Digital Futures (MA, MDes, MFA)

The graduate program in Digital Futures responds to the increasingly important and sophisticated role of digital technology as a catalyst for change.

Digital Futures has an international student cohort and faculty. The program features collaborative overseas eGlobal courses with world-wide educational and industry partners. A global perspective is key to securing our graduates’ futures in the eclectic international creative digital industries, encompassing design, arts, creative services, entertainment, media and cultural industries. The Digital Futures program is offered in partnership with the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) Media Lab.

The Digital Futures student-centred learning approach applies to both research and practice. The curriculum ensures that you gain core digital knowledge and skills as you explore your specific areas of interest through electives, industry internships, residencies and independent study.

The program focuses on practice-based learning and prototyping, with an enterprise component and supporting thesis research. Industry partnerships help students to build a career runway in advance of graduating. You are encouraged to work with industry partners in internships which lead to mentorship for your thesis research.

Who should apply?

You should have a background in design, technology, culture and/or enterprise as demonstrated by an undergraduate degree and relevant work experience. Our students are designers and artists, filmmakers, architects, journalists and media specialists, scientists, engineers and business people. This diversity drives peer learning and collaboration across disciplines in the program.

The master’s degree in Digital Futures

The master's in Digital Futures is a two-year full-time program. In the program, you will develop practice-based and scholarly research in technologically advanced design, art and media through the following:

  • Critical thinking
  • Research and practice
  • Business and innovation studies
  • Computing and emerging digital methodologies

This is a full-time, 8-credit program comprising:

  • Foundational courses in computation, business creation, innovation and leadership
  • Core courses in digital methods, research, theory and practice
  • Intensive digital project and prototyping courses
  • Individual research and creation overseen by a principal advisor and supervisory committee
  • Summer internship and/or study abroad
  • Elective choices
  • Creative digital thesis project and supporting paper (MFA/MDes) or a written thesis and supporting creative project (MA)

Students declare their intention to pursue the Master of Design (MDes), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or Master of Arts (MA) at the time of application. The outcomes of the chosen degree are distinctive. The MDes and MFA focus on practice-based research creation with a supporting thesis. The MA flips that focus, with an emphasis on a scholarly research thesis and a supporting creative project.

Check out the program’s yearbook to learn more about recent student work and what you’ll be doing in the program.

Elective choices

New elective courses are continuously created in response to trends and emerging technologies. These cutting-edge courses cover theory and practice in design, art, media, technology and enterprise. Some examples include:

Some recent outstanding Digital Futures graduate’s thesis projects

The Ipperwash Beach Walk

Monica Virtue’s thesis project uses geolocation to deliver documentary media and interactive visualizations to mobile users during an embodied “beach walk” along a disputed strip of land on Lake Huron. As users travel an historic trail between two Indigenous communities, crossing a series of GPS points along the water’s edge, they learn via smartphone how settlers colonized Ipperwash Beach. The project presents a form of counter-mapping as an alternate viewpoint to mainstream notions about how Ipperwash Beach became a vacation destination. Created through the use of co-design methods, the project is intended to benefit the Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point First Nation through a sharing of original archival research, an opportunity to improve relation-ships with non-Indigenous neighbours and a value-added experience for the carloads of tourists who visit each summer.

Sitting Under a Highway

Sitting under a highway is a research-creation project by Hector Centeno Garcia and presented as an interactive audiovisual virtual and presential space. By wearing a head-mounted display (VR), a hand tracking device, headphones and an electroenceph-alography band, the audience experiences photorealistic 3D visuals and spatial audio that are the product of an artistic practice centred on the attentive aesthetic exploration of a physical place.

Seeker Number 1

Seeker Number 1 is an interactive story thatcombines performance, filmed by multiple cameras and streamed live with an interactive installation at the exhibition space. Tatiana Jennings uses Homer’s Odyssey as a base narrative structure utilizing multiple story lines and environments in which the story is situated. The audience is able to access and interact with the performance during the exhibition by exploring a physical setup with objects, relating to the story and characters.

Your Body of Water

In response to the Quantified Self movement, which uses body data for self-tracking and self-improvement, Lee Jones’ thesis explores how aestheticized heart-rate data can be used to get us more in touch with our bodies and how we are feeling. Utilizing somaesthetics, an interdisciplinary field with roots in philosophy that combines the soma (the living body) with aesthetics (our sensory perception and appreciation), this thesis explores how we can design interactions that help us to reflect on our embodied experience.

Mortise and Tenon

Thousands of historic buildings in China are experiencing severe problems, such as funding shortages, low market attention, and poor renovation. These problems are turning into a vicious circle where more and more Chinese historic buildings are experiencing irreversible damage -- an important cultural problem concerning the preservation of Chinese traditional culture. Yikai Zhang developed a mobile application enables people to see and learn about these sites via smartphone and Google Cardboard. In the AR scene, users observe the 3D model of the historical building in 360 degrees, and gather extra information via panels of presented images, maps and texts. When users switch to VR mode, they experience a panoramic virtual tour both of the exterior and interior of the building. These two modes together provide users with a coherent and comprehensive concept and experience about an historic building.


Where might your graduate degree in the Digital Futures program lead you?

As a Digital Futures graduate, you’ll be qualified to work in positions such as:

  • App, web, and games designers and developers
  • Digital project leaders
  • Cultural industry producers
  • Managers and coordinators between art and design departments and IT
  • Creators and developers of your own start-ups
  • Film, television and digital transmedia producers
  • Digital strategists and educators

Graduates of the Digital Futures program will be poised to play leadership roles in research and development in the media, arts, technology, entertainment and education sectors.


2016/2017 Program Overview

MA, MFA and MDes Overview

Program Course Offerings

For a complete list of courses for this program,
please see the applicable program guides:

View Program Guides