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

Top 10 Massachusetts Animation Schools - 2023 College Rankings
1Massachusetts College of Art and DesignBoston
2Emerson CollegeBoston
3Tufts UniversityBoston
4Northeastern UniversityBoston
5Harvard UniversityCambridge
6Hampshire CollegeAmherst
7University of Massachusetts, DartmouthDartmouth
8Lesley UniversityCambridge
9Wellesley CollegeWellesley
10University of Massachusetts, AmherstAmherst

Our 2023 ranking -our twelfth annual- of the top animation school programs in Massachusetts. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

The Animation Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) houses more than 20 classrooms, studios, and labs dedicated to animation. The Animation Program, which leads to a BFA, begins with the foundation year, which consists of courses such as Time, Form Study, Drawing Projects, Studio for Drawing, and Visual Language. During the second year of the program, students are introduced to animation basics, experimental animation, and digital 2D animation. Color & media, figure, liberal arts, and history of art courses are also explored during the second year.

Course examples for the program include Stop-Motion Animation, Puppet Animation & Fabrication, Drawing for Animators, VFX Alchemy: Pixels & Grain, 3DCG Character Animation, Motion Graphics, Figurative Clay Construction, and Advanced 3D Digital Animation.

In the third and fourth years of the MassArt Animation BFA Program, students will focus primarily on advanced animation coursework, the animation portfolio, and the final animation project, while continuing to complete liberal arts and art history coursework. An internship is also available.

Graduates of the MassArt Animation BFA Program are prepared to pursue a wide range of positions in the film and animation industries, digital art, advertising and marketing, design, and many other industries.

Founded in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the nation’s first and only public college of art and design. The school serves around 1,800 students enrolled 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs. More than 150 continuing education students are enrolled in more than 100 classes and workshops in all areas of art and design.

Massachusetts College of Art and Design is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The school is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

2. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts
Emerson College

Emerson College (Emerson) houses the School of the Arts, home to the Department of Visual & Media Arts (VMA). Department highlights include faculty members who work in the industry, access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and two pathways to study animation including the Media Arts Production (MAP) BA and BFA. The BA has two tracks: Production and Media Studies and both programs allow students to design and develop a focus area through a variety of course offerings.

Emerson MAP students may focus in areas such as Animation and Motion Media, Interactive Media and Games, Experimental Media Production, Filmmaking, Cinematography/Videography, and Post-Production, among others. Course examples include Computer animation, Drawing for Character Design, Film Production, Game Design, Interactive Media, Visual and Media Arts Production, and Writing the Short Subject.

MAP BA students have the option to complete the BA Production Capstone Project or apply to the BFA program. The one-semester Capstone results in a professional production project, portfolio, or reel. BFA students must complete a thesis-level project that takes one year to complete. All students have access to the Emerson College Emerging Media Lab (EML), where they can work in multiple areas of new media including 3D modeling and animation, artistic anatomy & 2D animation, rigging and animation, VR/AR, character design, and game design, among others. 

Graduates of the VMA Department at Emerson College have been hired in a variety of roles at studios such as Worldwide Pants, Digital Domain, MGM Studios, Bunim Murray Productions, and Searchlight Pictures.

Emerson College was established in 1880. The school serves approximately 4,930 students enrolled in 25 undergraduate majors, 30+ minors, 16 graduate degrees, and six graduate certificate programs. In addition to the main campus in Boston, Emerson has campuses Los Angeles and the Netherlands. Emerson College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

3. School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA at Tufts) is part of a top-tier research university that provides intensive studio arts training, an interdisciplinary learning environment, networking opportunities, and hands-on experience through on-campus projects and internships.

Programs for animators include a BFA and Combined BFA + BA/BS. These unique pathways allow students to focus their work with their academic advisors to customize a focus in one or more mediums. Examples include Animation, Film and Video, Virtual Reality, Digital Media, and Graphic Arts. Animation coursework includes Animation Basics, Animation Integration, Drawing for Animation, Animation 2, Stop-Motion Animation, and Moving Image.

Coursework for both programs is complemented by visiting artist lectures, screenings, projects, and demos, and students may add a Studio Art Minor to enhance their degree.

In the final year of the BFA program, students may apply to the SMFA Tufts Senior Thesis Program. This yearlong capstone leads to a professional work and exhibition. Combined BFA + BA/BS students will graduate with two degrees: a BFA and a BA or BS in their chosen area.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University has an additional option for animators seeking an advanced degree. The Studio MFA provides the opportunity to work with faculty and staff to develop a personalized studio curriculum. Students can focus their studies in Animation, Film and Video, Virtual Reality, Digital Media, Graphic Arts, or other areas.

Coursework for this 60 credit hour program is complemented by seminars, visiting artists, exchange and travel opportunities, and the Graduate Colloquium. A forum for graduate students, professional artists, and faculty, Colloquia are all-day events that take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Colloquia are open to the public.

The Studio MFA at SMFA at Tufts culminates in a self-curated exhibition of the students best work. Students must also complete a thesis to graduate. 

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) was founded in 1876 as part of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. SMFA began a partnership with Tufts University in 1945, with the goal to offer joint degree programs. Today, SMFA at Tufts serves more than 400 students enrolled in BFA, MFA, MAT, Combined-degree (BFA + BA/BS), Certificate or Studio Diploma programs.

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). As part of Tufts University, SMFA is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

4. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

The College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) at Northeastern University has several pathways to study animation. Options include an Art + Design BFA with a Concentration in Animation, a Game Art and Animation BFA, and an Animation Minor.

All CAMD BFA students have the opportunity to learn and work in a collaborative, immersive environment. In addition to animation, students will have opportunities to explore other areas such as game design, AR/VR, and interactive video. During the course of the programs, students will work their way through the production pipelines for animated films, games, visual effects, simulations and visualizations, and spatial media.

Other program benefits include courses taught by professionals in the industry, global experiences, and plenty of co-op and experiential learning experiences. Northeastern University has established relationships with co-op employers such as Sony, Walt Disney Company, Microsoft Studios, CBS, Adobe, Zynga, MIT Design Lab, National Geographic Learning, Apple, NBC Universal Television, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Viacom.

The CAMD BFA Programs at Northeastern culminate with a one-year Capstone Project and Professional Portfolio.

In the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University, the BS in Computer Science (BS/CS) Program houses a Combined Major in Media Arts. This 137 semester hour program explores animation and traditional and emerging areas such as VR/AR, artificial intelligence (AI), human-computer interaction (HCI), video, computer graphics, photography, and database design. Specific animation and related courses include Animation 1-3, Character Design for Animation, Virtual Environment Design, Animation for Games, Experimental Video, Color and Composition, Experience and Interaction, Movement and Time, and Computer Graphics.

Graduates of the CAMD BFA and BS/CS in Media Arts Programs at Northeastern University go on to establish careers in animation, TV and film, game art and design, VR/AR, HCI, and digital media, among others. Alumni are Animators, Producers, Game Artists, Art Directors, Experience Designers, and Sound/Audio Designers.

Northeastern University began as the Evening Institute of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in 1898. According to the most recent enrollment figures, the school serves approximately 41,850 students enrolled in more than 400 programs in eight colleges. Northeastern University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

5. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University

The Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies (AFVS) at Harvard University (Harvard) is located in the landmark Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts—the nation’s only Le Corbusier building. AFVS courses are held in the Carpenter Center, in Sever Hall (a National Historic Landmark), and Linden Street Studios (utilized by practicing artists, faculty members, and upper division students).

The AFVS Department provides opportunities to concentrate in just about any area of visual arts at all degree levels. Examples include animation, filmmaking, video art, painting, drawing, and film and visual studies. Students in all concentrations will work with faculty in studios and seminars to reach their goals.

Course examples include Experimental Animation, A Video Toolbox, Intermediate Animation, Fundamentals of Animation, The Art of Film, Immersive Experience as Art, Filmmaking Workshop, Drawing as a Visual Language, Film & Visual Studies Workshop, Graduate Studio Workshop, and Working with Actors. Studio Art and Animation/Film/Video/New Genres courses are practice-based courses. Film and Visual Studies courses are seminar and lecture courses.

Students in all Harvard AFVS programs have the opportunity to take courses outside of the AFVS Department. Courses may explore History of Art and Architecture, Cultural Studies, Theater, Dance, and Media. Graduates of the AFVS Programs at Harvard are prepared for careers in all areas of animation and film production.

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. The school serves 25,110 students enrolled in hundreds of programs across 13 degree-granting Schools and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Harvard University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

6. Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts
Hampshire College

Hampshire College is a unique institution that provides the opportunity for students to design their own major from one of 50 areas of study. Instead of academic years, students will work their way through their chosen program through a divisional structure consisting of portfolio reviews, projects, community-based learning, courses, and final papers. All programs lead to a BA degree.

Because Hampshire College is part of The Five College Consortium (Hampshire and Five-College), students have access to courses provides in their area of study and thousands of other courses provided by members of the Consortium. During the entire final year of the students customized program, students will conceptualize, design, and finalize a solo project.

In the Animation and Digital Art Area, students will work alone and in interdisciplinary teams to develop animated works to add to their final professional portfolio. Courses for the Animation and Digital Art Area are project-based and explore everything from Animation to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Digital Sound.

Course examples across Hampshire and Five-College include Computer Animation I-III, Digital Image Manipulation for Film and Video, Programming Artificial Life, Animation Workshop, Pixelbending, Sequential Imagery I and II, Women in Animation, Interactive Digital Multimedia, and Digital Sound and Media Production.

All Animation and Digital Arts Area students have access to the Hampshire College Cluster Computing Facility, and the Game Lab and Library. Both facilities provide state-of-the art production equipment and spaces where students can create their own animated works and collaborate on other projects.

Hampshire College graduates work at Pixar Animation Studios, South Park Studios, Cartoon Network, and many other studios.

Hampshire College is an independent, not-for-profit institution that serves approximately 500 students enrolled in self-designed programs across 50 areas of study. Hampshire is part of The Five College Consortium, which also includes Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and UMass Amherst. Hampshire College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

7. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

The College of Visual Performing Arts (CVPA) at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) has two pathways to study animation: the Art + Design BFA: Animation + Game Art (AGA BFA) and the Animation Minor. The 120 credit hour AGA BFA explores digital animation, games, virtual reality, 2D and 3D design, interactive multimedia, storytelling, storyboarding, and web design.

Course examples include 3D Animation, Story Structures, 3D Modeling, Visual Design for Games, Digital Essentials, and Visual Arts Seminar. Program highlights include access to the UMass Dartmouth IDEAStudio, the option to add a Web & Interaction Design Certificate, internship opportunities, and study abroad experiences.

In the final year of the AGA BFA, students will complete Senior Animation Studio, Senior Game Studio, Advanced Topics in AGA, Professional Design Practice, and the A+GA Capstone.

Graduates of the AGA BFA at UMass Dartmouth work in both traditional and emerging fields such as animation and special effects, scientific visualization, art education, forensic animation, game design, VR/AR, multimedia, advertising, environmental design, UI/UX, video editing, art direction, and software design. They have been hired at Microsoft, Razorfish, White Rhino, Mad*Pow, iFactory, Jack Morton Worldwide, and MDG, Inc..

The UMass Dartmouth CVPA Animation Minor consists of 18 credits of core animation classes. Course examples include 3D Animation, Advanced Topics in Animation + Game Arts, 3D Modeling, Illustration: Character Design and Environments, Visual Design for Games, Digital Video Production, and Story Structures. Animation Minor students will produce a final portfolio consisting of 2D and 3D animation projects. Upon completion of the program, students are prepared to seek positions such as Animator, 3D Modeler, Rigger, and Texture Artist.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth began as New Bedford Textile School in 1895. Today, the school provides more than 150 programs to approximately 7,715 students. Programs at UMass Dartmouth are housed in eight colleges and schools. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

8. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Lesley University

The College of Art and Design at Lesley University has several pathways to study animation: the Animation & Motion Media BFA, Minor, and Certificate and the Visual Effects (VFX) BFA. Program highlights for the 123 credit hour Animation & Motion Media BFA include small class sizes, access to state-of-the-art visual effects facilities, required internships and apprenticeships that provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience at major studios such as Nickelodeon and Warner Bros., among others., and the opportunity to pursue a second major.

Lesley Animation & Motion Media students have also interned at Adult Swim, Mind and Machine VFX, SideFX, Northern Light Productions, MassDiGI, and many others. Examples of second major combinations include Animation & Motion Media + Biology (Medical Animator) and Animation & Motion Media + Creative Writing (Independent Cartoonist).

The Animation and Motion Media Minor requires 15 credit hours, including six credit hours of electives. Required courses include Principles of Animation 1 and 2, and Storyboarding for Time-Based Media. Elective examples include Character Animation, Compositing & Visual Effects, Experimental Animation, Audio Production & Design, Digital Animation: 2D, and Stop Motion Animation.

The Animation and Motion Media Certificate is a professional, post-baccalaureate program consisting of 60 credit hours. The program provides hands-on experience through internal and external Animation + VFX internships, and courses taught by faculty members who have worked at major studios such as Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and Fox. Course examples include Storyboarding for Time Based Media, Digital Animation: 2D, Audio Production & Design, Community Animation Studio, and Business of Animation.

The Lesley University VFX BFA integrates animation, design, film, and photography. Students in this 120 credit hour program will learn the 12 Principles of Animation, and select an area of specialization such as Animation, 3D Modeling, Compositing, or Rendering. Course examples include Principles of Animation 1 and 2, Animation Seminar, Digital Animation: 2D, 3D Character Animation, Business of Animation, Advanced Stop Motion Animation, and History of Animation.

Other program highlights include access to the state-of-the art Visual Effects (VFX) studio (the only one of its kind in New England), and opportunities to intern or complete an apprenticeship at places such as Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., and Hero4Hire Animation + Motion Design Studio.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Lesley University work in animation, film and TV, and game design in positions such as Animator, VFX Artist, Game Designer, Art Director, Filmmaker, 3D Designer, Content Producer, Storyboard Artist, Medical Visualization Modeler, and Advertising Artist.

Lesley University alumni have worked on projects for companies and studios such as Fox, DreamWorks, and White Snake Projects. Some alumni have gone on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses, while others have enrolled in graduate programs at top universities.

Founded in 1909, Lesley University serves more than 6,000 students enrolled 100+ programs housed across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Art & Design, the Graduate School of Education, and the Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences. Lesley University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

9. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
Wellesley College

The Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) Major at Wellesley College is jointly supported by the Computer Science Department and the Art Department. This interdepartmental, production-oriented major allows students to choose courses to match their career goals. Students may also choose an optional Concentration in Media Arts or Media Sciences.

Examples of available courses within the MAS Major include Moving Image Studio, Advanced Video Production, Game Design, Screenwriting, Interactive Sound Art with Electronics, Mixed and Augmented Reality, Computer Graphics, Digital Worlds for Gaming, Technologies of Film and Media, Virtual Form, and Advanced Digital Projects.

All Wellesley College MAS students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through an internship and/or participate in the study abroad program.

Graduates of the MAS Program at Wellesley College have been hired in a variety of positions across the animation, TV/film, game design, advertising, media and information, scientific visualization, arts and culture, computing, architecture, and design fields.

Founded in 1870, Wellesley College is a college for women that serves approximately 2,385 students enrolled in dozens of programs across more than 30 departments. Wellesley College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

10. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Amherst

The College of Humanities & Fine Arts at University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass Amherst) houses the Department of Arts, home to the Studio Art Program, which has two pathways to study animation. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Studio Arts with an Animation Specialization. In addition to specializing in Animation, the Studio Arts Program allows students to take courses from the Department of Computer Science and other departments.

Electives allow students to focus in other areas within Fine Art such as Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Photography, and Printmaking. Elective examples include Digital Imaging, Interactive Programming, Painting I-V, Moving Image, Art in the Expanded Field, Figure Sculpture, Printmaking – Intaglio I-II, Printmaking – Litho, Advanced Ceramics, and Research Studio.

Students in the Animation Specialization at UMass Amherst will take courses such as Animation Fundamentals, Computer Animation, Media and Motion Graphics, Advanced Drawing, Visual Arts, and Senior Seminar: Computer Studio. BA students will complete a number of projects throughout the program and a final portfolio of their best work. All BFA students will complete a Senior Thesis Project consisting of an exhibition or screening of work, a written piece, and oral defense.

Graduates of the Studio Arts-Animation Programs at University of Massachusetts at Amherst are prepared to pursue positions in all areas of animation, fine art, and design. Program alumni have  worked on productions such as the Harry Potter and Star Wars films, for Jim Henson and Nickelodeon, and at Lucasfilm. Program alumni have also won national and international awards for their works.

Founded as Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC) in 1863, University of Massachusetts Amherst serves more than 28,000, making it the oldest and largest school in the University of Massachusetts System. UMass Amherst offers more than 200 academic programs across ten colleges and schools. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).