What are the top animation school programs in Florida for 2022?

Top 10 Florida Animation Schools - 2022 College Rankings
1Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota
2Full Sail UniversityWinter Park
3University of Central FloridaOrlando
4Florida State UniversityTallahassee
5The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School Orlando
6University of FloridaGainesville
7University of South FloridaTampa
8University of TampaTampa
9Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville
10Florida International UniversityMiami

Our 2022 ranking -our eleventh annual- of the top animation school programs in Florida. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) offers a Computer Animation BFA consisting of 120 credit hours of study. Established in 1990, the program offers courses such as 2D Design, Traditional Animation, and Visual Development for Computer Animation taught by accomplished professionals in the field. Coursework is complemented by communications with visiting artists and industry guest speakers from major studios such as DreamWorks.

Students in RCAD’s Computer Animation Program also have the opportunity to complete a concentrated internship and work with area businesses on practical projects. All RCAD students participate in the school’s initiative known as INDEX (Industry Experience). Developed by developed by Ringling College of Art and Design in partnership with The Patterson Family Foundation, the initiative provides experiential learning opportunities through everything from internships to competitions sponsored by major brands and clients. INDEX also helps students build their portfolios and resumes.

Another degree option for aspiring animators is the BFA in Motion Design. This program covers animation, stop motion, design, and sound. Motion Design students will have the opportunity to collaborate on projects in teams and attend the week-long FutureProof conference. The event consists of presentations, workshops, and keynote speakers.

Ringling College of Art and Design graduates have gone on to win Academy Awards, found companies such as Moonbot Studios, and launch successful careers at studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney Animation Studios.

Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit college. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), RCAD has been around since 1931, when it was co-founded by circus baron, John Ringling. Serving nearly 1,700 students from 54 countries, 45 states, and four territories, Ringling College of Art and Design offers eleven majors leading to a BFA degree, two majors leading to a BA, and minor options in 10 areas.

2. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University

Full Sail University (Full Sail) offers a BS in Computer Animation with online and on-campus options. The distance learning option takes 29 months to complete, while the campus option takes just 20 months to complete. For both programs, students will learn how to navigate the production pipeline used in today’s major studios. Course highlights include 3D Animation I-II, Technical Animation, Industry Production, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.

All Full Sail animation students are required to take two professional development seminar courses and seven project and portfolio courses covering 3D arts and computer animation. 

Professional development courses provide the opportunity for students to explore the computer animation industry, while learning to build their personal brand. Professional development courses are enhanced by industry guest speakers. Project and portfolio courses highlight hands-on, project-based learning, independent study, and portfolio development

Full Sail University graduates have worked on Oscar-nominated films, earning credits on at least 24 projects across 20 categories.

Full Sail University offers graduate certificates and programs at all degree levels in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Technology. The school, which opened in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio, is located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), Full Sail serves approximately 21,000 students.

3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

The School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) offers animation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Housed in the College of Arts and Humanities, SVAD animation pathways include BFA and MFA degrees in Emerging Media. The BFA program has two track options for animators: Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The MFA has Animation & Visual Effects, and Studio Art & Design Tracks.

Character Animation is a portfolio-based track that takes two years to complete, full-time. Program highlights include courses taught by industry professionals, access to state-of-the-art labs, and internship opportunities.

In the Experimental Animation Track, students will complete courses such as Digital Effects & Compositing, Stop Motion Animation, and Modeling for Visual Language. Specific experimental animation courses include Advanced Experimental Animation, Experimental Animation Professional Practice, Experimental Animation Workshop, and Experimental Animation Portfolio. Students in this Track will also complete the BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.

Graduates of the UCF SVAD animation programs are employed with major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, Electronic Arts, and many others.

The University of Central Florida College of Sciences houses the Nichols School of Communication & Media—home to Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). Established in partnership with the City of Orlando, the State of Florida, and UCF, FIEA enrolls more than 130 students annually.

The Academy offers an MS in Interactive Entertainment that covers areas such as 3D animation and modeling, motion capture, technical and level design, technical art, and preproduction. The program requires 30 credits including 12 credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours in a specialization, a practicum, and a capstone experience. An internship is also part of the program.

University of Central Florida FIEA graduates have been hired at studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Universal, Google, Microsoft Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) (ILM), Zynga, and many others.

Also housed in the College of Sciences’ Nichols School of Communication & Media is the Digital Media MA Program. This option prepares animation students for entry into a PhD program or employment in the animation, games, AR/VR, or special effects industries.

Founded in 1963, University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. When it began, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves more than 70,000 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the State of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. Program offerings include 106 bachelor’s degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 31 research doctorates, three professional doctorates, and three specialist degrees.

University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State University

The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University (FSU) offers a BFA in Animation and Digital Arts. Students spend their first year of the program completing general education requirements. For the remaining years of the program, students will immerse in 91 credit hours of study in the major.

Course highlights include Reality & Illusion in World Cinema, Motion Picture Editing, Story Development and Screenwriting, History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation, Filmmaking, Lighting, Texturing and Rendering, and Professional Development. The FSU College of Motion Picture offers nearly 30 electives for the BFA program, allowing students to pursue a variety or interests. Examples include Documentary Filmmaking, Visual Effects, Screenwriting, Marketing and Exhibition, and Film Business.

Other program highlights include the opportunity to complete four major films, including the thesis film, small class sizes of no more than 15 student, and the chance to complete a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture students may participate in the Torchlight Program, which provides instruction in the financing, marketing, and distribution of films.

Florida State University BFA graduates are prepared to seek positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Animator, Effects Animator, Visual Effects Artist, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, Rigger, and Storyboard Artist, to name a few.

Founded in 1851, Florida State University serves nearly 44,000 students enrolled in around 276 degree programs at all levels. One of the largest and oldest universities in Florida, FSU houses 16 colleges and schools at campuses across the state. Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida
Dave School logo

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) has several programs for animators looking to enter the entertainment industry. Options include Visual Effects Production (VFX), Motion Graphics, Game Production, and Virtual Production. Programs lead to a Diploma or a bachelor’s degree.

DAVE School Diploma programs take 12 or 18 months to complete, and bachelor’s degree programs may be completed in 32 or 36 months. Through electives, students in all programs have the opportunity to learn and work in animation. Students will master industry software such as After Effects, Maya, and Unreal Engine, while immersing in the production process from start to finish.

Course examples across all programs include 3D Animation, 3D Animation for Motion Graphics, Level Design, Dynamics and Visual Effects for Motion Graphics, Digital Compositing, Character, Prop and Environment Modeling, and Rotoscoping. Students will also learn the basics of creating a start-up.

Student in all DAVE School programs will build a demo reel and create a portfolio. Programs are offered in a hybrid format where student will complete the program virtually and via studio residencies at the Orlando campus. Residencies take place in a collaborative studio environment.

Graduates of the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School go on to establish freelance careers, start their own studios, or work with major studios.

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School was founded in 2000. Located on the backlot of Universal Studios, Florida, The DAVE School is an academic unit of NUC University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MCSHE).

6. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) houses the College of the Arts, home to the Digital Worlds Institute. Founded in 2001, the Institute is a partnership between seven UF colleges that focuses on advanced media systems by combining engineering, science, communications, and art.

The Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida offers two programs for animators—a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS) and a DAS Minor.

BADAS students benefit from the project-based learning environment which allows them to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills. Electives are offered in three areas: Animation, Game Design, and Experience Design & Production. Students may choose coursework in one or more of these areas based on their interests and goals. They may also take electives outside of the BADAS Program. The remaining courses for the program are in the BADAS cores and general education (30%).

BADAS core courses cover areas such as 2D and 3D animation, mobile games, design and production, digital visualization, game content creation, digital storytelling, writing for interactive media, and digital technologies. All students must complete the senior project and a portfolio. Independent study, an internship, and production practicum are optional.

Graduates of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida have been hired at major studios and companies such as DreamWorks Animation and Microsoft. Many UF alumni have also gone on to launch their own start-ups.

University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves nearly 58,000 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs in 14 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
University of South Florida

The College of the Arts at the University of South Florida (USF) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers BA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Studio Art. A 24 credit hour Minor in Studio Art is also available. All programs, including the minor, allow students to focus their studies in Animation & Digital Modeling.

Studio Art students will explore 2D and 3D animation, digital imaging, video, games, film, fine art, and virtual 3D production. Course highlights across pathways include Video, Animation, & Digital Arts (VADA) and Advanced VADA, Digital Modeling, Computer Animation, 3D Animation, Graduate Seminar, and Professional Practices.

USF BFA students will complete a senior thesis along with an internship and/or a study abroad experience, while graduate students will complete an MFA research project. BA students have the following options totaling two credit hours: Extended Studies, Artists Internships/Apprenticeships, The Paris or London Middlesex Program, Public Art, Museum Internships, or Community Art.

Students in all Studio Art Programs at the University of South Florida may explore courses in other disciplines within the School of Art & Art History. Graduates of the USF School of Art & Art History go on to establish careers in animation, television and film, advertising, art, education, science, medicine, games and more.

Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves around 46,350 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs and over 150 graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. The degree programs at USF are offered in 14 colleges from Arts to Engineering to Public Health. The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

8. University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida
University of Tampa

The College of Arts and Letters (CAL) at University of Tampa offers a BFA and a Minor in Animation. Housed in the CAL Department of Film, Animation and New Media, the BFA is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

This professional degree program explores CGI, computer animation, creative coding, interactive media, visual effects, physical computing, stop-motion animation, motion capture, Maya, sound design, and more. A major component of the BFA degree is the internship program. Known as FMX 374 Internship in FMX, the program is open to second year students and higher with overall GPA 3.0.

Through FMX 374, BFA students will have opportunities to gain work experience with local and national companies. Examples include Sony Music Entertainment in New York, Legend 3D in Los Angeles, and Tampa-based studios and production houses such as Theory Studios, Diamond View Studios, and ES Creative.

During the final years of the Animation BFA Program, students will build a portfolio of their best work and complete a Capstone course.

University of Tampa Animation BFA graduates are prepared for graduate study or a career in animation, TV/film, advertising, game design, or interactive media.

Founded in 1931, University of Tampa opened as Tampa Junior College with just 62 students. Today, UT serves 10,500 students enrolled in more than 200 academic programs across four colleges. University of Tampa is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, University
Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University (JU) offers BFA and BS degrees in Animation. At the graduate level, JU offers an MFA in Visual Arts. An 18 credit hour Animation Minor is also available. Programs are housed in the School of Art & Design within the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts.

BFA students will take courses such as 3D Modeling & Design, Character Modeling and Animation, Animation Production, Animation Rendering, Advanced Production, Digital Art, and Time Based Art. In addition to these courses, BS students will take Film, Computer Animation, Animation Effects, Engineering Graphics, Computer Aided Design, Editing, and Design Process & Prototyping.

Both programs explore acting, web design, and computer programming. BFA students will complete two Senior Thesis courses to graduate, and the internship program is open to both BS and BFA students.

The MFA in Visual Arts allows students to practice in any area or create an interdisciplinary program from 11 areas of study. Examples include Animation, Film, Illustration, Mixed Media, and Visual and Graphic Design. Low-residency and no-residency options are available, and students may choose from two-year and three-year course plans.  

Graduates of the Animation and Visual Arts Programs at JU hold a variety of job titles such as Animator, Modeler, Motion Graphic Artist, Game Animator, Game Artist, Texture Painter, Visual Effects Artist, and CAD Artist.

Founded in 1934, Jacksonville University serves 4,222 students from all 50 states and 33 countries. Some 100+ academic majors, minors, and programs are offered in seven colleges and institutes. Jacksonville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. Florida International University, Miami, Florida
Florida International University

The College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts at Florida International University (FIU) houses the Department of Art + Art History, which offers a BFA in Digital Arts with an Animation Track.

FIU BFA in Digital Arts requires successful completion of 24 lower division credits and 60 upper division credits. Examples of lower division courses include Java Programming, Beginning Figure Drawing, and 2D Design. Upper division courses include Advanced Experimental Video, Digital Imaging, Creative Practice, Research & Development, Advanced Digital Art Lab, and Video Installation.

Students will take other courses that explore different areas of fine arts, new media, and emerging technologies. Thesis I-II and at least nine credits of approved electives are also part of the program.

Graduates of the BFA in Digital Arts: Animation Program at FIU go on to establish careers in entertainment (TV, film, video, animation), technology, games, architecture, photography, and more.

Serving close to 54,000 students, Florida International University is one of the largest universities in the U.S. Founded in 1972, FIU offers more than 300 programs in 11 colleges and schools. Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).