What are the top animation school programs in Florida for 2023?

Top 10 Florida Animation School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota
2Full Sail UniversityWinter Park
3University of Central FloridaOrlando
4Florida State UniversityTallahassee
5University of FloridaGainesville
6The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School Orlando
7University of South FloridaTampa
8University of TampaTampa
9Jacksonville UniversityJacksonville
10Lynn UniversityBoca Raton

Our 2023 ranking -our twelfth 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

The Computer Animation BFA at Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1990. Consisting of 120 credit hours of study, the program features courses taught by accomplished professionals in the field, complemented by communications with visiting artists and industry guest speakers from major studios such as DreamWorks.

Students in RCAD’s Computer Animation Program have the opportunity to complete an internship and work with area businesses on practical projects. In addition, all RCAD students participate in the school’s initiative known as INDEX (Industry Experience). Developed by 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 individuals looking to launch a career in animation is RCAD’s Motion Design BFA. This program covers animation, design, stop motion, and sound. Motion Design students have the opportunity to collaborate on projects in teams and attend the week-long FutureProof conference. This event consists of workshops, presentations, and keynote speakers.

Ringling College of Art and Design Computer Animation students have won 17 Student Academy Awards since 1998. RCAD graduates have gone on to win a number of Oscars, they have launched successful careers at studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney Animation Studios, and many have started their own companies and 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 for more than 90 years. Co-founded by circus baron, John Ringling the school serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in 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’s (Full Sail) Computer Animation Program has online and on-campus options. Leading to a BS, the distance learning option takes 29 months to complete, while the campus option takes just 20 months to complete. Students in both programs will learn how to navigate the same production pipeline used in today’s major studios. Course examples include 3D Animation I-II, Visual Development, Industry Production, Technical Animation, and Character Rigging.

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 been credited on more than 45 Grammy-nominated projects; 2022 blockbusters such as Top Gun: Maverick, Thor: Love and Thunder, Lightyear, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Minions: The Rise of Gru; and other productions and series such Ms. Marvel, Stranger Things 4, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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. Serving approximately 21,000 students, Full Sail is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

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

The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Central Florida (UCF) houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), home to the Emerging Media Program. Degree options for animators are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Emerging Media BFA has Character Animation and Experimental Animation Tracks and the MFA has an Animation & Visual Effects Track.

Character Animation and Experimental Animation are portfolio-based, highly competitive tracks that takes two years to complete, full-time. Students in the program benefit from courses taught by industry professionals; courses in multiple areas such as storytelling, technology, art, and design; access to state-of-the-art production labs; a studio-environment that mirrors today’s professional studios; faculty mentors; and internship opportunities.

Course examples for the Character Animation Track include Digital Effects and Compositing, Visual Storytelling and Visual Development,  Digital Production in Artificial Environments, Advanced 3D Animation, New Imagery in Motion Workshop, 3D Textures, and Character Animation Portfolio Review.

Course examples for the Experimental Animation Track 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.

Both BFA Tracks allow students to work their way through the production pipeline from story creation to film completion.

The Emerging Media MFA: Animation & Visual Effects Track focuses on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspects of animation as it relates to independent filmmaking, job creation, and studio employment. Program benefits include co-directing opportunities; access to state-of-the-art labs and studios; and the opportunity to create an animation and/or visual effects thesis using techniques such as stop motion, 2D and 3D computer animation, and traditional hand-drawn. This competitive program requires 60 credit hours of study, completed over three years, full-time.

Graduates of the UCF SVAD Emerging Media Programs are Animators, Effects Artists, Story Artists, Modelers, Visual Development Artists, Lighting Artists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and Texture Artists. Program alumni are employed with major studios and gaming companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, and Electronic Arts (EA).

The College of Sciences at University of Central Florida has an additional option for animators seeking a MS degree. Housed within the College of Sciences is 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.

UCF FIEA has an MS in Interactive Entertainment that provides the opportunity for students to work in production teams mentored by industry professionals who provide instruction in 3D animation and modeling, game design, technical art, motion capture, creative collaboration, software engineering, and more. 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 and gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts (EA), Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Universal, Google, Microsoft Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Zynga, and many others.

University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. On the first day of classes, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves around 70,400 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. The school provides 240 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees, and 81 doctorate degrees across 13 colleges. 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) has an Animation and Digital Arts Program that leads to a BFA. Students in this four year program will spend their first year completing general education requirements. For the next three years, students will immerse in the major.

Course examples for the program 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 Arts provides close to 30 elective options for the BFA program, allowing students to pursue a variety of interests. Examples include Visual Effects (VFX), Screenwriting, Documentary Filmmaking, Film Business, and Marketing and Exhibition.

FSU Animation and Digital Arts students will have the opportunity to complete four major films (including the thesis film), and a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture Arts 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, VFX Artist, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, Rigger, and Storyboard Artist.

Founded in 1851, Florida State University serves close to 45,500 students enrolled in nearly 300 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. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida

The College of the Arts (COTA) at University of Florida (UF) is home to the Digital Worlds Institute. Founded in 2001, the Institute began as a partnership between COTA and the College of Engineering. Today, the Digital Worlds Institute has expanded to include six additional colleges, with a focus on advanced media systems.

The Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida has two program options for animators—a Digital Arts & Sciences BA (BADAS) and a DAS Minor. BADAS students benefit from a project-based learning environment that allows them to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills. Electives are offered in three areas: Animation, Experience Design & Production, and Game Design. UF BADAS students may choose coursework in one or more of these areas based on their interests and career goals. Students 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 explore areas such as 2D and 3D animation, digital storytelling, writing for interactive media, mobile games, design and production, digital visualization, game content creation, and digital technologies. Course examples include Digital Storytelling, 2D Digital Animation Techniques, Writing for Interactive Media, Advanced Digital Animation Techniques, Principles of Interaction & Usability, Design Production Studio, 3D Modeling and texturing, 3D Character Animation, and Advanced 2D Digital Animation Techniques.

Elective examples include Blockchain Innovation in Digital Arts and Sciences, Digital Tools for Arts and Humanities, and Undergraduate Research in DAS. 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 are prepared for positions in a variety of areas from animation, game design, and filmmaking to science and technology. Institute graduates have been hired at major studios and companies from DreamWorks Animation to Microsoft. Many graduates have also gone on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses.

University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves approximately 61,110 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

6. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida

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), 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 Unreal Engine, After Effects, and Maya, while immersing in the production process from concept to finished works.

Course examples across all programs include 3D Animation, Digital Compositing, Visual Effects, Level Design, 2D/3D Tracking, Lighting and Texturing, and Demo Reel and Portfolio Creation. Students will also learn the basics of creating a start-up.

All programs are offered in a hybrid format where students will complete the curriculum virtually and via studio residencies at the Orlando campus. Residencies take place in a collaborative studio environment.

Graduates will leave The DAVE School with the experience needed to launch their own studios and freelance businesses or pursue employment at major studios. Possible job titles include (but are not limited to) Animator, Technical Artist, Rigger, Environment Artist, and 3D Modeler.

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). DAVE serves around 1,000 students enrolled in six programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree or Diploma.

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, home to the Studio Art Program, which has a specialization in Animation and Digital Modeling. Programs in the School lead to a BA, BFA, or MFA in Studio Art. A 24 credit hour Minor in Studio Art is also available. All programs, including the minor, allow students to specialize in Animation and Digital Modeling.

All Studio Art students will explore 2D and 3D animation, digital imaging, video, games, film, fine art, and virtual 3D production. Course examples across pathways include Video, Animation, & Digital Arts (VADA) and Advanced VADA, Selected Topics in VADA, 3D Animation, Digital Modeling, Computer Animation, Tech Essentials, Visual Arts, RealWorld, 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 Studio Art Programs at University of South Florida have established careers in animation, television and film, advertising, art, education, science, medicine, and games, among others.

Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students at its campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. Students have access to 200+ undergraduate programs and over 150 graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. The degree programs at USF are offered across 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 Film/Animation/New Media (FMX) Program at University of Tampa is one of the school’s Top 20 most popular undergraduate majors. Housed in the College of Arts and Letters (CAL)-Department of Film, Animation and New Media, the major leads to an Animation BFA. An Animation Minor is also available, and both programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The Animation BFA is a professional degree program that explores narrative, documentary, experimental and animation filmmaking; 3D animation, printing and modeling; digital and interactive media; experimental computing; screenwriting; producing; and digital media and imaging. Course examples for the program include 2D Animation I-II, 3D Animation I-II, Animation and Interactivity for Games, Visual Effects, Creative Coding, Game Design and Production, Screenwriting Shorts, World Animation, Virtual Production, and Experimental Filmmaking.

Other program benefits include hands-on studio classes; the FMX 374 Internship, which provides opportunities to intern at both local or worldwide studios such as Sony, Diamond View Studios, and Theory Studios; the opportunity to work on film shoots in the Tampa Bay area; and access to artists and filmmakers through the FMX Filmmaker and Artist Series.

During the final years of the Animation BFA Program, students will complete the Professional Seminar course, Junior Portfolio Review, and the Senior Project in FMX.

Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at University of Tampa are prepared for graduate study or a career in animation, TV/film, advertising, game design, or interactive media. Program alumni have been hired at places such as LAIKA Studios, Big Fish Entertainment, and The Divine Saga Studios.

Founded in 1931, University of Tampa opened as Tampa Junior College with just 62 students. Today, UT serves approximately 10,565 students from all 50 states and 130 countries. UT offers more than 200 academic programs of study across four colleges including Arts and Letters; Natural and Health Sciences; Social Science, Mathematics and Education; and Sykes College of Business. University of Tampa is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

9. Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, University
Jacksonville University

Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts & Humanities (Stein College of Fine Arts) at Jacksonville University (JU) houses the School of Art & Design, which has several pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, the Animation Program has BFA and BS options. At the graduate level, JU has a Visual Arts MFA that 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 MFA students may choose from two-year and three-year course plans. 

In addition to the BFA and BS Programs, the School of Art & Design has an Animation Minor consisting of six courses. Students will take Character Modeling & Animation, Computer Animation, Animation Rendering, Animation Production, Digital Art, and 3D Modeling and Design. Each course is worth three credits.

In addition to the courses included in the Minor, Animation BFA students will take Animation Effects, Digital Art, Time Based Arts, Advanced Production, Editing, and 2D and 3D Art Foundations. Animation BS students will the same courses, as well as Film, Engineering Graphics, Computer Aided Design, and Design Process & Prototyping. The internship program is open to both BS and BFA students.

Graduates of the Animation and Visual Arts Programs at Jacksonville University are Animators, Modelers, Motion Graphic Artists, Game Animators, Game Artists, Texture Painters, Visual Effects Artists, and CAD Artists, among others.

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 across seven colleges and institutes. Jacksonville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida
Lynn University

The College of Communication Design at Lynn University has two pathways to study animation: the Computer Animation BFA and Visual Effects Animation MFA (VFX MFA). The Computer Animation BFA has two track options: Animation and Game Art. Animation Track students will study digital storytelling, 3D animation, advanced computer-generated techniques, storyboarding, 3D modeling, cinematic lighting, motion graphics, and technical direction.

Students in the VFX MFA Program at Lynn University will study advanced visual effects, cover design, medical animation, compositing, automotive visualization, motion capture, web and multimedia, motion tracking, industrial design, and rotoscoping. Graduate students will also take marketing and promotion courses.

During the final year of the both programs, students will develop a portfolio of their best work. Graduates are prepared for careers in animation, filmmaking, television, game design, advertising, medical animation, multimedia design, graphic design, and web design, among others. Across programs, graduates have been hired at places such as MTV Networks and Univision.

Lynn University was established in 1962 as a two-year women’s liberal arts college. Today, Lynn is a private four-year university that serves a co-ed population of close to 3,400 students from more than 100 countries. The school offers more than 100 different programs at all degree levels. Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).