2022

What are the top public AR/VR school programs in the US for 2022?

Top 25 Public AR/VR Schools and Colleges in the U.S. – 2022 Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1University of WashingtonWashington
2Georgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgia
3University of California - BerkeleyCalifornia
4Texas A&M UniversityTexas
5University of North CarolinaNorth Carolina
6University of MarylandMaryland
7University of California - San DiegoCalifornia
8University of Central FloridaFlorida
9University of MichiganMichigan
10University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignIllinois
11University of UtahUtah
12Iowa State UniversityIowa
13University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinois
14Purdue UniversityIndiana
15University of FloridaFlorida
16University of ArizonaArizona
17The Ohio State UniversityOhio
18North Carolina State UniversityNorth Carolina
19University of California - Santa CruzCalifornia
20University of Colorado - BoulderColorado
21Ohio UniversityOhio
22University at BuffaloNew York
23University of MinnesotaMinnesota
24San Jose State UniversityCalifornia
25University of Nebraska - LincolnNebraska

Our 2022 rankings -our second annual- of the Top 25 Public College Public Augmented/Virtual Reality AR/VR programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. Founded in 1861, UW is also the largest university the state. Serving more than 54,000 students, University of Washington has three campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma and it houses 18 colleges and schools.

The College of Arts and Sciences is home of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, which introduced the world’s first augmented reality capstone course in 2016. The school also houses several computer science programs for students interested in AR/VR. Options include the BS in Computer Science (CS), a Combined BS/MS in CS also known as the Fifth Year Master’s Program, a Professional Master’s (PMP) in CS, and a PhD in CS. The BS/MS enables current and recent Allen School undergraduate majors to earn both degrees in approximately five years.

All programs benefit from the Allen School’s research and innovation in AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) & Accessible Technology, Machine Learning, Robotics, Computer Graphics, Vision, Animation & Game Science, and Ubiquitous Computing.

Course examples for the program include Advanced Topics in HCI (Graphics & Virtual Reality), Artificial Intelligence (AI) I & II, AI-based Mobile Robotics, Computer Systems Architecture, Computational Fabrication, Interaction Programming, Advanced Topics in Digital Animation, Computational Complexity, Interactive Learning, and Neural Control of Movement: A Computational Perspective.

Students in all programs have the opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and peers in the UW Reality Lab. Launched in 2018 and housed in the Allen School, the Lab includes the Reality Studio, Reality Lab Incubator, and classes. In addition to advancing AR/VR research, Lab participants will work on projects in 3D computer vision and perception, object recognition, graphics, game science and education, distributed computing, stream processing, databases and computer architecture, and privacy and security.

Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at University of Washington go on to establish careers at some of the world’s top companies, studios, and organizations. Examples include Google, Pixar Animation Studios, Microsoft, Amazon, Epic Software, Adobe, Disney, HBO, Dell, Apple, Hulu, Microsoft, Oracle, Riot Games, Samsung, and Unity Technologies.

2. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) launched in October 1888 as the Georgia School of Technology. When it opened, the school had just 84 students. Today, Georgia Tech serves nearly 40,000 students from 50 states and 149 countries. The school also has three campuses—the main campus in Atlanta, Georgia Tech-Lorraine in Metz, France, and Georgia Tech-Shenzhen in China.

Majors and degrees at Georgia Tech are offered through the Colleges of Design, Computing, Engineering, and Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

A number of programs for students interested in AR/VR are housed in the Ivan College of Liberal Arts, the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, the College of Computing, and in the Schools of Computer Science, Interactive Computing, and Computational Science & Engineering. The Computer Science programs at Georgia Tech provide opportunities for students to select from research areas such Virtual & Augmented Environments, Ubicomp & Wearable Computing, AI and Machine Learning, Robotics and Perception, and Geometry, Graphics, and Animation.

Students in all Georgia Tech programs have access to the school’s GVU Center, which supports Artificial Intelligence (AI), AR/VR, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Robotics, Wearable Computing and other research. Within the GVU Center is the Augmented Environments Lab, which focuses on building interactive computing environments that directly augment the users senses with computer-generated material.

Also located in the GVU Center is the Prototyping eNarrative Lab. Also known as PeN Lab, the Lab focuses on emerging platforms such as AR/VR, experimental television, and the intersection of storytelling with simulation and game design.

Examples of Lab projects include The Lights of St. Etienne: An AR/MR (Mixed-Reality) Experience in the Cathedral in Metz, France, Bringing Interactivity to Static Data Visualizations through Augmented Reality, Escape Room VR, WebXR: Experiences in AR and VR for the Web, Pipping: Exploring Passive Haptics in Virtual Reality, and Interaction Techniques for Children's AR Education, Invisible Cities: Multi-User AR Public Monuments.

Specific degree programs for students interested in AR/VR include the BS in Computational Media, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science, and Minors in Computing & Devices, Computing & Intelligence, and Computing & People.

With 300 students, the BS in Computational Media is one of Georgia Tech’s fastest growing programs. Students have opportunities to focus in Interaction, Games, Narrative, and more. Course examples include Constructing the Moving Image, Interaction Design, Computer Animation, and Experimental Media. Sample careers include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Special Effects Creation, Interactive Game Design and Simulation, Robotics, and Animation.

Georgia Tech graduates work in leadership positions in areas such as consulting, engineering, financial services, healthcare, law, manufacturing, retailing, transportation, and humanitarian logistics, among others. Georgia Tech alumni have been hired by companies such as Apple, Disney, Tesla, Boeing, IBM, Intel, Cisco Systems, Google, Delta Airlines, and Microsoft.

3. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) sends more graduates to Silicon Valley than just about any other school in the U.S. Chartered in 1868 and named after 18th-century philosopher George Berkely, UC Berkeley serves more than 45,000 students enrolled in more than 350 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools, and dozens of academic departments.

The Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) Department at UC Berkeley manages two undergraduate degrees through two different colleges: the BS in EECS in the College of Engineering (CoE), and the BA in Computer Science (CS) in the College of Letters & Science (L&S).

Both programs have the same technical requirements, with differing breadth requirements and admissions processes. Course examples for both programs include The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Designing Information Devices and Systems, Machine Structures, and Data Structures and Programming Methodology.

All EECS and CS students have access to the XR [email protected]—a Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Laboratory (VR/AR/MR)—the student-run Extended [email protected] (est. 2015), and the FHL Vive Center for Enhanced Reality, which sponsors research and applications in AR/VR and AI.

Collectively, the Labs and Centers at UC Berkeley train new engineers in all areas of AR/VR, they advance the field of AR/VR through development plans, actions, and state-of-art research, and they bring attention to technology’s possibilities for humankind.

Graduates of the EECS and CS Programs at UC Berkeley work in a variety of fields such as Computer Systems Design, Computer Vision and Robotics, AI and Machine Learning, Software Development, Defense, Production, Design, Entertainment, Healthcare, Engineering, and Aerospace, among others. Some of the top hiring companies for UC Berkeley graduates include Google, Apple, Meta, and Tesla.

4. Texas A&M University at College Station, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University at College Station

Founded in 1876, Texas A&M University at College Station (TAMU or Texas A&M) is the state's first public institution of higher learning. This research-intensive, flagship university consists of 17 academic colleges and schools, two branch campuses, the Health Science Center, Quatar campus, and 72,982 students.

The new School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts at TAMU (TAMU PVFA) houses the Visualization Program. Available pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization, and a Minor in Game Design and Development. Students in all programs have access to [email protected], which is housed in the Department of Visualization in the College of Architecture, and the MAESTRO Lab, located in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering. The recently launched TAMUVR (Texas A&M University Virtual and Augmented Reality) is also accessible to all students.  

[email protected] is lab that conducts research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Human-Centered Computing, and Interactive Systems. The Lab consists of five research groups: TEILab, The StoryLab, McNamara Lab, INDIE Lab, and the Soft Interaction Lab. Depending on the group, topics covered include AR/VR, Child-Computer Interaction, Data Visualization, Embodied Interaction, Interactive Storytelling, Soft Materials Interaction, and many others. AR/VR students may be drawn to the INDIE Lab and the Soft Interaction Lab, among others.

The INDIE Lab (Interactive Data and Immersive Environments) engages in human-centered research of interactive visualizations. The group actively collaborates with multiple departments and faculty across the university. Research areas include Virtual Reality, 3D Interaction, Visual Analytics, Information Visualization, and Educational Games.

The Soft Interaction Lab fosters experimentation with physical and virtual experiences, organic materials, and interaction technology.

MAESTRO Lab houses the MAESTRO VR Studio—an Immersive Mechanics Visualization Lab dedicated Immersive and Intuitive Data Environments projects. Focus areas include AR/VR and 3D Displays.

TAMUVR is an organization that focuses on AR/VR development, research activities, educational opportunities, discussion, and practical experience.

Graduates of the Visualization Programs at Texas A&M University are prepared for a range of careers from AR/VR and UI/UX Development to Environment Modeling and Game Asset Development.

5. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) was established 1789, making it the only public university in the U.S. to award degrees in 18th century. The school offers 74 bachelors, 104 masters, 65 doctorate, and seven professional degree programs across 14 schools. A member of the UNC System of 16 universities, UNC-Chapel Hill serves more than 31,500 students.

For individuals interested in a career in AR/VR, UNC-Chapel Hill has a variety of programs, organizations, and labs to support their goals. All students may participate in the Carolina Augmented and Virtual Reality Club (CARVR), where they have the opportunity to work on XR projects and work with real clients. Students may also participate in the UNC Augmented and Virtual Reality Interest Group, which consists of more than 250 people from across campus. The Group focuses on training, research, learning and more through the use of immersive technologies. Soon, the Group will launch two additional groups that focus in AR/VR—a Faculty Group and Student Group.

In addition to these organizations, students interested in AR/VR at UNC-Chape Hill have access to the Graphics, Imaging, and Robotics Lab and the Graphics and 3D Vision Laboratory. The Graphics, Imaging, and Robotics Lab is a 3,500 sq. ft. space located in J. Carlyle Sitterson Hall. Most of the Lab is dedicated to work in effective virtual environments. The remaining area, which houses a variety of robots, focuses on robotics research.

Housed in the Frederick P. Brooks Jr. Computer Science Building and Sitterson Hall, the new Graphics and 3D Vision Laboratory is situated in a noise-controlled, 2,500 sq. ft. space divided into three research zones by floor-to-ceiling blackout curtains for light and sound suppression. Zones include Projective Display Research, Computer Vision and Optical Tracking Research, and Physical Simulation and Audio Synthesis Research with a focus on GPU processing. The space has 11-foot ceilings and a Unistrut mounting grid.

Across facilities and labs, projects and groups have included the Ultrasound/Medical Augmented Reality Group, Effective Virtual Environments Project, Geometric Algorithms for Modeling, Motion, and Animation Group (GAMMA) Project, and the Walkthrough Group (simulated walkthroughs of architectural models).

Specific program options for AR/VR students are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Computer Science. Established in 1964, the Department was one of the first independent computer science departments in the U.S. Pathways include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science with a Computer Graphics or Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Area. Computer Graphics sub-areas include Animation & Simulation, Virtual Environments, and Visualization. HCI offers a Virtual Environments subarea. A PhD in Computer Science is also available.

Course examples across programs include 2D Computer Graphics, Connecting Language to Vision and Robotics, Digital Culture, Digital Logic and Computer Design, Human Robot Interaction, Machine Learning, Models of Languages & Computation, Scientific Programming, and Software Engineering Laboratory.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill graduates hold a variety of positions in companies ranging from small start-up operations to government laboratories and large research and development corporations.

6. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland

University of Maryland (UMD) is the state’s flagship university and one of the original land-grant institutions in America. Established in 1856 and serving 40,700 students, UMD is also one of the largest universities in the U.S.

University of Maryland houses more than 300 academic programs across 12 colleges and schools. Programs for students interested in AR/VR are housed in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). Options include a BA or BS in Immersive Media Design and BS, MS, BS/MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science with an AR/VR focus.

Immersive Media Design (IMD) students learn to create, code, and collaborate using the most current digital technologies and tools. Students have the opportunity to focus in Art or Computer Science to graduate with a BA from the College of ARHU or a BS from the College of CMNS.

Housed in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, the College of CMNS-Department of Computer Science serves more than 3,400 students with interests ranging from algorithms and design to VR to Robotics. Department features include research opportunities, internships, participation in the honors program, and study abroad experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California
University of California, San Diego

Although the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) wasn’t established until 1961, the campus dates back to the late 1800s when the site was chosen as the location for a marine field station for zoologists at the UC Berkeley campus. The facility, which became a part of the University of California in 1912, was eventually named Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Today, UCSD is one of the nine campuses of the UC System and it supports a community of close to 35,000 students.

UCSD houses seven colleges, including Jacobs School of Engineering—home to the Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) Department. Students who would like to study AR/VR can do so through the BS, MS, BS/MS, and PhD Programs in Computer Science (CS). Required electives allow students to craft a focus area to suit their goals. Undergraduates may choose seven electives worth four units each. Graduate students may choose 16 units of electives and research as well 12 units in a Depth Area such as Graphics and Vision, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Robotics, AI, or Programming Languages, Compilers, And Software Engineering.

The MS Program also allows students to choose from three pathways: MS Plan I: Thesis; MS Plan II: Comprehensive Exam, Standard Option; and MS Plan II: Comprehensive Exam, Interdisciplinary Option. The Interdisciplinary Option provides additional opportunities to focus on a customized or available area of interest. 

CSE Department focus areas include AI, HCI, Robotics, Programming Systems, Software Engineering, and Visual Computing (Computer Graphics and Computer Vision), among others.

A CS Minor is also available as well as a Virtual Reality App Development Certificate Program that can supplement any program or it can be taken alone. Courses for the Certificate Program include How Virtual Reality Works, Computer Graphics, and Creating Virtual Reality Apps.

All CS students have access to the CSE Virtual Reality Lab (VR Lab). Launched in 2017, the Lab allows is designed for students interested in developing content for virtual environments. The Lab features workshops, research opportunities in the field of AR/VR, projects, and networking opportunities. The VR Lab also houses the 300+ member VR Club at UCSD. 

Graduates of the CS and Certificate Programs at University of California, San Diego are prepared to pursue positions such as AR/VR Maintenance and Support, Graphics Engineer, XR Gameplay and Tools Engineer, VR Developer, VR Technician, Software Developer, and Design/Graphics Engineer, among others.

8. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

Serving just over 70,400 students, University of Central Florida (UCF) is the largest university by enrollment in Florida. Students at UCF have access to 240 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees, and 81 doctorate degrees across 13 colleges. The College of Engineering and Computer Science houses the Department of Computer Science, which has several pathways to study AR/VR. Options include a BS in Computer Science (CS), an Accelerated BS/MS in CS, and MS and PhD degrees in Modeling and Simulation.

The Department of Computer Science at University of Central Florida also houses several labs that allow students to create, collaborate, and conduct research related to AR/VR.

The Synthetic Reality Lab known as SREAL is part of several larger UCF entities, most notably the Institute for Simulation & Training (IST), which houses it. SREAL (pronounced Surreal) is a center for researchers, software developers, artists (modelers/animators), interactors (digital puppeteers), PhD students, and affiliated faculty members. With 7,000 square feet of experimental and office space, SREAL houses areas for the development of AR/VR, mixed reality experiences, the delivery of interactive training using digital avatar technology, human surrogate and robotics research, and developing cultural heritage and STEM experiences.

The Interactive Systems and User Experience Lab focuses on the development of innovative applications, tools, and techniques that enhance the overall experience between humans and machines.

The Computer Science BS at UCF consists of courses such as Advanced AI, AI for Game Programming, Algorithms for Machine Learning, Computer Architecture, Computer Graphics, Game Programming, Robot Vision, and Software Engineering. Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in AR/VR, Computer Architecture, Computer Gaming, Computer Vision, Evolutionary Computing, Media Convergence, Robotics, and many others.

The Computer Science MS at UCF allows students to specialize in a research area. This includes options such as VR, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Mixed and Virtual Reality Mobile Computing, Machine Learning, and Modeling and Simulation. Pairing (combining two research areas) is also an option. In addition a specialization, students CS MS students will study and master programming systems and languages, computer architecture, and computer science theory.

In addition to AR/VR, graduates of the Computer Science MS Program at University of Central Florida work in Computer Science, Aerospace, Computer Systems, Software Development, Defense, Cyber/Information Security, and Software Engineering, among other areas. UCF CS alumni are routinely recruited by Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Siemens, NASA, IBM, Google, Apple, Cisco, IBM, YouTube, Intel, Oracle, and Accenture, among top companies and organizations.

9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan (UM) serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs housed across 19 schools, colleges, and divisions. Founded in 1817 as one of the first public universities in the nation, UM is home to one of the world’s largest and oldest programs in Computation. The area, which consist of several departments and divisions, serves nearly 11,000 students, and provides access to degree and certificate programs, coursework, studios, and initiatives that explore extended reality (XR/AR/VR).

Pathways for AR/VR students include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and a Minor. A Graduate Certificate in Extended Reality (XR) is also available in the School of Information. The Computer Science degrees are offered in two colleges—the College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Programs are administered by the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Division of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department.

Course features across programs include Interactive Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming Languages, Human-Centered Software Design & Development, Computer Game Design and Development, Autonomous Robotics, and Machine Learning.

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

Students in all programs have access to the XR Initiative - Center for Academic Innovation and the studios of the James and Anne Duderstadt Center (DC). Founded in 2019, the XR Initiative works with all 19 schools, colleges, and divisions to develop new XR related educational technology designed to enhance the learning experience for students. The Initiative also focuses on making XR technology more accessible on campus and encouraging its use in higher education.

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

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

Graduates of the Computer Science and XR Programs at University of Michigan are prepared for careers in AR/VR, Simulation Engineering, Applications Development, Digital Arts and Entertainment, and Software Engineering, among others.

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

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) serves more than 47,000 students from all 50 states and 100+ countries. Founded in 1867, the school is one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions created after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862.

UIUC offers more than 150 undergraduate programs and over 100 graduate and professional programs in 16 colleges, schools, and academic units. Grainger College of Engineering’s Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science, houses a Computer Science (CS) program suited for students interested in careers in AR/VR. Options include a BS, MS, and 12 credit hour Minor in Computer Science (CS).

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

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

In addition to choosing a focus area (BS) or core area courses (MS) that suit their interests, students have access to the [email protected] Lab (VR LAB).

Supported by the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) and University Library’s IDEA Lab and Media Commons, the VR Lab is a collaborative initiative that supports AR/VR and extended reality research, exploration, and teaching at UIUC.

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

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

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

11. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
University of Utah

University of Utah (U of U or The U) is Utah’s public flagship institution. This top-tier research institution serves more than 35,000 students enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate programs and 90+ graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools that house nearly 100 departments. One of the most popular Schools at U of U is the School of Computing.

Founded in 1965 as the Computer Science Department. the School of Computing features research areas such as Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning, Visual Computing, High Performance Computing, and Programming Languages/Software Engineering. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science with a Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality Research Area.

Students in both programs have access to the Quantitative Experience Design (QED) Lab, XR Utah, and the state-of-the-art XR Classroom.

The QED Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that explores virtual worlds, human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), experience design, and narrative & game discourse (interface) The Lab is affiliated with the School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program.

XR Utah is an interdisciplinary research partnership led by the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSEB) at The U. Artists, computer scientists, educators, and psychologists across more than 16 departments at the University of Utah engage in research that helps develop new ways to learn and discover through the use virtual reality technologies.

The XR Classroom helps support projects that utilize projects using AR/VR. Also led by the EHSEB, the classroom and labs provide spaces where individuals can develop customized experiences involving simulations, interactive displays, and education lessons.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Utah work in fields such as Technology, Entertainment, Marketing, Game Design, Engineering, Medicine, and  Education.

12. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University

Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) opened on March 17, 1869 as Iowa State Agricultural College. The school was one of the first of a new generation of American colleges. Today, this public, land-grant university serves around 30,700 students (2021-2022), making it the second largest university in Iowa. Serving around 31,317 students (as of 2022), University of Iowa is the first largest university in the state.

ISU students have access to more than 300 degree, certificate, and minor programs housed in eight colleges and two schools. The Graduate College at Iowa State offers several programs for students interested in AR/VR. Options include MS and PhD degrees in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and a Master of Human-Computer Interaction. The MS is interdisciplinary, the MHC is delivered on-campus and online, and a 12 credit hour HCI Graduate Certificate is also available. Across programs, students will take courses such as Virtual Worlds and Applications, Visual Design for HCI, Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling, Learn to Speak AI, Design and Evaluation of Human Computer Interaction, Python Application Development in HCI, and Foundations in Game-Based Learning.

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

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

Graduates of the HCI Programs at Iowa State University are prepared for careers in both the private and public sectors. Master’s degree graduates are also prepared for to continue their studies by enrolling in a PhD program.

13. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the largest university in the Chicago area. Established in 1982, the school serves nearly 34,000 students enrolled in 95 bachelor’s, 100 master’s, and 63 doctoral degree programs across 16 academic colleges.

The College of Engineering at UIC houses the Department of Computer Science (CS)—the fastest growing program at the school. Pathways include a BS in CS and Design—the only such program at a public university, an MS and BS/MS in CS, and a CS Minor. A PhD in CS is also available for students interested in research or teaching.

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

The MS in CS consists of 36 credit hours. Students may enroll in the BS/MS Program, which takes just five years to complete. The MS has coursework only, project (capstone), and thesis options (research or PhD preparation). Featured courses include Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Design of Mobile Apps, and Video Game Design and Development.

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

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

The HiMER Lab highlights recently funded research including AR/VR, Human Performance Modeling, Human-System Interaction, Data Analytics, and Transportation Safety. Recent AR/VR projects include Projection-Based Mixed Reality Platform-Spatial Mixed Reality, Gaze-Based Multimodal Interactions in AR, and Human Perception and Cognition in AR.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Illinois at Chicago have been hired at some of the world’s top companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Meta, Adobe, Google, Apple, LG, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HP, Redbox, and Verizon, among others.  

14. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University

This fall, Purdue University reached a record 50,884 students, topping last year’s 49,639 students. This is the university’s eighth straight record high. Founded in 1869, Purdue opened its doors on September 16, 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school employs 2,000 full-time faculty that teach and conduct research in Purdue’s 12 colleges and schools, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

For students interested in AR/VR, Purdue Polytechnic Institute has a flexible MS in Computer Graphics Technology (MS CGT) Program that allows students to take coursework in one or more areas and customize their plan of study. AR/VR coursework includes Augmented Reality, Collaborative Virtual and Augmented Environments, Product Development Using Virtual Environments, Virtual Environments, Cognition & Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Special Topics In Human-Centered Design And Development, Computer Graphics Programming, and Advanced Real-Time Computer Graphics.

Students in the program have access to the Purdue HRD Virtual Lab, which is equipped with Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headsets to deliver virtual reality simulations, Microsoft HoloLens for augmented reality training simulations, GoPro Omni and GoPro Hero to create 360-degree training simulation content, and iMotions software to collect biometric data on facial expression analysis (FEA), eye tracking (ET), electrocardiography (ECG), galvanic skin responses (GSR), and facial electromyography (fEMG).

To graduate, MS CGT students will complete several projects including the Computer Graphics Project, Directed MS Capstone, and Directed MS Project.

Graduates of the MS CGT Program at Purdue University-Purdue Polytechnic Institute are prepared to seek careers in all sectors that utilize AR/VR. Graduates have been hired at Google, DreamWorks, Google, Salesforce, Deloitte, and other major companies and studios.

15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida

In 2021, University of Florida (UF) enrolled more than 61,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. and the third largest in Florida. More than 300 programs are available across 16 colleges and schools. The College of the Arts at UF is home to the Digital Worlds Institute, which houses Master’s in Digital Arts & Sciences (MiDAS). This one-year, accelerated program explores emerging technologies, specifically AR/VR, and it accepts individuals from all backgrounds.

The MiDAS Program covers Technical Skills: Game Engines and Development (i.e. Unity 3D) and Software and Hardware Integration; Design and Interactivity: Visual Design Tools/Tech, 3D for VR/AR UI-UX, Audio, Digital Compositing, and Digital Storytelling; and Professional Skills: Project Proposals, Production Pipelines, Project Management, and Critical Thinking and Analysis.

Other MiDAS Program features include opportunities to work on real-world projects within the industry-standard, a collaborative environment, personal attention from faculty and content area experts, and professional portfolio development. UF MiDAS Students also have access to the UF Reality Lab at the Digital Worlds Institute.

The Lab explores and promotes research and educational endeavors in AR/VR. Sample courses in the Lab include Production of Immersive Environments, Digital Storytelling, Movement, Media, and Machines, and Interdisciplinary Research Seminar. Past student projects include Metrolia VR Multiplayer Mech Duel, Space Mail, ScootVR, SpArc: Animate Using Your Hands in Virtual Reality, HoloTouch, Virtual Standardized Patient, and WonderLab.

Graduates of the MiDAS Program and other University of Florida graduates have been hired at Boeing, Walt Disney, the U.S. Department of Defense, Aramark, ESPN, Cox Media Group, the U.S. Navy, Glaxo Smith Klein, 22squared, Reed Exhibitions, GE Digital-Meridium, and Spirit Airlines, among others.

16. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
University of Arizona

Faculty at the University of Arizona (UArizona) College of Social & Behavioral Sciences’ School of Information (iSchool) engage in virtual, augmented, extended, and mixed reality, video game design and development, and human-computer interaction (HCI) with a goal to advance these interactive technologies for enhanced user experience and performance. In addition faculty with interests in AR/VR and related areas, students interested in studying augmented and virtual reality have access to several labs that highlight AR/VR research, development, and education. Labs include the Extended Reality and Games Lab (XRG Lab) and the 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab.

In the XRG Lab, researchers and participants focus on the research and development of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality techniques. Ongoing research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Arizona Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI), and others. Projects include Googly Eyes (VR), Mirrored VR, Bounce: A Mixed Reality Serious Game for Teaching Newtonian Physics Concepts, Grabbable Holograms (mixed reality) and Give Me a Hand? (virtual reality).

The 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab is designed for research in emerging technologies such as mixed- and augmented realities (MR-AR), the Lab focuses on the development of 2D/3D display systems, 3D visualization systems, 3D human computer interaction methods, and image acquisition systems. Researchers are interested in applying these technologies in medicine, scientific visualization, and education.

Degree programs for students interested in AR/VR are also housed in the UArizona iSchool. Options include a BS in Information Science and Technology and a Games and Simulation Certificate. The BS Program is organized into three tiers: Core Courses, Intensive Computing, and Research Methods, Computational Arts, and Society. Students have the option to customize a focus area based on their interests. Coursework may include Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, HCI, Neural Networks, and Informatics Applications. The BS Program has a required Individual Studies Component and Senior Capstone course.

The Games and Simulation Certificate explores the creation of virtual interactive environments for a variety of platforms and devices. Course examples for the program include Virtual Reality, Game Programming, Computing and the Arts, Technology of Sound, and Advanced Game Development. Students in this 12 credit hour Certificate Program will gain real-world experience through collaboration with peers and the creation of several working prototypes.

Graduates of the iSchool degree and certificate programs have been hired at Amazon, Raytheon Technologies, Microsoft, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments (TI), and IBM Systems & Technology Group, among others.  

Established in 1885 and serving more than 47,300 students, University of Arizona offers Bachelors, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs, first professional and specialist programs, and a variety of undergraduate and graduate minors. Programs are housed in 20 colleges and additional specialized schools.

17. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design, which has a program that’s suitable for individuals interested in a career in AR/VR. Leading to an MFA in Design, the program has a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track. Also housed OSU’s College of Arts and Design is the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), which conducts research that focuses on emerging arts technologies. ACCAD houses complemented by specialized and flexible studios for interactive design, animation, mediated performance design, motion capture, and media production.

In addition to access to the ACCAD, DAIM students have the opportunity to take 12 studio elective credits that provide hands-on experience. The 60 credit hour MFA Program also includes core design courses, open electives in the themes of studio/lab, history/theory/criticism, and collaborative/interdisciplinary studio, writing development, and a thesis project. Areas covered include real time graphics and virtual environments, performance animation, game art, responsive and interactive media, and installations.

Graduates of the Design MFA Program have been hired in a variety of roles in a range of  industries. They hold positions such as Augmented Reality Designer, Mixed Reality Designer, Virtual Reality Designer, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer, Interaction Designer, Visualization Specialist,  Motion Graphics Designer, Game Designer, Experiential Designer, Multimedia Designer, and CG Generalist.

The Ohio State University (OSU) was established on March 22, 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves nearly 67,800 students across six campuses that house 18 colleges and schools and 200 academic centers and institutes.

18. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University (NC State or NCSU) has several pathways to study AR/VR. Students can earn a BA or MA degree in Art + Design (A + D), with access to several AR/VR and mixed reality labs. Founded in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, NC State has provides more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 36,000+ students. Programs are housed in 12 colleges and schools and 65 departments. The BA and MA Programs are housed in the College of Design, which also offers a 16 credit hour A + D Minor with a customizable curriculum.

The College of Design is home to the Experience Design (IX) and Mixed Reality Labs (MxR), and the College of Engineering’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering houses the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VR).

The IX Lab is a cross-disciplinary community of artists, designers, humanists, scientists, and engineers that focus on expanding worlds through AR/VR and other new and emerging technologies.

The MxR Lab consists of designers, engineers, and individuals interested in experimentation. The Lab focuses on AR/VR and MR technologies. Projects have included Axe One, Morphaces, and Pop’n’Play.

In the VR Lab researchers study the interaction between humans and AR/VR. Projects have included include User Performance Training and Patient Motor Learning. Current projects include Scale Cognition through Advanced Learning Environments in Virtual Reality (SCALE-VR), Virtual Instructor Application using Augmented Reality for Worker Posture Training, and Investigation of Virtual Reality Guided Upper Limb Exercises.

Accessible equipment includes four-sided (C4) Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) with full-body tracking capability, several head-mounted displays (HMDs), and a head-up display (HUD). In addition, a variety of peripheral devices that support movement tracking are available.

In the College of Design’s interdisciplinary, studio-based  A + D BA, students have the opportunity to learn about and develop creative portfolios in areas such as AR/VR, Interactive and Computational Media, Motion Graphics, Visual Effects (VFX), Graphic and Interactive Narratives, Game Design, 3D Modeling, and others. In addition, three Concentrations are available: Gaming + Interaction Design, Animation (2D + 3D), and Fibers + Soft Construction.

Students may also create a focus through required free electives totaling 12 credit hours. Elective examples include Advanced Digital Techniques, Digital Representation, and Art + Design Laboratory.  Course examples for the program include Visualization, Art + Design Laboratory, Creative Technology, Digital Imaging, Advanced Digital Techniques, Digital Motion, and Animation.  Studios include Creative technology, Art and Design International, and Design, Context, and Experience.

The MA in A +D (M.A.D) focuses on Experimental Media Arts. Depending on the student’s academic background and experience, they may enroll in the 30-, 48- or 72-credit Track. Course examples include Sequential Imaging, Visualizing Narratives, Graduate Studio: Immersive and Experimental narratives, Digital Motion, Special Effects, Animation, Dynamic Data, Digital Modeling, and Coding for Designers. Final projects for the M.A.D. Program may explore AR/VR, VFX, Interactive and Computational Media, Graphic and Interactive Narratives, Visual Composition, and Motion Graphics, among others.  

Graduates of the Art + Design Department at North Carolina State University work in fields such as Software Design, Multimedia, Illustration, Textile Design, Fashion and Apparel Design, Art and Design Education, Photography, Filmmaking, Special Effects-Digital, Set Design, Exhibition Design, Museum Education, and Public Art. Some graduates have launched their own businesses and studios.  Entrepreneurs.

19. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz or UCSC) is home to the Baskin School of Engineering, which houses the Computational Media Department (CM) and the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) Lab. In the Lab, faculty and students have the opportunity to create 3D virtual environments that allow multiple users to interact at the same time. The facility houses a room-sized, advanced visualization system also called the CAVE, which combines high-resolution, stereoscopic projection and 3D computer graphics to create and fully immerse in virtual environments.

The CAVE Lab is also outfitted with Mechdyne CAVE and FLEX technology and adjustable walls that allow environments to be modified for different applications. The Unity development platform is used to create 3D interactive environments.

UCSC has an additional space, known as the VizLab, that’s dedicated to AR/VR. The Lab provides access to high-end VR equipment that can be used to develop virtual or augmented reality content and interact with imagined worlds. Students can check out equipment such as a VIVE headset, Gear VR, Google Cardboard, 360 cameras, GoPros, DSLR cameras, video cameras, and other media capture devices. The VizLab also hosts class sessions, workshops, and project development meetings.

UC Santa Cruz is part of the 10-campus University of California System. The school serves 18,980 students enrolled in 170 undergraduate, graduate, and minor programs across 10 colleges and dozens of schools. Baskin School of Engineering houses the BS and MS Programs in Computer Science (CS), and the MS and PhD degrees in Computational Media.

Course examples across programs include, Introduction to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Game AI, Artificial Intelligence (AI), User Experience for Interactive Media, Applied Machine Learning, Software Engineering, Computational Media Methods, Computer Systems and C Programming, Programming Abstractions: Python, Advanced Computer Graphics and Animation Laboratory, and Data Programming for Visualization.

Students will complete a variety of projects throughout all CS programs. In the final year, graduate students will complete a thesis OR additional project with written report.

Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of California, Santa Cruz are prepared for in-demand jobs such as AR/VR Maintenance and Support, XR Gameplay and Tools Engineer, Software Developer, Senior Software Engineer, Design/Graphics Engineer, and Software Engineer.

20. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado Boulder

Established in 1876 and serving close to 35,900 students, University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) houses the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute. Founded in 1998, the ATLAS Institute is home to a number of labs and centers designed to support student work on independent projects. Current labs and centers include ACME Lab, Living Matter Lab, THING Lab, Unstable Design Lab, Laboratory for Emergent Nanomaterials, Center for Media, Arts & Performance, and BTU Lab.

Past projects include AR Drum Circle, Augmented Reality and Autonomous Systems (ARIAS), Augmented Reality Informs Human-Robot Interaction, Augmented Reality Remote Assistance (ARRA), Haptic VR Wizard, Biolage Reactor, and Jam Station, to name a few.

The Atlas Institute also manages the Creative Design & Technology (CTD) Program, with core courses taught in the Roser ATLAS Center and degrees granted through the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include the BS and Minor in CTD.

The BS in CTD (BS-CTD) requires 128-130 credit hours of study and the Minor requires 21 credit hours. BS-CTD students may choose a focus area through elective offerings. Areas include Augmented and Virtual Reality, Interactive Computing, Game Design, Robotics, Physical Computing, Sound Design, User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX), and more. Other program features include creative projects, regular professional development opportunities, workshops and guest speakers, internships with industry partners, employment in the CTD research and student labs, and portfolio development. 

To complete the major, BS-CDT students take a two-semester Capstone sequence where they produce one major culminating project.

The ATLAS and the College of Engineering and Applied Science also offer an MS in CTD with a Creative Industries Track.  The project-based curriculum for this program allows students to build their own focus area. Some popular options include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interactive Product Design and Development, Game Design and Development, Arts and Media Production, UI/UX, and Learning and Education. Classes, workshops, visiting speakers, and studios provide the opportunity for graduate students to work directly with industry professionals on real-world issues.

Graduates of the CDT Programs at University of Colorado Boulder work in many areas of Art and Entertainment, Technology, Education, Healthcare, Sciences, and Defense, among others. MS graduates also work in Research in all industries and in many departments and agencies of the U.S. government. Examples of employers for CU Boulder graduates include Lockheed Martin, Google, IBM, Walt Disney, Medtronic, Ball Aerospace, CBS Studio Center, Panavision, Hitachi, and Starz Entertainment.

21. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

Established in 1804, Ohio University is the state’s first public university. Serving nearly 30,000 students across more than 10 campuses and centers, the school houses nine colleges that offer more than 250 programs of study.

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

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

The VR and Game Development Emphasis leads to a BS in Media Arts and Studies – Games and Animation. Students will begin the program with an animation or game design pathway, with opportunities to enhance either area. This includes taking courses in AR/VR offered by the McClure School.

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

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

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

22. University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
University at Buffalo

University at Buffalo (UB) is a public research university and a flagship of the State University of New York system (SUNY). Serving 32,332 students, UB is the largest campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. More than 510 degree programs are available across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences at UB houses the Department of Media Study (DMS) and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is home to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Both have several pathways to study AR/VR.

Programs in the DMS explore games, AR/VR, robotics, experimental film, interactive, fiction, and many other areas. Research areas for DMS faculty include Games and Virtual Reality, Emerging Media, Music and Sound, and Film and Video, among others. Games and Virtual Reality researchers study and build virtual worlds, mixed reality experiences, responsive installations, intermedia performances, and games.

Undergraduate DMS programs for students interested in AR/VR include the BA in Media Study with a Concentration in Production, and the Game Studies Certificate. Graduate options include the MFA in Media Arts Production (including interactive media, computational media, physical computing), the Media Arts and Architecture Program (MAAP) with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) + Master of Science in Architecture (MS) Track for students with a prior degree in the arts, design, humanities, computer science and engineering or related fields, and the PhD in Media Study ( including interactive media, physical computing, production, and digital  media).

Most coursework across programs have AR/VR and related components. Examples include Virtual Worlds I-II, Emerging Technologies, Media Robotics, Programming Graphics I-II, Game Design, Interactive Fiction, Computational Media, Sound and Space, Physical Computing, Programming for Digital Art, Green Media, Electronic Literature, Sound Design, Video Workshop, Game Design, Machines, Codes, and Cultures, Game and Animation Workshop, Time-Based Concepts, Performative Action, and Designed Play.

Students in all programs enjoy small class sizes (15-18 students), team projects, internship opportunities, and an active study abroad program.

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UB has several options for students interested in AR/VR including the Computer Science BA, Computer Science BS/MBA, Computer Science BS/ Computer Science and Engineering MS, the Computer Engineering MS, and the Mechanical Engineering BS. All programs provide access to the UB Virtual Reality Lab, housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Course examples across programs include Applied Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interface Design, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming in Python, Machine Learning and Society, Coding Theory, Software Engineering, Computer Vision and Image Processing, Robotic Algorithms, Digital Image Processing, Computer Programming I-II, Systems Programming, Digital Systems, and The Learning Environment.

University at Buffalo graduates are routinely recruited by some of world’s top companies. Examples include Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Google, Fisher-Price, IBM, Carleton Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Eli Lilly, and BAE Systems. 

23. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota (U of M) was established in 1851—seven years before Minnesota became a state. Serving more than 50,000 students, the school is one of the largest universities in the nation, and the only land-grant university in the state. Students at U of M have access to 150 undergraduate majors and more than 130 research-based graduate programs in the fields of art, science, engineering, humanities, agriculture, and medicine. The school also provides a number of interdisciplinary programs at all degree levels.

Programs at University of Minnesota are housed across dozens of colleges, schools, and departments. The College of Science & Engineering (CSE) is home to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, which has several pathways to study AR/VR. Options include a BA, BS or MS in Computer Science (CS). While the BA is administered through the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the degree is awarded by the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).

Course examples across programs include VR and 3D Interaction, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Exploring CSCI: Python, Robotics, Advanced Machine Learning, Animation & Planning Games, Software Development, Program Design & Development, Programming Graphics and Games, and Program Design and Development.  Specialty courses include Topics in Modern Machine Learning, Programming Language Foundations in Agda, Vision and Learning in Interactive Field Robotics, and Trends in Edge Computing.

Students in all CS programs have access to the Interaction Visualization Lab (IV/LAB) and the Illusioneering Lab.

The IV/LAB is equipped with a 4-wall CAVE Virtual Reality display; a Multi-Surface, Multi-Touch Virtual Reality Environment; and a 3D Haptic (Force-Feedback) Display. The IV/LAB also works with the visualization facilities at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), which provides software, hardware, and experts to help students in all research areas.

Current IV/LAB projects include visualization of large-scale time-varying data, 3D modeling in virtual reality, and creativity-support tools for complex design tasks. Work in the Lab is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), the University of Minnesota, and industry partners.

The Illusioneering Lab focuses on advancing immersive technologies, developing spatial interaction techniques, and creating experiences in AR/VR. The Lab explores emerging applications in entertainment, data analysis, health care, and education. Current projects include Immersive User Interfaces, Embodied Interaction, Redirected Walking, and Rapid Content Creation.

Graduates of the College of Science & Engineering at University of Minnesota are routinely recruited by Amazon, Boeing, IBM, Microsoft, Tesla, Honeywell, Epic Systems Corp., Collins Aerospace, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Abbott, and Northrup Grumman.

24. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
San Jose State University

The eCampus Immersive Learning Institute at San Jose State University (San Jose State or SJSU) focuses on AR/VR technology and learning. Faculty in the program work together to explore AR/VR and create immersive learning activities for their courses through workshops, hands-on activities, and resources. Workshops include Building Immersive Learning Experienced, Hands-on AR/VR Exploration, Integrating AR/VR into Curriculums, and Best Practices and Showcase. The Immersive Learning Institute provides the opportunity for faculty to apply what they have learned to their classrooms, while helping students learn about and develop skills in AR/VR.

In addition to access to instructors who are heavily involved in AR/VR education and development, San Jose State University has several pathways for students interested in studying AR/VR. Housed in the College of Professional and Global Education’s School of Information, the BS in Information Science and Data Analytics (BSISDA) explores AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Big Data. The Computer Science Department in the College of Science has BS and MS degree options with heavy VR/AR related coursework.

Across programs, course examples include Python Programming, Human Centered Design, Information Visualization, User Centered Interface Architecture, Tools Lab, Object-Oriented Design, Query Languages, The Emerging Future: Technology Issues and Trends, Software Engineering, Programming Paradigms, and Technology, Culture, and Society.

To enhance both the BS and MS degrees, students may choose six to 12 elective units from upper or lower division courses. Elective examples include Computer Game Design and Programming, Advanced C++ Programming, Machine Learning, Computer Graphics Algorithms, Advanced programming with Python, Programming in Java, Game Studies, Computer Vision, and Advanced Practical Computing Topics.

Established in 1857 as the first State Normal School, San Jose State University is Silicon Valley’s Public University. The school is home to approximately 36,000 students, served by nearly 4,300 employees. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are available in 250 areas of study. Programs at SJSU are managed across nine academic colleges housing dozens of schools and departments.

San Jose State University graduates are routinely hired across industries at companies with headquarters across Silicon Valley and offices around the world. Graduates work in Aerospace, Internet & Software, Government, Computer Networking, Healthcare, Design, Electronic and Computer Hardware, Advertising, and Education, among others. Top hiring companies for San Jose State graduates include Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Intel, NASA, SAP America, and Western Digital. 

25. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Chartered in 1869, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is the oldest institution in the University of Nebraska System. Serving more than 25,000 students, UNL is also the largest in the System.  The school offers hundreds of programs across nine academic colleges and dozens of departments.

The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts houses the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, which has one pathway to study AR/VR—the BFA in Emerging Media Arts (BFA-EMA). Students in this program are required to select two emphasis areas totaling 24 credit hours, an interdisciplinary concentration, and 27 credit hours of electives. This provides plenty of opportunities to study AR/VR.

Popular emphasis options for AR/VR students include Immersive and Interactive Media (games, VR, AR, XR, interactive and immersive environments); Experience Design (designing projects and experiences that synthesize the virtual and the real); Virtual Production (animation, motion graphics, 3D modeling); Sensory Media (physical computing, wearable technologies, human computer interaction-HCI, hardware and software); and Data + Art (generating art with artificial intelligence-AI, data, and the Internet of Things).

EMA BFA students will also spend two semesters each in five studio and lab courses including the Visual Expression Studio, Computation and Media Studio, Innovation Studio, Story Lab, and Sound Lab. Other program features include the Entrepreneurship course and a yearlong Capstone Project. Housed in the College of Business, the Entrepreneurship course introduces students to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business creation. The Capstone Project allows students to work in teams to from concept and development to prototype and finished product. Completed projects will be ready for distribution.

Graduates of the Emerging Media Arts Program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln work in Wearables and Physical Computing, AI, Robotics, Sound Design, Game Design, Visual Effects (VFX), Film Production Design, and Animation, among others. They hold titles such as AR/VR Designers and Developers, Creative Technologists, Innovation Designers, App Designers, and Theme Park Experience Designers.

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