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

Programs to consider:

 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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When it comes to visual effects and CG education, it can be quite a challenge integrating the best of both traditional and digital techniques so seamlessly into a curriculum. Thanks to its hearty five-year Bachelor degrees in 3D CGI, 3D Animation and Special Effects, ArtFx is one school proving itself capable of doing just that while beckoning students to the south of France.

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Virginia

Virginia is home to more than 8 million people, making it the nations’ 12th largest state and the population is growing. The population increased by nearly 66,000 between 2010 and 2014 and the state’s largest city—Virginia Beach, added nearly 12,000 new residents. Being one of top 15 largest states in the U.S., or any heavily populated area, has its perks. Convenience, endless entertainment options, top quality restaurants and shopping, festivals and other events are just a few. One of the biggest perks, though, is the arts and culture scene—and the state of Virginia certainly has an active one. 

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While Australia may be best known for its inviting beaches and wild outback, the country’s contributions to animation have richly colored the craft from the very beginning. They know a thing or two about cultivating animation artists Down Under, and RMIT University is among the educational leaders preparing aspiring animators for what awaits.

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You’d be forgiven if you thought that animating, supervising and directing at Walt Disney Feature Animation, DreamWorks and Cinesite would satisfy the cravings of any animator. But for industry veteran Jason Ryan, these accolades have only piqued his interest in the craft more and urged him to continue the learning process. Lucky for aspiring animators, Ryan channeled his impulse into the successful online animation school, iAnimate.

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