Digital Production Arts


Degrees Offered


PROGRAM UPDATE: DPA is excited to announce the expansion of its MFA program, located in the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center (ZFGEC) in Charleston, South Carolina. The ZFGEC houses high-tech classrooms equipped with the latest technology, collaboration spaces and conference rooms, laboratory and studio spaces, and more. A variety of courses will be offered each semester by Clemson faculty in a traditional face-to-face classroom format and via "real time" streaming to and from Clemson’s main campus. DPA MFA students can choose to study in Clemson or Charleston, and are not required to travel between the two locations. For more information, please visit the DPA website.

The recent advent of dramatic visual effects in film, television, and games has created an unprecedented demand for educational programs leading to careers in the field. To fill this need, the DPA program offers a unique blend of instruction from art, computer science, computer engineering, graphic communications, performing arts, philosophy, and psychology, together with newly designed courses targeted at production techniques specific to the animation effects industry.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Digital Production Arts (DPA) at Clemson University is a professional degree program aimed at producing technically savvy, artistically talented graduates who are sought after by the growing electronic arts industry, particularly by those companies engaged in visual effects within the entertainment and commercial video, film, and gaming industries.Students successfully graduating from DPA will have many abilities through accomplishments in the program, such as:

- Training in and application of artistic skills for storyboarding and character development.
- Familiarity and experience with industry standard 3D packages Maya, Houdini, Nuke and others.
- Training in compositing, 3D modeling, rigging, animation, lighting, simulation, and FX.
- Programming skills in Python, C, and C++.
- Understanding of computer-graphic methods for simulations and experience writing them in C++.
- Experience working in a production environment in which they create an original short film from concept to final edit.
- Experience doing original work leading to a MFA thesis.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Degrees Awarded

Last year

Past 2 years



Program of Study

The degree requires 60 credit hours devoted to core courses, electives, both team-based and individual studio work, and a master's thesis. Foundation courses are offered in the fundamentals of computing or visual arts, for students who are not fully prepared either technically or artistically. A maximum of six hours of foundation courses may be counted toward the degree. It is possible to complete the program in 2 years, but it is recommended that students plan on taking from 2-1/2 to 3 years.


The DPA program facility is designed to closely parallel facilities at major animation and effects studios. Located in the main School of Computing building, McAdams Hall, we have a large multi-purpose studio, a classroom, a screening room, and an auxiliary student workroom. In nearby Barre Hall, we have an additional studio. The multi-purpose studio holds 21 high powered dual-screen workstations, a 14 camera Vicon motion capture system, and a greenscreening area for live action shots. The classroom has seats and computers for 20 students, allowing interactive classroom work and demos. The screening room houses a cinema grade projector and computers, allowing review of work at the resolution, brightness, and contrast experienced in a commercial theater. The workroom houses additional computers, graphics tablets, a scanner, and video editing workstations, and the all important refrigerator and microwave. The Barre Hall studio is used for teaching foundation art classes, providing space for teaching traditional visual foundations of the discipline.

Our Students

Of the program’s 31 students, 65 percent are male, 81 percent attend on a full-time basis, and 26 percent are international students.

Recent graduates have been hired by DreamWorks, EA, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, Sony Imageworks, RedStorm, NVIDIA, ReelFX, Blue Sky Studios and institutions of higher learning. Graduates have worked on films such as:

  • Frozen
  • Hobbit
  • Rio
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Croods


Application Information

To be admitted, candidates need a complete Graduate School application, an acceptable GRE composite score, a portfolio, a portfolio critique, sample code, three letters of reference. Non-native English speakers also must submit an acceptable TOEFL score. 

Applicants may apply on the Web at Applications should be received no later than five weeks prior to registration. Every required item in support of the application must be on file by that date.

In addition to the standard application required by Clemson Graduate School, the DPA program requires a portfolio containing three parts:

  1. computer programming samples
  2. art samples
  3. writing sample

The portfolio should be submitted to as a link to a website containing all of your additional materials. Please see for detailed instructions on how to prepare this material. 


Required Documents


Students can now choose to study in Clemson or Charleston, SC and we offer financial support in both locations. This level of support is dependent on the student’s application materials, however, we will strive to make costs competitive and affordable to all qualified students. We accept applications throughout the year on a rolling admission basis for the nearest term (Spring or Fall), however, our standard deadline for full consideration is January 15. 


Program Contact(s)

  • Victor Zordan
  • Office: 131 McAdams Hall
  • Phone: (864) 656-4144
  • Email:
  • Dida Weeks
  • Office: 129 McAdams Hall
  • Phone: (864) 656-5577
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)