University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) - Program Info, Interviews, and Rankings

Programs to consider:

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 Game Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (top 1% of schools considered)

University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880 and it is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 500 graduate and undergraduate programs, and over 150 minors across 18 colleges and schools. Program offerings for aspiring game designers are offered through several colleges and schools including the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences - Interactive Media & Games Division (in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts) and the Viterbi School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science. 

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Our 2016 list of the Top 25 public Game Design School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

The University of Utah (The U) is home more than 31,000 students. Founded in 1850, the school offers nearly 100 undergraduate programs and more than 90 graduate programs across 17 colleges and schools. The College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts are home to the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio (EAE:MGS).  Students may choose from four tracks including 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 2017 rankings of the top 5 animation school programs in California. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California

Crowned the “Harvard Business School of Animation” by the Los Angeles Times, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has produced hundreds of successful alumni who have generated billions at the box office worldwide. The school lists Mark Andrews (director and screenwriter of Pixar’s Oscar winning animated feature Brave), Eric Darnell (co-director of Antz, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda) and none other than Tim Burton among its most famous alumni. 

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Our 2017 rankings of the top 20 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.

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 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 through the school include a BFA in Character Animation and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation. 

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Our 2017 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, Los Angeles, California (top 1% of schools considered) 

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to nearly 45,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, the school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments, and more than 40 graduate programs including the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television. 

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Let’s be honest. People like to grumble about how expensive college is today but the truth is, going to college has never been cheap.

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Our 2016 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, Los Angeles, California

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television. Founded in 1948 by William Shull, a Disney animator, the UCLA Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program (MFA in Film, Television, and Digital Media) that accepts just 12 new students each year.

Students applying to the MFA program come from a variety of backgrounds; some have earned a BA or BFA in art or film studies, applicants also come from English, engineering, architecture, psychology, communications, and more. Animation graduates have landed positions at Pixar Animation Studios, and every major animation studio in Southern California; they have gone on to direct features such as The Simpsons Movie and Monster House and have directed with Tim Burton producing (the feature film 9). 

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Our 2016 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)

Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, 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. With a population of 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs at all degree levels, CalArts attracts a large population of aspiring filmmakers and animators. Around 26.9% of the student body is enrolled in the School of Film/Video, which offers BFA degrees in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. An MFA in Experimental Animation is also available.

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Our 2016 rankings of the Top 10 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.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California (USC) is home to the Dornsife College of Letters, the School of Cinematic Arts, and the Viterbi School of Engineering, which offer programs for aspiring game designers. Dornsife’s Interactive Media & Games Division, in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts, offers a BA in Interactive Entertainment, an intensive three-year MFA in Interactive Media, and Minors in Game Design and Game Entrepreneurism. According to USC, the MFA program “draws on the strengths of the School of Cinematic Arts, including Game Design, Animation, Sound Production, Screenwriting, Producing and Critical Studies, bringing these resources together in a vibrant community of innovative digital media practice.”

The Viterbi School of Engineering-Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science – CSCI (Games), an MS in Computer Science (Game Development), and a PhD in Computer Science (Game Design and Development or Virtual Reality). A Minor in Computer Science and a Progressive Degree Program (PDP) are also available. 

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