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Step into the world of immersive experience design!

Continuing Education at the SMFA at Tufts is excited to offer a cutting edge Certificate in Virtual Reality. The program is comprised of six short online courses through which students will be given the skills to tackle virtual reality environment design for application in a variety of fields and careers. Courses are run asynchronously, allowing students maximum flexibility to advance their skills on their schedule!

Using the SMFA at Tufts' unique interdisciplinary approach to art making, this new online certificate program introduces students to the world of VR from the lens of an artist/maker. Get started today by completing your application and/or registering for your first class. We look forward to meeting you soon!

Why Study Virtual Reality?

#1

Users

A forecasted 31% increase in VR users 2020-2023.
#2

Industry

On target to be a 300 billion dollar industry by 2024.
#3

Market Growth

45% compound annual market growth.

Program Curriculum

Course 1 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Summer 2023

pink graphic of 3D worlds

In this intensive course, students learn to design and build their own virtual 3D worlds. These custom environments are navigated interactively, creating an immersive experience for the viewer. Techniques we learn include constructing environments with stock assets, 1st and 3rd person navigation, lighting, animation, stock character animation, localized sound, virtual camera, and recording. Final projects are viewable on the computer, or on the web. The course is aimed at a wide variety of uses of VR, including gaming, animation, cinematic forms, prototyping for architecture or interior design, educational projects, and commercial purposes.

Gain skills with:
  • stock assets
  • stock character animation
  • localized sound

Course 2 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Summer 2023

pink graphic of VR headset on character head

In Part II of this intensive course, students learn to add complex interactivity into their own virtual 3D worlds. Techniques we learn include interactivity using stock scripts, scene switching, grabbable objects, camera animation, simulating physics, localized post-processing, outputting to VR headset. Final projects are viewable on the Oculus Quest 2 VR Headset (required for course). The course is aimed at a wide variety of uses of VR, including gaming, animation, cinematic forms, prototyping for architecture or interior design, educational projects, and commercial purposes.

Gain skills in:
  • scene switching
  • grabbable objects
  • outputting to VR headsets

Course 3 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2023

pink cartoon graphic

Students learn core principles of coding for graphics using Processing. These concepts are further developed in C# / C++ to be used for interactivity in VR environments. Small projects provide practice in elements of coding (variables, loops, conditions, functions, input/output). These skills are developed into progressively larger scripts in C# used for interactivity inside Unity: events occur in response to the user’s navigation, such as scene changes, object transformations, triggered animations, UI text updates, sound events. 

 

Gain skills in:
  • C#
  • C++
  • coding for interactivity

Course 4 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2023

pink graphic of animated pacman

Using open-source software Blender, students learn to create custom models for video, gaming, and VR. Focus is on building custom objects, environments, and characters to be used inside a Unity VR project. Principles of 3D sculpting, 3D animation, basic rigging, UV mapping, custom materials and textures, low- and high-poly models, file formats, and importing/exporting.

 

Gain skills in:
  • Blender
  • UV mapping
  • 3D sculpting

Course 5 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2023

pink graphic of uv mapping icon

Students construct fully interactive and immersive VR environments to be experienced with VR headsets. Focus is on advanced techniques for commercial-level VR experience, including scripted interactivity for triggered events and animations; organizing multiple scenes/levels; interactive UI elements; baked lighting; custom physics; incorporating custom models, architecture, and characters.

Gain skills in:
  • scripted interactivity
  • baked lighting
  • multiple scene navigation

Course 6 | Online Asynchronous | 6 Weeks | Next Offered Spring 2023

pink graphic

In part II of this intensive course, students construct AR or XR projects, using Unity MARS to create hybrid virtual/actual experiences for the viewer. Principles of building and deploying custom native apps that run on mobile or wearable devices. Projects explore photorealistic rendering, physics, device optimizations. Students are encouraged to create unique strategies for “reality-plus” presentations.

Gain skills in:
  • Unity MARS
  • photorealistic rendering
  • device optimization

Program Completion Timeline

This program consists of 6 required short courses. Each course is 6 weeks in length. Students are encouraged to enroll in 2 courses per semester, allowing for the program to be completed within 1 calendar year. The program consists of asynchronous courses which have no required online meeting time. However, courses are very interactive, with access to instructors and classmates each week through digital communication or optional synchronous group meeting times.

Session

1st 
Semester

2nd 
Semester

3rd 
Semester

1st Session - 6 Weeks

Introduction to Virtual Reality I

Interactive Programming for VR

Advanced Virtual Reality I

2nd Session - 6 Weeks

Introduction to Virtual Reality II

3D Modeling

Advanced Virtual Reality II

 

Explore Job Titles

Unity Developer | VR Support Specialist | Jr VR Developer | Game UX/UI Developer

Meet Your Team

 

Billy Foshay, Part-Time Lecturer

Billy Foshay, MFA '20, is an interdisciplinary artist whose work intersects psychoanalysis, media theory, and an experience of alienation emerging out of a contemporary milieu that blurs demarcations between the physical and virtual, child and adult, process and outcome. Foshay's work itself has found a suitable home in virtual reality and computer-generated video to explore these concepts. The every-day environment is made strange through its conversion to a virtualized medium and the over-extension of its properties allowed by its digitality: a grocery store is ever-more vibrant and organized, an escalator ride never ends, a virtual dentist administers too much laughing gas. A link between viewer and work is forged in the way they mirror one another – the space occupied in physical space is similar to where you stand in virtual space - thereby increasing believability, attention and affect.

Aubrey Simonson, Part-Time Lecturer

Aubrey Simonson is a virtual reality programmer, interaction designer, researcher and artist. His research focuses on on how we select/manipulate/carry objects, move around, type, and represent our bodies in VR. As an artist, his work explores the social role of video games, the nature of immersive media, data privacy, and the relationship between virtual reality and the US military. He is a recent graduate of the MIT Media Lab, where he wrote a thesis called An Integrated System for Interaction in Virtual Environments.

Brad Lei, Part-Time Lecturer

Brad Lei is a designer, artist and developer whose passion lies in letting physical and digital experiences enhance each other. He believes it  brings forth aspirations for us to perceive happiness, sadness, and enlightenment.

Orlando Rivera, Part-Time Lecturer

Orlando Rivera is the founder of VRspaces.TV and DigitalSummit.TV, which is a VR & AR interactive development studio formed by indie artists and technologists who see new possibilities in integrating storytelling, instructional design, gaming, Mobile, and the Arts. He is also involved in IOS Development projects at major fortune 500 companies (IBM, AT&T, QVC, Sony BMG, ESI Design, JPM Chase, E&Y, Mellon Bank) and has multiple mobiles, games, VR, and AR apps in the Oculus, Apple, and Google stores.

Rivera's blended educational background has helped him lead and produce successful AR/VR, IT/New Media strategic solutions. He has been a Visual Effects Supervisor for indie feature films, shorts, and 3D animations (FranknSon.com) and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film, Video & Animation from the School Of Visual Arts in NYC. Rivera has also studied Systems and Information Technology at New York University.

Additionally, he has presented technology and digital media topics at various conferences, including the MLearning.dev.com, Trenton Computer Festival, Digital Film,  is an instructor at various schools, including Touro College, and under a grant from Verizon/Samsung, has taught middle school children in underserved communities how to code on Android devices.

Hear about VR @ Tufts

You have a 360 range of motion creating digitally now, and I think that makes for really rich digital atmospheres and worlds

Bella Kiser, SMFA at Tufts BFA+BS Alum

...psychiatrists are using VR to desensitize people with PTSD, or help people with bulimia practice responding to triggers in a safe environment. Occupational Therapists are using VR to help clients who have hemiparesis exercise and regain movement. In my lab we are exploring how to better use VR as a tool to manage chronic pain.

Nancy Baker, Associate Professor and Chair, Sc.D., M.P.H., OT, FAOT