What are the top animation school programs in Florida for 2024?

Top 10 Animation School Programs in Florida - 2024 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
9Lynn UniversityBoca Raton
10Florida International UniversityMiami

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth 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) has a Computer Animation program that has produced 17 Student Academy Award-winning students since 1998. Established in 1990 and leading to a BFA, the program requires 120 credit hours of study. Courses are taught by accomplished professionals in the field, complemented by interactions with industry guest speakers from major studios such as DreamWorks.

Other program features include internship opportunities; real-world projects with area businesses; visiting artists; and participation in the RCAD initiative INDEX (Industry Experience). Developed in partnership with The Patterson Family Foundation, INDEX provides experiential learning opportunities including everything from additional internships to competitions sponsored by major clients and brands. INDEX also helps students build their resumes and portfolios.

The RCAD Computer Animation BFA requires 120 credit hours, including 48 credit hours in the major and 12 credit hours of open electives. Electives allow students to enhance the curriculum by gaining skills in multiple areas of art and design. Students will take required major courses such as Computer Animation I-VI; Visual Development for Computer Animation I-II; Traditional Animation I-II; Story Development I-II; and Animation Preproduction. The culminating experience for this BFA program is the Thesis Project in Computer Animation.

An additional 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 access to state-of-the-art Studio 314; opportunities to collaborate on projects in teams; participate in the ART Network Group; and attend the week-long FutureProof conference. This major event consists of presentations, workshops, and other activities designed to enhance the BFA degree. Past speakers have included artists and others from Nickelodeon, Telemundo, Hue&Cry, Hornet, and FutureDeluxe.

The Motion Design BFA requires 120 credit hours, including 39 in the major, 12 (regular electives), and 12 (open electives). Examples of major courses include 2D Animation; 3D Animation; Concept Development I-II; Advanced 2D Animation; Advanced 3D Animation; Design Fundamentals for Motion; and Branding and Visual Systems. Elective examples include Styleframe Development in Motion; Advanced Animation Techniques; Digital Compositing for 3D; Project Mapping; and Advanced Motion Design Techniques I-II.

The Motion Design BFA program at Ringling College of Art and Design culminates with two courses: Senior Project: Production Studio and Senior Project: Experimental (with presentation).

Graduates of the art and design programs at RCAD have won Oscars and many have launched their own studios and freelance businesses. RCAD alumni have worked with major companies and studios around the globe. Examples include Disney, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Universal, Sony, Walt Disney Animation, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Hulu, Titmouse, Discovery, LAIKA Studios, Meta, ESPN, MPC, Ubisoft, Ford, Pandora, TikTok, and Feld Entertainment.

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). Founded in 1931 by Dr. Ludd M. Spivey (then president of Southern College) and circus baron John Ringling, RCAD serves 1,705 students enrolled in 11 different 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) sits on a 212-acre campus that houses more than 110 state-of-the-art studios, collaborative production environments, a large Hollywood-style back lot, professional-level recording and game studios, and live venues that host concerts, festivals, and other events. 

Full Sail focuses on project-based training, which allows students across majors to gain valuable real-world experience—all before graduation. Full Sail students also have access to the Project LaunchBox, which provides software and tools to create projects. LaunchBox also houses student coursework and files, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

For students seeking an animation degree, Full Sail University has a Computer Animation program with both online and on-campus tracks. Leading to a BS, the online track takes 29 months to complete. The campus track takes just 20 months to complete. Students in both programs will learn how to navigate the same production pipelines used in today’s major studios.

Course examples for the program include 3D Animation; Technology in the Entertainment and Media Industries; Technical Animation; Compositing and Scene Finishing; Motion Capture; Animation Production; Model Creation; Psychology of Play; Creative Presentation; and Industry Production.

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. Additional professional development courses provide the opportunity for students to explore the computer animation industry, while learning to build their personal brand. Industry guest speakers enhance professional development courses.

In addition to hands-on project learning, the project and portfolio courses for the BS program emphasize independent study and portfolio development. A Career Readiness course, completed in the final month of the program, allows students to create a strategy for engaging with potential employers. Throughout the course, students will create their targeted résumés, cover letters, and professional portfolios. This course provides students with the tools needed to apply their research and newly acquired skills toward their employment goals.

Full Sail University graduates are prepared to pursue positions across industries such as animation, film, and television (entertainment); game design and development; advertising and marketing; architecture; science and medicine; data visualization; and forensic animation. 

In the entertainment industry, program alumni have been credited on more than 45 Grammy-nominated projects; on 2022 blockbusters such as Pixar’s Lightyear, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Minions: The Rise of Gru; and other productions and series such Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ms. Marvel, and Stranger Things 4.

Full Sail University opened in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio. Today, the school is located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios. Serving approximately 21,000 students, Full Sail provides graduate certificates and degree programs at all levels in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Technology. Full Sail University 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 tracks in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The MFA in Emerging Media has an Animation and Visual Effects Track.

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

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

Course examples for the Experimental Animation track include Advanced Experimental Animation; Experimental Animation Workshop; Experimental Animation Professional Practice; and Experimental Animation Portfolio. Students in this track will also complete the BFA thesis project with exhibition/screening.

Both BFA tracks allow students to work their way through the production pipeline from story creation to film completion. After completing general education and other program requirements, the Emerging Media tracks take two years to complete, full-time.

The Emerging Media MFA with an Animation & Visual Effects track is a 60 credit hour program that focuses on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspects of animation as it relates to independent filmmaking, studio employment, and job creation. Program benefits include 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; co-directing opportunities; and access to state-of-the-art labs and studios. This competitive program requires 60 credit hours of study, completed over three years, full-time.

Graduates of the Emerging Media programs at University of Central Florida 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 graduate 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 Interactive Entertainment MS that provides the opportunity for students to compete and internship and work in production teams mentored by industry professionals. These mentors provide instruction in areas such as 3D animation and modeling, software engineering, game design, motion capture, technical art, and creative collaboration.

The Interactive Entertainment MS requires 30 credit hours of study, including 12 credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours in a specialization (Art, Production or Programming), a practicum, and a capstone experience. The Capstone results in a large-scale project that will be presented at a special event for the FIEA community and invited guests.

Graduates of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at University of Central Florida are prepared to pursue careers at major studios across the U.S. and abroad. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Universal, Blizzard Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Marvel, Sony, Walt Disney Imagineering, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks, Google, Microsoft Studios, and Zynga. 

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 approximately 68,440 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the top 10 largest universities in the U.S. The school provides 243 bachelor’s degrees, 219 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

Florida State University (FSU) is home to the College of Motion Picture Arts, which houses a limited access Animation and Digital Arts program. Each class for this BFA program is limited to just nine students. Consisting of 120 credit hours (with 91 in the major), this four year program highlights three years of immersive animation coursework. 

Course examples include History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation; Advanced Filmmaking; Story Development and Screenwriting; Character Art; Lighting, Texturing, and Rendering; Visualization I-III; Character Animation; Film Aesthetics; Reality & Illusion in World Cinema; Character Animation; Motion Picture Editing; Digital Studio Department Leadership; and Production Management. Courses such as the Professional Internship; Portfolio Production; and marketing and Exhibition are provided as electives.

Throughout the Animation and Digital Arts program at FSU will have the opportunity to complete a total of four major films. This includes the Thesis film. All enrolled students in the College of Motion Picture Arts may participate in the Torchlight Program. This option provides instruction in the marketing, financing, and distribution of films.

Graduates of the Animation and Digital Arts BFA program at Florida State University are prepared to pursue positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Animator, Effects Animator, VFX Artist, Animatics Supervisor, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Storyboard Artist, and Rigger.

Founded in 1851 and serving approximately 44,600 students, Florida State University is one of the oldest and largest universities in Florida. The school provides 276 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. With more than 100 campuses, centers, and institutes across the state and around the world, 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

University of Florida (UF) is home to the College of the Arts (COTA). Within COTA is a community of students, faculty, and staff known as 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 pathways for animators: the Digital Arts & Sciences BA (BADAS) and a DAS Minor. BADAS program highlights include a project-based learning environment that allows students to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills; elective courses across Animation, Game Design, and Experience Design & Production; and learning that takes place in high-tech classrooms.

Students may also take electives outside of the UF BADAS Program. The remaining courses for the program are in 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 2D Digital Animation Techniques; Writing for Interactive Media; 3D Character Animation; Principles of Interaction & Usability; Advanced Digital Animation Techniques; Design Production Studio; Advanced 2D Digital Animation Techniques; 3D Modeling and Texturing, and Digital Storytelling.

Elective examples include Blockchain Innovation in Digital Arts and Sciences; Digital Tools for Arts and Humanities; and Undergraduate Research in DAS. All UF BADAS students must complete the senior project and a portfolio. Independent study, an internship, and the production practicum are optional.

Graduates of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida are prepared to pursue positions in 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 or freelance businesses.

University of Florida traces its founding to 1853, when the East Florida Seminary opened as the state’s first state-supported institution of higher learning. Today, University of Florida is a top 10 public, comprehensive, land-grant research university with professional campuses in Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Orlando, Florida. UF serves 60,795 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across 16 colleges and schools. 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 paths to study animation. Options include the Visual Effects Production (VFX), Game Production, and Virtual Production Diploma programs. The VFX Production and Game Production programs take 12 months to complete. The Virtual Production Diploma takes 18 months to complete. All options are fully on-ground, with winter, spring, summer, and fall start times.

The VFX Production program features an immersive combination of project-based workflows and studio learning. Students will explore the principles of hard surface modeling; the art and science of lighting, texturing, and look development; 3D animation; and organic modeling and digital sculpting in Zbrush. This 60 credit program also covers the art of motion and rigging mechanical assets and characters as well as motion capture of real subjects. Utilized software includes Maya, Unreal Engine, and After Effects.

In the final three months of this 60 credit program, students will complete the pre-production, production, and post-production for two projects. Students will leave the program with a demo reel and professional portfolio.

Game Production students will begin the program covering the same areas as VFX students. They will learn about character, prop, and environment modeling; 3D animation; rigging; level design; visual effects; and lighting and texturing. Utilized software includes After Effects, Maya, Unreal engine, and others. In the final three months of this collaborative program, students will work in teams on the development and pre-production game through the Alpha, Beta, and Gold Production levels. Projects will lead to a final in-house game release that will become part of the students’ permanent demo reel.

The Virtual Production Diploma is the DAVE School’s flagship program. Consisting of 90 credits, this option combines everything from the VFX Production and Game Production programs. In the final six months of the program, students will develop two VFX projects and see a game project through from pre-production to in-house release. The final projects culminate with a professional demo reel.

DAVE School graduates are prepared to pursue roles at all levels and all areas of animation, film production, VFX, and games. Program alumni have been hired by major studios around the world as Animators, Technical Artists, Riggers, Environment Artists, and 3D Modelers, among others. Some DAVE School alumni have also gone on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses.

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 University of South Florida (USF) is home to the School of Art & Art History. Within the School is a Studio Art program, which has BA, BFA, MFA, and minor options. All programs allow students to specialize in Animation and Digital Modeling. Students in all degree options (and the minor) will explore 3D modeling, visual storytelling, concept design, motion, composition, acting, 3D printing, and lighting.

Across programs, Animation and Digital Modeling students will take courses such as The Real World; Digital Modeling; Visual Storytelling; Motion Design; Character Animation; Advanced Animation; Computer Animation; Selected Topics in Film and Video; Digital Drawing; and Professional Practices.

USF BFA students will complete several self-directed projects, an internship and/or a study abroad experience, and the senior thesis.

The Studio Art BA is a broad degree with many options including Extended Studies; Artists Internships and Apprenticeships; The Paris or London Middlesex Program; Public Art; Museum Internships; and Community Art. Courses for this program are supplements with studies in foreign languages, art history, and electives in the School of Art & Art History, and across the university.

In private studio spaces, Studio Art MFA students will complete projects, research, and other studio work while working closely with faculty as graduate assistants. MFA students also have opportunities to travel to Miami art fairs, and participate in the field trips to New York, Paris, London, and Venice through the Summer Art Program. To graduate, MFA students will complete an MFA research project.

Graduates of the Studio Art programs at University of South Florida are prepared to pursue roles in a wide range of industries and in just about any position that requires creativity, critical thinking, and the production of visual materials.

Program alumni are Animators, Storyboard Artists, Game Artists, Art Directors, Artists, Designers, Filmmakers, Media Specialists, Photographers, Videographers, Imagists, Educators, and Consultants.

Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students across campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. USF students have access to over 200 undergraduate programs and 150+ graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. Options are housed across 13 colleges. 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 Flim, Animation, and New Media program at University of Tampa is one of the school’s top 25 majors. Part of the Department of Film, Animation and New Media, within the College of Arts and Letters (CAL), the program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and it leads to a BFA. An NASAD-accredited Animation minor is also available.

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

Other program benefits include hands-on studio courses that take place in state-of-the-art facilities, computer labs, and production suites; the opportunity to work on film shoots in the Tampa Bay area (past examples include Dolphin Tale and Not Alone); the FMX 374 Internship, where students can intern at local and major studios such as Sony, Movie Groovy, and Film Tampa Bay; 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 Senior Project in FMX.

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

Founded in 1931, University of Tampa opened as Tampa Junior College with just 62 students. Today, UT serves approximately 11,050 students from all 50 states and just about every county. The school provides more than 200 academic programs 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. Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida
Lynn University

The Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn College of Communication and Design at Lynn University (Lynn) focuses on new and emerging media, with programs ranging from associate of art degrees to the master of fine arts. For students who would like to pursue an undergraduate degree in animation, Lynn has a Computer Animation BFA program with two tracks: Animation and Game Art. At the graduate level, the school has a Visual Effects Animation MFA that can be completed in as few as four or five semesters.

The Computer Animation BFA provides a foundation in studio arts, with coursework that prepares students to work in today’s production houses and animation studios. The Animation track allows students to immerse in sequential art, motion graphics, and comics. Across tracks, the BFA explores digital storytelling and animation, advanced computer-generated techniques, motion graphics, storyboarding, 3D modeling, game art, cinematic lighting, and technical direction.

In the final year of the Computer Animation BFA program at Lynn University, students will the Computer Animation Portfolio and Creer Preparation courses. In the portfolio course, students will complete their final professional portfolios with the help of reviews and critiques by faculty. In the Career Preparation course, students will engage in activities that will prepare them for the workplace or advance study. The course highlights resume preparation, interviewing skills, business etiquette, site visits, and guest speakers.

Graduates of the Computer Animation BFA program are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as Animation, Games, and Visual Effects. Program alumni have been hired at places such as MTV and Univision.

The Visual Effects Animation MFA at Lynn University is a STEM-designated program that explores areas such as motion tracking, compositing, visual effects, motion capture, and rotoscoping. Coursework covers diverse topics such as web and multimedia, medical animation, industrial design, automotive visualization, and marketing and promotion. Specific course examples include 3D Animation Workshop; Maya Visual Effects Animation Production; Advanced 3D Animation; Character Animation; Media and Culture; Advanced Visual Effects Animation Production; Motion Capture; and Programming Workshop.

In the final semester of the MFA program, students will begin and complete a thesis across three courses including Thesis Research, Thesis I, and Thesis II. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as Animator, Technical Director, and Texture Artist. Lynn alumni have been hired at places such as Amazon, Warner Bros., CBS, Zimmerman Advertising, Tilson Public Relations, Nova Southeastern University, Newell Brands, Fox Sports Florida, Seattle Mariners, University of Memphis, Planet Hollywood, and United Airlines.

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 more than 3,500 students 46 states and  101 countries. The school provides more than 100 different programs, including three-year accelerated degrees. Lynn University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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

Florida International University (FIU) has several paths to study animation in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CCAA). The Department of Art + Art History in the CCAA has an Animation major in the Digital Arts BFA program. Students in the college’s Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media can earn a BS in Digital Communication and Media with an Animation Media major.

The BS is designed for students transferring from the Miami-Dade College MAGIC program with an AS in Animation and Game Art. With permission from the Department Chair, students from other programs at FIU may be admitted. Course examples for the Animation Media major include Animation Lab 1-2; Digital Media; Animation Workship 1-2; Animation Project Development; 3D Content Creation; and Digital Theories. The program culminates with the Advanced Multimedia Production Capstone.

The FIU Digital Arts BFA with an Animation major provides intensive study in animation, new media, character design, storytelling, and video production. This professional degree program has 60 credit hours of upper division requirements, as well as 24 credits of lower division requirements such as Java Programming; 2D and 3D Design; Art History Survey; and Beginning Figure Drawing.

Examples of upper division courses include Creative Practice; Storytelling and Character Development; Advanced Animation; Advanced Experimental Video Art; Modern Art; and History of Digital Art. Students can enhance the degree through the programs nine credit hours of required electives.

The Digital Arts BFA at Florida International University culminates with the Thesis I and II courses, worth six credits. FIU Animation alumni are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as film and television, game design, advertising, forensic animation, graphic design, web design, architecture, science and medicine, healthcare, and education. 

Florida International University opened in 1972 with 5,667 students. At the time, this was the largest opening enrollment in U.S. collegiate history. Today, FIU serves more than 56,000 students making it one of the top ten largest universities in the nation. Miami’s public research university, Florida International University provides more than 190 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, both on campus and 100% online. Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).