Feb 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

SMU Guildhall: General Information

History and Mission

The Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter at SMU was founded in 2000 to provide leadership in the development and use of interactive network technologies. The eCenter promotes the creation and dissemination of knowledge about these technologies and their effects on global society through research, education and innovation. The vision for the eCenter stemmed from the recognition that interactive networks have changed the way people work, live, learn and play, and that it was academe’s responsibility to assist business and government in anticipating the internetworked society of the future and in helping to shape it. The Hart eCenter reports directly to the president and provost of the University based on the conviction that great opportunities for discovery take place at the intersection of disciplines. Since today’s issues cut across multiple disciplines, the eCenter leverages the freedom and flexibility to engage thought leadership across the traditional divisions along which academic and business institutions have usually organized themselves.

The Hart eCenter offers programs leading to an Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development master’s degree and a professional certificate in digital game development through SMU Guildhall. Both the master’s degree and the graduate professional certificate offer specializations in art creation, level design and software development. In addition, the master’s degree offers a specialization in production.

The mission of SMU Guildhall is to educate and train professionals and future leaders for the field of digital game development. SMU Guildhall was founded in 2002 with the belief that the arts and sciences underpinning video games represent the 21st century’s form of human thought, discovery and expression. The program was designed and developed in collaboration with industry icons and leading professionals. The resulting graduate curriculum is based on progressive andragogic philosophies that combine theory and practice in a just-in-time learning environment. Guided by a faculty made up primarily of industry veterans, students specialize in one of four areas fundamental to digital game development – art creation, level design, production and software development – and learn how to work in progressively larger teams on games of increasing complexity. Over a two-year period, students take courses, complete individual projects, work on team projects and leave the program with rich portfolios that showcase their talents in their chosen area of expertise. To earn a master’s degree, students must also complete a thesis, public defense and exhibition administered by the student’s faculty adviser.

The SMU Guildhall opened its doors July 7, 2003, when 32 students comprising cohort 1 started their studies. Since that time, the program has graduated more than 950 students, and alumni have worked at more than 350 studios around the world.

Facilities and Technology

The Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, located on the SMU main campus in Dallas, in the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation, has created a dedicated space for SMU Guildhall. Ford Hall, with 50,000 square feet divided between three floors, is an interdisciplinary research hub equipping faculty, students and industry partners with tools and resources to collaborate, solve complex problems, and power new enterprises. SMU Guildhall utilizes faculty and staff offices, labs, and collaboration studios designed to simulate an industry studio environment where teams work together to complete projects. Every student at SMU Guildhall receives a laptop, optimized for game development, supplemented by dedicated computers throughout the building. Ford Hall is also home to the innovative Visualization Lab and high-performance computing (HPC) and data center, providing SMU data analysis for computational research projects.

Graduate Programs

SMU Guildhall offers the following graduate programs:

Major Area Degree or Diploma
Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development - Art Creation M.I.T.
Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development - Level Design M.I.T.
Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development - Production M.I.T.
Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development - Software Development M.I.T.
Digital Game Development - Specialization in Art Creation Certificate
Digital Game Development - Specialization in Level Design Certificate
Digital Game Development - Specialization in Software Development Certificate