Jun 14, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 
USC Catalogue 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Interactive Media (MFA)

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The Interactive Media and Games Division offers a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media as well as a number of courses in computer-based entertainment for non-majors. The fundamental philosophy of the division is coherent with that of the programs of the school, stressing creativity of expression, experimentation and excellence in execution.

The Interactive Entertainment track is part of the MFA in Interactive Media. This track focuses on game design and innovation and offers a list of suggested electives best suited for interests in interactive entertainment. Students in the Interactive Entertainment track are required to follow the MFA in Interactive Media curriculum.

The MFA in Interactive Media is a three-year intensive program that requires 50 units of which 32 are requirements and 18 are electives. Of these electives, a minimum of 6 units must be taken in the School of Cinematic Arts. Students are required to do an internship or professional work during the summer between their first and second year and must take at least 2 units of business oriented electives. Students are required to complete an advanced interactive project which they design and produce in CTIN 594a Master’s Thesis  and  CTIN 594b Master’s Thesis .

Computer and digital production facilities for the program are provided by the school. However, students should budget additional funds for incidental expenses for intermediate and advanced projects. Cost will vary depending on the scope of a student’s project. For the first year production course, approximately $1,000 will be needed for miscellaneous costs, lab and insurance fees.

The program is intended to prepare students for creative careers in the emerging field of interactive entertainment. While the program does not require advanced computer capabilities, familiarity and comfort with computer-based authoring and production/post-production tools is recommended.

The creation of interactive media requires a combination of skills from the traditional media of film and television as well as a deep understanding of the effects of interactivity upon the quality of experience. Therefore, we emphasize and encourage collaboration with students in other Cinematic Arts programs. Approximately 15 students are admitted in the fall semester (there are no spring admissions).

Applicants for the MFA in Interactive Media must submit a supplemental application and materials to the Interactive Media Program. For specific instructions contact the Cinematic Arts Office of Admission, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211, (213) 740-8358 or online at cinema.usc.edu.

Requirements for the MFA in Interactive Media

Total units: 9

Total units: 9

Total Units: 11

Total units: 11-13

Year Three, First Semester

Total units: 4

Year Three, Second Semester

Total units: 4


At least 6 units from the following:


*Courses suggested as part of the Interactive Entertainment track.

**Courses not listed may satisfy this requirement with approval of the program chair.

Additional Requirements

Thesis Project

In order to begin work on the thesis/advanced project, students must first successfully propose their project to a committee of MFA interactive media program faculty. The proposal is prepared during the second year of study in CTIN 548 Preparing the Interactive Project  and is submitted at the end of the second year. Throughout the three years of study, students will meet regularly with an MFA interactive media program adviser to develop and refine the proposal and discuss the progress of their work. The adviser will be a member of the thesis committee.

The proposal itself will include a written treatment of the project with a discussion of similar work in the field and its relationship to the proposed project. It will describe aesthetic issues to be explored and specific techniques to be employed in its realization. It will also include a project visualization, budget and schedule, in addition to supporting materials created by the student demonstrating his or her ability to pursue the project. The faculty committee will make comments and decide whether the student may go forward with his or her project. Upon acceptance, the student will begin work on the project, otherwise revising the proposal and meeting again with the committee.

In the third and final year, students concentrate on their thesis projects in CTIN 594a Master’s Thesis  and  CTIN 594b Master’s Thesis , completing production and post-production. A final review will take place in the second semester of the third year. The committee will meet and the student must show and defend the work. The student does not need to submit a thesis paper in conjunction with this project, though students interested in doing so may take CTIN 510  and prepare a paper for academic publication.

Criteria for successful completion include: 50 percent originality and 50 percent quality of execution.


Though the Internship class is not required, the division requires all MFA students to do work at an internship or in a professional context while enrolled in the program. The graduate students adviser will work with each student to find an appropriate work environment and certify the student’s completion thereof.

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 C (2.0) must be earned in all required courses. Students who do not achieve a grade of C (2.0) in the core courses CTIN 532 , CTIN 534 , CTIN 542  and CTIN 544  after repeating these requirements will be disqualified from the program. The core courses as well as CTIN 594a  CTIN 594b  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 three years from the first course at USC applied toward the Master of Fine Arts degree. Course work more than seven years old is invalidated and will not be applied toward the degree.

Graduate Review

One year prior to graduation, students are required to file MFA forms for a curriculum and graduation review. Contact the Interactive Media Program Office for forms.

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