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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Top 50 Public Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S. – 2016

Written by ACR StaffMay 7, 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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11. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana

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Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to 39,409 students enrolled in over 200 majors across 10 academic colleges and schools. Animation program offerings can be found at the College of Technology. Options include a BS in Computer Graphics Technology with eight areas of interest, including Animation. An MS in Computer Graphics Technology is also on the menu as well as 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology.

Graduates of the Animation programs “work primarily in the animated film and video game industries,” says the school. A number of alumni have been part of the creative teams behind 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 and 2014 Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2, while others have gone on to work for educational software companies and in forensics animation and advertising.

12. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Established in 1956, the University of South Florida (USF) is home to more than 48,000 students enrolled in over 220 programs across 14 colleges and three campuses—Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, Florida. The College of the Arts, School of Art and Art History offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Studio Art with a Focus in Video, Animation, and Digital Arts.

13. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas

Established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969, the University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) is home to 24,554 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts and Humanities houses the Department of Arts and Technology (ATEC), which is home to more than 1,100 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.

14. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is home to the School of the Art, which offers a BFA in Art with an Animation Track. A Minor in Art is on the menu as well as several graduate options including MFA degrees in Moving Image, New Media Arts, and Studio Arts. All MFA programs feature heavy Animation coursework.

The Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences of the College of Applied Health Sciences has another option for animators who would like to work in science or medicine. The MS in Biomedical Visualization features animation electives from Animation I-IV and Modeling to Illustration, Visualization, and Virtual Reality. The program also highlights Graphic Design and Video Game Design and Development courses.

UIC was formed in 1982 “by the consolidation of two U. of I. campuses: the Medical Center campus, which dates back to the 19th century and the comprehensive Chicago Circle campus which replaced, in 1965, the two-year undergraduate Navy Pier campus that opened in 1946 to educate returning veterans.” Today, with more than 29,000 students enrolled in 240 degree programs and 53 certificate programs across 15 colleges, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area. 

15. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. It 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 28 to 35 new incoming sophomores each year.

The Kinetic Imaging program at VCU 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.

16. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State University (FSU) is home to more than 40,000 students from all 50 states and over 130 countries. Established in 1823, the school consists of 16 colleges offering more than 275 academic programs. The College of Motion Picture Arts offers several programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Motion Picture Arts – Animation and Digital Arts, and The Torchlight Program.

The Torchlight Program is a non-degree granting academic program gives FSU animation students the opportunity to learn about “current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry,” says the school. The program offers coursework in vital areas such as distribution, marketing, and motion picture financing. The program is popular among students who are interested in a freelance career or opening their own studio.

17. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania

Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy. It 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.

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

New Mexico State University (NMSU-Las Cruces) is home to more than 15,000 students from 49 states and 89 foreign countries. Established in 1888 as Las Cruces College, 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.”

19. University of Colorado - Denver, Denver, Colorado

Established in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) 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 see by 100’s of thousands across the globe winning more than 50 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.”

20. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. Today, the school is home more than 31,500 students enrolled in 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Art and Design offers several multidisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including the BFA and MFA in Digital Art. According to LSU, students in the programs “refine their skills in classes that provide a broad, integrated understanding of creative practice across 3D modeling, animation, video, web, interactive systems, photo-based media, and digital printmaking.”

The Digital Art program, which is home to around 500 students, offers access to The Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) Initiative, and The Digital Art and Design Association (DADA). Both provide support to Digital Art students as they pursue “opportunities throughout the university and the broader community.”