What are the top private college AR/VR programs in the US for 2022?
|1||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|3||University of Southern California||California|
|4||New York University||New York|
|5||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|7||Cornell University||New York|
|8||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|9||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|10||California Institute of Technology||California|
|13||Full Sail University||Florida|
|15||Parsons The New School for Design||New York|
|17||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|18||Duke University||North Carolina|
|19||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|20||University of Chicago||Illinois|
|21||University of Rochester||New York|
|22||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Arizona|
|23||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|24||Southern Methodist University||Texas|
|25||Dartmouth College||New Hampshire|
Our 2022 rankings - our second annual- of the Top 25 private college AR/VR programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was incorporated on April 10, 1861, just two days before the start of the Civil War. Serving 12,000 students, MIT offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges and schools including Schwarzman College of Computing, Sloan School of Management, and the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and Science. MIT also houses dozens of departments, centers, and labs.
For individuals interested in AR/VR, the academic units, departments, centers, and labs at MIT provide numerous programs designed to support AR/VR education, projects, innovation, and research. For a foundational understanding of AR/VR, MIT has an 8-week Online Certificate Program known as MIT xPro. Examples of topics covered include Introduction to Technologies of Virtuality, Producing VR and AR Experiences I: Design Overview, Game Development, Producing VR and AR Experiences II: Design Processes, and XR Apps Development.
The Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT houses the Center for Computational Science and Engineering (CCSE) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The CCSE offers an MS degree known as the Computational Science and Engineering SM Program (CSE SM). This interdisciplinary provides the opportunity to choose electives that focus on particular applications. Hands on projects and access to MITs many centers and labs are major components of the CSE SM program. Course examples for the program include Atomistic Modeling & Simulations of Materials & Structures, Computational Cognitive Science, Optimization for Machine Learning, Architecting & Engineering Software Systems, and Advances in Computer Vision.
The CCSE also has a CSE PhD program, provided jointly with eight participating departments. Students in the program have the opportunity to focus in a computation-related field of their choice 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 offers 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 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, Apple, Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and the U.S. Air Force.
2. Stanford University, Stanford, California
Stanford University was established in 1885 by former California Governor and railroad magnate Leland Stanford, and his wife, Jane. The school opened its doors on October 1, 1891 with 555 students. Today, Stanford is home to nearly 17,000 students served by 2,288 faculty members. The school provides more than 69 undergraduate majors and nearly 200 programs leading to 14 degrees at the graduate level.
Programs at Stanford are provided across seven schools, supplemented by dozens of labs, centers, and institutes. Schools include Business; Humanities and Sciences; Sustainability; Education; Engineering; Law; and Medicine.
The School of Engineering at Stanford University houses the Computer Science (CS) Department (est. 1965). Stanford Engineering provides 16 defined undergraduate majors, and the option to design your own major. Graduate programs are offered in all engineering departments, including CS.
All CS students have access to VR/AR courses such as How to Make VR: Introduction to Virtual Reality Design and Development, Coding for Social Good (VR component), Interactive Simulation for Robot Learning, Computer Graphics: Animation and Simulation, Character Animation: Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Human Motion, Topics in Computer Graphics: Agile Hardware Design, and Physically Based Animation and Sound. Graduate CS programs feature nine predefined specialization options. Examples include AI, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Real-World Computing, and Systems.
In addition to offering a variety of specializations and heavy AR/VR coursework, the CS Department houses research groups in the areas of AI, Computer Graphics/HCI, Robotics, Foundations of Computer Science, Scientific Computing, and many others. CS students interested in AR/VR have opportunities to collaborate on projects and enhance their skills through two centers and labs as well. Options include the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab and the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL).
The CCRMA Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab conducts VR, AR, and XR research for music. The lab also supports collaborations with Computer Science, Art and Art History, and Communication at Stanford, as well as research projects within the CCRMA community.
Founded in 2003, the VHIL studies the psychological and behavioral effects of AR/VR. Just a few of the lab’s current projects include Psychology of Augmented Reality, Virtual Becomes Reality – Immersion and Presence, Medical Virtual Reality, Integrating VR into Classrooms and Curricula, Telepresence, and Design Thinking.
Stanford School of Engineering graduates are prepared for positions at a wide range of top companies and organizations. Stanford graduates are routinely recruited by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Amazon, Google, Walt Disney World, Apple, Meta, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Microsoft, Oracle, the US Army, the US Navy, and Tesla, among others.
3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC) is one of the oldest private research universities in the state. The school opened its doors in 1880 with just 53 students. Today, University of Southern California serves 49,500 students across 22 schools and units. One of USC’s most recognized schools is the School of Cinematic Arts. Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, the USC School of Cinematic Arts is home to the Interactive Media and Games Division, which houses three programs for individuals interested in AR/VR: the Immersive Media Minor, Interactive Entertainment BA, and Interactive Media MFA.
The interdisciplinary Immersive Media Minor is open to all undergraduate students at USC. The program explores virtual reality and how to create content effectively. Students have the opportunity choose elective courses within the same area to fit their goals or they can enhance the curriculum by choosing elective courses from two separate areas. BA students may also study AR/VR through the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT), which houses the Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) and the ICT Virtual Humans Group.
The MxR Lab works with the Interactive Media and Games Division in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and immersive systems for education and training simulations using AR/VR.
The ICT Virtual Humans Group conducts research in areas such as Integrated Virtual Humans, Character Animation and Simulation, MultiModal Communication, Natural Language Processing, Cognitive Architecture, and Emotion.
Elective examples for the Interactive Entertainment BA Program include Storytelling for Virtual and Augmented Reality, Alternative Control Workshop, Video Game Programming, Visual Effects, Computer Graphics, Interactive Entertainment, Science, and Healthcare, and Audio Expression. Examples of required courses include Creative Production in Virtual Reality, Experiments in Immersive Design, C++ Programming, and 3D Computer Animation.
The Interactive Entertainment BA Program at USC School of Cinematic Arts explores AAA (triple-A) game development processes and experimental and indie genres from virtual and alternate realities to meaningful and expressive games. Course examples include Reality Starts Here, Producing Interactive Projects, Interface Design for Games, Alternative Control Workshop, Experimental Game Topics, Programming in Python, Interactive Entertainment, and Game Design Workshop.
The Interactive Media MFA is a competitive program that admits just 15 students in the Fall semester only. Program features include the opportunity to take twelve 500-level elective units, access to state-of-the-art computer and digital production facilities, and a mandatory internship or summer job in a professional environment.
MFA students will take courses such as Experiments in Interactivity I & II, Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Interactive Design Production, Motion Capture Fundamentals, and Tangible and Spatial Computing. To enhance this coursework, like undergraduate students, MFA students can study AR/VR through USC ICT.
USC recently launched the USC Working Group on Scholarly VR, AR, and 3D Modeling. The Group is sponsored by the Humanities in a Digital World Program at USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (the largest and oldest of the USC schools), and the Ahmanson Lab at the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study. Students in all programs benefit from participation in the Groups workshops, lectures, projects, and discussions. Past workshops have explored Mobile Augmented Reality, Immersive 3D Setting Design, and utilizing AR toolkits and platforms such as Niantic (Pokémon Go), Snap (Snapchat lenses), and others.
Graduates of the programs at University of Southern California have been hired at companies and organizations such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Walt Disney Company, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Google, Branded Entertainment Network, Discovery+, Gilead Sciences, VIZIO, Yahoo, DreamWorks Animation, Vayu Technology, the US Army, Disneyland Parks, Disneyland Resorts, United States Navy, META, United Airlines, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Tesla, Boeing, Oracle, FORD, AT&T, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
4. New York University, New York, New York
With more than 53,500 students and 19,000 employees, New York University (NYU) is the nation’s largest private university and one of the state’s largest employers. The school has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, more than 11 global academic centers and research programs in 25+ countries, and over 19,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in New York City.
Founded in 1831, NYU houses dozens of colleges, centers, institutes and schools. The Tandon School of Engineering (a Polytechnic Institute) is home to the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) Program. Pathways for this research-active program lead to a BS or MS degree. IDM Minor and Accelerated BS/MS Programs are also available, as well as a Professional Certificate in AR/VR Development and 3D Graphics that can be completed in seven months (28 weeks), online.
The Professional Certificate Program is divided into five sections that explore XR, Unity development and 3D math, high definition XR, and construction of virtual environments. Each week, students will explore a new topic. Examples include XR Design Principles, Raycasting and Quaternions, Lighting Virtual Worlds, AR Development including Image Tracking, Object Tracking, and Surface Tracking, Creating a Realistic Visualization, and VR Prototyping in Unity, among others. The program culminates with a capstone project. Students will leave the program with a portfolio of their best work.
Students in the IDM Program will complete the Tandon Engineering core, media studies courses taken in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC), and additional courses in math, science, humanities, and social sciences. Courses, which focus on the four areas of Image, Sound, Narrative and Interactivity, are combined with upper-level electives ranging from augmented reality and motion capture to user experience design.
Other program features include internship opportunities with companies such as Apple, Google, and Sony Music, study abroad at NYU Shanghai’s Interactive Media Arts (IMA) Program, and direction by instructors who are engaged a range of projects from using motion capture technology to reimagine theatrical performance to developing novel uses of virtual/augmented reality for health and wellness. Students in all programs 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.
Graduates of the NYU IDM Program have been hired at American Express, Apple, Instagram, HTC China, Major League Gaming, the New York Stock Exchange, and Verizon, among others.
5. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
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, RIT launched the world’s first doctoral program focusing on sustainable production systems.
Founded in 1829, Rochester Institute of Technology serves nearly 19,000 students at its main campus in Rochester, New York, and around 1,700 at international campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo. Programs at RIT are housed in 11 colleges and schools, including the Golisano College of Computing and Information—home of the School of Interactive Games and Media and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences.
The School of Interactive Games and Media has a New Media Interactive Development BS Program and 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, the internet, wearable devices, social software, and other new and emerging devices, systems, and experiences.
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, which provides full-time, paid career experience 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 both the BS and PhD programs have access to RIT’s VR/AR 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.
Rochester Institute of Technology graduates are prepared for careers in a wide variety of 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.
6. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University began as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in 1891. The school is one of the top 10 private employer’s in Philadelphia and since 1919, Drexel has been a cooperative (co-op) educational institution, meaning all undergraduates work six months at a job in their chosen field as part of their education. The co-op program covers more than 75 disciplines, making it one of the nation’s most comprehensive co-op programs.
Serving more than 23,700 students, Drexel University houses more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and over than 120 graduate and professional programs across 12 colleges and schools. One of the school’s top colleges is the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which offers predominantly studio-based programs in Media, Design, and the Performing Arts. The College houses its own record label—MAD Dragon Records, lifestyle magazine D&M, and a student-run Graphic Design firm.
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design houses Drexel’s Digital Media & Virtual Production BS—one of the first accredited programs of its kind. The College is also home to the Virtual Reality (VR) & Immersive Media Minor, which covers the principles, tolls, and techniques used in AR/VR design and other types of immersive media. Students in this 24 credit hour program also have the opportunity to customize the curriculum to support their goals. Course examples for the program include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Computer Graphics, Animation and Visual Effects, and Game Design.
Officially launched in 2018 as Virtual Reality & Immersive Media (VRIM), the Digital Media & Virtual Production BS Program explores storytelling, animation, design, 3D modeling, virtual production, and use of interactive game engines. Students will have the opportunity to master the latest hardware and software for AR/VR, immersive projection, motion capture, and other technologies fueling the growth of the immersive media industry,
Course features for the BS Program include Augmented Reality, Immersive Projection, 360° Video Production, Virtual Production, 3D Modeling, Texturing, & Lighting, Computer Animation, Interactive Design, 3D Tracking, Computer Programming, and Visual Effects. All students will participate in the co-op program where they will have opportunities to work for companies such as YouTube VR, History Making Productions, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Night Kitchen, and Toll Brothers.
In addition to the BS Program, Westphal houses two labs: Animation Capture & Effects (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 Education, Entertainment, the Sciences, Historical Recreation, and many other areas. Alumni have been hired at Digital Domain, Disney, DreamWorks, Moving Picture Company, and Pixar. Graduates also work at major video game development companies as Animation Software Developers and in other positions involving the use of AR/VR, Animation, and Visual Effects skills.
7. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. The school opened in 1868 in the first building constructed on the campus—Morrill Hall. Today, the campus includes 608 buildings on more than 2,000 acres. Cornell also has campuses across the State of New York and in DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy. Roughly 10,500 faculty, staff, and other professionals serve more than 25,500 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, and graduate fields of study across 16 colleges and schools.
The Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (CIS) is home to the Computer Science Department, which serves 1,340 students enrolled in a variety of BS, MS, and PhD Programs in Computer Science (CS). A CS Minor is also available. Course examples across programs include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Topics in Mixed Reality, Developing and Designing Interactive Devices, Interactive Computer Graphics, Python, Computer Vision, Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, Robotics Seminar, Great Works in Programming Languages, and Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age. Students in all programs have access to the Virtual Embodiment Lab (VEL) and the XR Collaboratory (XRC) at Cornell Tech.
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 Engineering, Fine Arts, Technology, Medicine, Mathematics, Entertainment, the Military, and Communications, among others. Alumni work at Amazon, NBC, Microsoft, CBS, Lockheed Martin, ABC, the U.S. Navy, and IBM, among others.
8. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to the SCAD Digital Media Center. Launched in Fall 2009, the Center houses majors within the School of Digital Media and the School of Entertainment Arts. The School of Digital Media is home to an Immersive Reality Program that leads to a BFA. Launched in 2018, the 180 credit hour program allows students to explore related fields such as User Experience (UX) Design, Visual Effects, Film and Television, and Interactive Design, among others. Students may add an additional major or minor in any of these areas.
Program features include access to panels and presentations by top companies in gaming such as EA Sports, Ubisoft, and Cartoon Network, collaboration with students and faculty across disciplines, and study abroad opportunities at SCAD Lacoste, France. Students also have access to Montgomery Hall, which houses AR/VR resources, more than 800 computers networked to decrease render times, a green screen, and a motion media lab. In The Shed at SCAD, immersive reality labs and classrooms house the latest technology for creating innovative visual experiences.
Course examples for the Immersive Reality BFA Program include Augmented Reality Lab, Immersive Revolution: Augmented to Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality for Motion Media, Immersive Innovation Lab, Visual Effects for Immersive Environments, Integration of Immersive Realities, Visual Storytelling: Virtual Reality to Interactive, Immersive Innovation Lab, Advanced Application Scripting, and Game Engine Applications for Immersive Computing. Fifteen credit hours of additional electives allow students to enhance the degree.
Soon, students in all programs will have access to the expanded Savannah Film Studios. Once completed, the expanded Savannah Film Studios will be the largest and most comprehensive university film studio complex in the nation. Launching in three phases between 2021 and 2023, the 10.9-acre facility will include a next-generation XR stage for virtual productions, new soundstages, and a Hollywood-caliber film backlot, among other features.
The existing Savannah Film Studios building is a 22,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2014. The current Studios house three soundstages, green rooms, lighting grids, postproduction suites, a multi-purpose recording booth for ADR and Foley recordings, screening rooms, and production offices for SCAD’s film and television program.
Founded in 1978 and serving more than 15,000 students, SCAD has one of the nation’s highest employment rates. In a recent study, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. Graduates work in Georgia’s entertainment industry and many other industries across the U.S. Some of the school’s top employer’s include Microsoft, Adobe, Spotify, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, and Starbucks.
9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. Notable alumni include Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, John Legend, Tory Burch, and Noam Chomsky. UPenn serves around 28,000 students enrolled in 90 majors at the undergraduate level and more than 100 at the graduate level. Among the school’s undergraduate programs is a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) in Digital Media (DMD) and a the eight-course DMD Minor.
Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE in DMD in the School of Engineering and Applied Science combines coursework in Computer Graphics, within the Computer & Information Science Department, Fine Arts courses from Penn's School of Design, and Communication Theory courses from the Annenberg School of Communication.
The BSE in DMD is designed for students interested in the math, design, and computer programming needed to produce virtual reality environments, interactive technologies, computer graphics, games, and animations. Course examples include Interactive Computer Graphics, Automata, Computability, and Complexity, Computer Programming, Advanced Rendering, Mechanics Lab, Art of the Web: Interactive Concepts for Art & Design, Programming Languages and Techniques, Software Design, Advanced Computer Graphics, and Computer Animation.
Students in the DMD Minor Program will complete a Senior Capstone, in lieu of the Senior Design Course. The Capstone Project takes one semester to complete.
Graduates of the DMD Programs at University of Pennsylvania have been hired at some of the world’s top companies and studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, and Microsoft.
10. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
Founded as Throop University in 1891, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a science and engineering institute that manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA. The school also owns and operates large-scale research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and a global network of astronomical observatories, including the W. M. Keck and Palomar Observatories.
Caltech is home to around 2,400 students served by a more than 300 faculty members. The school, which sits on a 124-acre campus in Pasadena, California, is divided into six academic divisions including Biology and Biological Engineering; Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Engineering and Applied Science; Geological and Planetary Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.
The Division of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department, which has a Computer Science (CS) Program with three pathways to study AR/VR: the BS, MS, and Minor. Course examples across programs include Advanced Digital Systems Design, Computer Graphics (including Animation, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Modeling), Computer Language Shop, Digital Logic and Embedded Systems, GPU Programming, Machine Learning, Making Data Visual (including Virtual/Technological Media), Nonlinear Control, and Operating Systems.
Students in all CS programs have access to Caltech’s Virtual Reality Lab, where they have opportunities to create projects, conduct research, and collaborate with peers. The Lab also houses Virtech—an experimental platform for online education. Also part of the Center for Data-Driven Discovery at Caltech, Virtech allows students to create their own 3D content, collaborate, and network. Caltech faculty utilize the platform for group meetings and discussions, seminars, experiments with other online technologies and learning modalities, and online lectures.
Caltech graduates go on to establish successful careers in technology, aerospace, government, science, and business among other areas. They have been hired at Meta, SpaceX, and the National Science Foundation, among others.
11. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Virtual Reality (VR), and the related fields of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), can be traced back to Harvard University. From 1965 to 1968, Ivan Sutherland, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard, helped create “The Sword of Damocles.” This was the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system. Today, full-time, degree-seeking students at Harvard University have access to Harvard Innovation Labs’ AR/VR Studio, along with several degree pathways that can help prepare them for careers in AR/VR.
The AR/VR Studio is a dedicated space designed for the exploration of immersive technologies. The Studio is equipped with various software and design platforms, multiple headset configurations, workstations, and filming resources. In the Studio, students can also experience the latest AR/VR equipment in an open session, learn about the technology with a dedicated team of experienced TAs, and understand how to apply the technology to a specific field. Students in the AR/VR Studi can build MVPs and prototypes through workshops, and attend guest speaker symposiums. Available workshops include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Storytelling in AR/VR.
Founded in 1636 and serving 35,276, students, Harvard University houses 12 degree-granting Schools and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Computer Science Department. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BA, BA/MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science.
Harvard University graduates have established successful careers in just about every field. They can be found in top positions at Amazon, Google, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, Goldman Sachs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Intel Corporation, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Hyperion Solutions, Hasbro, Inc., Lonely Planet, Meta, Sun Microsystems, and Walt Disney Company, among others.
12. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
Northwestern University (NU or Northwestern) serves 8,000+ undergraduate students and 13,000+ graduate students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges and schools and three campuses in Chicago, IL, Evanston, IL, and Doha, Qatar. Established in 1851, Northwestern also has sites in San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Miami, FL.
The McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University houses the Computer Science Department, which heads the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Area. Supported topics include AR/VR, Mixed-Initiative Systems, Tangible User Interfaces, Cyberlearning, Ubiquitous Computing, User-Centered Design, Mobile Interaction Design, Interactive Audio, and Multi-Touch Interaction, among others.
Northwestern HCI students are enrolled programs in Computer Science (BA, BS, MS, and a Minor), Communication, Learning Sciences, and Technology & Social Behavior. HCI students also take courses and attend seminars through the Segal Design Institute.
The BA in Computer Science is offered in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (est. 1851). The BS and MS are offered in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (est. 1909). Minors are available at McCormick and Weinberg.
Course examples at the undergraduate level 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 AI, HCI, distributed interactive systems, AR/VR for Virtual Analytics, Theoretical Computer Science, and Computer Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces for Spatial Applications, Visualization, and Computer Entertainment. Students in all programs have access to The Garage—Northwestern’s AR/VR Media Lab.
The Garage consists of an 11,000 square foot space that provides programming and resources, and supports projects, networking, and collaboration between students and more than 250 mentors and experts. To date The Garage has helped produce more than 500 student-founded startups and projects.
Northwestern Computer Science alumni are Computer Programmers, Software Developers, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs. They work for global companies such as IBM, Intel, Google, and Microsoft, among others.
13. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
In 1979, Full Sail University (Full Sail) launched as an audio recording workshop in Dayton, Ohio. Today, Full Sail provides Entertainment, Media, Arts, and Technology programs to around 21,000 students. Programs lead to Associate, Bachelor, and Master’s degrees.
Options for students interested in AR/VR include a BS in Simulation and Visualization with access to Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab. Course features for the BS Program include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming I & II, Simulation and Visualization Software, Simulation Production, Computer Graphics, and Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries.
Throughout the program, students will complete a project and build a portfolio through a series of seven courses including Project and Portfolio I-VII: Simulation and Visualization. The BS Program can be completed in just 20 months, on campus.
Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab launched in 2016. In the Full Sail VR/AR Lab, students have access to headsets from Oculus, Magic Leap, Microsoft, and HTC, a green screen, and other tolls and equipment to develop AR/VR projects.
The Full Sail FabLab is set up like a workshop. The space includes 3D printers, laser scanners, injection molding machines, and more. Students in the lab can work on projects, collaborate, and network.
Full Sail University graduates enjoy a 92% employment rate. Examples of companies that have hired Full Sail graduates include Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Universal Studios, MTV, Cirque du Soleil, DreamWorks Animation, Bunim Murray Productions, NFL Films, HBO Studios, Disney, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Nickelodeon, and Miramax.
14. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University has 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 from 2019-2020 alone. The school also integrates global experience into learning at all degree levels.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern serves 33,676 students enrolled in more than 500 programs across 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. As an R1 Research University, Northeastern also houses 10 research institutes. Examples include the Experiential AI Institute, the Experiential Robotics Institute, and the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things.
The College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) is home to the school’s 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 can add the Immersive Media Minor and a Senior Capstone Design is part of the program.
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 Amazon, Microsoft, 20th Digital Studio (formerly known as Fox Digital Studio), Google, ABC, AMC Networks, NBC, Abbot, ATYX Gaming, Nickelodeon, Alpha Defense, Nokia, Oracle, Peloton, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Photo Diagnostic Systems, Inc., Tesla, Textron, Apple, Walt Disney World, Lockheed Martin, UBTCH Robotics, Walt Disney Imagineering, the U.S. Air Force, and United Technologies Aerospace Systems.
15. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Parsons The New School for Design (Parsons) was established in 1896 as The Chase School. Serving more than 10,000 students, Parsons provides more than 100 degree and diploma programs across campuses in New York City; Paris, France; Shanghai, China; and Mumbai, India. Programs lead to an AAS, BBA, BFA, MA, MS, MFA, MPS or MArch. Options include for students interested in AR/VR include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and a Minor Immersive Storytelling. The Minor is open to all undergraduate students.
Students in the Immersive Storytelling Minor have the opportunity to explore experiential and immersive storytelling in virtual and augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, interactive theater, data visualization, and 360 spherical film. Students in the program are exposed to design strategies and production pipelines such as systems and new technologies of interaction, digital asset creation and implementation, and narrative design.
The BFA Program explores interaction technologies, emerging art and design practices, and media storytelling. Program features include projects with (and visits to) companies such as Apple, Atari, MTV, Nickelodeon, Siemens, UNESCO, Rockwell Interaction Lab, and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center; the opportunity to select a focused pathway in Creative Technology or Game Design; and internship opportunities with major companies and studios.
The Design and Technology MFA explores the interactive, visual, and narrative aspects of design technology. The program focuses on software programming and computation. Typical MFA projects involve interaction design, game design, new media art, digital fabrication, web and mobile apps, critical design, and data visualization.
Students in all Parsons programs have access to The New School XReality Center—home to the XR Reality Lab and XR-related events. The Lab supports research, student projects, and immersive learning as well as workshops and meetups.
Graduates of the Design and Technology Programs at Parsons are prepared for careers in Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Interaction Design, Game Design, Computer Software and Hardware Design, Mobile and Application Design, Web/UI/UX Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Film and Television, and Digital Filmmaking, among others.
16. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University (DePaul) was founded in 1898 as St. Vincents College. Serving 21,670 students, DePaul is the nation’s largest Roman Catholic university. Students at DePaul have access to more than 300 programs across 10 colleges and schools.
The Eugene P. Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) and Communication house several Labs that support AR/VR collaboration, learning, research and development, and projects on emerging platforms.
The Virtual and Augmented Design (VAD) Lab is part of the Jarvis College of CDM. Located on the concourse level of the DePaul Center, the Lab is equipped with 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 goal of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab (VARC) in the College of Communication is to advance ethical communication in VR 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 offers classes and workshops, and supports courses at DePaul that utilize AR/VR in the classroom.
In addition to the Labs at DePaul, students interested in AR/VR careers have access to several degree pathways. Options in 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. Software Engineering students may concentrate in Software and Systems Development. Other noteworthy graduate concentrations include Game and Real-Time Systems, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Graduates of the Computer Science and Software Engineering Programs at DePaul University have been hired by Lockheed Martin, Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft, Disney Interactive, Meta, Argonne National Laboratory, GitHub, Vivid Seats, and CME Group, among others.
17. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is America’s first technological research university. The Institute, which houses five schools, 32 research centers, and more than 145 academic programs, serves around 6,900 students and over 100,000 living alumni.
Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A Minor is available as well as Dual Degrees including a CS BS/MS and Accelerated CS BS/PhD. Housed in the RPI School of Sciences, the Computer Science Program focuses on the design, analysis, communication, implementation, and application of computational processes. Optional concentrations include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Games, Robotics, Vision, Graphics, Data Systems, and Software Theory and Algorithms.
Course features across programs Intelligent Virtual Agents, Modeling & Simulation for Cyber-Physical Systems, Interactive Visualization, Computer Vision for Visual Effects, Robot Dynamics and Control, Learning and Advanced Game AI, Computer Graphics, Cognitive Computing, Cognitive Modeling, and Parallel Programming.
Students in all CS Programs at RPI have access to the recently launched 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 virtual and augmented reality. Students and researchers 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.
18. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Duke University houses the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, home to the Department of Computational Media, Arts & Cultures and the Department of Computer Science. Within the Departments are several degree pathways, studios and labs for students looking to learn about, develop, and experience AR/VR.
Labs include the Institute for Virtual and Augmented Reality for the Digital Humanities (VARDHI), which focuses on the application of VR and AR to humanities research, outreach, and teaching; Duke Immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) in the Pratt School of Engineering—a large-scale virtual reality facility established in 2005; the Innovation Co-Lab, which explores VR technology; TEC VR at the Technology Engagement Center/Co-Lab, where students can experience VR; and Bolt VR—a space equipped with a state-of-the-art, custom gaming PC, 4K display for remote, and the Vive immersive VR system.
Studios include the Multimedia Project Studio (MPS) at Duke, which offers resources for students and developers to begin their VR projects. In addition, the [email protected] within the Department of Computational Media, Arts & Cultures conducts AR/VR research and develops apps, virtual environments, and VR applications.
Established in 1924, Duke University serves 16,780 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Duke’s most popular program is Computer Science. Leading to a BA, BS, MS, or PhD, the Program provides access to all of the schools labs and studios. Students may also enroll in an Interdepartmental Major (IDMs), which combines two academic disciplines in Trinity College, with seven courses from each to create a major.
graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Duke University are prepared for careers in all areas of Computer Science, AR/VR, Aerospace, Entertainment, Defense, and Education, among others.
19. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) provides more than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 students from the U.S. and abroad. Columbia features small class sizes, internship opportunities, and real-world opportunities to display works at a number of conferences and other events.
For students interested in AR/VR, Columbia has an Immersive Media (IM) BA Program that requires a Minor. This allows students to develop skills in multiple areas. An 18 credit hour IM Minor is also available for students in other degree programs. Minors that complement the IM BA include Interactive Media Development, Programming, User Experience, Game Design, Video Production, and Animation.
Follow the path from prototyping to deployment, students in the Immersive Media Program will develop the skills needed to produce augmented, mixed, and virtual reality experiences for games, entertainment, healthcare, engineering, and the sciences, among others. Other 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 hold positions such as Augmented Reality Designer and Developer, Virtual Reality Design and Developer, Immersive Information Visualization, Immersive Media Artist, Simulation Design and Developer, User Experience Design for Immersive Media, and Immersive Storytelling.
Columbia College alumni have been hired at Microsoft, Meta, Steam, Snapchat, Google, Midwest Immersive, Within, Adobe, 8i Virtual Reality Studio (8i), Riot Games, , CNN, NY Times, Midwest Immersive, Moxie, Edelman, and TIME Studios, among others.
20. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private research university established in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. The school, which houses hundreds of programs and initiatives, has partnerships in over 48 nations and on every continent. UChicago serves 17,470 students, with more than 4,400 students enrolling each year from nearly 115 countries.
University of Chicago offers well over 150 degree and academic programs across the undergraduate College, four graduate divisions, seven professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Computer Science, which has BS and MS Degrees in Computer Science (CS). The Department also offers a CS Minor and three BA/MS and BS/MS degree options (Bx/MS), including a research-oriented option for CS majors, a professionally oriented option for CS majors, and a professionally oriented option for non-CS majors.
Students in the Department may specialize in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Machine Learning, Programming Languages, and Computer Architecture. They also have the opportunity to focus in an additional field by following an approved course of study in a related area. This provides a pathway to develop additional skills in AR/VR.
Across programs, students will have access to courses such as Emergent Interface Technologies, Planning, Learning, and Estimation for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Scientific Visualization, Programming Languages and Systems, Natural Language Processing, Robotics, Mobile Computing, Computer Vision, Software Development, and Engineering Interactive Electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards.
Other program features include internship and study abroad opportunities at the UChicago Center in Beijing and others, and access to the Weston Game Lab.
Housed in the Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD Center), the Weston Game Lab launched in in 2019. MADD Center groups focus on virtual reality, GIS, digital fabrication, data visualization, and other new, evolving, and emerging technologies. Through the Lab, faculty, students and staff collaborate on the research and development of games of all kinds. Examples include alternate reality, digital, board, and card.
Lab participants will also attend workshops and collaborate on game-based experiments and development projects in the 3,800-square-foot space, which houses classrooms, studio spaces, and open work areas.
University of Chicago graduates are recruited for a variety of positions at more than 400 organizations annually. UChicago graduates from the past three years work in over 40 countries across six continents. University of Chicago alumni can be found at leading organizations in a variety of industries, they are enrolled in some of the top graduate programs, and many alumni start their own studios, businesses, companies, and organizations.
21. University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
University of Rochester (UR) is a private research university that allows students to build their own program of study or enroll in a traditional degree program. There are no general education requirements with the build-your-own option and no traditional core curriculum. The only required skill is written communication. Build-your-own students may choose from dozens of writing courses on variety of unique topics. Examples include Comics and Culture, America’s National Parks, and Philosophy in Science Fiction.
Build-your-own majors at University of Rochester fall in one of three broad areas: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences, and Engineering. Undergraduate students can build an AR/VR Program by selecting courses from one or all areas or they can enroll in the BA or BS in Computer Science (CS), while graduate students may enroll in the multi-disciplinary AR/VR PhD Program.
The CS Programs have three Tracks: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Vision, and Natural Language Understanding. Course examples across Tracks include AR/VR Interaction Design, Video Game Development, Programming Language Design and Implementation, HCI, Recreational Graphics, Design and Analytics of Efficient Algorithms, Machine Learning, Logical Foundations of AI, Mobile Vision Computing, and Machine Vision.
Students in the AR/VR PhD Program at University of Rochester typically have a background in Computer Science, Optics, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and computer Engineering, or Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Housed in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Georgen Institute for Data Science, the program focuses on AR/VR interfaces and applications, AR/VR platforms and computation, perceptual-cognitive aspects of AR/VR design, and machine intelligence for AR/VR systems.
Graduates of the Computer Science and AR/VR Programs at University of Rochester are prepared to pursue a wide range of positions a variety of industries. Sample job titles include VR Developer, User Experience Designer, AR Developer, Mobile Developer, Solution Architect, AI Developer, Firmware Engineer, Quality Assurance manager, HCI Developer, and Research Software Engineer.
22. 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. Founded in 1925 as the Embry-Riddle Company, ERAU has physical campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, and online campuses including Embry-Riddle Online and the Worldwide Campus.
Embry-Riddle serves nearly 33,700 students enrolled in 100 degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and PhD levels. ERAU’s seven primary fields of study include Aviation, Applied Science, Business, Computers and Technology, Engineering, Security, Intelligence, and Safety, and Space.
The residential campus in Prescott, Arizona opened in 1978 with 268 students in enrolled in the Aeronautical Science Program. Today, the Prescott campus serves more than 3,000 students enrolled in programs administered ERAU’s College of Arts & Sciences, College of Aviation, College of Engineering, and the College of Security & Intelligence.
The College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) houses the Simulation Science, Games, and Animation (SSGA) Department, which provides a popular pathway to study AR/VR. The SSGA BS is a technical, multidisciplinary degree that requires coursework in animation, artificial intelligence (AI), simulation, computer graphics, modeling, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. The program also incorporates aspects of art and design. Course examples include Mixed Reality, Systems Simulation, Games Systems, Interactive Media, World Building, Procedural Simulation, Multiplayer Systems, Game Engine Architecture, AI, and User Interface Design.
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 ERAU SSGA graduates include Boeing, Microsoft, Blizzard Entertainment, the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, Mass Virtual, Forge FX Simulations, Win Reality VR Training, and Super League Gaming.
23. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866, SAIC serves around 3,550 students enrolled in degree programs covering 50 formal areas of study. Students at SAIC are also free to customize their education among 24 departments or concentrate in one single medium.
Students interested in AR/VR typically choose the Art and Technology Studies (ATS) Program within the Fine Arts Department, which traces its roots back to the Kinetics Area, established in 1969 by Artist and Professor Steve Waldeck, and the Generative Systems Area, created by Artist, Researcher, and Academic Sonia Landy Sheridan in 1970. Programs lead to a BFA or MFA in Studio.
ATS students will take courses in VR, AR & Games, Programming, Electronics & Kinetics, Bio Art, Audio, Light, and History & Theory. They may also Concentrate in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and/or Games. Topics and classes for the Concentration Include Virtual Reality, Experimental Game Lab, Mixed Reality, Performance, n3w_b0d1es, and Video Game Music Composition.
Other ATS course highlights include Art and Technology Practices, Interactive Art and Creative Coding, Wearables and Soft Computing, Physical Computing: Outside the Box, Robotics, Blockchain: The New Internet, and Video Game Music Composition.
Besides Art and Entertainment, graduates of the ATS Program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago are prepared to seek careers in industries that utilize AR/VR technology such as Gaming, Defense, Law Enforcement, Education, Aerospace, Corporate Training, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Logistics, Construction, Real Estate, Automotive, and Retail and eCommerce.
24. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University (SMU) houses Lyle School of Engineering-Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Meadows School of the Arts; SMU Guildhall; and Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Collectively, these SMU units provide a range of pathways to study AR/VR.
Founded in 1911, Southern Methodist University (SMU) serves more than 12,000 students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Students in all programs benefit from small classes, hands-on research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study, and access to more than 100 majors and 85 minors in eight colleges and schools.
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.
Graduates of the Computer Science and Creative Computing Programs at Southern Methodist University are prepared to pursue positions in all industries that utilize AR/VR, among others.
25. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College was established in 1769, making it one of oldest institutions of higher education in the U.S. Dartmouth comprises more than 75 centers and institutes, more than 40 departments of interdisciplinary programs in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences alone, and six broad areas of study.
The Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth has several pathways to study AR/VR. Each pathway consists of heavy AR/VR and other related coursework. Pathways include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science (CS), a new graduate Concentration in Digital Arts (CS/DA), and a 4+1 MS in CS/DA that allows students in the Minor in Digital Arts and earn an MS degree in just four terms (or 12 credits). A 4+1 BA/MS in CS is also available.
The CS/DA Program combines computer science courses, digital arts courses, and research/thesis courses. Research topics within the areas of Visual Computing and Digital Arts include AR/VR, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Vision, Digital Fabrication, Computer Graphics, and Digital Art and Media.
Course examples across programs include Augmented and Virtual Reality Design, Augmented and Virtual Reality Development, Principles of Robot Design and Programming, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Graphics, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Programming for Interactive Audio-Visual Arts, Game Development Principles Applied In Educational/Serious Games, Computer Animation: The State of the Art, Digital Modeling, and Digital Design.
The Computer Science Department also provides opportunities for students in all programs to work with faculty as teaching assistants, and on thesis development, programming projects, and research. CS students also have the opportunity to spend a term at AIT-Budapest.
Specifically designed for CS and software engineering students, AIT offers courses beyond computer science and organizes extracurricular activities. Courses at AIT are taught in English.
Students in all CS Programs have access to the Digital Applied Learning and Innovation (DALI) Lab and the Reality & Robotics Labs.
The DALI Lab at Dartmouth supports the design and development of virtual & augmented reality, mobile applications, websites, digital installations, and more. The Lab partners with educators, researchers, nonprofits, corporations, and students who work in small teams to tackle big projects. Examples include Mindfulness in a Virtual Environment, Treating Space Flight Stress Using VR, Anivision (see through an animal's eyes), Flourish (for chronic illness patients), and Whiteboard (a platform for productivity and planning).
The Reality & Robotics Lab is a group of researchers, professors, and students that study augmented reality, robotics, 3D fabrication, and sensing. Project examples include Assembly: Building Robust Structures from Smaller Components, Geodesics: Efficient Motion and Planning for Robots, and Human Motion: Technology for Teaching Humans How to Move. Funding sources for the Lab include Adobe, Google, the Neukom Institute, NSF, and the MBR Center for Accelerated Research.
Dartmouth graduates are prepared for careers in all industries. Examples of companies that have hired Dartmouth graduates include Rockstar Games, U.S. Department of Defense, Amazon, Electronic Arts (EA), Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Medtronic, PAR Technologies, and ABL Space Systems.