What are the top AR/VR schools and colleges in the US for 2022?
|1||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts|
|3||University of Southern California||California|
|4||University of Washington||Washington|
|5||New York University||New York|
|6||Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia|
|7||University of California - Berkeley||California|
|8||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|9||Texas A&M University at College Station||Texas|
|10||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||North Carolina|
|11||University of Maryland||Maryland|
|12||University of California - San Diego||California|
|13||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|14||University of Michigan||Michigan|
|16||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Illinois|
|17||Cornell University||New York|
|18||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|19||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|20||University of Utah||Utah|
|21||California Institute of Technology||California|
|22||Iowa State University||Iowa|
|24||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois|
|27||University of Florida||Florida|
|28||University of Arizona||Arizona|
|29||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|30||Full Sail University||Florida|
|31||North Carolina State University||North Carolina|
|33||Parsons The New School for Design||New York|
|34||University of California - Santa Cruz||California|
|36||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|37||University of Colorado - Boulder||Colorado|
|38||Duke University||North Carolina|
|39||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|40||University of Chicago||Illinois|
|42||University of Rochester||New York|
|43||University at Buffalo||New York|
|44||University of Minnesota||Minnesota|
|45||San Jose State University||California|
|46||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Nebraska|
|47||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University||Arizona|
|48||University of California - Santa Barbara||California|
|49||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|50||Pennsylvania State University at Behrend||Pennsylvania|
Our 2022 rankings -our second annual- of the Top 50 AR/VR School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was incorporated on April 10, 1861, just two days before the start of the Civil War. Serving 12,000 students, MIT offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges and schools including Schwarzman College of Computing, Sloan School of Management, and the Schools of Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and Science. MIT also houses dozens of departments, centers, and labs.
For individuals interested in AR/VR, the academic units, departments, centers, and labs at MIT provide numerous programs designed to support AR/VR education, projects, innovation, and research. For a foundational understanding of AR/VR, MIT has an 8-week Online Certificate Program known as MIT xPro. Examples of topics covered include Introduction to Technologies of Virtuality, Producing VR and AR Experiences I: Design Overview, Game Development, Producing VR and AR Experiences II: Design Processes, and XR Apps Development.
The Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT houses the Center for Computational Science and Engineering (CCSE) and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). The CCSE offers an MS degree known as the Computational Science and Engineering SM Program (CSE SM).
This interdisciplinary provides the opportunity to choose electives that focus on particular applications. Hands on projects and access to MITs many centers and labs are major components of the CSE SM program. Course examples for the program include Atomistic Modeling & Simulations of Materials & Structures, Computational Cognitive Science, Optimization for Machine Learning, Architecting & Engineering Software Systems, and Advances in Computer Vision.
The CCSE also has a CSE PhD program, provided jointly with eight participating departments. Students in the program have the opportunity to focus in a computation-related field of their choice through coursework and the doctoral thesis.
The EECS Department at MIT is composed of three overlapping sub-units including artificial intelligence (AI) and decision-making (AI+D), electrical engineering (EE), and computer science (CS). The curriculum is a joint venture between the Schwarzman College of Computing and the School of Engineering. AR/VR related programs include a BS in Computation and Cognition (also provide in collaboration with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences), a Minor in Computer Science (72 units), and PhD’s in Computer Science, and CS and Engineering. The PhD degree is awarded interchangeably with the Doctor of Science (ScD).
The largest undergraduate program at MIT, EECS offers intensive hands-on coursework and opportunities to engage in independent study or research for academic credit. Students in the BS program will take courses such as Perception, Robotics: Science and Systems, Advances in Computer Vision, Machine-Motivated Human Vision, AI, and Digital Systems Laboratory.
MIT labs and centers include the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, MIT Media Lab, and MIT.nano Immersion Lab.
The MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality brings together experts, students, and resources in a studio/laboratory environment to support research and creative projects. The Center focuses on innovation across technologies and platforms such as virtuality (XR, VR, AR, MR, etc.), videogames, social media, and others.
Founded in 1985, the MIT Media Lab is an interdisciplinary research organization that allows students, faculty, and researchers to work together on hundreds of projects across disciplines such as social robotics, physical and cognitive prostheses, new models and tools for learning, community bioengineering, models for sustainable cities, and more. The Lab also houses the graduate degree program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS).
The MIT.nano Immersion Lab highlights activities such as developing new software and hardware concepts for immersive experiences, prototyping advanced tools for augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and visualizing data. The Immersion Lab connects engineers and scientists with musicians, artists, and performers performers through creative projects across multiple disciplines.
The Lab also produces the monthly seminar series IMMERSED, which consists of lectures, demonstrations, and tutorials that explore immersive technology and how it shapes advances across art, science, and engineering.
Graduates of the Certificate, Computer Science, and Engineering Programs at MIT are prepared to pursue positions in AR/VR, AI, Information and Technology, and many others. Some of the top employers of MIT graduates include Amazon, Apple, Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and the U.S. Air Force.
2. Stanford University, Stanford, California
Stanford University was established in 1885 by former California Governor and railroad magnate Leland Stanford, and his wife, Jane. The school opened its doors on October 1, 1891 with 555 students. Today, Stanford is home to nearly 17,000 students served by 2,288 faculty members. The school provides more than 69 undergraduate majors and nearly 200 programs leading to 14 degrees at the graduate level.
Programs at Stanford are provided across seven schools, supplemented by dozens of labs, centers, and institutes. Schools include Business; Humanities and Sciences; Sustainability; Education; Engineering; Law; and Medicine.
The School of Engineering at Stanford University houses the Computer Science (CS) Department (est. 1965). Stanford Engineering provides 16 defined undergraduate majors, and the option to design your own major. Graduate programs are offered in all engineering departments, including CS.
All CS students have access to VR/AR courses such as How to Make VR: Introduction to Virtual Reality Design and Development, Coding for Social Good (VR component), Interactive Simulation for Robot Learning, Computer Graphics: Animation and Simulation, Character Animation: Modeling, Simulation, and Control of Human Motion, Topics in Computer Graphics: Agile Hardware Design, and Physically Based Animation and Sound. Graduate CS programs feature nine predefined specialization options. Examples include AI, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Real-World Computing, and Systems.
In addition to offering a variety of specializations and heavy AR/VR coursework, the CS Department houses research groups in the areas of AI, Computer Graphics/HCI, Robotics, Foundations of Computer Science, Scientific Computing, and many others. CS students interested in AR/VR have opportunities to collaborate on projects and enhance their skills through two centers and labs as well. Options include the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab and the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL).
The CCRMA Virtual + Augmented Reality Design Lab conducts VR, AR, and XR research for music. The lab also supports collaborations with Computer Science, Art and Art History, and Communication at Stanford, as well as research projects within the CCRMA community.
Founded in 2003, the VHIL studies the psychological and behavioral effects of AR/VR. Just a few of the lab’s current projects include Psychology of Augmented Reality, Virtual Becomes Reality – Immersion and Presence, Medical Virtual Reality, Integrating VR into Classrooms and Curricula, Telepresence, and Design Thinking.
Stanford School of Engineering graduates are prepared for positions at a wide range of top companies and organizations. Stanford graduates are routinely recruited by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Amazon, Google, Walt Disney World, Apple, Meta, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Microsoft, Oracle, the US Army, the US Navy, and Tesla, among others.
3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California (USC) is one of the oldest private research universities in the state. The school opened its doors in 1880 with just 53 students. Today, University of Southern California serves 49,500 students across 22 schools and units. One of USC’s most recognized schools is the School of Cinematic Arts. Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929, the USC School of Cinematic Arts is home to the Interactive Media and Games Division, which houses three programs for individuals interested in AR/VR: the Immersive Media Minor, Interactive Entertainment BA, and Interactive Media MFA.
The interdisciplinary Immersive Media Minor is open to all undergraduate students at USC. The program explores virtual reality and how to create content effectively. Students have the opportunity choose elective courses within the same area to fit their goals or they can enhance the curriculum by choosing elective courses from two separate areas. BA students may also study AR/VR through the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (USC ICT), which houses the Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) and the ICT Virtual Humans Group.
The MxR Lab works with the Interactive Media and Games Division in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and immersive systems for education and training simulations using AR/VR.
The ICT Virtual Humans Group conducts research in areas such as Integrated Virtual Humans, Character Animation and Simulation, MultiModal Communication, Natural Language Processing, Cognitive Architecture, and Emotion.
Elective examples for the Interactive Entertainment BA Program include Storytelling for Virtual and Augmented Reality, Alternative Control Workshop, Video Game Programming, Visual Effects, Computer Graphics, Interactive Entertainment, Science, and Healthcare, and Audio Expression. Examples of required courses include Creative Production in Virtual Reality, Experiments in Immersive Design, C++ Programming, and 3D Computer Animation.
The Interactive Entertainment BA Program at USC School of Cinematic Arts explores AAA (triple-A) game development processes and experimental and indie genres from virtual and alternate realities to meaningful and expressive games. Course examples include Reality Starts Here, Producing Interactive Projects, Interface Design for Games, Alternative Control Workshop, Experimental Game Topics, Programming in Python, Interactive Entertainment, and Game Design Workshop.
The Interactive Media MFA is a competitive program that admits just 15 students in the Fall semester only. Program features include the opportunity to take twelve 500-level elective units, access to state-of-the-art computer and digital production facilities, and a mandatory internship or summer job in a professional environment.
MFA students will take courses such as Experiments in Interactivity I & II, Foundations of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Interactive Design Production, Motion Capture Fundamentals, and Tangible and Spatial Computing. To enhance this coursework, like undergraduate students, MFA students can study AR/VR through USC ICT.
USC recently launched the USC Working Group on Scholarly VR, AR, and 3D Modeling. The Group is sponsored by the Humanities in a Digital World Program at USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (the largest and oldest of the USC schools), and the Ahmanson Lab at the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study. Students in all programs benefit from participation in the Groups workshops, lectures, projects, and discussions. Past workshops have explored Mobile Augmented Reality, Immersive 3D Setting Design, and utilizing AR toolkits and platforms such as Niantic (Pokémon Go), Snap (Snapchat lenses), and others.
Graduates of the programs at University of Southern California have been hired at companies and organizations such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Walt Disney Company, Amazon, Sony, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin, Google, Branded Entertainment Network, Discovery+, Gilead Sciences, VIZIO, Yahoo, DreamWorks Animation, Vayu Technology, the US Army, Disneyland Parks, Disneyland Resorts, United States Navy, META, United Airlines, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Tesla, Boeing, Oracle, FORD, AT&T, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
4. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington (UW) is one of the oldest universities on the West Coast. Founded in 1861, UW is also the largest university the state. Serving more than 54,000 students, University of Washington has three campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma and it houses 18 colleges and schools.
The College of Arts and Sciences is home of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, which introduced the world’s first augmented reality capstone course in 2016. The school also houses several computer science programs for students interested in AR/VR. Options include the BS in Computer Science (CS), a Combined BS/MS in CS also known as the Fifth Year Master’s Program, a Professional Master’s (PMP) in CS, and a PhD in CS. The BS/MS enables current and recent Allen School undergraduate majors to earn both degrees in approximately five years.
All programs benefit from the Allen School’s research and innovation in AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) & Accessible Technology, Machine Learning, Robotics, Computer Graphics, Vision, Animation & Game Science, and Ubiquitous Computing.
Course examples for the program include Advanced Topics in HCI (Graphics & Virtual Reality), Artificial Intelligence (AI) I & II, AI-based Mobile Robotics, Computer Systems Architecture, Computational Fabrication, Interaction Programming, Advanced Topics in Digital Animation, Computational Complexity, Interactive Learning, and Neural Control of Movement: A Computational Perspective.
Students in all programs have the opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and peers in the UW Reality Lab. Launched in 2018 and housed in the Allen School, the Lab includes the Reality Studio, Reality Lab Incubator, and classes. In addition to advancing AR/VR research, Lab participants will work on projects in 3D computer vision and perception, object recognition, graphics, game science and education, distributed computing, stream processing, databases and computer architecture, and privacy and security.
Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at University of Washington go on to establish careers at some of the world’s top companies, studios, and organizations. Examples include Google, Pixar Animation Studios, Microsoft, Amazon, Epic Software, Adobe, Disney, HBO, Dell, Apple, Hulu, Microsoft, Oracle, Riot Games, Samsung, and Unity Technologies.
5. New York University, New York, New York
With more than 53,500 students and 19,000 employees, New York University (NYU) is the nation’s largest private university and one of the state’s largest employers. The school has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, more than 11 global academic centers and research programs in 25+ countries, and over 19,000 employees, making it one of the largest employers in New York City.
Founded in 1831, NYU houses dozens of colleges, centers, institutes and schools. The Tandon School of Engineering (a Polytechnic Institute) is home to the Integrated Design & Media (IDM) Program. Pathways for this research-active program lead to a BS or MS degree. IDM Minor and Accelerated BS/MS Programs are also available, as well as a Professional Certificate in AR/VR Development and 3D Graphics that can be completed in seven months (28 weeks), online.
The Professional Certificate Program is divided into five sections that explore XR, Unity development and 3D math, high definition XR, and construction of virtual environments. Each week, students will explore a new topic. Examples include XR Design Principles, Raycasting and Quaternions, Lighting Virtual Worlds, AR Development including Image Tracking, Object Tracking, and Surface Tracking, Creating a Realistic Visualization, and VR Prototyping in Unity, among others. The program culminates with a capstone project. Students will leave the program with a portfolio of their best work.
Students in the IDM Program will complete the Tandon Engineering core, media studies courses taken in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC), and additional courses in math, science, humanities, and social sciences. Courses, which focus on the four areas of Image, Sound, Narrative and Interactivity, are combined with upper-level electives ranging from augmented reality and motion capture to user experience design.
Other program features include internship opportunities with companies such as Apple, Google, and Sony Music, study abroad at NYU Shanghai’s Interactive Media Arts (IMA) Program, and direction by instructors who are engaged a range of projects from using motion capture technology to reimagine theatrical performance to developing novel uses of virtual/augmented reality for health and wellness. Students in all programs may participate in the Future Reality Lab and NYC Media Lab.
In the Future Reality Lab, participants collaborate in the manipulation of objects (real and virtual), in a shared mixed reality. NYC Media Lab (research and development) is a consortium colleges and universities including NYU, Columbia University, The New School, CUNY, School of Visual Arts, Manhattan College, and Pratt Institute.
Graduates of the NYU IDM Program have been hired at American Express, Apple, Instagram, HTC China, Major League Gaming, the New York Stock Exchange, and Verizon, among others.
6. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) launched in October 1888 as the Georgia School of Technology. When it opened, the school had just 84 students. Today, Georgia Tech serves nearly 40,000 students from 50 states and 149 countries. The school also has three campuses—the main campus in Atlanta, Georgia Tech-Lorraine in Metz, France, and Georgia Tech-Shenzhen in China.
Majors and degrees at Georgia Tech are offered through the Colleges of Design, Computing, Engineering, and Sciences, the Scheller College of Business, and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.
A number of programs for students interested in AR/VR are housed in the Ivan College of Liberal Arts, the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, the College of Computing, and in the Schools of Computer Science, Interactive Computing, and Computational Science & Engineering. The Computer Science programs at Georgia Tech provide opportunities for students to select from research areas such Virtual & Augmented Environments, Ubicomp & Wearable Computing, AI and Machine Learning, Robotics and Perception, and Geometry, Graphics, and Animation.
Students in all Georgia Tech programs have access to the school’s GVU Center, which supports Artificial Intelligence (AI), AR/VR, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Robotics, Wearable Computing and other research. Within the GVU Center is the Augmented Environments Lab, which focuses on building interactive computing environments that directly augment the users senses with computer-generated material.
Also located in the GVU Center is the Prototyping eNarrative Lab. Also known as PeN Lab, the Lab focuses on emerging platforms such as AR/VR, experimental television, and the intersection of storytelling with simulation and game design.
Examples of Lab projects include The Lights of St. Etienne: An AR/MR (Mixed-Reality) Experience in the Cathedral in Metz, France, Bringing Interactivity to Static Data Visualizations through Augmented Reality, Escape Room VR, WebXR: Experiences in AR and VR for the Web, Pipping: Exploring Passive Haptics in Virtual Reality, and Interaction Techniques for Children's AR Education, Invisible Cities: Multi-User AR Public Monuments.
Specific degree programs for students interested in AR/VR include the BS in Computational Media, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science, and Minors in Computing & Devices, Computing & Intelligence, and Computing & People.
With 300 students, the BS in Computational Media is one of Georgia Tech’s fastest growing programs. Students have opportunities to focus in Interaction, Games, Narrative, and more. Course examples include Constructing the Moving Image, Interaction Design, Computer Animation, and Experimental Media. Sample careers include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Special Effects Creation, Interactive Game Design and Simulation, Robotics, and Animation.
Georgia Tech graduates work in leadership positions in areas such as consulting, engineering, financial services, healthcare, law, manufacturing, retailing, transportation, and humanitarian logistics, among others. Georgia Tech alumni have been hired by companies such as Apple, Disney, Tesla, Boeing, IBM, Intel, Cisco Systems, Google, Delta Airlines, and Microsoft.
7. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) sends more graduates to Silicon Valley than just about any other school in the U.S. Chartered in 1868 and named after 18th-century philosopher George Berkely, UC Berkeley serves more than 45,000 students enrolled in more than 350 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools, and dozens of academic departments.
The Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) Department at UC Berkeley manages two undergraduate degrees through two different colleges: the BS in EECS in the College of Engineering (CoE), and the BA in Computer Science (CS) in the College of Letters & Science (L&S).
Both programs have the same technical requirements, with differing breadth requirements and admissions processes. Course examples for both programs include The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Designing Information Devices and Systems, Machine Structures, and Data Structures and Programming Methodology.
All EECS and CS students have access to the XR [email protected]—a Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Laboratory (VR/AR/MR)—the student-run Extended [email protected] (est. 2015), and the FHL Vive Center for Enhanced Reality, which sponsors research and applications in AR/VR and AI.
Collectively, the Labs and Centers at UC Berkeley train new engineers in all areas of AR/VR, they advance the field of AR/VR through development plans, actions, and state-of-art research, and they bring attention to technology’s possibilities for humankind.
Graduates of the EECS and CS Programs at UC Berkeley work in a variety of fields such as Computer Systems Design, Computer Vision and Robotics, AI and Machine Learning, Software Development, Defense, Production, Design, Entertainment, Healthcare, Engineering, and Aerospace, among others. Some of the top hiring companies for UC Berkeley graduates include Google, Apple, Meta, and Tesla.
8. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) delivered its first fully online program years before any other post-secondary institution entered the online arena. RIT was also the first university to offer an undergraduate degree in software engineering, and in 2008, RIT launched the world’s first doctoral program focusing on sustainable production systems.
Founded in 1829, Rochester Institute of Technology serves nearly 19,000 students at its main campus in Rochester, New York, and around 1,700 at international campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo. Programs at RIT are housed in 11 colleges and schools, including the Golisano College of Computing and Information—home of the School of Interactive Games and Media and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences.
The School of Interactive Games and Media has a New Media Interactive Development BS Program and the Department of Computing and Information Sciences houses the Computing and Information Sciences PhD. Coursework for the BS Program focuses on adapting digital technologies for AR/VR, touch interfaces, the internet, wearable devices, social software, and other new and emerging devices, systems, and experiences.
Other program features include the New Media Design Capstone (I & II), which provides the opportunity to work on a project for a corporate client, collaboration with students in RITs New Media Design major, and required participation in the cooperative education (co-op) program, which provides full-time, paid career experience working in the industry.
The Computing and Information Sciences PhD explores infrastructure, interaction, informatics, and interaction between computing and non-computing disciplines in the arts, science, engineering, medicine, business, and humanities. Research areas for the PhD include but are not limited to AI and Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI, Game Design, Graphics and Visualization, and Programming Languages.
Students in both the BS and PhD programs have access to RIT’s VR/AR Lab and Frameless Labs. Located at the RIT MAGIC Center, the AR/VR Lab is designed for the exploration of and experimentation with AR/VR platforms, technologies, and hardware. Also located at the MAGIC Center, Frameless Labs provides a space for the extended reality (XR) community to collaborate. The goal is to raise awareness about research, innovation, and artistic creation in the fields of AR and VR.
Current projects and experiences include Development and Assessment of Virtual Reality Paradigms for Gaze Contingent Visual Rehabilitation, Color and Material Appearance in AR, Mixed Reality Theatre (funded by Epic Games), Digital Docents: Historical NY Stories in Virtual and Augmented Reality, and the VR Cary Collection.
Rochester Institute of Technology graduates are prepared for careers in a wide variety of industries from entertainment to aerospace. AR/VR Developer, Interactive Developer, UX Engineer, Technical Lead, Application Developer, and Digital technician are just a few potential job titles.
9. Texas A&M University at College Station, College Station, Texas
Founded in 1876, Texas A&M University at College Station (TAMU or Texas A&M) is the state's first public institution of higher learning. This research-intensive, flagship university consists of 17 academic colleges and schools, two branch campuses, the Health Science Center, Quatar campus, and 72,982 students.
The new School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts at TAMU (TAMU PVFA) houses the Visualization Program. Available pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization, and a Minor in Game Design and Development. Students in all programs have access to [email protected], which is housed in the Department of Visualization in the College of Architecture, and the MAESTRO Lab, located in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering. The recently launched TAMUVR (Texas A&M University Virtual and Augmented Reality) is also accessible to all students.
[email protected] is lab that conducts research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Human-Centered Computing, and Interactive Systems. The Lab consists of five research groups: TEILab, The StoryLab, McNamara Lab, INDIE Lab, and the Soft Interaction Lab. Depending on the group, topics covered include AR/VR, Child-Computer Interaction, Data Visualization, Embodied Interaction, Interactive Storytelling, Soft Materials Interaction, and many others. AR/VR students may be drawn to the INDIE Lab and the Soft Interaction Lab, among others.
The INDIE Lab (Interactive Data and Immersive Environments) engages in human-centered research of interactive visualizations. The group actively collaborates with multiple departments and faculty across the university. Research areas include Virtual Reality, 3D Interaction, Visual Analytics, Information Visualization, and Educational Games.
The Soft Interaction Lab fosters experimentation with physical and virtual experiences, organic materials, and interaction technology.
MAESTRO Lab houses the MAESTRO VR Studio—an Immersive Mechanics Visualization Lab dedicated Immersive and Intuitive Data Environments projects. Focus areas include AR/VR and 3D Displays.
TAMUVR is an organization that focuses on AR/VR development, research activities, educational opportunities, discussion, and practical experience.
Graduates of the Visualization Programs at Texas A&M University are prepared for a range of careers from AR/VR and UI/UX Development to Environment Modeling and Game Asset Development.
10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) was established 1789, making it the only public university in the U.S. to award degrees in 18th century. The school offers 74 bachelors, 104 masters, 65 doctorate, and seven professional degree programs across 14 schools. A member of the UNC System of 16 universities, UNC-Chapel Hill serves more than 31,500 students.
For individuals interested in a career in AR/VR, UNC-Chapel Hill has a variety of programs, organizations, and labs to support their goals. All students may participate in the Carolina Augmented and Virtual Reality Club (CARVR), where they have the opportunity to work on XR projects and work with real clients. Students may also participate in the UNC Augmented and Virtual Reality Interest Group, which consists of more than 250 people from across campus. The Group focuses on training, research, learning and more through the use of immersive technologies. Soon, the Group will launch two additional groups that focus in AR/VR—a Faculty Group and Student Group.
In addition to these organizations, students interested in AR/VR at UNC-Chape Hill have access to the Graphics, Imaging, and Robotics Lab and the Graphics and 3D Vision Laboratory. The Graphics, Imaging, and Robotics Lab is a 3,500 sq. ft. space located in J. Carlyle Sitterson Hall. Most of the Lab is dedicated to work in effective virtual environments. The remaining area, which houses a variety of robots, focuses on robotics research.
Housed in the Frederick P. Brooks Jr. Computer Science Building and Sitterson Hall, the new Graphics and 3D Vision Laboratory is situated in a noise-controlled, 2,500 sq. ft. space divided into three research zones by floor-to-ceiling blackout curtains for light and sound suppression. Zones include Projective Display Research, Computer Vision and Optical Tracking Research, and Physical Simulation and Audio Synthesis Research with a focus on GPU processing. The space has 11-foot ceilings and a Unistrut mounting grid.
Across facilities and labs, projects and groups have included the Ultrasound/Medical Augmented Reality Group, Effective Virtual Environments Project, Geometric Algorithms for Modeling, Motion, and Animation Group (GAMMA) Project, and the Walkthrough Group (simulated walkthroughs of architectural models).
Specific program options for AR/VR students are housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Computer Science. Established in 1964, the Department was one of the first independent computer science departments in the U.S. Pathways include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science with a Computer Graphics or Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Area. Computer Graphics sub-areas include Animation & Simulation, Virtual Environments, and Visualization. HCI offers a Virtual Environments subarea. A PhD in Computer Science is also available.
Course examples across programs include 2D Computer Graphics, Connecting Language to Vision and Robotics, Digital Culture, Digital Logic and Computer Design, Human Robot Interaction, Machine Learning, Models of Languages & Computation, Scientific Programming, and Software Engineering Laboratory.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill graduates hold a variety of positions in companies ranging from small start-up operations to government laboratories and large research and development corporations.
11. University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland (UMD) is the state’s flagship university and one of the original land-grant institutions in America. Established in 1856 and serving 40,700 students, UMD is also one of the largest universities in the U.S.
University of Maryland houses more than 300 academic programs across 12 colleges and schools. Programs for students interested in AR/VR are housed in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). Options include a BA or BS in Immersive Media Design and BS, MS, BS/MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science with an AR/VR focus.
Immersive Media Design (IMD) students learn to create, code, and collaborate using the most current digital technologies and tools. Students have the opportunity to focus in Art or Computer Science to graduate with a BA from the College of ARHU or a BS from the College of CMNS.
Housed in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, the College of CMNS-Department of Computer Science serves more than 3,400 students with interests ranging from algorithms and design to VR to Robotics. Department features include research opportunities, internships, participation in the honors program, and study abroad experiences.
Students in all programs have access to the UMD Graphics and Visual Informatics Laboratory (GVIL), and the Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality Innovation Center (MAVRIC).
Established in 2000 by the Department of Computer Science, the GVIL explores computer graphics, scientific visualization, and virtual environments through research and education.
Current projects include applications for next-generation AR/VR, including immersive education, augmented navigation, virtual manufacturing, and medical training.
MAVRIC was created to support the future of XR, foster XR talent, and connect developers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and researchers through workshops, events, and programs.
UMD also houses the Maryland Blended Reality Center (MBRC)—a multidisciplinary partnership initially funded by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State. Launched in 2017, The Center also partners with the federal government, industry leaders, and other academic institutions to explore and develop AR/VR, MR, and other visual computing tools and applications based in immersive technologies.
Graduates of the Computer Science, Immersive Media Design, and other programs have established careers in the tech industry, federal laboratories, medicine, teaching, and law. Notable alumni include Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google; Gary Flake, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and founder of Yahoo! Research Labs; Brendan Iribe, Oculus Co-Founder; and Naresh Gupta, Senior Vice President of Adobe’s Print and Publishing Business Unit.
12. University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California
Although the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) wasn’t established until 1961, the campus dates back to the late 1800s when the site was chosen as the location for a marine field station for zoologists at the UC Berkeley campus. The facility, which became a part of the University of California in 1912, was eventually named Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Today, UCSD is one of the nine campuses of the UC System and it supports a community of close to 35,000 students.
UCSD houses seven colleges, including Jacobs School of Engineering—home to the Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) Department. Students who would like to study AR/VR can do so through the BS, MS, BS/MS, and PhD Programs in Computer Science (CS). Required electives allow students to craft a focus area to suit their goals. Undergraduates may choose seven electives worth four units each. Graduate students may choose 16 units of electives and research as well 12 units in a Depth Area such as Graphics and Vision, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Robotics, AI, or Programming Languages, Compilers, And Software Engineering.
The MS Program also allows students to choose from three pathways: MS Plan I: Thesis; MS Plan II: Comprehensive Exam, Standard Option; and MS Plan II: Comprehensive Exam, Interdisciplinary Option. The Interdisciplinary Option provides additional opportunities to focus on a customized or available area of interest.
CSE Department focus areas include AI, HCI, Robotics, Programming Systems, Software Engineering, and Visual Computing (Computer Graphics and Computer Vision), among others.
A CS Minor is also available as well as a Virtual Reality App Development Certificate Program that can supplement any program or it can be taken alone. Courses for the Certificate Program include How Virtual Reality Works, Computer Graphics, and Creating Virtual Reality Apps.
All CS students have access to the CSE Virtual Reality Lab (VR Lab). Launched in 2017, the Lab allows is designed for students interested in developing content for virtual environments. The Lab features workshops, research opportunities in the field of AR/VR, projects, and networking opportunities. The VR Lab also houses the 300+ member VR Club at UCSD.
Graduates of the CS and Certificate Programs at University of California, San Diego are prepared to pursue positions such as AR/VR Maintenance and Support, Graphics Engineer, XR Gameplay and Tools Engineer, VR Developer, VR Technician, Software Developer, and Design/Graphics Engineer, among others.
13. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Serving just over 70,400 students, University of Central Florida (UCF) is the largest university by enrollment in Florida. Students at UCF have access to 240 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees, and 81 doctorate degrees across 13 colleges. The College of Engineering and Computer Science houses the Department of Computer Science, which has several pathways to study AR/VR. Options include a BS in Computer Science (CS), an Accelerated BS/MS in CS, and MS and PhD degrees in Modeling and Simulation.
The Department of Computer Science at University of Central Florida also houses several labs that allow students to create, collaborate, and conduct research related to AR/VR.
The Synthetic Reality Lab known as SREAL is part of several larger UCF entities, most notably the Institute for Simulation & Training (IST), which houses it. SREAL (pronounced Surreal) is a center for researchers, software developers, artists (modelers/animators), interactors (digital puppeteers), PhD students, and affiliated faculty members. With 7,000 square feet of experimental and office space, SREAL houses areas for the development of AR/VR, mixed reality experiences, the delivery of interactive training using digital avatar technology, human surrogate and robotics research, and developing cultural heritage and STEM experiences.
The Interactive Systems and User Experience Lab focuses on the development of innovative applications, tools, and techniques that enhance the overall experience between humans and machines.
The Computer Science BS at UCF consists of courses such as Advanced AI, AI for Game Programming, Algorithms for Machine Learning, Computer Architecture, Computer Graphics, Game Programming, Robot Vision, and Software Engineering. Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in AR/VR, Computer Architecture, Computer Gaming, Computer Vision, Evolutionary Computing, Media Convergence, Robotics, and many others.
The Computer Science MS at UCF allows students to specialize in a research area. This includes options such as VR, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Mixed and Virtual Reality Mobile Computing, Machine Learning, and Modeling and Simulation. Pairing (combining two research areas) is also an option. In addition a specialization, students CS MS students will study and master programming systems and languages, computer architecture, and computer science theory.
In addition to AR/VR, graduates of the Computer Science MS Program at University of Central Florida work in Computer Science, Aerospace, Computer Systems, Software Development, Defense, Cyber/Information Security, and Software Engineering, among other areas. UCF CS alumni are routinely recruited by Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Siemens, NASA, IBM, Google, Apple, Cisco, IBM, YouTube, Intel, Oracle, and Accenture, among top companies and organizations.
14. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University of Michigan (UM) serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in hundreds of programs housed across 19 schools, colleges, and divisions. Founded in 1817 as one of the first public universities in the nation, UM is home to one of the world’s largest and oldest programs in Computation. The area, which consist of several departments and divisions, serves nearly 11,000 students, and provides access to degree and certificate programs, coursework, studios, and initiatives that explore extended reality (XR/AR/VR).
Pathways for AR/VR students include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and a Minor. A Graduate Certificate in Extended Reality (XR) is also available in the School of Information. The Computer Science degrees are offered in two colleges—the College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA). Programs are administered by the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Division of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department.
Course features across programs include Interactive Computer Graphics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming Languages, Human-Centered Software Design & Development, Computer Game Design and Development, Autonomous Robotics, and Machine Learning.
To enhance the MS degree, graduate students may add the Graduate Certificate in XR. Open to all graduate students regardless of degree program, the XR program requires 12 credit hours of study. Students will learn about the design, construction, and evaluation of XR experiences. Pre-approved previous, current, and future courses include AR/VR for Sustainability, Augmented Tectonics, Developing AR/VR Experiences, Educational Applications for Augmented and Virtual Reality, Immersive Media, Sci-Fi Prototyping, and Virtual Engagement in Digital Technologies.
Students in all programs have access to the XR Initiative - Center for Academic Innovation and the studios of the James and Anne Duderstadt Center (DC). Founded in 2019, the XR Initiative works with all 19 schools, colleges, and divisions to develop new XR related educational technology designed to enhance the learning experience for students. The Initiative also focuses on making XR technology more accessible on campus and encouraging its use in higher education.
Past XR Initiative projects include Cross-platform XR Tools for Supporting Student Creativity in Immersive Audio Design, Comparison of Student Learning of Head and Neck Anatomy and Diagnosis of Pathology Using XR, and XR Studio.
The DC houses the Fabrication Studio, the DC Visualization Studio, M.I.D.E.N (Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus), and VizHubs. All studios are equipped with state-of-the art equipment and individual workstations, advanced software, collaborative workstations, the Vicon Motion Capture System, Leap Motion System for hand tracking in VR environments, and the Perception Neuron Full Body Tracking Suit, and more.
Graduates of the Computer Science and XR Programs at University of Michigan are prepared for careers in AR/VR, Simulation Engineering, Applications Development, Digital Arts and Entertainment, and Software Engineering, among others.
15. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University began as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry in 1891. The school is one of the top 10 private employer’s in Philadelphia and since 1919, Drexel has been a cooperative (co-op) educational institution, meaning all undergraduates work six months at a job in their chosen field as part of their education. The co-op program covers more than 75 disciplines, making it one of the nation’s most comprehensive co-op programs.
Serving more than 23,700 students, Drexel University houses more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and over than 120 graduate and professional programs across 12 colleges and schools. One of the school’s top colleges is the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which offers predominantly studio-based programs in Media, Design, and the Performing Arts. The College houses its own record label—MAD Dragon Records, lifestyle magazine D&M, and a student-run Graphic Design firm.
Westphal College of Media Arts & Design houses Drexel’s Digital Media & Virtual Production BS—one of the first accredited programs of its kind. The College is also home to the Virtual Reality (VR) & Immersive Media Minor, which covers the principles, tolls, and techniques used in AR/VR design and other types of immersive media. Students in this 24 credit hour program also have the opportunity to customize the curriculum to support their goals. Course examples for the program include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Computer Graphics, Animation and Visual Effects, and Game Design.
Officially launched in 2018 as Virtual Reality & Immersive Media (VRIM), the Digital Media & Virtual Production BS Program explores storytelling, animation, design, 3D modeling, virtual production, and use of interactive game engines. Students will have the opportunity to master the latest hardware and software for AR/VR, immersive projection, motion capture, and other technologies fueling the growth of the immersive media industry,
Course features for the BS Program include Augmented Reality, Immersive Projection, 360° Video Production, Virtual Production, 3D Modeling, Texturing, & Lighting, Computer Animation, Interactive Design, 3D Tracking, Computer Programming, and Visual Effects. All students will participate in the co-op program where they will have opportunities to work for companies such as YouTube VR, History Making Productions, Franklin Institute Science Museum, Night Kitchen, and Toll Brothers.
In addition to the BS Program, Westphal houses two labs: Animation Capture & Effects (ACE-Lab) and the Immersive Research Lab (IRL).
The ACE-Lab houses Westphal’s Digital Animation, Visual Effects, and Immersive Media Programs as well as VR, AR, and other interactive experiences. The Lab includes the latest industry-standard software and hardware technologies for VR, AR, Motion Capture, Projection and other technologies. Within the Lab, students have access to funded grant research opportunities. They also have the opportunity to participate in industry-sponsored projects, and independent, and student-generated projects.
Launched in 2018, the IRL allows students to develop AR/VR and immersive media technologies. The 550-square-foot, glass-enclosed lab features equipment such as HP-ZVR Backpack Workstations, virtual and augmented reality devices from Oculus Go, HTC VIVE and Microsoft HoloLens headsets, Leap Motion hand-tracking and iClone Facial motion capture systems, and a full motion capture studio equipped with OptiTrak and Vicon motion capture devices. Other technologies include 360-degree virtual reality cameras, a custom virtual reality cycle platform, and an x-wing fighter cockpit platform.
Drexel Westphal graduates work in Education, Entertainment, the Sciences, Historical Recreation, and many other areas. Alumni have been hired at Digital Domain, Disney, DreamWorks, Moving Picture Company, and Pixar. Graduates also work at major video game development companies as Animation Software Developers and in other positions involving the use of AR/VR, Animation, and Visual Effects skills.
16. 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, among others.
In addition to choosing a focus area (BS) or core area courses (MS) that suit their interests, students have access to the [email protected] Lab (VR LAB).
Supported by the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL) and University Library’s IDEA Lab and Media Commons, the VR Lab is a collaborative initiative that supports AR/VR and extended reality research, exploration, and teaching at UIUC.
The Lab houses studio spaces for VR creation and exploration, mobile virtual reality classrooms, loanable headsets and cameras for viewing and capturing 360 media, and the VR Club, which hosts weekly club meetings. Lab experts provide consultations on implementing VR in the classroom and assistance with VR research projects.
Adjacent to the VR Lab is the Innovation Studio—an active, experimental and emerging technology studio with VR headsets, a video wall, gaming computers, and a range of innovative technologies.
Graduates of the Computer Science and other related programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are routinely hired by some of the world’s top companies. Major employers of Amazon, Google, Microsoft Corp., Deloitte, Ernst & Young and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Other employers include Apple Inc., Tesla, Meta, IBM, Caterpillar, and ADM.
17. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. The school opened in 1868 in the first building constructed on the campus—Morrill Hall. Today, the campus includes 608 buildings on more than 2,000 acres. Cornell also has campuses across the State of New York and in DC, Doha, Qatar, and Rome, Italy. Roughly 10,500 faculty, staff, and other professionals serve more than 25,500 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, and graduate fields of study across 16 colleges and schools.
The Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (CIS) is home to the Computer Science Department, which serves 1,340 students enrolled in a variety of BS, MS, and PhD Programs in Computer Science (CS). A CS Minor is also available. Course examples across programs include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Topics in Mixed Reality, Developing and Designing Interactive Devices, Interactive Computer Graphics, Python, Computer Vision, Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI), Applied Machine Learning, Robotics Seminar, Great Works in Programming Languages, and Visual Imaging in the Electronic Age. Students in all programs have access to the Virtual Embodiment Lab (VEL) and the XR Collaboratory (XRC) at Cornell Tech.
Established in 2016, VEL explores virtual reality and how it affects the people who use it. A number of devices are utilized to research virtual reality including full virtual reality systems that allow a user to pick up objects and interact with others, and 360 degree videos.
The mission of XRC at Cornell Tech is to advance education and research AR/VR and Mixed Reality through collaborations, research, and hands-on mentoring. XRC partners include Meta, Verizon Media, and Magic Leap.
In addition to Computer Science, graduates of the CS and other programs at Cornell University have found success in fields such as Engineering, Fine Arts, Technology, Medicine, Mathematics, Entertainment, the Military, and Communications, among others. Alumni work at Amazon, NBC, Microsoft, CBS, Lockheed Martin, ABC, the U.S. Navy, and IBM, among others.
18. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to the SCAD Digital Media Center. Launched in Fall 2009, the Center houses majors within the School of Digital Media and the School of Entertainment Arts. The School of Digital Media is home to an Immersive Reality Program that leads to a BFA. Launched in 2018, the 180 credit hour program allows students to explore related fields such as User Experience (UX) Design, Visual Effects, Film and Television, and Interactive Design, among others. Students may add an additional major or minor in any of these areas.
Program features include access to panels and presentations by top companies in gaming such as EA Sports, Ubisoft, and Cartoon Network, collaboration with students and faculty across disciplines, and study abroad opportunities at SCAD Lacoste, France. Students also have access to Montgomery Hall, which houses AR/VR resources, more than 800 computers networked to decrease render times, a green screen, and a motion media lab. In The Shed at SCAD, immersive reality labs and classrooms house the latest technology for creating innovative visual experiences.
Course examples for the Immersive Reality BFA Program include Augmented Reality Lab, Immersive Revolution: Augmented to Virtual Reality, Virtual Reality for Motion Media, Immersive Innovation Lab, Visual Effects for Immersive Environments, Integration of Immersive Realities, Visual Storytelling: Virtual Reality to Interactive, Immersive Innovation Lab, Advanced Application Scripting, and Game Engine Applications for Immersive Computing. Fifteen credit hours of additional electives allow students to enhance the degree.
Soon, students in all programs will have access to the expanded Savannah Film Studios. Once completed, the expanded Savannah Film Studios will be the largest and most comprehensive university film studio complex in the nation. Launching in three phases between 2021 and 2023, the 10.9-acre facility will include a next-generation XR stage for virtual productions, new soundstages, and a Hollywood-caliber film backlot, among other features.
The existing Savannah Film Studios building is a 22,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2014. The current Studios house three soundstages, green rooms, lighting grids, postproduction suites, a multi-purpose recording booth for ADR and Foley recordings, screening rooms, and production offices for SCAD’s film and television program.
Founded in 1978 and serving more than 15,000 students, SCAD has one of the nation’s highest employment rates. In a recent study, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. Graduates work in Georgia’s entertainment industry and many other industries across the U.S. Some of the school’s top employer’s include Microsoft, Adobe, Spotify, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, and Starbucks.
19. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. Notable alumni include Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, John Legend, Tory Burch, and Noam Chomsky. UPenn serves around 28,000 students enrolled in 90 majors at the undergraduate level and more than 100 at the graduate level. Among the school’s undergraduate programs is a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) in Digital Media (DMD) and a the eight-course DMD Minor.
Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE in DMD in the School of Engineering and Applied Science combines coursework in Computer Graphics, within the Computer & Information Science Department, Fine Arts courses from Penn's School of Design, and Communication Theory courses from the Annenberg School of Communication.
The BSE in DMD is designed for students interested in the math, design, and computer programming needed to produce virtual reality environments, interactive technologies, computer graphics, games, and animations. Course examples include Interactive Computer Graphics, Automata, Computability, and Complexity, Computer Programming, Advanced Rendering, Mechanics Lab, Art of the Web: Interactive Concepts for Art & Design, Programming Languages and Techniques, Software Design, Advanced Computer Graphics, and Computer Animation.
Students in the DMD Minor Program will complete a Senior Capstone, in lieu of the Senior Design Course. The Capstone Project takes one semester to complete.
Graduates of the DMD Programs at University of Pennsylvania have been hired at some of the world’s top companies and studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Google, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, and Microsoft.
20. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
University of Utah (U of U or The U) is Utah’s public flagship institution. This top-tier research institution serves more than 35,000 students enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate programs and 90+ graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools that house nearly 100 departments. One of the most popular Schools at U of U is the School of Computing.
Founded in 1965 as the Computer Science Department. the School of Computing features research areas such as Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning, Visual Computing, High Performance Computing, and Programming Languages/Software Engineering. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science with a Human-Centered Computing/Virtual Reality Research Area.
Students in both programs have access to the Quantitative Experience Design (QED) Lab, XR Utah, and the state-of-the-art XR Classroom.
The QED Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that explores virtual worlds, human-centered artificial intelligence (AI), experience design, and narrative & game discourse (interface) The Lab is affiliated with the School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts & Engineering Program.
XR Utah is an interdisciplinary research partnership led by the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSEB) at The U. Artists, computer scientists, educators, and psychologists across more than 16 departments at the University of Utah engage in research that helps develop new ways to learn and discover through the use virtual reality technologies.
The XR Classroom helps support projects that utilize projects using AR/VR. Also led by the EHSEB, the classroom and labs provide spaces where individuals can develop customized experiences involving simulations, interactive displays, and education lessons.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Utah work in fields such as Technology, Entertainment, Marketing, Game Design, Engineering, Medicine, and Education.
21. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
Founded as Throop University in 1891, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a science and engineering institute that manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA. The school also owns and operates large-scale research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and a global network of astronomical observatories, including the W. M. Keck and Palomar Observatories.
Caltech is home to around 2,400 students served by a more than 300 faculty members. The school, which sits on a 124-acre campus in Pasadena, California, is divided into six academic divisions including Biology and Biological Engineering; Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Engineering and Applied Science; Geological and Planetary Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy.
The Division of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Computing and Mathematical Sciences Department, which has a Computer Science (CS) Program with three pathways to study AR/VR: the BS, MS, and Minor. Course examples across programs include Advanced Digital Systems Design, Computer Graphics (including Animation, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Modeling), Computer Language Shop, Digital Logic and Embedded Systems, GPU Programming, Machine Learning, Making Data Visual (including Virtual/Technological Media), Nonlinear Control, and Operating Systems.
Students in all CS programs have access to Caltech’s Virtual Reality Lab, where they have opportunities to create projects, conduct research, and collaborate with peers. The Lab also houses Virtech—an experimental platform for online education. Also part of the Center for Data-Driven Discovery at Caltech, Virtech allows students to create their own 3D content, collaborate, and network. Caltech faculty utilize the platform for group meetings and discussions, seminars, experiments with other online technologies and learning modalities, and online lectures.
Caltech graduates go on to establish successful careers in technology, aerospace, government, science, and business among other areas. They have been hired at Meta, SpaceX, and the National Science Foundation, among others.
22. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University (ISU or Iowa State) opened on March 17, 1869 as Iowa State Agricultural College. The school was one of the first of a new generation of American colleges. Today, this public, land-grant university serves around 30,700 students (2021-2022), making it the second largest university in Iowa. Serving around 31,317 students (as of 2022), University of Iowa is the first largest university in the state.
ISU students have access to more than 300 degree, certificate, and minor programs housed in eight colleges and two schools. The Graduate College at Iowa State offers several programs for students interested in AR/VR. Options include MS and PhD degrees in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and a Master of Human-Computer Interaction. The MS is interdisciplinary, the MHC is delivered on-campus and online, and a 12 credit hour HCI Graduate Certificate is also available. Across programs, students will take courses such as Virtual Worlds and Applications, Visual Design for HCI, Computer Graphics and Geometric Modeling, Learn to Speak AI, Design and Evaluation of Human Computer Interaction, Python Application Development in HCI, and Foundations in Game-Based Learning.
Students in all programs have access to the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC), which leads ISU’s HCI Program. This interdisciplinary research center supports the research of students and faculty from ISU’s seven colleges, as well as a number of industry partners and collaborators from several federal agencies.
VRAC participants have skills and interests in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) user experience (UX), developmental robotics, haptics interaction, HCI, and mobile computing.
Graduates of the HCI Programs at Iowa State University are prepared for careers in both the private and public sectors. Master’s degree graduates are also prepared for to continue their studies by enrolling in a PhD program.
23. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Virtual Reality (VR), and the related fields of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR), can be traced back to Harvard University. From 1965 to 1968, Ivan Sutherland, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Harvard, helped create “The Sword of Damocles.” This was the first virtual reality and augmented reality head-mounted display system. Today, full-time, degree-seeking students at Harvard University have access to Harvard Innovation Labs’ AR/VR Studio, along with several degree pathways that can help prepare them for careers in AR/VR.
The AR/VR Studio is a dedicated space designed for the exploration of immersive technologies. The Studio is equipped with various software and design platforms, multiple headset configurations, workstations, and filming resources. In the Studio, students can also experience the latest AR/VR equipment in an open session, learn about the technology with a dedicated team of experienced TAs, and understand how to apply the technology to a specific field. Students in the AR/VR Studi can build MVPs and prototypes through workshops, and attend guest speaker symposiums. Available workshops include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Storytelling in AR/VR.
Founded in 1636 and serving 35,276, students, Harvard University houses 12 degree-granting Schools and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Computer Science Department. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BA, BA/MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science.
Harvard University graduates have established successful careers in just about every field. They can be found in top positions at Amazon, Google, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, Goldman Sachs, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Intel Corporation, CTB/McGraw-Hill, Hyperion Solutions, Hasbro, Inc., Lonely Planet, Meta, Sun Microsystems, and Walt Disney Company, among others.
24. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the largest university in the Chicago area. Established in 1982, the school serves nearly 34,000 students enrolled in 95 bachelor’s, 100 master’s, and 63 doctoral degree programs across 16 academic colleges.
The College of Engineering at UIC houses the Department of Computer Science (CS)—the fastest growing program at the school. Pathways include a BS in CS and Design—the only such program at a public university, an MS and BS/MS in CS, and a CS Minor. A PhD in CS is also available for students interested in research or teaching.
Across programs, areas explored include AR/VR Design, Computer Graphics, Creative Coding, Human-Centered Computing, Designing and Developing Digital Interfaces and Applications, Media Design, and Virtual Health and Medicine. Programs consist of a combination of studio courses and required technical courses that allow students to collaborate in teams on research and projects.
The MS in CS consists of 36 credit hours. Students may enroll in the BS/MS Program, which takes just five years to complete. The MS has coursework only, project (capstone), and thesis options (research or PhD preparation). Featured courses include Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Design of Mobile Apps, and Video Game Design and Development.
Students in all programs have access to the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and the Human-in-Mind Engineering Research Lab (HiMER).
Established in 1973, EVL is an interdisciplinary research laboratory in the College of Engineering’s Computer Science Department. EVL specializes in virtual reality, visual data science, collaborative visualization, and advanced computing and networking infrastructure. The Lab is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Argonne National Laboratory, The Joseph and Bessie Feinberg Foundation, the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the State of Illinois, and UIC.
The HiMER Lab highlights recently funded research including AR/VR, Human Performance Modeling, Human-System Interaction, Data Analytics, and Transportation Safety. Recent AR/VR projects include Projection-Based Mixed Reality Platform-Spatial Mixed Reality, Gaze-Based Multimodal Interactions in AR, and Human Perception and Cognition in AR.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of Illinois at Chicago have been hired at some of the world’s top companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, Meta, Adobe, Google, Apple, LG, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HP, Redbox, and Verizon, among others.
25. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
This fall, Purdue University reached a record 50,884 students, topping last year’s 49,639 students. This is the university’s eighth straight record high. Founded in 1869, Purdue opened its doors on September 16, 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school employs 2,000 full-time faculty that teach and conduct research in Purdue’s 12 colleges and schools, and Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
For students interested in AR/VR, Purdue Polytechnic Institute has a flexible MS in Computer Graphics Technology (MS CGT) Program that allows students to take coursework in one or more areas and customize their plan of study. AR/VR coursework includes Augmented Reality, Collaborative Virtual and Augmented Environments, Product Development Using Virtual Environments, Virtual Environments, Cognition & Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Special Topics In Human-Centered Design And Development, Computer Graphics Programming, and Advanced Real-Time Computer Graphics.
Students in the program have access to the Purdue HRD Virtual Lab, which is equipped with Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headsets to deliver virtual reality simulations, Microsoft HoloLens for augmented reality training simulations, GoPro Omni and GoPro Hero to create 360-degree training simulation content, and iMotions software to collect biometric data on facial expression analysis (FEA), eye tracking (ET), electrocardiography (ECG), galvanic skin responses (GSR), and facial electromyography (fEMG).
To graduate, MS CGT students will complete several projects including the Computer Graphics Project, Directed MS Capstone, and Directed MS Project.
Graduates of the MS CGT Program at Purdue University-Purdue Polytechnic Institute are prepared to seek careers in all sectors that utilize AR/VR. Graduates have been hired at Google, DreamWorks, Google, Salesforce, Deloitte, and other major companies and studios.
26. Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
Northwestern University (NU or Northwestern) serves 8,000+ undergraduate students and 13,000+ graduate students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 12 colleges and schools and three campuses in Chicago, IL, Evanston, IL, and Doha, Qatar. Established in 1851, Northwestern also has sites in San Francisco, CA, New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Miami, FL.
The McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University houses the Computer Science Department, which heads the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Research Area. Supported topics include AR/VR, Mixed-Initiative Systems, Tangible User Interfaces, Cyberlearning, Ubiquitous Computing, User-Centered Design, Mobile Interaction Design, Interactive Audio, and Multi-Touch Interaction, among others.
Northwestern HCI students are enrolled programs in Computer Science (BA, BS, MS, and a Minor), Communication, Learning Sciences, and Technology & Social Behavior. HCI students also take courses and attend seminars through the Segal Design Institute.
The BA in Computer Science is offered in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (est. 1851). The BS and MS are offered in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (est. 1909). Minors are available at McCormick and Weinberg.
Course examples at the undergraduate level include Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programming, HCI, Machine Learning, Tangible Interaction Design and Learning, HCI, Computer Graphics, Computer Game Design and Development, Machine Perception of Music & Audio, Game Design Studio, Agile Software Development, Software Construction, Resource Virtualization, Designing & Constructing Models with Multi-Agent Language, and Advanced Digital Design.
MS students have the opportunity to customize the curriculum to support their goals. Options include courses and research in AI, HCI, distributed interactive systems, AR/VR for Virtual Analytics, Theoretical Computer Science, and Computer Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces for Spatial Applications, Visualization, and Computer Entertainment. Students in all programs have access to The Garage—Northwestern’s AR/VR Media Lab.
The Garage consists of an 11,000 square foot space that provides programming and resources, and supports projects, networking, and collaboration between students and more than 250 mentors and experts. To date The Garage has helped produce more than 500 student-founded startups and projects.
Northwestern Computer Science alumni are Computer Programmers, Software Developers, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs. They work for global companies such as IBM, Intel, Google, and Microsoft, among others.
27. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
In 2021, University of Florida (UF) enrolled more than 61,000 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. and the third largest in Florida. More than 300 programs are available across 16 colleges and schools. The College of the Arts at UF is home to the Digital Worlds Institute, which houses Master’s in Digital Arts & Sciences (MiDAS). This one-year, accelerated program explores emerging technologies, specifically AR/VR, and it accepts individuals from all backgrounds.
The MiDAS Program covers Technical Skills: Game Engines and Development (i.e. Unity 3D) and Software and Hardware Integration; Design and Interactivity: Visual Design Tools/Tech, 3D for VR/AR UI-UX, Audio, Digital Compositing, and Digital Storytelling; and Professional Skills: Project Proposals, Production Pipelines, Project Management, and Critical Thinking and Analysis.
Other MiDAS Program features include opportunities to work on real-world projects within the industry-standard, a collaborative environment, personal attention from faculty and content area experts, and professional portfolio development. UF MiDAS Students also have access to the UF Reality Lab at the Digital Worlds Institute.
The Lab explores and promotes research and educational endeavors in AR/VR. Sample courses in the Lab include Production of Immersive Environments, Digital Storytelling, Movement, Media, and Machines, and Interdisciplinary Research Seminar. Past student projects include Metrolia VR Multiplayer Mech Duel, Space Mail, ScootVR, SpArc: Animate Using Your Hands in Virtual Reality, HoloTouch, Virtual Standardized Patient, and WonderLab.
Graduates of the MiDAS Program and other University of Florida graduates have been hired at Boeing, Walt Disney, the U.S. Department of Defense, Aramark, ESPN, Cox Media Group, the U.S. Navy, Glaxo Smith Klein, 22squared, Reed Exhibitions, GE Digital-Meridium, and Spirit Airlines, among others.
28. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
Faculty at the University of Arizona (UArizona) College of Social & Behavioral Sciences’ School of Information (iSchool) engage in virtual, augmented, extended, and mixed reality, video game design and development, and human-computer interaction (HCI) with a goal to advance these interactive technologies for enhanced user experience and performance. In addition faculty with interests in AR/VR and related areas, students interested in studying augmented and virtual reality have access to several labs that highlight AR/VR research, development, and education. Labs include the Extended Reality and Games Lab (XRG Lab) and the 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab.
In the XRG Lab, researchers and participants focus on the research and development of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality techniques. Ongoing research projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Arizona Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute (SBSRI), and others. Projects include Googly Eyes (VR), Mirrored VR, Bounce: A Mixed Reality Serious Game for Teaching Newtonian Physics Concepts, Grabbable Holograms (mixed reality) and Give Me a Hand? (virtual reality).
The 3D Visualization and Imaging Systems Lab is designed for research in emerging technologies such as mixed- and augmented realities (MR-AR), the Lab focuses on the development of 2D/3D display systems, 3D visualization systems, 3D human computer interaction methods, and image acquisition systems. Researchers are interested in applying these technologies in medicine, scientific visualization, and education.
Degree programs for students interested in AR/VR are also housed in the UArizona iSchool. Options include a BS in Information Science and Technology and a Games and Simulation Certificate. The BS Program is organized into three tiers: Core Courses, Intensive Computing, and Research Methods, Computational Arts, and Society. Students have the option to customize a focus area based on their interests. Coursework may include Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, HCI, Neural Networks, and Informatics Applications. The BS Program has a required Individual Studies Component and Senior Capstone course.
The Games and Simulation Certificate explores the creation of virtual interactive environments for a variety of platforms and devices. Course examples for the program include Virtual Reality, Game Programming, Computing and the Arts, Technology of Sound, and Advanced Game Development. Students in this 12 credit hour Certificate Program will gain real-world experience through collaboration with peers and the creation of several working prototypes.
Graduates of the iSchool degree and certificate programs have been hired at Amazon, Raytheon Technologies, Microsoft, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments (TI), and IBM Systems & Technology Group, among others.
Established in 1885 and serving more than 47,300 students, University of Arizona offers Bachelors, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs, first professional and specialist programs, and a variety of undergraduate and graduate minors. Programs are housed in 20 colleges and additional specialized schools.
29. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the Department of Design, which has a program that’s suitable for individuals interested in a career in AR/VR. Leading to an MFA in Design, the program has a Digital Animation and Interactive Media (DAIM) Track. Also housed OSU’s College of Arts and Design is the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), which conducts research that focuses on emerging arts technologies. ACCAD houses complemented by specialized and flexible studios for interactive design, animation, mediated performance design, motion capture, and media production.
In addition to access to the ACCAD, DAIM students have the opportunity to take 12 studio elective credits that provide hands-on experience. The 60 credit hour MFA Program also includes core design courses, open electives in the themes of studio/lab, history/theory/criticism, and collaborative/interdisciplinary studio, writing development, and a thesis project. Areas covered include real time graphics and virtual environments, performance animation, game art, responsive and interactive media, and installations.
Graduates of the Design MFA Program have been hired in a variety of roles in a range of industries. They hold positions such as Augmented Reality Designer, Mixed Reality Designer, Virtual Reality Designer, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designer, Interaction Designer, Visualization Specialist, Motion Graphics Designer, Game Designer, Experiential Designer, Multimedia Designer, and CG Generalist.
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established on March 22, 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves nearly 67,800 students across six campuses that house 18 colleges and schools and 200 academic centers and institutes.
30. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
In 1979, Full Sail University (Full Sail) launched as an audio recording workshop in Dayton, Ohio. Today, Full Sail provides Entertainment, Media, Arts, and Technology programs to around 21,000 students. Programs lead to Associate, Bachelor, and Master’s degrees.
Options for students interested in AR/VR include a BS in Simulation and Visualization with access to Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab. Course features for the BS Program include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming I & II, Simulation and Visualization Software, Simulation Production, Computer Graphics, and Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries.
Throughout the program, students will complete a project and build a portfolio through a series of seven courses including Project and Portfolio I-VII: Simulation and Visualization. The BS Program can be completed in just 20 months, on campus.
Full Sail’s VR/AR Lab and FabLab launched in 2016. In the Full Sail VR/AR Lab, students have access to headsets from Oculus, Magic Leap, Microsoft, and HTC, a green screen, and other tolls and equipment to develop AR/VR projects.
The Full Sail FabLab is set up like a workshop. The space includes 3D printers, laser scanners, injection molding machines, and more. Students in the lab can work on projects, collaborate, and network.
Full Sail University graduates enjoy a 92% employment rate. Examples of companies that have hired Full Sail graduates include Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Universal Studios, MTV, Cirque du Soleil, DreamWorks Animation, Bunim Murray Productions, NFL Films, HBO Studios, Disney, Rockstar Games, Blizzard Entertainment, Nickelodeon, and Miramax.
31. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State or NCSU) has several pathways to study AR/VR. Students can earn a BA or MA degree in Art + Design (A + D), with access to several AR/VR and mixed reality labs. Founded in 1887 as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, NC State has provides more than 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 36,000+ students. Programs are housed in 12 colleges and schools and 65 departments. The BA and MA Programs are housed in the College of Design, which also offers a 16 credit hour A + D Minor with a customizable curriculum.
The College of Design is home to the Experience Design (IX) and Mixed Reality Labs (MxR), and the College of Engineering’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering houses the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VR).
The IX Lab is a cross-disciplinary community of artists, designers, humanists, scientists, and engineers that focus on expanding worlds through AR/VR and other new and emerging technologies.
The MxR Lab consists of designers, engineers, and individuals interested in experimentation. The Lab focuses on AR/VR and MR technologies. Projects have included Axe One, Morphaces, and Pop’n’Play.
In the VR Lab researchers study the interaction between humans and AR/VR. Projects have included include User Performance Training and Patient Motor Learning. Current projects include Scale Cognition through Advanced Learning Environments in Virtual Reality (SCALE-VR), Virtual Instructor Application using Augmented Reality for Worker Posture Training, and Investigation of Virtual Reality Guided Upper Limb Exercises.
Accessible equipment includes four-sided (C4) Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) with full-body tracking capability, several head-mounted displays (HMDs), and a head-up display (HUD). In addition, a variety of peripheral devices that support movement tracking are available.
In the College of Design’s interdisciplinary, studio-based A + D BA, students have the opportunity to learn about and develop creative portfolios in areas such as AR/VR, Interactive and Computational Media, Motion Graphics, Visual Effects (VFX), Graphic and Interactive Narratives, Game Design, 3D Modeling, and others. In addition, three Concentrations are available: Gaming + Interaction Design, Animation (2D + 3D), and Fibers + Soft Construction.
Students may also create a focus through required free electives totaling 12 credit hours. Elective examples include Advanced Digital Techniques, Digital Representation, and Art + Design Laboratory. Course examples for the program include Visualization, Art + Design Laboratory, Creative Technology, Digital Imaging, Advanced Digital Techniques, Digital Motion, and Animation. Studios include Creative technology, Art and Design International, and Design, Context, and Experience.
The MA in A +D (M.A.D) focuses on Experimental Media Arts. Depending on the student’s academic background and experience, they may enroll in the 30-, 48- or 72-credit Track. Course examples include Sequential Imaging, Visualizing Narratives, Graduate Studio: Immersive and Experimental narratives, Digital Motion, Special Effects, Animation, Dynamic Data, Digital Modeling, and Coding for Designers. Final projects for the M.A.D. Program may explore AR/VR, VFX, Interactive and Computational Media, Graphic and Interactive Narratives, Visual Composition, and Motion Graphics, among others.
Graduates of the Art + Design Department at North Carolina State University work in fields such as Software Design, Multimedia, Illustration, Textile Design, Fashion and Apparel Design, Art and Design Education, Photography, Filmmaking, Special Effects-Digital, Set Design, Exhibition Design, Museum Education, and Public Art. Some graduates have launched their own businesses and studios.
32. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University has one of the top cooperative (co-op) education programs in the U.S. Established more than a century ago, the program recorded more than 9,000 placements with 2,900 employers around the world from 2019-2020 alone. The school also integrates global experience into learning at all degree levels.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern serves 33,676 students enrolled in more than 500 programs across campuses in Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; Silicon Valley; San Francisco, California; Toronto, Ontario Canada; Vancouver, BC Canada; London, UK; Portland, Maine, and the Massachusetts communities of Nahant and Burlington. As an R1 Research University, Northeastern also houses 10 research institutes. Examples include the Experiential AI Institute, the Experiential Robotics Institute, and the Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things.
The College of Arts, Media, and Design (CAMD) is home to the school’s combined major leading to a BS in Design and Mechanical Engineering (BSME) and the Immersive Media Minor. CAMD Programs are available at most Northeastern campuses.
The Immersive Media Minor is an interdisciplinary program for students who are interested in Augmented Virtuality, Extended Reality, Cross Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Enhanced Realities. Course examples for the program include Virtual Environment Design, Immersive Media, Physical and Digital Fabrication, Programming, Animation for Games, Design Analysis and Innovation, and Game Studio.
The BSME Program is divided into seven areas: Engineering, Design, Supporting Courses, Writing, Integrative Courses, Professional Development, and General Electives. Course examples include Experience and Interaction, Interaction Design, Design Process Context and Systems, Mechanical Engineering Computation and Design, Fluid Mechanics, Movement and Time, Professional Issues in Engineering, and Physics for Engineering. BSME students can add the Immersive Media Minor and a Senior Capstone Design is part of the program.
Students in both the BSME and Immersive Media Minor Program have access to three CAMD labs that support AR/VR learning, projects, and research.
The Immersive Media Labs Suite includes technologies for design, development, and exploration of AR/VR/XR, 360 video, and virtual worlds. Students have access to individual workstations and a collaboration and teaching area. Current work in the Lab includes design, development, and exploration of immersive data visualization, immersive games to study and build problem solving and collaboration skills, exploration and integration of digital drawing, painting, and sculpting tools, storytelling, media advocacy, and healthcare delivery.
In the Experiential Technologies Lab and User Testing Environment students develop software, and engage in interface development, game testing, and integration of biometrics tools including eye-tracking and wearable sensors. Lab resources include a one-way mirror, camera setups, and high-end computing.
MedVR is produced in partnership with Grassroots Developer Education, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and the College of Arts, Media, and Design. Clinicians, engineers, and creatives collaborate in the lab to talk and learn about the latest AR/VR developments in healthcare and life sciences, invent translational AR/VR solutions, and solve healthcare problems by creating new experiences with AR/VR.
Graduates of the CAMD Programs and others at Northeastern University have been hired by a wide variety of companies, studios, and organizations. Examples include Amazon, Microsoft, 20th Digital Studio (formerly known as Fox Digital Studio), Google, ABC, AMC Networks, NBC, Abbot, ATYX Gaming, Nickelodeon, Alpha Defense, Nokia, Oracle, Peloton, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Photo Diagnostic Systems, Inc., Tesla, Textron, Apple, Walt Disney World, Lockheed Martin, UBTCH Robotics, Walt Disney Imagineering, the U.S. Air Force, and United Technologies Aerospace Systems.
33. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Parsons The New School for Design (Parsons) was established in 1896 as The Chase School. Serving more than 10,000 students, Parsons provides more than 100 degree and diploma programs across campuses in New York City; Paris, France; Shanghai, China; and Mumbai, India. Programs lead to an AAS, BBA, BFA, MA, MS, MFA, MPS or MArch. Options include for students interested in AR/VR include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and a Minor Immersive Storytelling. The Minor is open to all undergraduate students.
Students in the Immersive Storytelling Minor have the opportunity to explore experiential and immersive storytelling in virtual and augmented reality (AR), mixed reality, interactive theater, data visualization, and 360 spherical film. Students in the program are exposed to design strategies and production pipelines such as systems and new technologies of interaction, digital asset creation and implementation, and narrative design.
The BFA Program explores interaction technologies, emerging art and design practices, and media storytelling. Program features include projects with (and visits to) companies such as Apple, Atari, MTV, Nickelodeon, Siemens, UNESCO, Rockwell Interaction Lab, and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center; the opportunity to select a focused pathway in Creative Technology or Game Design; and internship opportunities with major companies and studios.
The Design and Technology MFA explores the interactive, visual, and narrative aspects of design technology. The program focuses on software programming and computation. Typical MFA projects involve interaction design, game design, new media art, digital fabrication, web and mobile apps, critical design, and data visualization.
Students in all Parsons programs have access to The New School XReality Center—home to the XR Reality Lab and XR-related events. The Lab supports research, student projects, and immersive learning as well as workshops and meetups.
Graduates of the Design and Technology Programs at Parsons are prepared for careers in Virtual Reality and Immersion Experience Design, Interaction Design, Game Design, Computer Software and Hardware Design, Mobile and Application Design, Web/UI/UX Design, 2D and 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Film and Television, and Digital Filmmaking, among others.
34. University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California
University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz or UCSC) is home to the Baskin School of Engineering, which houses the Computational Media Department (CM) and the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) Lab. In the Lab, faculty and students have the opportunity to create 3D virtual environments that allow multiple users to interact at the same time. The facility houses a room-sized, advanced visualization system also called the CAVE, which combines high-resolution, stereoscopic projection and 3D computer graphics to create and fully immerse in virtual environments.
The CAVE Lab is also outfitted with Mechdyne CAVE and FLEX technology and adjustable walls that allow environments to be modified for different applications. The Unity development platform is used to create 3D interactive environments.
UCSC has an additional space, known as the VizLab, that’s dedicated to AR/VR. The Lab provides access to high-end VR equipment that can be used to develop virtual or augmented reality content and interact with imagined worlds. Students can check out equipment such as a VIVE headset, Gear VR, Google Cardboard, 360 cameras, GoPros, DSLR cameras, video cameras, and other media capture devices. The VizLab also hosts class sessions, workshops, and project development meetings.
UC Santa Cruz is part of the 10-campus University of California System. The school serves 18,980 students enrolled in 170 undergraduate, graduate, and minor programs across 10 colleges and dozens of schools. Baskin School of Engineering houses the BS and MS Programs in Computer Science (CS), and the MS and PhD degrees in Computational Media.
Course examples across programs include, Introduction to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Game AI, Artificial Intelligence (AI), User Experience for Interactive Media, Applied Machine Learning, Software Engineering, Computational Media Methods, Computer Systems and C Programming, Programming Abstractions: Python, Advanced Computer Graphics and Animation Laboratory, and Data Programming for Visualization.
Students will complete a variety of projects throughout all CS programs. In the final year, graduate students will complete a thesis OR additional project with written report.
Graduates of the Computer Science Programs at University of California, Santa Cruz are prepared for in-demand jobs such as AR/VR Maintenance and Support, XR Gameplay and Tools Engineer, Software Developer, Senior Software Engineer, Design/Graphics Engineer, and Software Engineer.
35. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University (DePaul) was founded in 1898 as St. Vincents College. Serving 21,670 students, DePaul is the nation’s largest Roman Catholic university. Students at DePaul have access to more than 300 programs across 10 colleges and schools.
The Eugene P. Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) and Communication house several Labs that support AR/VR collaboration, learning, research and development, and projects on emerging platforms.
The Virtual and Augmented Design (VAD) Lab is part of the Jarvis College of CDM. Located on the concourse level of the DePaul Center, the Lab is equipped with AR headsets/visors, VR headsets with hand and foot trackers, iPhones for augmented reality development, Oculus Rifts, iPhones for augmented reality development, Microsoft HoloLenses, HTC Vives, and Macs and PCs.
The goal of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Communication Lab (VARC) in the College of Communication is to advance ethical communication in VR and VR. Equipped with the latest AR/VR equipment, the Lab allows students and faculty to experience AR/VR technology and explore how these tools impact society. The VARC Lab also offers classes and workshops, and supports courses at DePaul that utilize AR/VR in the classroom.
In addition to the Labs at DePaul, students interested in AR/VR careers have access to several degree pathways. Options in School of Computing within the Jarvis College of CDM include a BS in Computer Science (CS), and MS degrees in Computer Science and Software Engineering. Software Engineering students may concentrate in Software and Systems Development. Other noteworthy graduate concentrations include Game and Real-Time Systems, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Graduates of the Computer Science and Software Engineering Programs at DePaul University have been hired by Lockheed Martin, Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft, Disney Interactive, Meta, Argonne National Laboratory, GitHub, Vivid Seats, and CME Group, among others.
36. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is America’s first technological research university. The Institute, which houses five schools, 32 research centers, and more than 145 academic programs, serves around 6,900 students and over 100,000 living alumni.
Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science (CS). A Minor is available as well as Dual Degrees including a CS BS/MS and Accelerated CS BS/PhD. Housed in the RPI School of Sciences, the Computer Science Program focuses on the design, analysis, communication, implementation, and application of computational processes. Optional concentrations include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Games, Robotics, Vision, Graphics, Data Systems, and Software Theory and Algorithms.
Course features across programs Intelligent Virtual Agents, Modeling & Simulation for Cyber-Physical Systems, Interactive Visualization, Computer Vision for Visual Effects, Robot Dynamics and Control, Learning and Advanced Game AI, Computer Graphics, Cognitive Computing, Cognitive Modeling, and Parallel Programming.
Students in all CS Programs at RPI have access to the recently launched Rensselaer Augmented and Virtual Environment (RAVE) Lab. Established in 2019 and housed in the J. Erik Jonsson Engineering Center, the Lab supports experimentation with different types of virtual and augmented reality. Students and researchers have access to state-of-the-art equipment and a flexible physical space.
Students and graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have opportunities to work with Lockheed Martin, Amazon Robotics, and ExxonMobil, among others.
37. University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Established in 1876 and serving close to 35,900 students, University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) houses the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society (ATLAS) Institute. Founded in 1998, the ATLAS Institute is home to a number of labs and centers designed to support student work on independent projects. Current labs and centers include ACME Lab, Living Matter Lab, THING Lab, Unstable Design Lab, Laboratory for Emergent Nanomaterials, Center for Media, Arts & Performance, and BTU Lab.
Past projects include AR Drum Circle, Augmented Reality and Autonomous Systems (ARIAS), Augmented Reality Informs Human-Robot Interaction, Augmented Reality Remote Assistance (ARRA), Haptic VR Wizard, Biolage Reactor, and Jam Station, to name a few.
The Atlas Institute also manages the Creative Design & Technology (CTD) Program, with core courses taught in the Roser ATLAS Center and degrees granted through the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Pathways for students interested in AR/VR include the BS and Minor in CTD.
The BS in CTD (BS-CTD) requires 128-130 credit hours of study and the Minor requires 21 credit hours. BS-CTD students may choose a focus area through elective offerings. Areas include Augmented and Virtual Reality, Interactive Computing, Game Design, Robotics, Physical Computing, Sound Design, User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX), and more. Other program features include creative projects, regular professional development opportunities, workshops and guest speakers, internships with industry partners, employment in the CTD research and student labs, and portfolio development.
To complete the major, BS-CDT students take a two-semester Capstone sequence where they produce one major culminating project.
The ATLAS and the College of Engineering and Applied Science also offer an MS in CTD with a Creative Industries Track. The project-based curriculum for this program allows students to build their own focus area. Some popular options include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interactive Product Design and Development, Game Design and Development, Arts and Media Production, UI/UX, and Learning and Education. Classes, workshops, visiting speakers, and studios provide the opportunity for graduate students to work directly with industry professionals on real-world issues.
Graduates of the CDT Programs at University of Colorado Boulder work in many areas of Art and Entertainment, Technology, Education, Healthcare, Sciences, and Defense, among others. MS graduates also work in Research in all industries and in many departments and agencies of the U.S. government. Examples of employers for CU Boulder graduates include Lockheed Martin, Google, IBM, Walt Disney, Medtronic, Ball Aerospace, CBS Studio Center, Panavision, Hitachi, and Starz Entertainment.
38. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Duke University houses the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, home to the Department of Computational Media, Arts & Cultures and the Department of Computer Science. Within the Departments are several degree pathways, studios and labs for students looking to learn about, develop, and experience AR/VR.
Labs include the Institute for Virtual and Augmented Reality for the Digital Humanities (VARDHI), which focuses on the application of VR and AR to humanities research, outreach, and teaching; Duke Immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) in the Pratt School of Engineering—a large-scale virtual reality facility established in 2005; the Innovation Co-Lab, which explores VR technology; TEC VR at the Technology Engagement Center/Co-Lab, where students can experience VR; and Bolt VR—a space equipped with a state-of-the-art, custom gaming PC, 4K display for remote, and the Vive immersive VR system.
Studios include the Multimedia Project Studio (MPS) at Duke, which offers resources for students and developers to begin their VR projects. In addition, the [email protected] within the Department of Computational Media, Arts & Cultures conducts AR/VR research and develops apps, virtual environments, and VR applications.
Established in 1924, Duke University serves 16,780 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Duke’s most popular program is Computer Science. Leading to a BA, BS, MS, or PhD, the Program provides access to all of the schools labs and studios. Students may also enroll in an Interdepartmental Major (IDMs), which combines two academic disciplines in Trinity College, with seven courses from each to create a major.
graduates of the Computer Science Programs at Duke University are prepared for careers in all areas of Computer Science, AR/VR, Aerospace, Entertainment, Defense, and Education, among others.
39. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) provides more than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 students from the U.S. and abroad. Columbia features small class sizes, internship opportunities, and real-world opportunities to display works at a number of conferences and other events.
For students interested in AR/VR, Columbia has an Immersive Media (IM) BA Program that requires a Minor. This allows students to develop skills in multiple areas. An 18 credit hour IM Minor is also available for students in other degree programs. Minors that complement the IM BA include Interactive Media Development, Programming, User Experience, Game Design, Video Production, and Animation.
Follow the path from prototyping to deployment, students in the Immersive Media Program will develop the skills needed to produce augmented, mixed, and virtual reality experiences for games, entertainment, healthcare, engineering, and the sciences, among others. Other program features include a collaborative environment, portfolio development, and the opportunity to participate in or present at events such as the Augmented World Expo (AWE), the VRAR Association of Chicago (career fairs and events), the Game Developers Conference (GDC), the Chicago Toy and Game Fair (required), and Industry Night and Manifest.
Nearly 90% of Columbia College graduates report being employed within a year of earning their degrees. Immersive Media graduates hold positions such as Augmented Reality Designer and Developer, Virtual Reality Design and Developer, Immersive Information Visualization, Immersive Media Artist, Simulation Design and Developer, User Experience Design for Immersive Media, and Immersive Storytelling.
Columbia College alumni have been hired at Microsoft, Meta, Steam, Snapchat, Google, Midwest Immersive, Within, Adobe, 8i Virtual Reality Studio (8i), Riot Games, , CNN, NY Times, Midwest Immersive, Moxie, Edelman, and TIME Studios, among others.
40. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private research university established in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. The school, which houses hundreds of programs and initiatives, has partnerships in over 48 nations and on every continent. UChicago serves 17,470 students, with more than 4,400 students enrolling each year from nearly 115 countries.
University of Chicago offers well over 150 degree and academic programs across the undergraduate College, four graduate divisions, seven professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Computer Science, which has BS and MS Degrees in Computer Science (CS). The Department also offers a CS Minor and three BA/MS and BS/MS degree options (Bx/MS), including a research-oriented option for CS majors, a professionally oriented option for CS majors, and a professionally oriented option for non-CS majors.
Students in the Department may specialize in areas such as Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Machine Learning, Programming Languages, and Computer Architecture. They also have the opportunity to focus in an additional field by following an approved course of study in a related area. This provides a pathway to develop additional skills in AR/VR.
Across programs, students will have access to courses such as Emergent Interface Technologies, Planning, Learning, and Estimation for Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Scientific Visualization, Programming Languages and Systems, Natural Language Processing, Robotics, Mobile Computing, Computer Vision, Software Development, and Engineering Interactive Electronics onto Printed Circuit Boards.
Other program features include internship and study abroad opportunities at the UChicago Center in Beijing and others, and access to the Weston Game Lab.
Housed in the Media Arts, Data, and Design Center (MADD Center), the Weston Game Lab launched in in 2019. MADD Center groups focus on virtual reality, GIS, digital fabrication, data visualization, and other new, evolving, and emerging technologies. Through the Lab, faculty, students and staff collaborate on the research and development of games of all kinds. Examples include alternate reality, digital, board, and card.
Lab participants will also attend workshops and collaborate on game-based experiments and development projects in the 3,800-square-foot space, which houses classrooms, studio spaces, and open work areas.
University of Chicago graduates are recruited for a variety of positions at more than 400 organizations annually. UChicago graduates from the past three years work in over 40 countries across six continents. University of Chicago alumni can be found at leading organizations in a variety of industries, they are enrolled in some of the top graduate programs, and many alumni start their own studios, businesses, companies, and organizations.
41. 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 offer more than 250 programs of study.
The Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University is home to the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies (ECT), which houses the Information and Telecommunication Systems Major, (ITS ECT) with a VR/AR Track. In partnership with the School of Media Arts & Studies, the McClure School also has a VR and Game Development Emphasis, which is part of the Games and Animation Major.
The VR/AR Track, which leads to a BS degree, focuses on emerging communication technologies production, including AR/VR, and information networking and telecommunication systems. Students in the program will learn about the application, management, design, management, and regulation, information network technology, the use, production, and implementation of VR/AR; and how businesses acquire and sell these products and services.
The VR and Game Development Emphasis leads to a BS in Media Arts and Studies – Games and Animation. Students will begin the program with an animation or game design pathway, with opportunities to enhance either area. This includes taking courses in AR/VR offered by the McClure School.
Students in all programs have access to Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab. Established in 2005, the GRID Lab is an initiative of Scripps College. Developed by the School of Media Arts and Studies, the Lab focuses on the research and development of virtual reality, serious and educational games, simulations, and computer animation.
The McClure School at Ohio University has the highest job placement rate in the Scripps College of Communication. Graduates of the ITS ECT Program (VR/AR Track), have been recruited by major studios and companies such as Microsoft, Sony, Unity, Warner Brothers, Disney, and Bethesda. ITS graduates are also employed in branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, in state and federal government offices, and with consulting companies such as Deloitte, Accenture, Capgemini, Booz Allen Hamilton, and PwC.
Graduates of the Game and Animation Program with a VR and Game Development Emphasis have been hired at Blizzard, Disney/Disney Imagineering, Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Sony PlayStation, Riot Games, and Unity, among others.
42. University of Rochester, Rochester, New York
University of Rochester (UR) is a private research university that allows students to build their own program of study or enroll in a traditional degree program. There are no general education requirements with the build-your-own option and no traditional core curriculum. The only required skill is written communication. Build-your-own students may choose from dozens of writing courses on variety of unique topics. Examples include Comics and Culture, America’s National Parks, and Philosophy in Science Fiction.
Build-your-own majors at University of Rochester fall in one of three broad areas: Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences, and Engineering. Undergraduate students can build an AR/VR Program by selecting courses from one or all areas or they can enroll in the BA or BS in Computer Science (CS), while graduate students may enroll in the multi-disciplinary AR/VR PhD Program.
The CS Programs have three Tracks: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Vision, and Natural Language Understanding. Course examples across Tracks include AR/VR Interaction Design, Video Game Development, Programming Language Design and Implementation, HCI, Recreational Graphics, Design and Analytics of Efficient Algorithms, Machine Learning, Logical Foundations of AI, Mobile Vision Computing, and Machine Vision.
Students in the AR/VR PhD Program at University of Rochester typically have a background in Computer Science, Optics, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical and computer Engineering, or Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Housed in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Georgen Institute for Data Science, the program focuses on AR/VR interfaces and applications, AR/VR platforms and computation, perceptual-cognitive aspects of AR/VR design, and machine intelligence for AR/VR systems.
Graduates of the Computer Science and AR/VR Programs at University of Rochester are prepared to pursue a wide range of positions a variety of industries. Sample job titles include VR Developer, User Experience Designer, AR Developer, Mobile Developer, Solution Architect, AI Developer, Firmware Engineer, Quality Assurance manager, HCI Developer, and Research Software Engineer.
43. University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
University at Buffalo (UB) is a public research university and a flagship of the State University of New York system (SUNY). Serving 32,332 students, UB is the largest campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. More than 510 degree programs are available across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences at UB houses the Department of Media Study (DMS) and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is home to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Both have several pathways to study AR/VR.
Programs in the DMS explore games, AR/VR, robotics, experimental film, interactive, fiction, and many other areas. Research areas for DMS faculty include Games and Virtual Reality, Emerging Media, Music and Sound, and Film and Video, among others. Games and Virtual Reality researchers study and build virtual worlds, mixed reality experiences, responsive installations, intermedia performances, and games.
Undergraduate DMS programs for students interested in AR/VR include the BA in Media Study with a Concentration in Production, and the Game Studies Certificate. Graduate options include the MFA in Media Arts Production (including interactive media, computational media, physical computing), the Media Arts and Architecture Program (MAAP) with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) + Master of Science in Architecture (MS) Track for students with a prior degree in the arts, design, humanities, computer science and engineering or related fields, and the PhD in Media Study ( including interactive media, physical computing, production, and digital media).
Most coursework across programs have AR/VR and related components. Examples include Virtual Worlds I-II, Emerging Technologies, Media Robotics, Programming Graphics I-II, Game Design, Interactive Fiction, Computational Media, Sound and Space, Physical Computing, Programming for Digital Art, Green Media, Electronic Literature, Sound Design, Video Workshop, Game Design, Machines, Codes, and Cultures, Game and Animation Workshop, Time-Based Concepts, Performative Action, and Designed Play.
Students in all programs enjoy small class sizes (15-18 students), team projects, internship opportunities, and an active study abroad program.
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UB has several options for students interested in AR/VR including the Computer Science BA, Computer Science BS/MBA, Computer Science BS/ Computer Science and Engineering MS, the Computer Engineering MS, and the Mechanical Engineering BS. All programs provide access to the UB Virtual Reality Lab, housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Course examples across programs include Applied Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interface Design, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Programming in Python, Machine Learning and Society, Coding Theory, Software Engineering, Computer Vision and Image Processing, Robotic Algorithms, Digital Image Processing, Computer Programming I-II, Systems Programming, Digital Systems, and The Learning Environment.
University at Buffalo graduates are routinely recruited by some of world’s top companies. Examples include Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Google, Fisher-Price, IBM, Carleton Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., Eli Lilly, and BAE Systems.
44. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
University of Minnesota (U of M) was established in 1851—seven years before Minnesota became a state. Serving more than 50,000 students, the school is one of the largest universities in the nation, and the only land-grant university in the state. Students at U of M have access to 150 undergraduate majors and more than 130 research-based graduate programs in the fields of art, science, engineering, humanities, agriculture, and medicine. The school also provides a number of interdisciplinary programs at all degree levels.
Programs at University of Minnesota are housed across dozens of colleges, schools, and departments. The College of Science & Engineering (CSE) is home to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, which has several pathways to study AR/VR. Options include a BA, BS or MS in Computer Science (CS). While the BA is administered through the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the degree is awarded by the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
Course examples across programs include VR and 3D Interaction, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Exploring CSCI: Python, Robotics, Advanced Machine Learning, Animation & Planning Games, Software Development, Program Design & Development, Programming Graphics and Games, and Program Design and Development. Specialty courses include Topics in Modern Machine Learning, Programming Language Foundations in Agda, Vision and Learning in Interactive Field Robotics, and Trends in Edge Computing.
Students in all CS programs have access to the Interaction Visualization Lab (IV/LAB) and the Illusioneering Lab.
The IV/LAB is equipped with a 4-wall CAVE Virtual Reality display; a Multi-Surface, Multi-Touch Virtual Reality Environment; and a 3D Haptic (Force-Feedback) Display. The IV/LAB also works with the visualization facilities at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), which provides software, hardware, and experts to help students in all research areas.
Current IV/LAB projects include visualization of large-scale time-varying data, 3D modeling in virtual reality, and creativity-support tools for complex design tasks. Work in the Lab is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), the University of Minnesota, and industry partners.
The Illusioneering Lab focuses on advancing immersive technologies, developing spatial interaction techniques, and creating experiences in AR/VR. The Lab explores emerging applications in entertainment, data analysis, health care, and education. Current projects include Immersive User Interfaces, Embodied Interaction, Redirected Walking, and Rapid Content Creation.
Graduates of the College of Science & Engineering at University of Minnesota are routinely recruited by Amazon, Boeing, IBM, Microsoft, Tesla, Honeywell, Epic Systems Corp., Collins Aerospace, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Abbott, and Northrup Grumman.
45. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
The eCampus Immersive Learning Institute at San Jose State University (San Jose State or SJSU) focuses on AR/VR technology and learning. Faculty in the program work together to explore AR/VR and create immersive learning activities for their courses through workshops, hands-on activities, and resources. Workshops include Building Immersive Learning Experienced, Hands-on AR/VR Exploration, Integrating AR/VR into Curriculums, and Best Practices and Showcase. The Immersive Learning Institute provides the opportunity for faculty to apply what they have learned to their classrooms, while helping students learn about and develop skills in AR/VR.
In addition to access to instructors who are heavily involved in AR/VR education and development, San Jose State University has several pathways for students interested in studying AR/VR. Housed in the College of Professional and Global Education’s School of Information, the BS in Information Science and Data Analytics (BSISDA) explores AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Big Data. The Computer Science Department in the College of Science has BS and MS degree options with heavy VR/AR related coursework.
Across programs, course examples include Python Programming, Human Centered Design, Information Visualization, User Centered Interface Architecture, Tools Lab, Object-Oriented Design, Query Languages, The Emerging Future: Technology Issues and Trends, Software Engineering, Programming Paradigms, and Technology, Culture, and Society.
To enhance both the BS and MS degrees, students may choose six to 12 elective units from upper or lower division courses. Elective examples include Computer Game Design and Programming, Advanced C++ Programming, Machine Learning, Computer Graphics Algorithms, Advanced programming with Python, Programming in Java, Game Studies, Computer Vision, and Advanced Practical Computing Topics.
Established in 1857 as the first State Normal School, San Jose State University is Silicon Valley’s Public University. The school is home to approximately 36,000 students, served by nearly 4,300 employees. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are available in 250 areas of study. Programs at SJSU are managed across nine academic colleges housing dozens of schools and departments.
San Jose State University graduates are routinely hired across industries at companies with headquarters across Silicon Valley and offices around the world. Graduates work in Aerospace, Internet & Software, Government, Computer Networking, Healthcare, Design, Electronic and Computer Hardware, Advertising, and Education, among others. Top hiring companies for San Jose State graduates include Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Intel, NASA, SAP America, and Western Digital.
46. 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 across nine academic colleges and dozens of departments.
The Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts houses the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, which has one pathway to study AR/VR—the BFA in Emerging Media Arts (BFA-EMA). Students in this program are required to select two emphasis areas totaling 24 credit hours, an interdisciplinary concentration, and 27 credit hours of electives. This provides plenty of opportunities to study AR/VR.
Popular emphasis options for AR/VR students include Immersive and Interactive Media (games, VR, AR, XR, interactive and immersive environments); Experience Design (designing projects and experiences that synthesize the virtual and the real); Virtual Production (animation, motion graphics, 3D modeling); Sensory Media (physical computing, wearable technologies, human computer interaction-HCI, hardware and software); and Data + Art (generating art with artificial intelligence-AI, data, and the Internet of Things).
EMA BFA students will also spend two semesters each in five studio and lab courses including the Visual Expression Studio, Computation and Media Studio, Innovation Studio, Story Lab, and Sound Lab. Other program features include the Entrepreneurship course and a yearlong Capstone Project. Housed in the College of Business, the Entrepreneurship course introduces students to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and business creation. The Capstone Project allows students to work in teams to from concept and development to prototype and finished product. Completed projects will be ready for distribution.
Graduates of the Emerging Media Arts Program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln work in Wearables and Physical Computing, AI, Robotics, Sound Design, Game Design, Visual Effects (VFX), Film Production Design, and Animation, among others. They hold titles such as AR/VR Designers and Developers, Creative Technologists, Innovation Designers, App Designers, and Theme Park Experience Designers.
47. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU or Embry-Riddle) is the world’s largest university specializing in aviation and aerospace. Founded in 1925 as the Embry-Riddle Company, ERAU has physical campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona, and online campuses including Embry-Riddle Online and the Worldwide Campus.
Embry-Riddle serves nearly 33,700 students enrolled in 100 degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and PhD levels. ERAU’s seven primary fields of study include Aviation, Applied Science, Business, Computers and Technology, Engineering, Security, Intelligence, and Safety, and Space.
The residential campus in Prescott, Arizona opened in 1978 with 268 students in enrolled in the Aeronautical Science Program. Today, the Prescott campus serves more than 3,000 students enrolled in programs administered ERAU’s College of Arts & Sciences, College of Aviation, College of Engineering, and the College of Security & Intelligence.
The College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) houses the Simulation Science, Games, and Animation (SSGA) Department, which provides a popular pathway to study AR/VR. The SSGA BS is a technical, multidisciplinary degree that requires coursework in animation, artificial intelligence (AI), simulation, computer graphics, modeling, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. The program also incorporates aspects of art and design. Course examples include Mixed Reality, Systems Simulation, Games Systems, Interactive Media, World Building, Procedural Simulation, Multiplayer Systems, Game Engine Architecture, AI, and User Interface Design.
All Embry-Riddle students have access to the STEM Education Center at the Prescott Campus. Launched in 2017, this two-story, 52,529-square-foot building STEM Center features the latest technology and equipment, including a variety of computing, simulation, and robotics labs. The Center houses the LIGO Optics Lab, the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium, The Dr. Charles and Elizabeth Duva Robotics Lab, The Raisbeck Engineering Design Lab, and others.
Graduates of the Simulation Science, Games & Animation BS Program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University work in AR/VR, Game Design, Software Development, Entertainment, and Virtual Training. Program alumni also work in a variety of roles within the Military and Intelligence Communities, High-Tech Manufacturing, Aviation, and Police Training Simulation. Companies and agencies that have hired ERAU SSGA graduates include Boeing, Microsoft, Blizzard Entertainment, the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, Mass Virtual, Forge FX Simulations, Win Reality VR Training, and Super League Gaming.
48. University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California
Founded in 1891, the University of California Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara or UCSB) serves around 26,180 students enrolled in more than 200 graduate programs, undergraduate majors, degrees, and credentials across five schools. Programs for students interested in AR/VR are housed in the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science or offered jointly by the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Letters. Options include BS and MS degrees in Computer Science (CS), and jointly offered MS and PhD degrees in Media Arts and Technology (MAT).
Courses examples from the Department of Computer Science include Mixed and Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, Automata and Formal Languages, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Translation of Programming Languages, Perception, Software Engineering, and Computer Graphics.
The MAT MS and PhD allow students to focus on specific areas of emphasis, based on their career goals and interests. In addition to AR/VR, emphasis area examples include Visual and Spatial Arts, Multimedia Engineering, Electronic Music, and Sound Design.
Depending on the program, students have access to a number of labs. Among them are the UCSB Four Eyes Lab and The Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior (ReCVEB).
The USCB Four Eyes Lab is part of the Department of Computer Science and the MAT Program. The Lab focuses on research in Imaging, Interaction, and Innovative Interfaces. Graduate and undergraduate students, postdocs, and visitors work in areas such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Computer Vision, Mobile and Wearable Computing, Recommender Systems, Visualization, User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction (UI/HCI), and Data Mining/Machine Learning.
Examples of current research in the Lab include Enhanced Geometric Techniques for Point Marking in Model-Free Augmented Reality; Hybrid Orbiting-to-Photos in 3D Reconstructed Visual Reality; Gesture-based Augmented Reality Annotation; Sphere in Hand: Exploring Tangible Interaction with Immersive Spherical Visualizations; and Relative Effects of Real-world and Virtual-World Latency on an Augmented Reality Training Task: An AR Simulation Experiment.
The Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior (ReCVEB) is open to graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members. Established in the 1990s, ReCVEB was designed for the use of virtual environments in psychological research. Today, the Lab is open to all forms of VR research and projects.
Current ReCVEB research groups include Future of Interactive Technologies; Navigation and Spatial Cognition; Social Interactions and Communication; Education and Training; and Low Vision & Sight Restoration. In addition, the Center houses a 30-by-30 foot open room and a tracking system, which allows for experiments in fully immersive walking VR.
Other UCSB labs include the RE Touch Lab (Haptics, Robotics, and VR), Systemics Lab (Robotics, Interface Design, Sustainable Computing Paradigms), and transLAB (Worldmaking + Social VR, Immersion, Performative Interactive Arts).
University of California Santa Barbara is one of the top 20 universities that are most likely to lead to a job in Silicon Valley. Some of the top hiring companies in Silicon Valley include Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Cisco, Intel, Nvidia, Dell, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, HP, Adobe, Tesla, and Gilead Sciences.
49. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Founded as the Chicago Academy of Design in 1866, SAIC serves around 3,550 students enrolled in degree programs covering 50 formal areas of study. Students at SAIC are also free to customize their education among 24 departments or concentrate in one single medium.
Students interested in AR/VR typically choose the Art and Technology Studies (ATS) Program within the Fine Arts Department, which traces its roots back to the Kinetics Area, established in 1969 by Artist and Professor Steve Waldeck, and the Generative Systems Area, created by Artist, Researcher, and Academic Sonia Landy Sheridan in 1970. Programs lead to a BFA or MFA in Studio.
ATS students will take courses in VR, AR & Games, Programming, Electronics & Kinetics, Bio Art, Audio, Light, and History & Theory. They may also Concentrate in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and/or Games. Topics and classes for the Concentration Include Virtual Reality, Experimental Game Lab, Mixed Reality, Performance, n3w_b0d1es, and Video Game Music Composition.
Other ATS course highlights include Art and Technology Practices, Interactive Art and Creative Coding, Wearables and Soft Computing, Physical Computing: Outside the Box, Robotics, Blockchain: The New Internet, and Video Game Music Composition.
Besides Art and Entertainment, graduates of the ATS Program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago are prepared to seek careers in industries that utilize AR/VR technology such as Gaming, Defense, Law Enforcement, Education, Aerospace, Corporate Training, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Logistics, Construction, Real Estate, Automotive, and Retail and eCommerce.
50. 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 around 4,500 students enrolled in 45 academic programs across four schools including Black School of Business, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Science.
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Digital Media, Arts, and Technology (DIGIT) Program. This is Penn State’s only undergraduate degree in Digital Humanities. Leading to a BA, the DIGIT Program is interdisciplinary and allows students to customize the degree based on their interests. This is accomplished by selecting two concentrations from four available options including Modeling and Simulation/Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Sound and Motion, Data Visualization and Assessment, and Digital Humanities.
To enhance the DIGIT BA, students may also add a second major, minor or certificate in an area such as Game Development, Computer Science, Media Production, Human Factors, Software Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Communication Arts and Mass Media, or Computer Engineering.
Other program features include small class sizes and opportunities for hands-on experience through the Virtual/Augmented Reality Lab (VAR), Behrend Open Lab for Digital Creations (BOLD-C), and Behrend’s Digital Humanities Lab.
Graduates of the DIGIT Program at Penn State Behrend work in a wide variety of positions in AR/VR, Digital Art, Technical Production, Digital Art Direction, Digital Marketing, Design, and Digital Video Editing, among others.