Master of Fine Arts Game Design

Invent the future of games!


DePaul’s nationally recognized Master of Fine Arts in Game Design program is intended for creative visionaries intent on producing socially, culturally, and emotionally substantial work. While games are often perceived as pure entertainment, the MFA takes a deeper look, exploring games-as-art as well as games-for-a-purpose. This degree prepares students to advance the frontier of games by exploring emerging theories and applying them to practice. Throughout the program, students will create games that are challenged by peers and faculty in critiques. Graduates will be prepared to invent the future of games and adapt to the ever-changing composition of conventions, tools, and platforms. As the terminal degree in the field of game design, an MFA also opens doors to teaching at the university level or entering an academic tenure-track career.

DePaul’s School of Design is located in the heart of Chicago’s Loop district. Chicago’s thriving games industry offers opportunities for students to form valuable industry connections.

Flexible Curriculum

The MFA Game Design is a cohort-based program designed to be completed in 2.5 years, taking place over eight 10-week quarters. Students will take foundational classes and engage with game design methods, reflective practice, making, and collaboration through a mix of bootcamp, theory, and production studio classes. Over half of the courses leading to the degree can be tailored by the students to their personal interests and allows them to truly create their own individual journey.

Degree Requirements

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Critique games from a variety of perspectives including historical, aesthetic, and social.
  • Design and develop games with historical, aesthetic, and social significance.
  • Leverage the affordances of games to intentionally evoke specific emotions and experiences or purposefully communicate ideas as well as have the desired social impact.
  • Iteratively build projects up from simple prototypes to increasingly complex systems.
close up of Michelle Lega

Alumni Spotlight

Michelle Lega (MFA '20)

Michelle Lega is a senior producer in the video game industry, helping indie teams develop and publish their games. She is a strong advocate for helping underrepresented voices find their place in the industry, and recently gave a talk at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) where she provided advice and tips for new game developers.

"The connections I made during my time at DePaul have become lifelong friendships - people I work on game projects with, reach out to for help, and look forward to seeing at industry events!"

Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration

CDM's Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration is an 8,000 square-foot open space where students and faculty come together to ideate and innovate. The Center focuses on multidisciplinary professional learning and industry partnerships fueled by emerging technologies and projects dedicated to societal needs and innovation.

students in a computure lab checking out others work 

DePaul Originals

The Jarvis Center is home to DePaul Originals Game Studios, where students work on small portions of a bigger game over quarters, emulating a large studio experience.The studio produces and publishes work that is shipped to platforms like Steam, Xbox, PS4, and Switch. CDM students participate in this interdisciplinary lab as designers, producers, and programmers, with many having used their produced work in a portfolio that lands them a job in the industry.

Assistant Professor Allen Turner serves as the lab’s creative director.

a student using VR 

Emerging Technologies

An emerging tech room in the center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that students can use for their projects. In this space, students collaborate across degree programs to create new and ground-breaking experiences with augmented and virtual reality, spatial computing, motion capture, and artificial intelligence.

presentation with video gaming company logos on the screen  

Industry Events

The center hosts events, including the Jarvis Speaker Series and showcases, that regularly feature industry experts and researchers across game development and other design topics. Recent guests have included Alex Seropian (founder of Bungie), Young Horses(Octodad, Bugsnax), and Chelsea Blasko (Co-CEO of Iron Galaxy).

Engagement Opportunities

Through mentored independent studies and funded research assistantships, MFA Game Design students have several opportunities to work with faculty in their specialty areas, including immersive tech, prosocial games, hybrid games, and critical game studies.

Students working on a whiteboard 

Matters at Play

Matters at Play (M@P) is a transdisciplinary design lab focused on partnering in the creation of interactive advocacy solutions for positive social transformations - especially regarding social justice, health, and environmental issues. M@P both incubates and launches projects for real-world impact as part of a faculty-student collaborative as well as in the classroom context. Partners include advocacy, government, non-government, and/or academic organizations looking to use interactivity in both digital and analog contexts with the goal of informing and transforming society and its people.

students using AR 

Virtual and Augmented Design Lab

The Virtual and Augmented Design Lab (VAD) hosts classes and projects to research and develop experimental games on emerging platforms. Current lab work includes AR development with Apple pushing the affordances of the ARKit on iPhone, and a VR game project exploring deformable virtual surfaces via hand and foot trackers.

presentation in classroom  

Design Research and Games Lab

DRAG focuses on designing and studying games through human centered design approaches and histories. Current projects include archival research on LGBTQ histories and epidemiologies in board games.

Game Design Faculty

Our faculty are recognized leaders in the field of game design regularly publishing award-winning games and showing work in prestigious festivals, galleries and conferences. Their talents are matched by their diversity, some have decades of experience in the mainstream game industry, others advance games as an art form or sociocultural force, while others focus on scholarly analysis and criticism.

  • Lien Tran

    Lien is an award-winning designer who has serious fun breaking down real-world complexity into interactive systems, including social justice. Her design portfolio includes online and game-based tools for organizations such as Open Society Foundations, World Bank, and United Nations and a variety of interactive and game-based tools with collaborators in health education, human rights law, and geography/GIS.

  • Mike DeAnda

    In his research, Mike studies the communication of queer lived experiences and modes of knowledge production through games. He uses game design as research praxis, and designs games that comment on structures of gender and sexuality, envisioning possible interventions to the social injustices uncovered through his research.

  • Brian Schrank

    Brian is the author of Avant-garde Videogames: Playing with Technoculture, and the director of the Virtual and Augmented Design Lab. Most recently, he co-curated the “Hey! Play! Games in Modern Culture” exhibit at the Chicago Design Museum.

  • Richard Wetzel

    Richard has been researching play and games in different realities since 2006. He is interested in how immersive technologies and playful approaches can be used for learning and training applications. His Mixed Reality Game Cards are a deck of physical cards that groups of interdisciplinary practitioners can use to co-design location-based experience.

Student Work


IndieCade Horizons

DePaul is an academic partner with IndieCade Horizons, allowing our students to attend playtesting and conference events for free, and have the opportunity to have their work showcased.


Game Design Student Reel

Check out some of the games made by students in our game design programs.


Japan Study Abroad

This biennial trip takes students to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya on tours of Japanese game and animation studios, galleries, and cultural sites.

Students showing off their video game  

Game Showcase

Each year, we host a public celebration of student game development at DePaul, showcasing games made for Capstone and MFA thesis projects. Special guests, including industry professionals, attend.

Students playing Magic the Gathering  

Game Community

At DePaul, it’s not just about the program and classes, but about the connections. There is a strong game community and culture, allowing students to get involved with other students, faculty, and professionals. Students can join one of several game-related student organizations, tour local game studios, participate in Global Game Jam, or hit the Esports Center.

Application Deadlines

Enrollment QuarterDomestic Student DeadlineInternational Student Deadline
Fall (Priority Deadline)December 15December 15
Fall (Final Deadline)May 15May 15

Admission Process

The graduate application process involves completing an online application, sending in your transcripts and submitting any supplemental material (e.g., letters of recommendation, certifications, etc.). To learn more about your program specific requirements, visit our Graduate Admission page.

Admission Requirements

Contact Graduate Admission

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