Design and Development of Digital Games, MA | Communication, Media and Learning Technologies Design | Mathematics Science and Technology

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Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design

In the Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology

Design and Development of Digital Games, MA

Brief Program Description
The M.A. program in Design and Development of Digital Games is a 32-33 point program that prepares students to design, develop, implement and evaluate digital games and closely related technologies (mobile apps, interactive media, virtual and augmented reality) for learning and social impact in both formal and informal educational settings. This program is unique in that the curriculum is structured to examine game design from a combination of social, cultural, cognitive, and affective perspectives. Students who are studying the design and development of games for education as a concentration need the degree to reflect this area of study, which is not only optimal but necessary for their intended goals.

Games and closely related technologies are increasingly important for learning and for professional education and training in schools, medicine, business, entertainment, and other domains.  Rapid changes in these technologies are reshaping the ways we create, evaluate, reflect, reason, and learn.  The interdisciplinary nature of game design has led to more creative approaches in teaching and learning in both informal learning contexts (such as museums and homes) and formal learning contexts (classrooms, schools, and workplaces). 

The skills involved in designing, developing and studying games are relevant to a wide variety of careers, for instance: instructional design, coding, web and app development, project management, user experience (UX) design, illustration, and 3D modeling, and so on.  Whether you wish to pursue a career specifically in games (commercial or educational game design) or want to use games as a means to other endeavors, this program is an exciting and modern platform for your career journey.

Courses in the M.A. degree program provide a solid foundation in both theoretical and practical aspects to the design of educational technology (of which games are a part), which are very relevant to the design of games that target learning—what are often called educational games. Similarly, the development of educational (or other) games depends upon the ability to program such games, or, at very least, to have enough programming knowledge to be able to communicate appropriately with programmers who will develop games based on design specifications. Therefore, courses on game development, for example, complement the required programming course sequences that teach programming skills that can be applied to games.

Minimum Point Requirement
minimum of 32 points of coursework is required for completion of the degree. Course credits from previous, non-Teachers College work cannot be transferred in to count toward the 32 points required for the M.A. degree. 


Required Core Courses (10 points)

  • Required courses:
    • MSTU 4000: Core Seminar (1 point) 
    • MSTU 4088: Introduction to Educational Technology & the Learning Sciences (3 points)
    • MSTU 4083: Instructional Design of Educational Technology (3 points)
  • For the remaining points, choose between:
    • MSTU 4020: Social and Communicative Aspects of ICTs (3 points)
    • MSTU 4005: Equity, Ethics and Social Issues (3 points)
    • MSTU 4054: Ethical Issues in Technology Design (3 points)


Requirements in the Major Area (15 points)

  • 6 points of a programming course sequence: 
    • MSTU 4031: Object-Oriented Theory and Programming I (3 points) and MSTU 5031: Object-Oriented Theory and Programming II (3 points)
    • MSTU 5003: Theory and Programming: Interactive Media I (3 points) and MSTU 5013: Theory and Programming: Interactive Media II (3 points)
    • Other programming courses approved by academic adviser
  • For the remaining 9 points, choose any combination of the following courses:
    • MSTU 4039: Game Design Fundamentals: Theory and Practice of Game Design (3 points)
    • MSTU 4040: Mobile Learning (3 points)
    • MSTU 5000: Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality and Games as Learning Tools (3 points)
    • MSTU 5015: Research/Programming in Serious Games (3 points)
    • MSTU 6000: Advanced Design of Educational Games (3 points)


Elective Courses (1-3 points)

1-3 points of additional MSTU courses.


Breadth Requirement (6-9 points)
All students at Teachers College, Columbia University, must complete at least two credits, at Teachers College and outside the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design Program (that is, courses with a prefix other than MSTU).


Statement about the Required, Integrative Project
The Integrative M.A. Project can be either an individual project or part of a larger project involving several students. For students completing the M.A. degree, this project should be related to their career goals and should provide tangible evidence of their skills and strengths.


Transfer Credit Evaluation
Course credits from previous, non-Teachers College work cannot be transferred in to count toward the 32 points required for the M.A. degree.


Statement about Satisfactory Progress
Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements. Where there are concerns about satisfactory progress, students will be informed by the program faculty and/or their respective M.A. adviser, and a suggested plan and timeline for remediation will be provided. If satisfactory progress is not maintained a student may be dismissed from the program.


Other Information
Check with the CMLTD Academic Secretary if you are unsure about the name of your specific advisor. Students can also work with other faculty in the program in addition to their respective Masters advisor as they move through completion of program requirements.


Standard Policies and Procedures
Services for Students with Disabilities: The College will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities for information about registration (166 Thorndike Hall). Services are available only to students who are registered and submit appropriate documentation.

Statement on Academic Conduct: A Teachers College student is expected to refrain from any conduct, including cheating, plagiarizing, or purchasing documents submitted for academic evaluation, that calls into question his/her academic and/or professional probity. Decisions regarding academic evaluation in all aspects of students’ work at the college, including coursework, certification examinations, clinical or field experiences, and preparation of dissertations, are within the sole jurisdiction of the faculty concerned, including as appropriate, the department or program staff members. Disciplinary actions (e.g., reprimand, suspension, or dismissal) in cases of academic misconduct can be imposed by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.

Resolution of Student Academic Program Concerns: Any student who has a concern regarding an academic matter may seek assistance. The procedure for resolving academic program concerns (see note of grade correction process below) begins with either the faculty member (if the concern is related to a course) or the student’s advisor. If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved at this first level, or if speaking with the faculty member presents a conflict of interest for the student, the student should proceed to speak with the Program Director in the area in which the academic concern resides. If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Program Director, the student should proceed to speak with the Chair of the academic department in which the academic concern resides. If the student is still not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Department Chair, or if speaking with the Department Chair presents a conflict of interest for the student, the next step is to contact the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. At any stage of the process, students are welcome to seek the advice and guidance of the Ombudsman, who is charged with attempting to informally resolve student dissatisfaction of an academic nature on a completely confidential basis. 

Grade Correction Procedure: The instructor for a course has the responsibility for setting the requirements for a course and making an evaluation of students’ work. Once a grade has been given, the instructor is not free to change the grade unless the instructor indicates to the Registrar that an error was made in the original grade transmitted. If a student believes that an error has been made, he/she must take the initiative in bringing about the necessary correction prior to the conclusion of the semester immediately following the semester in which the course was taken. The normal procedure for effecting a correction would be through direct discussion between the student and the instructor. If redress cannot be attained through such discussions, the student may next appeal to the department chairperson of the department offering the course. If resolution cannot be attained through appeal, the student may next appeal to the Dean. In situations where the student feels that such an appeal process might not be in the student’s interest, counsel and assistance can be sought from the Office of the College Ombudsman and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.