2018 Animation School Rankings - Top 10 in the South
1Ringling College of Art and Designtop 5%
2Savannah College of Art and Designtop 10%
3University of Central Floridatop 10%
4Clemson Universitytop 15%
5Full Sail Universitytop 15%
6The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School top 20%
7Florida State Universitytop 20%
8Middle Tennessee State Universitytop 25%
9Louisiana State Universitytop 25%
10University of South Floridatop 30%

Our 2018 list of the Top 10 Animation School Programs in the South. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 5% of schools considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. The school opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, RCAD is home to 1,400 students, offering BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Just a few majors include Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Motion Design, and Visual Studies.

The Computer Animation program is one of the most popular programs at RCAD, accounting for around 20% of the student population. Established in 1990, the BFA in Computer Animation allows students to do it all. Students learn to create characters and tell their stories, as well as design, paint, model, texture, animate, light, composite, and edit original films. The program also focuses on teaching students how to combine essential technical skills with conceptually original ideas that affect an audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually.

A BFA in Motion Design is also available. This program allows students to study animation, concept design, storyboard art, videography, composition, sound design, and art direction. Students in the program have the opportunity to work across many different fields with students of other majors and with actual, professional clients.

RCAD graduates have worked on every Oscar-winning animated feature since 2003, with 14 alumni working on 2016 Oscar winner, Inside Out and 21 working on 2017 Oscar winner Zootopia.  Graduates have also gone on to work at Blue Sky Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Walt Disney Animation, and many others.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 10% of schools considered)
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. Offered through the School of Digital Media, four options are available for aspiring animators including a BFA in Animation (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), an MA in Animation (Savannah, eLearning), an MFA in Animation (Atlanta, Savannah, eLearning) Animation, and a Minor in Animation.

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

3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (top 10% of schools considered)

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 a number of degree programs for aspiring animators.

Options include a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. The Character Animation specialization is designed to prepare students for careers as animators, modelers, riggers, or texture artists in the film or computer game industries.

Programs for graduate students include an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media, and an MFA in Emerging Media with an Animation and Visual Effects, Entrepreneurial Digital Cinema, or Studio Art and the Computer Track. The MA focuses on the development of advanced skills for digital media professionals, while the MFA is a terminal scholarly and creative degree suitable for students wishing to pursue careers as professors in higher education or as creative leaders in industry.

4. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (top 15% of schools considered)
Clemson University

Established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson University is home to nearly 24,400 students enrolled in 80+ majors, 75+ minors, and 110+ graduate degree programs across seven colleges. The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, School of Computing offers several programs for aspiring animators including an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA), a new MS in DPA, and a Minor in DPA.

The DPA MFA Program is a professional degree program that offers a unique blend of instruction from art, computer science, computer engineering, graphic communications, performing arts, philosophy, and psychology, together with newly designed courses targeted at production techniques specific to the animation, visual effects, and electronic games industries. Sample courses include Computer Animation, 3D Modeling, Compositing, Computer Games, FX, Lighting, Rigging, Simulation, and Visual Effects, to name a few.

The new MS in DPA focuses on the technical components of visual effects production for the film, electronic games, and commercial video industries. Sample courses include 3D Modeling and Animation, Virtual Reality, 2D Game Engine Design, Character Animation, Physically Based Visual Effects, Visual Foundations for Digital Production, Audio Engineering, Improvisation, and Advanced Animation.

DPA program graduates have worked on films such as Frozen, Hobbit, Rio, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Croods. Many have been hired by major studios such as Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, EA, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

5. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 15% of schools considered)
Full Sail University

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. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida (top 20% of schools considered)
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School

Founded in 2000, The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (Dave School) is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, 3D Visual Effects, and Game Production. Programs for aspiring animators include a Bachelor’s degree in Animation or Motion Graphics, and a Diploma and Associate Program in Visual Effects Production or Game Production.

The Bachelor’s in Animation is a 30-month program “provides students with a practical application to the animation process.” Students in the program will learn and understand acting for animators, body and facial animation, character rigging, creature animation, drawing for animators, previsualization, principles of movement, rigging, visual storytelling, and performance using a variety of software.

The 30-month Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics introduces students to 3D Modeling and Animation for Motion Graphics. Students in the program will learn and practice the principles of Animation, Compositing, Composition, and Design. The 12-month Game Production Program covers Fundamentals of Computer Animation, Character, Prop and Environment Modeling, Level Design, Visual Effects, and Digital Modeling and Sculpting.

The 12-month Visual Effects Program covers 3D Animation, Digital Compositing, 2d/3D Tracking, Digital Modeling & Sculpting, Visual Effects, Studio Production, Lighting and Texturing, and Animation Fundamentals. Programs are offered either online, on-campus or in hybrid format.

DAVE school graduates and instructors have worked on major productions such as The Hunger Games, Green Lantern, Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, Captain America, The Hobbit, Godzilla, and many others.

7. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (top 20% of schools considered)
Florida State University

Founded in 1851 and home to 41,900 students, Florida State University (FSU) is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida. The school offers more than 275 degree programs across 16 colleges. 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.

BFA students will begin with Film History, Screenwriting, Directing, Cinematography, CG and Live Action Production, Editing and Sound. Students will then learn the craft of digital filmmaking through 3D Animation, Character Development, Compositing, Modeling, Stop Motion, Texturing, Rendering, and Visual Effects Cinematography. The Torchlight Program gives FSU animation students who would like to freelance or start their own studios the opportunity to learn about “current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry.” The program offers coursework in key areas such as Distribution, Marketing, and Motion Picture Financing.

8. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (top 25% of schools considered)
Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) opened on September 11, 1911 as one of three state normal schools for teacher training. Today, the school is home to 22,442 students enrolled in more than 115 programs across seven colleges. The College of Media and Entertainment, Department of Electronic Media Communication, offers a BS in Animation and Mass Communication with Concentrations in Electronic Media Communication, New Media Communication, and Photography.

The Electronic Media Communication Concentration offers two specialties: Electronic Media Production (video and film production) and Electronic Media Management (media management). Animation and Entertainment Technology Minors are also available as well as an MS in Media and Communication. Students in the MS program may choose six hours of approved electives in Animation.

The Animation Programs at MTSU prepare students for careers in Character Animation, Motion Graphics, and Visual Effects. Electronic Media Production students are also prepared to create Animated and Feature Films, as well as content for Documentary Films, Television, and Educational Videos.

9. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (top 25% of schools considered)
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. The school offers 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools to 29,292 students (Spring 2017). The College of Art + Design, School of Art offers several multidisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Digital Art and an MFA in Digital Art. The programs allow students to 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. 

Students may also choose to pursue the interdisciplinary Master in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) or the 21-credit-hour Minor in DMAE, a collaborative endeavor with seven campus units at LSU.

With around 500 students, the Digital Art Program provides 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 students as they pursue “opportunities throughout the university and the broader community.”

10. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (top 30% of schools considered)
University of South Florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is part of three-school USF System including USF, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Established in 1956, the school serves more than 50,000 students enrolled in 180 undergraduate majors and concentrations, and dozens of graduate programs, across 14 colleges. The College of the Arts, School of Art & 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.

The Animation program offers a unique opportunity for artists to pursue a “cutting edge” approach to Video, 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Sound, and Digital Media. This comprehensive digital arts program offers students the ability to both develop an expertise in specific digital tools and allows students the flexibility to combine classes to hone a student’s individual artistic voice.

Another option for aspiring animators is the MFA in Studio Art. This graduate degree is an idea-centered program encouraging broad media exploration, interdisciplinary projects, and engagement with current theoretical and cultural issues. Students may choose any medium or discipline.