Our 2017 rankings of the Top 10 Animation Schools in the Southwest.
We define the Southwest as Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 5% of schools considered)
Founded in 1875, Brigham Young University (BYU) is home to 33,363 students enrolled in 178 undergraduate majors, 109 undergraduate minors, 68 master's programs, and 26 doctorate programs across dozens of colleges and departments. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science. Options include a BFA in Animation and a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.
Students in both programs have access to the BYU Center for Animation. Established in 2010, the Center operates under the direction of three colleges—the College of Fine Arts and Communications, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, and the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.
2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)
With a population of more than 60,000 students, Texas A&M University is one of the largest public institutions of higher learning in Texas. Established in 1876, the school is also the state’s first public institution of higher learning. The school offers nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools, including the College of Architecture, which offers programs for animators at all degree levels. The College, which broadly defines animation within “Visualization,” offers BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. These interdisciplinary programs prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and other areas.
3. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) is a member of the University of Texas System. Established in 1969 and home to approximately 26,797 students, UT Dallas offers 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) offers a variety of programs for aspiring animators including a BA in Arts and Technology (BA ATEC), an MFA in Arts and Technology (MFA ATEC), an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC), and a PhD in Arts and Technology (PhD ATEC).
ATEC students have the opportunity to take a total of 15 credit hours/five courses in Animation, Design, Storytelling, and Games, to name a few. They will also take a variety of Topics courses such as Topics in Animation, Topics in Game Development and Topics in ATEC.
4. University of Colorado - Denver, Denver, Colorado (top 15% of schools considered)
The University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) was established in 1912 and it offers more than 140 degree programs to a population of approximately 18,937 students. The school consists of 13 colleges and schools, including the College of Arts & Media—home to the Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC). VA DAC program offerings include a BFA with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation. According to the Center, “to date, DAC student senior short films have been seen in over 230 national and international film festivals in 22 countries.” The films have been seen by “100’s of thousands across the globe winning more than 50 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.”
5. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico (top 20% of schools considered)
New Mexico State University (NMSU) was established in 1888 and it offers 276 programs to more than 15,000 students. The school houses seven colleges and a graduate school, including the College of Arts and Sciences—home to the Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI). CMI program offerings for aspiring animators include a Bachelor of Creative Media in Animation & Visual Effects (BCM-ANVE) and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects.
According to CMI, the BCM-ANVE program is a “cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for the 21st century in Digital Filmmaking and Animation & Visual Effects.” While students may choose an area of emphasis, “they study all aspects of Digital Filmmaking and Digital Arts, whether they are aspiring writers, directors, cinematographers, or animators.” All BCM students have access a state of the art digital projection screening room, post-production lab, animation lab, and production space.
6. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas (top 20% of schools considered)
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) was established in 1879 and it offers more than 80 bachelor's degree programs, more than 50 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. Home to approximately 20,120 students, SHSU is the twelfth largest university in Texas.
The school’s College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Computer Animation. One of the most popular programs in the Department of Art, the Computer Animation program “offers a highly collaborative experience in 2D and 3D animated storytelling to a diverse student body.”
Students in the program can expect to take courses such as 2D Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation for Interactive Games, 3D Modeling, the History of Animation, and Pre-Visualization. In addition, all art majors will spend a semester in the W.A.S.H. (Workshop in Art Studio and History) program, which emphasizes contemporary and collaborative art practices. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in animation and film, video production, advertising, game production, and fine art.
7. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado (top 25% of schools considered)
Founded in 1936, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) offers 16 degree and certificate programs to a population of 775 students. More than 100 students are enrolled in the schools Animation Program. Offerings include a BFA in Animation and Certificates in 3D Animation: Pre-Production or 3D Animation: Character Animation. Animation program highlights include Drawing (2D) or Advanced Software (3D) Concentrations; Stop Motion, Anatomy and Figure studies; Modeling, Character Design, Virtual Environments, and Storyboarding, and Line of Action. The BFA program takes four years to complete and it had an enrollment of 70 students (on-campus and hybrid) and 30 online students for the Fall 2012 term. This is the most current information available.
8. University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas (top 25% of schools considered)
University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was established in 1881 as Incarnate Word College. Home to nearly 11,000 students, the school offers more than 130 programs across 10 colleges and schools. The School of Media and Design (SMD) offers several programs for aspiring animators, including a BFA in 3D Animation & Game Design with a 3D Animation Track or a Game Design Track.
Many students earn their AAS in 3D Animation or Game Production at Northwest Vista College (San Antonio) or other cooperating community college, before transferring into UIW’s BFA Program. Because the BFA is a “professional preparatory” degree with a heightened focus, it typically takes transfer students two to three years to complete the program, which is the same amount of time it takes other students to complete the degree. As a professional preparatory degree, all graduates of the BFA program are ready to enter the workplace upon graduation.
9. Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Santa Fe, New Mexico (top 30% of schools considered)
Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) was established in 1859 as St. Michael’s College. Today, SFUAD is a subsidiary of Laureate International Universities, a global network of more than 70 accredited campus-based and online universities offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than one million students in over 25 countries.
Santa Fe University of Art and Design houses the Film School and the School of Visual and Communication Arts, which offer several programs for aspiring animators. The Film School offers four BFA programs including Film, Visual Effects/Animation, Film, Film Production, and Film: Story Development. According to the School, the BFA in Film, Visual Effects/Animation explores “how to bring a story from idea to execution through techniques of digital animation and visual effects, including 3D modeling, rendering, and compositing; pre-visualization techniques; and post-production editing and effects.”
The BFA in Film highlights core classes that cover CGI/Animation, the Fundamentals of Storytelling, Production, and “The Business of the Business.” The BFA in Film features an accelerated track, which may be completed in just three years. The BFA in Film Production and the BFA in Film: Story Development feature courses such as Visual Storytelling, Digital Art, Story Development, and Sound.
The School of Visual Communications offers a BFA in Digital Arts: Visual Development and Illustration. This collaborative program prepares students to work in Animation, Film, Illustration, Theater, Character Design, and many other areas. All SFUAD students have access to internship and study abroad opportunities.
10. Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond, Oklahoma (top 30% of schools considered)
Oklahoma Christian University (OC) was established in 1950 as Central Christian College with an enrollment of 97 students. Today, the school is home to nearly 2,600 students enrolled in close to 100 undergraduate majors, graduate degrees, and additional areas of study. The school houses five colleges and dozens of departments. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the College of Liberal Arts, Department of Art & Design. They include a BFA in Communication Design with a 3D Modeling and Animation Emphasis and a BFA in Gaming and Animation.
Students in the 3D Modeling and Animation Emphasis will take courses such as 3D Modeling and Animation 1 & II, Animation Principles & Practices, Illustration, I & II, Technology for Graphics, and Contemporary Art. According to the school, Gaming and Animation students “will explore contemporary techniques and genres.” Their classes will cover 3D Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, and Game Production. Students will be exposed to the History of Film, Video, and Animation as well.
All students at OC will have the opportunity to participate in the schools study abroad and ministry programs. The school offers 20 study abroad and off-campus learning options in places such as Austria, Asia, Honduras, Japan, and Korea. The ministry program serves countries such as Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Rwanda, Switzerland, and the United States, to name a few.