3D Graphics and Animation is a great foundation for careers in CG film, Game Design, Development, AR/VR, and VFX. Build your portfolio alongside faculty at SoIC and take part in CTN, GameCon , PopCon, SIGGRAPH, GDC, GamersHall, and Gencon. Our alumni work at Rockstar Games, 4A, Sony Imageworks, Owlchemy Labs (Google), Cantina Creative, Pixar, Blizzard, Rockstar, and more! Learn more.
|1||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|2||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|4||Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute||Indiana|
|5||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|6||Columbus College of Art and Design||Ohio|
|7||College for Creative Studies||Michigan|
|8||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota|
|9||Bowling Green State University||Ohio|
|10||Ball State University||Indiana|
|11||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri|
|12||University of Wisconsin – Stout||Wisconsin|
|14||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio|
|15||Missouri State University||Missouri|
|16||Minnesota State University – Moorhead||Minnesota|
|17||Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University||Michigan|
|18||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois|
|20||Kent State University||Ohio|
Our 2019 rankings of the top animation programs in the Midwest. We define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
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. Students in all programs can work on individually defined or team-based projects.
The Department of Art offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. It emphasizes the creation of animation, interactive art and experimental forms in the context of art making.
The Department of Design offers an MFA degree in Design focusing on Digital Animation and Interactive Media. This program emphasizes the production of creative research-based projects in the user-centered context of design.
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a specialization in Computer Graphics and Game Design.
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).
2. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Serving 3,640 students from 67 countries, SAIC offers more than 50 areas of study from Animation and Costume Design to Visual Communication Design and Writing, through 18 departments. The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) offers several programs for aspiring animators including BFA and MFA in Studio degrees with a Concentration Animation, and a Certificate in Studio.
Per the school, the FVNMA Department at SAIC “endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content.” The Department says that it is “open to many approaches to and understandings of experimental media art” and it is “dedicated” to helping students develop their “art practice in a variety of forms and contexts including the use of high definition video, new media art, experimental 3D animation, hand-drawn animation, and filmmaking.” The Department also says that it supports “individual and collaborative forms of making media art in these expanded contexts.”
SAIC FVNMA instructors are “award-winning pioneers, revolutionaries," and working professionals in the fields of experimental film, video, animation, nonfiction, narrative, installation, glitch, interactivity, art games, curating, archiving, and web-based art projects. Students will also learn from “internationally renowned artists, critics, historians, and curators who regularly visit through the department and SAIC's Visiting Artists Program.”
Other FVNMA Department highlights include graduate projects and fall and spring critique weeks for MFA students, access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.
Famous SAIC alumni include David Sedaris, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Michelle Grabner, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.
3. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1898, DePaul University serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and about 70 countries. The school offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home of the animation program. With thirteen full-time animation professors, the School has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.
Program options for aspiring animators include BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation. Several concentrations are available including Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics. A VFX Concentration is also available within the Film and Television BFA and the school 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.
The BA in Animation “emphasizes the art of animation, creativity, and critical thinking—while encouraging experimentation in form, content and medium—within a broad Liberal Arts context.” To develop their animation skills, students will produce live action videos, draw web-based shorts inspired by Hollywood or anime, or design motion graphics for film titles and commercials.
Designed for students who are serious about careers as animation artists, character animators, game artists, CGI effects animators, and motion graphics animators, the BFA in Animation provides a “thorough foundation in the art of animation and its history, combined with intense practice in traditional animation (hand-drawn, stop motion, and hybrid), and 3D computer animation and modeling.
The MA in Animation “provides a combination of artistic and technical training that prepares students for a future in 3D character animation, traditional animation, computer game art, or visual effects.” The MFA in Animation is the “premier degree” of the graduate program. It’s designed for students who are interested in “creating original animated films and artwork as their main vocation, and is the terminal degree in the field.”
DePaul Animation students can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter. This ten-week immersion program is 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. Back at home, students will also benefit from CDMs relationship with Chicago’s largest game development and animation studios.
Graduates of the Animation programs at DePaul have been hired in animation roles at companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Laika Studios, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Phosphor Studios, Wargaming, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, and Synapse Games, to name a few.
4. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana
Established in 1869, Purdue University serves around 43,400 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 animation programs at all degree levels.
The BS in CGT with a Major in Animation focuses on six areas of animation including 3-D Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Rendering, Character Rigging (creating a digital skeleton) and Motion. Graduates of the BS program have found employment at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues and eight of the school’s alumni were part of the creative teams behind 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 and 2014 Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2.
The CGT Department also offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Visual Effects Compositing that combines Animation, Visual Effects, and Video to create “highly graphical” videos for episodic television and films. A BS in Effects Technical Direction is also available and it highlights supplemental coursework in Animation. Graduates of the program have also landed positions at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues.
Graduate offerings include an MS in CGT and a PhD in Technology offered through the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT). The MS offers several focus areas for aspiring animators 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 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.
5. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1890, Columbia College serves more than 7,300 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 several programs for animators.
Options include a BA in Animation with a Concentration in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation, and BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation. Animation and Motion Graphics Minors are also available. 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 for the programs include Acting for Animators, Alternative Strategies in Animation, Animation for Comics, Animation Layout, Animation Maquettes, Animation Portfolio Development, Animation Production Studio, Cartooning, Cinematics for Games, Character Design and Modeling, Computer Animation: Visual Effects, Digital Animation Techniques, Drawing for Animation, Environmental Design & Modeling, Figure Drawing, Storyboarding for Animation, and The Business of Animated Content.
Students in the BA programs and the BFA in Traditional Animation 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. Computer Animation BFA students will collaborate on a team project and develop their own solo short film.
6. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Established in 1879, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) is one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the United States. The school serves more than 1,300 students enrolled in 12 bachelor’s degree and two master’s degree programs covering a broad range of subjects and practice areas.
Programs for aspiring animators include an Animation BFA with 2D and 3D Tracks or a Concentration in Animation/Experimental or Animation/Game. Minor options include Animation 2D and Animation 3D. An MFA program is also available. Students in this program have executed individual projects from animation and video to interactive design and illustration.
All students may participate in CCAD’s International Exchange Program, which highlights study at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China; Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile; Xi’an Fine Arts Academy, Xi’an, China, and Northumbria, Newcastle, England. Students may also study at CCAD-approved programs at Studio Art Centers, Florence, Italy, and University of Arts London, London.
Graduates of the CCAD Animation BFA Program have landed positions at Animal Logic, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, BET, Time Warner, Twentieth Century Fox, and many others.
7. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
Founded in 1906, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) is home to more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department, and it offers a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation. Per the school, the Animation Concentration prepares students to “develop character performance within a variety of 2D and 3D applications.”
Students will hone their skills in “traditional and computer-generated (CG) animation and design and gain experience in stop-motion, motion graphics, and experimental media.” Course highlights for the program 3D Techniques, Drawing: Visualization, Gesture Drawing, Computer Character Animation, Lighting and Rendering, Visual Narration, Experimental Animation, Sound Design, Digital filmmaking, and Advanced Story Concepts.
All Entertainment Art students will have the opportunity to customize their curriculum by taking coursework in other concentrations such as Digital Film or Game Design. Students will also complete a Writing Workshop, Senior Production Studio, and an optional internship.
Graduates of the CCS Animation Program work throughout the industry as animators, designers, fabricators, storyboard artists and visual development artists. Graduates have been hired at major studios across the U.S. including Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks Animation, and Disney ABC Television Group, to name a few.
8. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. It is home to more than 800 students from 45 states and 15 countries. The school offers more than 20 programs across several departments. The Animation Department offers a BFA in Animation and an MFA in Visual Studies. Per the school, the BFA Program consists of rigorous foundation studies and collaborative projects that allow students to “expand their work” and “move into the world beyond with visual communication skills and up-to-date technical proficiencies.”
Course highlights include Stop-Motion Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Filmmaking, Storyboard, Sound, and Drawing. A required internship is also part of the program as well as optional study abroad experiences in Japan, Germany, England, Italy, and other places. MCAD students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
Housed in an all-MFA studio and gallery space, which includes fifty individual studios, smart classrooms, facilities for creative making, and a large gallery space, the 60 credit hour MFA Program allows students to pursue creative work in areas such as Animation, Comic Arts, Filmmaking, Illustration, Installation Art, and Web and Multimedia. Other program highlights include an internship, study abroad opportunities and the Master’s Trip to NYC. During the trip, students and alumni will visit artist studios, art and design venues, agencies, and more.
9. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) serves 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 BFA and MFA degrees in Digital Arts, a BA in Art with a Digital Arts Specialization, and a Minor in Digital Art.
The programs offer three Focus Areas including Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia. Per the school, the Digital Arts program at BGSU is “one of the leading programs in the nation for studying digital arts and animation, focusing on creative expression using digital technology. Students are encouraged to investigate aesthetic and perceptual possibilities as they engage in alternative art discourses. Digital Arts courses investigate the theoretical, aesthetic, and technical aspects of the digital arts while providing hands-on experiences with state-of-the-art equipment.”
Students in the program focus on 3D animation, digital imaging, interactive art, video art, virtual environments and gaming, mobile web app development, digital painting, and hybrid forms of digital art. Other program highlights include diverse study abroad opportunities in more than 40 countries worldwide as well as facilities and faculty that “position students for successful internships and careers with organizations such as Disney Animation, Pixar and the Museum of Modern Art.”
The MFA in Art with a Major in Digital Arts (Computer Animation & Video, Imaging and Interactive Multimedia) is an intensive, 60 credit hour studio degree designed to prepare students to become both professional artists in industry and university-level instructors while developing their own studio practice. Students have the opportunity to explore 3D Modeling and Animation, Interactive Multimedia Development, Digital Video, Digital Imaging, and Hybrid Media forms including 3D printing, Architectural Projection Mapping, Web App Development and Interactive Installation Art. All supported graduate students are provided with studio space and computers.
Though the Digital Arts MFA has three areas of focus, students also have the opportunity to “merge art disciplines and investigate new directions. Students are also encouraged to explore interests in media outside of Digital Arts. For instance, a student may want to explore the integration of drawing, computer programming, sculpture, theater, or film with their Digital Arts work.”
In recent years, BGSU Digital Arts graduates have been hired by companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Volition, DNA Productions, Rhythm & Hues Studios, Blizzard, Friendly Software (Microsoft games), American Greetings, Epic Games, Apple, Designing Digitally, Root Learning (interactive training), LogicJunction (interactive web) and many more digital art companies.
10. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
Established in 1918, Ball State University enrolls around 22,000 students from every state, two U.S. territories, about 55 countries, and every Indiana county. The school has more than 300 programs across 10 colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Animation that explores 3D animation, stop-motion, and traditional 2D animation.
Per the school, in the programs 3-D classes, students “will get into modeling, texturing, lighting, character animation, and visual effects.” They will also have opportunities to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects with faculty and students in other courses of study. Course highlights include Character Design, Drawing for Animation, Animation Production, 3D Modeling and Rendering, Animation Specialty, Character Design, 3D Animation, Narrative Painting, and Storyboarding. A Senior Capstone Experience (Senior Project in Animation) is also part of the program.
In every animation course, students “will gain valuable experience with leading animation industry software.” Toon Boom, Toon Boom Harmony, Maya, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator are just a few. Students will create a demo reel or portfolio, and they will “learn how to market” themselves “in relation to today’s jobs.”
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in industries such as film, television, video games, medical animation, architectural rendering, advertising, product visualization, and many others.
11. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) trained students such as Walt Disney (who took Saturday Classes as a child), and multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg. Today, the school serves more than 700 students, enrolled in 14 studio majors through several departments. The Department of Converging Media houses the school’s animation program, which leads to a BFA. Double Majors in Art History and Animation and Creative Writing and Animation are also available.
The Animation BFA highlights intensive instruction in classical, experimental and computer animation. Students in the program work in technologically integrated classrooms and studios to produce a significant personal work. The Department of Converging Media houses Filmmaking, Interactive Arts, and Photography, so animation students also work in an environment that facilitates creativity and cross-disciplinary approaches to image making.
Per the school, “sequential classes emphasize the creative process by combining aspects of animation principles, concept modeling, production methods, history, theory and technique into each project.” Course highlights include Creating the Environment, Digital Methods, Drawing for Animators, Explorations in Animation, Ideas in Motion, Intermediate 3D, Principles of Animation, Sound for Screen and Space, and Visual Communication. Students will also complete Professional Practice and Studio I & II.
BFA students will gain experience through internship opportunities at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Bazillion Pictures, Titmouse Inc., and many others.
12. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
Established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School, University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is a Polytechnic University that serves 8,725 students from the U.S. and 47 countries. The school offers 45+ undergraduate majors and 20+ graduate programs across three colleges and six schools. The School of Art And Design offers a BFA in Entertainment Design with Concentrations in Animation, Comics and Sequential Art, and Digital Cinema.
Per the school, the BFA curriculum includes “collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects and a comprehensive program that combines art and technology, and a strong foundation in art and design.” The program is one of a few art schools in the country offering a degree in Comics and Sequential Art, as well as a focus on both storytelling and technique, domestic and international travel opportunities, energetic, engaged and innovative faculty, rigorous program with a strong professional advisory board, and green screen studios, labs and modern technology.
Sample courses for the BFA program include Animation Studio, 3D Modeling and Animation, 3D Game Art and Engines, Digital Cinema Studio, Typography in Motion, Comics and Sequential Art, Video Production, and Graphic Design. The program prepares students to enter the industry immediately or to enroll in an MFA program.
The School of Art and Design’s MFA in Design is a cross-disciplinary program that consists of study in the areas of Entertainment Design, Studio Art, Game Design, Interactive Media, Graphic Design, and more. Courses for the program are delivered through a variety of methods including on-site courses, online, evening, weekend and intensive summer courses. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue roles in the academic community and as design professionals and leaders.
Students in both programs will benefit from the two galleries housed in the School of Art and Design: student gallery and the John Furlong Gallery. These, along with other spaces on and off campus, provide student, faculty and outside exhibition opportunities throughout the academic year.
13. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University (OU) was established in 1804 as Ohio’s first university. The school serves 34,443 students (fall 2018) enrolled in more than 300 programs across 11 colleges. The E.W. Scripps College of Communications houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Serving nearly 700 undergraduates, the School offers a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation.
The program encourages students to explore the production of computer animation and digital games, while also providing an understanding of the management and leadership roles in these industries. Sample courses include 3D Modeling & Animation, Digital Game Design, Narrative Animation, Visual Storytelling, Screenwriting, Compositing, Motion Graphics, Video Game Design, Video Production, Game Development, Media Content Management, Sound for Moving Images, and Media Arts Management (FILM), to name a few.
14. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Established in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is an independent college of art and design that serves 615 students from around the globe. The school offers 15 majors in Art, Craft, Design, and Interactive Media. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in animation that features an integrated curriculum focusing on sequential narrative storytelling, methods of animation, conceptual development, framing and staging, storyboarding, animatics, layers, and motion and figure studies. Students can expect to take courses such as Advanced 3D Animation, Mapping, Digital Lighting, 2D/3D Compositing for Animation, 3D Texture, and Concept Development.
The CIA Animation Program prepares graduates for positions such as Animator, 3D Character Animator, Storyboard Artist, Independent Filmmaker, Concept Artist, and Game Designer.
15. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. With a student population of nearly 25,000 students, Missouri State is the state's second largest university campus by enrollment. The school offers hundreds of programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College. The College of Arts and Letters houses the Art and Design Department, which offers a BFA in Art with a Computer Animation Track.
Course highlights for the program include 2D Design, 3D Design, Drawing, Computer Animation I-V, Introduction to Digital Arts, and Digital Film and Media Production. Students in the program will complete a Senior Exhibition and internship opportunities are also part of the program.
Missouri State University also lists computer animation as part of its Electronic Arts (EA) program. Students in this program will take many of the same classes as students in the BFA in Art program. In addition to these courses, students will complete a Senior Project in Electronic Arts.
16. Minnesota State University – Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota
Founded in 1887, Minnesota State University – Moorhead (MSUM) serves nearly 6,000 students enrolled in 247 academic programs through five colleges and the Graduate School. The College of Arts, Media & Communication houses the School of Media Arts & Design and the School of Art. The School of Media Arts & Design offers a BA in Animation and the School of Art offers a Certificate in Sequential Art that prepares students for careers in animation, comic illustration, printmaking, and other sequential art forms.
Per the school, the BA in Animation at MSUM “concentrates on the creation of technical graphics, 3D modeling, and techniques used in the animation industry, including game graphics and 3D simulations. Classes also include film studies and video/audio production.” Students will learn techniques for traditional stop motion animation and 2D and 3D computer animation, and they will become familiar with hardware such as cameras, lights and animation stands, as well as software such as 3D Studio Max, MAYA, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop, InDesign and more.
The curriculum for the program provides students with the unique opportunity to “develop a background in film and a foundation in live-action shooting, which is highly beneficial for animation professionals.”
Graduates of the BA in Animation at MSUM may find employment with animation studios, video production houses, television stations, music industry, multimedia, web, and advertising agencies.
17. Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) was founded in 1928. The school serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. KCAD offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design that allows students to work in one of two focus areas including Entertainment Art (animation, digital 3D, visual development for games and animation, and sequential arts like comics and storyboards) and Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation).
Per the school, “with substantial flexibility in the degree of specialization/ generalization built into the curriculum, students will be able to develop portfolios in one or more of these professional media markets: Visual Development, 2D Animation, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, and Interaction Design.” Course highlights for the Entertainment Art Focus include Animation & Motion Graphics, 3D Character Design, Imaging for Game, Animation & Film, Comic Media Design, Applied Music and Sound, Video, 3D Game Art, Interactive Multimedia Design, Storyboard Art, and 2D Character Animation. Students will also take Professional Studio I & II, and Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.
Multimedia Design students will take most of the same courses and studios as students in the Entertainment Art Focus, including Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.
Students in both programs will also gain knowledge and hands-on experience via high-end equipment and on-campus facilities such as Cintiq Studios and a wide range of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, and via access to The Dow Center FlexLab, and KCAD Library.
Graduates of the programs will have the skills and experience needed to pursue career paths in areas such as 2D animation, 3D game art, visual development, interaction design, and motion design.
18. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was formed in 1982 “by the consolidation of two U. of I. campuses: the Medical Center campus, which dates back to the 19th century and the comprehensive Chicago Circle campus which replaced, in 1965, the two-year undergraduate Navy Pier campus that opened in 1946 to educate returning veterans.” Today, with more than 31,600 students enrolled in 250 degree programs and 53 certificate programs across 15 colleges, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area.
The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers BFA and MFA degrees in New Media Arts and Moving Image, and a dual MS in Computer Science/MFA in New Media. An Art Minor is also available and all programs offer heavy animation coursework. Sample courses include Computer Animation, Film, Computer Graphics, Virtual Reality, 3D Space: Modeling, New Media Arts, Motion Graphics, 3D Space: Animation, Drawing, Interactive 3D, and Human-Computer Interaction.
The College of Applied Health Sciences’ Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences (BHIS) offers another option for students that may be interested in a career that fuses science, medicine, and animation. The MS in Biomedical Visualization (BVIS) offers animation electives such as Interactive 3D, Modeling, Animation I &II, Illustration Techniques, Medical Legal Visualization, and Graphic Design.
BVIS is the largest and second oldest of four accredited programs of its kind in North America. Graduates of the BVIS program become highly skilled science visualization specialists in medical illustration, animation, interactive media, gaming, haptics, and virtual and augmented reality, working on the frontiers of discovery.
19. Huntington University, Huntington, Indiana
Founded in 1897 as Central College, Huntington University (HU) serves around 1,355 students enrolled in more than 70 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs through more than a dozen departments. The Department of Digital Media Arts (DMA) offers four bachelor’s degree options: Animation, Broadcasting, Film Production, and Film Studies.
The Animation bachelor’s focuses on image, motion, character, and story. Per the school, “through a studio environment, students work closely under the mentorship of award-winning faculty, learn industry standard equipment, and explore both the craft and art of their chosen field.” Students will learn 2D hand-drawn and stop-motion animation, motion graphics, the most complex 3D computer technology, “and everything in between.”
The Department is located in a “state-of-the-art facility,” known as the Martin Center for Digital Media Arts, which consists of labs and studios outfitted with “top-of-the-line equipment.” The Center includes open access to computer, traditional, and stop motion labs, a green screen, editing labs, a sound stage, a Foley pit, and a screening theater. Students will work with professional workstations, VR equipment, 3D printing technology, and industry standard software.
Other program highlights include the opportunity for students to showcase their animated films in festivals around the world, the opportunity to work on projects for businesses and nonprofits, and the world on a variety of animation-related trips over J-term and Spring Break.
Note: The Animation program is also offered at Huntington University's Arizona Center for Digital Arts (HUAZ) in Peoria, Arizona. The program launched at the location in 2017.
20. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Founded in 1910 as a teacher-training school, Kent State University serves more than 38,000 students enrolled in an eight-campus system. The school offers more than 300 degrees through dozens of colleges and schools. The schools Stark campus (the largest in the Kent State system), houses the Computer Design, Animation & Game Design Program. Here students can earn a BS in Engineering Technology with a Computer Design, Animation & Game Design Concentration.
Per the school, the program “gives students the skills and academic knowledge necessary to enter the field of computer animation and the fast-growing field of game design. Drawings and illustrations are brought to life on digital video or film through the effective use of the latest software for capturing and animating hand-drawn or digitally created imagery. In addition, students experience creative possibilities as they explore artistic options and processes through experimental animation and modeling.”
Course highlights for the 120 credit hour program include Animation Theory, Character Animation, Animation Production and VFX, Interactive Game Design, Environmental Game Design, Engineering Drawing, Graphics Design Technology, Computer-Aided Design, Project Management in Engineering and Technology, Responsive Web Design, and Technical Computing. Students will complete an animation project and they will have the opportunity to complete an internship.
Graduates of the program are prepared for positions in modeling and technical illustration, animation and multimedia development, virtual reality production, entertainment, film production and gaming, and technical illustration to name a few. Graduates are working at companies such as Walt Disney, Gaslight Press (adventure gaming), EIS Creative Media, Diebold and Tarulli Video Productions.