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What is the ranking of the ECT, DMDL and G4L programs compared to others?

There is no authoritative national ranking for programs in digital media design for learning, games for learning or in educational communication and technology. Furthermore, games for learning as a master's program is still novel, with NYU creating one of the first in the country.  While some foreign universities and some American magazines do try to rank programs in education, or in educational technology, these rankings usually focus on programs unlike ours.

College level rankings do not adequately differentiate high- and low-quality programs within those universities. The Steinhardt School within NYU is unique in that it incorporates not only education, but also culture and human development. We have preeminent programs in the fine arts, psychology, and media studies, just to name a few. Our school is not directly comparable to colleges or schools of education alone.

Educational technology programs in the US generally fall into several categories. Some are focused primarily on training primary and secondary teachers in the use of technology in the classroom; others are focused primarily on researching technologies in primary, secondary, or post-secondary education; others still focus on the design of instructional materials from textbooks to websites. We do all of those things, but none is our primary focus. Our program emphasizes both world-class design, and world-class research, in all learning settings, including not only formal educational settings like schools and libraries, but also informal education, including for instance contexts like public health, entertainment and video games, and international development. We draw on the traditions of media design, game design, instructional design, cognitive science, and the learning sciences. We believe the programs most similar to ours are those at the Educational Communications and Technology program at University of Wisconsin, the Learning, Design and Technology/Learning Sciences and Technology Design programs at Stanford University, and the MIT Media Lab, but each of these programs has important differences from ours. Most published rankings will be meaningless if they compare our program to those with very different goals and structures. To see the worth of our program, look at the outcomes for our alumni.   

What are the other games-related programs at NYU? How do they differ?

The M.S. in Games for Learning (G4L) is a distinct program in that it explicitly emphasizes the design, implementation and evaluation skills unique to serious games and games for learning. This program draws on other games-related degrees, courses, and research at NYU.

Other gaming-related degrees include the following (all housed at the MAGNET facility):

Other programs at NYU that offer gaming-related courses include:

We also collaborate with other games-related initiatives at NYU. For example:

  • The NYU Game Center, housed in the Tisch School of the Arts, supports events and collaborations with the gaming industry and games scholars (housed at MAGNET)
  • The Games for Learning Institute hosts research on serious games and learning (distributed institute with a presence at MAGNET)
  • The Game Innovation Lab hosts research on innovation through games
  • CREATE, the Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education
  • dolcelab, the Lab for the Design of Learning Collaboration, & Experience (housed at MAGNET)

What's the difference between the MA program (DMDL) and the MS program (G4L)?

Our M.A. in Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL) prepares professionals who design, implement and evaluate a wide range of multimedia for learning, including educational web environments, video drama and documentary, and other genres in digital form.  The M.S. in Games for Learning (G4L) is a distinct program in that it explicitly emphasizes the design, implementation and evaluation skills unique to games for learning.    

Similarities between the programs include: total number of credit hours; the year-long thesis capstone project; core courses in educational technology and cognitive science; and the same core faculty.  Both are housed in the department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology within NYU Steinhardt. Neither program is more 'technical' than the other; both provide opportunities for students to choose, according to their career goals, whether or not to take programming or technology development courses. Similarly, either program can be more focused on research (as a gateway to doctoral studies) or design and application (as an entry to professional work).

One difference between the programs is that students in the DMDL program will take most of their courses within the Steinhardt educational technology programs; students in the G4L program are required to take more gaming classes from across the university.

Students who are interested in games for learning, but would prefer the breadth of the DMDL program, can major in DMDL with a concentration in games for learning by taking a certain number of gaming-related electives from within our programs.

Do I need to take an English proficiency exam?

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to take one of the following English proficiency exams and submit the scores: TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic. See more information on English proficiency testing.

What are the minimum grade point average, GRE scores, and English proficiency exam scores required by the ECT/DMDL/G4L programs?

We consider the application as a whole. There are no minimum scores. We reject some students with high scores and accept some students with low scores. Please note, however, that GRE scores are currently only required for Ph.D. program applicants.

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to take one of the following English proficiency exams and submit the scores: TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic. See more information on English proficiency testing.

I'm a student at NYU School of Engineering. Can I take ECT/DMDL/G4L courses? Do I have to apply for admission?

Yes, you can take courses--cross-registrants are welcomed. No separate admission is required. Many courses do not require pre-requisites but some may. Please contact us directly if you have any questions about courses that are offered through our programs.

Do your programs lead to teacher certification for primary or secondary teaching?

No. We offer courses in integrating technology in the classroom that comprise part of NYU’s certification programs in the Department of Teaching and Learning, but the ECT, DMDL and G4L programs do not lead to any type of New York State teacher certification.

Can I switch between the DMDL and G4L programs?

Students who are currently enrolled in one of our Masters degree programs would have to reapply to the other program to switch. Consult your current adviser for information about whether credits would transfer (generally, courses used for an awarded degree can not be reused for another degree). 

When are courses offered? Do you offer any evening classes? Summer classes?

To support our part-time students, almost all ECT/DMDL/G4L courses are offered on weekday evenings, Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters, either 4:55-6:25pm or 6:45-8:25pm. Classes that students take outside our program may be offered during weekdays or weekends as well. See the NYU registrar's site for current course schedules. Unlike Master's students, Ph.D. students are expected to participate in professional scholarship, for example, attending talks, conferences, etc. which will not always take place in the evenings. It’s rare that ECT/DMDL/G4L courses (except internship) are offered in the summer, although many other NYU classes that can count toward the degree are.

What financial aid/scholarships are available for foreign M.A., M.S., or Advanced Certificate students?

Unfortunately, NYU has almost no scholarships for foreign predoctoral students, and foreign students are not eligible for US government financial aid. We recommend that foreign students apply for funding through programs like the US Fulbright program and any government-sponsored scholarships in your home country. See https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/financial_aid/

Can I apply late for the M.A., M.S. or advanced certificate?

The application deadline is February 1. We accept late applications on a space available basis. Late applicants will may not be eligible for financial aid or campus housing. You might also consider taking a class or two as a nonmatriculated student, meaning before you are admitted to any program.

What should I do if I have more questions about applying to the ECT, DMDL or G4L program?

First, make sure you have read the program website (including this FAQ) and the Steinhardt Graduate Admissions Guide. If you have questions after this about the admissions or application process, including financial aid, test scores, the online application system, whether your application is complete, etc. you should email steinhardt.gradadmissions@nyu.edu. If you have questions not answered on our website about what the program is like, academic requirements, visiting a class, etc., contact ectdmdl@nyu.edu. Finally, please consider attending an admissions information session, webinar, or a program event; not only will you be able to ask questions in person but you’ll also be able to meet our faculty, students, and/or alumni.

Unfortunately, because our department receives hundreds of applications per year, and out of deference to the needs of our existing students, we can not routinely schedule one-on-one pre-admissions counseling. 

Can I expect much faculty contact in the ECT, DMDL, and G4L programs?

Yes. Our program is small and intimate. Class sizes have averaged 15 or less and are never taught by teaching assistants. Every student has a faculty adviser (a professor, not a guidance counselor) who can work with you on your professional goals. Our design classes follow a studio-based learning model, meaning you learn by doing hands-on projects. Students collaborate with faculty and each other in our vibrant scholarly research and design community. Unlike in some doctoral programs, our Ph.D. students typically interact closely with a number of faculty and not just their dissertation chair.  

Can I meet with someone to learn about the ECT, DMDL and G4L programs?

Yes! We have events for prospective students, both face to face and online via webinar, each semester. To be notified about these events, make sure to click the 'Request info' button in the top right corner of any page of our website. We are proud of our community and hope you will join us for these events. Since our department gets hundreds of applications per year, and to be fair to current students' demands on our time, we can not routinely schedule individual meetings for prospective students. We are however happy to answer any questions by email that aren't answered here or elsewhere on our websites, and encourage you to visit a class to see what the program is like; contact us in advance to arrange.  

Do I have to take the GRE?

The GRE is only required to apply for the Ph.D. program. We do not require GRE scores for the M.A., M.S. or Advanced Certificate applications, but you may send them if you like.

What are my chances of admission?

In general, our Master's and Advanced Certificate admissions are criterion-based (meaning we admit as many people as we think are qualified). Historically we have averaged around 50% acceptance. Our Ph.D. admissions are ranked (meaning each admissions cycle is a competition among all applicants.) We have many more qualified applicants for our Ph.D. programs than we can admit. The full-time Ph.D. program typically admits 2-4 students per year (around 5% acceptance).  

If I get external funding, will I be admitted to the Master's, Advanced Certificate or Ph.D. programs?

Not necessarily. External funding has no bearing on M.A., M.S. or Advanced Certificate admissions. For Ph.D. students, external funding is no guarantee of admission, but if you have external funding it's important to let us know since we can't admit full-time Ph.D. students unless we know they are funded, either externally or by NYU.

Can I transfer credits into the M.A. or M.S. program?

By New York State law, students can transfer a maximum of 9 units into the program; these must be graduate credits, and they must not have been used for a previously awarded degree.

Please note that the M.A. program only has 6 units of unrestricted electives, so not all transfer credits might count towards the 36 units required (this is not so for the M.S. program).  Any transfer credits are subject to program review.

I have extensive professional design skills. Does this mean I can place out of coursework in the ECT/DMDL/G4L programs?

We don't presume any multimedia, design, or programming skills, although they can certainly be helpful. In general, because of our studio-based approach to learning, we do not allow students to place out of required courses. Whatever level you're at, you'll have opportunities to practice and get better.

What's the difference between full-time and part-time admissions for the Master's or Advanced Certificate programs? Are my chances better if I pick one or the other?

There is no difference in admissions criteria.

Can I finish the Master's program in less than two years?

Yes. With summer or intersession courses or internships, it is possible to finish the program in a year and a half, or three regular semesters. We strongly encourage students interested in an accelerated program to begin in the fall rather than the spring. Transfer credits may also accelerate the program.

Can I study part-time?

Yes. All of our programs are offered both as full- or part-time programs (even the Ph.D).  Note that there is a ten year cap on time-to-degree for the doctoral program, and all programs will continuously review your progress and time toward the degree.

If I attend the DMDL or G4L program part-time, how long will it take me to finish?

The M.A. program is typically four semesters full-time, so it would be eight semesters half-time, or (conceivably) 16 semesters quarter-time. The advanced certificate program is approximately one semester shorter.  Depending upon what courses are offered in the summer or winter that can be applied to the degree, it may be possible to complete the program in a shorter period of time, part-time.  

I already have a Master’s from NYU in the DMDL or G4L program. Can I apply to the Advanced Certificate program?

Yes. Many of our alumni have come back to us, in some cases decades later, to update their preparation with the advanced certificate.

Can I switch from part-time to full-time Master's student, or vice versa?

It is possible for Master's students to switch from part-time to full-time and vice versa semester-by-semester. Please note that this may have visa implications for international students, and financial aid implications for domestic students.

If I want to learn technical skills, do these courses count towards my required credits?

We have many graduate-level technology courses that do count towards the required credits in the ECT, DMDL and G4L programs. Beware of programs that require technology courses that cost money but don't count towards the total credits required. We also encourage students to use courses with a studio format to bring technical skills development into all their coursework.

Can I switch from the advanced certificate to the M.A. or M.S. program?

You can apply to the M.A. or M.S. program while in the Advanced Certificate program. If you switch programs before being awarded the Advanced Certificate, your coursework would typically apply to the Master’s requirements. However, New York State prevents coursework from counting towards more than one degree or certificate, so this switch would have to take place before completing the certificate.

Will I be required to learn technical skills to complete the ECT, DMDL or G4L program?

While we expect students in the ECT, DMDL, and G4L programs to be comfortable using technology, for instance to mockup or prototype designs, extensive technical skills are not required. Students pursue technical skills according to their own needs. For some students, this means learning programming, game development or web development; for others it might mean film and video editing skills; and for research-oriented students, technical skills might comprise learning research analysis software.

How long does the full-time Master’s program take?

Typically, the 36 credits required to complete the program will take two years or four semesters (of at least four courses each), full-time, and three years or so, part-time.  With a combination of summer and winter courses, when available, this may also be completed in two years, part-time.  Completing the degree also includes a two-semester final project. Beware of Master's degrees that only include a year's worth of coursework, and no final project or thesis; these often represent considerably less learning and may not provide you with a competitive portfolio of work with which to compete for jobs or further study.

Can I get a research assistantship?

Research assistantships are typically only open to Ph.D. students, not Master's students; frequently they are awarded as part of the admissions package, but otherwise would be advertised to current students via program mailing lists or the Steinhardt Department of Research and Doctoral Studies. Very rarely, students may get research assistantships in other programs or departments; these would also typically be reserved for Ph.D. students. There are no directories of assistantships; we recommend subscribing to relevant department mailing lists and introducing yourself to relevant faculty in other departments (for instance, if your prior background is in chemistry, you might contact the chemistry department).

I'm an undergrad at NYU. Do you offer an undergrad minor, or undergraduate coursework?

We do not offer an undergrad minor, however, advanced undergraduates may take graduate courses in the ECT, DMDL, or G4L programs by permission. We encourage NYU undergrads considering graduate study in our program to get to know us by taking a course.

Do I need a Bachelor’s degree to apply for the M.A. (DMDL), M.S. (G4L), or Advanced Certificate program?

Yes. The only exception would be if you have a degree that is the equivalent of a US Bachelor's degree from another country (e.g., French "Licence").

Do you offer conditional admission if I want to come study English prior to beginning your program?

We do not offer conditional admission. If you apply with a strong application but weak language skills, you may be rejected, or you may be admitted with additional language requirements. Please note that applications with statements of purpose or essays that have been translated by a third party, rather than written by the applicant in English, will be treated as plagiarism and that applicant will be permanently banned. (It's fine to provide us with a translation of work you've published in another language as long as you note that it's a third-party translation.)

I don't have a programming background. Should I still apply to the ECT, DMDL or G4L program?

Yes. we do not presume prior programming background (although it would be useful if you have such a background). Students do not need to learn to program to complete the degree, but technology skills courses are available for those who wish to develop them. Unlike some competing graduate programs, these courses would typically count towards your degree requirements.

Do I have to be interested in becoming a researcher to join your M.A. or M.S. program?

No, our Master's programs in digital media design for learning and games for learning serve both students who are preparing for a research-oriented career as well as students who are interested in design or development, but not research.

Who are the faculty I will be learning from in the ECT (Ph.D.), DMDL (M.A.) and G4L (M.S.) programs?

Our faculty consists of world-class scholars with backgrounds in education, computer science, cognitive science and psychology, and media arts and technologies. Three quarters of our courses are taught by tenured faculty, who are held to the most rigorous peer-review as professional researchers (compare this to Harvard's master's program, where only one of their eight faculty is tenure-track). Our adjunct (non-tenure track) faculty are selected for their deep ties to professional applications and design, and for their teaching skills. Unusually, our faculty are not only researchers, but also designers.

More information about our program faculty can be found here: https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/alt/ect/faculty/

What financial aid/scholarships are available for US M.A., M.S. or Advanced Certificate students?

See Steinhardt's Financial Aid information page.

I don't have an education/teaching background. Should I still apply to the program?

Yes. We emphasize learning in all contexts, not just schools. Many successful applicants come from a background in teaching, but just as many of our students do not. We welcome people switching careers.

Can I start with the M.A. or M.S. program and switch to the Ph.D. later?

No. Students who complete the M.A. or M.S. can apply at the end of their program to continue on to the Ph.D.

Can I transfer credits from classes I took at NYU as a non-matriculated student?

As long as they have not been used for a degree, up to 18 graduate credits taken as a non-matriculated student might count towards the degree if they fulfill program requirements. Please note that NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers both graduate and continuing education credits, and only graduate credits (not continuing education credits) would count.

Do you offer an online program? Can I take the coursework at a distance?

No.

Can I get a teaching assistantship?

NYU does not have teaching assistantships. When graduate students teach on campus, they do so as adjunct faculty, typically only at the very end of the Ph.D. program. However, our students have gained teaching experience at other nearby universities that rely heavily on part-time instructors, such as CUNY. Supervised teaching experiences off campus in K-12 settings can be arranged for internship course credit.

Can I take all or part of the program online?

We do not offer any of our programs online at this time.

Are there any special provisions for NYU staff?

We welcome NYU staff who are interested in our programs for their professional development. We believe our programs are highly relevant within the university. Standard tuition reimbursement policies apply; you should communicate early with your supervisor. Because our courses are primarily in the evenings, release time required for coursework is usually minimal. You might want to consider taking a course or two as a nonmatriculated student, or consider completing a degree part-time. We have had Master's, advanced certificate, and Ph.D. students complete their degrees while working full-time as NYU staff.

If I describe my scores and background to you, will you tell me whether I can expect to get admitted?

We can't tell you until you apply; we don't admit solely on scores and we can't pre-review applications.