Frequent Questions

Q1) How can the Visualization Program help refine my skills in animation?
A1) The Visualization Programs are not focused on an animation program, although that is one of our strong areas. We have one required core course and three elective courses in animation, including a two-semester sequence in Advanced Animation. Many students choose animation as their focus area.

Q2) What computing resources are available?
A2) Abundant computing resources are available. Each student can expect about 12 hours per day of direct access to a high performance visual workstation. An online scheduling tool is used to manage access to specialized facilities and resources such as video studios, video cameras, and editing suites. Students also have access to an extensive render farm.

Q3) Is there 24 hour access to the lab everyday, including weekends?
A3) Students have twenty-four hour access, seven days a week. Use is not limited except at the end of the semester. At that time, a scheduling system may be used so that projects are completed in an orderly fashion.

Q4) To what degree are faculty advisors involved in students' progress?
A4) Each student is assigned an advisor for the first year. Each student completes their work under the guidance of a faculty committee. Student/Faculty ratio is about 9 to 1, which encourages close student/faculty collaboration and interaction.

Q5) How closely do the professors work with the students in helping them produce a demo reel?
A5) The Visualization Programs are either a Master of Fine Arts or a Master of Science, not a professional training program. Many students do produce a demo reel, and there is much support for this activity. However, it is not the culminating activity. The M.F.A. Professional Study or the M.S. thesis is what the faculty will focus on.

Q6) What are the university admission standards?
A6) The standards include a GPA of at least 3.0. The GRE general test is required. You must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. If you meet these standards, please feel free to apply.

Q7) What are the scores required for the GRE?
A7) There is no minimum GRE score. However, for Fall 2012, admitted MFA and MS in Visualization students had an average GRE score of about 163 (verbal) and 151 (quantitative). This average has been gradually rising, so you might expect that it will rise in coming years. The GRE score is only one of the criteria examined by the Admissions Committee. Other criteria include your written statements, letters of recommendation, GPA, transcripts, artistic portfolio and optional technical portfolio. Quality of your artistic portfolio and your record of technical courses are two important factors in admission decisions.

Q8) Do I send my portfolio, resume and statements to the same place as my application?
A8) The portfolios go to MFA or MS in Visualization, Department of Visualization, C108 Langford Center, 3137 TAMU, College Station, Texas 77843-3137. The resume, statement, letters of recommendation and portfolio description sheet must be sent electronically (.doc or .pdf) to: admissions@viz.tamu.edu. The application should be submitted online at https://www.applytexas.org.

Q9) For on-campus recruiting, which companies visit on a regular basis?
A9) In the past years, Industrial Light + Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, Disney, PIXAR, Blue Sky Studios, Electronic Arts, and ReelFX all made visits. These visits usually included lectures, critiques and individual consultations as well as recruiting.

Q10) Will I have other opportunities to interact with companies? 
A10) Since 1999 we have been running a very successful summer course with instructors from industry (ILM, Pixar, R&H, Disney, Dreamworks, and ReelFX so far). We plan to continue this offering. Many of our students also participate in internships.  The Department of Visualization also holds advisory board meetings twice a year.  Members of the board come from animation, gaming, architecture and graphic design companies who take the opportunity to meet our students and see student work during their visits with us.

Q11) Is there a Career Resources Center available for the students?
A11) There is a career center on campus, however is not utilized to any significant degree by our students. The placement rate for visualization students is well over 90%. This is primarily accomplished through industry visits and networking with former students and recruiting staff at the various companies.

Q12) What benefits does the Texas A&M University Visualization program offer that I could not receive at other universities?
A12) It is one of only a handful of programs that stresses both the technical and the artistic aspects of the field. Success in student placement in challenging and rewarding positions is unrivaled. Access to professors and equipment is excellent. Cost is among the lowest of all such programs.

Q13) Have I taken the proper prerequisites?
A13) Here is a brief summary: Computer Science through data structures; Math through linear algebra; art and design including drawing, painting, and photography. One should have a strong major in a relevant technical or artistic area. For details see the Admissions Section of this site.

Q14) Is there housing assistance for students?
A14) There is a graduate and off-campus student services office with off-campus housing listings information and advice. Housing is reasonably inexpensive and generally available.
tel. 979.845.1741
979.845.6138 
website: studentlife.tamu.edu

Q15) Where is Texas A&M University? Who do I speak to about setting up a tour of the campus and of the program?
A15) We are in College Station, about a three hour drive southeast of Dallas/Ft. Worth; three hours northeast of San Antonio; two hours east of Austin, and one and one-half hours northwest of Houston. To make an appointment to visit the Department of Visualization, call Margaret Lomas Carpenter at 979. 845.3465 or email marge@viz.tamu.edu. Our regular visit time is 10:00 a.m. each Friday morning, except for University holidays. Regular campus tours are offered by the University’s Visitor Center, 979-845-5851, or visit.tamu.edu

Q16) I have most of the prerequisite courses. With regard to the mathematics section, I have taken what my university calls “Precalculus” and “Technical Calculus”. Are these courses sufficient prerequisites?
A16) The course that is crucial to Visualization is Linear Algebra. Check with your Math Department and find out if you can take this. If not, then take whatever prerequisite you need (possibly another semester of Calculus).

Q17) What is the cost of tuition?
A17) Estimated cost for the 2012-13 year:

Resident tuition and fees for 9 credit hours: $6,348 per semester
Non-resident tuition and fees for 9 credit hours: $12,666 per semester

For more information, contact:

Scholarships & Financial Aid
P.O. Box 30016
College Station, TX 77842-3016
tel. 979.845.3236
fax. 979.847.9061
website: financialaid.tamu.edu

Note: Non-resident students can receive in-state tuition if they have an assistantship (teaching, non-teaching or research) or scholarship ($1,000 minimum).

Q18) Does the Visualization Program offer any scholarships or grants?
A18) We award a number of stipends for competitive applicants. There are also University and College of Architecture fellowships awarded on the basis of prior academic performance. Teaching Assistant positions are sometimes available. Many of our students have found part time jobs either within the university or off-campus.

Q19) What kind of material do you want to see in the artistic portfolio? Do you prefer work done on the computer?
A19) The artistic portfolio is evaluated on the basis of quality of work. The admissions committee prefers to see at least some work done in traditional media – drawing, figure drawing, painting, watercolor, pastel, sculpture, video, photography, etc. The work should demonstrate artistic maturity, effective representation of form and space as well as the use of color. It is recognized that students with some experience in digital/electronic media generally make an easier transition into the program.

Q20) What academic status does a two or three year diploma in Animation have?
A20) Entering students must complete a Bachelor’s Degree before entering our graduate program.

Q21) Can I go straight into your MFA course or would I have to receive a BFA first?
A21) Students must possess a baccalaureate degree in a field related to their intended course of study. Example majors include, but are not limited to, arts-related fields such as fine art, design, and architecture; technical fields such as computer science, mathematics and engineering; or a variety of other fields with a strong visual emphasis.

Q22) How do I know if it is appropriate to submit the optional technical portfolio?
A22) If you have acquired software development knowledge and skills that are not apparent from your academic records, then it would be beneficial to submit a technical portfolio demonstrating your achievement.

Q23) How do I get information about grants and scholarships for foreign students?
A23) You can reach the Department of Student Financial Aid Office at 979.845.3236. Information on financial aid is also available with our application, which you can access and apply for via the Internet.

Q24) Do you have a Ph.D. program?
A24) Not at this time, however a Visualization specialization is an option within the Department of Architecture’s Ph.D. program. Several students with visualization specialization have graduated from this program and have gone on to university teaching or industry positions. There are also students in the Ph.D. program in Computer Science who are working with us. It is possible to work and conduct your research with faculty in the Visualization program while pursuing a Ph.D. in a related discipline.

Q25) How many students are in the program during the year, and how many new students do you admit?
A25) Our programs average 85 students enrolled in the MS and MFA Visualization programs plus several Ph.D. students. We admit an average of 30 new students into the graduate programs in the Fall semester only.

Q26) Can I receive information on other schools offering similar programs?
A26) To find out about other programs in Visualization, consult the following:

  • Animation magazine frequently publishes an educational directory for animation.
  • Industry web sites such as those maintained by Pixar and DreamWorks.

If you want a balanced technical and artistic program, we recommend that you check:

  • Ohio State, Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design
  • University of Illinois, Chicago, Electronic Visualization Laboratory
  • Clemson University, MFA in Digital Production Arts

Q27) How do I apply for fellowships and assistantships?
A27) Names of qualified applicants are automatically submitted for University and College of Architecture Fellowships. Assistantships (teaching and research) within the program and the lab are arranged with individual faculty members depending on availability of funds and the qualifications of the applicant. Available assistantships are usually awarded to second year students.

Q28) Can I take courses in the summer?
A28) We offer only a few summer courses, but many students stay here for the summer and do thesis work, professional study work, or independent study projects. Although quieter than during the school year, the lab is still quite busy. A special course based on visiting lecturers from industry is offered. Many of the students and faculty travel as a group to the SIGGRAPH Conference, which usually takes place in late July or early August.

Q29) Do you have an undergraduate program in visualization or animation?
A29) Yes! The Department of Visualization offers a Bachelor of Science in Visualization. See Undergraduate Information.

Q30) Which GRE scores are more important in evaluating applications?
A30) Verbal and quantitative GRE scores are required. In our evaluation process we also consider the analytical score. Though there is no minimum score requirement, the average GRE score for admitted students in 2012 was 163(V) and 151(Q).

Q31) Will I get financial aid if I am admitted?
A31) We have been able to offer financial aid to many, but not all, admitted students. However, we have found that most of our students who seek assistantships are able find them by their second semester here. Their skills are in high demand. However, this is not guaranteed. There are a small number of fellowships available. The fellowship awards process is very competitive, based primarily on GRE scores and past academic performance.

For more information on financial aid, contact the Department of Financial Aid – financialaid.tamu.edu, or 979.845.3236.

Q32) What is the difference between an assistantship and a fellowship?
A32) For an assistantship you do work such as teaching or grading. A fellowship is a grant that does not require that you do work.

Q33) What GRE score is required to get a fellowship?
A33) It is not simply a matter of getting a good GRE score. It is a competitive process. The best qualified students admitted to the program are recommended by the department for fellowships. Fellowship winners are selected from those recommended.