Profiles of Schools/Colleges in California (CA) Offering Animation, Design, Gaming, and Media Related Programs

Our 2015 rankings of the Top 20 schools on the West Coast for game design and development. We define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. 

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

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

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. The school features a variety of game design programs at multiple degree levels. USC Games offers a BA in Interactive Entertainment and an MFA in Interactive Media through the School of Cinematic Arts, and a BS in Computer Science (Games) and an MS in Computer Science with a Specialization in Game Development through Viterbi School of Engineering. Minors include Game Animation, Game Audio, Game Design, and Game Entrepreneurism.

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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.

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Public Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California

Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to 43,239 students enrolled in more than 220 programs across five schools and 109 academic departments. UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television is home to the Animation Workshop.

Founded in 1948 by Disney Animator William Shull, 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. 

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Our 2015 list of the Top 50 Private Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.


11. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, California

Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, CalArts is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Home to 1,489 students, with 26.9 percent enrolled in the School of Film/Video, CalArts offers a BFA degree in Character Animation, and a BFA and MFA in Experimental Animation.

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Our 2015 rankings of the top 25 animation school programs on the West Coast. 

We define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

11. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, California

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) was established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney. It is the nation’s first postsecondary institution to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. This visual and performing arts school is home to 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools and one center. Around 26.9 percent of CalArt’s students are enrolled in the School of Film/Video. The School offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA degrees in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The School also offers an MFA in Experimental Animation.

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Anyone interested in understanding our brave new world that blends art and technology need not look any further than the work of UCLA’s Rebecca Allen. As returning Chair of the university’s Design Media Arts department (a department which she founded in the 1990s), she presides over one of the nation’s premier interactive design programs that offers both B.A. and M.F.A. degrees.

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Tracy Fullerton is not your average game designer. Instead, she turns traditional game narrative and motivation on its head (evident in her work-in-progress Walden, a Game). She isn’t the typical gamer, either. She’s drawn to games that experiment with player choice and present complex dilemmas. And she’s anything but your average faculty member. After all, how many college students have the opportunity to learn from someone who has produced games, started her own venture-backed company, and acts as a thought-leader in the industry and academia?

Fullerton does all of this as Director of USC Games and Game Innovation Lab, one of the nation’s preeminent game programs that consistently snags the top spot in the rankings. Offering a B.A. and B.S. from two of USC’s most prestigious departments (the School of Cinematic Arts and the Viterbi School of Engineering), USC Games also lures majors from other departments with its minor degrees in addition to its M.F.A. and M.S. graduate programs.

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Women have surpassed men as the largest gender demographic among gamers. They have made serious in-roads within the industry, as well. Just last year, IGDA reported that female developers more than doubled from 2009, now comprising nearly a quarter of the dev population. While troubles remain for many women trying to balance a career in gaming with their two X chromosomes (see the GamerGate Scandal), an abundance of growth and opportunity for women suggest a new era is quietly being ushered in.

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California animation schools: most to least expensive

California is home to 454 Title IV degree-granting institutions. These schools are eligible for Title IV federal financial-aid programs, which makes them more accessible to students with financial need. To earn Title IV status, these schools have obtained accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, they have been in business for at least two years, they have signed a participation agreement with the Department, and they grant an associate's degree or higher. Title IV schools must also offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length. 

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California

California is home to more colleges and universities than any other state. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) reports that California is home to 454 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Title IV schools are eligible for federal financial aid programs, which makes them more accessible to students with financial need. To become a Title IV school, the institution must obtain accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, they must be in business for at least two years, they must sign a participation agreement with the Department, they must grant an associate's degree or higher, and they must offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length.

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