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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges in the Southwest – 2016

Written by ACR StaffMarch 13, 2016
Did You Know.....Full Sail University offers online degree programs in computer animation, game art, and game design? Learn more about Full Sail University's online programs.
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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.

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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.

2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 

Established in 1876, Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. The school is home 59,000 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture offers programs for animators at all degree levels and broadly defines animation within “Visualization.” Options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. These interdisciplinary programs prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and other areas.

3. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 

Established in 1969, the University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) is a member of the University of Texas System. The school is home to 24,554 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across eight schools.  The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication houses the Arts and Technology degree program (ATEC) and the Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) program, which is home to more than 1,300 students. Interdisciplinary program offerings for aspiring animators include a BA in Arts and Technology (BA ATEC), an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC), an MFA in Arts and Technology (MFA ATEC), and a PhD in Arts and Technology (PhD ATEC).

ATEC students have the opportunity to choose electives in more than one area. Just a few options for animators include Animation Studio, Animation Production Lab, Virtual Environments, Motion Capture, Modeling and Simulation, and Special Topics in Animation. Animators interested in games and animation might add courses such as Game Design, Game Production Lab, Game Pipeline Methodologies, Serious Games, or Educational Games, to name a few.

4. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) was founded in 1936. This art and design school is home to more than 1,100 on-campus and online students enrolled in 16 Bachelor’s Masters, and Certificate programs. More than 100 students are enrolled in the schools animation programs. Offerings include a BFA in Animation and Certificates in 3D Animation: Pre-Production and 3D Animation: Character Animation. Certificate-level programs are 18 credit hours.

5. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Established in 1888 as Las Cruces College, New Mexico State University enrolls more than 15,000 students from 49 states and 89 foreign countries. The school offers 276 programs across seven colleges and a graduate school. The College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Creative Media Institute (CMI), which offers Bachelor of Creative Media degree. According to the school, CMI is a “cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for the 21st century in Digital Filmmaking and Animation & Visual Effects.” While students may choose an area of emphasis, “they study all aspects of Digital Filmmaking and Digital Arts, whether they are aspiring writers, directors, cinematographers, or animators.”

6. University of Colorado - Denver, Denver, Colorado

The University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) was established in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. It is home to 18,417 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts & Media is home to the Department of Visual Arts and the Digital Animation Center (DAC), which offer a BFA with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation. 

According to the school, “to date, DAC student senior short films have been in over 230 national and international film festivals in 22 countries. Our student films have been seen by 100’s of thousands across the globe winning more than 50 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.”

7. Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) traces its roots back to 1859 when New Mexico’s oldest chartered college, St. Michael’s College, was founded. Today, SFUAD is a subsidiary of Laureate International Universities, a global network of more than 80 accredited campus-based and online universities offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than one million students in over 28 countries.

Santa Fe University of Art and Design houses the School of Visual and Communication Arts and the Film School. Both offer several programs for aspiring animators. The School of Visual Communications offers a BFA in Digital Arts. This collaborative program prepares students to work in Animation, Film, Illustration, Theater, Character Design, and many other areas. The Film School offers a BFA in Film, Visual Effects/Animation, a BFA in Film where core classes for all students cover CGI/animation, the fundamentals of storytelling, production, and “the business of the business,” a BFA in Film Production, and a BFA in Film: Story Development. The BFA in Film features an accelerated track, which may be completed in just three years.

8. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas

Established in 1879 as Sam Houston Normal Institute or School, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is home to more than 19,000 students enrolled in more than 170 fields of study across seven colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Computer Animation. One of the most popular programs in the Department of Art, the Computer Animation program “offers a highly collaborative experience in 2D and 3D animated storytelling to a diverse student body,” says the school.

Students can expect to take courses in 2D Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Pre-Visualization, 3D Modeling, Character Animation, 3D Animation for Interactive Games, and the History of Animation. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in animation and film, video production, advertising, game production, and fine art. 

9. Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) opened its doors in 1934 as Eastern New Mexico University Junior College. With a population of nearly 6,000 students from 48 states and 31 countries, ENMU is New Mexico’s largest regional comprehensive university. The school offers more than 60 degree programs across four colleges and a graduate school. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the College of Fine Arts, Department of Art.

Offerings include a BFA in Art with an Emphasis in Visual Arts or Graphic Design, and a Bachelor of Occupational Education (BOE). According to the school, the Graphic Design emphasis “stresses the development of expertise” in Computer Graphics and Animation, Digital Illustration, Web/Mobile Device Design, Advertising Art, and Package and Publication Design. The BOE allows students to specialize in a range of areas from Animation and Graphic Arts to Electronics. 

10. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas

University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was established in 1881 as Incarnate Word College. Home to nearly 10,000 students, the school offers 100 majors across nine colleges and schools and four professional schools. The School of Media and Design (SMD) offers several programs for aspiring animators—a BFA in 3D Animation and Game Design with a 3D Animation Track or a Game Design Track.

Many students earn their AAS in 3D Animation or Game Production at Northwest Vista College (San Antonio) or other cooperating community college, before transferring into UIW’s BFA program. Because the BFA is a “professional preparatory” degree with a heightened focus, it typically takes transfer students two to three years to complete the program, which is the same amount of time it takes other students to complete the degree. As a professional preparatory degree, all graduates of the BFA program are ready to enter the workplace upon graduation.