Digital Media

Major: Digital Media
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0 (MS);  90.0 (PhD, post-bachelor's); or 45.0 (PhD, post-master's)
Classification  of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 11.0801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 27-1027

 

About the Program

Digital Media is an exciting and rapidly expanding hybrid field of research, study and practice. Over the past two decades, it has grown from a highly specialized activity to an approachable subject that sparks global attention in areas of entertainment, business, engineering and health care.

Master of Science Program

The MS in Digital Media is a hybrid program created to offer students research as well as career opportunities in 21st century media applications. This two-year program offers comprehensive studies in advanced digital design including 3D modeling, animation, interactivity, gaming and digital media history, theory and methods. The curriculum for the MS in Digital Media offers a mix of academic course work and project-related activities. Projects consist of funded grant research opportunities, industry-sponsored projects and independent, student-generated and faculty-approved projects. 

PhD Program

The Digital Media PhD program focuses on translational research in digital media within an experiential learning environment. It studies the application of digital media towards solving research problems in various disciplines including but not limited to engineering, education, cultural heritage, health or business. This doctoral program is built on a fundamentally interdisciplinary course structure and emphasizes an iterative and design based research philosophy.

For more information, visit Drexel's Graduate Studies in Digital Media web page.

Admission Requirements

Master of Science Program

The MS in Digital Media is an advance course of study. A successful applicant for admission will have a baccalaureate degree, a minimum 3.2 undergraduate GPA and assumed production skills in 3-D modeling, animation and interactivity.

Proof of basic competencies is demonstrated by undergraduate transcript and/or portfolio review. For qualified candidates lacking production skills, we offer a series of pre-graduate classes. Satisfactory completion of the classes qualifies one to apply for graduate admission. Pre-graduate classes may include some or all for the following:

CS 171Computer Programming I3.0
CS 172Computer Programming II3.0
DIGM 100Digital Design Tools3.0
DIGM 505Design and Interactivity3.0
DIGM 506Animation and Game Design3.0

For additional information on requirements and how to apply, visit Graduate Admissions at Drexel University.

MS in Digital Media

Degree Requirements

Students are required to take a Digital Media History, Theory and Methods course and an advanced seminar for a total of six credits, as well as a minimum of nine courses in advanced modeling animation and interactivity.

During the first year, students also take three New Media Project courses (9.0 credits); these courses provide opportunities to work on funded and unfunded research and industry projects under the guidance of a graduate faculty member. With faculty approval, students may also work on personally designed projects relevant to problem solving in a student's specific area of interest.

In addition, students are required to take 12.0 credits (a minimum of four courses) of directed studies in support of developing knowledge in an area—outside of media and design—to which digital media skills may be applied. The set of directed studies will be determined by the students and their graduate advisors. Possible areas for this focus include, but are not limited to, computer science, information science, bio-medical technology, social science, humanities and education.

Thesis Project

During the second year of study, each student develops and produces a master's thesis project. By the third week of the fall term students submit a proposal to the Digital Media Graduate Committee. Upon approval of the proposal, the student works toward thesis completion, including:

  • an oral presentation to the college
  • a written statement to the committee
  • a copy of the completed media work for the graduate program archive

The thesis project must demonstrate domain knowledge of the agreed upon classes. The media component of the project must demonstrate expertise in 3D modeling/animation and/or interactivity.

Prerequisite Courses

Students without adequate background in digital media are required to take the following prerequisite courses, which are offered during the fall term of the first year of enrollment. These courses do not count towards the MS in Digital Media degree requirements.

DIGM 505Design and Interactivity3.0
DIGM 506Animation and Game Design3.0
Total Credits6.0

Required Courses

DIGM 501New Media: History, Theory and Methods3.0
DIGM 520Advanced Interactivity I3.0
DIGM 521Advanced Interactivity II3.0
DIGM 525Advanced Animation I3.0
DIGM 526Advanced Animation II3.0
DIGM 530Advanced Game Design I3.0
DIGM 531Advanced Game Design II3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project6.0
DIGM 580Thesis Preparation3.0
Thesis
DIGM 680Thesis Development6.0
Directed Studies9.0
Total Credits45.0

Program Requirements Overview

Students applying for admission into the Digital Media PhD program are either post-baccalaureate or post-master's students. Those who are post-master's are required to take a minimum of 45.0 credits toward their PhD degree (Research Core). Post-baccalaureate PhD students are required to take a minimum of 90.0 credits (45.0 credits Digital Media Core, and 45.0 credits Research Core).

Prerequisite Courses

Post-baccalaureate PhD students without adequate background in digital media are required to take the following prerequisite courses, which are offered fall term of the first year of enrollment. These courses do not count towards the Digital Media degree requirements.

DIGM 505Design and Interactivity3.0
DIGM 506Animation and Game Design3.0
Total Credits6.0

Digital Media Core Courses

DIGM 501New Media: History, Theory and Methods3.0
DIGM 520Advanced Interactivity I3.0
DIGM 521Advanced Interactivity II3.0
DIGM 525Advanced Animation I3.0
DIGM 526Advanced Animation II3.0
DIGM 530Advanced Game Design I3.0
DIGM 531Advanced Game Design II3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project6.0
DIGM 580Thesis Preparation3.0
DIGM 680Thesis Development6.0
Directed Study9.0
Total Credits45.0

Research Core Courses

DIGM 701Advanced New Media Topics3.0
DIGM 710Digital Media Research Methods I3.0
DIGM 711Digital Media Research Methods II3.0
DIGM 810Advanced Topics in Digital Media Research3.0
DIGM 850Public Venue Seminar3.0
DIGM 851Publication and Presentation3.0
Dissertation
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar9.0
Directed Research18.0
Total Credits45.0

In addition to the course requirements, PhD students must progress through a series of steps leading to the PhD dissertation:

  1. Doctoral candidacy exam
  2. Dissertation proposal
  3. Written dissertation and public dissertation defense

Dissertation Advisor

Every PhD student has to identify a dissertation advisor no later than the second term in the program. Post-master's students are expected to identify an advisor as soon as possible after joining the program or even before they are formally in the program. The expectation is that post-master's students are academically mature and have already focused on a research area and contacted potential advisors prior to their arrival. Dissertation advisors are not restricted to digital media faculty, but have to be approved by the Department of Digital Media under observation of college and university rules and regulations.

Directed Research Electives

Digital Media PhD students are required to take 18.0 PhD level credits of directed research electives, which have to be approved in advance by the dissertation advisor. It is expected that students take at least 9.0 of these elective credits from other Drexel colleges outside the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts in Design in areas closely related to their respective dissertation projects. No more than 12.0 of the elective research credits can be independent study credits.

Doctoral Candidacy Committee

The Department of Digital Media has to establish a Doctoral Candidacy Committee conforming to established university and college rules for dissertation/candidacy committee membership. The purpose of this committee is to conduct and evaluate doctoral candidacy examinations.

Doctoral Candidacy Exam

The Doctoral Candidacy Exam consists of a preliminary proposal prepared by the student outlining the dissertation research plan with an oral defense before the Doctoral Candidacy Committee. A student may schedule the preliminary proposal portion whenever she/he and her/his advisor decide they are ready but no later than the end of the fall term of second year of study.

To be considered a doctoral candidate by the university, a student must have both passed the Doctoral Candidacy Exam and completed all 45.0 credits of master level coursework post-baccalaureate or 15 credits coursework post-master. Once the student has reached doctoral candidate status, the Department of Digital Media will review her/his progress annually.

Dissertation Committee

Within six months of successful completion of the Doctoral Candidacy Examination the Department of Digital Media has to appoint the student’s Dissertation Committee based on a proposal submitted by the student and the dissertation advisor. The committee has to conform to established university and college rules for dissertation/candidacy committee membership. The committee must have at least five members, three of whom must be tenure-track faculty at Drexel. At least one member must be from outside the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. In addition, at least three members must be Digital Media core faculty. The chair of the committee must be a Digital Media core faculty member who is not also the dissertation advisor of the student.

Once the Dissertation Committee is established, it will continue on throughout the student's progress toward the PhD degree. The committee's function is to guide the research and to determine the student's general knowledge of the area, as well as the student's breadth and depth of the specific topic. The committee will also consider the scientific feasibility of the proposed research.

Dissertation Proposal

The Dissertation Proposal consists of a written proposal of the dissertation research, a public presentation, and oral proposal defense before the Dissertation Committee. To ensure that students are progressing towards completion of the PhD in a timely fashion, the proposal defense must take place no later than the end of the second year of study. A formal request for an extension of this deadline must be approved following a review of the student's progress.

The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal is to determine if the PhD student is able to initiate, organize, write and defend a scientific idea, which will lead to a PhD dissertation. The presentation will be based on the formal written proposal submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least three weeks before the presentation.

Students who elect to complete the MS in Digital Media alongside the Digital Media PhD degree can submit a revised version of the Dissertation Proposal as a Master Thesis for the partial fulfillment of the MS in Digital Media degree.

Dissertation Defense

The written dissertation will be submitted with the dissertation advisor's approval to the Dissertation Committee. A title and abstract of the dissertation must also be provided to the Digital Media office at least three weeks prior to the defense to allow the time and place of the defense to be publicized. The PhD candidate's public defense consists of his or her presentation of dissertation research followed by an examination by the Dissertation Committee.

Sample Plan of Study

Students without adequate background in digital media must complete two prerequisite courses, which are offered during the fall term of the first year of enrollment: DIGM 505 Design and Interactivity and DIGM 506 Animation and Game Design.

First Year
FallCredits
DIGM 501New Media: History, Theory and Methods3.0
DIGM 520Advanced Interactivity I3.0
DIGM 525Advanced Animation I3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Winter
DIGM 526Advanced Animation II3.0
DIGM 530Advanced Game Design I3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Spring
DIGM 521Advanced Interactivity II3.0
DIGM 531Advanced Game Design II3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Summer
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Second Year
Fall
DIGM 580Thesis Preparation3.0
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Winter
DIGM 680Thesis Development3.0
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Spring
DIGM 680Thesis Development3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Total Credit: 45.0

Sample Plan of Study

Post-Baccalaureate PhD Students

Students without adequate background in digital media must complete two prerequisite courses, which are offered during the fall term of the first year of enrollment: DIGM 505 Design and Interactivity and DIGM 506 Animation and Game Design.

First Year
FallCredits
DIGM 501New Media: History, Theory and Methods3.0
DIGM 520Advanced Interactivity I3.0
DIGM 525Advanced Animation I3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Winter
DIGM 526Advanced Animation II3.0
DIGM 530Advanced Game Design I3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Spring
DIGM 521Advanced Interactivity II3.0
DIGM 531Advanced Game Design II3.0
DIGM 540New Media Project3.0
 Term Credits9.0
Summer
DIGM 850Public Venue Seminar3.0
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Second Year
Fall
DIGM 580Thesis Preparation3.0
DIGM 710Digital Media Research Methods I3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Winter
DIGM 680Thesis Development3.0
DIGM 711Digital Media Research Methods II3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Spring
DIGM 680Thesis Development3.0
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Summer
DIGM 701Advanced New Media Topics3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Elective3.0
 Term Credits7.0
Third Year
Fall
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Winter
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Spring
DIGM 851Publication and Presentation3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits7.0
Summer
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Fourth Year
Fall
DIGM 810Advanced Topics in Digital Media Research3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits4.0
Winter
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Spring
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Summer
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits1.0
Total Credit: 90.0

Sample Plan of Study for Post-Master Ph.D. Students

First Year
FallCredits
DIGM 710Digital Media Research Methods I3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits4.0
Winter
DIGM 711Digital Media Research Methods II3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits4.0
Spring
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Summer
DIGM 701Advanced New Media Topics3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Second Year
Fall
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Winter
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Spring
DIGM 851Publication and Presentation3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits7.0
Summer
DIGM 850Public Venue Seminar3.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Third Year
Fall
DIGM 810Advanced Topics in Digital Media Research3.0
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits4.0
Winter
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
Directed Research Elective3.0
 Term Credits4.0
Spring
DIGM 998Digital Media Ph.D. Seminar1.0
 Term Credits1.0
Total Credit: 45.0

Facilities

The Digital Media Program operates several labs including a state of the art combined green screen/motion capture studio as well as 2.5 ton 3-degree-of-freedom motion platform. All labs and classrooms are equipped with powerful Dell and Boxx Technologies Workstations running Windows and Unix operating systems and Mac computers running OS X. Software includes a host of Adobe products and Autodesk 3ds Max and Combustion; Alias Maya; Softimage XSI and Behavior, Pixar RenderMan Pro Server along with RenderMan Artist Tools for Maya and RenderMan for Maya; Pixologic Z-Brush; Apple Shake; MotionBuilder; GarageGames; NextLimit RealFlow, and SideEffect's Houdini.

Digital Media Faculty

Theo Artz, BFA (Tyler School of Art, Temple University). Associate Professor. Digital media.
John Berton Assistant Professor. Visual effects, lighting and rendering Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI)
Paul Diefenbach, PhD (University of Pennsylvania). Assistant Professor. Game development, real-time rendering.
Jeremy Fernsler, BA (Pennsylvania State University ) Program Director, Game Design & Production. Assistant Teaching Professor. Digital effects artist; compositor and animator for the feature film visual effects industry.
Troy Finamore, MS (Drexel University) Program Director, Interactive Digital Media. Assistant Teaching Professor. Advertising, design and interactivity.
Aroutis N. Foster, PhD (Michigan State University). Associate Professor. Educational psychology and educational technology, especially the following: Motivation; Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK); Immersive Interactive Digital Environments (simulation, games, virtual realities.
Nick Jushchyshyn, MFA (Academy of Art University) Program Director, Animation and Visual Effects. Assistant Teaching Professor. Visual effects, digital media and animation.
Frank J. Lee, PhD (Carnegie Mellon University). Associate Professor. Human-computer interaction; cognitive engineering and science; intelligent software agents for games and education.
Robert Lloyd, MFA (Temple University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Game development, themed entertainment and motion simulation.
David Mauriello, BA (Lafayette College). Assistant Professor. 3D modeling and animation.
Glen Muschio, PhD (Temple University). Associate Professor. Digital media, society, communication.
Santiago Ontañón, PhD (University of Barcelona). Assistant Professor. Game AI, computer games, artificial intelligence, machine learning, case-based reasoning
Stefan Rank, PhD (Vienna University of Technology). Assistant Professor. Artificial intelligence, game design and human-computer interaction.
Jervis Thompson, BS (Drexel University). Associate Teaching Professor. Digital media, interactive multimedia.
Michael Wagner, PhD (Vienna University of Technology) Program Director, Digital Media. Associate Professor. Educational use of digital media and computer games.
Jichen Zhu, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology). Assistant Professor. Developing humanistic and interpretive framework of computational technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), and constructing AI-based cultural artifacts; interactive storytelling, games and software studies.
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