Jul 19, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2024-2025 
    
USC Catalogue 2024-2025

Cinematic Arts (Media Arts, Games and Health) (MA)


The Master of Arts in Cinematic Arts with an emphasis in Media Arts, Games and Health is administered by the Graduate School in conjunction with the Creative Media & Behavioral Health Center. The curriculum is based on center crosscutting initiatives that represent the broadest descriptions of our vision and mission. Students benefit from emerging research, tools and methodologies that converge at the center, as well as the wide range of backgrounds represented by faculty, students and visiting scholars. Research is prioritized based on a combination of factors, including potential impact and benefit to society and overall alignment with center priorities. Some center initiatives include:

  • Sports and Exercise for Wellness: investigation of novel assessment and treatment techniques using entertainment and technology for improvement of health outcomes related to obesity, nutrition and physical activity;
  • Healthy Brain Architecture: production and dissemination of innovative storytelling products toward promotion of healthy behavior for brain development and affect regulation during the entire human lifespan;
  • Social and Sensorimotor Play: investigation of novel assessment and treatment techniques using interactive play for improving social skills, visuospatial navigation and motor coordination in physical space;
  • Games for Health: promotion, development and assessment of innovative games with behavioral health applications;
  • Storytelling for mHealth (mobile health): mobile interactive entertainment with general health and wellness applications, or a specific chronic illness focus;
  • The Future of Health Care: re-imagining the patient/user/player experience within and beyond health care settings.

The goal of the curriculum is to provide integrative research and practice-based training to enable students to combine prior/concurrent education and experience toward design, development and evaluation of health- and wellness-related interventions that incorporate entertainment media experiences (film, games, virtual reality, mobile media, public interactives, transmedia and emerging genres).

This program caters to polymathic and interdisciplinary students who are dedicated to acquiring or leveling up on scholarly rigor, design research, and participatory method skillsets.

Prospective students may:

  • Be interested in making games or other entertainment media for social impact (education, science, health)
  • Be pursuing a higher degree after the MA (Ph.D., OTD, MD) 
  • Want to work in a research environment (games user research, other academic, industry, or government career) 
  • Want to work as freelance consultants in R&D roles
  • Want to work as a product owners/manager, or user researcher
  • Want to become producers, makers, or researchers, especially in fields of education, science or social impact
  • Want to launch their own start-up company

Candidates for the degree are subject to the general requirements of the Graduate School (see the Graduate School section). Thirty-six units are required at the 400 level or higher, including an integrative project. At least two-thirds of these units must be at the 500 level or higher.

Required Courses


Units: 36


Sample Schedule (Two Years, Full-time Study)


Year One, First Semester


Units: 10


Year One, Second Semester


Units: 8


Year Two, First Semester


  • Units: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
  • Students register for 2 units of CTIN 590 per semester. Units: 2

  • Electives Units: 6

Units: 10


Year Two, Second Semester


Units: 8


CTIN 593 Integrative Project


All students are required to complete a project that showcases their integrative mastery of prior and newly acquired knowledge, skills, and interests in CTIN 593 . It is recommended that preparatory work for this project begins with a directed research proposal in CTIN 590 , but the student can begin work sooner.

Students are permitted to complete collaborative integrative projects if they can successfully articulate a clear timeline, feasibility, individual contributions, and an alternate plan for completion if the collaboration becomes unsustainable. Building upon prior art and research (e.g., MFA thesis projects, sponsored research) is highly recommended because the project will be graded on the merit and impact of the intervention as a whole (vs. the aesthetic qualities or innovation of a standalone interactive artifact).

Students must form a community advisory committee of at least three members (USC faculty member, scientist or health professional, stakeholder/patient). The criteria for successful completion will be set by the program director and the project committee advisers.

The following are examples of integrative projects:

(a) Design/development of an original creative intervention based on rigorous formative research, or

(b) Design adaptation of an existing intervention based on rigorous formative research, or

(c) Deployment and evaluation of an original or adapted intervention.

(d) Single or collection of research reports, research protocols, or publication manuscripts.

Grade Point Average Requirement


An overall GPA of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) must be maintained in all USC course work toward the master’s degree. A minimum grade of B (3.0) must be earned in all required courses. Students who do not achieve a grade of B (3.0) in the required courses after repeating these requirements will be disqualified from the program. The core courses as well as CTIN 593  cannot be waived or substituted with transfer credits under any circumstances.

Time Limit


Students must maintain satisfactory progress toward their master’s degrees at all times. The degree must be completed five years from the first course at USC applied toward the Master of Arts degree. Course work more than seven years old is invalidated and will not be applied toward the degree. The degree director will review progress toward degree completion on an annual basis. Students who are not making satisfactory progress will be provided a remediation plan with required action deadlines.