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

Our 2015 list of the Top 25 Public Graphic Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 1% of schools considered)

Established in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is home to more than 31,000 students enrolled in around 226 certificate and degree programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts is home to the Department of Graphic Design. The Department offers two programs for aspiring graphic designers. Students may choose between the BFA in Graphic Design or the MFA with a Concentration in Visual Communications (Graphic Design).

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Our inaugural list of the Top 10 Graphic Design School Programs on the West Coast. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (Top 5% of schools considered)

Established in 1961, 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. The school offers 70 programs at all degree levels, including several for aspiring graphic designers. Offerings include a BFA in Graphic Design, an MFA in Graphic Design, and an MFA in Graphic Design with a Specialization in Motion Graphics. The programs are offered through the through the School of Art. In addition to small class sizes (the school is home to 1,489 students), CalArts offers a variety of internship and study abroad opportunities as well as a variety of summer study programs.

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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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Our 2015 list of the Top 25 Private Graphic Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (Top 1% of schools considered)

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was founded during the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, when the textiles and jewelry manufacturing industries were beginning to take off in Providence. Since 1877, this private, not-for-profit, four-year art school has taught art and design to thousands of students and it has educated the general public “about the intrinsic value of the arts to society.” Today, the school is home to 2,014 undergraduate students and 435 graduate students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This co-educational art school offers 32 degree programs, with graphic design leading the pack. Degree offerings include a BFA in Graphic Design and a two- or three-year MFA in Graphic Design.

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Digital Art Schools in California

With close to 300,000 salaried professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations, California has the highest population of artists in the U.S. and the number is growing. Just a few years ago, the state was home to just over 280,000 ADESM workers. While the population may have changed over the past few years, the top industries for these professionals have remained the same. The motion picture and video industries, radio and television broadcasting, publishing, and advertising are just a few. Fortunately, the State of California houses thousands of employers in these fields. Just a few DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation,  Walt Disney Feature Animation, Saatchi & Saatchi, J. Walter Thompson, Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB), SAGE Publications, Alfred Publishing, WB Studio and CBS Studio Center.

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Overview: Animation Careers in California

California is home to more animators and multimedia artists than any other state in the nation. Aspiring animators and multimedia artists flock to California because it offers the opportunity to work with some of the largest animation studios in the world, from Pixar to Disney to Nickelodeon. Employment and salary growth are impressive in The Golden State as well and California is home to some of the world’s top animation schools and programs.  

Although the motion picture and video industries employ the highest number of animators in the world, advertising and public relations, computer systems design, and software publishers also employ a large number of animators. Fortunately, aspiring animators that are interested in these fields will find ample opportunities throughout San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Burbank, Oakland, Santa Ana, San Diego, Irvine, and more. 

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