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Top 50 Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S. – 2015

Written by ACR StaffApril 15, 2015
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 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.

2.2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 5% of schools considered)

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling. The school opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, RCAD sits on a 35-acre campus that houses nearly 1,300 students enrolled in BA and BFA degree programs in 14 majors. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Computer Animation.  

3.3. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia (top 5% of schools considered)

Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 11,000 students enrolled in 40-plus majors and more than 60 minors. The school has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, and Hong Kong, as well as a variety of degree programs for aspiring animators. SCAD’s School of Digital Media offers a BFA, MA, and MFA in Animation. A Minor in Animation is also available.

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4.4. University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California (top 5% of schools considered)

The University of Southern California was established in 1880. It is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Program offerings for aspiring animators include a BA in Animation and Digital Arts and a BFA in Film and Television Production (with heavy Animation and Interactive Media electives). The BA program is offered through The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts of the School of Cinematic Arts and the BFA is offered through the Division of Film and Television Production of the School of Cinematic Arts.

USC also offers a Minor in Animation and Digital Arts along with several graduate programs for animators including an MFA in Animation and Digital Arts and an MFA in Interactive Media with heavy Animation electives.

5.5. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, Rhode Island (top 5% of schools considered)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was founded in 1877. It is home to 2,449 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This private art school has a large Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV) that offers a variety of programs for aspiring filmmakers and animators. Offerings for animators include a BFA in Film/Animation/Video (BFA FAV).

6.6. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 5% of schools considered)

Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Home to 26,674 undergraduate students enrolled in 100+ programs across more than a dozen colleges and departments. The College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Visual Arts, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science Department offer several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Animation and a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.

Brigham Young University is also home to the Center for Animation, which operates under the direction of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. The Center showcases student films, spotlights successful alumni, publishes award announcements and manages the Animation Emphasis for CS students.

7. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California (top 5% of schools considered)

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) was founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California. It is home to 43,239 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. UCLA is also home to the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television. Founded in 1948 by William Shull, a Disney animator, 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.

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

Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to 4,556 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 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.

9.9. New York University (NYU), New York, New York (top 5% of schools considered)

Tisch School of the Arts was founded in 1965. It is part of New York University (NYU) and home to the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. The Institute offers BA, BFA, MFA, MPS, MA, and PhD degrees. Programs for aspiring animators include a BA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production.

The BA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production features Introduction to Animation Techniques, Intermediate Animation Production, Advanced Animation Production, and Experimental Animation.

10.10. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (top 5% of schools considered)

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.