What are the top private college AR/VR programs in the US for 2023?

Top 25 Private Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Schools in the U.S. – 2023 College Rankings
1Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMassachusetts
2Stanford UniversityCalifornia
3University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
4New York UniversityNew York
5Carnegie Mellon UniversityPennsylvania
6Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew York
7Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
8Drexel UniversityPennsylvania
9Cornell UniversityNew York
10University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania
11Northwestern UniversityIllinois
12Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteNew York
13Northeastern UniversityMassachusetts
14Harvard UniversityMassachusetts
15Duke UniversityNorth Carolina
16DePaul UniversityIllinois
17Full Sail UniversityFlorida
18The New School – Parsons School of DesignNew York
19Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
20Ringling College of Art + DesignFlorida
21California Institute of TechnologyCalifornia
22University of RochesterNew York
23University of ChicagoIllinois
24Southern Methodist UniversityTexas
25Embry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityArizona

Our 2023 rankings - our third 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Stanford University, Stanford, California
Stanford University

Stanford University is home to School of Engineering, which houses the Computer Science (CS) Department. Established in 1965, CS provides a BS and a Minor in Computer Science, a MSCS, a CS PhD, 10 specified undergraduate tracks, the option to design your own major, and nine graduate specializations. Track examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Systems, and Visual Computing. Specialization examples include Aim HCI, Real-World Computing, Biocomputation, and Theoretical Computer Science.

Across all tracks and specializations, students have access to a wide variety of AR/VR courses. Examples include Virtual Reality; Emerging Technology Studio; Intro to Virtual Reality and Avatars; Character Animation: Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Human Motion; Coding for Social Good (VR component); Interactive Simulation for Robot Learning; Introduction to Automata and Complexity Theory; Computer Graphics: Animation and Simulation; How to Make VR: Introduction to Virtual Reality Design and Development; 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 providing a variety of specializations and AR/VR coursework, the CS Department houses research groups in the areas of AI, Computer Graphics/HCI, Robotics, Foundations of Computer Science, and Scientific Computing. CS students focusing 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. Examples of past projects include Psychology of Augmented Reality, Virtual Becomes Reality – Immersion and Presence, Empathy and Perspective Talking, Integrating VR into Classrooms and Curricula, Telepresence, and Design Thinking.

Graduates of the School of Engineering at Stanford University are prepared to pursue positions at a wide range of major companies and organizations. Stanford graduates are routinely recruited by Apple, the U.S. Army, Tesla, Microsoft, Google, Walt Disney World, Amazon, LinkedIn, the U.S. Navy, Meta, Snapchat, Oracle, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Stanford University was established in 1885 by former California Governor Leland Stanford, and his wife, Jane. The school opened its doors on October 1, 1891 with 555 students. Today, Stanford University serves approximately 17,325 students served by just over 2,300 faculty members. Nearly 300 programs are provided across seven schools, supplemented by dozens of centers, institutes, and labs. Schools include Engineering; Humanities and Sciences; Sustainability; Business; Education; Law; and Medicine.

Stanford University accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California

In May of this year, University of Southern California (USC) President Carol L. Folt announced a $1 billion-plus initiative that will integrate computing throughout education and research to enhance digital literacy for all students. Known as Frontiers of Computing, the initiative will be the single largest comprehensive academic initiative in the USC’s history. While the initiative will benefit students, faculty, and more across disciplines, the focus will be on AR/VR, gaming, robotics, AI, machine learning, data science, and block chain.

Frontiers in Computing will also include the USC School of Advanced Computing, which will be headquartered in a seven-story, 116,000 square-foot facility—the  Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Human-Centered Computation Hall. Currently under construction, the building will formally open in fall 2024. In the meantime, students who would like to study AR/VR can enroll in a variety of programs at USC, beginning with options housed in the Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science within Viterbi School of Engineering. Programs include a BS, MS, and PhD. in Computer Science (CS), with access to courses such as Augmented, Virtual & Mixed Reality; Intermediate 3D Modeling and Procedural Asset Pipelines; Professional C++; Object-Oriented Programming; Digital Infrastructure; Programming in Python; Computational Thinking Through Programming; Mobile Game Development; Technical Character Animation for Games; and Programming Graphical User Interfaces.

The School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at USC also has a number of options for students interested in studying AR/VR.  Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, and one of USC’s most recognized schools, Cinematic Arts houses the Interactive Media and Games Division, which has an Interactive Entertainment BA, Immersive Media Minor, 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.

A final option for students interested in pursuing a career in AR/VR is the Extended Reality (XR) Design and Development Minor. Provided through the USC Iovine and Young Academy, the Minor can be added to Academy programs such as the BS in Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation or the Integrated Design, Business Technology MS. Course examples for the Minor include Extended Reality Design, Digital Toolbox: Motion Graphics, Designing Live Experiences, Narrative Technology and the Human Experience, and Designing Digital Experiences.

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 USC programs benefit from participation in WG’s 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 Computer Science, Interactive, Immersive Media, and  Iovine and Young Programs at University of Southern California have been hired at companies and organizations such as Boeing, Oracle, Lockheed Martin, Google, DreamWorks Animation, the U.S. Army and Navy, Tesla, Department of Homeland Security, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, Discovery+, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Walt Disney Company, Branded Entertainment Network,  Gilead Sciences, VIZIO, Yahoo, Vayu Technology, Disneyland Parks, Disneyland Resorts, United Airlines, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, FORD, AT&T, Meta, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Established in 1880, University of Southern California is the largest private sector employer in Los Angeles. Serving 49,500 students, USC houses 23 schools and divisions. More than 600 graduate and professional programs are provided. The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

4. New York University, New York, New York
New York University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to the SCAD Digital Media Center. Within the Center are the School of Digital Media and the School of Entertainment Arts. The School of Digital Media houses an Immersive Reality BFA that launched in 2018. This 180 credit hour program allows students to explore related fields such as User Experience (UX) Design, Visual Effects, Film and Television, and Interactive Design. Students may add an additional major or minor in any of these areas.

Program features include collaboration with students and faculty across disciplines; access to panels and presentations by gaming giants such as EA Sports, Ubisoft, and Cartoon Network Games; and study abroad opportunities at SCAD Lacoste, France. Immersive Reality 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.

To begin the program, students will take Foundation Studies courses such as Design I: Elements and Organization, Design II: 3D Form and Space, Design III: Time, Creative Thinking Strategies, and Storyboarding Essentials. Mathematics or Computer Science, Digital Communication, and Speaking of Ideas are just a few required General Education courses.

In the Immersive Reality BFA major, students will take courses such as Augmented Reality Lab, Virtual Reality for Motion Media, Immersive Revolution: Augmented to Virtual Reality, Visual Storytelling: Virtual Reality to Interactive, Immersive Innovation Lab, Visual Effects for Immersive Environments, Integration of Immersive Realities, 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 by exploring related or other areas. 

All students have access to the expanded Savannah Film Studios, which is the largest and most comprehensive university film studio complex in the nation. The  10.9-acre facility includes a next-generation XR stage for virtual productions, new soundstages, and a Hollywood-caliber film backlot.

Launched in 2014, the original Savannah Film Studios building consisted of a 22,000-square-foot facility with 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.

Graduates of the Immersive Reality BFA Program at SCAD are prepared for graduate study and/or careers such as AR/VR Developer, AR Designer, Virtual Production Technical Director, VR Content Producer, Mixed Reality Artist, Game Designer, Realtime Artist, Technical Artist, and Environmental Artist.

Approximately 99% of Savannah College of Art and Design graduates are employed, enrolled in a graduate program, or both within 10 months of graduation. Immersive Reality alumni have been hired by companies and studios such as Microsoft, Adobe, Epic Games, Google, Autodesk, Blizzard Entertainment, Facebook, ZeniMax Online Studios, and Magic Leap.

With more than 100 degree programs and over 75 minors and certificate programs, Savannah College of Art and Design has more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college in the U.S. Founded in 1978, SCAD opened in the renovated Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory in September 1979. The school began with just one classroom, an administration building, and 71 students. Today, SCAD serves more than 15,000 students across campuses in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Lacoste, France.

Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), and the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB).

8. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. In 1868, the school opened in Morrill Hall—the first building constructed on campus. Today, the Cornell campus houses 608 buildings across more than 2,000 acres. Cornell also has campuses throughout the State of New York, and in DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy.

Around 10,830 faculty and staff serve approximately 25,900 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. Cornell University has been continuously accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1921.

10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
Northwestern University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University

Virtual Reality (VR) and the related fields of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) has its roots at Harvard University. From 1965 to 1968, Ivan Sutherland, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard, helped create the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system known as The Sword of Damocles. Today, full-time, degree-seeking students at Harvard have access to Harvard Innovation (Hi) Labs, which houses a state-of-the-art AR/VR Studio.

The AR/VR Studio is a dedicated space designed for the exploration of immersive technologies. The Studio is equipped with workstations, a range of design and software platforms, multiple headset configurations, 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 Studio can build MVPs and prototypes through workshops, and attend guest speaker symposiums. Available workshops include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Storytelling in AR/VR.

Students who would like to earn a formal degree that includes AR/VR studies have several options. Harvard College—the undergraduate community within Harvard University—has a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) with a Concentration in Computer Science. Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has a Concurrent Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree (A.B. & S.M.) in Computer Science and a Computer Science PhD.

Course examples across programs include Computer Science (C, Python, and SQL plus HTML, CSS, and JavaScript), Design of Useful and Usable Interactive Systems, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Operating Systems, Research Topics in Human-Computer Interaction, Systems Programming and Machine Organization, Visualization, Engineering Usable Interactive Systems, Computer Graphics, Machine Learning, Advanced Computer Vision, and Computing at Scale.

Harvard University graduates have established successful careers in just about every field. They can be found in top positions at Walt Disney, Amazon, Sun Microsystems, Google, DreamWorks Animation, Intel Corporation, Pixar Animation Studios, Goldman Sachs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Hyperion Solutions, Hasbro, Inc., Lonely Planet, and Meta.

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. The school serves approximately 25,265 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 13 degree-granting Schools and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

15. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Duke University

Duke University (Duke) 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.

Duke University’s most popular undergraduate program is Computer Science. This is also the most popular paths for students interested in studying AR/VR. 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.

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 Dig@Lab within the Department of Computational Media, Arts & Cultures conducts AR/VR research and develops apps, virtual environments, and VR applications.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Duke University are prepared to pursue careers in all areas of Computer Science, AR/VR, Aerospace, Entertainment, Defense, and Education, among others.

Although Duke University was established in 1924, the School of Law and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences here were established in 1904 and 1859, respectively. Duke’s other eight colleges and schools were established between 1926 and 2009. Today, the school serves 17,155 students enrolled in more than 200 programs. Duke University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

16. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Full Sail University (Full Sail) joined the Orlando/Central Florida Chapter of the VR/AR Association (VRARA) in November 2021 to help advance the VR/AR community through education. The school also provides a variety of degree programs that focus on Emerging Technologies including Simulation & Visualization, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Science, Game Development, IT, Mobile Development, and Cybersecurity.

Recommended degree options for students interested in AR/VR at Full Sail include the Simulation and Visualization BS and the Computer Science BS with a Concentration in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Course examples for the Simulation and Visualization 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.

Students in the Computer Science BS/AI will take courses such as Computer Vision, Data Visualization and Modeling, Human-AI Interaction, Machine Intelligence Systems, Software Integration, Natural Language Processing, and Artificial Intelligence Architecture.

Simulation and Visualization students will complete a project and build a portfolio through the Project and Portfolio I-VII: Simulation and Visualization courses. Students in the Computer Science BS will complete the same through Project and Portfolio I-VII: Computer Science.

Students in all programs will work on projects and portfolios in Full Sail’s AR/VR Lab and FabLab.

The AR/VR Lab houses state-of-the-art equipment such as headsets from Oculus, Magic Leap, Microsoft, and HTC, a green screen, and other tools/equipment to develop AR/VR projects.

Launched in 2016, 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.

While graduates of the Emerging Technology Programs at Full Sail University are prepared to pursue positions in all industries, many graduates have been hired by major studios and productions around the world. Examples include Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Cirque du Soleil, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Rockstar Games, Pixar, Universal Studios, MTV, Disney, Bunim Murray Productions, Miramax, HBO Studios, and NFL Films.

Full Sail University offers graduate certificates and programs at all degree levels in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Technology. The school, which opened in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio, is located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios. Serving approximately 21,000 students, Full Sail is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

18. The New School – Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
The New School – Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design is part of The New School. Within Parsons are three paths to study AR/VR including BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and a Minor in Immersive Storytelling. Students at The New School also have the opportunity to complete e five-year dual degree (BA/BFA) where they will earn a BA from the Eugene Lange College of Liberal Arts and a BFA from Parsons.

The Parsons Immersive Storytelling Minor is open to all undergraduate students at Parsons. Students in this program have the opportunity to explore experiential and immersive storytelling in AR/VR, mixed reality (MR), 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.

All New School BFA students will complete the first-year experience, which covers the tools, critical thinking, and skills needed to complete the program. The experience highlights integrated seminars and studios. After completing the first year, students will advance into their programs, which feature internships, study abroad, and industry engagement.

The Design and Technology 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 at Parsons School of Design 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, and it hosts a variety of workshops and meetups.

Graduates of the Design and Technology Programs at The New School - Parsons School of Design are prepared for careers in areas such as AR/VR, Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Interaction Design, Game Design, Computer Software and Hardware Design, Motion Graphics, Mobile and Application Design, Web/UI/UX Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Film and Television, and Digital Filmmaking.

The New School was founded in 1919. Serving approximately 10,815 students, the school provides more than 120 degree and diploma programs across six colleges and schools, including Parsons Paris. The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

19. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20. Ringling College of Art + Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art + Design

In 2018, Ringling College of Art + Design launched the world’s first degree program dedicated solely to Virtual Reality Development. Housed in the Virtual Reality Department and leading to a BFA, the Program helps students develop skills in designing, creating, and analyzing immersive experiences. The program also explores communication, collaboration, and professional practices.

Course examples for this 120 credit hour program Introduction to Virtual Reality, Concept Development for Virtual Worlds, Immersive Media Design I-IV, Programming for Immersive Media, Iterative Design, Visual Scripting, 3D Technical Art, 2D Design, Visual Development: UI/UX, and History of Immersive Media. Open electives allow students to develop skills in other areas. These courses may be selected within the Virtual Reality Development Department or other departments at Ringling.

In the final year of the Virtual Reality Development BFA, students will complete VR Thesis Production, VR Capstone I, and VR Capstone II worth 12 credits. Students will leave the program with a portfolio, body of work, and job application packet.

Graduates of the Virtual Reality Development Program at Ringling are prepared for careers in all industries that require AR/VR skills. Examples include entertainment, education, aerospace, engineering, architecture, healthcare, advertising, game design, eCommerce, law enforcement training, defense, aviation, corporate training, and disaster management.

Companies that have hired graduates of the Virtual Reality Development Program at Ringling include Google VR, Insomniac Games, Disney VR, Framestore, Oculus VR, Flight School, Epic Games, Rewind Studios, Magic Leap, D3 Creative Studios, Ready at Dawn, BAOBAB Studios, Sharecare, Kite & Lightning, and Hoyt Architects.

Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit college that serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in eleven majors leading to a BFA degree, two majors leading to a BA, and minor options in 10 areas. Founded more than 130 years ago by circus magnate John Ringling, RCAD is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

21. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) owns and operates large-scale research facilities and labs such as the Seismological Laboratory, along with a global network of astronomical observatories, including the W. M. Keck and Palomar Observatories. The school manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA as well.

One of the most technologically advanced universities in the U.S., Caltech also provides several programs for students who would like to pursue a career in AR/VR. Housed in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department, options include the BS, MS, and Minor in Computer Science (CS).

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, which provides opportunities to create projects, conduct research, and collaborate with peers. The Lab also houses Virtech—an experimental platform for online education. Part of the Center for Data-Driven Discovery at Caltech, Virtech allows students to collaborate, network, and create their own 3D content. Caltech faculty utilize the Lab for experiments with other online technologies and learning modalities, online lectures, group meetings, discussions, and seminars.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at California Institute of Technology work in areas such as Technology, Aerospace, Science, Medicine, Government, Entertainment and Business. Caltech alumni have been hired at places such as Meta, SpaceX, and the National Science Foundation.

Founded as Throop University in 1891, California Institute of Technology employs 300 faculty and staff that serve approximately 2,400 students. 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. California Institute of Technology is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

22. University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
University of Rochester

University of Rochester (U of R or UR) provides the unique opportunity for students to build their own major. Students may also select a traditional program. For students that choose the build-your-own path, there are no general education requirements 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 topics such as 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 & 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). 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) & 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 & 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 positions  in 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. 

Founded in 1850, University of Rochester is a private research university that serves approximately 12,200 students. More than 150 programs are provided across two schools—the School of Arts & Sciences and Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. University of Rochester is an accredited institution by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

23. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Chicago

The College of Arts and Sciences at University of Chicago (UChicago) is home to the Department of Computer Science, which has several paths to study AR/VR. Options include BS and MS Degrees in Computer Science (CS); 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 of Computer Science may specialize in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Machine Learning, Programming Languages, and Computer Architecture. Students also have the opportunity to focus in an additional field by following an approved course of study in a related area. This provides opportunities 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; Engineering Interactive Electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards; Mobile Computing; Computer Vision; and Software Development.

Other program features include internship and study abroad opportunities at the UChicago Center in Beijing and access to the Weston Game Lab (WGL).

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 also participate in workshops and collaborate on game-based experiments and development projects in the 3,800-square-foot space, which houses classrooms, studios, and open work areas.

University of Chicago graduates are recruited for a range of positions at more than 400 organizations annually. Over the past three years, UChicago graduates have been hired 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, and organizations.

Examples of companies that have hired University of Chicago graduates include Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, AbbVie, Epic Systems, Alibaba, Etsy, IBM, Oracle, and Accenture Analytics.

Established in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, University of Chicago is a private research university that houses hundreds of programs and initiatives. With partnerships in over 48 nations and on every continent, UChicago serves 17,470 students enrolled in more than 150 degree and academic programs across the 13 colleges, graduate divisions, and schools. University of Chicago has been continuously accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1913.

24. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Southern Methodist University

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).

25. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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.

In addition to selecting additional courses in Art and Design, Embry-Riddle SSGA students have opportunities to work in ERAU computer labs including the Airway Science Lab, Meteorology Lab, College of Engineering Senior Design Lab, and the Design and Computer-Aided Design Lab. In the labs, students will work with development platforms, software, and programming languages such as C#, C++, Python, JavaScript, HTML5, Maya, and Unity3D.

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).