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.

How much does the program cost?

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 
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. 

What is digital media?

Answer: 

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.

 

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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. 

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

We do. Please e-mail Yasmeen Awadh, our Senior Student Recruitment Officer, for information.

How will my application be evaluated?

Answer: 

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. 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 conditional admission upon having satisfied the degree requirements before the start of the MDM program in September.

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

What are the admission requirements?

Answer: 

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 interactive 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).

For complete information, visit Admissions Requirements.

What does a valid portfolio submission look like?

Answer: 

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.

What happens to my application materials?

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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 $1,000 CDN.

What should I write in my Letter of Intent?

Answer: 

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.

What software application or computer skills training will I receive in the MDM program?

Answer: 

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.

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?

Answer: 

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.

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?

Answer: 

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.

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?

Answer: 

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.

I’m a computer programmer, but I’m interested in developing my creative and artistic talents. Can I do this through the MDM program?

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

Can I take this program part time or online?

Answer: 

No. Currently we only offer the Master of Digital Media Program on a full-time basis on site at the Centre for Digital Media.

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

What is a typical class composition?

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

Where will I take my electives?

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

Are scholarships available to international students?

Answer: 

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

For more information, visit Scholarship Opportunities.

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

Answer: 

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, will I be able to work during my studies?

Answer: 

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.

Can International students apply to the program?

Answer: 

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.

Do international students need health insurance?

Answer: 

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 $75). 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.

Does the MDM program offer on-campus housing?

Answer: 

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.

How much does it cost to live in Vancouver?

Answer: 

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 $75 per month. 

Tuition costs include a MacBook Pro 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.

 

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

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

Answer: 

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.

Is financial aid available?

Answer: 

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.