Columbia College Chicago

Interactive Arts and Media

The Interactive Arts and Media Department provides degree programs that are technically and creatively challenging. We offer bachelor's degrees in Animation, Computer Animation, Traditional Animation, Game Art, Game Design, Programming, Interaction Design, and Music Technology. You can add a new set of skills to another major with one of our exciting minors.

Majors & Programs

For requirements and more information about these programs, visit the catalog.


Animation, BA

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Whether you’re interested in classic 2D animation or interactive 3D worlds, our BA in Animation provides you with the technical skills to succeed in this growing, highly collaborative industry. The BA offers more curricular flexibility than the BFA, making it easy for you to take courses outside of the major. You’ll choose one of two concentrations: Computer Animation or Traditional Animation. Areas of study within these concentrations allow you to customize your degree. See the concentration descriptions for more information.

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Concentrations:
Computer Animation, BA

As a BA candidate in Computer Animation, you’ll take interdisciplinary coursework to prepare for graduate studies or a career in animation. In addition to core courses in Interactive Arts and Media and Animation, you’ll choose a concentration sequence in either Computer Animation or Visual Effects. You’ll have flexibility with electives, either working collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or taking any three animation electives of your choosing.

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Traditional Animation, BA

As a BA candidate in Traditional Animation, you’ll take interdisciplinary course work to prepare for graduate studies or a career in animation. In addition to core courses in Interactive Arts and Media and Animation, you’ll choose a concentration sequence in either Hand-Drawn or Stop-Motion Animation. You’ll have flexibility with electives, either working collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or taking any three Animation electives of your choosing.

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Computer Animation, BFA

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Computer-based animation and imagery has transformed cinema, television and interactive gaming. As a Computer Animation major, you’ll gain technical skills in advanced computer-generated filmmaking and take electives in areas such as motion capture, character modeling, and animation performance. In your final year, you’ll collaborate on a team project and develop your own solo short film. You can apply to enter the BFA program after completing 45 credit hours.

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Traditional Animation, BFA

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As a BA candidate in Traditional Animation, you’ll take interdisciplinary course work to prepare for graduate studies or a career in animation. In addition to core courses in Interactive Arts and Media and Animation, you’ll choose a concentration sequence in either Hand-Drawn or Stop-Motion Animation. You’ll have flexibility with electives, either working collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or taking any three Animation electives of your choosing.

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Game Art, BA

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If you’ve ever been awed by how cool video games look these days, you have game artists to thank. In the Game Art program, you’ll learn game-oriented computer art and animation concepts, from the most basic fundamentals to state-of-the-art techniques and tools. With our 3D-oriented curriculum, you’ll visualize, model, and animate characters and environments as game-engine-ready production assets. You’ll graduate with a deep understanding of the video game industry, 3D art creation and the production pipeline for 3D games.

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Game Design, BA

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Designing games requires intense creativity and professional discipline. As a Game Design student, you’ll learn how to create engaging, fun game experiences while collaborating with a team to create high-quality products. Core courses emphasize the fundamentals of game design theory, their practical application, and the cultural and theoretical roles of game design in society. Students choose one of two concentrations in the major: Game Development or Sound Design. See the concentration descriptions below for more information.

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Concentrations:
Game Design, Game Development, BA

As a student in the Game Development concentration, you’ll learn to design a wide range of games and simulations in terms of gameplay, narrative, and user engagement and experience. Essentially, you’ll learn how to make a video game fun and engaging. The curriculum includes advanced classes in game design theory and analysis in addition to game engine scripting and development. You’ll master effective game production techniques for both commercial-style and independent projects and will build a game in the collaborative senior capstone.

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Game Design, Game Sound Design, BA

As a Sound Design student, you’ll create and implement audio for industry-standard game engines and mobile devices. The concentration melds theory with practical application, and it appeals to audio engineers as well as musicians and interactive sound artists. You’ll acquire advanced knowledge of acoustics and digital audio, aesthetics of sound, and studio production technology and techniques. This concentration offers a broad knowledge of the game industry and prepares you to work in a professional sound design environment.

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Programming, BA

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Programmers bring ideas to life. As a Programming major, you’ll create code that allows games, simulations, or other interactive experiences to function. You’ll prepare for a career as a scripter or programmer. Choosing a Game Programming or Application Programming concentration, you’ll work in a variety of team settings that will strengthen your collaboration skills. You’ll graduate with a portfolio of work that includes several completed games and/or applications.

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Concentrations:
Programming, Application Programming, BA

In this program, you’ll focus on developing software for a variety of platforms. You’ll prepare to work as a commercial or independent software engineer. You’ll study a variety of programming languages including industry standards C++ and C#. And you’ll take courses on advanced topics like artificial intelligence and physical computing. This program also provides the Liberal Arts and Sciences courses that will help you thrive in the growing and competitive software engineering field.

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Programming, Game Programming, BA

Video games are complex creations, and programmers are the people who make all the pieces work together. As a Game Programming student, you’ll learn to develop games, simulations and other game-like interactive experiences through a practical curriculum that provides a strong Liberal Arts and Sciences background. You’ll make applications from year one and gain professional discipline working collaboratively with your peers, graduating with a portfolio that will help you land a job as a programmer in a variety of fields.

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Programming, BS

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Programmers bring ideas to life. As a Programming major, you’ll create code that allows games, simulations, or other interactive experiences to function. This technically rigorous program with advanced mathematical study will prepare you to continue on to graduate-level study in computer science, or pursue a career programming complex games or robust applications. You’ll choose a concentration in Game Programming or Application Programming. And you’ll graduate with a portfolio of work that includes several completed games and/or applications.

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Concentrations:
Programming, Application Programming, BS

In this program, you’ll focus on developing software for a variety of platforms. You’ll prepare to work as a commercial or independent software engineer. You’ll study a variety of programming languages including industry standards C++ and C#. And you’ll take courses on advanced topics like artificial intelligence and physical computing. The rigorous mathematics requirement will also prepare you for advanced computer science studies in graduate school.

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Programming, Game Programming, BS

This rigorous program combines mathematics-heavy course work with practical programming and prepares you for a career as a game software engineer or graduate studies in computer science. You’ll learn programming languages applicable to games, software development, and fields that might not exist yet. You’ll take courses on advanced topics like artificial intelligence and algorithms. During senior year, you’ll work in a team environment developing work for your portfolio.

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Interaction Design, BA

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Interaction designers are in-demand design professionals who create intuitive electronic interfaces for a variety of consumers. As a student in this program, you'll invent creative, user-centered design solutions that will prepare you for a career within the expanding fields of interactive design and development. This program is ideal for both the creative artist with an interest in digital media development and the back-end web developer, coder or mobile programmer with an aesthetic eye, strong work ethic and impulse to innovate.

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Music Technology, BS

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The Bachelor of Science in Music Technology connects course work in music, audio arts, and information technology to educate artists and designers in the interdisciplinary foundations of modern musical practice. This curriculum focuses on the impact of technology on music’s creation, presentation, representation, and distribution since the beginning of the 20th century while preparing our students for professional musical life in the 21st century.

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Social Media and Digital Strategy, BA

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Columbia is one of the first schools in the country to offer a Social Media and Digital Strategy major; the undergraduate program prepares students to work in this exciting new field across industries. Content creators, social media managers, digital strategy experts, and others are needed for nonprofits, companies, artists, start-ups, and more. This major draws from already established programs in Advertising, Business and Entrepreneurship, Interactive Arts and Media, Journalism, and Public Relations. This field is rich with internship opportunities, helping you graduate career-ready with ample real-world experience.

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Animation Minor

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Designed for students outside the Cinema Art and Science Department, the minor in Animation provides you with a solid grounding in the technique and theory of animation. In required core courses, you’ll study the history of animation around the globe; explore basic techniques, including object, hand-drawn and stop-motion animation; and draw digitally using industry-standard editing and storyboarding software, creating a story reel for a final project. Complementary majors include Game Art, Video Production and Audio Design.

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Game Art Minor

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As a student minoring in Game Art, you’ll learn how to use a variety of software tools to create sophisticated visual concepts for games and simulations. You’ll learn to integrate art assets, including characters, environments, animations and visual effects, into a variety of game engines. Our curriculum requires you to work collaboratively with students across disciplines, helping to build your communication skills and prepare you for workplace success. This minor complements a major in Animation, Illustration, Film or Creative Writing.

Requirements for the Game Art Minor

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Game Design Minor

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The Game Design minor is a comprehensive track that teaches you to design games in terms of gameplay, fun, user experience and system design. You’ll learn advanced theory and use state-of-the-art techniques and tools to create engaging, immersive game experiences. Our curriculum requires you to work collaboratively with students in multiple disciplines, helping you build your communication skills and preparing you for success in your chosen creative industry. This minor complements a major in Animation, Illustration, Film or Creative Writing.

Requirements for the Game Design Minor

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Motion Graphics Minor

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Motion Graphics is a growing practice that involves producing title sequences, television commercials, television network identifications, music video effects, and web and app-based graphic animations. This minor focuses on developing skills in design process, animation, and video capture for use in motion graphics projects for television, film and the web. Students who may wish to complete the minor include students from Cinema and Television Arts, Art and Art History, Interactive Arts and Media, and Photography.

Motion Graphics Columbia on Vimeo

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Programming Minor

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Programming isn’t just for full-time coders. Industries beyond software development often require fluency with coding and application development skills, and a minor in programming offers you a distinct edge no matter your industry. In addition to required core courses for this minor, you can choose from multiple elective tracks depending on your interests, from app development to game programming to simulations. This minor complements a major in Journalism, Marketing or any Interactive Arts & Media program.

Requirements for the Programming Minor

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User Experience Minor

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If you’re interested in designing digital interfaces and products that are useful and intuitive, consider a minor in User Experience. You’ll learn how to create compelling, participant-centered work through a practical curriculum that emphasizes user interaction, audience behavior, engagement, metrics and observation, all grounded by theory classes in interface design, information architecture, research and prototyping. This minor complements a major in Design, Advertising, Journalism, Marketing, Television or Game Design.

Requirements for the User Experience Minor

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Web Development Minor

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Possessing a fundamental understanding of web development, social media and user-centered design is imperative in this day and age—especially for creative professionals. The minor in Web Development equips you with the technical knowledge you need to be competitive in your industry. You’ll learn state-of-the-art programming languages and use them to create interactive websites with dynamic content. This minor complements a major in Graphic Design, Fiction, Marketing, Arts and Media Management, Journalism, Television or Film.

Requirements for the Web Development Minor

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Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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