Preparing Your Portfolio

Tips for applying for the Master of Digital Media program

A digital media portfolio and samples of work are key pieces in the MDM application. If you are interested in applying to the Master of Digital Media program but not sure what to submit for your sample of work, application tips and answers to some common questions are below.

Applicants from Technical Backgrounds

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 (please include and document at least 100 lines of original code that you created).

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.

I have art/design work that I have done on the side as a hobby because it is my passion. Can I submit that as well?

You may submit art/design work but be aware that these samples of work will be compared with samples from students who have received formal (usually undergraduate) training in art and design fields, and we receive many competitive applications from such students. Submit work that you feel confident will best demonstrate your abilities and talents.

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, 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.

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.

Applicants from Art and Design Backgrounds (including Architecture and Animation)

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.

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.

Applicants with Production or Product Management Experience (Business, Marketing, Management, Live Events)

I’m neither a designer, artist or programmer, but I’m excited about applying my skill set to digital media production. What should I submit for my samples of work?
 
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.

Applicants with degrees unrelated to Digital Media

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.

Does the Centre for Digital Media offer any training for students who want to build and/or improve their sample of work?

Yes. The Pre-MDM program is offered at the CDM and is designed for students who want to improve their English proficiency and/or their sample of work. For more information please click here.

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