12. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
11. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has a long history. It is noted that the school was established in 1885 as the Mechanics Institute and adopted the name Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 1944. Mechanical Drawing was the first class offered by the Mechanics Institute, which had an enrollment of 400 students at the time. By 1903 the Institute had established five academic departments—mostly in the arts. They included the Departments of Fine Arts, Industrial Arts, Mechanic Arts and Sciences, Domestic Science and Art, and Manual Training, with 3,000 students enrolled.
Today, the campus, which sits on 1,300 acres in suburban Rochester—the 3rd largest city in NY State, is home to 9 colleges, 18,292 students, 3,781 faculty and staff, and more than 200 programs. The School, which also has campuses in Dubai and Eastern Europe, houses the competitive College of Imaging Arts and Science—home of the School of Film and Animation. The School offers some of nation’s top programs for animators and other artists.
Offerings include a BFA in Film and Animation, an MFA in Film and Animation, a BFA in 3D Graphics, a BFA in Illustration, and an MFA in Visual Communication Design.
Established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) began with just a handful of programs for aspiring artists. Today, the college offers 5 undergraduate majors and a graduate department. Accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and national accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)—which is no small feat, Laguna College of Art and Design offers a BFA in Animation and a BFA Illustration, as well as both BFA and MFA degrees in Drawing and Painting.
Home to more than 450 students, LCAD sits on a 9-acre campus that houses state-of-the-art production facilities and studios for animation students and other artists. LCAD is also located in one of the most beautiful beach towns in the world, which is home to numerous artists and art galleries, a unique nightlife scene, and more. In addition, the College offers quick access to Los Angeles (just 50 miles away) and San Diego (just 73 miles).
13. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Founded in1887, Pratt Institute is a liberal arts and sciences college located on a 25-acre campus in Brooklyn, New York. A quick half-hour drive away is Manhattan home to the world’s artsiest and most famous neighborhoods from the Flatiron District and East Village to Soho, Hell’s Kitchen, and the Meatpacking District. Home to 4,627 students from 48 states and 80 countries, Pratt Institute ranks among the top design schools by Businessweek and among the top 10 in Red Dot Design’s 2013 international ranking of universities.
The Institute offers several degree programs for aspiring animators. Options include a BFA in Digital Arts with Concentrations in 2D Animation and 3D Animation and Motion Arts, a BFA in Interactive Arts, a BFA in Film, an MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts, and an MFA in Interactive Arts.
Besides access to everything NYC has to offer, including production studios such as Curious Pictures, Cartoon Network, and Tronic, students at Pratt Institute have access to 9 state of the art digital studio/classrooms, traditional animation facilities, 2-D/3-D printers and production facility, mediated digital arts gallery, an audio recording studio, a dedicated green screen facility, graduate studio spaces, and the Digital Arts Resource Center all housed in a LEED Certified Green building.
Graduates of Pratt Institute can be found working at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks Studios, Disney Features, Rhythm and Hues Studios, and more.
14. Columbia College of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College is one of the top arts and media schools in the nation. Established in 1890, the school is home to around 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in more than 120 academic majors and programs. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, which offers access to art museums, animation and film studios, nightlife, and more, Columbia College consists of a collection of large buildings which house everything from the school’s dance center and the media production center to a sculpture garden and loft apartments.
Offerings for aspiring animators include a BA in Cinema Art + Science with an Animation Focus, a BFA in Traditional Animation and a BFA in Computer Animation. Students may also be interested in the BFA in Illustration program, the BA in Art and Design, the BA in Interactive Arts and Media (IAM), or the BFA in IAM.
In addition to studying on more than 70 countries abroad, many Columbia College students have graduated and found employment at top studios such as Blue Sky Studios (Columbia College graduate Dan Segarra has worked on Ice Age: Continental Drift, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Ice Age 4), Pixar Animation Studios, and Nick Digital, as well the award-winning Adult Swim Shows. Columbia College is also the former home of comedian, actor, writer, and talk-show host, Andy Richter.
15. Parsons The New School for Design, New York, New York
Parsons The New School for Design Parsons was established in 1896. Considered a “pioneer in art and design education,” Parsons attracts working artists and faculty from New York and countries such as China, India, South Korea, and Mexico, which also makes this school unique. Often called “The New School” or simply “Parsons,” this top-tier art and design school is home to nearly 5,000 students + more than 2,000 students enrolled in single courses.
Parsons is made up of five schools including the School of Art, Media, and Technology, the School of Fashion, the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the School of Design Strategies, and the School of Constructed Environments, which offer 25+ programs. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Art, Media and Technology; a BFA in Design and Technology, a BFA in Communication Design, a BFA in Illustration, and an MFA in Design and Technology. Illustration students may study Animation and Motion Graphics, Drawing, or Illustration.
16. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
Founded in 1911, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) has an entire program dedicated to animation. According to LMU, the school was “the first school to build a motion-capture lab offering classes in pre-visualization and virtual cinematography–a production method used in James Cameron’s Avatar.” LMU, which sits on a 142-acre campus overlooking West Los Angeles, offers the opportunity to study experimental animation, stop-motion, visual effects, 2D and 3D art, and more.
Offered through the School of Film and Television, which ranks in the Top 20 by Hollywood Reporter (2013), LMU’s BA in Animation prepares students for careers in 3D animation, Flash animation, storyboard art, character design, directing, and many others. LMU, which is home to 9,500 students, more than 100 degree programs, and 50+ minors, also offers an MFA in Film and Television Production for students interested in enhancing their education.
Notable LMU alums include Raul Guerra (Family Guy), Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Justice League), Jay Oliva (Batman, Man of Steel, Superman: Doomsday), and Pete Oswald (ParaNorman, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).
17. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a collection of five schools offering more than 145 graduate and undergraduate programs to nearly 7,000 students. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science (HASS) is home to RPI’s Electronic Media, Arts, and Communications (EMAC) program. Aspiring animators have their choice of top-rated degree programs such as a BS in Electronic Arts, a BS in Electronic Media, Arts & Communication (BS in EMAC), an MFA in Electronic Arts, and a PhD in Electronic Arts.
RPIs flexible EMAC and EART programs allow students to choose one or concentrations. Popular concentrations for aspiring animators in the EMAC program include Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), and Interaction Design. EART concentrations include Visual Arts & Animation; Computer Music & Sound Art; Video and Emerging Media; Art, Technology & Culture. Students may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program, according to RPI.
Founded in 1824 as the Rensselaer School by Stephen Van Rensselaer, RPI opened in a single building on the northwest corner of Troy’s River and Middleburgh streets. Known as the Old Bank Place, the location housed an observatory, labs, lecture rooms, and dorms for students. Today, RPI sits on a 275-acre campus overlooking the City of Troy and the Hudson River. The school also operates the 1,250-acre Rensselaer Technology Park.
18. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Established in 1870, The Ohio State University (OSU) is one of the largest universities in the U.S. The school is home to 63,964 students enrolled in more than 175 majors and 475 academic specializations. Ranked among the Top 20 Best Public Universities for 2013 by U.S. News & World Report, OSU sits on a 1,700-acre campus in the state’s capital and largest city, which offers access to a number of production studios, art, nightlife, and more.
Besides a convenient location, The Ohio State University offers a wide variety of programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include an MFA in Digital Animation and Interactive Media, BFA and MFA in Art and Technology, and a BA in Art. Students wishing to enhance their education may complete another major in Film Studies, Design, or Computer and Information Science, or declare a minor in Studio Art or Video Arts.
19. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) is a private university with a student population of more than 30,000 graduate and undergraduate students from 110 countries. The school, which sits on a 560-acre campus in the state’s 3rd largest city, houses a dozen colleges including the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, which all have a hand in operating the BYU Center for Animation.
The BYU Center for Animation is staffed by instructors from power studios such as Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar. Offerings include a BS in Computer Science (BS CS) with an Animation Emphasis, a BFA in Animation, and a BA/BFA in Illustration. All art students have the opportunity to spend a spring term in New York City or Study Abroad in places like Rome, London, Greece, Berlin, or Paris. They also have easy access to the state’s capital and largest city—Salt Lake City (45 miles), as well as the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City (also 45 miles), as both participants and spectators.
20. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was found in 1969 as a member of the University of Texas System. The school offers 134 academic programs across 7 schools. Home to 19,727 students from all 50 states and dozens of countries, UT Dallas University has been ranked 15th out of 100 schools named to a new Times Higher Education magazine list of the world's most outstanding young universities, of institutions younger than a half century.
While UT Dallas has dozens of majors to choose from, some of the top majors include Arts and Technology and Computer Science. Home to more than 1,100 students, the Arts and Technology Department is home to the school’s top-ranking animation programs. Programs for aspiring animators include a BA, MA, MFA and PhD in Arts and Technology (ATEC) with a strong emphasis on Animation and Gaming. The school also offers a BA and MA in Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC).