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|1||Brigham Young University||Utah|
|2||Texas A&M University||Texas|
|3||ArtCenter College of Design||California|
|5||Full Sail University||Florida|
|7||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|8||California State University||California|
For our undergraduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and Bachelor of Science (BS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is the principal liberal arts degree. Most BA programs require 30-some or 40-some credits, which leaves plenty of flexibility in the form of free electives. BA students can use the free electives to sample widely from other course offerings or to earn an additional credential (a second major, a minor, or some combination of additional credentials).
The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is offered in areas such as Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, Statistics, and each of the natural sciences. The BS is best suited to the student who wants to focus more on courses in the major and on 'collateral' courses (like chemistry or mathematics for a major in Geological Sciences) and is willing to give up some of the flexibility of the BA in return for the greater focus.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is considered the most prestigious bachelor's degree that you can receive in the visual arts. This option is for students who wish to gain as much experience and skill in the arts as possible.
Below are the Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges with BS Programs for 2018.
1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) is home to around 33,500 students enrolled in 178 undergraduate majors, 109 undergraduate minors, 68 master's programs, and 26 doctorate programs across dozens of colleges and departments. The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.
The 79-hour BS program gives students a strong background in computer science fundamentals (38 hours), which is complemented by courses in visual arts (21). Students have the opportunity to learn both the technical and artistic side of creating and implementing digital animation and games, preparing them for technical careers with animation and game programming studios. Sample courses include Interactive Animation Technology, Photography for Animation, Three-Dimensional Effects, and Advanced Senior Film Production.
Students in this limited-enrollment program (space for 40) also have the opportunity to gain entrance to the BYU Center for Animation (est. 2010), which operates under the direction of three colleges—the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Accepting just 20-25 students each year, the BYU Center for Animation is a competitive, highly dynamic, hands-on program structured to provide students with the skill sets necessary for success in the animation, live-action, special effects, and game industries.
The program attracts faculty members from major studios such as Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros.
2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school is home to 68,625 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture, which broadly defines animation within “Visualization,” offers a BS in Visualization. The Visualization degree is a four-year degree and requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. The curriculum integrates aspects of fine arts, three-dimensional design and digital technology into the studio experience.
Sample courses for the program include Drawing for Visualization, Graphic Design, Color Theory, Visualization Technology, Programming, Visualization Studio, Digital Painting, and Visual and Performing Arts. The interdisciplinary BS in Visualization program prepares students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and many other areas.
3. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
Founded in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design is home to approximately 2,100 students enrolled in 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs in a variety of Industrial Design, Visual, and Applied Arts Disciplines. The school, which also offers a joint MS/MBA program with the Drucker-Ito School of Management, has two campuses in Pasadena and satellite studios in Los Angeles (at the Peterson Automotive Museum), and Berlin. Programs for aspiring animators include a BS in Entertainment Design with a Track in Animation or Concept.
The Animation Track develops students in the disciplines of character animation, storyboarding, modeling, art direction, and lighting for 3D and 2D animation, while the Concept Track focuses on the skills and creative ability required of entertainment industry concept designers.
Entertainment Design graduates from both Tracks are prepared for career opportunities as performance and action animators with companies such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, ILM, Sony, Blur, 343 and Riot.
4. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to more than 41,500 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas. The Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Animation
The program focuses on six areas of animation including 3-D Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Rendering, Character Rigging (creating a digital skeleton) and Motion. Graduates of the BS program have found employment at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues and eight of the school’s alumni were part of the creative teams behind 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 and 2014 Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2.
The CGT Department also offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Visual Effects Compositing that combines Animation, Visual Effects, and Video to create “highly graphical” videos for episodic television and films. A BS in Effects Technical Direction is also available and it highlights supplemental coursework in Animation. Graduates of the program have also landed positions at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues.
Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more, if pursued separately.
5. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail University was established in 1979 and it is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees and Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Options for aspiring animators include a BS in Computer Animation that takes 20 months to complete on-campus, and 32 months to complete online. Students can expect to take courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, Character Animation, Animation Production, Shading and Lighting, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.
A total of seven Project and Portfolio courses must be completed as well. These courses “combine hands-on learning experiences with summative and formative portfolio assessments.” Courses cover 3D Arts and Computer Animation.
6. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University was established in 1891. It serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers a BS in Animation & Visual Effects. The major provides students with the artistic, technological, storytelling and design skills to succeed as animators and visual effects artists in the highly competitive entertainment, design and communications industries.
Requirements for the 186 credit hour program include six animation elective credits, 15 media and computer science credits, 18 credits of animation requirements, 24 art and art history, 27 electives, 45 general education and 51 core courses. The program also features a six-month co-op, where students will learn the underlying principles of animation along with industry-standard software technology. The entire creative pipeline from storyboarding through modeling and animation is covered in-depth, allowing students to experience all aspects of production.
7. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is the oldest technological research university in the U.S. Home to just under 7,650 students, RPI offers more than 145 programs across five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) is home to five academic departments including Arts, Cognitive Science, Communication and Media, Economics, and Science and Technology Studies (STS).
The Department of the Arts is the first integrated electronic arts program within a research university in the United States. Offerings include a BS in Electronic Arts (BS EART) (est. 2002) with a Concentration in Animation & Algorithmic Art. The program allows students to engage in creative work in the areas of computer-generated or mediated image, videotapes and installations, multimedia presentations, performance art, and others.
The Department of Communication and Media (C&M), in collaboration with the Department of Arts, offers a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC). Established in 1996, the BS in EMAC program is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses in communication as well as in digital art and animation, video, electronic music, and graphic design, supported by RPI’s strong technological infrastructure. The EMAC curriculum offers concentrations in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Sound Design and Popular Culture.
Students may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program.
8. California State University, Chico, Chico, California
Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico serves nearly 17,800 students enrolled in over 300 undergraduate and graduate academic programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 29 centers and institutes. The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management offers a BS in Computer Animation and Game Development (BS CAGD). Students must choose an Animation Production or Game Development Option, as well as a supplemental program in Art Studio or Communication Design.
This interdisciplinary degree, which embraces computer graphics, game scripting, communication design, and art, highlights courses such as Digital Modeling, 2D Design, 3D Design, Digital Animation, Animation Production, Motion Capture, 3D Character Animation, Computer Animation, Advanced Production, and Digital Lighting and Texturing.
All students have access to internship opportunities, the Computer Graphics Club, and career counseling.
9. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 125 graduate programs, across nine colleges and schools. The College of Computer and Information Science offers a BS in Computer Science/Media Arts. This combined major provides a solid foundation in Computer Science and Media Arts both through a curriculum that spans animation, computer graphics, database design, human-computer interaction, photography, and video.
Sample courses for the program include Animation Basics and Animation Tools, Animation 1, 2 and 3, 5D Fundamentals: Experience and Drawing and 5D Tools, Virtual Environment Design, Animation for Games, Character Design for Animation, Digital Sculpting and Model Making, Computer Graphics, and Narrative Basics. The 137 credit hour program also highlights unique supporting and integrative courses such as Wired/Unwired: Cybercultures and Technopolitics, Technology and Human Values, Environment, Technology, and Society, and Human Computer Interaction (HCI).
10. Champlain College, Burlington, Vermont
Established in 1878, Champlain College serves more than 2,200 traditional undergraduate students from 44 states and 18 countries. The school also offers online master’s degrees and graduate certificates to hundreds of students across the U.S. and from around the world. The school has four academic divisions including the Division of Communication & Creative Media, Robert P. Stiller School of Business, the Division of Education & Human Studies (EHS), and the Division of Information Technology & Sciences.
The Division of Communication & Creative Media offers a BS in Game Art & Animation. Sample courses include 3D Modeling & Texturing, Game Art Fundamentals, Stop Motion Animation, 2D and 3D Game Art, Aesthetic Interactions, Game Production, Screenwriting, Video Compositing & Special Effects, Audio Production and Sound Design, Integrative Film Practices, Interactive Storytelling, Sonic Circuits, and Interaction Design Production.
Program highlights include the option to choose one primary and two complementary specializations to enhance the degree, access to paid positions in the Emergent Media Center (EMC) as early as the first year at Champlain, and the opportunity to study abroad in Montreal, Canada.