Profiles of Animation, Art, Design, Gaming, and Media Programs & Schools

 

Our 2016 list of the Top 50 Public Animation School Programs in the US. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television. Founded in 1948 by William Shull, a Disney animator, the UCLA Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program (MFA in Film, Television, and Digital Media) that accepts just 12 new students each year.

Students applying to the MFA program come from a variety of backgrounds; some have earned a BA or BFA in art or film studies, applicants also come from English, engineering, architecture, psychology, communications, and more. Animation graduates have landed positions at Pixar Animation Studios, and every major animation studio in Southern California; they have gone on to direct features such as The Simpsons Movie and Monster House and have directed with Tim Burton producing (the feature film 9). 

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Our 2016 rankings of the Top 10 Animation Schools in the Southwest.

We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University is home to 29,672 undergraduate students enrolled in 100-plus programs across more than a dozen colleges and departments. The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences direct BYU’s Center for Animation. The Center showcases student films, spotlights successful alumni, publishes award announcements, and offers the Animation Emphasis for BS in Computer Science students. A BFA in Animation is also on the menu.

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Our 2016 rankings of the top private animation schools on the East Coast. We define the East Coast as Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is home to 2,481 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This private art school offers 32 art and design programs and it has a large Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV) where students can earn a BFA in Film/Animation/Video (BFA FAV). This program is one he schools top five most popular majors.

RISD graduates include famous animators and directors such as Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons.

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Our 2016 rankings of the top animation schools in the South. 

We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.


1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida

Established in 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, the school is home to 1,300 students with 94% enrolled full-time, and 6% enrolled part-time. The school offers BA and BFA degree programs in 13 majors. Established in 1990, the Computer Animation program is one of RCAD’s most popular majors. Around 20% of the student population is enrolled in the program, which leads to a BFA. RCAD graduates have landed positions at Pixar Animation Studios, LucasFilm, Warner Bros., MTV, and many others.

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Our 2016 rankings of the top 20 animation school programs on the West Coast. 

We define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

 

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, the school has a population of 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs at all degree levels. Around 26.9% of the student body is enrolled in the School of Film/Video, which offers BFA degrees in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. An MFA in Experimental Animation is also available. 

Called the “Harvard Business School of Animation” by the Los Angeles Times, CalArts has produced hundreds of successful alumni who have generated more than $26 billion in box office grosses since 1985. 

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 Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. 1. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, California (top 5% of schools considered)

Established in 1961, California Institute of the Arts is home to 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs at all degree levels. The nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts, CalArts attracts a large population of aspiring filmmakers and animators. Around 26.9 percent of the schools population is enrolled in the School of Film/Video. The School offers a BFA degree in Character Animation, and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation.

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Public Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California

Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to 43,239 students enrolled in more than 220 programs across five schools and 109 academic departments. UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television is home to the Animation Workshop.

Founded in 1948 by Disney Animator William Shull, the Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program that accepts just 12 new students each year. Before applying to the program, students typically earn a BA in Film and Television. The BA program gives future MFA students the opportunity to study all facets of Digital Media, Film, and Television, as well as a full year of Animation studies, followed by an internship. 

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Private Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.


11. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, California

Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Home to 1,489 students, with 26.9 percent enrolled in the School of Film/Video, CalArts offers a BFA degree in Character Animation, and a BFA and MFA in Experimental Animation.

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An introductory note from the editor:  

We started publishing US based regional and national lists in 2012 in response to myriad emails from aspiring animators seeking advice regarding the "best" schools in the US. The US-centric lists have been well-received, so much so that we now receive frequent requests to publish rankings of international animation schools. ACR staff writer and social media manager Tom Fronczak managed and authored this year's Top 100 International Animation Schools rankings. In preparing this year’s list, we considered hundreds of animation schools across the globe. Our end-goal is to give students access to ample information so they can make an informed decision about the school they choose to attend and the program they pursue.  

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Artistic talent, creativity and excellent communication skills are important qualities every aspiring animator must have. But these qualities alone won’t prepare you for the competitive world of animation. The industry is so advanced, that animators must have outstanding computer skills in order to master industry software and computer applications as well as software designed specifically for any given animation studio. While some animators consider themselves self-taught, the vast majority obtain the skills they need through an animation program. Even for the self-taught, earning a degree is a safe bet as most employer’s prefer to hire candidates that hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

While pure animation programs are plentiful and cover all bases, so many industries rely on animation that the craft is often a component of many other degree programs. Think advertising, marketing, multimedia art, interactive media, computer graphics, graphic design, game design, game art, art, architecture, art and design, and even law and medicine. Some of these programs offer optional electives that cover major areas of animation while others may offer a focus, specialization, concentration, option, or minor in animation. In these cases, the program will often delve deeper into the art of animation. Finally, many schools also offer hybrid programs (i.e. Film & Animation, Animation & Digital Art, Film/Video/Animation, etc.) that may cover just as many bases as pure animation programs do.

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