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What are the top AR/VR schools and colleges in the U.S. for 2021?
|1||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|3||University of Southern California||California|
|4||University of Washington||Washington|
|5||New York University||New York|
|6||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|7||California Institute of Technology||California|
|8||University of Maryland||Maryland|
|9||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||North Carolina|
|10||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|12||Texas A&M University at College Station||Texas|
|13||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|14||Cornell University||New York|
|15||University of California, San Diego||California|
|16||University of Utah||Utah|
|17||University of California, Berkeley||California|
|18||University of Michigan||Michigan|
|19||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois|
|20||Iowa State University||Iowa|
|22||North Carolina State University||North Carolina|
|23||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|24||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|26||Pennsylvania State University at Behrend||Pennsylvania|
|27||Full Sail University||Florida|
|28||University of Arizona||Arizona|
|29||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|31||University of Florida||Florida|
|32||Parsons The New School for Design||New York|
|33||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Illinois|
|35||University of California, Santa Cruz||California|
|38||Dartmouth College||New Hampshire|
|39||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|40||Rowan University||New Jersey|
|41||University of Chicago||Illinois|
|42||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|43||Wright State University||Ohio|
|44||University of Colorado Boulder||Colorado|
|45||University of Nebraska-Lincoln||Nebraska|
|46||Old Dominion University||Virginia|
|49||University of Minnesota||Minnesota|
|50||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
Our 2021 rankings of the top 50 Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) schools in the U.S. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) houses several centers, colleges, and departments that offer programs for individuals interested in establishing a career in Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR/VR). Incorporated in 1861 and serving more than 11,500 students, the school is also home to a number of additional centers and labs designed to support AR/VR projects, innovation, and research.
The Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT houses the Center for Computational Science and Engineering (CCSE) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The CCSE offers an MS degree known as the Computational Science and Engineering SM Program (CSE SM). This interdisciplinary pathway “prepares students with a common core of computational methods that serve all science and engineering disciplines, and an elective component that focuses on particular applications,” says the school. Hand’s on projects and access to MITs many centers and labs are major components of the CSE SM program.
The CCSE also has a CSE PhD program, offered jointly with eight participating departments. The program focuses on the “development of new computational methods relevant to science and engineering disciplines.” Students in the program have the opportunity to “specialize in a computation-related field of their choice through coursework and a doctoral thesis. The specialization in computational science and engineering is highlighted by specially crafted thesis fields.”
The Department of EECS at MIT says its “rigorous and innovative curriculum,” is “now composed of three overlapping sub-units in electrical engineering (EE), computer science (CS), and artificial intelligence (AI) and decision-making (AI+D).” Known as Course 6, the curriculum is a joint venture between the Schwarzman College of Computing and the School of Engineering. AR/VR related programs offered include a BS in Computation and Cognition, a Minor in Computer Science (72 units), and PhD’s in Computer Science, and Computer science and Engineering. The PhD degree is awarded interchangeably with the Doctor of Science (ScD).
The largest undergraduate program at MIT, EECS offers intensive hands-on coursework and opportunities to engage in independent study or research for academic credit. Students in the BS program can expect to take courses such as Artificial Intelligence: Introduction to Machine Learning, Machine Vision, Mobile and Sensor Computing, and Software Studio.
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 “pioneers innovation with technologies of virtuality including XR (VR, AR, MR, etc.), videogames, social media, and new forms unanticipated by these platforms. The center, which brings together students, experts, and resources, serves as a studio and a laboratory to support creative projects and research ventures.
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 connects “scientists and engineers with artists, musicians, and performers through creative projects that bridge multiple disciplines.” Activities include “visualizing data, prototyping advanced tools for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and developing new software and hardware concepts for immersive experiences.”
The Lab also produces the monthly seminar series—IMMERSED. The series is a “mixture of lectures, demonstrations, and tutorials that explore how immersive technology and new modalities for manipulating and understanding data are shaping innovations across science, engineering, and art.”
MIT graduates go on to work in a variety of sectors including Information and Technology, Government, Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, and many others. Some of the top employers of MIT graduates include Amazon, Apple, Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and the U.S. Air Force.
2. Stanford University, Stanford, California
Founded in 1885 and serving more than 15,000 students, Stanford University consists of seven schools, along with dozens of labs, centers, and institutes. The School of Engineering houses the Computer Science (CS) Department (est. 1965), which offers BS, MS, and PhD programs. A CS Minor is also available.
Department course highlights include How to Make VR: Introduction to Virtual Reality Design and Development, Coding for Social Good (VR component), Interactive Simulation for Robot Learning, Computer Graphics: Animation and Simulation, Character Animation: Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Human Motion, Topics in Computer Graphics: Agile Hardware Design, and Physically Based Animation and Sound. The graduate program highlights nine predefined specialization options. Examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Real-World Computing, and Systems.
In addition to offering a variety of specializations and heavy AR/VR coursework, the CS Department houses research groups in the areas of AI, Computer Graphics/HCI, Robotics, Foundations of Computer Science, Scientific Computing, and many others. “Basic work in computer science is the main research goal of these groups,” says the school “but there is also a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and on applications that stimulate basic research.”
CS students interested in AR/VR have additional opportunities to collaborate on projects and enhance their skills through several centers and labs. Options include the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab, the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL), and the School of Medicine’s Medical Neurosurgical Simulation and Virtual Reality Center and the Virtual Reality & Immersive Technology Program.
Pronounced "karma" (the first "c" is silent), the CCRMA Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab “conducts research in the artful design of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR, XR) for music.” The lab also supports collaborations with Computer Science, Art and Art History, and Communication at Stanford, as well as research projects in the CCRMA community.
Founded in 2003, the VHIL studies the psychological and behavioral effects of AR/VR. Just a few of the lab’s current projects include Psychology of Augmented Reality, Virtual Becomes Reality – Immersion and Presence, Medical Virtual Reality, Integrating VR into Classrooms and Curricula, Telepresence, and Design Thinking.
The Medical Neurosurgical Simulation and Virtual Reality Center opened in 2016. It is the “first institution in the greater Pacific Northwest to use patient-specific, 3-D virtual reality (VR) technology across the neurosurgery clinics, operating room, and classroom.” The Center is also one of the “first functional neurosurgery and spine clinics in the world to use patient-specific, 360-degree virtual reality for direct patient engagement.” To date, more than “1,100 Stanford neurosurgery patients have had Surgical Theater 360 VR at some point during their care.”
The Virtual Reality & Immersive Technology program at Stanford is the “first clinically focused academic endeavor dedicated to studying immersive technologies” such as AR/VR “in mental and behavioral health settings in a broad range of disciplines.” The program also manages the Virtual Reality & Immersive Technology (VR-IT) Clinic, which “incorporates the most current and emerging methods of virtual and augmented reality treatments into traditional cognitive behavior and mindfulness-based therapies, taking a holistic, customized, and personal approach to each patient.”
3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California (USC) opened in 1880 with just 53 students. Today, the school serves 46,000 students across 22 schools and units. Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, the USC School of Cinematic Arts houses the Interactive Media and Games Division, which offers a BA Interactive Entertainment and an MFA in Interactive Media.
In the BA in Interactive Entertainment Program, students learn about AAA development processes along with experimental and indie “genres of play, from virtual and alternate realities to expressive and meaningful games,” says the school. Course highlights include Reality Starts Here, Alternative Control Workshop, Producing Interactive Projects, Digital Media Workshop, and Video Game Programming.
The MFA in Interactive Media is a competitive program that admits just 15 students in the fall semester only. Program highlights 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 can expect to 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, students in the MFA (and BFA) program can study AR/VR through the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT), which houses the Medical Virtual Reality Lab (MedVR Lab), Mixed Reality Lab (MxR), and the ICT Virtual Humans Group.
Areas of specialization for MedVR Lab include Game Based Rehabilitation, Virtual Humans, Neurocognitive Assessment and Training, and Mental and Behavioral Health.
The MxR Lab works with the Interactive Media and Games Division at the School of Cinematic Arts to “improve the fluency of human-computer interactions and create visceral synthetic experiences,” by exploring different “techniques and technologies.” Lab “research and prototypes focus on immersive systems for education and training simulations that incorporate both real and virtual elements.”
The ICT Virtual Humans Group “advances research in computer-generated characters that use language, have appropriate gestures, show emotion react to verbal and non-verbal stimuli.” Research areas include Character Animation and Simulation, Integrated Virtual humans, MultiModal Communication, Natural Language Processing, Emotion, and Cognitive Architecture.
4. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington (UW) educates more than 54,000 students annually. Founded in 1861, UW is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. The school, which has three campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma, houses 18 colleges and schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences, home of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.
The Allen School, which introduced the world’s first augmented reality capstone course in 2016, offers a 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 as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human Computer Interaction & Accessible Technology, Machine Learning, Robotics, Computer Graphics, Vision, Animation & Game Science, and Ubiquitous Computing.
Course highlights include Advanced Topics in Human-Computer Interaction-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.
Allen School CS graduates go on to work in the Arts, Education, Law, and many other areas.
5. New York University, New York, New York
With more than 53,500 students, New York University (NYU) is the nation’s largest private university. The school has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, more than 11 global academic centers and research programs in over 25 countries, and over 19,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in New York City.
Founded in 1831, NYU houses dozens of colleges, centers, institutes and schools. The Tandon School of Engineering (a Polytechnic Institute) houses the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) Program. Pathways for this research-active program lead to a BS or MS degree. IDM Minor and Accelerated BS/MS Programs are also available.
IDM coursework includes the Tandon Engineering core, media studies courses taken in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC), and additional courses in math, science, humanities, and social sciences. Courses, which focus on the four areas of Image, Sound, Narrative and Interactivity, are combined with upper-level electives ranging from augmented reality and motion capture to user experience design.
Other program highlights include internship opportunities with companies such as Apple, Google, and Sony Music, study abroad at NYU Shanghai’s Interactive Media Arts (IMA) Program, and direction by instructors who are engaged a range of projects from using motion capture technology to reimagine theatrical performance to developing novel uses of virtual/augmented reality for health and wellness. Students in all programs also have the opportunity to participate in the Future Reality Lab and NYC Media Lab.
The Future Reality Lab “explores how people will use future mixed reality technologies to better communicate and interact with each other when they are in the same physical space,” says the school. Lab participants collaborate in manipulation of objects (real and virtual), in a shared mixed reality.
NYC Media Lab is a consortium colleges and universities including NYU, Columbia University, The New School, CUNY, School of Visual Arts, Manhattan College, and Pratt Institute. The goals of the Lab are to “generate research and development, knowledge transfer, and talent across all of the city’s campuses in partnership with New York City Economic Development Corporation, and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.”
Graduates of the NYU IDM Program have gone on to work for “industry giants,” “fast-paced startups,” and some of the “most competitive companies in the world.” Examples include American Express, Apple Corporate, Instagram, HTC China, Major League Gaming, the New York Stock Exchange, Sone, Verizon, and many others.
6. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is the first university to offer an undergraduate degree in software engineering. The school is the first to offer a fully online program and in 2008, it launched the world’s first doctoral program focusing on sustainable production systems. Founded in 1829, RIT serves nearly 19,000 students at its main campus in Rochester, New York, and around 1,700 at international campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo. Students have access to 11 colleges and schools, including the Golisano College of Computing and Information—home of the School of Interactive Games and Media and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences.
The School of Interactive Games and Media offers a BS in New Media Interactive Development and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences houses the Computing and Information Sciences PhD. The BS in New Media Interactive Development “adapts digital technologies for social software, wearable devices, touch interfaces, virtual/augmented reality, the internet, and more,” says the school. Coursework focuses on “programming and interactive development with classes on mobile development and alternative interfaces, website design and implementation, physical/wearable computing, game design, game development, design and media production, interactive audio,” and many others.
Other program highlights include the New Media Design Capstone (I & II), which provides the opportunity to work on a project for a corporate client, collaboration with students in RITs New Media Design major, and required participation in the cooperative education (co-op) program, which provides full-time, paid career experience working in the industry.
The PhD in Computing and Information Sciences is “a blend of intra-disciplinary computing knowledge areas and inter-disciplinary domain areas.” Intra-disciplinary areas include Infrastructure, Interaction, and Informatics. The Interdisciplinary area of the program focuses on “domain-specific computing, or the interaction between computing and non-computing disciplines, in the areas of science, engineering, medicine, arts, humanities, and business.”
Research areas for the PhD include but are not limited to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Game Design, Graphics and Visualization, HCI, and Programming Languages.
Students in both the BS and PhD programs have access to RIT’s Frameless Labs. Located at the RIT MAGIC Center, Frameless Labs provides a space for the extended reality (XR) community to collaborate. The goal is to “bring attention to research, innovation and artistic creation in the fields of virtual and augmented reality.”
Current projects and experiences include Digital Docents: Historical NY Stories in Virtual and Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality Theatre (funded by Epic Games), the VR Cary Collection, Color and Material Appearance in AR, and Development and Assessment of Virtual Reality Paradigms for Gaze Contingent Visual Rehabilitation, to name a few.
7. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a science and engineering institute that manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA. The school also owns and operates large-scale research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and a global network of astronomical observatories, including the Palomar and W. M. Keck Observatories.
Founded as Throop University in 1891, Caltech sits on a 124-acre campus in Pasadena, California that houses 2,250 students and 300 faculty members. The school is divided into six academic divisions including Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Engineering and Applied Science, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.
The Division of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department, which offers a BS, MS and a Minor in Computer Science (CS). Course highlights for the Department include Advanced Digital Systems Design, Computer Graphics (including Animation, HCI, and Modeling), Computer Language Shop, Digital Logic and Embedded Systems, GPU Programming, Machine Learning, Making Data Visual (including Virtual/Technological Media), Nonlinear Control, and Operating Systems.
Students in all CS programs have access to Caltech’s Virtual Reality Lab, where they can create projects, conduct research, and collaborate with peers. The Lab also houses Virtech—an “experimental platform for online education.” Virtech, which is also a part of the Center for Data-Driven Discovery at Caltech, give students the opportunity to create their own 3D content, collaborate, and more. Faculty utilize the platform for “online lectures, seminars, group meetings and discussion, and experiments with other online learning modalities and technologies.”
8. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
The University of Maryland (UMD) is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland (USM), which consists of 12 institutions, three regional centers, and one system office. Established in 1856, UMD serves just over 40,700 students enrolled in 300+ academic programs in more than a dozen colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring AR/VR professionals are offered in the Colleges of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and 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 will learn to “code, create and collaborate using the latest digital tools and technologies,” says the school. Students may focus in Art or Computer Science to graduate with a BA from the College of ARHU or a BS from 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 systems to programming languages, from algorithms to design and from VR to Robotics.” Department highlights include research opportunities, study abroad experiences, internships, and participation in the honors program.
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 promotes “research and education in computer graphics, scientific visualization, and virtual environments.” Current projects include “several driving applications for next-generation virtual and augmented reality, including augmented navigation, medical training, virtual manufacturing, and immersive education.”
MAVRIC was created to support the future of XR, foster XR talent, and connect developers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and researchers through events, workshops, and programs.
UMD also houses the Maryland Blended Reality Center (MBRC)—a multidisciplinary partnership that joins computing experts at the University of Maryland with medical professionals at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Launched in 2017, MBRC’s mission is to “advance visual computing tools—many of them based in immersive technologies like virtual, augmented and mixed reality—that can be used for emergency medicine, health care and innovative educational and training modules.”
Graduates of the Computer Science, Immersive Media Design, and other programs go on to “earn competitive jobs,” in tech industries or federal laboratories. Some “join professions such as 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; and Naresh Gupta, Senior Vice President of Adobe’s Print and Publishing Business Unit.
9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Established in 1789, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) is 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 through 14 schools. A member of the UNC System (16 universities), UNC-Chapel Hill serves around 30,100 students.
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 HCI Research Area. Computer Graphics subareas include Animation & Simulation, Virtual Environments, and Visualization. HCI offers a Virtual Environments subarea. A PhD in Computer Science is also available.
Department course highlights 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.
Students in all programs have access 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 to mount hardware as needed.”
Other facilities include “specialized research laboratories for graphics and image processing, computer building and design, and collaborative, distributed, and parallel systems.” Past and present projects and groups include 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).
UNC-Chapel Hill graduates work in a range of industries, in companies ranging from small start-up operations to government laboratories and large research and development corporations.
10. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has campuses in Atlanta, Georgia; Metz, France; and Shenzhen, China. The school opened as the Georgia School of Technology in October 1888 with just 84 students. Today, Georgia Tech serves nearly 40,000 students from 50 states and 149 countries.
Majors and degrees are offered through the colleges of Design, Computing, Engineering, and Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Programs for AR/VR students are offered in the Ivan College of Liberal Arts, School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and the College of Computing, Schools of Computer Science, Interactive Computing, and Computational Science & Engineering. Options include a BS in Computational Media, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science, and Minors in Computing & Devices, Computing & Intelligence, and Computing & People, to name a few.
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 highlights 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.
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 programs have access to Georgia Techs GVU Center, which supports AI, AR/VR, HCI, Robotics, Wearable Computing and other research. Within the GVU Center is the Augmented Environments Lab, which focuses on “understanding how to build interactive computing environments that directly augment a user's senses with computer-generated material,” says the school.
Also located in the GVU Center is the Prototyping eNarrative Lab. Also known as PeN Lab, the Lab “applies digital information design and interaction design principles to digital storytelling to create more complex and expressive narratives, focusing on emerging platforms like experimental television, virtual reality, and augmented reality, and on the intersection of storytelling with game design and simulation design.”
Sample Lab projects include Bringing Interactivity to Static Data Visualizations through Augmented Reality, Escape Room VR, Interaction Techniques for Children's AR Education, Invisible Cities: Multi-user AR Public Monuments, The Lights of St. Etienne: An AR/MR Experience in the Cathedral in Metz, France, WebXR: Experiences in AR and VR for the Web, and Pipping: Exploring Passive Haptics in Virtual Reality.
Georgia Tech graduates can be found working in leadership positions in consulting, engineering, financial services, healthcare, law, manufacturing, retailing, transportation, humanitarian logistics, and more. They have been hired by companies such as Apple, Boeing, Cisco Systems, Delta Airlines, Disney, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Tesla, and many others.
11. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry, Drexel University serves nearly 23,600 students enrolled in hundreds of programs in houses 12 colleges and schools. One of the top colleges at Drexel is the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which offers predominantly studio-based programs in Design, Media, and the Performing Arts. The College houses its own record label—MAD Dragon Records, lifestyle magazine D&M, and a student-run Graphic Design firm.
Since 1919, Drexel University has been a cooperative (co-op) educational institution, which means all undergraduates work six months at a job in their chosen field as part of their Drexel education. Graduates leave Westphal “with resumes reflecting real work experience,” says the school, along with “an ability to create, to reason and to use technology... and often with jobs lined-up well before graduation.”
Westphal houses Drexel’s BS in Virtual Reality & Immersive Media (VRIM) Program and a 24 credit hour WRIM Minor. Launched in 2018, the BS in VRIM was the first accredited programs of its kind. Students in the program “learn universal principles of storytelling, animation, and design and effective ways to leverage them with the latest technologies including, 3D modeling, virtual production, and use of interactive game engines.” Students use “the latest hardware and software for VR, AR, motion capture, immersive projection, and other technologies that are enabling the rapid growth of the immersive media industry.”
Course highlights for the VRIM Program include Augmented Reality, Immersive Projection, 360° Video Production, Virtual Production, 3D Modeling, Texturing, & Lighting, Computer Animation, Interactive Design, 3D Tracking, Computer Programming, and Visual Effects.
In addition to the VRIM Program, Westphal houses two labs: Animation, Capture, and Effects (The ACE-Lab) and the Immersive Research Lab.
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.
The Immersive Research Lab allows students to “study and develop the latest virtual and augmented reality 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.
Westphal graduates work in Education, Entertainment, the Sciences, Historical Recreation, and much more. Alumni “can often be found at top tier entertainment studios” such as Digital Domain, Disney, DreamWorks, Moving Picture Company, and Pixar. Graduates “are also found working in leading video game development companies,” as animation software developers and many other “diverse career tracks” involving the use of their AR/VR, Animation and Visual Effects skills.
12. Texas A&M University at College Station, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University at College Station (TAMU or Texas A&M) was established in 1876 as the state's first public institution of higher learning. Today, the school is a research-intensive, flagship university consists of 17 academic colleges and schools and two branch campuses, serving just over 71,100 students.
The College of Architecture houses the Visualization Laboratory and Department of Visualization. Established in 1988, the Texas A&M Visualization Laboratory launched the Visualization academic program in 1989. Pathways offered include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. A PhD in Architecture with a Concentration in Visualization is also available.
The BS-V highlights studio classes in a specific are of interest supported by courses in programming, art theory, and technical learning. Also part of the program is a required internship, study abroad experience, or study at another university for a semester. Graduates of the program are prepared for a range of careers in Visualization.
The MS-V “is designed to give all students a basic grasp of the artistic, scientific, cognitive, and technical foundations of the discipline,” says the school. Graduates of the program are prepared for a range of long-term careers in Visualization.
“The MFA-V is unique in the State of Texas, and one of only a handful of programs of this kind in the United States.” The “curriculum is highly interdisciplinary and encourages development of new technologies and creative applications to create deeper insight and understanding.” Graduates of the program are “equipped with an uncommon balance of artistic insight and technical prowess that sets them apart from their peers.”
The PhD Program focuses “primarily on research and the development and dissemination of new knowledge.” Graduates are prepared for careers in research and teaching.
Students in all programs have access to [email protected] and the MAESTRO Lab.
[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 integrates “physical and virtual experiences experimenting soft/organic materials and tangible interaction technology.”
Located in the College of Engineering’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, the MAESTRO Lab is a dedicated space designed for the “development of new multi-physical active material actuators and new metrologies and immersive data environments for the experimental assessment and computational analysis of aerospace structures.” Within the Lab is the MAESTRO VR Studio—an Immersive Mechanics Visualization Lab dedicated to the “tasks and goals of the Immersive and Intuitive Data Environments project. Focus areas include AR/VR and 3D Displays.
13. Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) houses the School of Digital Media, which offers a BFA in Immersive Reality. Launched in 2018, the 180 credit hours program allows students to explore related fields such as User Experience (UX) Design, Visual Effects, Film and Television, Interactive Design, and more. Students may add an additional major or minor in any of these areas.
BFA Program highlights include collaboration with students and faculty across disciplines, access to panels and presentations from top companies in gaming, including Cartoon Network, EA Sports, and Ubisoft, and study abroad opportunities at SCAD Lacoste, France. Students also have access to Montgomery Hall, which houses “AR/VR resources, a green screen, a motion media lab, and more than 800 computers networked to reduce render times,” says the school. And in The Shed, “immersive reality classrooms and labs host the latest technology for creating groundbreaking visual experiences.”
Course highlights for the BFA in Immersive Reality include Augmented Reality Lab, Immersive Revolution: Augmented to Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality for Motion Media, Visual Effects for Immersive Environments, Integration of Immersive Realities, Visual Storytelling: Virtual Reality to Interactive, Immersive Innovation Lab, and Advanced Application Scripting.
Soon, students in all programs will have access to the expanded Savannah Film Studios. Once completed, the expanded Savannah Film Studios “will be the largest and most comprehensive university film studio complex in the nation.”
Launching in three phases in fall 2021, 2022 and 2023, the 10.9-acre facility will include “a Hollywood-style film backlot, a next-generation XR stage for virtual productions, and new soundstages, among other features.” The existing Savannah Film Studios building is a 22,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2014, and houses three soundstages, green rooms, lighting grids, postproduction suites, a multi-purpose recording booth for ADR and Foley recordings, screening rooms, and production offices for SCAD’s film and television program.
Founded in 1978 and serving more than 15,000 students, SCAD has a high alumni employment rate. “In a recent study, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation.” Graduates work in Georgia’s entertainment industry and others across the U.S.
14. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University has campuses across the state of New York and in DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy. Founded in 1865, the school serves 23,620 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors and graduate fields of study. Programs are offered in 16 colleges and schools, including the Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (CIS)—home to the Computer Science Department. The Department serves 1,340 students and degree pathways include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science.
Course highlights for the Department include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Topics in Mixed Reality, Developing and Designing Interactive Devices, Interactive Computer Graphics, Python, Computer Vision, Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, Robotics Seminar, Great Works in Programming Languages, and Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age.
Students in all programs have access to the Virtual Embodiment Lab and the XR Collaboratory (XRC) at Cornell Tech.
Established in 2016, the Virtual Embodiment Lab (VEL) explores “how virtual reality affects people who use it—how these people perceive themselves, others, and the world around them,” says the school. The Lab “uses several different devices to research virtual reality, from 360 degree videos to full virtual reality systems that allow a user to pick up objects and interact with others.”
The mission of XRC at Cornell Tech is to “accelerate research & education in XR (Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality) through cross-campus collaborations, hands-on mentoring and rapid research explorations.” In addition, XRC “initiates new research by executing its own exploratory projects on a wide range of XR-related topics.”
XRC partners include Facebook, Verizon Media, and Magic Leap.
Cornell graduates find success in fields such as Computer Science, Engineering, Fine Arts, Technology, Medicine, Mathematics, Entertainment, Communications, and many others.
15. University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California
The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) was founded in 1961, but the campus that it sits on dates back to the late 1800s when the location was chosen as the location for a marine field station for zoologists at the UC Berkeley campus. The facility became a part of the University of California in 1912, and it 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 35,000 students.
UCSD has seven colleges, including the Jacob School of Engineering—which houses the Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) Department. Program options include BS, MS, BS/MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A CS Minor is also available as well as a Virtual Reality App Development Certificate Program.
The Certificate Program covers which VR devices exist, how VR technology works, and how to write software (VR experiences). Students will learn “effective 3D interaction techniques to use VR applications, how to write VR applications in WebVR and Unity 3D, and what features make a VR application successful,” says the school. Course highlights include Creating Virtual Reality Apps, Computer Graphics, and How Virtual Reality Works.
CSE Department focus areas include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Robotics, Programming Systems, Software Engineering, and Visual Computing (Computer Graphics and Computer Vision), to name a few.
Undergraduate CS students have access to the CSE Virtual Reality Lab (VR Lab). “The first of its kind at an American University,” says the school, the VR Lab “looks like a cross between a classroom and a tech pavilion at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There are virtual-reality headsets everywhere, and large flat screen 3D displays.” The Lab also houses the 300-member VR Club at UC San Diego.
CS and Certificate graduates are prepared for careers such as Software Developer, AR/VR Maintenance and Support, Graphics Engineer, XR Gameplay and Tools Engineer, VR Developer, VR Technician, Design/Graphics Engineer, and many others.
16. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
The School of Computing at University of Utah was founded as the Computer Science Department in 1965. Current research areas for the School include Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning, Visual Computing, Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality, Robotics, High Performance Computing, and Programming Languages/Software Engineering, to name a few. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science with a Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality Research Area.
An additional program for students interested in AR/VR is offered in the College of Fine Arts, Department of Film & Media Arts. The Department’s BA in Film & Media Arts has a Media Arts Production (MAP) Emphasis that covers "transmedia" virtual reality, immersive reality, interactive media, social media, and mobile media.
Course highlights for the program include 3D Computer Animation, Media Arts Production, Digital Effects & Compositing, Sound for Film and Digital Media, Storyboarding/Visual Storytelling, and Editing. Students in all programs have access to the Quantitative Experience Design (QED) Lab and XR Utah.
The University of Utah QED Lab is “an interdisciplinary research group,” says the school, that builds “human-centered artificial intelligence systems in search of invariant properties of experience design: precise relationships that exist between an inner environment (a person’s cognitive states), interface (narrative & game discourse) and outer environment (virtual worlds).” The Lab is affiliated with the School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program.
XR Utah is an interdisciplinary research partnership “headed by Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah.” The purpose of the partnership is to build “common infrastructure for information sharing, tech development, and data collection by bringing together” artists, computer scientists, educators, and psychologists across more than 16 departments at the University of Utah. Participants “conduct cutting-edge research in fostering new ways of learning and discovery through the use of innovative forms of virtual reality technologies that span across disciplines.”
Graduates of the Computer Science and Film & Media Arts Programs have landed positions in Utah, across the country, and around the world. They work in fields such as Technology, Entertainment, Marketing, Game Design, Engineering, Medical, Education, and more.
University of Utah was established in 1850. The school serves more than 33,000 students enrolled in hundreds of majors, minors, certificate and graduate programs in 18 colleges and schools and nearly 100 departments.
17. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
Established in 1868, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) offers more than 350 degree programs to nearly 22,000 students. Programs are offered in 14 colleges and schools that house dozens of departments. The Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) Department offers two different undergraduate degrees from two different colleges: the BS in EECS offered by the College of Engineering (CoE), and the BA in Computer Science (CS) from the College of Letters & Science (L&S).
Technical requirements in CS “are almost identical,” says the school. “However, breadth requirements and admissions processes vary significantly.” Course highlights 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 “high-impact” applications in AR/VR and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Collectively, the Labs and Centers at UC Berkeley “train new engineers in all aspects of Virtual and Augmented Reality, raise awareness about technology’s potential for humanity, and advance the field through state-of-art research and development initiatives.”
Graduates of the programs go on to work in a variety of environments and fields such as Computer Systems Design Firms, Computer Vision and Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Software Development, Defense, Production, Design, Entertainment, Healthcare, Engineering, Aerospace, and more.
18. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (UM) serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs in 19 schools, colleges, and divisions. Founded in 1817 as one of the first public universities in the nation, UM houses one of the world’s oldest and largest programs in Computation. The area serves nearly 11,000 students.
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. Note that programs are “program requirements are almost exactly the same for both majors,” says the school.
Course highlights for the CS 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 Center for Academic Innovation’s XR Initiative. Founded in 2019, the 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.
Initiative participants “work with university faculty to actively look for new ideas and opportunities to support.” Past 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.
UM CS and XR graduates are prepared for careers in AR/VR, Digital Arts and Entertainment, Software Engineering, Simulation Engineering, Applications Development, and more.
19. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Formed in 1982 and serving 33,518 students across 16 colleges and schools, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the largest university in the Chicago metropolitan area. The College of Engineering at UIC houses the Department of Computer Science (CS), which is the fastest growing program at the school. Pathways include a BS in CS and Design, 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.
UIC is the only public university in the U.S. that offers a Computer Science and Design undergraduate degree “created specifically to prepare students for these opportunities,” says the school. The program “offers professional training in both fields, integrating design courses — fundamental through advanced — with a strong foundation in computer programming.”
Examples of areas covered 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. The program consists of a combination of studio courses and required technical courses that allow students to “work in teams and to practice being a bridge between the technological and the creative.”
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, 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 “that specializes in collaborative visualization, virtual reality, visual data science, 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.
UIC CS graduates have landed positions at Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, LG, Microsoft, Redbox, Verizon, and more.
20. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University (ISU) is a public, land-grant university that welcomed its first class in 1869. The school serves 31,825 students enrolled in more than 100 majors in 10 colleges and schools. The Graduate College 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 (MHC – offered on-campus and online). A 12 credit hour HCI Graduate Certificate is also available.
Students in the interdisciplinary HCI program “benefit from interacting with ISU faculty from departments representing every college in the University,” says the school, “as well as researchers” at the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC). Core courses in HCI are divided into four areas: Design, Implementation, Phenomena, and Evaluation.
Course highlights include Virtual Worlds and Applications, Python Application Development in HCI, Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling, Models and Theories in Human Computer Interaction, Learn to Speak AI, Advanced Learning Environments Design, and User Engagement.
The VRAC leads ISU’s HCI Program. This interdisciplinary research center “supports the research of faculty and students representing all seven of ISU’s colleges, as well as the interests of collaborators from several federal agencies and numerous industry partners.” Participants have a variety of “strengths in state-of-the-art interaction technologies” including virtual, augmented and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) mobile computing, developmental robotics, haptics interaction, HCI, and user experience (UX).
Graduates of the HCI Programs at ISU are prepared for careers in the private or public sector. Master’s degree graduates are also prepared for continuation of studies in a PhD program.
21. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
The McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University (NU) houses the Computer Science Department, which heads the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Area. Supported topics include AR/VR, Mixed-Initiative Systems, Tangible User Interfaces, Cyberlearning, Ubiquitous Computing, User-Centered Design, Mobile Interaction Design, Interactive Audio, and Multi-Touch Interaction, to name a few.
Students in HCI are enrolled in programs in Computer Science (BA, BS, MS, and a Minor), Communication, Learning Sciences, and Technology & Social Behavior. Students also take courses and attend seminars through the Segal Design Institute.
The BA in Computer Science is offered in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (est. 1851). The BS and MS are offered in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (est. 1909). Minors are available at McCormick and Weinberg. Undergraduate course highlights include Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programming, Machine Learning, Resource Virtualization, Advanced Digital Design, Designing & Constructing Models with Multi-Agent Language, Tangible Interaction Design and Learning, HCI, Computer Graphics, Computer Game Design and Development, Machine Perception of Music & Audio, Game Design Studio, Software Construction, and Agile Software Development.
MS students have the opportunity to customize the curriculum to “fit their research interests and career aspirations.” Options include courses and research in AI, HCI, distributed interactive systems, Theoretical Computer Science, and Computer Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces for Spatial Applications, Visualization, and Computer Entertainment.
Students in all programs have access to The Garage—NU’s AR/VR Media Lab.
The Garage consists of an 11,000 square foot space that provides programming and resources, and supports projects, networking, and collaboration between students and more than 250 mentors and experts. To date The Garage has helped produce more than 500 student-founded startups and projects.
Northwestern CS alumni are Computer Programmers, Software Developers and Engineers, Entrepreneurs, and more. They work for Google, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and many others.
Established in 1851, Northwestern University serves 21,000 students enrolled in 12 colleges across three campuses in Chicago, IL, Evanston, IL, and Doha, Qatar. The school also has sites in San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, Washington, DC and Miami, FL.
22. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Founded in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, North Carolina State University (NC State or NCSU) serves more than 36,000 students. The school offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in 12 colleges and schools housing 65 departments.
The College of Design houses the Art + Design Department, which offers BA and MA degrees in Art + Design. A Minor is also available. Students in all programs have access to the College of Design’s Experience Design and Mixed Reality Labs, and the College of Engineering’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab.
The Experience Design Lab (IX) is a cross-disciplinary community of artists, designers, humanists, scientists and engineers that explore “virtual and augmented experiences as a cultural practice,” says the school.
The Mixed Reality (MxR) Lab consists of designers, engineers and “tinkerers” working on the “challenge of creating impactful changes in the user experience of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR, AR, MR) technologies.” Current projects include Axe One, Pop’n’Play, and Morphaces.
The Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VR) in the College of Engineering’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering studies the interaction between humans and AR/VR. Researchers in the Lab also explore “the potentials in VR/AR for various real-world applications.” Current active projects include User Performance Training and Patient Motor Learning.
Available 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 number of other peripheral devices that support movement tracking are available.
In the College of Design’s interdisciplinary BA in Art + Design, 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, Graphic and Interactive Narratives, Game Design, 3D Modeling, and many others. Course highlights include Art + Design Laboratory, Creative Technology, Digital Imaging, Advanced Digital Techniques, Digital Motion, Animation, and Visualization.
The MA in Art + Design (M.A.D) focuses on Experimental Media Arts. The program “encourages students to explore the intersection of digital and material technologies,” says the school, “to create interactive and engaging experiences that push the boundaries of storytelling, learning and play.” Depending on the student’s academic background and experience, they may enroll in the 30-, 48- or 72-credit Track. Course highlights include Digital Motion, Special Effects, Animation, Dynamic Data, Digital Modeling, Coding for Designers, Sequential Imaging, and Visualizing Narratives.
Graduates of the Art + Design Department are currently working 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, Public Art and Entrepreneurs.
23. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida (UCF) offers more than 230 degree programs in 13 colleges. The College of Engineering and Computer Science, Department of Computer Science offer several programs of interest for aspiring AR/VR professionals. Options include a BS in Computer Science (CS), an Accelerated BS/MS in CS, and MS and PhD degrees in Modeling and Simulation.
Course highlights for the BS in CS include Advanced Artificial Intelligence (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 MS in CS allows students to specialize in a research area. This includes options such as Virtual Reality and Human Computer Interaction (HCI), AI, Mixed and Virtual Reality Mobile Computing, Machine Learning, and Modeling and Simulation. Pairing (combining two research areas) is also an option. In addition to the Specialization, students in the program “receive a broad background in the areas of programming systems and languages, computer architecture, and computer science theory.”
In addition to working in AR/VR, graduates of the MS in CS Program work in Computer Science, Computer Systems, Software Development, Cyber/Information Security, Software Engineering, and more.
In addition to the CS Programs, UCF’s Computer Science Department houses the SREAL Synthetic Reality Lab and the Interactive Systems and User Experience Lab.
The SREAL Synthetic Reality Lab 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 mixed reality experiences, the delivery of interactive training using digital avatar technology, human surrogate and robotics research, and developing cultural heritage and STEM experiences.
SREAL (pronounced Surreal) is part of several larger UCF entities, most notably the Institute for Simulation & Training (IST), which houses it.
The Interactive Systems and User Experience Lab focuses on “the creation and evaluation of advanced interfaces that support education, entertainment, and general work productivity.” The mission of the Lab is to “develop innovative techniques, tools, and applications that improve the overall experience between humans and machines.”
24. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) is one of the oldest universities in the U.S. The school serves around 26,550 students enrolled in 90 majors at the undergraduate level and well over 100 at the graduate level. Among Penn’s undergraduate programs is a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) in Digital Media (DMD).
Penn is also home to the Perelman School of Medicine, which houses the Neurology VR Laboratory. This community of neurologists, psychologists, and other researchers are attracted to VR’s “ability to precisely control stimuli and modify perception.” Current project titles include Phantom Limb Pain, Hemispatial Neglect, Navigation Brain Mapping, Broca’s Aphasia, Arch, Vibrotactile Compass, Hemiparesis, Racial Empathy, Retinitis Pigmentosa, Echocardiogram Visualizer, Hand Magnification, and Affordance Memory.
Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE in DMD in the School of Engineering and Applied Science combines coursework in Computer Graphics within the Computer & Information Science Department and Fine Arts courses from Penn's School of Design. The BSE in DMD is designed for students who have an interest in the “computer programming, mathematics, and design behind computer graphics, animation, games, virtual reality environments, and interactive technologies,” says the school.
The top employer’s for graduates of the program DMD program include DreamWorks Animation, Disney Animation, Pixar, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Google.
25. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Virtual Reality (VR), and the related fields of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), “has its foundational roots at Harvard,” says the school. “From 1965 to 1968, Ivan Sutherland, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard, helped create “The Sword of Damocles,” the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system. Today, full-time, degree-seeking students have access to Harvard Innovation Labs’ AR/VR Studio, along with several degree pathways that can help prepare them for careers in AR/VR.
The AR/VR Studio “is a dedicated space for the exploration of cutting-edge immersive technologies — physically and imaginatively.” The space is “equipped with technologies that include various software and design platforms, multiple headset configurations, workstations, and filming resources to help students experiment and create innovations in a wide range of industries.”
In the Studio, students can experience the latest AR/VR equipment in an open session, learn about the technology with a dedicated team of experienced TAs, understand how to apply the technology to a specific field and “build deeper learnings with one-on-one meetings,” build MVPs and prototypes through Studio workshops, and attend guest speaker symposiums. Available workshops include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Storytelling in AR/VR.
Harvard University CS graduates work in just about every scientific and business-related field. They work at Amazon, Google, Dreamworks Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, Goldman Sachs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Intel Corporation, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Hyperion Solutions, Hasbro, Inc., Lonely Planet, Facebook, Sun Microsystems, Walt Disney Company, and more.
26. Pennsylvania State University at Behrend, Erie, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University at Behrend (Penn State Behrend) is a four-year and graduate college of Penn State. The school serves 5,050 students enrolled in more than 45 academic programs in four schools—the Black School of Business, School of Engineering, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and School of Science.
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences houses the Digital Media, Arts, and Technology (DIGIT) Program—Penn State’s only undergraduate degree in Digital Humanities. The BA in DIGIT is an interdisciplinary program “combines the broad perspective of the liberal arts with technical skill,” says the school. This means, students will study technology history and theory while “learning to use the newest programming languages, digital tools, and computer systems.”
Students can enhance their skills by participating in the Virtual/Augmented Reality (VAR) Lab at Penn State Behrend.
The VAR Lab “works with students, the community, and industry partners to implement augmented and virtual reality solutions.” Lab participants have opportunities to “recreate historically important venues in AR/VR to bring the world to Pennsylvania students ((e.g., Fort Le Boeuf). Methods of recreation in the Lab include “using visually and spatially accurate lidar scans of existing venues and designing 2D/3D digital models when scanning is not an option.”
Lab participants will also work to “address training gaps in the workplace (e.g., virtual training simulations),” and increase the “accessibility, affordability, and availability of mental health initiatives.”
DIGIT students also have the opportunity to add two concentrations, a second major or a Minor in an area such as Interactive Entertainment (Game Development). Concentration options include Modeling and Simulation/Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Sound and Motion, Digital Humanities, and Data Visualization and Assessment.
In addition to working in AR/VR in a wide range of fields, career options for DIGIT graduates include Digital Art, Technical Producer, Digital Art Director, Front-End Analyst, Digital Marketing Strategist, Designer, and Digital Video Editor, to name a few.
27. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University began in 1979 as an audio recording workshop in Dayton, Ohio. The school serves 21,000 students enrolled in Entertainment, Media, Arts, and Technology programs leading to Associate, Bachelor, and Master’s degrees. Programs provide “an immersive, fast-paced, and relevant learning experience that mirrors the workflow and collaboration found throughout today's rapidly evolving industries,” says the school. Options for students interested in AR/VR include a BS in Simulation and Visualization with access to Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab.
In the Full Sail VR/AR Lab, students have access to “headsets from a variety of manufacturers, including Oculus, Magic Leap, Microsoft, HTC, and more.” A green screen, which “dominates the back wall of the space,” is used for student’s final projects. “They can go into VR, but we can also see them in VR,” says Lab Head Dan Mapes. “We record them inside a simulated environment, and that video becomes a portfolio piece they can use to show off their work.”
The Full Sail FabLab is set up like a workshop. The space includes 3D printers, laser scanners, injection molding machines, and more. Students in the lab can work on projects, collaborate, and network.
Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab launched in 2016.
The BS in Simulation and Visualization Program, which launched around two years before the Labs, “combines software and hardware development into one cohesive track focused on emerging technologies,” says the school. The program equips students “with the programming and critical-thinking skills needed to study and design virtual systems.” Students will develop “tech savvy through hands-on experience, in order to keep pace with an ever-evolving industry.” Course highlights for the program include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming I & II, Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries, Simulation and Visualization Software, Computer Graphics and Simulation Production.
Throughout the program, students will complete a project and build a portfolio through a series of seven courses—Project and Portfolio I-VII: Simulation and Visualization. The BS Program can be completed in just 20 months, on campus.
Graduates enjoy a 92% employment rate. Companies that have hired Full Sail graduates include Universal Studios, DreamWorks, Bunim Murray Productions, HBO Studios, Disney, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar, MTV, Cirque du Soleil, Nickelodeon, Miramax, NFL Films, and many others.
28. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
Serving nearly 47,000 students, University of Arizona (est. 1885) offers Bachelors, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs as well as first professional programs and specialist programs, and a variety of undergraduate and graduate minors. Programs are offered in 20 colleges and additional specialized schools. The University of Arizona (UArizona) College of Social & Behavioral Sciences houses the School of Information (iSchool), which offers 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. The Intensive Computing tier consists of a “customized course selection based on student focus,” says the school. Coursework can include virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, human-computer interaction (HCI), neural networks, and informatics applications. The tier has a required Individual Studies Component and Senior Capstone course.
The Games and Simulation Certificate “provides students with the design and development skills necessary to create virtual interactive environments that span across devices and platforms.” Course highlights for the program include Virtual Reality, Game Programming, Computing and the Arts, Technology of Sound, and Advanced Game Development. Students in the program will gain real-world experience through collaboration with peers and the creation of several working prototypes.
Other program highlights include access to several active labs and employment opportunities with major companies. Some top employers hiring UArizona graduates include Amazon, Raytheon Technologies, Microsoft, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments (TI), and IMB Systems & Technology Group.
The Extended Reality and Games Lab (XRG Lab) is housed within the iSchool. Researchers and participants here study novel interaction techniques and the enhancement of extended (virtual/augmented/mixed) reality systems for improved usability and user experience. Work in the lab “mainly consists of design, development and evaluation (through empirical user studies) of these interaction techniques and enhanced extended reality systems.”
XRG Lab projects are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the UArizona Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI), and others. Project examples include Grabbable Holograms, Googly Eyes, Mirrored VR, and Bounce: A Mixed Reality Serious Game for Teaching Newtonian Physics Concepts.
The UArizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences houses an additional lab known as the 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab. 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.
29. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) launched the Rensselaer Augmented and Virtual Environment (RAVE) Lab in 2019. Housed in the J. Erik Jonsson Engineering Center, the Lab supports experimentation with different types of virtual and augmented reality. Students and researchers have access to state-of-the-art equipment and a flexible physical space.
Degree pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A Minor is available as well as Dual Degrees including a CS BS/MS and Accelerated CS BS/PhD. Offered in the RPI School of Sciences, the Computer Science Program focuses on the design, analysis, communication, implementation, and application of computational processes. Optional concentrations include Vision, Graphics, Robotics, and Games, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data, Systems and Software, and Theory and Algorithms.
Course highlights include Interactive Visualization, Computer Vision for Visual Effects, Robot Dynamics and Control, Learning and Advanced Game AI, Computer Graphics, Intelligent Virtual Agents, Cognitive Computing, Modeling & Simulation for Cyber-Physical Systems, Cognitive Modeling, and Parallel Programming.
RPI students and graduates have opportunities to work with Amazon Robotics, Lockheed Martin, ExxonMobil, and many others.
Founded in 1824, RPI “is America’s first technological research university.” The Institute, which encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, and 145+ academic programs, serves more than 7,600 students and over 100,000 living alumni.
30. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University has a signature cooperative (co-op) education program that recorded more than 9,000 placements with around 2,900 employers around the world from 2019-2020. Serving 37,825 students enrolled in more than 500 programs, the school also integrates global experience into learning at all degree levels.
As an R1 Research University, Northeastern houses 10 research institutes. The Experiential AI Institute, the Experiential Robotics Institute, and the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things are just a few. Northeastern, which also houses nine colleges and schools, has campuses in Boston, Charlotte, Seattle, the Bay Area, Toronto, Vancouver, and London.
The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) is home to the school’s BS in Design and Mechanical Engineering (BSME) and Immersive Media Minor. The programs are available at most Northeastern campuses.
The BSME Program is a combined major in Mechanical Engineering and Design. Requirements are divided into seven areas: Engineering, Design, Supporting Courses, Writing, Integrative Courses, Professional Development, and General Electives. Course highlights 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. A Senior Capstone Design is also part of the program.
The Immersive Media Minor is an interdisciplinary program that serves students who are interested AR/VR, Augmented Virtuality, Extended Reality, Cross Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Enhanced Realities. Course highlights include Virtual Environment Design, Immersive Media, Physical and Digital Fabrication, Programming, Animation for Games, Design Analysis and Innovation, and Game Studio.
Students in both the Immersive Media Minor and BSME have access to three labs that support AR/VR learning, projects, and research.
The Immersive Media Labs Suite” includes technologies for design, development, and exploration of virtual worlds, AR/VR/XR, and 360 video,” says the school.” 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.
The Immersive Media Labs Suite, the Experiential Technologies Lab and User Testing Environment, and the MedVR Lab are housed in the College of Arts, Media and Design.
31. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida (UF) serves nearly 58,000 students making it one of the top five largest universities in the state. The school offers 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate programs in 16 colleges. Among UF’s colleges is the College of the Arts, which houses the Digital Worlds Institute. Here, students interested in AR/VR can earn a Master’s in Digital Arts & Sciences (MiDAS).
This one year, accelerated master’s program in emerging technologies (specifically AR/VR) accepts individuals from all backgrounds. Program highlights include a collaborative environment, personal attention from faculty and content area experts and opportunities to work on industry-standard projects and create a professional portfolio.
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.
Students will 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 have included include Space Mail, ScootVR, HoloTouch, Virtual Standardized Patient, WonderLab, Metrolia VR Multiplayer Mech Duel, and SpArc: Animate Using Your Hands in Virtual Reality.
Graduates of the MiDAS Program and others at UF have landed positions at 22squared, Aramark, Cox Media Group, ESPN, Glaxo Smith Klein, Reed Exhibitions, Boeing, Walt Disney, GE Digital and Meridium, Spirit Airlines, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Navy.
32. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Established as The Chase School in 1896, Parsons The New School launched the world’s first programs in fashion design (“Costume Design”), graphic design (“Advertising” or “Commercial Design”), and interior design (“Interior Decoration”). With a student population of 5,100, today the school offers 13 undergraduate degree programs leading to an AAS, BBA or BFA and 20 graduate programs leading to an MA, MS, MFA, MPS or MArch.
Programs for students interested in AR/VR are offered in Parsons School of Design. Options include BFA & MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and a Minor Immersive Storytelling.
Students in the Immersive Storytelling Minor “explore experiential and immersive storytelling in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, data visualization, 360 spherical film, and interactive theater,” says the school. The program exposes students to “various thought processes, design strategies, and production pipelines such as narrative design, systems and new technologies of interaction, and digital asset creation and implementation.”
The Minor is available to all undergraduate students.
The BFA Program “focuses on emerging art and design practices, media storytelling, and interaction technologies.” Program courses and internships, “emphasize the ways in which media and technology drive and are driven by social and cultural change.” The BFA also offers opportunities to “visit and engage in projects with industry leaders and organizations” such as Apple, Atari, MTV, Nickelodeon, Siemens, UNESCO, Rockwell Interaction Lab, and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center.
Students in the BFA in Design and Technology Program have the option to select a “Pathway” in Creative Technology or Game Design.
The studio-based MFA investigates “visual, interactive, and narrative aspects of design technology, with an emphasis on software programming and computation.” Typical projects involve interaction design, game design, digital fabrication, new media art, data visualization, Web and mobile apps, and critical design.
Students in all programs have access to The New School XReality Center, which houses the XR Reality Lab and XR-related events. The Lab supports research, student projects, and immersive learning as well as workshops and meetups.
New School Design and Technology graduates are prepared for careers in Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Interaction Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Film and Television, Digital Filmmaking, Computer Software and Hardware Design, Graphic Arts, Game Design, Mobile and Application Design, Web/UI/UX Design, New Media Art, and Advertising.
33. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois
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 to name a few.
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.
Supported by members from the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) and University Library’s IDEA Lab and Media Commons and funded by investments from campus Technology Services, [email protected] is a collaborative initiative that supports “virtual, augmented, and extended reality teaching, research, and exploration” at UIUC, says the school.
The Lab houses studio spaces for VR creation and exploration, mobile virtual reality classrooms, and loanable headsets and cameras for viewing and capturing 360 media. Lab experts provide consultations on implementing VR in the classroom and assistance with VR research projects.
Graduates of the Computer Science and other related programs at UIUC are routinely hired by some of the world’s top companies. Top employers include Amazon, Google, Microsoft Corp., Deloitte, Ernst & Young and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Other employers include Apple Inc., Tesla, Facebook, IBM, Caterpillar and ADM.
34. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic university. The school serves nearly 22,000 students enrolled in more than 300 programs in 10 colleges and schools. The Colleges of Computing and Digital Media and Communication house several Labs that support AR/VR collaboration, learning, research and development, and projects on emerging platforms.
The Virtual and Augmented Design (VAD) Lab is part of the College of Computing and Digital Media. Located on the concourse level of the DePaul Center, the Lab is equipped with AR headsets/visors, VR headsets with hand and foot trackers, iPhones for augmented reality development, Oculus Rifts, iPhones for augmented reality development, Microsoft HoloLenses, HTC Vives, and Macs and PCs.
The Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab (VARC) in the College of Communication serves to advance “ethical communication in VR and VR,” says the school. Equipped with “state-of-the-art” AR/VR equipment, the Lab allows students and faculty to “experience AR/VR technology firsthand and explore how these tools impact society, culture, media and interpersonal relationships.” The VARC Lab also offers classes and workshops, and supports courses at DePaul that utilize AR/VR in the classroom.
In addition to the Labs at DePaul, students interested in AR/VR careers have access to several degree programs that can help them reach their goals. Options in the College of Computing and Digital Media’s School of Computing include a BS in Computer Science (CS), and MS degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering. BS and MS in Software Engineering students may concentrate in Software and Systems Development. Other noteworthy graduate concentration options include Game and Real-Time Systems, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Graduates of the BS in CS Program have landed positions at Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft, GitHub, Vivid Seats, CME Group, and more. MS graduates have been hired by Argonne National Laboratory, Disney Interactive, Facebook, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and many others.
35. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz or UCSC) is part of the 10-campus University of California System. The school serves nearly 19,200 students enrolled in 130 programs in dozens of colleges and schools. The Baskin School of Engineering, Computational Media Department (CM) houses the BS and MS Programs in Computer Science, and the MS and PhD degrees in Computational Media.
Course highlights for the programs include, Introduction to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Computer Systems and C Programming, Programming Abstractions: Python, Game AI, User Experience for Interactive Media, Software Engineering, Computational Media Methods, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, Advanced Computer Graphics and Animation Laboratory, and Data Programming for Visualization.
Students will complete a variety of projects throughout all programs. In the final year, graduate students will complete a thesis OR additional project with written report.
Also housed within the Baskin School is the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) Lab. In the Lab, faculty and students have the opportunity to “create three-dimensional virtual environments that multiple users can interact with at the same time,” says the school. The facility houses a room-sized, advanced visualization system also called the CAVE, which “combines a high-resolution, stereoscopic projection and 3-D computer graphics to create a complete sense of presence in a virtual environment.”
Multiple users in the CAVE can become “fully immersed in the same virtual environment at the same time.” The CAVE Lab also features “moveable walls that allow the environment to be reconfigured for different applications,” along with “Mechdyne CAVE and FLEX technology.” The Unity development platform is used to create 3-D interactive environments.
36. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
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 offers 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 offers an 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 offers 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, is “dedicated to emerging communication technologies production, e.g., virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) while also covering information networking and telecommunication systems,” says the school. Students in the program develop a “competitive edge by combining courses that build competency in both networking and content production.”
They will learn “about the design, management, regulation, and application of information network technology; the production, use, and implementation of VR/AR; as well as how businesses acquire and sell such products and services.”
The VR and Game Development Emphasis leads to a BS in Media Arts and Studies – Games and Animation. Students begin the program “with a game design or animation pathway, with many options to enhance either area,” including courses in AR/VR offered by the McClure School. The emphasis area is “enhanced with courses exploring information technology and networks, as well as scripting and coding.” Students also “pursue additional credentials such as a business or communication minor, or certificates in entrepreneurship or social media.”
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. It “provides Ohio University with the personnel, facilities, and tools to create such interactive digital media and technologies.”
The McClure School has the highest job placement rate in the Scripps College of Communication. VR/AR graduates have gone on to work for Warner Brothers, Sony, Disney, Bethesda, Microsoft, Unity, and many other major tech and entertainment companies. ITS graduates are also employed in branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and in state and federal government offices and with consulting companies like Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, PwC, and Capgemini.
VR and Game Development graduates have been hired at Blizzard, Disney/Disney Imagineering, EA, Google, Sony PlayStation, Riot Games, Unity, and many others.
37. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Founded in 1869, Purdue opened its doors on September 16, 1874 with six instructors and 39 students. Today, the West Lafayette campus serves 46,000 students, and approximately 2,000 full-time faculty teach and conduct research in Purdue’s 12 colleges and schools, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
For students interested in AR/VR, Purdue Polytechnic Institute offers an MS in Computer Graphics Technology (MS CGT). This “highly flexible degree,” enables students to take coursework in one or more areas and “create an individualized plan of study,” says the school. 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 will also complete several projects including Computer Graphics Project, Directed MS Capstone, and Directed MS Project.
Graduates of the MS CGT Program are prepared to seek careers in all sectors that utilize Virtual and Augmented Reality. Graduates have been hired at DreamWorks, Google, Deloitte, Salesforce, and more.
38. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College is one of the nation’s oldest institutes of higher education. The school houses more than 75 centers and institutes, more than 40 departments of interdisciplinary programs in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences alone, and six broad areas of study.
The Department of Computer Science offers BS and MS degrees in Computer Science (CS) with heavy AR/VR coursework. A new graduate Concentration in Digital Arts (CS/DA) is available as well as a 4+1 MS in CS/DA that allows students in the Minor in Digital Arts to earn an MS degree in four terms or 12 credits. A 4+1 BA/MS in CS is also available.
The CS/DA Program combines computer science courses, digital arts courses, and research/thesis courses. Research topics within the areas of Visual Computing and Digital Arts include AR/VR, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Vision, Digital Fabrication, Computer Graphics, and Digital Art and Media.
CS Department course highlights include Augmented and Virtual Reality Design, Augmented and Virtual Reality Development, Principles of Robot Design and Programming, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Computer Graphics, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Programming for Interactive Audio-Visual Arts, Game Development Principles Applied In Educational/Serious Games, Computer Animation: The State of the Art, Digital Modeling, and Digital Design.
The Computer Science Department also offers the opportunities for students in all programs to participate with faculty in activities such as assisting in courses, writing a thesis or doing a project under the guidance of a faculty member, and assisting a faculty member in research or in a programming project. Students also have the opportunity to spend a term at AIT-Budapest.
Specifically designed for CS and software engineering students, AIT offers courses beyond computer science and organizes extracurricular activities. Courses at AIT are taught in English.
Students in all CS Programs also have access to the Digital Applied Learning and Innovation (DALI) and Reality & Robotics Labs.
The DALI Lab at Dartmouth supports the design and development of virtual & augmented reality, mobile applications, websites, digital installations, and more. The Lab partners with educators, researchers, nonprofits, corporations, and students who work in small teams to tackle big projects. Examples include Mindfulness in a Virtual Environment, Treating Space Flight Stress Using VR, Anivision (see through an animal's eyes), Flourish (for chronic illness patients), and Whiteboard (a platform for productivity and planning).
The Reality & Robotics Lab is a group of researchers, professors, and students that study topics “at the intersection of computing and physical reality.” This includes augmented reality, robotics, 3D fabrication, and sensing. Active projects include Assembly: building robust structures from smaller components, Geodesics: efficient motion and planning for robots, and Human motion: technology for teaching humans how to move.
Funding sources for the Lab include Adobe, Google, the Neukom Institute, NSF, and the MBR Center for Accelerated Research.
39. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University (OSU) was founded on March 22, 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, OSU offers programs in all areas across 18 colleges and schools. The school houses 200 academic centers and institutes and nearly 68,000 students across all campuses.
The College of Arts and Sciences at OSU houses the Department of Design, which offers an MFA in Design with Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track. Also housed in the College of Arts and Design is the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
ACCAD is a “is creative hub for scholars and practitioners of digital arts and sciences,” says the school. The Center conducts “research centered on the use and integration of emerging arts technologies,” in a “generous physical space, complemented by specialized and flexible studios for animation, motion capture, interactive design, media production and mediated performance design.”
In addition to having access to the ACCAD, DAIM students have the opportunity to take 12 studio elective credits that “provide hands-on experiences.” The 60 credit hour program 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, to name a few.
Students in the program will “work closely with a three-person thesis committee to develop their thesis topics and the vehicles best used for their development.”
Graduates of the MFA DAIM Program hold positions such as Augmented Reality Designer, Mixed Reality Designer, Virtual Reality Designer, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer, Interaction Designer, Motion Graphics Designer, Game Designer, Experiential Designer, Multimedia Designer, CG Generalist or Specialist, Visualization Specialists, and many others.
40. Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey
Rowan University began as a teacher preparation college in 1923. Now a regional university, Rowan serves more than 18,000 students enrolled in more than 80 bachelor's and 60 master's degree programs, five doctoral programs, and two professional programs in 14 colleges and schools. The College of Science and Mathematics at Rowan University houses the Computer Science Department, which has curricular offerings in computing disciplines such as virtual reality, computer game design, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain technologies, mobile development, cyber security, big data, cloud computing, parallel processing, bioinformatics, database systems, and others.
Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. Department course highlight include Programming Languages, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Robotics, AI, Systems Simulation and Modeling, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Computer Animation, Game Design and Development, Software Engineering, Mobile Programming, and Principles of Digital Computers. Students will complete an Independent Study course and Senior Project, and they have the opportunity to complete Computer Field Experience consisting of three to 12 credits.
In addition to offering a large number of course options for students interested in AR/VR, the Computer Science Department supports “student-centric initiatives” such as learning assistants, summer internships, long-term co-op programs, and student mentoring. The Computer Science Department also works with the Rowan VR Center to provide an environment where the University’s students and faculty and community, nonprofit, government, and corporate clients can work together to create “innovative virtual reality and augmented reality applications.”
Projects have included the Cold Spray VR Training System, 3D Medical Viewer, Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle Simulation, FAA Visualizing Drones, and The Rite (an original immersive video game), to name a few.
The custom-designed immersive lab has a “7-foot-high by 40-foot-wide curved wall of screens,” room for up to 25 people to work together on 3-D applications, and an “array of virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted systems and 3-D printers.” This enables the Lab to offer services to clients in academia, government and industry such virtual reality consultations, virtual reality educational seminars, and 3-D printing, scanning and prototyping.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Rowan end up working for industry leaders and top government organization such as Amazon, Symantec, Lockheed Martin, ASRC Federal Mission Solution, Federal Aviation Administration, US Navy, FBI, Comcast, SAP, IDT, Raytheon, and many others.
41. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The University of Chicago (UChicago) was founded in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. A private research university, UChicago has hundreds of programs, initiatives, and partnerships in over 48 nations and on every continent. The school serves more than 17,000 students, and enrolls more than 4,400 students each year from nearly 115 countries.
UChicago offers well over 150 degree and academic programs across the undergraduate College, four graduate divisions, seven professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Computer Science, which offers BS and MS Degrees in Computer Science (CS) and a Minor. The Department also offers three BA/MS and BS/MS degree options (Bx/MS) including a research-oriented option for CS majors, a professionally oriented option for CS majors, and a professionally oriented option for non-CS majors.
Students in the Department may specialize in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Machine Learning, Programming Languages, and Computer Architecture. They also have the opportunity to focus in an additional field by following an approved course of study in a related area.
Department course highlights include Emergent Interface Technologies, Planning, Learning, and Estimation for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Scientific Visualization, Programming Languages and Systems, Natural Language Processing, Robotics, Mobile Computing, Computer Vision, Software Development, and Engineering Interactive Electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards.
In addition to internship and study abroad opportunities at the UChicago Center in Beijing and others, students in the Department of Computer Science have access to the Weston Game Lab.
Housed in the Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD Center), the Weston Game Lab launched in in 2019. MADD Center groups focus on “teaching and research that takes place across digital fabrication, virtual reality, GIS, data visualization, and other cutting-edge technologies,” says the school. Through the Lab, faculty, students and staff “collaborate the research and development of games—whether digital, board, card, or alternate reality—that produce social impact or experiment with form.
Lab participants also “research the history of games from technical and theoretical perspectives, attend workshops that afford new development skills, and organize collaborative groups for game-based experiments.” The 3,800-square-foot space houses classrooms and studio spaces, along with “open work areas for collaborative design and development.”
UChicago graduates secure positions at more than 400 organizations each year. In addition, graduates from past three years are working in over 40 countries across six continents. Graduates work at "leading" organizations in a variety of industries, they are pursuing advanced degrees at top graduate programs, and many start their own businesses.
42. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) offers a BA in Immersive Media (IM), along with more than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs in areas from Business Management to Music and Sound. Serving nearly 7,000 students, Columbia highlights small class sizes, internship opportunities, and real-world opportunities to display works at a number of conferences and other events.
Students in the BA in Immersive Media Program “develop the creative and technical skills central to producing augmented, mixed, and virtual reality experiences,” says the school. They work “collaboratively to build immersive experiences for a broad range of applications—beyond games and entertainment to healthcare, engineering, the sciences and other fields—and develop a robust portfolio that highlights the value of immersion as a new expressive frontier.”
The Immersive Media Program requires a Minor to complement the degree. Related options include Animation, Game Art, Game Design, Programming, Interactive Media Development and Entrepreneurship, Video Production, and User Experience. The Program also offers an 18 credit hour IM Minor for students in other majors.
During the senior year, IM students will “develop an immersive media experience as part of a student team.” They will take lessons from their Minor course of study “and implement them as part of a public-facing immersive experience.” Immersive Media students may 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.
By the end of the IM Program, students will “have a foundation in immersive media theories and practices, from prototyping to deployment on popular platforms.”
Nearly 90% of Columbia graduates report being employed within a year of earning their degrees. Immersive Media graduates advance to positions such as Augmented Reality Designer and Developer, Virtual Reality Design and Developer, Immersive Information Visualization, Immersive Media Artist, Simulation Design and Developer, User Experience Design for Immersive Media, and Immersive Storytelling.
Graduates work at Microsoft, Facebook, Snapchat, Google, Adobe, CNN, NY Times, Steam, Midwest Immersive, Moxie, Edelman, TIME Studios, 8i Studio, Riot Games, Fader360, With.In., and more.
43. Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
Wright State University serves 12,000 students annually and offers 315 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional degree programs through five colleges and two schools. Originally founded as a branch campus of The Ohio State University and named in honor of Wilbur and Orville Wright—inventors of the world's first successful motor-operated airplane—Wright State University became an independent institution in 1967 and Ohio's 12th state-assisted university.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science at Wright State houses the Department of Computer Science in Engineering, which has several program options for students interested in AR/VR. Pathways include BA/ BS, and MS Degrees in Computer Science (CS). A CS Minor is also available.
Students in all programs are encouraged to take advantage of study abroad, co-op/internships, and/or service learning. BA and BS students may also engage in undergraduate research. Department course highlights include Augmented and Virtual Reality, 3D Modeling and Computer Animation, Scientific Visualization and Virtual Environment, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, Game Programming, Medical Image Analysis and Visualization, Pattern Recognition, Computer Graphics, C++ Programming for Scientists and Engineers, Computer Engineering, Digital System Design Laboratory, Object-Oriented Programming and Design, Advanced Robotics Laboratory, and Mobile Computing.
In addition to a wide variety of courses related to AR/VR, CS students have access to The Advanced Visual Data Analysis (AViDA) Group and the Virtual Environment Research, Interactive Technology, And Simulation (VERITAS) Facility.
The AViDA Group conducts research and supports the community in the areas of Virtual Environments, Medical Imaging and Visualization, Scientific Visualization, Information Visualization and Analysis, and Big Data Analysis, to name a few. The Group runs the Appenzeller Visualization Laboratory—a state-of-the-art visualization facility that supports large-scale visualization along with fully immersive, virtual reality equipment. In addition, AViDA houses facilities for running full-scale virtual environments using a variety of equipment ranging from head-mounted displays to walkable CAVE-type displays.
The VERITAS Facility is part of the College of Science and Mathematics’ Department of Psychology. Owned and operated by Wright State University and housed in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the Facility supports basic and applied scientific research on sensory systems, virtual environments, aviation, telerobotics, and teleconferencing. The space house a CAVE system, high-performance projectors, and more.
Wright State University CS graduates go on to pursue careers in AR/VR (in many sectors), as well as Digital Design, Applications Development, Software Development, Machine Learning, Data Science, Hardware Design, Software Engineering, Design Engineering, Java Development, Programming, and more.
Graduates are employed by the Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Research Laboratory, Assured Information Security, Ball Aerospace, Cerner Corporation, Clear Creek Applied Technologies, Department of Defense, CDO Technologies, LexisNexis, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, The Design Knowledge Company, Northrup Grumman, Siemens, and Teradata, to name a few.
44. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) was established in 1876. The school serves 34,975 students enrolled in hundreds of programs in nine colleges and schools. Among CU Boulder’s many programs are several undergraduate and graduate options that allow students to study Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Awarded through the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the BS and Minor Programs in Creative Technology and Design (CTD) offer “a broad, transdisciplinary curriculum that integrates technological skills with a critical, theoretical and historical understanding of creativity, technology and design,” says the school. The BS Creative Technology & Design (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 highlights 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 College of Engineering and Applied Science also offers an MS in CTD with a Creative Industries Track. The project-based curriculum allows students to construct 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. “Through workshops, visiting speakers, studios and classes,” MS students also have the opportunity to “work directly with leading professionals on real-world issues, gaining design expertise and technical skills as they learn the business of creativity.”
All CTD programs are housed within the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute, with core courses taught in the Roser ATLAS Center.
Founded in 1998, the ATLAS Institute also houses 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, BTU Lab, and Whaaat!? 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.
CTD graduates work in a variety of areas in Art and Entertainment, Technology, Education, Healthcare, Sciences, and more. MS graduates also work in Research in all industries and Government.
45. University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
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 in 10 colleges and dozens of departments.
The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, which houses the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts. Program options for students interested in AR/VR include a BFA in Emerging Media Arts (BFA-EMA). Students must select two emphasis areas totaling 24 credit hours, an interdisciplinary concentration, and 27 credit hours of electives.
Popular emphasis options for AR/VR students include Immersive and Interactive Media, Virtual Production, Experience Design, and Sensory Media. In the Immersive and Interactive Media Emphasis, students will create interactive and immersive media such as virtual and augmented realities, interactive and immersive environments, chat bots, Artificial Intelligence (AI) voice assistants, games, and the Internet of Things, which includes technologies such as smart home automation.
In Virtual Production, students create animations, graphics, and 3D models. In Experience Design, students design “projects and experiences that synthesize the virtual and the real,” says the school. Sensory Media covers physical computing, wearable technologies, human computer interaction (HCI), and hardware and software.
BFA-EMA 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 highlights include an Entrepreneurship course from the College of Business that introduces students to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business creation, and a yearlong Capstone Project that allows students to work in teams to “develop, create, organize, prototype, and complete a fully realized work ready for distribution via appropriate media.”
Graduates of the BFA-EMA are Virtual Reality Designers, Creative Technologists, Innovation Designers, App Designers, and Theme Park Experience Design. They work in Wearables/Physical Computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Sound Design, Robotics, Game Design, Film Visual Effects, Film Production Design, Animation, and more.
46. Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia
Old Dominion University (ODU) is the first and only university in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree in Modeling and Simulation Engineering. Housed in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology’s Department of Computational Modeling and Simulation Engineering, the BS Program has Concentrations in Advanced Simulation Techniques, Gaming, Digital Manufacturing and Industrial Systems, Transportation, and Cybersecurity. “Programs are coupled with a strong research program conducted jointly with ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC),” says the school.
Located nearby in Suffolk, the VMASC is a “multidisciplinary applied research and enterprise research facility” with a research staff of over 70 research faculty, project scientists, support professionals, and students. VMASC Researchers work in “cutting-edge areas” such as medical and health care modeling and simulation, virtual reality, educational gaming, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, big data, transportation, and unmanned aircraft systems.
VMASC provides “modeling and simulation, analytic research, and technological support for partners across various industry, government, and community sectors; including, healthcare, cybersecurity, strategic defense, transportation and infrastructure, usability, and instructional design.”
VMASC houses 60,000 a sq. ft. High-Tech Research and Conference Center that supports 10 conference and meeting rooms that host events for up to 150 participants, 25,000+ sq. ft. of Dedicated Research Laboratory Space that supports 11 collaboration labs, Secure Physical and Digital Storage and Processing Architecture, and Internal Network Servers with Web-Enabled Database Services. VMASC also houses “one of the Largest Modular Lab Spaces”—the 7,800 sq. ft. Modular SEA Lab.
Founded in 1930, Old Dominion University serves more than 24,000 students, making it one of the largest, universities in Virginia. The school offers more than 200 programs in nine colleges and schools. Programs are offered on campus and online.
47. Chatham University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1869, Chatham University serves more than 2,200 students enrolled in 60 undergraduate and graduate programs in the Arts & Sciences, Business & Communications, and Sustainability & Health. The school offers a BA in Immersive Media (IMM) that Chatham says, “is one of the first programs of its kind in the United States.” Launched in 2019, the BA in IMM focuses on “creating content for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that goes beyond gaming, broadly covering other applications as well.” The program prepares “students to be on the forefront of the technology and development of virtual and augmented reality design.”
Housed in the School of Arts, Science & Business, the BA in IMM allows students to customize their education with electives in Interactive Animation, Healthcare Systems and Design, Instructional Design, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, and more. In addition, students have the opportunity to work directly with “expert” faculty and staff on research and creative projects.
Students in the IMM Program also have access to “cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality hardware,” in the Lab, “including their own VR-ready laptop and Oculus Quest 2 headset, which is theirs to keep after the program ends.” The Immersive Media Studio, which houses state-of-the-art classrooms, studios, exhibition spaces, and one of the few flying machines, is also open to all students.
During the final years of the IMM Program, students will complete a “six-credit project-based studio course in accessibility and ethics, in which they build an AR or VR experience specifically through a lens of designing accessibility features, or designing features to solve for a specific issue, such as privacy or harassment.”
Chatham University offers an additional option for qualified IMM students who are interested in working with immersive media and virtual reality in the healthcare arena. Offered in collaboration with the School of Health Sciences, the Online MS in Healthcare Informatics (MHI) is an Integrated Degree Program (IDP) that “blends technology and healthcare to solve problems and optimize care.” The program allows students to take graduate courses during their senior year in order to graduate in a shorter amount of time with both a BA and MS in MHI.
48. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
Founded in 1836, Emory University consists of two campuses—Oxford, Georgia and Atlanta. The Oxford Campus is a residential college consisting of only first- and second-year students. The University serves 15,000 students across the two campuses. Programs are offered in four undergraduate colleges and seven graduate and professional schools.
Emory College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Computer Science where students can earn a BA, BS, and MS in Computer Science (CS) or a Combined BA/BS + CS MS Degree known as the 4+1 Computer Science Program. A Minor in CS is also available. The programs encourage exploration of other disciplines. This means, CS students may take courses or create a focus in an additional area in Art, Design, Healthcare, Science, Medicine, and more.
Department course highlights include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Advanced Computer Systems, Adaptive Machine Learning, Machine Learning, Programming Languages and Compilers, Systems Programming, Information Visualization, and Professional Development.
Students in all programs have access to Emory Center for Digital Scholarship’s Digital Visualization Laboratory (VR/AR/MR), which says it “implements emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) to visualize academic content.” Specialists in the Lab “help students and faculty members with interactive, multidisciplinary media design, research insights, visual analytics, educational gaming, and various simulation and training activities.”
Current Lab projects include Apollo 15 Hub, Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama, and Openworld Atlanta, to name a few.
49. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The College of Science and Engineering at University of Minnesota houses the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Students interested in AR/VR have several degree options available to them within the Department—the BA, BS or MS in Computer Science (CS). All options offer flexibility and the BA degree is awarded through the College of Liberal Arts.
The BS in CS “has credits in the upper division track allowing the student to pursue more deeply a particular area of computer science and tailor the degree to a specific area of interest,” says the school. “For students who are more likely to practice in an area that is highly specialized or technical, the BS may provide a better background.”
The BA in CS “includes a richer set of liberal education credits than the BS. For application areas that involve the liberal arts, this broader background may be more appropriate. The BA may also be a more efficient option for students pursuing a double major or a large minor to stay on track for a four year graduation.”
The MS has three Tracks: Plan A, a thesis-based degree, Plan B, project-based, and Plan C, coursework only. Although each Track has separate requirements, the general structure of the programs remains the same.
Department course highlights 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 programs have access to the Interaction Visualization Lab (IV/LAB). The space is equipped with “high-end graphics workstations that drive a series of innovative visual displays and interactive devices. Major equipment includes 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.
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.
50. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866. The institution is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Serving nearly 2,500 undergraduate students and 645 graduate students, SAIC provides an “interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries,and state-of-the-art facilities,” says the school.
SAIC offers nearly 50 formal areas of study and students are free to customize their education among 24 departments or concentrate in one single medium. Students interested in AR/VR typically choose the Art and Technology Studies (ATS) Program—a “Fine Art Department focused on the use of technology as an art medium.” The Department’s roots are the Kinetics area established in 1969 by Steve Waldeck and the Generative Systems area created in 1970 by Sonia Sheridan.”
While ATS students will take courses in VR, AR & Games, Programming, Electronics & Kinetics, Bio Art, Audio, Light, and History & Theory, they may Concentrate in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Games. Topics and classes for the Concentration Include Virtual Reality, Experimental Game Lab, Mixed Reality, Performance, n3w_b0d1es, and Video Game Music Composition.
Other ATS course highlights include Art and Technology Practices, Interactive Art and Creative Coding, Wearables and Soft Computing, Physical Computing: Outside the Box, Robotics, Blockchain: The New Internet, and Video Game Music Composition.
Students in the Concentration will have the opportunity to study and create works that explore virtual or augmented reality, gaming, immersive digital performance and installation, simulation, and many other related forms. The ATS with a Concentration in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Games leads to a BFA or MFA in Studio.