Frequently Asked Questions


What is the program curriculum?

The core of the Game Center MFA consists our courses in game design, game production, and game scholarship. Beyond these classes, students can define their own course of study with a modular structure of electives that can be combined in different ways, giving the student a great deal of freedom in designing their own course of study. A full list of Game Center courses is available here.

What is the experience of the program?

The Game Center MFA is an intensive creative environment. As a student, at any given moment you will be creating one or more game projects, from small prototypes to a large-scale thesis.  At the same time, you will also be involved in analysis and discussion, from critiquing the work of other students to in-depth research on an original topic. And there will also be plenty of game playing too- our game library contains thousands of digital and non-digital games. Play, creation, and analysis complement and inform each other to create a unique educational experience.

What will I learn during my time in the Game Center MFA program?

The Game Center offers specialized classes that will help you refine your skills in one or more areas of game development, such as game programming or game design. However, the most important things you will learn transcend these more narrow areas of expertise. Some of these larger key skills include solving problems through design and iteration, best practices for creative collaboration and teamwork, and understanding how to analyze games on multiple levels, from their mathematics and aesthetics to their history and culture.

What is a Game Center MFA thesis?

Every student’s experience culminates in the creation of a thesis project, which is the focus of the second year. In most cases, a thesis project is a group collaborating to create an original digital game. However, some students may choose to create a game off the computer (perhaps a collectable card game, or a large-scale game event) or to work on their own. Students with a criticism focus may end up creating a website, series of podcasts, game exhibition, or research paper. Explore previous thesis projects on our games by selecting the “MFA Thesis” filter.

Did that say card game?

Yes it did. The focus of the Game Center MFA is games on digital platforms (consoles, computers, mobile) but we also take a broad look at games that includes card and board games, social and physical games, sports, and other forms of non-digital play. Most of the students in the program will be creating videogames, but students can also explore the design, development, and analysis of games off the computer. Use the ‘tabletop’ filter on the games page to see just a small selection of the non-digital games made here.

Is this program just about game design?

No. The Game Center MFA is for students interested in any aspect of creating games. Design in the broadest sense does play a key role as a paradigm for understanding game creation across all of these disciplines. However, the MFA will prepare students to become a visual designer or animator for games, a game coder, a game designer, or a game critic or scholar. The focus of the program is about unlocking the potential of games as a creative and cultural force.

So if not everyone is a game designer, why is this program an MFA in Game Design?

Not everyone in the program has a focus on game design, but everyone in the program is a designer, in the broadest sense of “design.” Design for us is a way of thinking, acting, and being in which designers solve problems in order to create and enable meaningful experiences. This general sense of design is a way of understanding all of the aspects of game development, from visual and audio design, to programming and game design, to scholarship and criticism. That’s the sense in which everyone in the program is a designer, and that’s why the degree is an MFA in Game Design. We give every student our Guidebook that lays our our approach to design on their first day in the program. You can get a sneak peak of that book here.

What’s this about “game criticism?”

At the NYU Game Center, scholarship of games goes hand in hand with game design and game development. Some students will have a focus on game criticism, which means writing about games with a focus on game design and player experience. A student with this focus will be well-prepared to become a game journalist or critic, a theorist or researcher, or a scholar or historian, perhaps continuing to study games in academia after the MFA is completed.

Is this a practical degree?

The Game Center MFA will absolutely prepare you to work in the game industry. As games continue to expand as form of culture, there is a need for industry leaders to invent new kinds of play. Our focus is not on graduates that will become cogs in the industry machine but instead to create industry innovators, from creative leads on a major game projects to independent game artists to leading game critics. Our graduates will reinvent what games can be.

Who should apply?

Students should apply who have a passion for games and some kind of experience in design, development, or scholarship. There are no hard requirements – you do not need professional industry experience to apply, for example, but you will need to demonstrate your talent and experience in some aspect of creating or studying games as part of the application process. Click here to see more about the Game Center MFA application process.

So I don’t have to be an experienced game developer to apply?

No, you don’t need any prior professional experience to apply to the program. However, since the heart of the program is collaborative creation of games, you should enter the program with some kind of background in design, production, or scholarship that will be of value to your collaborators. For example, a background as a non-game graphic designer, animator, screenwriter, programmer, industrial designer, or theater director (just to name a few) are relevant to the creation of games. If you are applying with a background from outside of games, in your application materials be sure to make the connection between your past work and your intended future work on games.

What is the tuition?

The Game Design MFA is a two-year (four semester) full-time degree program within NYU and the per semester tuition rates are set by the university each year.  You can view the current rates here.

Is financial aid available?

Yes – some financial aid will be available. Information about financial aid is available here:  If you are interested in being considered for financial aid, please indicate that when you make your application to the program. (Expressing an interest in being considered for financial aid will not influence your acceptance to the program.) If you are eligible for federal financial aid or federal loans, then you should file the FAFSA forms. We also award three unique scholarships to each incoming class, The Barlovento Scholarship for Women in Games, The Evo Scholarship, and the Festival Scholarship.

Can international students apply?

Absolutely!  We have a larger number of international applicants each year, and our students come from all over the globe.  The only additional requirement for applicants from non-English speaking countries is proof of English language proficiency.  This can be a TOEFL, ALI or other English language exam score.  International students are eligible for financial aid from the program, but not US federal aid.  Many countries have financial support opportunities through your government.  For more about international applications click here.

What’s so special about New York University?

The Game Center MFA builds on New York University’s existing commitment to games as a field of study and will complement and support other game-related NYU programs and initiatives including the Games for Learning Institute, NYU Poly’s Game Innovation Lab, and other world-class programs in design, computer science, and digital culture research. The Game Center operates in close collaboration with these other initiatives and programs, creating opportunities for shared courses, faculty, and resources, making NYU a global leader in the design, production, and study of games.

Apart from the MFA program, what is the NYU Game Center?

The NYU Game Center is a leading institution for the study and creation of games, and a center of the New York City game community. Our resources include one of the largest game libraries in the world and events that range from lectures by world-renowned game designers to major game tournaments to groundbreaking artgame exhibitions. The MFA takes unique advantage of the NYU Game Center and its central location in one of the world’s great cultural capitals, New York City.