Profiles of Schools/Colleges Offering Animation, Design, Gaming, and Media Related Programs

Our 2017 list of the Top 50 Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (top 1% of schools considered) 

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, the school is home to 1,449 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools including the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Art, the School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, and the School of Theater. The School of Film/Video is the largest school at CalArts, accounting for nearly 30% of the student population. Programs offered include a BFA in Character Animation and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation.

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Our 2016 list of the Top 50 Graphic Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Yale University School of the Arts, New Haven, Connecticut (Top 1% of schools considered)

Yale University was founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School to educate students for “public employment both in Church and Civil State.” Today, the school is home to more than 8,300 students and it houses well over 145 departments, schools and programs covering the areas of art, architecture, divinity, drama, forestry and environmental studies, law, management, music, public health, and more. One of Yale’s top schools is the School of the Arts. Opened as Yale School of the Fine Arts in 1869, the School of the Arts was the nation’s first art school connected with an institution of higher learning. 

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Private Game Design School Programs in the US. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.


11. University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California

Established in 1880, the University of Southern California is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors across 18 colleges and schools. USC Games offers four degree programs and four minors for aspiring game designers. School of Cinematic Arts degrees include a BA in Interactive Entertainment and an MFA in Interactive Media. Viterbi School of Engineering degrees include a BS in Computer Science (Games) and an MS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development. Minors include Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Design, and Game Entrepreneurism.

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Game Design/Development School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

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

Established in 1880, the University of Southern California is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors across 18 colleges and schools. USC Games offers four degree programs and four minors for aspiring game designers through the School of Cinematic Arts and Viterbi School of Engineering. School of Cinematic Arts degrees include a BA in Interactive Entertainment and an MFA in Interactive Media. Viterbi School of Engineering degrees include a BS in Computer Science (Games) and an MS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development. Minors include Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Design, and Game Entrepreneurism.

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Our 2015 list of the Top 25 Public College Game Design/Development Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here. 

1. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

The University of Utah was founded in 1850. It is home to 31,000 students enrolled in nearly 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate programs. The school houses 17 colleges and schools and close to 100 departments. The College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts offer the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS). Tracks include Arts, Engineering, Technical Arts, and Production. According to the Studio, “all students in each of the tracks have a series of common classes including Game Design, Rapid Prototyping, Pre-Production, and Final Project.” In addition, students will “develop and enhance a professional game portfolio” and they will have the opportunity to complete an internship in the game industry.

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Our 2014 list of the Top 75 Game Design/Development School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California (USC) is home to USC Games. Created by the School of Cinematic Arts’ (SCA) Interactive Media & Games Division in collaboration with the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, USC Games offers several renowned graduate level game design programs and several undergraduate programs. Options include an MFA in Interactive Media, an MS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development, a BA in Interactive Entertainment, and a BS in Computer Science (Games).

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An introductory note from the editor:  

We started publishing US based regional and national lists in 2012 in response to myriad emails from aspiring animators seeking advice regarding the "best" schools in the US. The US-centric lists have been well-received, so much so that we now receive frequent requests to publish rankings of international animation schools. ACR staff writer and social media manager Tom Fronczak managed and authored this year's Top 100 International Animation Schools rankings. In preparing this year’s list, we considered hundreds of animation schools across the globe. Our end-goal is to give students access to ample information so they can make an informed decision about the school they choose to attend and the program they pursue.  

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The South is home to the South Atlantic Division, which consists of eight states and DC. We’ve already covered six—Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina, so now it’s time to end out coverage of the Division South with South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Beginning with South Carolina, we found that the state has its fair share of esteemed art and design schools such as the School of the Arts at College of Charleston and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities at Clemson University.

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So we’ve already covered the first three states in the country’s South Atlantic Division. Now it’s time to move on to the next three on the list—Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Each state is home to a number of leading art and design schools that offer a range of unique programs for aspiring animators and game designers.

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According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the South Atlantic encompasses areas across eight states and in D.C., making it the largest division in the south. This means there is no shortage of colleges and universities in the area that cater to all career goals.

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