach to education can give you a plethora of options to pursue in your career due to the interdisciplinary nature of many degree programs. You can choose to work as a game designer, software engineer, or VFX artist.
  • Opportunities to grow your network. A master’s degree program is an excellent way to connect with other professionals in the field. These connections can come in handy in the future.
  • Competitive salary. Professionals with a game development master’s degree often benefit from a competitive salary because they earn more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Increased confidence. A master’s degree will boost your confidence because you will have many useful skills that make you stand out in the game development industry.

Benefits of a Game Development Bootcamp

  • Affordable. Game development bootcamps are more affordable than master’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees. You can also use loans, scholarships, and installment payments to pay for your tuition.
  • Student support. Students in bootcamps receive support during and after their program. They also learn how to prepare for job interviews to ensure they result in job offers.
  • Short-term. Bootcamps make it easier to enter the field within a short period. The programs last for a few weeks to months and you can get a job in game development within a few months after graduating.
  • Networking. Networking is also possible in the best game design bootcamps because students work together and collaborate on cross-disciplinary projects. They can also interact with bootcamp alumni.
  • In-demand skills training. Your educational experience in a bootcamp program will only focus on skills that employers are looking for and not general topics. Bootcamp students gain experience in game development and build professional game portfolios.

Is a Master’s Degree in Game Development Worth It?

Yes, a Master’s Degree in Game Development is worth it because it can give you the critical thinking skills you need to thrive professionally. The degree also gives you options when it comes to choosing a career path once you have a goal in mind. If you are interested in game production and management, a master’s degree is a great choice.

In addition, a game development master’s degree increases your earning potential. Employers are usually willing to pay candidates more if they have more skills and credentials. If you are looking to advance your career or access higher-paying roles, then a Master’s Degree in Game Development is not only worth it, but it is essential.

Additional Reading About Game Development

[query_class_embed] https://careerkarma.com/blog/game-developer-job-satisfaction/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/game-development-bootcamp/ https://careerkarma.com/blog/best-programming-languages-for-game-development/

Game Development Master’s Degree FAQ

Do I need a master’s degree to be a game developer?

No, you do not need a master’s degree to become a game developer. Most game companies accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree. However, a master’s degree can increase your chances of securing a rewarding job.

How much does a game developer make?

Game developers earn $101,644 on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, some industry professionals can earn even more depending on their location, experience, and employer.

How long does it take to get a Master’s in Game Development?

A master’s in game development program can take up to two years to complete and most require 30 credits. However, some schools have accelerated programs where students can complete the program within 18 months or one year.

What is the difference Between a Master of Science and Master of Arts Degree in Game Development?

The main difference between a Master of Science and Master of Arts in Game Development is that the Master of Science option is for science- or mathematics-focused subjects while the Master of Arts degree is focused on humanities. However, both degrees are accepted by employers.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Princess Ogono-Dimaro

About the author: Princess is an expert tech content writer whose work has appeared on Raffela, Play Junkie, Blockster, and Smartereum. She writes about arts and tech, and she has studied blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Benin and also attended The Nigerian Law School.

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