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

Our 2017 list of the Top 50 Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

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

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 is home to 1,449 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools including the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Art, the School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, and the School of Theater. The School of Film/Video is the largest school at CalArts, accounting for nearly 30% of the student population. Programs offered include a BFA in Character Animation and BFA and MFA degrees 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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The South is home to the South Atlantic Division, which consists of eight states and DC. We’ve already covered six—Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina, so now it’s time to end out coverage of the Division South with South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Beginning with South Carolina, we found that the state has its fair share of esteemed art and design schools such as the School of the Arts at College of Charleston and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities at Clemson University.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the South Atlantic encompasses areas across eight states and in D.C., making it the largest division in the south. This means there is no shortage of colleges and universities in the area that cater to all career goals.

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According to a 2016 Census Bureau report, the south is America’s most heavily populated region. The area is home to more than 122 million people and it leads the U.S. in population growth year after year. Experts say economic growth is a driving force behind the explosive population growth in the South. A recent Forbes article explains that people are moving to the south because “economic growth in the South has outpaced the rest of the country for a generation.” The southern states “generally have lower taxes, and less stringent regulations, than their primary competitors in the Northeast or on the West Coast. Indeed this year the four best states for business, according to CEO Magazine, were Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.” 

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Degrees that combine two or three majors that are usually offered separately are becoming more and more common as more employer’s demand that job candidates have a more diverse creative and technical skill set. These types of programs allow students to cover multiple areas in less time than it takes to complete a full-blown double major or dual degree. A typical double major or dual degree program takes no less than five years to complete, full-time. A single degree that combines two majors typically takes four years to complete. Students on the fast track may complete the program in less time.

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We’re just a week or so into the summer season and things are already heating up. Several schools across the U.S. have leaped into the animation space with a unique mix of programs that incorporate animation into everything from Media Arts to Journalism.

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If you are an aspiring animator and shopping around for a training program, you may have come across dozens of different degree programs that combine other areas of study with animation. Digital Art and Animation, Media Arts and Animation, Game Art and Animation, Illustration and Animation, and Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (FVNMA) are just a few.

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Over the centuries, Spain has been the home of numerous famous artists from architects and painters to playwrights and sculptors. Pablo Picasso, Santiago Calatrava, Salvador Dali, Carlos Atanes, Francisco Goya, José Álvarez Cubero, and Diego Velazquez are just a few.

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From the Cliffs of Moher and The Ring of Kerry to The Rock of Cashel and Trinity College, Ireland is home to awe-inspiring landscapes and some of the world’s oldest structures. In between, you will find a thriving art scene (check out the Irish Museum of Modern Art IMMA, National Gallery of Ireland, and National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts and History), world-famous shopping destinations such as Dublin's Grafton Street, Brown Thomas and Temple Bar Markets, and some of the best pubs on the planet. The Stags Head, McDermott’s Pub, and The Pavilion are just a few. 

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