Centre for Digital Media

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about our program. If you do­n't find the answer to your question, don't hesitate to­ contact us.



  1. Is it possible to get a job with the MDM program?

    Occasionally opportunities are available for students to work for the MDM Program during their studies. These positions are part-time and can include TA-ships, tech-support, blogging and general labour. Students are made aware of these positions via email, usually a few weeks into each semester, and students are responsible for indicating interest to the appropriate staff/ faculty member. The school does not guarantee a work posting with acceptance into the program. 

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  2. What is digital media?

    Digital media, which includes entertainment technology, can be defined as media experiences made possible by the advent of primarily computer-mediated digital technologies (e.g., electronic games and special effects in motion pictures). The principles and techniques used are also applicable to a wide range of non-entertainment uses, such as image processing, scientific visualization, flight simulators and other virtual environments for education and training.

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  3. Would I be able to take on a part time job during my studies?

    The MDM program is an intense, full time program. Students should expect to be on campus all-day most days of the week. The first semester of the program is particularly intense, as students will be taking four courses, and it is not recommended that they work during this semester. In the remaining three semesters, students are allowed to work up to 12 hours per week outside of the program.

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Applying to the Program

  1. Do I need to write the GRE test as part of my MDM application?

    No, the MDM program does not require GRE test results for admission into the program. A complete list of all requirements can be found at MDM Admission Requirements

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  2. Do my letters of reference need to be sent directly from my referees or can I submit them all together?

    So long as the reference letters are each in their own envelope with the referee's signature across the seal, it does not matter if they all arrive together in one larger envelope or if they arrive on campus individually.

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  3. Do you have some good examples of Sample of Work submissions?

    We do. Please e-mail Yasmeen Awadh, Senior Recruitment and Admissions Officer, Yasmeen_awadh@thecdm.ca for information.

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  4. How much does the program cost?

    While financial support is available through scholarships and bursaries, additional funding is normally required for all students entering the program. Go to Tuition & Fees to see an estimated breakdown of expenses that a student will need to complete the entire MDM program (in Canadian dollars).

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  5. How will my application be evaluated?

    Applications are adjudicated by the Graduate Program Committee, which includes representatives from GNWC's four partner institutions, MDM faculty, and industry. Acceptance is based on a careful evaluation of all elements in the applicant profile: academic records, letter of intent, letters of reference, portfolio, background relevant to higher level work in digital media, knowledge of computing, and writing skills, as well as proof of proficiency in English (if applicable).

    Personal interviews may also be used to assist in the decision making process. The MDM Program Office will contact those applicants for whom an interview is required directly.

    Students who are in the process of completing an undergraduate degree may be offered admission conditional upon having satisfied degree requirements before the start of the MDM program in September.

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  6. I am finishing my bachelor's degree after the application deadline. Can I still apply?

    Yes! You can apply to the MDM Program even though you will not have finished your degree until after the application deadline. Submit your most recent *official* transcripts (*you will need to request them from your Registrar's office) in your application package by the MDM application deadline. The Selection Committee will view your grades and courses up until that point. If accepted to the MDM Program, the Selection Committee will likely grant you a "Conditional Acceptance", on the condition that you submit final transcripts upon completion of your degree.

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  7. I am not a recent university graduate. Who should I ask to act as referees for me?

    Academic references are certainly important, but for a student who has not graduated recently, they may be difficult to obtain. Please consider asking referees who can speak to your work habits, your creativity, and your ability to work in team-based situations.

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  8. What are the admission requirements?

    The Master of Digital Media Program admission requirements are as follows:

    1. An undergraduate degree in an area of the Arts and Sciences, including Fine and Performing Arts, Computer Sciences, Communication, Engineering, Business or related fields of study.
    2. You will need to submit a completed application form and fee
    3. Three letters of reference
    4. A sample of your writing (academic or business-related writing samples are acceptable)
    5. A digital Sample of Work relating to digital media. Samples of Work may be visual, aural, or textual in nature (or a combination thereof) and must be submitted electronically. Your Sample of Work must conform to specific digital formats, which are outlined in the SFU Online Application system. Please feel free to contact admissions@thecdm.ca with any questions regarding your Sample of Work.
    6. Sealed transcripts from any post-secondary institutions attended.

    For complete information go to Admissions Process.

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  9. What does a valid portfolio submission look like?

    The portfolio submission is fundamentally important to your application. Because we accept students from a broad background, we expect to see a variety of portfolio submissions. Musicians, creative, visual and performing artists will create a very different portfolio than would computer scientists, engineers or project managers. Your portfolio should highlight the work you are most proud of whether in the form of programming code, photography, animation, video and/or still life sketches.

    For advice on what to submit for your application go to Tips for Prospective Students.

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  10. What happens to my application materials?

    The GNWC reserves the right to rescind an offer of admission or require a student to withdraw if it is determined that documents in support of the application for admission have been falsified.

    All submitted application materials, including the portfolio, become the property of GNWC and will not be returned to the student or applicant. By exception, arrangements may be made for the return of irreplaceable documents if a request to this effect is enclosed with the original material. GNWC is not responsible for lost or misplaced materials and will not pay for any brokerage, courier, or mail charges.

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  11. What should I do once I receive an offer of admission?

    The letter of admission will be sent by Simon Fraser University’s Office of the Dean of Graduate studies through e-mail, followed by an original in the mail. Admitted students will be required to officially accept their offer of admission online through the SFU online application system, and pay a non-refundable deposit of $1,250 CDN.

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  12. What should I write in my Letter of Intent?

    Think of this letter as your opportunity to make a first impression. As resources don’t allow the MDM Selection Committee to interview all applicants, this letter is really your opportunity to show your personality and to stand out from the rest. Typically, successful applicants have focused on their passion for digital media and why they believe they are a good fit for the MDM Program. Tell the Selection Committee why you want to enter the MDM Prgram. How does your previous academic history or area of interest fit with digital media, and how it led you to the MDM Program. Write about your goals and how you see the MDM Program helping you attain them. Finally, as this is one of the most important pieces of your application, in terms of format consider preparing a formal letter.

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  13. What software application or computer skills training will I receive in the MDM program?
    Although many students will develop new computer skills, or learn the basics of certain software applications through the MDM program’s learn-as-you-go model, the development of these skills is not our core focus. Rather, our focus is to train you on effective techniques for team collaboration and project development in a digital media environment. The knowledge and skills you develop in the program include (but are not limited to): the ability to effectively express your ideas; the ability to communicate across disciplines; a proficiency in developing concepts and prototypes; the expertise to manage a project pipeline; the skills to resolve project conflicts; and the understanding of project team roles.

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Applicants from Arts/Design

  1. I don’t think I have the computer skills needed for the MDM program. What experience in computer programming or use of software applications is required?

    The technical skills applied in the MDM program depend on the skill sets students bring to the project teams. In the case of students from art and design backgrounds, they are not expected to have experience in computer programming (the programmers in your class will fulfill the needed designing, writing, testing, debugging, and maintaining of the source code of software developed in each project). However, proficiency in any of the following software applications is highly desired (but not required) and will improve the competitiveness of your application: 3DS Max, Maya, Adobe Suite (Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and/or Photoshop), Cinema 4D, ability to draw or illustrate using design applications, AutoCAD.

    Please be advised that we do not providing training in these tools.

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Applicants from Business, Commerce and Marketing

  1. Digital media fascinates me and I want to break into the area, but I don’t have any (directly) related skills. What should I submit for my samples of work?

    Business students who fall into this category usually have skills to handle some aspects of project development, such as client relations or marketing. However, they often lack specific knowledge and experience of the digital media project development process that runs from concept to prototype to deliverable.

    If this describes your background, we recommend you submit samples such as business plans, marketing plans or project documentation that demonstrate effective planning and show evidence of successful outcomes. If you have project-management experience, submit a visual diagram (e.g. a GANTT chart) that describes the project workflow and outlines how you completed a project on time and on budget. Be sure to include documentation of any problems you encountered during the project, and how these challenges were met. This will help demonstrate your problem-solving and critical thinking ability.

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Applicants from Technical Fields

  1. I have a degree in one of the following disciplines: Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Information Technology. What should I submit for my sample of work?

    If your background is in a technical discipline, we strongly recommend that you submit work that demonstrates your technical skills. This may include samples from work completed during your undergraduate studies, as a freelance contractor, as a volunteer, or while employed.

    Many applicants assume they require both technical and artistic skills to qualify for admission into the MDM program. In fact, we encourage applicants with computing science, engineering or IT backgrounds to apply even if they do not have a developed artistic portfolio. As the MDM program is interdisciplinary, each MDM student contributes his or her skill set to a team project. In your case, the contribution is technical.

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  2. I’m a computer programmer, but I’m interested in developing my creative and artistic talents. Can I do this through the MDM program?
    In the digital media industry, technical skills are highly valued because they are a required skill set for nearly every project. However, the computer programming demands of MDM program are not as extensive as those of Masters of Science (MSc) or Masters of Engineering (MEng) programs leaving some room to explore your creative side. As you will be working in interdisciplinary teams, you will collaborate and share with artists, modelers, designers and project managers. You will learn the methods and principles applied by these different roles, and see how they contribute to team projects. And as you progress through the program, many opportunities will become available to apply what you’ve learned and experiment with your creative ideas.

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Applicants with Degrees Unrelated to Digital Media

  1. My degree has nothing to do with digital media. What can I submit for samples of work?

    Digital media projects involve the input of a broad range of interdisciplinary skills and expertise – including those from business, media, art, design and technical fields. If, however, you are unable to find any application of your undergraduate training to some area of digital media, you must demonstrate your interest and skills in digital media through your non-academic work. If you have acquired work experience in any of the broad areas listed above, consult the application requirements for relevant examples of your area of work.

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Program Information

  1. Are the courses designed specifically for people with lots of prior computer programming experience?

    MDM students are drawn from diverse backgrounds and we welcome applications from people with degrees in the arts, sciences, business, social sciences or applied sciences. Computer literacy is mandatory, as is an interest in and knowledge of the creation of digital media. Non-credit elective courses will be available for those interested in augmenting their technical expertise.

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  2. Can I take this program part time or online?

    No. Currently we only offer the Master of Publishing Program on a full-time basis.

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  3. How are the classes structured in terms of the actual course plan?

    Individual faculty members may structure their courses differently from term to term within the overall course outline. The five core courses and project courses are designed to obtain maximum participation with and interaction between students and faculty.

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  4. How much of the curriculum is dedicated to video game development?

    The MDM Program is designed to allow students in-depth study of all aspects of Digital Media. Each of the core courses deals in some significant way with games and their impact on the creation of digital media; game design courses are also available as electives. One of the five core courses is specifically in Game Design.

    Our program is not games-based, however, and although it is expected that approximately half of our graduates will find employment in the video game industry, there is opportunity to explore all the myriad aspects of digital media in our core, elective and project courses. Our program is project based, and some of the projects will be student-initiated. If you have a great interest in game design or other specific entertainment technology applications, you will in all likelihood be able to create one or more projects in that area.

    Similarly, if your interest lies in serious games, or health and education applications of digital media, you will have opportunities to create projects to facilitate rich, personalized learning experiences.

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  5. The four-month internship sounds like an exciting part of the program. What do I need to know about it?

    The internship is a mandatory requirement of the MDM Program and occurs in the final term of study. Students have the assistance of the MDM Industry Relations department and a variety of additional resources to aid in the search for their internship. During this period students build on their real world experience and employers have the chance to try out prospective employees.

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  6. What are some examples of types of projects that students will work on?

    We anticipate that approximately one-third of the projects will be student-initiated, one third will be industry-driven, and one third will be faculty-initiated. Most projects will run the length of a semester and will be developed in close collaboration with a faculty member and business advisor. Most will include a full rapid development schedule, including prototyping and where applicable, installation. In DMED 520-6 Projects I - Building Virtual Worlds, each project is completed in 2-3 weeks, while in DMED 521-23, each project is completed over the length of the semester.

    Please see the Student Projects page to view current semester-length projects.

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  7. What business or law classes will be offered?

    Sound business/management planning skills are an integral part of our project-based curriculum. In addition, students will have the opportunity to take intensive business workshops that introduce an entrepreneurial framework and business planning techniques specific to digital media creation and design, as well as issues of business Intellectual Property and copyright law. Participation in at least one intensive workshop is mandatory.

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  8. What is a typical class composition?

    The MDM program is targeted at individuals with an undergraduate degree in a related discipline (or an equivalent combination of formal education and professional experience). It is anticipated that each class will have a mixture of professionals currently working in the industry and students continuing directly from an undergraduate program interested in entering the field.

    It is our aim to admit groups of students with diverse backgrounds, across the broad areas included in digital media and entertainment technology. Admission requirements are designed to encourage such diversity while setting high standards for acceptance into the program.

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  9. What kind of demand is expected for Master of Digital Media graduates?

    The field of media arts and technology continues to grow in British Columbia. Employers demand the high level of creative and technical competence that graduates of this program will possess. Our program has been designed in close collaboration with our industry partners who have helped guide us with their understanding of today's market and industry needs.

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  10. Where will I take my electives?

    A: Students may select their two required elective courses from the following:

    • Two MDM Special Topics courses (DMED 540 and DMED 541). The Special Topics courses will be offered from time to time by GNWC Faculty, Associate Faculty at partner institutions and visiting faculty (including industry specialists). They will normally be advertised at least a few months in advance of the offering and may be offered in various formats (e.g. one week intensive instead of the normal 13-week format).
    • One Directed Studies course (DMED 550). Students seeking to arrange an individualized course of study must arrange this at least 2 months in advance with a GNWC Faculty member or an Associate Faculty member at a partner institution. The number of Directed Studies available will be limited by the faculty resources.
    • With permission of the Program, students may take any graduate course at any of the partner institutions for which they have the prerequisites. Students should consult their instructor or the program assistant for more information.
    • With permission of the Program and agreement of the instructor, students may take one suitable senior undergraduate course at a GNWC partner institution. Students should consult their instructor or the program assistant for more information.

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  11. Will my degree bear the seals of all four of GNWC's academic partners?

    Yes! The MDM Program degree is approved by the all four Senates or Education Councils of the GNWC partner institutions. As such, the MDM Program degree bears the seals of all four partner institutions.

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  12. Will students be registered at all four of the academic partner institutions?

    MDM students are registered at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and have access to SFU’s resources while they are completing the program. Once all degree requirements have been completed, students shall be awarded the MDM degree from all four partner institutions.

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International Students

  1. Are scholarships available to international students?

    Yes. All students admitted into the MDM program are eligible for scholarships administered by Great Northern Way Campus.

    For more information, visit Scholarships Opportunities.

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  2. As an international student, how do I pay the student application fee?

    All fees must be paid through Simon Fraser University. Methods of payment are available at students.sfu.ca/fees/howtopay.html.

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  3. As an international student, will I be able to work during my studies?

    As a foreign student you may work on campus without a work permit, but please note that opportunities are very limited.

    You may obtain what is called an Off-Campus Work Permit (OCWP) but this is only issued after you have been a student for 6 of the last 12 months and must be in good academic standing. With an OCWP, you can only work for a maximum of 20 hours per week. Please also bear in mind that with your school load, we do not recommend that you work for more than 12 hours a week. See link: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work-offcampus.asp

    You are also eligible to work for a period of up to 12 months after graduation in a field related to Digital Media. To do so you will need to apply for a work permit.

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  4. Can International students apply to the program?

    Yes! The MDM Program attracts the best and brightest applicants from around the world. Currently, more than one third of our student population is from a country outside of Canada. As all applicants need to provide proof of citizenship to the MDM Admissions Office, international students are asked to submit a photocopy of their passport.

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  5. Do international students need health insurance?

    As you will be residing in British Columbia for more than three months, you are required by law to enroll in the Medical Service Plan (MSP) and pay premiums directly to this plan (approximately $60). You should apply as soon as you arrive. Go to www.health.gov.bc.ca/insurance/bcresidents.html. There is a three-month waiting period, during which you should arrange private coverage through companies such as www.studentguard.com

    After the initial three-month waiting period, the MSP covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services.  MSP does not cover basic dental care, prescription drugs, or routine vision care (eye examinations, corrective lenses, etc.). GNWC’s student health plan will cover a portion or all of these expenses.

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  6. Do international students receive medical coverage?

    As you will be residing in British Columbia for more than three months, you are required by law to enroll in the Medical Service Plan (MSP) and pay premiums directly to this plan (approximately $45). You should apply as soon as you arrive. Go to http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/insurance/bcresidents.html There is a three-month waiting period, during which you should arrange private coverage through companies such as http://www.studentguard.com/.  After the initial three-month waiting period, the MSP covers the cost of basic medical care within Canada, including most physician and hospital services.  MSP does not cover basic dental care, prescription drugs, or routine vision care (eye examinations, corrective lenses, etc.). GNWC’s student health plan will cover a portion or all of these expenses. 

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  7. Does the MDM program offer on-campus housing?

    Yes, on-campus housing became available in our brand new building September 2012, with three floors (76 units) of student designated rental housing. The furnished studio apartments are $899/month and rent includes heat, electricity and high speed internet. Find out more about the apartments and see photos on the CDM apartments page.

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  8. How much does it cost to live in Vancouver?

    In terms of living expenses, you will need to factor in accommodation, food, insurance and spending money. There are several types of accommodation available when you search for housing in Vancouver should you choose to live off-campus and we will include some of the costs. Rooms in houses can be rented for between $450 and $800 per month, the higher end usually including meals. Should you choose to live in an apartment alone (or with a roommate) the costs are higher and can range from a minimum of $1,200 - $2,000 per month, depending on your lifestyle. Our CDM apartments are an affordable option if you want to live on campus.

    You will be required to have basic medical insurance which is about $50 per month. You will have to estimate your food costs, but likely $400-$1000 per month should be sufficient. Transportation is easy because the program fees include a universal transit pass (UPASS) and extended medical coverage (prescription drugs, eyeglasses, massage therapy, speech pathology, etc). The fees also cover essentially everything you need for the course: your computer and all relevant software. Most students have spent much less than $500 on books etc. for their entire program.

    Go to Tuition & Fees to see an estimated breakdown of expenses that a student will need to complete the entire MDM program (in Canadian dollars).

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  9. I am an international student. Do I need a study permit?

    International students must have a valid Study Permit issued by Canadian authorities (through consulates or embassies or, in the case of citizens of the United States, through Immigration officials at border crossings) before entering Canada to study. Such applicants must demonstrate ability to pay the tuition fees and have sufficient means to be financially independent while in Canada.

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  10. Will I be able to work in Canada after I graduate from the MDM program?

    International MDM graduates are eligible to obtain a post-graduate employment work permit valid for a period ranging from one to three years after graduation. This work permit allows them to work in Canada. Students do not need to secure employment before applying.

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Financial Aid

  1. How much would it cost me to complete the entire MDM program?

    While financial support is available through scholarships and bursaries, additional funding is normally required for all students entering the program. Go to Tuition & Fees to see an estimated breakdown of expenses that a student will need to complete the entire MDM program (in Canadian dollars).

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  2. Is financial aid available?

    BC and Canada Student Loans are available for this program for Canadian and permanent resident students. Private lines of credit may be arranged through most banks. A limited number of industry-sponsored scholarship opportunities may be available for selected students based on their qualifications. All applicants are considered automatically for the industry-sponsored scholarships; there is no further application process. At the start of every term, students may apply for a limited number of technical support positions on campus.

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