|1||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|3||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|4||Academy of Art University||California|
|5||Texas A&M University||Texas|
|6||Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute||Indiana|
|8||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas|
|9||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|10||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||North Carolina|
For our graduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Science (MS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.
The Master of Arts (MA) is an advanced degree that focuses on areas such as the humanities. MA degrees are typically available in the areas of communications, English, teaching, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Seminars are the main method of learning for MA programs and most programs do not require a thesis.
The Master of Science (MS) degree option typically focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math. This advanced degree often includes immersive lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation. Unlike MA programs, most MS programs require a thesis.
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is academically recognized as a terminal degree and it is typically awarded in the visual, fine and performing arts. The MFA degree demands the highest level of professional competency in these areas and practicing artists must exhibit the highest level of accomplishment through the generation of a body of work.
Below are the Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges with MS-MA Programs for 2019.
1. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from nearly 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including animation, one of the school’s top majors. The graduate MA in Animation is offered through the School of Digital Media, with availability at the Savannah campus and through eLearning.
The MA is a 45 credit hour program that consists of courses such as Animation Aesthetics and Practice, Art Criticism, Computer-Generated Modeling and Design, Environment Look Development, and 3D Cartoon Character Animation. Students will also complete a Collaborative Project and the Final Animation MA Project provides students the opportunity to synthesize their learning into a cohesive project piece. Students propose, develop, and execute a project that is then cut into their reel. A Graduate Internship is also part of the program.
Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.
2. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1898, DePaul University serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and about 70 countries. The school offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home of the animation program. With thirteen full-time animation professors, the School has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.
The MA in Animation program “provides a combination of artistic and technical training that prepares students for a future in 3D character animation, traditional animation, computer game art, or visual effects.” Students in the program can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter. This ten-week immersion program is structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios.
The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts. Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. Back at home, students will also benefit from CDMs relationship with Chicago’s largest game development and animation studios.
Graduates of the Animation programs at DePaul have been hired in animation roles at companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Laika Studios, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Phosphor Studios, Wargaming, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, and Synapse Games, to name just a few.
3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Established in 1963 and serving approximately 68,571 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university and Florida’s largest by enrollment. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media.
Per the school, the MA focuses on the development of advanced skills for digital media professionals. The program is designed to “emulate the professional studio environment, providing each student with an opportunity to assume an artistic leadership role. The principal emphasis is placed on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspect of animation as related to studio and job creation.”
Courses for the program are designed to give students the “ability to understand the collaborative function of a commercial studio.” Labs and studios are equipped with the same industry-standard software and hardware used in professional studios.
SVAD graduates work in creating simulations for the U.S. Navy, NASA, DISTI, Lockheed Martin and other local and regional companies. In addition, SVAD alumni are currently working nationally and internationally for major animation and gaming companies such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel EFX, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.
4. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online. The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers an MA program that provides students an opportunity to work in 2D Animation & Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, or Visual Effects, while focusing on storytelling with an emphasis on exhibiting technical skills and eliciting emotional responses.
Students can expect to take courses such as Advanced Character Animation, Feature Animation, Gesture & Quick Sketch for Animators, Storyboarding, and 3D Animation Physics and Mechanics. Students will also complete a portfolio and an optional internship.
Graduates of the animation programs at Academy of Art University have landed positions at Blizzard Entertainment, CBS Interactive, Disney Interactive, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, NBCUniversal, Pixar, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.
5. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University (TAMU) is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school serves nearly 69,400 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture, which broadly defines animation within “Visualization,” offers an MS in Visualization.
The 48 credit hour program is designed to “develop new understanding through research and creativity.” Visualization course highlights include Drawing for Visualization, Graphic Design, Color Theory, Visualization Technology, Programming, Visualization Studio, Digital Painting, and Visual and Performing Arts. Students in this master’s program will pursue a thesis option.
The interdisciplinary Visualization programs offered in the College of Architecture prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and many other related areas.
6. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Established in 1869, Purdue University serves around 43,400 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas.
The Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT) offers an MS in Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) with several focus areas for aspiring animators including Computer Animation, Video Production and Visual Effects, Computational Art, and Virtual and Augmented Reality. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek intermediate to advanced level positions in the entertainment, games, science, computer science, and education industries, to name a few. Some students move on to the Department’s PhD Program.
This program has a CGT Specialization that covers Animation, Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, and Web Programming and Design. Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more if pursued separately.
7. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University was established in 1891. The school serves nearly 29,000 campus and online students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers a two-year hybrid MS in Digital Media.
The program provides comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods. Per the school, the curriculum “offers a mix of academic course work and project-related activities. Projects consist of funded grant research opportunities, industry-sponsored projects and independent, student-generated and faculty-approved projects.”
Besides being prepared for immediately employment in a variety of industries from animation and digital media to games, students are prepared to enter Westphal’s PhD in Digital Media program. This doctoral pathway “focuses on translational research in digital media within an experiential learning environment. It studies the application of digital media towards solving research problems in various disciplines including but not limited to engineering, education, cultural heritage, health or business.” The program “is built on a fundamentally interdisciplinary course structure, and emphasizes an iterative and design based research philosophy.”
PhD students have the same project opportunities as MS students. Past projects for the programs have included Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for video games, theme park ride and animation design, interactive online non-linear narrative comics, advanced animation production techniques, a multi-media interactive dance performance with body tracking, and multi-touch games for teaching middle-school children.
Westphal Animation and Digital Media graduates have landed positions at leading companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Microsoft XBOX, Disney, NCSoft, and many others.
8. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school serves 28,755 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) offers an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC).
Per the school, the “ATEC curriculum provides exposure to arts, science, technology, history, design, criticism, new knowledge creation, and complex understandings.” Graduate students “deepen their expertise in an area and develop understanding in adjacent topics.” The Animation Pathway “blends creative storytelling with technology to encourage experimentation in form, content, and medium and emphasizes 3D animation, which includes various artistic and technical disciplines such as modeling and texturing, character rigging, lighting and composition, computer programming and scripting, as well as character movement and acting.”
ATEC students have the opportunity to take a total of 15 credit hours/five courses in Animation, Design, Storytelling, and Games, to name a few. Courses such as Topics in Animation, Topics in ATEC, and Topics in Game Development are also available. Other program highlights include seminars and lectures, project and portfolio-based exercises, and applied and experimental research. In addition to careers in animation and other areas of entertainment, students will learn skills that will prepare them for new and emerging fields such as medical and scientific visualization. The program also prepares students for entry into the PhD ATEC program.
Graduates of the doctoral program will “demonstrate mastery in methods of research, analysis, and creative practice, informed by history, theory, and aesthetics.”
9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) serves 25, 860 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT).
The Center for HMS established the CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.
Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers.
10. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State) was established in 1887 and it serves nearly 35,500 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs through 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Design, Department of Art + Design, offers a Masters of Art + Design (MAD): Experimental Media Arts with an Animation and Digital Storytelling Area.
Per the school, the MAD program “encourages students to explore the intersection of digital and material technologies to create interactive and engaging experiences that push the boundaries of storytelling, learning and play. The outcome of graduate student work can be the development of creative portfolio works that are backed by rigorous exploration, discovery, and historical and contemporary precedents.”
Graduates of the animation programs at NC State are prepared to work on short and full-length animated films, in character development for animated films, games, and digital storybooks, and on interactive and experimental projects.