Our 2016 rankings of the top animation schools in the South.
We define the South as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Established in 1931, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened with 111 courses and just 75 students. Today, the school is home to 1,300 students with 94% enrolled full-time, and 6% enrolled part-time. The school offers BA and BFA degree programs in 13 majors. Established in 1990, the Computer Animation program is one of RCAD’s most popular majors. Around 20% of the student population is enrolled in the program, which leads to a BFA. RCAD graduates have landed positions at Pixar Animation Studios, LucasFilm, Warner Bros., MTV, and many others.
2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is home to more than 12,000 students enrolled in over 40 majors and 60-plus minors. Founded in 1978, SCAD has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France and its students come from nearly 50 states and more than 100 countries. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the School of Digital Media. Options include BFA (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), MA (Savannah, eLearning), and MFA (Atlanta, Savannah, eLearning) degrees in Animation. A Minor in Animation is also on the menu.
Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Digital Domain, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Bento Box Entertainment.
3. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Established in 1979, Full Sail University is home to 18,000 students enrolled in 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, Associate’s, and Graduate Certificate programs in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BS in Computer Animation. This program is offered through Full Sail’s Art School and it is available online and on campus.
4. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School), Orlando, Florida
Founded in 2000, The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) provides intensive and “comprehensive training” in 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, 3D Visual Effects, and Game Production. The school, which consists of a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25, has several popular options for aspiring animators: a Certificate in Visual Effects Production and a Certificate in Game Production. The 12-month 3D Visual Effects program covers Animation Fundamentals, Modeling & Sculpting, Visual Effects and Studio Production. The 15-month Game Production program also covers Animation Fundamentals and Digital Modeling and Sculpting.
DAVE School graduates have worked on major productions such as Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, Captain America, The Hobbit, and Godzilla.
5. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
With a population of 60,810 students, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. The school was established in 1963, which also makes it one of the nation’s youngest universities in the U.S. Though young, the school offers more than 200 programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers a number of degree programs for aspiring animators.
Offerings for undergraduates include a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. Programs for graduate students include an MFA degree in Emerging Media with a Digital Media, Entrepreneurial Digital Cinema, or “Studio Art and the Computer” Track.
6. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson University is home to 22,104 students enrolled in more 190 degree programs across five colleges and a graduate school. The College of Engineering and Science offers several programs for aspiring animators including an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA) and a Minor in DPA. The DPA program highlights Animation, 3D Modeling, Compositing, FX, Lighting, Rigging, and Simulation.
Graduates of Clemson’s DPA programs have worked on films such as Frozen, Hobbit, Rio, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Croods. Many have been hired by Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, EA, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, NVIDIA, RedStorm, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
7. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
The University of South Florida (USF) is home to more than 48,000 students enrolled in over 220 programs across 14 colleges. Established in 1956, the school offers programs across three campuses—Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, Florida. The College of the Arts, School of Art and Art History offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Studio Art with a Focus in Video, Animation, and Digital Arts.
8. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Established in 1823, Florida State University (FSU) is home to more than 40,000 students from all 50 states and over 130 countries. The school has 16 colleges offering more than 275 academic programs. The College of Motion Picture Arts offers several programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Motion Picture Arts – Animation and Digital Arts, and The Torchlight Program.
The Torchlight Program is a non-degree granting academic program gives FSU animation students the opportunity to learn about “current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry,” says the school. The program offers coursework in vital areas such as distribution, marketing, and motion picture financing. The program is popular among students who are interested in a freelance career or opening their own studio.
9. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. The school, which is home to more than 31,527 students, offers over 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools. The College of Art and Design offers several multidisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including the BFA and MFA in Digital Art. According to LSU, students in the programs “refine their skills in classes that provide a broad, integrated understanding of creative practice across 3D modeling, animation, video, web, interactive systems, photo-based media, and digital printmaking.”
The Digital Art program, which is home to around 500 students, offers access to The Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) initiative, and The Digital Art and Design Association (DADA). Both provide support to Digital Art student as they pursue “opportunities throughout the university and the broader community.”
10. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University (NC State) has been in existence since 1887. The school is home to just over 34,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Design houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Programs include a Bachelor of Art and Design: Animation and Interactive Media, a Master of Art and Design: Animation and Interactive Media, and a Minor in Art and Design.