What are the top AR/VR school programs on the East Coast for 2023?

Top 10 Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Schools on the East Coast - 2023 College Rankings
1Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts
2New York UniversityNew York
3Carnegie Mellon UniversityPennsylvania
4Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew York
5Drexel UniversityPennsylvania
6Cornell UniversityNew York
7University of MarylandMaryland
8University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania
9Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteNew York
10Northeastern UniversityMassachusetts

Our 2023 list -our third annual- of the Top 10 Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) School Programs on the East Coast. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) houses a large number of academic units, departments, centers, and labs that provide numerous programs designed to support AR/VR education, projects, innovation, and research. For a foundational understanding of AR/VR, students can enroll in a certificate program through MIT’s Professional Development Division—MIT xPRO.

Course examples include Evaluating XR (Extended Reality) Systems, Producing VR and AR Experiences I-II, Game Development, XR Apps Development, and Broader Implications of XR. This fully online AR/VR Program is delivered in collaboration with Emeritus and it takes eight weeks to complete. 

Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT houses the Center for Computational Science & Engineering (CCSE), and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). CCSE is home to the Master of Science Program in Computational Science and Engineering SM Program (CSE SM). This interdisciplinary program provides the opportunity to choose electives that focus on particular applications—including AR/VR.  

Hands on projects and access to MITs many centers and labs are major components of the CSE SM program. Course examples include Optimization for Machine Learning, Advances in Computer Vision, Architecting & Engineering Software Systems, Atomistic Modeling & Simulations of Materials & Structures, and Computational Cognitive Science.

The CCSE also has a Doctoral Program in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE PhD). Provided jointly across eight participating departments, the CSE PhD provides the opportunity to focus in a computation-related field, such as AR/VR, through coursework and the doctoral thesis.

The EECS Department at MIT is composed of three overlapping sub-units including artificial intelligence (AI) and decision-making (AI+D), electrical engineering (EE), and computer science (CS). The curriculum is a joint venture between the Schwarzman College of Computing and the School of Engineering. AR/VR related programs include a BS in Computation and Cognition (also provide in collaboration with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences), a Minor in Computer Science (72 units), and PhD’s in Computer Science, and CS and Engineering. The PhD degree is awarded interchangeably with the Doctor of Science (ScD).

The largest undergraduate program at MIT, EECS provides intensive hands-on coursework and opportunities to engage in independent study or research for academic credit. Students in the BS program will take courses such as Perception, Robotics: Science and Systems, Advances in Computer Vision, Machine-Motivated Human Vision, AI, and Digital Systems Laboratory.

MIT labs and centers include the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT Media Lab, and MIT.nano Immersion Lab.

The MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality brings together experts, students, and resources in a studio/laboratory environment to support research and creative projects. The Center focuses on innovation across technologies and platforms such as virtuality (XR, VR, AR, MR, etc.), videogames, social media, and others.

Founded in 1985, the MIT Media Lab is an interdisciplinary research organization that allows students, faculty, and researchers to work together on hundreds of projects across disciplines such as social robotics, physical and cognitive prostheses, new models and tools for learning, community bioengineering, models for sustainable cities, and more. The Lab also houses the graduate degree program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS).

The MIT.nano Immersion Lab highlights activities such as developing new software and hardware concepts for immersive experiences, prototyping advanced tools for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and visualizing data. The Immersion Lab connects engineers and scientists with musicians, artists, and performers through creative projects across multiple disciplines.

The Lab also produces the monthly seminar series IMMERSED, which consists of lectures, demonstrations, and tutorials that explore immersive technology and how it shapes advances across art, science, and engineering.

Graduates of the Certificate, Computer Science, and Engineering Programs at MIT are prepared to pursue positions in AR/VR, AI, Information and Technology, and many others. Some of the top employers of MIT graduates include Amazon, Google, IBM, Boeing, Apple, Microsoft, the U.S. Air Force, Meta Platforms, Inc. (Meta), and Aurora Flight Sciences.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was incorporated on April 10, 1861, just two days before the start of the Civil War. The school serves approximately 11,860 students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and 135 foreign countries. MIT provides more than 100 programs across one college (MIT Schwarzman College of Computing), Sloan School of Management, and the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Science; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and Engineering.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Engineering at MIT is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

2. New York University, New York, New York
New York University

The Tandon School of Engineering at New York University is a Polytechnic Institute that houses the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) Program. Degree options for this research-active program include the BS and MS. Other options include an IDM Minor, an Accelerated BS/MS Program, and Professional Certificates in AR/VR Development and 3D Graphics, and UX Design for AR/VR.

The AR/VR Development and 3D Graphics Certificate is a seven-month program that teaches students how to develop XR experiences within Unity. Examples of areas explored include C# programming, virtual environments, 3D graphics, mathematical foundations, game engine development, and XR applications. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the skills needed to pursue positions at companies such as Apple, Google, and Verizon.

Students in NYU’s UX Design for AR/VR Certificate Program will learn to design immersive experiences using the latest industry tools such as Marvel, SparkAR, Reaper, and Figma. This six-month program is hands-on; it explores all areas of XR (augmented, virtual, and mixed reality); and students will have opportunities to research through case studies by Google, Amazon, and Apple.

The UX Design for AR/VR Program at New York University culminates with a final Capstone, which will be presented during the final week of the program.

The IDM BS Program at NYU consists of media studies courses taken in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC), the Tandon Engineering core, and additional courses in humanities, science, math, and social sciences. Coursework focus on the four areas of Image, Sound, Narrative, and Interactivity, and are combined with upper-level electives ranging from augmented reality and motion capture to user experience design. Course examples include Creative Coding, Interactive Narrative, Programming, Contemporary Techniques in Sound Art, 3D for Interactive Applications, and Motion and Sound.

The IDM MS Program at NYU consists of research areas such as Augmented Reality, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience, Assistive Technology, and Real-Time Performance. Graduate students participate in research initiatives through partnerships with NYC Media Lab, the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), other programs and schools at NYU Tandon, and other NYC institutions. Examples include The Mobile Augmented Reality Lab and the ABILITY Project.

Across IDM programs, other features include internship opportunities with companies such as Apple, Google, and Sony Music; study abroad at NYU Shanghai (IMA - Interactive Media Arts); and direction by instructors who are engaged a range of projects from developing novel uses of virtual/augmented reality for health and wellness to using motion capture technology to reimagine theatrical performance.

Students in all programs, including NYU certificates, may participate in the Future Reality Lab and NYC Media Lab.

In the Future Reality Lab, participants collaborate in the manipulation of objects (real and virtual), in a shared mixed reality. NYC Media Lab (research and development) is a consortium colleges and universities including NYU, Columbia University, The New School, CUNY, School of Visual Arts, Manhattan College, and Pratt Institute.

NYU IDM students and graduates have worked with companies such as Apple, the New York Stock Exchange, HTC China, ABC Network, Google, Verizon, EMI Music, American Express, Wunderman/Y&R Advertising, Instagram, Facebook, Sony Music Entertainment, LG Electronics, Simon & Schuster, Major League Gaming, and Etsy.

New York University was founded in 1831. Serving nearly 55,000 students, NYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities and one of the state’s largest employers. In addition to the New York campus, NYU has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, along with 11 global academic centers in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. The school has an estimated 400+ programs housed across dozens of colleges, centers, institutes, and schools. New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

3. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently launched a $27.5 million Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) Initiative to build more intelligence into computer networks. The SRC focuses on interactive mixed reality, smart and connected communities, and enhanced situational awareness. In addition, CMU is home to the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), which houses labs and studios such as the Augmented Design Capability Studio and the Augmented Perception Lab. Students in all programs benefit from access to the HCII and the SRC.

For students interested in studying AR/VR, Carnegie Mellon University provides programs across the School of Computer Science, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tepper School of Business, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Engineering, The Robotics Institute, and the Software Engineering Institute. Examples include a BS in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), an MS in Robotics Systems Development (MRSD) with AR/VR internship opportunities, a professional Master of HCI (MHCI), and an HCI PhD.

The PhD has Emphasis areas such as Games and Play (VT Games, Game Streaming), Human-AI Interaction, and Learning Sciences and Learning Technologies. Research examples for this Emphasis include AI-Infused Mixed Reality, Machine Learning, and Digital Learning Games.

CMU has an HCI concentration that is available and open to all students in the School of Computer Science, along with Minors in Interdisciplinary HCI, AI, and Machine Learning. A BS in AI is also available.

Carnegie Mellon University has a variety of Intercollege Degree Programs (BXA) that are suitable for students who would like to study AR/VR. Examples include the Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA), jointly offered by the College of Fine Arts and Mellon College of Science; the Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA), developed by the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science; and the Bachelor of Engineering Studies and Arts (BESA), sponsored by the College of Fine Arts and the College of Engineering.

Across programs, students have access to courses such as Reality Computing Studio I-II, IDeAte: Making Things Interactive, Programming, Applications of Cognitive Science, Making Things Interactive, Advanced ETB: Experimental Game Design, IDeAte: Introduction to the Unity Game Engine, Interaction Design Studio, Human Computer Interaction & User Experience, Advanced Computer Vision Apps, Mobile Robot Algorithms Laboratory, Embedded Systems, Hands: Design and Control for Dexterous Manipulation, Human Robot Interaction, VMD Systems Studio, IDeAte: Art of Robotic Special Effects, Mechanics of Manipulation, and Programming Usable Interfaces.

Graduates of the HCI and Computer Science programs at CMU are prepared to pursue careers in AR/VR and many other areas. Recent employers include Adobe, Google, Riot Games, Amazon, Cartoon Network, Pixar, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Meta, Apple, NVIDIA, and Samsung.

Carnegie Mellon University was founded on November 15, 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The school opened as Carnegie Technical Schools. Today, this private global research university serves approximately 16,780 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools. In addition to the main campus in Pennsylvania, CMU has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Doha, Qatar. Academic programs are also provided in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Mexico, and Portugal. Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

4. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) delivered its first fully online program years before any other post-secondary institution entered the online arena. RIT was also the first university to offer an undergraduate degree in software engineering. And in 2008, the school launched the world’s very first doctoral program focusing on sustainable production systems. Rochester Institute of Technology is also among a small but growing number of schools to provide programs related to AR/VR.

The Golisano College of Computing and Information at RIT houses the School of Interactive Games and Media, and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences. Within the School of Interactive Games and Media is a New Media Interactive Development BS Program. The Department of Computing and Information Sciences houses the Computing and Information Sciences PhD.

Coursework for the BS Program focuses on adapting digital technologies for AR/VR, touch interfaces, social software, the internet, wearable devices, and other new and emerging systems. Other program features include the New Media Design Capstone (I & II), which provides the opportunity to work on a project for a corporate client; collaboration with students in RITs New Media Design major; and required participation in the cooperative education (co-op) program. Co-ops are full-time, paid career experiences working in the industry.

The Computing and Information Sciences PhD explores infrastructure, interaction, informatics, and interaction between computing and non-computing disciplines in the arts, science, engineering, medicine, business, and humanities. Research areas for the PhD include but are not limited to AI and Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI, Game Design, Graphics and Visualization, and Programming Languages.

Students in the BS, PhD, and other programs have access to RIT’s AR/VR Lab and Frameless Labs. Located at the RIT MAGIC Center, the AR/VR Lab is designed for the exploration of and experimentation with AR/VR platforms, technologies, and hardware.  Also located at the MAGIC Center, Frameless Labs provides a space for the extended reality (XR) community to collaborate. The goal is to raise awareness about research, innovation, and artistic creation in the fields of AR and VR.

Current projects and experiences include Development and Assessment of Virtual Reality Paradigms for Gaze Contingent Visual Rehabilitation, Color and Material Appearance in AR, Mixed Reality Theatre (funded by Epic Games), Digital Docents: Historical NY Stories in Virtual and Augmented Reality, and the VR Cary Collection.

Graduates of the BS and PhD Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology are prepared to pursue careers in industries from Entertainment to Aerospace. AR/VR Developer, Interactive Developer, UX Engineer, Technical Lead, Application Developer, and Digital Technician are just a few potential job titles.

Rochester Institute of Technology was founded in 1829 as the Rochester Athenaeum. With global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, this research university serves more than 19,000 students, making it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. RIT provides 200+ academic programs across 11 colleges and institutes. Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University is one of the top colleges at Drexel University. In addition to providing primarily studio-based programs in the Performing Arts, Media, and Design, the College houses its own record label (MAD Dragon Records), a student-run Graphic Design firm, and lifestyle publication D&M Magazine.

Westphal College of Media Arts & Design also houses Drexel’s Digital Media & Virtual Production BS—one of the first accredited programs of its kind. The College also has a Virtual Reality (VR) & Immersive Media Minor, which explores the principles and techniques used in AR/VR design and other types of immersive media. The 24 credit hour Minor also explores Animation & VFX, Game Development, Cinematography, and Animation for Gaming.

Course examples for the program include, Computer Graphics Imagery, Animation and Visual Effects, Digital Tools for Immersive Media, Realtime Visualization, Motion Capture, Digital Imaging for Immersive Media, and Game Development Foundations. Students from Animation & Visual Effects to Computer Science and User Experience Design may add the VR and Immersive Media Minor to enhance their degree program. 

Officially launched in 2018 as Virtual Reality & Immersive Media (VRIM), the Digital Media & Virtual Production BS Program provides the opportunity for students to master the latest hardware and software for AR/VR, immersive projection, motion capture, and other technologies utilized in the immersive media industry. The program also explores virtual production, interactive game engines, 3D modeling, animation, design, and storytelling.

Course examples include History of Immersive Media, Digital Tools for Immersive Media, Computer Graphics Imagery, Immersive Production Lab I-II, Realtime Visualization, Digital Imaging for Immersive Media, Animation I-II, Motion Capture, Computer Gaming, Immersive Media Workshop I-II, Previsualization for Animation, Professional Practices for Immersive Media, and Computer Programming.

All students will participate in the Drexel Co-op Program, which provides opportunities to work for companies such as YouTube VR, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Night Kitchen, Toll Brothers, and History Making Productions.

In addition to the BS Program, Drexel Westphal houses two labs: the Animation Capture & Effects Lab (ACE-Lab) and the Immersive Research Lab (IRL).

The ACE-Lab houses Westphal’s Digital Animation, Visual Effects, and Immersive Media Programs as well as VR, AR, and other interactive experiences. The Lab includes the latest industry-standard software and hardware technologies for VR, AR, Motion Capture, Projection and other technologies. Within the Lab, students have access to funded grant research opportunities. They also have the opportunity to participate in industry-sponsored projects, and independent, and student-generated projects.

Launched in 2018, the IRL allows students to develop AR/VR and immersive media technologies. The 550-square-foot, glass-enclosed lab features equipment such as HP-ZVR Backpack Workstations, virtual and augmented reality devices from Oculus Go, HTC VIVE and Microsoft HoloLens headsets, Leap Motion hand-tracking and iClone Facial motion capture systems, and a full motion capture studio equipped with OptiTrak and Vicon motion capture devices. Other technologies include 360-degree virtual reality cameras, a custom virtual reality cycle platform, and an x-wing fighter cockpit platform.

Drexel Westphal graduates work in Entertainment, Education, the Sciences, Historical Recreation, and many other areas. Alumni have been hired at DreamWorks, Moving Picture Company, Digital Domain, Pixar, and Disney. Graduates also work at major video game development companies and others that utilize AR/VR, Animation, and Visual Effects.

Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, & Industry. The school serves approximately 23,215 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Digital Media Programs at Drexel are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts and Design (NASAD).

6. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University

The Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (CIS) at Cornell University is home to the Computer Science (CS) Department. When it launched in 1965, the Department was the first of its kind. Consisting of two campuses—one in Ithaca, the other in New York City—the CS Department has a full-time faculty of 62 members that serve 1,340 students at the undergraduate, master’s, and PhD levels.

For students interested in studying, the CS Department at Cornell has BS, MS, and PhD Programs in Computer Science. A CS Minor is also available. Course examples across programs include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Topics in Mixed Reality, Mobile Human Robot Interaction Design, C++ Programming, Developing and Designing Interactive Devices, Interactive Computer Graphics, Python, Great Works in Programming Languages, Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age, Computer Vision, Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, and Robotics Seminar.

In addition to a variety of AR/VR-related courses, students in all CS programs have access to Cornell University’s Virtual Embodiment Lab (VEL) and the XR Collaboratory (XRC).

Established in 2016, VEL explores virtual reality and how it affects the people who use it. A number of devices are utilized to research virtual reality including full virtual reality systems that allow a user to pick up objects and interact with others, and 360 degree videos.

The mission of XRC at Cornell Tech is to advance education and research AR/VR and Mixed Reality through collaborations, research, and hands-on mentoring. XRC partners include Meta, Verizon Media, and Magic Leap.

In addition to Computer Science, graduates of the CS and other programs at Cornell University have found success in fields such as Entertainment, the Military, Engineering, Technology, Communications, Fine Arts, Medicine, and Mathematics. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Lockheed Martin, NBC, Amazon, ABC, Microsoft, CBS, the U.S. Navy, and IBM.

Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. In 1868, the school opened in Morrill Hall—the first building constructed on campus. Today, the Cornell campus houses 608 buildings across more than 2,000 acres. Cornell also has campuses throughout the State of New York, and in DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy. Around 10,830 faculty and staff serve approximately 25,900 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. Cornell University has been continuously accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921.

7. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland

University of Maryland (UMD) houses the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). ARHU serves approximately 3,070 students across 11 academic departments and three schools. Thirty-one academic majors and 37 minors are available.

The College of CMNS, which houses the Department of Computer Science (CS , is part of Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering. The CS Department alone serves more than 3,400 students with interests ranging from algorithms and design to VR to Robotics. Department features include research opportunities in Graphics, Visualization, and VR/AR; internships; participation in the honors program; and study abroad experiences.

Across the ARHU and CMNS Programs, students can earn a BA or BS in Immersive Media Design (IMD) or a BS, MS, BS/MS, or PhD in Computer Science with an AR/VR focus. All students learn to create, code, and collaborate using the most current digital technologies and tools. Students have the opportunity to focus in Art or Computer Science to graduate with a BA from the College of ARHU or a BS from the College of CMNS.

Students in all programs have access to the UMD Graphics and Visual Informatics Laboratory (GVIL), and the Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality Innovation Center (MAVRIC).

Established in 2000 by the Department of Computer Science, the GVIL explores computer graphics, scientific visualization, and virtual environments through research and education.

Current projects include applications for next-generation AR/VR, including immersive education, augmented navigation, virtual manufacturing, and medical training.

MAVRIC was created to support the future of XR, foster XR talent, and connect developers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and researchers through workshops, events, and programs.

UMD also houses the Maryland Blended Reality Center (MBRC)—a multidisciplinary partnership initially funded by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State. Launched in 2017, The Center also partners with the federal government, industry leaders, and other academic institutions to explore and develop AR/VR, MR, and other visual computing tools and applications  based in immersive technologies.

Graduates of the Computer Science, IMD, and other programs at University of Maryland have established careers in the tech industry, federal laboratories, medicine, teaching, and law. Notable alumni include Naresh Gupta, Senior Vice President of Adobe’s Print and Publishing Business Unit; Brendan Iribe, Oculus Co-Founder; Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google; and Gary Flake, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and founder of Yahoo! Research Labs.

University of Maryland in College Park was founded in 1856. The flagship campus of the University System of Maryland and the original land-grant institution in the state, UMD is one of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities. The school serves approximately 40,710 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate majors, master’s degrees, and doctoral programs across 12 colleges. University of Maryland, College Park is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

8. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn or Penn) houses the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), home to the Digital Media Design Program. Created in 1998, this interdisciplinary program leads to a Bachelor of Science (BSE) in DMD. SEAS also has an eight-course, immersive DMD Minor that explores Interactive Computer Graphics. Course examples for the program include Programming Languages and Techniques I-II, Advanced Rendering, Computer Animation, Interactive Computer Graphics, and Software Design/Engineering. The DMD Minor culminates with a Senior Capstone Project.

The DMD BSE at UPenn is designed for students interested in the math, design, and computer programming needed to produce virtual reality environments, games, animations, interactive technologies, and computer graphics. The program combines coursework in Computer Graphics (from the Computer & Information Science Department), Fine Arts courses from Penn's School of Design, and Communication Theory courses from the Annenberg School of Communication.

Course examples include Interactive Computer Graphics, Automata, Computability, and Complexity, Computer Programming, Advanced Rendering, Mechanics Lab, 3D Computer Modeling, Art of the Web: Interactive Concepts for Art & Design, Programming Languages and Techniques I-II, Software Design, Advanced Computer Graphics, and Computer Animation. The DMD BSE at UPenn culminates with the semester-long DMD Senior Project. 

Students in the BSE DMD, DMD Minor, and other programs may join the student-run club known as VirtualReality@Penn. With several dozen registered members, the Club welcomes anyone who’s interested in VR, whether it’s for games, business, or social development.

Graduates of the DMD Programs at University of Pennsylvania are prepared to pursue careers in all industries that utilize AR/VR. Program alumni have been hired by major companies and studios such Microsoft, Electronic Arts (EA), Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Google, and Walt Disney Animation.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. The school serves approximately 28,200 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 12 schools. University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

9. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI or Rensselaer) is housed in the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center. Within the School is a Computer Science (CS) program with several paths to study AR/VR. Options include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS), a CS MS with Robotics, a CS Minor, and Dual Degrees including a CS BS/MS and Accelerated CS BS/PhD.

The CS Program features a studio-like environment, state-of-the-art technology such as graphics workstations and optical analysis equipment, courses that highlight real-life scenarios, and the opportunity to choose a concentration such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Games, Robotics, Vision, or Graphics.

The curriculum for the RPI CS program explores application, design, analysis, communication, and implementation of computational processes. Course examples across programs include Intelligent Virtual Agents, Learning and Advanced Game AI, Computer Graphics, Modeling & Simulation for Cyber-Physical Systems, Cognitive Computing, Cognitive Modeling, Interactive Visualization, Computer Vision for Visual Effects, Robot Dynamics and Control, and Parallel Programming.

Students in all CS Programs at RPI have access to the Rensselaer Augmented and Virtual Environment (RAVE) Lab. Established in 2019 and housed in the J. Erik Jonsson Engineering Center, the Lab supports experimentation with different types of AR/VR. Students and researchers in the Lab have access to state-of-the-art equipment and a flexible physical space.

Students and graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have opportunities to work with Lockheed Martin, Amazon Robotics, and ExxonMobil, among others.

Established in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s first technological research university. Serving approximately 6,910 students, RPI offers more than 50 degree programs across five schools. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS). 

10. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

Northeastern University (Northeastern) is an R1 Research University that houses 10 research institutes. Examples include the Experiential AI Institute, the Experiential Robotics Institute, and the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things. Northeastern is also one of the top cooperative (co-op) education programs in the U.S. Established more than a century ago, the program recorded more than 9,000 placements with 2,900 employers around the world between 2019 and 2020 alone. The school also integrates global experiences into learning at all degree levels.

Students in all programs at Northeastern University have access to its institutes, co-op program, and global experiences.

The College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) at Northeastern has two paths to study AR/VR including the combined major leading to a BS in Design and Mechanical Engineering (BSME), and the Immersive Media Minor. CAMD Programs are available at most Northeastern campuses.

The Immersive Media Minor is an interdisciplinary program for students who are interested in Augmented Virtuality, Extended Reality, Cross Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Enhanced Realities. Course examples for the program include Virtual Environment Design, Immersive Media, Physical and Digital Fabrication, Programming, Animation for Games, Design Analysis and Innovation, and Game Studio.

The BSME Program is divided into seven areas: Engineering, Design, Supporting Courses, Writing, Integrative Courses, Professional Development, and General Electives. Course examples include Experience and Interaction, Interaction Design, Design Process Context and Systems, Mechanical Engineering Computation and Design, Fluid Mechanics, Movement and Time, Professional Issues in Engineering, and Physics for Engineering. BSME students have the option to add the Immersive Media Minor. The program culminates with the Senior Capstone in Design.

Students in both the BSME and Immersive Media Minor Program have access to three CAMD labs that support AR/VR learning, projects, and research.

The Immersive Media Labs Suite includes technologies for design, development, and exploration of AR/VR/XR, 360 video, and virtual worlds. Students have access to individual workstations and a collaboration and teaching area. Current work in the Lab includes design, development, and exploration of immersive data visualization, immersive games to study and build problem solving and collaboration skills, exploration and integration of digital drawing, painting, and sculpting tools, storytelling, media advocacy, and healthcare delivery.

In the Experiential Technologies Lab and User Testing Environment students develop software, and engage in interface development, game testing, and integration of biometrics tools including eye-tracking and wearable sensors. Lab resources include a one-way mirror, camera setups, and high-end computing.

MedVR is produced in partnership with Grassroots Developer Education, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the College of Arts, Media, and Design. Clinicians, engineers, and creatives collaborate in the lab to talk and learn about the latest AR/VR developments in healthcare and life sciences, invent translational AR/VR solutions, and solve healthcare problems by creating new experiences with AR/VR.

Graduates of the CAMD Programs and others at Northeastern University have been hired by a wide variety of companies, studios, and organizations. Examples include NASA's Johnson Space Center, Walt Disney Imagineering, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Tesla, Textron, Apple, Walt Disney World, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Oracle, Nickelodeon, AMC Networks, NBC, Abbott, ABC, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, ATYX Gaming, Alpha Defense, Peloton, Photo Diagnostic Systems, Inc., 20th Digital Studio (formerly Fox Digital Studio), and UBTCH Robotics.

Northeastern University began as the Evening Institute of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in 1898. The school serves approximately 41,850 students enrolled in more than 500 programs across nine colleges and schools. Northeastern has campuses in Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; Silicon Valley; San Francisco, California; Toronto, Ontario Canada; Vancouver, BC Canada; London, UK; Portland, Maine, and the Massachusetts communities of Nahant and Burlington. Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).