Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) Design at Shenandoah University: the first VR undergraduate degrees in Virginia.
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Extended Reality (XR) technologies form a multifaceted, revolutionary industry expected to be worth more than 400 billion by 2026 as it becomes an integral part of everything from entertainment to education.
Shenandoah’s Virtual Reality Design programs give you the knowledge and skills you’ll need to build VR, AR, and XR systems in this rapidly evolving technological landscape.
You’ll have the opportunity to master game engines like Unity and Unreal, 3D tools like Maya and Blender, software languages like Python and C#, the Adobe Creative Cloud, 360 video production, haptic technologies, high-end VR and AR headsets, 3D printing, microcomputing applications, motion/performance capture systems, audio production tools, and much more.
The Bachelor of Arts has expanded not only my knowledge but the very way I think about design and problem-solving.”
– Brynna Strader ’23 (B.A. Virtual Reality Design, Game Design Minor)
As a Bachelor of Arts (BA) student, you can focus your energies on the tools and technologies that best match your interests and career ambitions. In either program, you’ll learn important professional skills like self-initiative, effective teamwork, project conceptualization, system documentation and public speaking. You’ll be involved in impactful, real-world projects through courses, capstones, independent work and undergraduate research.
The skills you learn are transferable to many areas beyond VR and AR, including software engineering, game and simulation design, 2D and 3D graphic design, web development, screenwriting, project management, UI/UX, and system evaluation.
Bachelor of Arts in Virtual Reality Design
The BA in Virtual Reality Design focuses on aesthetics and interactions, preparing you for a career making beautiful and engaging content for VR, AR, and XR games, simulations, and stories. You’ll master user interface and user experience (UI/UX) design, develop compelling interactive stories, create amazing 3D objects and environments, delve into the psychology of immersion, direct 360 video productions, produce dynamic soundscapes, and build virtual worlds using state-of-the-art production tools.
Shenandoah University’s VR Design BA program is very flexible and packed with new ways to learn from an ever-growing industry. Being a full-time staff member and a part-time student is a learning experience and I am grateful to Shenandoah University for giving me a chance to learn new and exciting technology that revolves around the VR industry. My favorite part is learning the augmented side of VR, and I am excited to learn new things ahead!”
– Yohan Joung (B.A. Virtual Reality Design)
After completing this degree, you’ll be well-positioned for a career as a designer, storyteller, graphic artist, creative director, or producer of VR, AR, XR, and screen-based interactive experiences and games.
We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact the BS and BA program directors for information about our programs:
Nathan R. Prestopnik, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Virtual & Augmented Reality Design
Program Director, Bachelor of Arts Program
firstname.lastname@example.org | (540) 535-3477
Virtual Reality Design Minor & Certificate
Game Design Minor
The Game Design Minor gives you the opportunity to explore the intersection of experience design, computer programming, game aesthetics, and play. The 18-credit minor is available to all students across the university, and pairs especially well with the VR B.A. and VR B.S. majors.
Game Design Minor Courses:
- CSC 121 Introduction to Computer Programming I
- CSC 122 Introduction to Computer Programming II
- ARVR 220 Introduction to Game Design
- ARVR 240 3D Modeling and Design
- ARVR 260 Development and Programming in Unity
- ARVR 420 Advanced Topics in Game Design
Virtual Reality Design Minor
The Virtual Reality Design Minor is available to all students across the university and provides many opportunities to connect your major and area(s) of interest with emerging technologies like VR, AR, and XR.
Virtual Reality Design Minor Courses:
- INT 101 Introduction to IT Fundamentals
- ARVR 105 Introduction to Immersive Technologies
- ARVR 230 Video Production in 360
- ARVR 240 3D Modeling and Design
- ARVR 290 AR/VR Lab I
- ARVR 310 Immersive Experience Design
Virtual Reality Design Undergraduate Certificate
The 21-24 credit Virtual Reality Undergraduate Certificate provides a foundation in AR/VR tools, systems and methods. This 21-24 credit certificate is designed for students who are majoring in another field and/or who have already graduated with another degree and are seeking an additional credential.
The 12-credit certificate in History and Immersive Technology is designed for students who desire to gain technical proficiency in immersive technology (virtual reality and augmented reality) as a medium for the presentation of historical knowledge and experiences.
Career & Professional Development helps Shenandoah students search and apply for internships related to their major and career goals. Internships differentiate you as an applicant in your future job searches, provide hands on experience in your field, allow you to sample different career paths for your major, and help you find a specific position that fits your passion before graduation.
Career and Salary Possibilities
The Bachelor of Arts in Virtual Reality Design will prepare students for careers producing high quality 360 video and immersive media for AR/VR/MR applications.
Demand for skills in augmented/virtual/mixed realities has been steadily climbing. As each agency and business begins to adopt immersive tech to promote their brand or to conduct training, this area will continue to expand.
- Software Developer/Engineer
- Graphics Designer/Engineer
- AR/VR Maintenance/Support Specialist
- VR Project Manager
We expect that just as every organization now has a website, in the near future, every group will want XR experiences to advertise their products and services. Indeed market demand is expected to increase dramatically in coming years as equipment costs continue to fall.
The starting salaries of graduates range from about $80,000 to over six figures.
The Career Services Office provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to assist Shenandoah students in their career search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
As a Virtual Reality Design student, you’ll complete foundational courses, labs, electives and a two-semester capstone sequence in which you’ll complete a client-driven project with real-world impact.
Classes are small, with many opportunities for hands-on learning using state-of-the art equipment. We also offer fun events and learning opportunities such as game jams, project showcases, internships, independent studies and undergraduate research initiatives.
As a Virtual Reality Design B.A. student, you’ll be able to take courses like…
- ARVR 105 Introduction to Immersive Technologies Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 205 Graphic Design for Interfaces Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 210 Narrative Design/Storytelling Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 220 Introduction to Game Design Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 230 Video Production in 360 Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 240 3D Modeling and Design Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 260 Development and Programming in Unity Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 290 AR/VR Lab I Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 291 AR/VR Lab II Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 310 Immersive Experience Design Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 361 VR Design and Programming Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 370 Photogrammetry and Drones Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 390 AR/VR Internship Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 401 Design Thinking and Prototyping Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 402 Project Implementation and Testing Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 440 The Business of AR/VR Productions Credit(s): 3
- ARVR 462 AR Design and Programming Credit(s): 3
Shenandoah Center For Immersive Learning (SCiL)
Shenandoah University’s Center for Immersive Learning (SCiL) is a state-of-the-art AR/VR/XR lab that supports the Virtual Reality Design programs, minors, and the university as a whole. Our student workers are integral to SCiL operations, support and maintain the lab, and work on SCiL projects.
SCiL has nearly 40 VR/AR headsets available for regular student use, including the Varjo Aero, HTC Vive Focus 3, HTC Flow, Pico Neo 3 Eye, Valve Index, Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Magic Leap, Hololens 1 & 2, HP Reverb, and more. SCiL also hosts more than a dozen high-performance workstations where students are able to design and develop for all of the available equipment in the lab.
Additionally, SCiL hosts a suite of audio and video equipment for 360 and traditional video production, including an Insta 360 Pro camera, GoPro Max 360 cameras, DSLR photographic cameras, field audio recording equipment, light kits and accessories. This equipment is available to students starting in their first semester.
SCiL has a performance/motion capture studio for recording fully rigged 3D character animation and a professional sound recording studio for dialogue recording and foley work. Other lab equipment includes 3D printers, haptic devices, omnidirectional treadmills (ODT), Arduino electronics kits, Kinect and Ultra Leap gesture tracking IR systems, collaborative work spaces, and open areas for developing and testing multi-user and “arena-scale” VR applications.
SCiL frequently works with the university, the Winchester community, government agencies, and other clients to develop AR, VR, and 360 video productions, giving students hands-on experience in professional development:
- The Great Experiment – a high-fidelity recreation of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall featuring a VR recreation of the Founding Fathers and their debates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.
- French 75 VR – an educational, multiuser VR recreation of a crew-operated WW1-era field artillery piece.
- Take CoVR – a fast-paced, multiplayer game where players compete in seasonally themed snowball fights, balloon throwing and other activities. Developed in partnership with SU Student Affairs.
- NASA Mars XR Challenge – a VR recreation of scientific data collection tasks on Mars.
- Atmosphere of Hate – a recreation of a 1960s Civil Rights Era lunch counter sit-in.
- Haunted Hospital – an immersive haunted house experience developed entirely by students.
- John Brown Trial – a recreation of the trial of pre-Civil War abolitionist John Brown using 360-degree VR video in collaboration with acting students, the university’s history department, and outside organizations.
- SCiL Photo Showcase – an interactive, gesture-based photo installation developed by first-year students.
- Through Their Eyes – an augmented reality mobile app showcasing elements of the Cool Spring Civil War Battlefield.
- Nursing Simulation VR – an international collaboration with the Arab-American University of Palestine (AAUP) to create an immersive VR nursing training simulation.
- Winchester Tourism VR – an interactive VR application to visit local tourism attractions through the medium of 360 video.
- AR Student Center Mural – a mobile augmented reality experience based on artwork at the Brandt Student Center.
360 Video Learning at Shenandoah
The Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCiL) is part of the vanguard of storytelling and learning in the 360 video and virtual and augmented reality realms. SCiL productions are helmed by students and draw upon a role player workforce that includes Shenandoah Conservatory acting students. Through SCIL’s efforts, students build a variety of valuable new skills, while telling stories in ways that make an immediate impact on a viewer. Take a look inside, and see the beginning of something extraordinary.
Member Of The National Center For Women & Information Technology Academic Alliance
Shenandoah University and the Division of Applied Technology are committed to promoting diversity. Shenandoah University is a proud member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
NCWIT is a non-profit community that convenes, equips, and unites change leader organizations to increase the influence and meaningful participation of girls and women – at the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, and disability status – in the influential field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions and accepts applications throughout the year. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically.
Submit your application, review required admission materials, and find our admissions standards.
Study Abroad & Other Learning Opportunities
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks. You will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Experience Amazing Things
It’s important to get out of the headset from time to time! We offer exciting opportunities to engage with the real world through trips, research experiences, projects, and more. In past semesters, our students have…
Traveled to Israel and Palestine as part of a collaboration with Arab-American University of Palestine (AAUP). We saw the old city of Jerusalem, visited Hisham’s Palace in Jericho, saw the Dome of the Rock, and rode camels.
Visited Disneyland and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida as part of a Global Experiential Learning trip focused on STEM education and experience design. We toured behind the scenes at Disney, participated in astronaut training, and watched a Falcon 9 rocket launch live from Cocoa Beach.
Collected 3D-scan data of World War One artillery systems at the Ft. Lee Training Support Center and the North-South Skirmish Association range in Winchester, Virginia. We got to 3D scan real artillery shells and range-finding systems, explore a huge warehouse of historical military equipment, and fire a French 75 cannon.
Attended the Organization of American Historians Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. We showcased The Great Experiment, visited MIT and Harvard, and solved crazy escape room puzzles.
Visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia to capture images and 3D-scan data for The Great Experiment VR recreation of the 1787 Constitutional C