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Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree

The MFA Game Development program allows students to further their careers by synthesizing traditional art and design fundamentals with today’s groundbreaking technologies. Students level up their skill through hands-on prototyping of game mechanics and art creation, followed by creating a thesis project and an industry-quality portfolio.

MFA Game Development Unit Requirements
Major 27 units
Directed Study 18 units
Graduate Liberal Arts 12 units
Electives* 6 units
TOTAL 63 units
*Per director approval

MFA Game Development Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of Final Thesis Project
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units

Additional Information

MFA Program Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Present an original thesis concept worthy of the MFA degree
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the thesis project
  • Create a thesis project that demonstrates a professional-level achievement in specialty

Visual Communication

  • Critically evaluate the aesthetics, meaning and effect of imagery.


  • Demonstrate mastery of the tools and technology related to area of specialty

Presentation Skills

  • Present their ideas and solutions in a cogent and well-organized manner, using industry-standard vocabulary
  • Create visually compelling, professional-quality presentation materials

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

  • Create project schedules and milestones and manage resources to meet project goals
  • Research and generate workable solutions under a deadline.

Professional Readiness

  • Produce a professional demo reel or portfolio which meets industry standards.
  • Work cooperatively and effectively in a production environment.

Specialty Skills: Game Art

  • Model, texture and light 3-dimensional forms that are genre and format specific.
  • Implement industry and hardware budgets and prepare files for production.
  • Implement concepts in 2D or 3D within budget and to project specifications

Specialty Skills: Game & Level Design

  • Communicate abstract ideas using game design documents and 2D maps
  • Create playable games with both vector and 3D technology

Specialty Skills: Animation

  • Effectively apply the principles of animation to characters, environments/props, or VFX
  • Demonstrate continuity in visual storytelling when incorporating original animations into established game engines
  • Develop and showcase a consistent signature style

Specialty Skills: Environment Modeling

  • Translate visual research to create 3D environments appropriate for the artistic style of the project
  • Model, texture and light forms in 3-dimensions that demonstrate a thorough understanding of organic, architectural, and industrial form
  • Produce assets such as buildings, vehicles and foliage which take into account gameplay considerations

Specialty Skills: Character Modeling

  • Sculpt, model and texture forms in 3-dimensions that demonstrate a thorough understanding of human and zoological anatomy
  • Translate visual research to create 3D characters appropriate for the artistic style of the project
  • Produce assets such as humanoid characters, creatures and props which take into account gameplay considerations

Specialty Skills: Concept

  • Follow an industry-standard process, from thumbnails through final render, to generate designs appropriate for gameplay/mechanics
  • Apply visual research to design solutions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of movement, proportion, and functionality of designs through effective orthographic or perspective drawings

Academy of Art University Learning Outcomes
Graduates of the Academy of Art University will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Produce a body of work suitable for seeking professional opportunities in their chosen field of art and design.
  2. Solve creative problems within their field of art and design, including research and synthesis of technical, aesthetic, and conceptual knowledge.
  3. Communicate their ideas professionally and connect with their intended audience using visual, oral, and written presentation skills relevant to their field.
  4. Execute technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on an understanding of art and design principles.
  5. Evaluate work in their field, including their own work, using professional terminology.
  6. Recognize the influence of major cultural and aesthetic trends, both historical and contemporary, on art and design products.
  7. Learn the professional skills and behaviors necessary to compete in the global marketplace for art and design.


Please see Degree Breakdown for requirements for the program. Explore our course catalog and take classes based on your interests, either online or in our world-class facilities in San Francisco.

Graduate Degree Breakdowns

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

The Game Development MFA focuses on conceptual skills and the mastering of new technologies based on a strong foundation of traditional drawing, painting and storytelling. State-of-the-art game engines are used in the prototype game production studio, giving MFA graduates hands-on experience using industry techniques and standards.

The final thesis project prepares students to become leaders and innovators in the game industry.

Gainful Employment Information

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Pryce Jones

MFA Director

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