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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Top 25 Animation Schools and Colleges on the East Coast – 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 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.

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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.

2. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York 

School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as the “Cartoonists and Illustrators School.” Home to 6,000 students, the school has more than 30 program offerings for aspiring artists. Options for aspiring animators include BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects. An MFA in Computer Art is also on the menu as well as a BFA in Cartooning, and Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses.

SVA animation graduates can be found working at Sony ImageWorks, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Curious Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Marvel Entertainment, MTV, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and many others. 

3. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York

Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to 4,617 students enrolled in 22 undergraduate degree programs, 26 graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. The Pratt Institute School of Art offers a BFA in Digital Arts with Concentrations in 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, and 2-D Animation. The School also offers an MFA degree in Digital Animation and Motion Arts.

Pratt Institute School of Art alumni can be found working at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Studios, Digital Domain, Rhythm and Hues, Curious Pictures, and Sony Imageworks.

4. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home to 13,650 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across seven colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Electronic and Time-Based Media with a Focus in Animation and a Bachelor’s in Integrative Design, Arts and Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation and Special Effects. According to CMU, “the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network connects students and faculty from across the university through coursework and collaborative studio experiences.” It allows students from every college to take minors or concentrations in Animation, Special Effects, Game Design, and more.

In addition to the programs listed, the College of Fine Art, School of Art at CMU offers supportive courses that serve “to enrich the student experience in IDeATe.” Offerings include Advanced ETB: 2D Animation, Advanced ETB: Animation, Advanced ETB: Moving Image Magic: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Animation, Art, and Technology. The school’s interdisciplinary programs combine art school and computer science.

5. New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York

Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU) and home to the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. The Institute offers a BA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production. An MFA in Animation and Digital Arts is also on the menu, and it is offered at Tisch Asia.

Established in 1979, The animation program began with just three classes: Art & Design, Animation I, and Animation II. For the 1980-1981 academic year, the program was home to 80 students enrolled in five classes. In 2013, the program enrolled 461 students, and the current Animation curriculum consists of nearly twenty different classes. Graduates of the Animation program at Tisch have landed jobs at Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and many others.

6. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York

The Mechanics Institute opened in 1885 with 400 students enrolled in mechanical drawing. Today, the school is known as Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and it is home to 18,606 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) is home to the School of Film and Animation (SOFA), which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.

Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Industrial Light and Magic, Rhythm and Hues Studios, Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, and Electronic Arts. 

7. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York

Founded in 1896, Parsons The New School for Design is home to more than 5,000 students enrolled in 27 undergraduate, graduate, and associate degree programs. The school consists of the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Constructed Environments, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion. The School of Art, Media, and Technology, offers several degree programs for aspiring animators.

Offerings include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and a BFA in Communication Design. All programs allow students to study 2D and 3D Animation and Motion Graphics. Another program worth mentioning is the BFA in Illustration, which also allows students to study Animation and Motion Graphics. 

8. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. Founded in 1826 and home to nearly 2,200 students, MICA offers more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. The school also offers a variety of post-baccalaureate Certificate programs. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Animation with three paths including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The school also offers and an integrated BFA degree in Animation and Humanistic Studies.

In addition to animation studies, students in this degree program will study philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history.

9. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is home to 2,000 students enrolled in more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs across several departments. Founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers, MassArt offers an animation program that leads to a BFA. Directed by the Animation Department, the program gives students the opportunity to engage in a variety of conventional and experimental techniques. Students will study Documentary Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Character Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental Video, and Emerging Technologies.

10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to nearly 25,000 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design program. Created in 1998, the program is interdisciplinary and leads to a Bachelors in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD).

According to the School, the BSE DMD “was designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies.” A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also on the menu. 

The BSE DMD program produces graduates that go on the work at major studios and other companies. The largest employers of UPenn BSE DMD graduates are Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games.