Comparisons with Existing Degrees (particularly the MS-IT)
Q: What are the differences between the MS-IT and MS-GDD Degrees?
A: The MS-IT degree is a long-standing MS degree that offers experiences across a wide range of information technology (IT) and computing-related topic areas. Students in this degree are expected to have background competency in computer programming, web and interactive media development, hardware and software architecture, and networking theory. Students then work with their advisor to develop an individualized plan of study from the over fifteen IT content areas offered by the IST department or from computer-related coursework from other academic disciplines.
The MS in GDD, in contrast, is a highly specialized degree program. While students also need background competency in programming and web and interactive media development, this degree program is specifically tailored for individuals who aspire to work in the commercial games industry or a closely related field such as computer simulation, edutainment, or serious games.
Q: How long does it take to complete the MS-GDD degree?
A: MS-GDD is a two-year, full-time, lock-step Master of Science program that is designed to build solid technical depth along with the professional competencies necessary for successful employment in the commercial games industry, or a closely related field.
Full-time students in the MS-IT program typically complete their coursework in 12-18 months, and spend another six (6) months, on average, completing the MS capstone requirement (discussed below). MS-IT students can also choose to study part-time, and are typically not part of a close cohort within the program.
Q: Can’t I just join the MS-IT program and take all of the games courses?
A: No. No. Courses in the MS-GDD are only available to MS-IT students on a case-by-case basis with instructor approval. Even when a student petitions the instructor and enrolls in an MS GDD course, this is not the same experience as being enrolled in the MS-GDD degree. Instead of a customized course or concentration, MS-GDD students take a six-course major sequence for technical depth.
Likewise, MS-GDD students take a five-course seminar track that is specifically designed to relate what they learn to the professional games industry. Topics such as lifecycle and development processes, online presence and community, and business and legal aspects are all explored from an industry perspective. These seminars are not available to MS-IT students: the point of these courses is to bring all MS-GDD students from the two major tracks together and to intensively explore game industry topics of common relevance.
A related issue that differentiates these degrees is that the capstone experiences, discussed below, are decidedly different.
Q: How do the capstone experiences of the MS-IT and the MS-GDD programs differ?
A: A MS capstone is the culminating creative experience for masters-level graduate study. The MS-IT offers two ways in which students can complete the capstone requirement of the degree: implementation of a professional project or a traditional academic thesis. In either of these cases, the student recruits a committee of faculty members and works with them, as advisors, to complete the 4-credit capstone requirement. A formal, public defense completes the capstone experience. More information about the MS-IT capstone is available online at: http://www.it.rit.edu/it/grad/MSITcapstone.maml.
The MS-GDD has a decidedly different capstone experience. It is an intensive six-credit project implemented as a two-course sequence at the end of the second year of study focusing on first the design, and then the development of a complete game implementation. These courses are designed for team work that reflects the game industry software production experience. Students develop capstone ideas that include both individual and team goals and responsibilities. These ideas are then reviewed and approved by the MS-GDD faculty. The MS-GDD faculty evaluates capstone projects in the spring term of the second year of study. Successful students then defend their work by participating in a public showing before members of the academic community and invited guests from the game and entertainment industries. An optional backup showing can be scheduled for the subsequent fall term if necessary.
Q: What about doing an internship or work experience as part of these degree programs?
A: RIT supports cooperative work experiences (co-op) for all students; however, co-op is not required as part of either degree. Graduate students in either program can do up to six (6) months of full-time, degree-related work as part of their studies. To qualify for co-op, students must have at least nine (9) courses completed with at least a 3.0/4.0 (‘B’ grade) average.
MS-IT students can coop at any time that they satisfy the requirements above. However, it is recommended that they wait until after completing their MS capstone work.
MS-GDD students can do a three-month cooperative work experience during the summer term between their first and second years in the program, and an additional three (3) months can be done after the end of the second year. Alternately, MS-GDD students can wait and do up to six (6) months of co-op after the end of the second year.
Q: Who can I contact to get more information about the MS-GDD degree program?
Professor Andrew Phelps, Director, Interactive Games & Media
Professor Chris Egert, Game Design & Development Faculty
Additional questions and comments can be directed to:
School of Interactive Games & Media Office, Suite 2145
Interactive Games & Media
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences.