I am an undergraduate student who wants to do research in computer graphics field. I would like to know how a computer science masters degree and a computer graphics and Game Technology (goes with similar names at different universities) would affect my future Ph.D. applications and career, upon graduating from the masters program.

At this point I should also mention that some of the "Computer Graphics and ..." master programs are 1 year long. (No thesis I assume?)

Thank you

  • I am choosing Jeffe's answer as best because although it does not discuss the differences between programs content-wise, it directly tells me to avoid it if it is a 1 year program, which seems to be more vital in my case. Thank you all responders – Kogesho Dec 4 '13 at 2:01

If you think you might pursue a PhD later, it's a very bad idea to pursue a one-year master's degree without a thesis, no matter what it's called. PhD admissions committees tend to consider all applicants with master's degrees together as one equivalence class (because it's difficult to remember the exact details of hundreds of different master's degrees). You will be directly competing with other applicants who took more time doing and publishing research during the first full year master's program, before applying at in their third semester. Students in one-year master's programs would apply after only two or three months in their program, which (for most mortals) is not enough time to do any significant research, much less publish it.


I'd look at this a little like a wager on where you want to go in the future.

If you'd like to do a PhD in the future, then focus on the fundamentals will pay off. I can't think of a single PhD that wouldn't benefit from stronger research and math skills. Especially if you want to go on to a PhD, ensure that you're getting the background in research --- typically this will mean a focus on thesis based programs.

If you're unsure of where you want to go afterwards, be aware, that a good master's program in Computer Science, is unlikely to close any doors for you, whereas a focus on Computer Graphics may mean that it's more difficult to make the transition into a different field later should you decide it's not for you.


It really depends on what sort of research you want to do. I know people who I work with in scientific visualization that have Computer Science degrees and that's probably the best thing for their kind of work. They use computer graphics, but most of their work is more related to computer science. If you're going to go the route of Computer Science but are interested in graphics, make sure you pick a program that offers enough education in that area (good coursework, professor interested in the research, etc.) and take plenty of Math, possibly even another Master's degree.

I'm not sure what kind of PhD work you would do in Computer Graphics outside of scientific visualization (though I'm sure there's some of which I'm unaware), but it sounds like the kinds of programs at which you're looking are more focused on people who are using the Master's program as an end goal to go into the computer games industry. I'd be wary of those programs if you're trying to move into a Ph. D. later as they may not be relevant to the kind of program where you'd be applying in another year or two.


You've not said anything about where it is studied. A handful of "ivy league" comp sci labs are the parking place where old ARPANET pioneers end up, and those might pass on useful undocumented procedures to their best students. It is not by chance that the collection of protocols and permission changing routines used in an annual "The Facebook" were all in one place at one time.

At an upgraded sixth form college who've decided to rebrand their media studies and colouring-in creche staff as "computer graphics", you won't find out nearly as much as at a specialist massively-parrallel programming satellite of ATI reasearch division located at MIT. Look up "Jeff Garzic".

What I'm saying is; look at industry links. ex-Bell labs:MIT. google:stanford, facebook:harvard and so on, and avoid anywhere which has no useful spinoff to swap interesting comp sci information with. Define your interests and strengths, and choose from that where to apply to.

  • So, basically, what you're saying is "abandon computer science if you can't get into one of the top few universities." That's terrible advice. – David Richerby Apr 13 '16 at 16:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.