Create Games for Change
The MFA in Games and Interactive Media will help you create bridges and make change through the power of active engagement through games. This terminal degree can be completed in three years and will offer you the qualifications to teach at the university level. Beyond traditional game design and development, students will learn to tailor play design to meet specific goals in player impact, focusing on both theory and practice. The program stretches the students' capacities as designers, developers and administrators and prepares them to take on a variety of creative leadership and instructional roles.
Students who graduate from the program will be poised for a variety of roles in the creative economy, including instruction and creative leadership. Whether your passion is digital game design, physical computing, virtual reality, analog games, new media art or something else, our MFA lets you develop the skills to create great games.
The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.
While an undergraduate degree in one of our visual media is desirable, applications from candidates who have majored in other fields also will be considered. Your essay demonstrating a serious commitment to a career in this field will be essential, along with the other required application materials. If you have prior experience in visual media, you should submit a portfolio illustrating relevant professional work.
Our Games and Interactive Media MFA program is a full-time program, but it can be completed part-time. Students are generally expected to complete the 54-credit-hour program within 36 months. First-year students are required to attend our Film & Media Arts Boot Camp in late July — early August before their first semester. Boot Camp teaches you the essential building blocks for production. Focusing on a digital skill set, you will work on practical exercises to get up to speed with equipment and learn about the expectations of the programs in SOC. Substitutions for Boot Camp are possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a typical Games & Interactive Media student?
There is no typical Games & Interactive Media 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.
What technical skills do I need for this program?
You do not need to have a background in coding to become a Game Center student, just a love for games and the desire to learn.
Why study in Washington DC?
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 Museum, Global Game Jam, MAGfest, Games+, and more.
Whether your next career step is local or global, you’ll gain the skills and network you need to succeed.
Who will I be learning from?
Program Directors: Brigid Maher and Andrew Phelps
The MFA brings together faculty from the Game Center and the award winning artists, filmmakers, and leaders in the film & media arts division. Students can take graduate courses across the institution, working with creative people in every corner of American University. Class and studio time is spent with internationally award-winning faculty, who not only study a wide array of media — they practice it.
With a 4:1 full-time student to faculty ratio, Games and Interactive Media 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.
What is the industry outlook?
With more than $60 billion in annual revenue, the game industry is bigger than Hollywood and almost surpasses the music industry.
The industry is constantly growing and shifting in different directions. Here are some quick facts about the gaming industry you might not know about:
- At least 155 million Americans play video games!
- The video game industry made 2.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2015.
- There is a projected 30% increase in employment for game design careers for 2018.
- 23 game companies call the Washington, DC area home