What are the top AR/VR school programs in the Southwest?
|Texas A&M University
|University of Texas at Austin
|Arizona State University
|University of Arizona
|University of Utah
|University of Colorado, Boulder
|University of Colorado, Denver
|Southern Methodist University
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
|Oklahoma State University
Our 2023 rankings -our third annual- of the Top 10 Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) schools in the Southwest. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Texas A&M University College Station, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University (TAMU or Texas A&M) houses the School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts (TAMU PVFA), home to the Visualization Program. Ideal pathways for students interested in AR/VR include the Visualization BS, MS, and MFA degrees. The Game Design and Development Minor is also suitable.
Students in all programs have access to HCI@VIZ, which is housed in the School of Architecture’s Department of Visualization, and the MAESTRO Lab, located in College of Engineering’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. The recently launched organization—Texas A&M University Virtual and Augmented Reality (TAMUVR)—is also accessible to all students.
HCI@VIZ is lab that conducts research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Human-Centered Computing, and Interactive Systems. The Lab consists of five research groups: TEILab, The StoryLab, McNamara Lab, INDIE Lab, and the Soft Interaction Lab. Depending on the group, topics explored include AR/VR, Child-Computer Interaction, Data Visualization, Embodied Interaction, Interactive Storytelling, Soft Materials Interaction, and many others. AR/VR students may be drawn to the INDIE Lab and the Soft Interaction Lab, among others.
The INDIE Lab (Interactive Data and Immersive Environments) engages in human-centered research of interactive visualizations. The group actively collaborates with multiple departments and faculty across the university. Research areas include Virtual Reality, 3D Interaction, Visual Analytics, Information Visualization, and Educational Games.
The Soft Interaction Lab fosters experimentation with physical and virtual experiences, organic materials, and interaction technology.
MAESTRO Lab houses the MAESTRO VR Studio—an Immersive Mechanics Visualization Lab dedicated Immersive and Intuitive Data Environments projects. Focus areas include AR/VR and 3D Displays.
TAMUVR is an organization that focuses on AR/VR development, research activities, educational opportunities, discussion, and practical experience.
The TEILab and McNamara Lab conduct Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Graphics research to advance and enhance Visualization, Animation, and Computer Graphics.
Graduates of the Visualization Programs at Texas A&M University are prepared to pursue roles in AR/VR, UI/UX Development, Environment Modeling, HCI, Entertainment, and Game Asset Development, among others. TAMU alumni are routinely hired at companies and studios such as Google, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Amazon, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Oracle, DreamWorks Animation, Microsoft, Electronic Arts (EA), IBM, Reel FX, Samsung, Lockheed Martin, Tektronix, General Motors, and Texas Instruments.
With more than 73,000 students, Texas A&M University the largest university in the state and one the largest in the nation. Established in 1876, TAMU is also the state’s first public institution of higher learning. The school houses 17 colleges and schools located across two campuses, the Health Science Center, and the Quatar campus. More than 400 degree programs are available. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
University of Texas at Austin houses the College of Liberal Arts, home to the Center for Perceptual Systems. Within the Center are state-of-the-art labs such as the Virtual Reality Laboratory and the Vision, Cognition, and Action Virtual Reality Lab. The labs focus on research in Virtual Reality Systems, Neural Mechanisms, Computation, and more.
Equipment includes HiBall high precision head tracking systems, a SensAble Technologies Phantom Force Feedback System with a large workspace, Oculus Rift DKII, several Polhemus Fastrack Systems, Motion Capture Systems, and an Immersion Cyberglove hand posture sensor with vibrotactile stimulators. An additional laboratory houses a driving simulator mounted on a motion platform, and a PhaseSpace 3D body tracking system using 40 LED Markers and 16 Impulse Cameras. The virtual environments are displayed using three Virtual Research V8 Head Mounted Displays and two N-Vis wide field of view helmets with binocular eye tracking.
The College of Natural Sciences at University of Texas Austin (UT Austin) houses the Computer Science (CS) Department, which has several pathways to study game design. The Computer Science BS (BS CS) has an optional Concentration in Game Development. Course examples for the program include Game Technology, Object-Oriented Programming, Computer Graphics, Software Engineering, and Generic Programming & STL.
For students interested in studying AR/VR, University of Texas at Austin has several program options that provide access to the Virtual Reality Labs and other related facilities.
Housed in the College of Fine Arts’ School of Design and Creative Technologies is the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET). Within the AET Department is a Professional BS in AET with heavy AR/VR coursework. A Game Design and Development curriculum was launched in 2020 for undergraduates with career interests in the Interactive/Immersive, Gaming, and Creative industries.
This program is jointly offered by the Department of Arts and Entertainment Technologies (AET), the Department of Computer Science (CS), and the Department of Radio-Television-Film (RTF).
Across programs, course examples include AR/VR: Intro to the Metaverse, Mixed Reality for the Masses, Design for Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Creative Coding, Interactive Environments, DxD Studio, Design & Interactivity, IBM Studio, User Interfaces, Integrated Design, Storytelling in Design, Immersive Audio, Video Game Prototyping, AET Studio, 3D Previz in Live Environment, and Video Game Scripting.
Note that students in Computer Science Programs in the College of Natural Science may take AR/VR courses as electives. This is especially true for the BSA in Computer Science (CS), which allows students to explore other areas to suit their goals. In addition to a BSA, CS students can earn a BS, BA, MS, or five-year BS/MS.
Graduates of the AET, Game Design, and CS Programs at UT Austin enjoy a 93% employment rate within six months of graduation. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Apple, HP, Amazon, IBM, Zynga, EA Games, Google, Scientific Games, GameStop, Diamond Entertainment, Everi Digital, Cloud Imperium, and Aspyr Media, Inc.
Founded in 1883, University of Texas at Austin serves approximately 52,385 students, making it one of the largest universities in Texas. UT Austin provides more than 155 undergraduate degree programs with 170+ fields of study, 139 graduate degree programs, and nearly 100 doctoral programs across 18 colleges and schools. University of Texas at Austin is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona & Los Angeles, California
Arizona State University (ASU) recently launched several centers and programs for students seeking careers in AR/VR. Launched in Fall 2022, the Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center is a state-of-the-art facility for emerging media technologies and related academic programs. The Center houses screening rooms, immersion studios, soundstages, ideation studios, fabrication labs, community rooms, and exhibition spaces. MIX students have opportunities to design new virtual worlds and video games, create other immersive medic experiences, and produce films at the Center.
Part of the ASU at Mesa City Center Complex, which also houses The Studios at Mesa City Center and the three-acre Plaza at Mesa City Center, MIX is a collaboration between ASU and the City of Mesa.
Specific program options for students interested in AR/VR include the MS in Media Arts and Sciences (Extended Reality Technologies) and the MSD in Design (Experience Design). Both programs are administered through ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The MS focus on extended reality and immersive technologies, including human-computer interaction (HCI), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, simulation, interaction, computer vision, experience design, and visualization.
Course examples include Designing Extended-Reality Experiences, Digital Workflow in the Graphics Industry, Movement and Computing, Creative Interactive Media, and Prototyping Futures.
The MSD is cross-disciplinary, and explores extended and virtual reality, interactive environments, games, themed entertainment, and immersive storytelling. Course examples include Prototyping Futures, Emerging Media Colloquium, and Immersive Experience Design. Both the MS and MSD require an Internship, Practicum, Applied Project, and Thesis to graduate.
Graduates are prepared careers in a wide range of industries and areas. Examples include Gaming, Software Development, Film and Video, Graphic Design, Web Development, Mobile Development, Architecture, Healthcare, Education, Advertising, 3D Modeling and Visualization, Workforce Development and Research, Urban Planning, and Experience Design.
ASU has another option for AR/VR students—the Center for Narrative and Emerging Media (NEM). Also launched in Fall 2022, NEM is a partnership between The Sidney Poitier New American Film School/Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Housed in the ASU California Center in Downtown Los Angeles, NEM provides an MA Program (MA-NEM) that focuses on emerging storytelling and immersive experience content creation in AR/VR/XR, virtual production, streaming, 360 video, animated graphics, and short-form digital video.
Course examples for this program include AR/VR/XR for Storytelling, Emerging Media Project Management, Emerging Media Production, Virtual Production for Storytelling, Short Form and 360 Video Production, and Narrative Development and Pre-Production. The MA-NEM Program at ASU culminates with the Applied Project, worth three credits. Graduates will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their best work.
Potential careers include AR/VR/XR Producer, Immersive Storyteller, Journalist, Documentary Film Producer, Media Project Manager, and Independent Filmmaker.
Arizona State University serves approximately 140,635 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses and a digital division that provide more than 900 fully accredited degree programs and majors. ASU programs are housed across 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona (UArizona) houses several labs and studios that support AR/VR research, projects, and training. Labs include the Extended Reality and Games Lab (XRG Lab) and the 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab. Studios include the Terry Seligman VR Studio—UArizona’s first public virtual reality studio. Equipped with headsets and hand controllers, the VR Studio allows students, faculty, and staff to immerse in virtual spaces and environments, while working on class projects and other AR/VR-related activities.
In the XRG Lab, researchers and participants focus on the research and development of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality techniques. Ongoing research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Arizona Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI), and others. Projects include Googly Eyes (VR), Mirrored VR, Bounce: A Mixed Reality Serious Game for Teaching Newtonian Physics Concepts, Grabbable Holograms (mixed reality) and Give Me a Hand? (virtual reality).
The 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab is designed for research in emerging technologies such as mixed- and augmented realities (MR-AR), the Lab focuses on the development of 2D/3D display systems, 3D visualization systems, 3D human computer interaction methods, and image acquisition systems. Researchers are interested in applying these technologies in medicine, scientific visualization, and education.
In addition to the labs and studios and University of Arizona, faculty in the School of Information (iSchool) engage in AR/VR and other extended reality (XR) technology, video game design and development, and human-computer interaction (HCI) in order to advance these interactive technologies for enhanced performance and user experience.
Programs for students interested in AR/VR are also housed in the School of Information, which is a part of the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. Options include the Information Science and Technology BS and a Games and Simulation Certificate. The BS Program features an Emphasis in Interactive and Immersive Technologies and hands-on learning, including internships with companies such as Hydrant, Octavia Digital Media, and the Enterprise Technology Division of State Farm Insurance.
Course examples for the program include Virtual Reality; Special Topics in Information, Science, Technology & Arts; Artificial Intelligence (AI); Information, Multimedia Design and the Moving Image; Technology of Sound; Digital 3D Modeling, Rendering and Rapid Prototyping; Human Computer Interaction; Game Development; Computing and the Arts; Ethics in a Digital World; Advanced Creative Coding; Computational Thinking and Doing; and Algorithms for Games.
The Information Science BS at University of Arizona has a required Individual Studies Component and the program culminates with the Senior Capstone course.
The Games and Simulation Certificate at UArizona explores the creation of virtual interactive environments for varying devices and platforms. Course examples for the program include Virtual Reality, Game Programming, Computing and the Arts, Technology of Sound, and Advanced Game Development. Students in this 12 credit hour Certificate Program will gain real-world experience through collaboration with peers and the development of several working prototypes.
Graduates of the iSchool at University of Arizona have been hired at places such as Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel Corporation, IBM Systems & Technology Group, Texas Instruments (TI), and Raytheon Technologies.
University of Arizona was established in 1885. The school serves approximately 49,400 students enrolled in hundreds of programs leading to a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, or Professional Degree. Programs at UArizona are housed across 20 colleges and additional specialized schools. University of Arizona has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1917 and is currently pursuing institutional accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
5. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
One of the most popular Schools at University of Utah is Kahlert School of Computing (KSoC). Founded in 1965 as the Computer Science Department, the School houses research areas such as Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Visual Computing, High Performance Computing, and Programming Languages/Software Engineering.
Programs for students interested in AR/VR include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. A Combined BS/MS is also available. This option allows students to complete the BS and MS in five years by taking undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in their senior year.
The BS has an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts & Engineering with multiple Focus areas including Human Centered Computing, AI/Analytics, Infrastructure, and Core Fundamentals. To complete a Focus, students must select two or more courses from any area. Course examples across areas include Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Designing Human-Centered Experiences, Computer Graphics, and Mobile Application Programming.
Other course examples for the BS program include Programming Language Concepts, Interactive Machinima, Models of Computation, Traditional Game Development, Software Practice I-II, Digital Content Creation, Asset Pipeline, and Alternative Game Development.
Students in all programs have access to the Quantitative Experience Design (QED) Lab, XR Utah, and the XR Classroom.
The QED Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that explores virtual worlds, human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), experience design, and narrative & game discourse (interface) The Lab is affiliated with the School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program.
XR Utah is an interdisciplinary research partnership led by the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSEB) at The U. Artists, computer scientists, educators, and psychologists across more than 16 departments at the University of Utah engage in research that helps develop new ways to learn and discover through the use virtual reality technologies.
The state-of-the art XR Classroom helps support projects that utilize projects using AR/VR. Also led by the EHSEB, the classroom and labs provide spaces where individuals can develop customized experiences involving simulations, interactive displays, and education lessons.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Utah work in fields such as AR/VR Technology, TV and Film, Aerospace, Game Design, Engineering, Animation, HCI, Education, Architecture, Medicine, AI, and Marketing.
Founded in 1850, University of Utah is the state’s public flagship institution. A top-tier research university, The U serves approximately 34,900 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 17 colleges and schools. University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
6. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) is home to the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute. Founded in 1998, ATLAS houses number of labs and centers designed to support student work on independent projects. Current labs and centers include ACME Lab, Living Matter Lab, Center for Media, Arts & Performance, THING Lab, Unstable Design Lab, Laboratory for Emergent Nanomaterials, BTU Lab, and Whaaat!? Lab.
Examples of past projects include Augmented Reality and Autonomous Systems (ARIAS), Haptic VR Wizard, Augmented Reality Informs Human-Robot Interaction, Biolage Reactor, Augmented Reality Remote Assistance (ARRA), AR Drum Circle, and Jam Station.
ATLAS also manages the Creative Technology and Design (CTD) Program, with core courses taught in the Roser ATLAS Center, and degrees granted through the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include the BS-CTD, CTD MS, and the CTD Minor.
The BS-CTD at CU Boulder requires 128-130 credit hours of study, the CTD MS requires 33 credit hours, and the Minor requires 21 credits, including electives.
BS-CTD students may choose a focus area through elective offerings. Focus area examples include Augmented and Virtual Reality, Interactive Computing, Game Design, Robotics, Physical Computing, User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX) and Sound Design. Other program features include creative projects, regular professional development opportunities, workshops and guest speakers, internships with industry partners, employment in the CTD research and student labs, and portfolio development.
To complete the major, BS-CDT students will take a two-semester Capstone sequence, which includes the production of one major culminating project.
The CTD MS has a Creative Industries Track. The project-based curriculum for this program allows students to build their own focus area. Some popular options include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interactive Product Design and Development, Game Design and Development, Arts and Media Production, UI/UX, and Learning and Education.
Classes, visiting speakers, studios, and workshops provide the opportunity to work directly with industry professionals on real-world issues. Workshops are free and may include topics such as Programming in Python and R, Motion Graphics, Adobe Creative Suite, UI/UX, Figma, and Project Management.
Graduates of the CDT Programs at University of Colorado Boulder work in areas such as Art and Entertainment, Technology, Education, Healthcare, and Sciences. MS graduates also work in research in all industries and in many departments and agencies of the U.S. government. CU Boulder graduates have been hired by companies and studios such as Lockheed Martin, Google, Hitachi, Starz Entertainment, IBM, Walt Disney, Ball Aerospace, CBS Studio Center, Panavision, and Medtronic.
Founded in 1876, University of Colorado Boulder is the flagship university of the four-campus University of Colorado System. The school serves 36,000 students, making it the largest in the CU System. More than 90 degree programs and 3,600+ courses are provided across eight colleges and schools, Continuing Education and Professional Studies, and several Centers. University of Colorado Boulder is one of just 35 public research institutions in the U.S. in the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the school has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1913.
7. University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado
The College of Engineering, Design and Computing at University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Within the Department is the Computer Graphics and VR Lab (CGVR)—an interdisciplinary research center that focuses on the development of virtual and augmented reality, interactive computer graphics, human-computer interaction, physical simulation, and computer vision techniques.
Additional focused research topics include game design, mobile graphics solutions, general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU), motion capture, 3D object reconstruction, physical material property analysis (materials science), and deformable object simulation. Projects in AR/VR and Computer Graphics in the CGVR Lab are supported through funding from Microsoft, the National Science Foundation, Laser Tech, and other industrial and federal funding agencies.
In addition to research, development, and opportunities to work on projects, the CU Denver Computer Graphics and VR Lab provides AR/VR and other related coursework. Past courses include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Computer Game Design and Programming, Computer Animation, Structures and Program Design, Introduction to Computer Graphics, Shaders and GPU, and Advanced Computer Graphics.
For students seeking a degree program with additional opportunities to explore AR/VR, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering has a Computer Science (CS) Program with BA, BS, MS, PhD, and Minor options. A Software Engineering Certificate consisting of three graduate-level courses is also available.
The BA Program has an option to combine the degree with a Specialization in other academic disciplines. Examples include CS + Human Centered Design and Innovation, CS + Digital Design, CS + Computer Engineering, and CS + Data Science. All undergraduate CS students have the option to tailor the degree to specific goals and interests.
Examples of Research and Emphasis areas across all programs include Computer Graphics & Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber-Physical Systems, Computer Graphics, Human-Centric Computing, Computer Graphics and Game Design, Simulation, Machine Learning, Automata Theory, Programming, Software Engineering, Computer Architectures, and High Performance Distributed Computing.
Graduates of the CS Programs at University of Colorado Denver are prepared for careers in all areas of AR/VR and Computer Science. At CU Denver, 100% of computer science graduates seeking a job have been hired. Program alumni work in industries such as Entertainment, Aerospace, Game Design and Development, Law Enforcement Training, Aviation, Architecture, Defense, Government, Education, and Health Care.
University of Colorado Denver opened in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school became CU Denver in 1973, making it an independent campus. Organized into eight colleges and schools, CU Denver serves 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 academic degrees. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
8. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is home to Meadows School of the Arts; SMU Guildhall; Simmons School of Education and Human Development; Lyle School of Engineering, which houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; and SMU Continuitg and Professional Education. Collectively, these SMU Departments and Schools provide a variety of paths to study AR/VR.
In the Lyle School of Engineering, students in the BA, BS, MS and PhD Programs in Computer Science (CS) have the opportunity to choose courses to support Tracks in Game Development, Networks, Research, or Cybersecurity. Most Tracks include a variety of AR/VR related courses. Examples include High Performance Scientific Computing, Game Design, Graphical User Interface Design and Implementation, Digital Computer Design, Fundamentals of Computer Vision, Algorithm Engineering, Programming Languages, and Digital Logic Design.
Meadows School of the Arts houses the Creative Computation Program. Leading to a BA or a Minor, the Creative Computation program is interdisciplinary, combining engineering, computer science, and the arts and humanities. Students in this program will pursue core coursework in both the Meadows School of the Arts and Lyle School of Engineering. The program also features a collection of AR/VR related courses such as Intermediate Digital/Hybrid Media, Digitally Augmented Performance and Installation, Advanced Digital/Hybrid Media, Digital/Hybrid Media Directed Studies, Digital/Hybrid Media Workshop, and Nand to Tetris: Elements of Computing Systems.
Launched in 2003, SMU Guildhall is the Southern Methodist University’s Graduate School for Game Design. Specialization areas include Art, Design, Production, and Programming. Depending on the Specialization, key focus areas may include Artificial Intelligence, Game Engine Design & Architecture, Virtual Sculpting, Environmental Modeling, Animation, Rigging and Weighting, Interface and Systems Design, Player Immersion, Memory Management, Scripting Languages, Real-Time Application Performance Analysis & Optimization, Player Psychology, and User Research.
The Simmons School of Education and Human Development houses the Center for VR Learning Innovation (CVRL). The Center is home to the Olamaie Curtiss Graney VR Design Lab and the Mixed-Reality Simulation Lab. Research and development areas here include Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for STEM Collaborative Learning, Virtual Reality in Medical Education and VR Surgery Simulations, Mixed Reality for Education, and Game-based Learning Literacy Applications. The Labs include classrooms, practice spaces for mixed reality, and teaching spaces.
The CVRL collaborates with students and faculty across SMU, SMU Guildhall, the Institute for Leadership Impact, and the AT&T Center for Virtualization. The Center also collaborates with other universities such as University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill), University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), and King’s College.
SMU Continuing & Professional Education has a User Experience Design Certificate, which features courses such as Design Principles in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Holograms; Data Visualization, Infographics and Dashboard Design; Usability Testing; Hands-on Design Thinking Workshop; and Experience Design & Branding on Voice-Enabled Devices.
Graduates of the Certificate, Computer Science, and Creative Computing Programs at Southern Methodist University are prepared to pursue positions in all industries and areas that utilize AR/VR. Examples include Entertainment (Animation, Television, Film, VFX), Art and Design, Military Logistics, Real Estate, Game Design and Development, Manufacturing, Defense, Law Enforcement Training, Advertising, Theme Parks and Museums, Sports, Retail, Logistics, Healthcare, Architecture, Search and Rescue, Automotive, Education, Science and Medicine, Tourism, and News.
Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University serves approximately 12,050 students from all 50 states, DC, and 88 foreign countries. The school provides 250 programs at all degree levels across seven colleges and schools. Southern Methodist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SMU is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
9. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU or Embry-Riddle) is the world’s largest university specializing in aviation and aerospace. The residential campus in Prescott, Arizona opened in 1978 with 268 students enrolled in the Aeronautical Science Program. Today, ERAU Prescott serves more than 3,000 students enrolled in programs administered by the Colleges of Arts & Sciences (COAS), Aviation, Engineering, and Business, Security & Intelligence (CBSI).
The Embry-Riddle COAS houses the Simulation Science, Games, and Animation (SSGA) BS. Students in the program will learn how to build virtual worlds and simulations through project-based production courses and by using the technologies and mathematical algorithms utilized in games, aviation simulators, animation software, streaming video networks, and computer aided design (CAD) systems.
Course examples for this technical, multidisciplinary degree program include Mixed Reality, Systems Simulation, Games Systems, Interactive Media, World Building, User Interface Design, Data and Structures and Algorithms, Procedural Simulation, AI, Multiplayer Systems, Game Engine Architecture, and Data Visualization.
All Embry-Riddle students have access to the STEM Education Center at the Prescott Campus. Launched in 2017, this two-story, 52,529-square-foot building STEM Center features the latest technology and equipment, including a variety of computing, simulation, and robotics labs. The Center houses the LIGO Optics Lab; the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium; The Dr. Charles and Elizabeth Duva Robotics Lab; The Raisbeck Engineering Design Lab; and others.
Graduates of the Simulation Science, Games & Animation BS Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University work in AR/VR, Game Design, Software Development, Entertainment, and Virtual Training. Program alumni also work in a variety of roles within the Military and Intelligence Communities, High-Tech Manufacturing, Aviation, and Police Training Simulation.
Companies and agencies that have hired Embry-Riddle SSGA graduates include the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, Microsoft, Blizzard Entertainment, Boeing, Super League Gaming, Mass Virtual, Forge FX Simulations, and Win Reality VR Training.
Founded in 1925, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest university specializing in aviation and aerospace. With a worldwide campus and two campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, Embry-Riddle serves close to 33,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D. levels. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
10. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
The College of Education and Human Sciences at Oklahoma State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design and Merchandising. Within the Department is a state-of-the-art Mixed Reality Lab that utilizes augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), 3D printing, and digital prototyping for research and projects in teaching. VR tools and equipment in the Lab include a passive 3D projector system, Oculus Rift CV 1, HTV Vice and Gear VR mobile head mounted display systems, interactive and digital screens, gesture-based control devices (Myo), basic-control devices (joy sticks), and 3D mobile scanners.
Augmented reality tools and equipment include Microsoft HoloLens, Vuzix STAR XLD and Epson Moverio BT200 augmented reality display system, and mobile devices and desktops with augmented reality capability and software. The Mixed Reality Lab is also equipped with a perception neuron motion capture system, fNIR (Functional Near Infrared) optical imaging system, Biopac EDA electrodermal activity amplifier system, and Emotiv electroencephalography (EGG) device.
The Mixed Reality Lab also hosts events and workshops. The facility is open to all students and faculty—including those in the OSU Computer Science (CS) Program, and the Design, Housing and Merchandising MS.
Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Computer Science, the OSU CS Program provides the opportunity to study current, new, and emerging technologies such as AR/VR, artificial intelligence (AI), apps, and games. CS students also have opportunities to work with industry professionals to gain a better understanding of markets.
Specific CS degree options for students who would like to study AR/VR include the BS, MS, and PhD in CS, and Minors in CS and Applied Computer Programming (APCP). Course and elective examples across programs include Extended Reality, AI, Machine Learning, Video Game Development, Programing Languages, Video Game Design, C/C++ Programming, Computer Graphics, Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems, Scripting Essentials, Computer Science I-II, Software Engineering, Advanced Topics in Operating Systems, Video Game Production, Organization of Programming Languages, Design and Implementation of Operating Systems, Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis, Computer Systems, and Advanced Topics in Parallel and Distributed Systems.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Oklahoma State University are prepared for careers in all industries that utilize AR/VR. Examples include Entertainment, Aerospace, Education, Game Design and Development, Aviation, Navigation, HealthCare, Manufacturing, Science and Medicine, Policing and Law Enforcement Training, Sports, Travel and Tourism, Corporate Training, Ecommerce, Legal, Marketing, and Real Estate.
The Design, Housing and Merchandising MS at Oklahoma State University has a Digital Design Option. Students in this program have access to the Mixed Reality Lab and the Research Labs of the College of Arts and Sciences. Sample Research Areas include the Design of VR/AR Environments; VR/AR, Machine Vision and Digital Environments; AI, Robotics, and Machine Learning; Computer Architecture and Systems; Cyber-Physical Systems, Networks and Security; and Theoretical Computer Science.
The Design, Housing and Merchandising MS explores areas such as Virtual and Augmented Reality Applications in Design, Housing and Merchandising; Advanced Digital Design Communication; Topics in Building Information Modeling; and Theories of Creative Process in Design and Merchandising. Consisting of 30 credit hours, the MS Program culminates with the students Master’s Thesis. Graduates are prepared to pursue positions in all areas of Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Across programs, recent OSU graduates have been hired at Lockheed Martin, IBM, Halliburton Industries, Merck, Amazon, Dell, ConocoPhillips, and Tyco.
Oklahoma State University was established on Christmas Day in 1890 as Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, this five-campus system houses seven academic colleges, a veterinary school, an osteopathic medical school, and several centers and institutes. Serving approximately 26,650 students, OSU provides 200 undergraduate majors and options, more than 75 master’s programs, and 45 doctoral programs. Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).