There are three degree paths available for graduate students interested in games at UC Santa Cruz: the professional M.S. in Games and Playable Media, the Ph.D. or M.S. in Computer Science with a focus on games, and the Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts and New Media (DANM). UC Santa Cruz's graduate game programs were ranked in the top 10 in both the 2011 and 2012 by the Princeton Review and GamePro Media.
The Master of Science degree in Games and Playable Media is a year-long (12 month) program offered at the UCSC Silicon Valley campus. It is focused on combining technical and design innovation to create novel possibilities for the games of today, to enable new types of games, and to explore a wide variety of indie and next-generation playable experiences. The degree admits students who have a background in computer science and knowledge of games. Target students include industry professionals seeking new knowledge (e.g., advanced AI techniques) and/or wanting to experience new roles (e.g., engineers seeking a move into design) as well as talented recent undergraduates who have completed technically-focused game degrees. The program includes: making innovative games, dedicated placement and professional development, deep technical electives (including those offered at the Santa Cruz campus), media creation foundations, and significant interactions with the industry and indie game communities of Silicon Valley and the larger San Francisco Bay Area.
Students earning a Ph.D. or M.S. in Computer Science with a focus on games augment their basic computer science knowledge with classes in topics such as Artificial Intelligence in Games, Computer Animation, Playable Media and Interactive Narrative. Graduate-level game courses at UC Santa Cruz are largely taught by tenure-track faculty whose primary research area is games, which is important since research is an essential part of a graduate student's work. To graduate with a Ph.D., each student is required to conduct a body of research culminating in the writing of a doctoral dissertation. The Ph.D. program generally takes five years, while the M.S. generally takes two.
The Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) M.F.A. Program focuses on the development and study of digital media and the cultures that they have helped create. Faculty and students come from a variety of backgrounds — the arts, computer engineering, humanities, the sciences, and social sciences — to pursue interdisciplinary artistic and scholarly research and production while broadly examining digital arts and cultures. The M.F.A. Program is a two-year program organized into four interdependent and equally important pursuits: critique and practicum, core seminars, collaborative research, and pedagogy. Playable Media is the DANM research area with the most active work in games.
More information: Games and Playable Media (GPM) M.S.
More information: Computer Science: Graduate Requirements
More information: Digital Arts and New Media (DANM): Program Description