2018
Top 20 Animation Schools and Colleges with BA Programs - 2018 Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
2University of California Los AngelesCalifornia
3The Ohio State UniversityOhio
4DePaul UniversityIllinois
5Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
6Bowling Green State UniversityOhio
7California State University-Long BeachCalifornia
8Loyola Marymount UniversityCalifornia
9University of Texas at DallasTexas
10California State University-NorthridgeCalifornia
11Emerson CollegeMassachusetts
12Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityNew Jersey
13Cogswell Polytechnical CollegeCalifornia
14New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNew Jersey
15University of South FloridaFlorida
16Grand Valley State UniversityMichigan
17SMFA at Tufts UniversityMassachusetts
18North Carolina State University at RaleighNorth Carolina
19Boston UniversityMassachusetts
20University of Hawaii at ManoaHawaii

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 20 Animation Schools and Colleges with BA Programs for 2018.

1. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California

Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) is home to 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. The school offers a BA in Animation and Digital Arts through The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts (Hench DADA) of the School of Cinematic Arts (USC Cinematic Arts). At Hench DADA, students develop their own artistic vision by exploring every aspect of art in motion. They also learn why animation has become central to all modern digital media.

The Division teaches courses in all facets of animation and digital arts. These include classic character animation, 2-D and 3-D storytelling, performance capture, visual effects, motion graphics, stop-motion, experimental filmmaking, installations and multimedia, documentary animation, and visualizing scientific research. Students can explore collaborative projects with the interactive games division, production (live action) division, the Thornton School of Music, and the Kaufman School of Dance.

Graduates of the program go on to work at major studios such DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Idea, Illumination Entertainment, Digital Domain and many others.

2. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
University of California Los Angeles

Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to nearly 45,500 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, offers a BA in Film and Television. The program gives students the opportunity to study all facets of digital media, film, and television, as well as a full year of animation studies, followed by an internship.

Once in the program, students have access to the exclusive Summer Institute Symposium, which provides the opportunity for students to meet and listen to some of Hollywood’s most accomplished professionals. Past guests have included Simon Kinberg (writer-producer, X-Men: First Class, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Meg LeFauve (writer, Inside Out), Zak Penn (writer, The Incredible Hulk), Chris Gorak (director, The Darkest Hour), John Hegeman (chief marketing officer, New Regency Productions), and many others.

Graduates of UCLA’s animation programs have landed positions at Pixar, they have worked with directors such as Tim Burton, and on films such as The Simpsons Movie and Monster House.

3. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations from which more than 66,000 students can choose multiple paths to focus on animation in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Paths in animation encourage students to explore courses in 3D modeling, 2D/3D animation, video game production, augmented and virtual reality, digital imaging, digital video, interactive visualization, interactive art, game art and design, Art Games, motion capture, procedural content generation for games, real-time rendering, photogrammetry and more at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Ohio State introduced an interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production in Autumn, 2017. Students utilize state of the art facilities, equipment, and interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Students in all programs have the option to work on individually defined or team-based projects.

4. 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 is part of the College of Computing and Digital Media. With thirteen full-time Animation professors, the school has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the U.S.

The Program offers a BA in Animation with concentrations in Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics. 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.

5. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

Established in 1890, Columbia College is home to just over 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School of Media Arts is home to the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers a BA in Animation with a Concentration in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation.

Computer Animation students have the option to focus in Visual Effects or Computer Animation. Traditional Animation students may focus in either Hand-Drawn or Stop-Motion Animation. Sample courses include Storyboarding for Animation, Computer Animation, Character Design & Modeling, Environmental Design & Modeling, Cinema Image & Process, Cinema Models and Miniatures, Stop Motion Animation, Drawing for Animation, and Digital Animation Techniques.

Students in both concentrations have the opportunity to either work collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or take any three Animation electives of their choosing.

Many Columbia alumni work as professional animators, but the skills gained in the BA in Animation program translate to industries beyond animation. Related fields of study include video game production, television production, cinema visual effects, toy design, product design, illustration and digital advertising, to name a few.

6. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home 19,000 students, including 2,500 at BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. The school offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and programs on the main campus and 22 at BGSU Firelands. The school houses nine colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences, home of the School of Art. The School houses the BGSU Digital Arts program, which offers a BA in Art with a Digital Arts Specialization.

The BA program has three Focus Areas including Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia. The Computer Animation & Video area combines both traditional and 3D animation, with a strong emphasis on 3D animation, as well as video art, motion graphics, special effects, and compositing. Students will create character animations as well as narrative, and non-narrative experimental animations and video art works. They will also master programs such as Maya, Adobe Flash, Dragon Frame, and Adobe Photoshop.

The BA program offers internship opportunities and study abroad experiences to all students in more than 40 countries worldwide.

7. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University-Long Beach

California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB is home to 37,500 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts, Department of Film & Electronic Arts, offers a BA in Film and Electronic Arts. Focusing on the integration of moving images, culture, and technology, the curriculum is designed to develop storytelling and production skills while providing a foundational education in the arts and humanities. Media history, theory, and aesthetics are taught as an integral part of production practices

The program also highlights heavy animation coursework including 3D Computer Animation, History of Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), Screenwriting, Sound Design, Production Design, and others.

All students will have the opportunity to complete an internship, collaborate on creative projects with talented and highly motivated students, and take advantage of networking opportunities through CSULB partnerships. 

8. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was established in 1911 and it is home to nearly 9,500 students enrolled in more than 170 major, minor, master’s degree, and doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The School of Film and Television is home to LMUs Animation Program. The cross-disciplinary BA in Animation includes 3D Filmmaking, Advanced Storytelling and Production Techniques, Interactive Design, and Visual Effects. An internship during the Spring semester, senior year, is also part of the program.

LMU Animation students enjoy hands-on experience, access to the collaborative animation labs, and small class sizes, which encourages a high degree of student-faculty interaction in coursework.

9. 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 a BA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication with Animation, (BA 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. Courses such as Topics in Animation, Topics in ATEC, and Topics in Game Development are also available.

Students earning an Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication degree can enter into a wide range of fields across many industries. Graduates gravitate to careers in the fields of animation, game design, media studies, emerging media, digital/social media strategy, user experience and interaction, digital journalism, education, and even the medical and science industries.

10. California State University-Northridge, Northridge, California
California State University-Northridge

Founded in 1958, California State University Northridge (CSUN) serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in more than 140 programs. The school consists of nine colleges, including the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, which houses the Department of Art. Here, students can earn a BA Visual Arts with three Animation Tracks including 2D Animation Design, 3D Animation, and Game Design.

BA students have the opportunity to participate in industry and studio events, organized studio tours, and ongoing collaborative educational partnering with DreamWorks studios and Seoul Institute of the Arts. Students will also participate in industry events and internships with Nickelodeon, Disney, Film Roman, Warner Bros., and others. Students in all programs also have access to two award-winning student run animation clubs—the Animation Students League of Northridge and the Game Development Club.

11. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts
Emerson College

Founded in 1880, Emerson College is home to 4,424 students from across the U.S. and more than 57 countries. The school offers more than 50 programs leading to a BA, BS, BFA, MS, MA, or MFA degree. The School of the Arts, Department of Visual & Media Arts offers a BA in Visual & Media Arts with a Specialization in Animation and Motion Media.

The specialization in Animation and Motion Media focuses on computer animation, film animation, motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing techniques. Students can take a broad range of courses and will produce original work in digital 2D animation, 3D modeling and animation, and frame-by-frame film animation. Students will be more prepared for careers in the movie, gaming, and television industries.

Recent graduates of Emerson’s Department of Visual & Media Arts have found employment at Soup2Nuts, Hallmark Channel, SCG Productions, World Wide Pants, Digital Domain, Fox Searchlight, MAD TV, MGM Studios, Bunim-Murray Productions, and more.

12. 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 a BA in Film and Animation with Concentrations in 3D Animation, 2D Animation and Video Game Animation and a BA-MA Combined Degree in Animation. The School of Art and Media Studies, part of FDU’s University College, offers also offers a BA in Art, with a Concentration in Computer Art & Design. The program combines 2D & 3D Computer Animation, Digital Video, Multimedia Production, Desktop Publishing, Design for the Web, and Digital Photography.

Sample courses include Storyboarding, Motion Graphics with After Effects, 3D Computer Modeling, ZBrush Digital Sculpting, 3D Computer Animation, 3D Environment Modeling, Logo and Product Animation, Character Animation using CAT, Vector Animation with Animate CC, Tradigital Animation, Game Design, 3D Particle Animation and Effects, and Art of the Graphic Novel.

All students have the opportunity to complete a double major to enhance their degree.

13. Cogswell Polytechnical College, San Jose, California
Cogswell Polytechnical College

Founded in 1887, Cogswell Polytechnical College serves more than 600 students enrolled in a number of Technology, Animation, Audio, Business and Games programs. Options for animators include a BA in Digital Art & Animation with four concentrations including 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, Entertainment Design, and Technical Art. Core courses for the program include Sketching, Figure Drawing, Sculpture, Storyboarding, 2D Design, Color Theory, Perspective and Rendering, and Principles of Management.

The remaining courses will depend on the concentration. Sample courses for the 3D Animation Concentration include Drawing Animation, Scripting: Python, Media Works for Animation Students, 3D Animation, Storyboarding, 2D Animation, Character Rigging, Acting, and Animation Portfolio.

Graduates of the Digital Art & Animation Program work at places like Pixar and DreamWorks, and have developed characters in blockbuster animation films like Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Deadpool.

14. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey
New Jersey Institute of Technology

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors as The Newark Technical School on Monday, February 9, 1885, with just 88 students. Today, NJIT serves 11,400 students enrolled in 50 bachelors, 59 masters and 19 doctoral degree programs across eight colleges and schools. The College of Architecture and Design houses the School of Art + Design, which offers a BA in Digital Design with two Tracks: Entertainment and Production.

Sample courses for the program include Digital Design Studio, 2D Character Design, 3D Character Development, Acting for Animators, Simulated Environments, Imaginary Worlds, Game Architecture and Design, Digital Sound and Music, Design Techniques, Color and Composition, and Game Modification.

Graduates of NJIT’s Digital Design Program have landed positions in the areas of animation, game design, graphic design, architectural and environment visualization, web design, storyboard art, and more. Among the studios where NJIT students have interned or worked full-time are 1st Avenue Machine, CSALAS & Co Labs, KWD – Kim Wendell Design LLC, Miskowski Design LLC, NTropic, SUSPECT vfx+design, SWDTech Games, and Tripwire Interactive.

15. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
University of South Florida

The University of South Florida (USF) is part of the 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 a BA in Studio Art with a Focus in Video, Animation, and Digital Arts.

The program provides a unique opportunity for artists to pursue a “cutting edge” approach to Video, 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Sound, and Digital Media. Sample courses include Tech Essentials for Artists, Digital Video and Electronic Arts, Live Action Filmmaking, 2D Animation, Digital Modeling, Intermediate & Advanced Video, Animation, and Digital Arts, and 3D Animation. 

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.

16. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
Grand Valley State University

Established in 1960, Grand Valley State University serves more than 25,000 students from the U.S. and 84 different countries. The school offers 130 degrees across eight colleges. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to the School of Communications. Housed within the School of Communications is the Department of Visual & Media Arts, which offers a BA Film and Video Production. Courses of study include Animation, Documentary, Fiction, Film Studies, New Media, Nonfiction, Scriptwriting, and Sound Design.

Students can expect high-impact learning opportunities outside the classroom through internships and local production projects, opportunities to present work through regularly scheduled public screenings, and a peer-reviewed academic journal, and hands-on experience by producing projects for real clients in and outside of the classroom.

17. SMFA at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
SMFA at Tufts University

The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts University was established in 1876. The school serves around 400 students enrolled in 12 areas of study. Programs lead to the BFA, MFA, MAT, Combined-degree (BFA + BA/BS), Certificate or Studio Diploma. For students interested in earning a BA, a combined BFA + BA/BS is available.

The BFA portion of the degree is entirely elective, so students may choose courses from a range of disciplines. Just a few options include Animation, Digital Media, Film/Video, Graphic Design, and Illustration. Sample animation courses include Animation 1: Techniques and Sound, Animation 2: The Completed Short, Sound for Moving Image, and Advanced Production.

Known as the SMFA/Tufts BFA, the Combined BFA + BA/BS is specifically designed for students intending to pursue their art and academic interests to the fullest possible extent. Upon completion of this program, students will graduate with two degrees from Tufts: a BA or BS in a major of their choice and a BFA. According to the school, the five-year program makes it possible for students to refine and focus their studies in an academic field and to cultivate their fine arts abilities.

18. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina State University at Raleigh

North Carolina State University (NC State) was established in 1887 and it serves 35,755 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs across 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Design, Department of Art + Design, offers a Bachelor of Art + Design: Animation + Interactive Media. Students in the program will take studios that introduce them to Principles of Storytelling, Animation, and Character Design through Sequential Imaging, Introduction to Animation, and Digital Modeling.

Graduates of the BA program will be prepared to work on short and full-length animated films, in character development for animated films, games, and digital storybooks, and on interactive and experimental projects.

19. Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston University

Boston University (BU) began as a Methodist seminary in 1839. Originally located in Vermont and named the Newbury Biblical Institute, the school moved to New Hampshire in 1847 and to Boston in 1867. It was chartered as Boston University in 1869. Today, the school is home to more than 33,000 students enrolled in more than 250 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools.

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Computer Science Department, which offers a BA in Computer Science with a Concentration in Computer Graphics, Games & Animation. Sample courses include 3D Design and Animation, Motion Graphics, Information Design, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Image and Video Computing. BA in CS students also have the opportunity to earn a BA/MS by adding just one semester to the undergraduate program.

Graduates of the BA program go on to work at companies such as Pixar, Converse, and Nike; to attend prestigious graduate programs like Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and to generate their own unique, entrepreneurial ventures.

20. University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Hawaii at Manoa

University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) was founded in 1907 as a land-grant college of agriculture and mechanic arts. The college became the University of Hawaii in 1920 with the addition of a College of Arts and Sciences. Today, University of Hawaii at Manoa is the largest (and oldest) of the 10 UH campuses, serving 17,612 students enrolled in 244 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs, across nine degree-granting colleges nine degree-granting schools.

The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Academy for Creative Media (ACM Manoa). Established in 2004, ACM Manoa offers a BA in Creative Media with three Tracks: Computer Animation, Digital Cinema, and Critical Studies. Students in the program learn creative self-expression through the creation of original narratives that are produced for the screen. They gain appreciation for differing forms of creative expression through digital media – documentaries, personal and social story films, animation, and non-linear storytelling through interactive video games.

In addition to animation coursework, ACM students are required to take an introductory course, a basic production skills course, one writing course, and three courses in critical studies.