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 our Admissions Department.
What is common between a weather app on your phone, a racing game on your console and a state-of-the-art imaging tool in a hospital? All of these are digital media products, and to build them requires teams of digital media professionals.
Digital media is content that is stored in digital formats and usually distributed online. The world we live in today is populated by digital media products, and the shift from traditional media has taken place in many industries, including industries that aren’t typically associated with digital media—such as health, government and education.
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 two semesters on-campus, students are allowed to work up to 12 hours per week outside of the program.
No, the MDM program does not require GRE or GMAT test results for admission into the program. A complete list of all requirements can be found at MDM Admission Requirements.
When applicants complete the online application form, they are required to enter their referees' contact information, including e-mail addresses. An e-mail with a unique link is sent to the referee, where he/she is able to upload a letter or type into a text box. Alternatively, letters may be sent through the post. The reference letters need to be in their own envelopes with the referees' signatures across the seals. The MDM applicant may send all letters together in one larger envelope or they may arrive on campus individually.
We do. Please e-mail our Admissions Department for information.
Applications are adjudicated by the Graduate Program Committee, which includes representatives from the CDM's four partner institutions and MDM faculty. 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.
Students who are in the process of completing an undergraduate degree may be offered conditional admission upon having satisfied the degree requirements before the start of the MDM program in September.
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 admissions committee will view your grades and courses up until that point. If accepted to the MDM Program, the committee will likely grant you a "Conditional Acceptance", on the condition that you submit final transcripts upon completion of your degree.
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.
The Master of Digital Media Program admission requirements are as follows:
1. Applicants must have completed a 4-year undergraduate degree (or equivalent) acceptable to all 4 CDM Partner Institutions in a field related to digital media, for example:
- Computer science, engineering, education, management, economics, communication, art, design or performing arts, art history, architecture, linguistics, psychology or philosophy.
- Note: If applying from another related discipline, applicants must make the case for the relationship between the discipline in which they hold their previous degree and this program and how they would benefit from the MDM program.
2. Samples of work (Please see our Preparing a Portfolio for more information):
- Five digital pieces that best demonstrate your skills. These items can be one or more of the following: exhibited art, designs, film or video, computer code (please include and document at least 100 lines of original code that you created), engineering designs or something else that resulted from your previous work.
- 250 - 500 words summarizing how the items in the portfolio relate to each other and to your strengths. If an item is a collaborative effort, please clearly state your role in its production.
3. Letter of intent (no more than 750 words). The letter should explicitly address:
- Your motivation for selecting this degree program.
- Your relevant skills, training and experience.
- Your proposed interests within the program.
- How the course of study would contribute to your future intellectual or professional growth.
4. Short formal essay (no more than 750 words) about a topic of interest related to digital media.
5. Computer Skills and Literacy Summary Form.
6. Three reference letters, each from a suitably qualified person.
7. Program Survey Form.
8. Resume that includes an overall summary of your professional achievements (no more than 250 words).
Minimum Academic Standards
1. Minimum Undergraduate Grades:
- Minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% or higher) in 3rd and 4th year courses, or:
- Academic standing with at least 12 credits of 3rd and 4th year courses in the A range (80% or higher) in the field of study, or:
- Applicants who hold a 4-year undergraduate degree, who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience may be granted admission on the recommendation of the MDM program.
2. Applicants lacking demonstrated ability in computing may be admitted on the condition that they take one or more suitable courses but the courses cannot be counted for credit towards the MDM degree.
English Language Proficiency
If applicable, you must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. The MDM admissions committee accepts one of the following proficiency tests:
- Minimum score of 100 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), with no less than a score of 20 in each category.
- Minimum score of 7 on the International English Language Test System (IELTS - the academic NOT the general test) with a minimum of 6.5 in all sections.
For complete information, visit Admissions Requirements.
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 Preparing a Portfolio.
All submitted application materials, including the portfolio, become the property of the CDM 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. CDM is not responsible for lost or misplaced materials and will not pay for any brokerage, courier, or mail charges.
The CDM 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.
The letter of admission will be sent by Simon Fraser University’s office of Graduate and Postdoctoral 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 $1,000 CDN.
Think of this letter as your opportunity to make a first impression. As resources don’t allow the MDM admissions committee to interview all applicants, this letter is your opportunity to show your personality and 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 committee why you want to enter the MDM Program, how your previous academic history or area of interest fits 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. Make sure to have someone proofread the letter and, as this is one of the most important pieces of your application, format it as a formal letter.
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.
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 collaborate on 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 Creative Cloud (Dreamweaver, Illustrator, InDesign, XD, Premiere and/or Photoshop), Cinema 4D, Unity, Unreal, the ability to draw or illustrate using design applications, Storyboarder, AutoCAD.
Desired software applications for students from a project management or a UX background would be: Trello, Slack, Asana Basecamp, Axure, Sketch, etc.
Some software workshops may be available during the school term.
The MDM usually admits a select group of students who fall into this category. These applicants tend to have the business skills to handle some aspects of project development, such as client relations, marketing or group leadership. However, they often lack specific knowledge and experience of the digital media project development process that runs from concept to prototype to deliverable. Examples of such digital media projects include but are not limited to, art installations, games and apps.
If this describes your background, we recommend you submit samples such as business plans or project documentation that demonstrate effective planning and show evidence of successful outcomes. If you have project-management experience, submit a visual document 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.
We also strongly encourage applicants who fall into this broad category to demonstrate art, design or programming skills as additional skill(s) in their portfolio. This would make you more competitive in the applicant pool.
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. For more details, visit Preparing a Portfolio.
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.
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 Admission Requirements for relevant examples of your area of work. See also Preparing a Portfolio.
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.
No. Currently we only offer the Master of Digital Media Program on a full-time basis on site at the Centre for Digital Media.
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.
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.
The internship is a mandatory requirement of the MDM Program and occurs in the final term of study. Students have the support 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.
The core differentiator of the Master of Digital Media program and other comparable Masters programs is the emphasis of experiential learning through project courses. In fact, 65% of MDM coursework is project-based. All Projects courses, from the first term to the last term, have teams of 3 to 6 students spend four months working on projects to develop prototypes or applications from concept to deliverable. Each Projects course builds upon the skills learned in the previous term so that graduating students are comfortable with all issues—from dealing with dysfunctional teams to scoping and production pipeline. Please visit Student Projects to see examples of types of projects that students work on.
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). Each cohort has a mixture of professionals that have worked in the industry and students continuing directly from an undergraduate program interested in entering the field.
We admit groups of students with a diverse mix of creative and technical backgrounds. Admission requirements are designed to encourage such diversity while setting high standards for acceptance into the program.
The Master of Digital Media Program's challenging curriculum is uniquely designed to transition students from diverse backgrounds into new and expanding digital media markets and opportunities. During the 16-month program, graduates develop the professional skills required to be effective creators, practitioners and senior managers in the digital media industry. Employers demand the high level of creative and technical competence that MDM graduates 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.
Students may select their required elective course from the following:
MDM Special Topics courses (DMED 540). The Special Topics courses will be offered by MDM Faculty, Associate Faculty at partner institutions or 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. six week intensive instead of the normal 13-week format).
Students can also meet their elective requirement through a Directed Studies course (DMED 550). Students seeking to arrange an individualized course of study must arrange this at least 2 months in advance with an MDM Faculty member. The number of Directed Studies available will be limited by the faculty resources.
With permission of the MDM Director, 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 administrator for more information.
With permission of the MDM Director and agreement of the instructor, students may take one suitable senior undergraduate course at an MDM partner institution. Students should consult their instructor or the program administrator for more information.
Yes! The MDM Program degree is approved by the all four Senates or Education Councils of the CDM partner institutions. As such, the MDM Program degree bears the seals of all four partner institutions: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Institute of Technology and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
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.
Yes. All students admitted into the MDM program may be eligible for scholarships.
For more information, visit Scholarship Opportunities.
All fees must be paid through Simon Fraser University. Methods of payment are available at students.sfu.ca/fees/howtopay.html.
As an international 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). 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.
You are also eligible to work after graduation in a field related to Digital Media. To do so, you will need to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.
Yes! The MDM Program attracts the best and brightest applicants from around the world. Currently, more than half 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.
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. the plan is $37.50/month. Starting in January 2020 it will be $75/month. 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 are automatically enrolled in a private plan through registration as a full-time graduate student at Simon Fraser University, until your MSP activates. The fees for the private plan are included in your tuition.
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.). CDM’s student health plan will cover a portion or all of these expenses.
Yes, on-campus housing became available in our new building September 2012, with three floors (76 units) of student designated rental housing. The furnished studio apartments include heat, electricity, and high speed internet. Find out more about the apartments and see photos on the CDM apartments page.
For living expenses in Vancouver, you will need to factor in accommodation, food, insurance and spending money. Accommodation options include living on campus at the CDM apartments or off-campus in an apartment or basement suite. The CDM apartments are an affordable option whereas the costs off-campus are higher and can range from $1,200 - $2,000 per month. You will have to estimate your food costs, but $400-$1000 per month should be sufficient. You will also be required to have basic medical insurance which is about $37.50 per month.
Tuition costs include a computer and access to all required hardware and software, custom course material and group activities. Student fees include an all-access transit pass, extended medical and dental insurance, as well as access to SFU's recreation facilities.
Go to Tuition & Fees to see an estimated breakdown of expenses that a student will need to complete the entire MDM program.
International students must have a valid study permit issued by Canadian authorities 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. Read more about Study Permits and Temporary Resident Visas.
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.
BC and Canada Student Loans are available for Canadian and permanent resident students in the MDM program. Private lines of credit may also be arranged through most banks. Master of Digital Media Scholarships are available for students based on their qualifications and bursaries are available for students, based on financial need. In addition, at the start of every term, students may apply for a limited number of support positions on campus.
The Master of Digital Media program admits a maximum of 60 students every September.
It is very competitive to gain admission into the Master of Digital Media program. Every year, our Admissions Committee receives many more applications than available spots in the program. Applicants are advised to put together a very strong portfolio in order to be competitive. See our Portfolio Tips.