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Top 25 Animation Schools and Colleges on the East Coast – 2017

Written by ACR StaffFebruary 14, 2017
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 2017 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.

1. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (top 2% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1947 the School of Visual Arts (SVA) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in more than 30 programs. Offerings 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. Animation students have opportunities to intern or work part-time at alumni-owned studios such as Titmouse, Augenblick Studios, and Plympton, as well as with numerous independent animation studios across New York. 

SVA animation graduates have gone on to work at major studios such as Blue Sky Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and independent animation studios around the globe. 

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2. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (top 3% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is home to nearly 2,500 enrolled in 32 art and design programs, with Film/Animation/Video, Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Industrial Design leading the pack. The school’s popular Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV) offers a BFA in Film/Animation/Video (BFA FAV). Famous RISD alumni include Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons

3. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (top 5% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1887 Pratt institute is home to 4,659 students enrolled in 48 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 and Animation with two Emphasis areas including Digital Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts. Concentrations include 2-D, 3-D, and Interactive Arts. The School also offers an MFA in Digital Arts with Concentrations in Digital Animation and Motion Arts Animation and Interactive Arts.   

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

4. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (top 10% of schools considered) 

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 & Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation & 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 School of Art 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 (NYU), New York, New York (top 10% of schools considered) 

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. 

The Kanbar Animation Program was established in 1979 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 major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and many others. 

6. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 10% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is home to 18,632 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 nation’s first PhD in Imaging Science and the School of Film and Animation (SOFA). SOFA offers a BFA and MFA in Film and Animation. Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Industrial Light and Magic, and Rhythm and Hues Studios. 

7. The New School/Parsons, New York, New York (top 15% of schools considered) 

The New School/Parsons was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase under the name The Chase School. Today the school is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in 138 degree programs, diploma programs and majors, and more than 50 minors across five colleges. New School colleges include the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, College of Performing Arts, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School for Social Research, and Parsons School of Design. 

Program offerings for animators are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) of Parsons School of Design. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and BFA degrees in Communication Design and Illustration. A Minor in Communication Design is also available. All programs allow students to study 2D and 3D Animation and Motion Graphics. 

8. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (top 15% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. The school is home to nearly 3,500 students enrolled in more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA Studio Concentration – Animation with three paths including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The school also offers and a BFA in Animation + 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 (top 15% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers, Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is home to approximately 1,985 students enrolled in more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs. The Animation Department at MassArt offers a BFA in Animation that 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. 

Other highlights include an annual screening of recent animated short films known as “Squealing Pegs,” the Animation Senior Showcase, and visiting artists and lectures. 

10. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 20% of schools considered) 

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) was founded in 1740 and it 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, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). Created in 1998, this interdisciplinary program 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. 

Some of the largest employers of DMD graduates are Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. 

11. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 20% of schools considered) 

Drexel University was established in 1891 and it is home to approximately 25,595 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BS and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects and an MS in Digital Media. The Animation & Visual Effects program features a six-month co-op, where students will “learn the underlying principles of animation along with industry-standard software technology. The entire creative pipeline from storyboarding through modeling and animation is covered in-depth, allowing students to experience all aspects of production.” 

The two-year MS in Digital Media program offers comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods. 

12. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York (top 20% of schools considered) 

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) was founded in 1824. The school is home to 7,113 students enrolled in more than 145 programs across five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) is home to five academic departments including Arts, Cognitive Science, Communication and Media, Economics, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). The Department of Communication and Media (C&M), in collaboration with the Department of Arts, offers a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC). The EMAC program offers a Concentration in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, and Game Design). 

The Department of the Arts offers a BS in Electronic Arts (BS EART) with a Concentration in Visual Arts & Animation, as well as MFA and PhD degrees in EART. Both advanced degree programs allow students to explore areas of interest ranging from Animation and Communication Technologies to Gaming. 

13. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland (top 25% of schools considered) 

University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) was founded in 1966 and it is home to approximately 13,640 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, minors, certificate, master’s and doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is home to the Department of Visual Arts which offers two degree programs for aspiring animators—BA and BFA degrees in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation. 

According to the school, “advanced level courses in animation incorporate technically intensive experiences in 3-D computer animation and digital compositing, as well as explorations of emerging practices including real-time applications and interactive animation.” Other program highlights include visiting artists and designers, the opportunity to work on 3D animation and interactive projects through the Imaging Research Center (IRC), and study abroad opportunities at two institutions in Europe—the University of Applied Sciences (Germany) and Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). 

14. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 25% of schools considered) 

The University of the Arts (UArts) is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. Founded in 1876, the school is home to approximately 1,890 students enrolled in 41 undergraduate and graduate programs through the College of Art, Media & Design, the College of Performing Arts, the Division of Liberal Art, and the Division of Continuing Studies (Graduate Programs). The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Film, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Animation, a BFA in Film + Animation, and a Minor in Animation. 

All animation students have access to international opportunities such as study abroad, festivals and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea. 

15. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts (top 25% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1880, Emerson College is home to around 4,515 students from 48 U.S. states and  57 countries. The school offers more than 50 programs leading to a BA, BS, BFA, MS, MA, or MFA degree. The School of the Arts, Department of Visual & Media Arts offers both BA and BFA degrees in Visual & Media Arts with a Specialization in Animation and Motion Media. The Department also offers an intensive three-year Film & Media Art MFA that admits just 22 students per class year. 

The MFA program allows students to focus in one or more areas of Computer Animation, Documentary, Experimental Media, Fiction Narrative, Installation, Interactive Art, Media Production, Sound Design or an individualized hybrid form. Recent graduates of Emerson’s Department of Visual & Media Arts have found employment at Soup2Nuts, Hallmark Channel, SCG Productions, World Wide Pants, Digital Domain, Fox Searchlight, MAD TV, MGM Studios, Bunim-Murray Productions, and more. 

16. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia (top 30% of schools considered)  

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) opened its doors in 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school is home to approximately 31,090 students enrolled in 250 degree programs across nine colleges and a graduate school. The College of Architecture and Urban Studies houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Studio Art with heavy coursework in 3D Animation and Modeling, Digital Video and Visual Effects, and Digital Painting. 

SOVA also offers an MFA in Creative Technologies that allows students to design a specific program of study that fits their individual interests. According to the school, students have the opportunity to “develop original work in 3D animation, video, motion graphics, digital imaging, interactive multi-media design, creative coding, web design, sound and imaging, spatial interactivity, and installation.” 

17. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York (top 30% of schools considered)

Syracuse University (SU) is home to approximately 21,789 students from across the U.S. and 123 countries. Founded in 1870, the school offers more than 400 programs across 12 colleges and schools and a graduate school. The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Department of Transmedia offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Computer Art and Animation, an MFA in Computer Art, and a Minor in Animation. According to VPA, the MFA program is “an artistic research and development program situated in the context of technology” where students “are encouraged to develop a diverse set of practices within computer art.” 

Computer Art and Animation graduates have found employment at major studios such as Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Blizzard Entertainment, Tippett Studios, Moving Picture Company, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Graduates have also presented their work at galleries and media art festivals internationally. 

18. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (top 30% of schools considered) 

Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is home to 31,242 students enrolled in 225 academic programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts, Department of Kinetic Imaging offers two programs for aspiring animators—a BFA and an MFA in Kinetic Imaging. The BFA program is home to 100 to 110 students and it accepts just 28 to 35 new incoming sophomores each year. 

The Kinetic Imaging program is dedicated to Animation Art, Video, Sound, and Emerging Media. Students can expect to take courses such as Video Editing Techniques, Techniques and Principles of Experimental Animation, 3D Computer Graphics and Animation, and Theory and Production of Media-Based Sound.  

19. School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts (top 35% of schools considered) 

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University was established in 1876 and it is home to 450 students enrolled in 12 areas of study. Programs lead to the BFA, MFA, MAT, Combined-degree (BFA + BA/BS), Certificate or Studio Diploma. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA and a Combined BFA + BA/BS. The BFA is entirely elective, so students may choose any animation, film or other courses that they would like to take. Just a few options include Animation 1: Techniques and Sound, Animation 2: The Completed Short, Sound for Moving Image, and Advanced Production. 

Better known as the SMFA/Tufts BFA, the Combined BFA + BA/BS “is specifically designed for students intending to pursue their art and academic interests to the fullest possible extent.” Upon completion of this program, students will graduate with two degrees from Tufts: a BA or BS in a major of their choice and a BFA. According to the school, the five-year program makes it possible for students to refine and focus their studies in an academic field and to cultivate their fine arts abilities. 

20. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (top 35% of schools considered) 

Lesley University was founded in 1909 as the Lesley School and it is home to approximately 7,536 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across four colleges and schools including the College of Art and Design, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Education, and the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. The College of Art and Design, Video and Animation Department offer several programs for aspiring animators including a BFA In Animation and Motion Media, an Advanced Professional Certificate in Animation, and an Animation Minor. Double major opportunities are also available and include BFA degrees in Animation & Motion Media/Design and Animation & Motion Media/Illustration. 

The College of Art and Design is one of the few art and design institutions nationally that requires a professional experiential learning experience in the junior or senior year. Previous internships have included Soup2Nuts, Cartoon Network Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, FableVision Studios, and Green Lens Media, to name a few. Study abroad opportunities are also on the menu and can last a semester, a summer, a term, or a year.   

21. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Stamford, Connecticut (top 35% of schools considered) 

The School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut (UConn) offers BA and BFA programs in Digital Media and Design with Concentrations in 2D Animation & Motion Graphics, and 3D Animation & Visualization. MA and MFA degrees in Digital Media and Design are also on the menu. Creative areas include Digital Arts, Entertainment, Digital Humanities/Social Sciences, STEM, and Business. 

Also on the menu is a Certificate in Digital Media and Design (online) program. This 12-credit program will help students “develop proficiency with the concepts and tools for business, web design, motion graphics, animation, and video games,” among others. All Digital Media and Design programs are available at both the Storrs and Stamford campuses. 

University of Connecticut (UConn) was established in 1881 as Storrs Agricultural School. The school opened with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, the school is home to more than 30,000 students, one main campus and five regional campuses, and 14 schools and colleges. UConn offers seven undergraduate degrees in 108 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 79 research and professional practice fields of study, and six professional degree programs (JD, LLM, MD, DMD, PharmD, SJD). 

22. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania (top 40% of schools considered)

Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy. The school is home to 6,550 students enrolled 135 degree programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Art Department which houses Edinboro’s second largest program by enrollment—the BFA in Applied Media Arts with 15 majors and programs. Aspiring animators typically choose the Applied Media Arts – Cinema program, which covers Animation, Computer Animation, and Film & Video. 

Graduates of the program have worked on award-winning productions such as Ice Age and Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ratatouille, Night at the Museum, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, The Day After Tomorrow, Pocahontas, and Mulan. Graduates also work as independent animators, filmmakers, writers, directors, and producers, as well as on television shows from The Simpsons and Robot Chicken to Game of Thrones

23. Farleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey (top 40% of schools considered) 

Established in 1942, Farleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is home to 11,500 students enrolled in more 100 degree programs across two New Jersey campuses (Madison and Teaneck) and two FDU locations outside the U.S.: Wroxton College, in Oxfordshire in England, and the Vancouver Campus, in British Columbia, Canada. The school houses four colleges including Becton College of Arts and Sciences, Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies, Silberman College of Business, and University College. 

Becton College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Visual and Performing Arts Department, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Program offerings include a BA in Film and Animation with Concentrations Animation, Cinematography, Editing, Film, Film Directing, Film Production, and Video Game Animation. Several Minors are also available and include Animation, 3D Video Game Animation, Film Production, Studio Arts, and Cinema Studies. 

University College, School of Art and Media Studies, also offers several options for aspiring animators. Options include a BA in Art with a Concentration in Computer Art & Design and Minors in Art, Computer Animation, and Computer Graphics. The Computer Art & Design Program combines 2D & 3D Computer Animation, Digital Video, Multimedia Production, Desktop Publishing, Design for the Web, and Digital Photography. 

24. Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey (top 40% of schools considered) 

Founded in 1908 as the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair, Montclair State University is home to approximately 20,987 students enrolled in nearly 300 majors, minors, concentrations, and certificate programs across six colleges and schools. The College of the Arts (CART) houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. 

According the school, students in the program will study “both traditional and digital drawing techniques that provide a foundation for advanced animation coursework.” Advanced projects include Animation Storyboards, Animated Shorts, and Character Development for 2D and 3D Animation. Initial projects include Book Cover Art, Editorial Illustration, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Art, and Advertising illustration. Because this is a multidisciplinary program, the Animation/Illustration BFA prepares students to work in a range of careers including Effects Animator, Flash Animator, Character Designer, Animator, Technical Director Compositor, Visual Development Artist, Rigging Supervisor, 2D or 3D Artist, Technical Illustrator, Architectural or Interiors Illustrator, Mechanical Illustrator, or Magazine Illustrator, to name a few. 

25. The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey (top 45% of schools considered) 

Established in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is home to approximately 7,400 students enrolled in more than 50 Liberal Arts and Professional programs across seven schools. The School of the Arts & Communication houses the Interactive Multimedia Department, which offers a BA in Interactive Multimedia (IMM). This interdisciplinary program combines Digital Media (digital imaging; animation, motion graphics and digital video; digital audio and electronic music, web design), Interactive Computing (experience design, interaction design, interface design, and programming for everything from web sites to video games), and Professional Writing (interactive storytelling, stories and scripts for movies, animations and video games, technical writing, proposal writing, and online journalism). 

IMM students have completed internships at DreamWorks, NFL Films, Amazon, and MTV Networks, and many graduates have found positons at Nickelodeon, MakerBot, Johnson & Johnson, and more. Graduates have also entered graduate programs at top art and design schools such as Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and School of Visual Arts (SVA) at New York University.