What are the top AR/VR school programs in the Midwest for 2023?

Top 10 Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Schools in the Midwest - 2023 College Rankings
1University of MichiganMichigan
2University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinois
3Purdue UniversityIndiana
4Iowa State UniversityIowa
5Northwestern UniversityIllinois
6The Ohio State UniversityOhio
7University of Illinois ChicagoIllinois
8DePaul UniversityIllinois
9Ohio UniversityOhio
10Columbia College ChicagoIllinois

Our 2023 rankings -our third annual- of the top AR/VR programs in the Midwest. For reference, we define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan

University of Michigan (U-M) houses one of the world’s largest and oldest programs in Computation. Consisting of several departments and divisions and serving more than 11,000 students, the program provides access to a variety of degree and certificate options, coursework, studios, and initiatives that explore AR/VR.

Specific pathways for students interested in AR/VR are provided across the College of Engineering, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), and the School of Information. Options include the Computer Science BS, Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) MS, the CSE PhD, the CS Minor, and a Graduate Certificate in Extended Reality (XR).

Course examples across programs include Human-Centered Software Design & Development, Computer Game Design and Development, VLSI Design, Autonomous Robotics, Interactive Computer Graphics, Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), Software Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Digital Integrated Technology, Programming Languages, and Machine Learning.

To enhance the MS degree, graduate students may add the Graduate Certificate in XR. Open to all graduate students regardless of degree program, the XR program requires 12 credit hours of study. Students will learn about the design, construction, and evaluation of XR experiences. Course examples include AR/VR for Sustainability, Augmented Tectonics, Developing AR/VR Experiences, Educational Applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, Immersive Media, Sci-Fi Prototyping, and Virtual Engagement in Digital Technologies.

Students in all programs have access to the XR Initiative - Center for Academic Innovation and the studios of the James and Anne Duderstadt Center (DC). Founded in 2019, the XR Initiative works across all U-M colleges, divisions, and schools to develop new XR related educational technology designed to enhance the learning experience for students. The Initiative also focuses on making XR technology more accessible on campus and encouraging its use in higher education.

Past XR Initiative projects include Cross-platform XR Tools for Supporting Student Creativity in Immersive Audio Design, Comparison of Student Learning of Head and Neck Anatomy and Diagnosis of Pathology Using XR, and XR Studio.

Launched in 1996 as the Media Union, the DC houses the Fabrication Studio, the DC Visualization Studio, M.I.D.E.N (Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus), and VizHubs. All studios are equipped with state-of-the art equipment and individual workstations, advanced software, collaborative workstations, the Vicon Motion Capture System, Leap Motion System for hand tracking in VR environments, and the Perception Neuron Full Body Tracking Suit, and more.

Graduates of the Computer Science and XR Programs at University of Michigan are prepared for all roles across areas such as AR/VR, Software Engineering, Digital Arts and Entertainment, Simulation Engineering, and Applications Development.

Established in 1817 in Detroit, Michigan, University of Michigan is one of the first public universities in the nation. Consisting of three distinct, but aligned institutions in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint, Michigan, U-M serves 51,225 students enrolled in more than 275 degree programs across 19 colleges and schools. University of Michigan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) houses Grainger College of Engineering, home to the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science. Within the Center is a Computer Science (CS) program that’s suitable for students interested in studying AR/VR. Specific degrees options include the BS, MS, and Minor in Computer Science (CS). The Minor consists of 12 credit hours.

Students in the CS BS have the opportunity to take up to 18 credit hours of technical electives and six hours of CS advanced electives. This allows students focus in a specific area of interest. The Media, Intelligence and Big Data, and Human and Social Impact areas include course options such as Virtual Reality, AI for Computer Games, Applied Machine Learning, Mobile Interactive Design, and Audio Computing Lab.

The CS MS is a research-oriented degree that requires 28 credit hours of coursework and a four credit hour thesis. The program consists of 10 core areas. Examples include Interactive Computing, Programming Languages, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Scientific Computing.  

Students in both the BS and MS programs have access to the VR@Illinois Lab (VR LAB). Supported by the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) and University Library’s IDEA Lab and Media Commons, the VR Lab is a collaborative initiative that supports AR/VR and extended reality research, exploration, and teaching at UIUC.

The Lab houses studio spaces for VR creation and exploration, mobile virtual reality classrooms, loanable headsets and cameras for viewing and capturing 360 media, and the VR Club, which hosts weekly club meetings. Lab experts provide consultations on implementing VR in the classroom and assistance with VR research projects.

Adjacent to the VR Lab is the Innovation Studio—an active, experimental and emerging technology studio with VR headsets, a video wall, gaming computers, and a range of innovative technologies.

Graduates of the Computer Science and other related programs at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are routinely hired by some of the world’s top companies. Examples include Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Tesla, Meta, Apple, IBM, Caterpillar, ADM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and JPMorgan Chase.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was established in 1867 as Illinois Industrial University. The second oldest public school in the state, UIUC serves 55,000 students from 50 U.S. states and 126 countries. More than 150 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate and professional programs are offered across 16 colleges and instructional units. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University

Purdue University is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Within the Institute is a Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) Program that allows students to customize their plan of study by selecting courses from areas such as Information Visualization, Animation, Games, and UX Design. As such, students in this flexible program have access to a range of AR/VR courses. Examples include Augmented Reality, Collaborative Virtual and Augmented Environments, Product Development Using Virtual Environments, Computer Graphics Programming, Cognition & Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Geometric Modeling For Visualization And Communication, Game Development I-II, Visual Intelligence and Perception, Special Topics In Human-Centered Design And Development, and Advanced Real-Time Computer Graphics.

Leading to an MS in CGT (MS CGT), the program provides access to the IDEAS Research Group, which focuses on Metaverse/AR/VR, and the state-of-the-art Purdue HRD Virtual Lab. Equipment here includes Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headsets to deliver virtual reality simulations; Microsoft HoloLens for augmented reality training simulations; GoPro Omni and GoPro Hero to create 360-degree training simulation content; and iMotions software to collect biometric data on facial expression analysis (FEA), eye tracking (ET), electrocardiography (ECG), galvanic skin responses (GSR), and facial electromyography (fEMG).

To graduate, Purdue MS CGT students will complete several projects including the Computer Graphics Project, Directed MS Capstone, and Directed MS Project. Graduates of the MS CGT Program at Purdue University are prepared to seek careers in all industries that utilize AR/VR. Graduates have been hired at places such as Google, DreamWorks, Salesforce, and Deloitte.

Established in 1869, Purdue University serves approximately 50,885 students from all 50 states and 130 countries. The school provides more than 400 programs across 11 colleges and schools. Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Art, Design, and Performance Programs at Purdue are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

4. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University

Iowa State University (Iowa State) house the Graduate College, which has several programs that are suitable for students interested in studying AR/VR. Options include MS and PhD degrees in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), a Master of Human-Computer Interaction (MHCI) and a 12 credit hour HCI Graduate Certificate. The MS and PhD are interdisciplinary, and the MHCI is delivered entirely online.

Across programs, students will take courses such as Virtual Worlds and Applications, Visual Design for HCI, Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling, Learn to Speak AI, Design and Evaluation of Human Computer Interaction, Python Application Development in HCI, Computational Implementation and Prototyping, Developmental Robotics, Computational Perception, Emerging Practices in Human Computer Interaction, and Foundations in Game-Based Learning.

Students in all programs have access to the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC), which leads the HCI Program. This interdisciplinary research center supports the research of students and faculty from Iowa State’s seven colleges, as well as a number of industry partners and collaborators from several federal agencies.

VRAC participants have skills and interests in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) user experience (UX), developmental robotics, haptics interaction, HCI, and mobile computing.

Graduates of the HCI Programs at Iowa State University are prepared for careers in both the private and public sectors. Master’s degree graduates are also prepared to pursue a PhD in any related area.

Founded in 1858, Iowa State University is the nation’s first designated land-grant institution. The school serves approximately 29,970 students enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate majors and over 200 fields of study leading a graduate or professional degree. Programs at Iowa State are housed across eight colleges, two schools, and around 150 academic departments. Iowa State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
Northwestern University

Northwestern University (Northwestern) houses a number of programs for students interested in studying AR/VR. Students in all programs have access to several centers and labs to conduct research, complete projects, and network. Examples include The Garage—Northwestern’s AR/VR Media Lab—and the Center for Human-Computer Interaction + Design.

The Garage houses an 11,000 square foot space that supports projects, networking, and collaboration between students; programming and resources; and more than 250 mentors and experts. To date The Garage has helped produce more than 500 student-founded startups and projects.

The Center for Human-Computer Interaction + Design (HCI+D) consists of researchers, faculty experts, and students with interests in Human-Centered AI, Interactive Computing, Collaborative Computing, Inclusive Computing, and more. HCI+D members have created software and source code, published articles and books, and they hold a number of patents.

Other labs and groups include Swarm Robotics Lab, Artificial Intelligence Group, Prescience Lab, NuLogiCS Group, Interactive Audio Lab, IDEAS Lab, HABits Lab, Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL) Lab, and Cognition, Creativity, and Communication Lab (C3 Lab).

Established in 1909, the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University houses the Computer Science Department. Within the Department are the BA, BS, MS, PhD, and Minor in Computer Science. The BA is available to students in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (est. 1851). The Minor is available to both McCormick and Weinberg students.

Across undergraduate programs, course examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programming, HCI, Machine Learning, Tangible Interaction Design and Learning, HCI, Computer Graphics, Computer Game Design and Development, Machine Perception of Music & Audio, Game Design Studio, Agile Software Development, Software Construction, Resource Virtualization, Designing & Constructing Models with Multi-Agent Language, and Advanced Digital Design.

MS students have the opportunity to customize the curriculum to support their goals. Options include courses and research in AR/VR for Virtual Analytics, Computer Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces for Spatial Applications, AI, Computer Entertainment, Distributed Interactive Systems, HCI, Theoretical Computer Science, and Visualization.

Computer Science PhD students at Northwestern may choose from five Tracks including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Computer Engineering, Interfaces, Systems Networking, and Theory. Within each Track, students have the opportunity to explore just about any area of interest. Examples include Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Programming Languages, Vision and Graphics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and machine Learning, and Computer Engineering.

The HCI area is one of the most popular areas for students interested in AR/VR. HCI explores augmented reality, mobile interaction design, multi-touch interaction, ubiquitous computing, computer-mediated communication, cyberlearning and future learning technologies, interactive audio, mixed-initiative systems, and user-centered design, among others.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Northwestern University are Software Developers, Computer Programmers, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs. They work for companies such as Google, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and AT&T.

Northwestern University serves approximately 21,000 enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges and schools. Northwestern has campuses in Chicago and Evanston, IL., and Doha, Qatar, along with sites in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, and Miami. Established in 1851, Northwestern is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design. Established in 1968, the Department has a Design MFA program that’s ideal for individuals interested in a career in AR/VR. This interdisciplinary program has a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track. Students in this Track have the opportunity to take 12 studio elective credits in any area.

The 60 credit hour MFA Program also includes core design courses, open electives in the themes of studio/lab; history/theory/criticism; collaborative/interdisciplinary studio; writing development courses, and a thesis project. Areas covered include Real Time Graphics and Virtual Environments, Responsive and Interactive Media, Performance Animation, Game Art, and Installations.

Students in the program have access to courses such as Designing Immersive Virtual Environments, Virtual Modeling, Computer Vision for Human-Computer Interaction, Mobile Handset Systems and Networking, Programming Concepts and Applications for Artists and Designers, Integrated Tech Lab, Computer Game and Design, Survey of Artificial Intelligence I: Basic Techniques, Aspects of Art and Technology II, VCD Design Media, INT Technology, Devising Experiential Media, Motion Capture Production and Experimentation, Emerging Trends in Data Visualization, Experimental Scripting for Animation in Maya, Interactive Arts Media II: UI/UX, and Design DAIM Seminar.

Also housed in OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences is the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and the Emerging Tech Studio (ETS). The ACCAD conducts research that focuses on emerging arts technologies. The Center also houses specialized and flexible studios for interactive design, animation, mediated performance design, motion capture, and media production.

The ETS provides AR/VR experiences that simulate real-world, and otherworldly scenes. VR technology and more include Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest Pro, VIVE XR Elite, and VR apps from Steam, Steam, the Oculus Rift Store, and the Oculus Quest Store.

Graduates of the Design MFA Program at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue positions in a range of industries. Examples include Augmented Reality Designer, Mixed Reality Designer, Virtual Reality Designer, Human-Computer Interaction Designer, Visualization Specialist,  Motion Graphics Designer, Game Designer, Experiential Designer, Multimedia Designer, and CG Specialist.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 65,795 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois Chicago

University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) houses the College of Engineering. Within the College is the Department of Computer Science (CS), which is the fastest growing program at UIC. Pathways for students interested in studying AR/VR include the BS in Computer Science and Design (the only such program at a public university), a CS MS, a CS BS/MS, and a CS Minor. A CS PhD is also available for AR/VR students who would also like to pursue research or teaching positions.

Across programs, areas explored include AR/VR Design, Computer Graphics, Creative Coding, Human-Centered Computing, Designing and Developing Digital Interfaces and Applications, and Media Design. Programs consist of a combination of studio courses, electives, and required technical courses that allow students to collaborate in teams on projects and research.

Course and elective examples for the BS and Minor include Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality; Software Design; Artificial Intelligence; Human Augmentics; Programming Language Design and Implementation; Computer Graphics; Digital Media Design; Object-Oriented Languages and Environment; Game Design; Integrative Design Studio I-III; and Visualization.

The CS MS consists of 36 credit hours. Students may also enroll in the BS/MS Program, which takes just five years to complete. The MS has coursework only, project (capstone), and thesis options (research or PhD preparation). Course examples include Virtual Reality; Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality; Advanced Machine Learning; Software Engineering; Video Game Design and Development; Applied Artificial Intelligence; Programming Language Design; Wearables and Nearables Technology Laboratory; Creative Coding; Deep Learning for computer Vision; Multimedia Systems; Human-Computer Interaction; and Design of Mobile Apps.

Students in all programs have access to UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and the Human-in-Mind Engineering Research Lab (HiMER).

Established in 1973, EVL is an interdisciplinary research laboratory in the Department of CS. EVL specializes in virtual reality, visual data science, collaborative visualization, and advanced computing and networking infrastructure. The Lab is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Argonne National Laboratory, The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the State of Illinois, and UIC.

The HiMER Lab in the College of Engineering highlights recently funded research including AR/VR, Human Performance Modeling, Human-System Interaction, Data Analytics, and Transportation Safety. Recent AR/VR projects include HiMER Lab Augmented/Virtual Reality Wearable Screen Design; Projection-Based Mixed Reality Platform-Spatial Mixed Reality; Gaze-Based Multimodal Interactions in AR; and Human Perception and Cognition in AR.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Illinois Chicago are prepared to pursue a variety of roles in technology, entertainment, architecture, health, education, aerospace, medicine, and more. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, Cisco, Meta, Adobe, LG, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HP, Redbox, and Verizon.  

University of Illinois Chicago formed in 1982 when two University of Illinois campuses—the Medical Center campus and the Chicago Circle campus—consolidated. Today, with close to 34,000 students enrolled, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area. The school provides 260 degree programs and more than 60 certificate programs across 14 colleges and the School of Law. University of Illinois Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

DePaul University is home to the Eugene P. Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) and the College of Communication. Across colleges, several Labs support AR/VR collaboration, learning, research, development, and projects on all emerging platforms.

Launched in 2022, Jarvis Student Center for Innovation and Collaboration​ houses a creative extended reality (XR) studio space for students to conceive and collaborate on projects for VR, AR and mixed reality (MR).

Also part of Jarvis CDM, the Virtual and Augmented Design (VAD) Lab is located on the concourse level of the DePaul Center. Equipment here includes AR headsets/visors, VR headsets with hand and foot trackers, iPhones for augmented reality development, Oculus Rifts, iPhones for augmented reality development, Microsoft HoloLenses, HTC Vives, and Macs and PCs.

The College of Communication houses the Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab (VARC). The goal of the VARC is to advance ethical communication in AR and VR. Equipped with the latest AR/VR equipment, the Lab allows students and faculty to experience AR/VR technology and explore how these tools impact society. The VARC Lab also provides classes and workshops, and supports courses at DePaul that utilize AR/VR in the classroom.

DePaul students also have the opportunity to join the DePaul Virtual Reality Society. Benefits include events and activities, exclusive AR/VR resources, and networking opportunities with students and professionals. All members will learn about the skills required to create virtual reality content.

In addition to the Labs and Clubs at DePaul University, students who would like to pursue careers in AR/VR have access to several related degree programs. Options in the School of Computing within the Jarvis College of CDM include a BS in Computer Science (CS), and MS degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering. The BS has two concentrations: Software Development and Game Systems.

The CS MS requires 28 credit hours from electives from areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Game and Real-Time Systems, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Software Engineering, and Software and Systems Development. Software Engineering students may concentrate in Real Time Game Systems, Software Architecture, Software Development, or Entrepreneurship & Technology Leadership.

Across programs and concentrations, course examples include Optimized C++, Visualization, Computer Graphics Development, Prototyping and Implementation, Programming Machine Learning Applications, Systems I-II, Object-Oriented Software Development, 3D Design and Modeling, Tool Programming for Game Development, Real-Time Graphics Techniques, Concepts of Programming Languages, Rendering and Graphics Programming, Cyber-Physical System Engineering I-III, and Game Engine Programming I-II.

Graduates of the Computer Science and Software Engineering Programs at DePaul University have been hired at a variety of major companies, studios, and organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Abbott Laboratories, Disney Interactive, Twitter, Allstate, Federal Reserve bank, Meta, Vivid Seats, CME Group, State Farm, Argonne National Laboratory, JP Morgan Chase, and GitHub.

With around 23,800 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges and schools, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. Founded in 1898, DePaul is also America’s 13th-largest private, not-for-profit university, and the largest private, not-for-profit college in the Midwest. DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University houses the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies (ECT), home to the Information and Telecommunication Systems BS (ITS ECT BS). Within the program is an AR/VR Track. In partnership with the School of Media Arts & Studies, McClure also has a VR and Game Development Emphasis within the Games and Animation Major.

The AR/VR Track focuses on emerging communication technologies production, including AR/VR, and information networking and telecommunication systems. Students in the program will learn about the application, management, design, management, and regulation or information network technology; the use, production, and  implementation of AR/VR; and how businesses acquire and sell AR/VR products and services.

The VR and Game Development program begins with an Animation or Game Design pathway, with opportunities to enhance either area. This includes taking courses in AR/VR offered in the McClure School. The VR and Game Development Emphasis leads to a BS in Media Arts and Studies: Games and Animation.

Students in both programs at Ohio University have access to Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. Established in 2005, the GRID Lab is an initiative of Scripps College. Developed by the School of Media Arts and Studies, the Lab focuses on the research and development of virtual reality, serious and educational games, simulations, and computer animation.

The McClure School at Ohio University has the highest job placement rate in the Scripps College of Communication. Graduates of the ITS ECT Program (AR/VR Track), have been recruited by major studios and companies such as Microsoft, Sony, Unity, Warner Brothers, Disney, and Bethesda. ITS graduates are also employed in branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, with consulting companies such as Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, Booz Allen Hamilton, and PwC, and with state and federal government offices.

Graduates of the Game and Animation Program with a VR and Game Development Emphasis have been hired at places such as Blizzard, Sony PlayStation, Google, Riot Games, Disney/Disney Imagineering, Electronic Arts (EA), and Unity.

Established in 1804, Ohio University is the state’s first public university. The school opened with one building, three students, and one professor. Today Ohio University’s 1,700+ faculty members serve more than 28,000 students across six campuses, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs housed in 11 colleges, 16 schools, and dozens of departments.

10. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) is home to the Interactive Arts and Media (IAM) Department. An Unreal Academic Partner, the IAM has an Immersive Media (IM) BA program that allows students to develop skills in multiple areas through a required minor. Examples include Programming, Motion Graphics, Game Design, User Experience, and Web Development.

For students seeking a shorter program, Columbia has an 18 credit hour IM Minor. Course examples include Immersive Environments I-II, Sound for Interaction, and Wearable Interfaces. The IM Minor is open to students in other degree programs such as the Game Design BA,  the BA/BS in Programming, and the User Experience and Interaction Design BA/MA.

The Immersive Media BA at Columbia College Chicago explores the path from prototyping to deployment. Students in the 48 credit hour major will develop the skills needed to produce augmented, mixed, and virtual reality experiences for games, entertainment, healthcare, engineering, and the sciences. Course examples include Immersive Environments I-IV, Programming I-II, Experience Design, Algorithms, Story Development for Interactive Media, Interface Design, AI Programming, Studio Collaboration, and Advanced Game Scripting and Environments.

Other IM program features include a collaborative environment, portfolio development, and the opportunity to participate in or present at events such as the Augmented World Expo (AWE), the VRAR Association of Chicago (career fairs and events), the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (required), and Industry Night and Manifest.

Nearly 90% of Columbia College graduates report being employed within a year of earning their degrees. Immersive Media graduates are Augmented Reality Designers and Developers, Immersive Media Artists, Simulation Designers and Developers, Virtual Reality Designers and Developers, User Experience Designers for Immersive Media, Immersive Storytellers, and Immersive Information Visualization Specialists.

Columbia College graduates have been hired at a variety of major studios, companies, and publications. Examples include Microsoft, CNN, Riot Games, NY Times, Google, Meta, TIME Studios, Adobe, and Snapchat. Columbia alumni have also been hired at places such as Midwest Immersive, Within, 8i Virtual Reality Studio (8i), Moxie, Edelman, and Steam.

Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school serves nearly 6,700 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).