Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges with MS-MA Programs - 2018
1Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
2DePaul UniversityIllinois
3Texas A&M UniversityTexas
4University of Central FloridaFlorida
5Academy of Art UniversityCalifornia
6Purdue University Indiana
7Drexel UniversityPennsylvania
8University of Texas at DallasTexas
9University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania
10Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityNew Jersey

For our graduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Science (MS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.

The Master of Arts (MA) is an advanced degree that focuses on areas such as the humanities. MA degrees are typically available in the areas of communications, English, teaching, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Seminars are the main method of learning for MA programs and most programs do not require a thesis.

The Master of Science (MS) degree option typically focuses on science, technology, engineering,  and math. This advanced degree often includes immersive lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation. Unlike MA programs, most MS programs require a thesis.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is academically recognized as a terminal degree and it is typically awarded in the visual, fine and performing arts. The MFA degree demands the highest level of professional competency in these areas and practicing artists must exhibit the highest level of accomplishment through the generation of a body of work.

Below are the Top 10 Animation Schools and Colleges with MS-MA Programs for 2018.

1. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from nearly 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including animation, one of the school’s top majors. The school offers an MA in Animation (Savannah, eLearning), through the School of Digital Media. Sample courses for the program

Sample courses for the program include 3D Cartoon Character Animation, Animation Context and History, Environment Look Development, Animation Aesthetics and Practice, Digital 3D Effects, Computer-generated Modeling and Design, Drawing in Motion, and 3D Naturalistic Character Development.

Graduates of SCAD animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.

2. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The school serves 22,769 students from across the U.S. and about 70 countries. The DePaul Animation Program in the School of Cinematic Arts, part of the College of Computing and Digital Media, offers an MA in Animation with concentrations in 3D Animation and Traditional Animation.

Students in both programs will take courses such as Animation Mechanics, Visual Storytelling, 3D Animation Survey, Visual Design for Games, Cinema, Animation and Art, and Animated Short Film. The 3D area also includes courses such as 3D Dynamics, 3D Texturing & Lighting, 3D Rigging, 3D Character Animation, and 3D Scripting. The Traditional Animation area includes Hand-Drawn Animation and Character Animation, Experimental Animation, Stop-Motion Animation, Hybrid Animation, Character Design, Acting for Animators, and Topics in Animation.

MA students can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter, a ten-week immersion program structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios. The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts. 

Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students interested in animation, with tracks in hand-drawn, stop motion, and 3D animation for games.

3. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University

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 an MS in Visualization. Sample courses include Drawing for Visualization, Graphic Design, Color Theory, Visualization Technology, Programming, Visualization Studio, Digital Painting, and Visual and Performing Arts.

The interdisciplinary Visualization programs offered in the College of Architecture prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and many other areas.

4. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

Established in 1963 and home to more than 66,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media.

Students in the program explore new media in creative and research projects that foster a unique contribution characterized as innovative in approach. The degree program builds on undergraduate knowledge to build a mature set of conceptual, theoretical, design, and technical skills needed to communicate stories and messages in a single discipline or in an interdisciplinary environment. Required courses include Science and Technology of Dynamic Media, Information Architecture, Principles of Visual Language, Transmedia Story Creation, Design for Media, Previsualization and Concept Development, and Applied Interactive Story.

The MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media has a non-thesis and a thesis option. The thesis option is 15 additional credit hours and includes Digital Media Research Methods, Directed Research, Physical Computing, and Thesis/Research Report.

5. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online. The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers an MA in Animation and Visual Effects.

The program provides students an opportunity to work in 2D Animation & Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, or Visual Effects, while focusing on storytelling with an emphasis on exhibiting technical skills and eliciting emotional responses. Students will learn all aspects of animation and visual effects, from ideation to post production.

Graduates of the animation programs at Academy of Art University have landed positions at Blizzard Entertainment, CBS Interactive, Disney Interactive, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, NBCUniversal, Pixar, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

6. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University

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 an MS in CGT.

The MS offers several focus areas including Computer Animation, Video Production and Visual Effects, Computational Art, and Virtual and Augmented Reality. The PhD Program offers a CGT Specialization that covers Animation, Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, and Web Programming and Design. Students may also earn a dual 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.

7. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

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 an MS in Interactive Digital Media. The two-year program offers comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods.

The Animation & Visual Effects 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.”

8. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
University of Texas at Dallas

The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school is home to more than 27,600 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) offers an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC).

The 36 credit hour program is designed both for individuals engaged in professional practice wishing to enhance their knowledge and skills and for students intending to pursue a doctorate in a related field. It offers advanced studies in interactive media and computer-based arts that emphasize the fusion of creative with critical thinking and theory with practice. In addition to 36 credit hours of study, students must complete an advanced project. Students can select from graduate pathways such as game studies, interaction design and networked cultures.

Career opportunities for graduates include, but are not limited to the application of 3-D computer animation, modeling and simulation, data visualization, virtual environments, sound design, digital fabrication, user experience design, interaction design, interactive narrative and game design in a variety of industries.

9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to 25,367 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. The School of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT) that leads to an MS. 

The Center for HMS established the CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship.

The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers. Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.

10. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey
Fairleigh Dickinson University

Established in 1942 and home to more than 12,000 students, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is New Jersey’s largest private university. The school offers more than 100 degrees and disciplines across two New Jersey campuses (Madison and Teaneck) and two FDU locations outside the U.S.: Wroxton College, in Oxfordshire in England, and the Vancouver Campus, in British Columbia, Canada. The school houses four colleges including Becton College of Arts and Sciences, Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies, Silberman College of Business, and University College.

Becton College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Visual and Performing Arts Department, which offers an MA in Animation and BA-MA Combined Degree in Animation. The MA in Animation offers three concentrations (3D Character Animation, Visual Effects, Video Games) that center around gaining hands-on skills in the chosen concentration. The full-time, 36 credit hour program spans three semesters and includes course options such as Advanced 3D Character Animation, Digital Sculpting, Storytelling, Character Design, 3D Particle Systems and Effects, Advanced 3D layers in After Effects, Digital 2D Animation, Dynamic Effects and Particle Systems in After Effects, Motion Capture, Virtual Reality, and Animating Fluids.

The Combined BA-MA in Animation degree offers FDU students the option to complete both the Bachelor and Master degrees in Animation. During the first three years, students take undergraduate classes that are required of students in the BA in Film and Animation program (3D Animation Concentration or Video Game Animation Concentration). In the junior year of undergraduate studies, students in this program are required to submit a portfolio of their best work for review. In the senior year of undergraduate studies, students in this program take 12 graduate level credits, as well as complete the remainder of their undergraduate courses.