Profiles of Animation, 3D Animation, Computer Animation, Cartooning, Illustration, and Web Animation Programs & Schools

 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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Our 2015 rankings of the top animation school programs 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.

11. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, Rhode Island

Established in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is home to 2,449 students enrolled in around 38 undergraduate degree programs and concentrations, and 22 graduate degree programs. Besides a large number of program offerings in the areas of Art and Design, Architecture, and Education, RISD has a large Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV). The Department offers a variety of programs for aspiring animators and filmmakers. Program options for animators include a BFA in Film/Animation/Video (BFA FAV).

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Our 2015 rankings of the top animation programs in the Midwest.

We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. It has a student population of nearly 65,000 enrolled in more than 350 programs across more than a dozen schools and colleges. Within OSU’s College of the Arts and Sciences, the Department of Art and the Department of Design both offer programs for aspiring animators.

The Department of Art offers both a BFA and MFA degree in Art with an Emphasis in Art and Technology that allow students to study 3D Modeling and Animation, Art Games, Digital Imaging, and other related areas. The Department of Design offers an MFA in Design with a track of study in Digital Animation and Interactive Media. This program operates in conjunction with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), which provides world-class facilities and technical expertise in the context of an interdisciplinary research center.

Many graduates of the Design program have animated and directed some of the best-known works of studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks, while others go on to explore the application of animation and interactive media to game design and emerging approaches to visualization within a full range of disciplines and industries.

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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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Iowa Animation Schools: Most Expensive to Least Expensive

If you’re an aspiring animator and you live in Iowa, you don’t have to head to California to find a good training program or start a career. The State of Iowa is home to 66 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Many of these schools offer excellent programs for artists and designers of all kinds—including animators.

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Anyone interested in understanding our brave new world that blends art and technology need not look any further than the work of UCLA’s Rebecca Allen. As returning Chair of the university’s Design Media Arts department (a department which she founded in the 1990s), she presides over one of the nation’s premier interactive design programs that offers both B.A. and M.F.A. degrees.

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North Carolina Animation Schools: Most to Least Expensive

North Carolina is home to 139 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Title IV schools have been in business for at least two years, they have signed a participation agreement with the Department, they have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, they grant an associate's degree or higher, and they offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length. Once a school has met these requirements, it becomes eligible for Title IV federal financial aid programs. This makes them more accessible to students with financial need.

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Washington State Animation Schools: Most Expensive to Least Expensive

Washington is home to 85 Title IV degree-granting institutions. A Title IV school offers a number of benefits for students, but one of the biggest advantages is access to a variety of federal financial aid programs. To become a Title IV school, an institution must meet five requirements. They must (1) have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, (2) sign a participation agreement with the Department, (3) offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length, (4) grant an associate's degree or higher, and (5) be in business for at least two years.

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