What are the top schools with animation master of fine arts programs for 2023?

Top 25 Animation Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1California Institute of the ArtsCalifornia
2Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
3School of Visual ArtsNew York
4University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
5Pratt InstituteNew York
6University of California, Los AngelesCalifornia
7Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew York
8Academy of Art UniversityCalifornia
9DePaul UniversityIllinois
10School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinois
11Texas A&M UniversityTexas
12The Ohio State UniversityOhio
13University of Central FloridaFlorida
14San Jose State UniversityCalifornia
15University of Texas at DallasTexas
16Columbus College of Art & DesignOhio
17DigiPen Institute of TechnologyWashington
18Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesota
19Clemson UniversitySouth Carolina
20Arizona State UniversityArizona
21California State University, Long BeachCalifornia
22The New School's Parsons School of DesignNew York
23Bowling Green State UniversityOhio
24Tufts UniversityMassachusetts
25Ohio UniversityOhio

For our graduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Science (MS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.

The Master of Arts (MA) is an advanced degree that focuses on areas such as the humanities. MA degrees are typically available in the areas of communications, English, teaching, literature, linguistics, art, and languages. Seminars are the main method of learning for MA programs and many programs do not require a thesis.

The Master of Science (MS) degree option typically focuses on science, technology, engineering,  and math. This advanced degree often includes immersive lab work, scientific research, analysis, and evaluation. Unlike MA programs, most MS programs require a thesis.

The Master of Fine Art (MFA) is academically recognized as a terminal degree and it is typically awarded in the visual, fine and performing arts. The MFA degree demands the highest level of professional competency in these areas and practicing artists must exhibit the highest level of accomplishment through the generation of a body of work.

Below are the Top 25 Animation MFA Programs for 2023.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts

The School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) focuses on intensive programs that emphasize comprehensive and technical artistic training. Courses for these programs are taught by experienced professionals working in computer graphic (CG), traditional, and independent animation.

At the graduate level, the School of Film/Video has an Experimental Animation MFA Program that features collaborative experiences with mentors to develop skills in animation processes, approaches, and techniques. Examples include 2D animation, digital production, installation, motion capture, multipane, performance animation, programming, and stop motion.

Experimental Animation students will participate in independent study, lecture courses, and the internship program and attend seminars, workshops, and visiting artist lectures. The MFA takes three years to complete, and students will produce a professional portfolio and final project to graduate.

California Institute of the Arts graduates go on to successful careers in advertising, animation, film/video, and marketing. Many Cal Arts alumni have launched their own freelance careers and studios.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

The Animation MFA at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is one of the graduate programs in the School of Animation and Motion, which also houses the world’s first specialized degree in Motion Media Design. Other School of Animation and Motion benefits include access to more than 800 networked computers; a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art digital media center consisting of a green screen lab, in-house theater, and studio environment; and instruction from celebrated professors who have worked at major studios and on award-winning productions such as Ice Age, Pocahontas, and The Lion King.

Consisting of 90 credit hours, the SCAD Animation MFA requires a graduate internship and completion of three thesis courses. Students in the program will take other courses such as Drawing in Motion, Media Theory and Application, and Storyboarding and Previsualization. Completion of at least seven 500- to 700-level electives are also part of the program. The SCAD Animation MFA is available in Atlanta, Savannah, and via SCADnow.

From Stop-Motion Animator to Creature Technical Director, SCAD Animation graduates have been recruited by major studios, gaming companies, and networks such as Pixar, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Lucasfilm Animation.  

3. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York

The Computer Arts Department at School of Visual Arts (SVA) has a Computer Arts MFA Program that was first MFA Program in the U.S. to focus on computer art. Established in 1986, the program features workshops, guest lectures, visiting artists, and internship experiences. During the final year of the program, MFA students will complete academic research and a creative work accompanied by an artist’s statement.

Graduates of the SVA MFA in Computer Arts Program have been hired at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), MTV, Pixar, Google, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Electronic Arts (EA), and Disney, DreamWorks. Some alumni have gone on to open their own studios or win Academy, Emmy Award, and Grammy awards.

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

The School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at University of California (USC) houses the John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts (Hench DADA). Within the Division is the Animation + Digital Arts MFA Program, which takes three years to complete. In addition, the School of Cinematic Arts has launched a new MFA in Expanded Animation Research + Practice (XA), with classes beginning Fall 2022.

Research concentrations for the XA Program include Experimental Animation, Animation for Robotics, Documentary Animation, Performance Gesture, Fine Art Animation Practice, Gesture Movement, Advanced Character Performance, Cinematic Installations, Sound Design, Narrativity, Virtual Humans and AI, and Dreams and Consciousness and Science Visualization. Of the minimum 50 units required to graduate with an XA MFA, 30 units are dedicated to Expanded Animation.

The Animation + Digital Arts MFA Program provides mini studios for all students as well as ongoing workshops in new technologies and internship opportunities. Techniques and approaches covered range from hand-drawn character animation to interactive digital animation. Course examples for the program include Expanded Animation, Animation Production, and Storytelling for Animation. Elective units are an important part of the MFA Program and include course titles such as Survey of Interactive Media, Seminar: Avant-Garde Film/Video, and World Cinema Before 1945.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at the University of Southern California have been hired at major studios such as Digital Domain, Digital Idea, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, and Sony Pictures. Many USC alumni have founded their own independent studios or launched their own freelance businesses.

5. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Pratt Institute

The School of Art at Pratt Institute (Pratt) houses the Graduate School of Art, home to the Digital Arts MFA Program. Concentratin options for this program include 3-D Animation and Motion Arts and Interactive Arts. Course examples include Digital Animation Studio, Traditional Animation, and Advanced Digital Animation. Graduate Seminar I-II and Thesis I-II are also part of the program.

Pratt Institute graduates work in a wide variety of positions for major studios such as Digital Domain, Gameloft, Walt Disney Animation Studios, NBCUniversal, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Many Pratt alumni have also gone on to establish academic careers at institutions such as New York University (NYU), Rochester Institute of technology (RIT), New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Howard University, and American Academy in Rome.

6. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
University of California Los Angeles

Established in 1948, UCLA Animation Workshop is one of the oldest animation programs in the U.S. Part of University of California Los Angeles’ (UCLA) School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT), the three-year Animation Workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end.

Examples of required courses for the Workshop include Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation, Advanced Computer Animation Maya, Animation Design, Interactive Animation, and Writing for Animation. Other courses include Experimental Film, Animation Seminar, and Directing.

Workshop students may develop skills in specific areas of animation through electives. Examples include Writing for the Animated TV Series, Real Time Animation: Puppetry Arts, and Film and Television Sound Recording. Throughout the program, students will complete one interactive project and several films including a thesis film, traditional film, and computer film. All students have access to the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio.

UCLA Animation Workshop graduates have been hired at major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Nickelodeon.

7. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology

The College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) houses the School of Film and Animation, home to the Animation Program. At the graduate level, the Program has a Film and Animation MFA with four options: 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Production, and Screenwriting. Course examples include Stop Motion Puppet Fundamentals, Animation Writing and Storytelling, After Effects for Animators, Particle Effects and Dynamics, Animation Film Language, 3D Modeling Mastery, Animation Gesture, Complete 3D Creaton, and Experimental Animation.

Students in all RIT programs benefit from participation in one of the fourth-oldest and one of the largest cooperative (co-op) education programs in the world. As such, all RIT programs provide co-op education opportunities as well as internships and other experiential learning opportunities. RIT animation students also have access to 52,000 square foot MAGIC Spell Studios, and labs and classrooms outfitted with industry standard technology and software.

Graduate students have 24/7 access to a dedicated graduate lab with industry-level software as well as additional opportunities to gain career experience through faculty research and graduate assistant positions. 

At all degree levels, animation students will participate in the RIT’s Creative Industry Day, where they will have the opportunity to interact with representatives of studios, design firms, and other creative companies.

Graduates of Rochester Institute of Technology work in a variety of positions at major studios such as Lucasfilm, Electronic Arts (EA), Dolby, Nickelodeon, Sony, DreamWorks, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Disney Animation Studios.

8. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University

The School of Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) at Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) has an Animation & Visual Effects MFA Program that explores all areas of animation and visual effects from concept to post-production. Students in this 63-unit program will also develop communication and management skills. A thesis is required to graduate.

All Academy of Art Animation programs take place in a studio production environment known as StudioX. The School of Animation & VFX is the only school of its kind to teach in this type of environment. Because StudioX mirrors most real-world studios, students gain hands-on experience with industry standard equipment, collaborating with other artists and on teams, and managing a production from start to finish.

In addition to several collaborative projects, all degree-seeking students will complete an internship and create a professional portfolio of their best work.  

Academy of Art Animation alumni go on to establish careers at major studios and companies such as Google, LAIKA Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel, Sony Pictures Animation, CASA VFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Riot Games, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).  

9. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University (DePaul) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the Animation Program. Listed as a Top Film School by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the School of Cinematic Arts features courses taught by award-winning filmmakers, and access to a state-of-the-art, 32,000 square foot production facility known as DePaul Cinespace Studios.

The Animation MFA here follows the project model. Students in the program will spend their time creating a single project with the assistance of an MFA co-chair and MFA faculty mentors. The program is designed for animators who have earned an undergraduate degree in the visual arts. Examples include Animation, Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Film.

All DePaul Animation students may participate in the Los Angeles Quarter Program. This 10-week immersion program allows students to intern at major Hollywood studios such Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Nickelodeon, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, Warner Brothers, and many others.

Other program benefits include the visiting artist series, where past guests have included artists from Disney and Pixar, access to the Animation Lodge, and participation in Project Bluelight. Students at The Lodge collaborate on group projects, network, and build their portfolios. Bluelight provides hands-on experience in motion picture production to all interested students.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at DePaul University have been hired by major studios and gaming companies such as Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, LAIKA Studios, Disney Animation Studios, Wargaming, Warner Bros. Animation, BioWare, and Iron Galaxy Studios.

10. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a Studio Program with an MFA option. Students in this 60 credit hour program have the unique opportunity to study multiple fields across 12 SAIC departments, while specializing in a single specialization of their creation. Other FVNMA features include interaction with visiting artists; access to state-of-the-art film, editing, and production equipment, the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, and on-campus galleries; and graduate seminars, screenings, and performances.

In addition, FVNMA MFA students have the opportunity to participate in Critique Week. This week-long event takes place each semester. The entire faculty, along with invited visiting artists and designers, form panels designed to critique students work. All classes are suspended during this time.

Graduates of SAIC’s FVNMA Department are prepared to seek careers in animation, film, games, and digital media, among others.  

11. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University

The School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Visualization Program. Within the Program is a Visualization MFA, which is one of a few programs of its kind in the U.S. and possibly the only one in the state of Texas.

Established in 1989 the TAMU Visualization Program is cross-disciplinary, allowing students to explore interaction, art, design, visualization, and computer graphics. Students may focus in any area of emphasis. Examples of emphasis areas for MFA students include Computer Animation, Visual Storytelling, Visual Effects, Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Interactive Art, and Gaming.

Students in all TAMU Visualization programs have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Career Fair, the Semester Away Program in Italy, Germany, and other countries, and the TAMU Internship Program. Graduate internships are worth eight credits. TAMU Visualization students have completed internships at animation, game, and graphic design companies. 

Texas A&M University Visualization graduates will leave the program with a polished portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are routinely hired for positions at major studios. Examples include DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Reel FX Animation Studios.

12. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses 38 departments, more than 20 research centers, and over 2,000 faculty and staff members that provide more than 80 majors, 100+ minors and certificates, and over 50 graduate programs. Among the College’s graduate programs is the Art and Technology MFA. Students can enroll in the Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track (housed in the Department of Design) or take animation courses offered in the Department of Art.

Students in the Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track will complete 60 credit hours of study in design over three years including Exploration (year 1), Practice and Application (year 2), and Synthesis (year 3). Students who do not wish to add the track have access to a variety of courses that focus on animation. Examples include VR Space & Animation, Computer Animation, Digital Image Manipulation, Aspects of Art and technology I-II, 3D Modeling Sculpture, Internet Art, Drawing Now, Film/Video II: Experimental Strategies, Moving Image Art, New Media Robotics,  

All graduate Art and Technology students will engage in project-based learning, while creating 3D animations, virtual reality, sound, interactive installations, and more.

Graduates Art and Technology Programs at OSU are Animators, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers, User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Designers, Freelance Artists, and College Professors.

13. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Central Florida (UCF) houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), home to the Emerging Media MFA Program. Students in this program can add the Animation & Visual Effects Track, which focuses on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspects of animation as it relates to independent filmmaking, job creation, and studio employment.

Program benefits include co-directing opportunities; access to state-of-the-art labs and studios; and the opportunity to create an animation and/or visual effects thesis using techniques such as stop motion, 2D and 3D computer animation, and traditional hand-drawn. This competitive program requires 60 credit hours of study, completed over three years, full-time.

Graduates of the UCF SVAD Emerging Media Programs are Animators, Effects Artists, Story Artists, Modelers, Visual Development Artists, Lighting Artists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and Texture Artists. Program alumni are employed with major studios and gaming companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, and Electronic Arts (EA).

14. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
San Jose State University

San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the College of Humanities and the Arts, home to the Department of Art and Art History and the Digital Media Art (DMA) MFA Program. Provided in partnership with SJSU’s Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education (CADRE) Laboratory for New Media, the multidisciplinary MFA explores areas from computer graphics and interactivity to computer games. Students in this program have the opportunity to create an area of focus through 24 units of required electives. In addition, students may choose three units of specialized study in any area of art.

Other program benefits include exclusive 24/7 access to lab facilities, collaborative art and technology projects, internship opportunities throughout Silicon Valley, courses taught by industry professionals, and guest speakers from major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon, Disney, Sony Pictures Animation, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Hallmark, and Warner Bros. Animation.

Consisting of 60 units of study, the DMA MFA culminates with the MFA Project worth three units. SJSU Art and Design graduates have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Examples include Disney Interactive, Cartoon Network, Cogswell Institute, Sony Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment, Lucasfilm Animation, Animation Mentor, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Zynga, and 20th Century Fox.

15. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
University of Texas at Dallas

The School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology (AHT) at University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) houses the Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) Program. At the graduate level, the Program has an ATEC MFA that provides the opportunity to specialize in Animation. All ATEC graduate level programs provide advanced study in computer-based arts, interactive media, digital media, technology, and professional practices.

Other Ut Dallas ATEC highlights include guest speakers from major studios such as Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks; applied and experimental research in collaboration with instructors in varying areas of expertise; seminars and lectures presented by industry professionals; portfolio and project-based exercises; and access to a number of labs and studios. Example include the 3D Studio, ArtSciLab, Creative Automata Lab, Cultural Science Lab, Emerging Gizmology Lab, Fashioning Circuits, LabSynthE, Narrative Systems Research Lab, Public Interactives Research Lab (PIRL), SP&CE Media, and The Studio for Mediating Play.

Students focusing in animation also have access to the ATEC Animation Lab, which provides the opportunity to participate in a simulated animated studio experience. Over two semesters, a crew of 40 students will write, design, direct, and produce a two-minute CG animated short film. Just a few past films include Bad Timing (2022), Octo Ninja (2021), Night Shift (2020), and Stargazer (2019).

Graduates of the ATEC programs at UT Dallas are prepared to seek careers in 3D computer animation, film and television, games, modeling and simulation, virtual environments, and medical and scientific visualization.

16. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art & Design

The Animation Program at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) was established in 1987. Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, the Program has degree options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in all programs have unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer and teaching labs. The Center also houses flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.

The Visual Arts MFA provides access to all of the resources offered in the Animation Program has to offer. This 60-credit hour program operates within a 13,700-square-foot graduate facility that houses individual private studios for MFA students, a lounge, exhibition space, and faculty offices. Students may work on individual projects and the thesis in any area of interest. Examples include animation, interactive design, illustration, film, game art, and television. Students may focus in any of these areas through six hours of required art and design electives or even through CCAD’s many minor and concentration options.

Other CCAD MFA highlights include small class sizes (the program accepts nine to 15 students per year), internship opportunities with nonprofits and businesses located in places such as New York, Honduras, Chicago, Seattle, Ireland, and Oregon, and the visiting artist series, which welcomes designers and guest artists who teach workshops and seminars, present lectures, and mentor students.

Graduates of the Animation and Visual Arts Programs at Columbus College of Art & Design work in a variety of fields as Character Animators, Motion Designers, Television Animators, Storyboard Artists. VFX Animators, Game Artists, and Architectural Visualization Producers, among others. Recent employers include Electronic Arts (EA), Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks Animation, LAIKA Studios, Proctor & Gamble, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.

17. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of Technology (DigiPen) students have earned more than 300 awards and festival selections and more than 230 awards for game projects and academic papers since the school’s inception in 1988. The school provides programs for talented professionals seeking a degree in art, design, technology, or engineering.

For animators seeking an advanced degree, DigiPen has a Digital Arts MFA that provides advanced training in animation, 3D modeling, drawing, and digital painting, among other areas. Free electives and independent study provide opportunities for students to customize their pathway. Course examples include Organic and Hard Surface Modeling, Art Research Methodology, Art Production Process, Character Design, Digital Arts Survey and Analysis, and 3D Concepts and Production.

Digital Arts MFA students will complete an MFA Thesis, which begins with a Thesis Pre-Production course, which lasts a semester. For the final two semesters of the program, students will work with a faculty advisor to complete the Thesis project. Throughout the program, students will also work in teams to create several games, films, and other productions.

Graduates of the Digital Art Programs at DigiPen Institute of Technology are prepared for positions such as Animator, Character Artist, Simulation and Effects Animator, Art Director, 3D Modeler, Concept Artist, Producer, Environmental/Asset Artist, and UI Designer, among others. To date, more than 600 companies worldwide have hired DigiPen graduates. Examples include Apple, Amazon Games, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Warner Bros. Games, Zynga, Meta, DreamWorks Interactive, Sony, Riot Games, ArenaNet, Electronic Arts (EA), Microsoft, Nintendo, and many others.

18. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) has interdisciplinary and experimental Visual Studies MFA Program that allows students to focus in one or more areas of interest. Examples include animation, experimental film and video, comic arts, illustration, drawing and painting, and web and multimedia. In addition to the opportunity to focus in multiple areas, students in the MCAD MFA Program have access to some 50 private studios, smart classrooms, state-of-the-art production facilities, and a large gallery space. MCAD MFA students may also participate in the Master’s Trip to NYC featuring visits to art and design venues, creative agencies, and artist studios.

MFA students may complete an internship and/or study abroad in places such as Italy, Germany, Japan, and the UK. MCAD Students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, Massachusetts Museum of Art, among others. Potential careers for MCAD Animation and Visual Studies graduates include Background Animator, 3D Modeler/Animator, Stop-Motion Animator, Film Editor, Pixel Artist, Special-Effects Animator, Storyboard Artist, Character Developer, Inker/Opaquer/Checker, Director, Producer, Writer, and Project Manager.

19. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson University

The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences (CECAS) at Clemson University (Clemson) houses the School of Computing—home to the Division of Visual Computing and the Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program. Pathways for animators include the DPA MFA and DPA MS. A Digital Production Arts Minor is jointly offered by the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and the School of Computing. Launched in 2011 the Minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours of study.

Digital Production Arts at Clemson University encompasses dozens of disciplines. However, each DPA program pathway has its own learning objectives. The curriculum for the MFA DPA pathway blends computer science and engineering, psychology, graphic communications, art, philosophy, and performing arts. Course examples include Technical Character Animation, Physically Based Animation, Visual Foundations of Digital Production, 3D Modeling and Animation, and Special Effects compositing.

The 60 credit hour DPA MFA at Clemson no longer requires the GRE and it is the terminal degree in the field. Graduates are prepared for a range of roles in the film and animation, video, electronic gaming, and visual effects industries. Graduates have been hired at major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts (EA), Walt Disney Animation Studios, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Established in 2017, the DPA MS focuses on the technical and visual effects aspects of film production, games, and commercial video. The program includes many of the same animation courses offered in the DPA MFA, which provides many opportunities for students to develop their animation skills. Other course examples include Software Construction, Advanced Computer Graphics, Human and Computer Interaction (HCI), 2D Game Engine Design, and Virtual Reality. Six required electives allow students to explore areas such as visual narrative, drawing, improvisation, scene painting, and audio engineering.

In addition to technical roles in the animation industry, graduates of the Clemson University DPA MS Program can pursue positions such as Technical Director, Software Engineer, VR Developer, 3D Graphics Programmer, or Tool Builder in the broad entertainment industry.

20. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) provides several paths to study animation across a number of institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the Schools of Art; Arts, Media and Engineering; and Music, Dance and Theatre; The Design School; The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; and the ASU Art Museum.

The School of Art provides 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs. Minors are offered in Studio Art and Art History. Pathways for animators include am Art BFA with a Concentration in Animation and an Art MFA. The ASU Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering houses the Digital Culture BA Program. An interdisciplinary, 21 credit hour undergraduate Minor, and an 18 credit hour Certificate in Digital Culture are also available.  

The Art BFA with a Concentration in Animation consists of 120 credit hours of study. Elective options allow students to gain experience in other areas such as game engine development, visual effects (VFX), or photography. Other program benefits include internship opportunities and the Animation Capstone, which leads to an independent short film or a full-length film produced as a team.

Art MFA students have the opportunity to complete projects in a discipline of their choice in their own private studios. Other program highlights include visiting artist lectures, workshops, and teaching opportunities.

ASU Herberger graduates work in animation and film, games and game development, cinema and television, AR/VR, illustration, robotics, medical illustration, scientific and data visualization, fine arts and many other areas. ASU alumni are Animators, Creative Directors, VFX Artists, Graphic Artists, Multimedia Designers, and Art Directors, among others.

The Digital Culture BA in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering features a number of courses that allow students to focus in animation. Examples include Animating Virtual Worlds, Introduction to Computer Animation, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Stop Motion Animation, Experimental Video Art, 3D Tools, Introduction to Animation for Film, and Motion Graphics & Animation.

Graduates of the ASU BA in Digital Culture have opportunities to work in animation and film, gaming and entertainment, media arts, computing, and communications, among others.

21. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University, Long Beach

California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of the Arts (COTA). One of the universities largest and most popular colleges, COTA consists of six separate academic units including the School of Art, The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, and the Departments of Film and Electronic Arts, Dance, Design, and Theatre Arts. The School of Art houses the Art BFA and MFA Programs. The BFA has an Illustration/Animation Option and the MFA has an Illustration/Animation Track.

For the BFA Program, students may choose one of three Tracks within the Option: Animation, Illustration or Pre-Production. Consisting of 132 units, the Art BFA Program requires 31 units in the Animation Track, six units of upper division Art History courses, and nine units of electives. Examples of required courses include Core Studio: Animation - Practices, Core Studio: Animation - Design 1-2, Professional Practices in Illustration/Animation, Core Studio: Animation - Story Art, Advanced Studio: Animation Filmmaking, Advanced Studio: Animation - 3D CG 1, Experimental Animation, and Animation Senior Project.

Electives provide opportunities to create additional works. Elective examples include Costumed Figure Drawing, Experimental Animation, Advanced Animation Practices, Animation: Acting and Staging, and Animation Senior Film I-II.

The Art MFA-Illustration/Animation Track requires 39 units in the focus area. Course examples include Experimental Animation 2, Graduate Studies: Advanced Illustration/Animation, Animation 4, Computer Animation 2, Graduate Studies: Directed Studio, Writing for Artists, Graduate Studies: Image as Text, and Graduate Studies: Professional Practices for Visual Communication. In the final semester of the program, students will take the Graduate Studies: MFA Project course with members of the student’s Project Committee.

Graduates of the Art BFA and MFA at California State University Long Beach will enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared for careers such as Animator, Animation Technical Director, Character Animator, Compositing Artist, Illustrator, Art Director, Storyboard Artist, and Forensic Animator.

22. The New School's Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
The New School Parsons

The New School houses Parsons School of Design, which is the largest of the school’s seven colleges. Within Parsons School of Design is a Design and Technology Program that has BFA and MFA pathways. The MFA is a STEM-designated, studio-based degree that requires on-campus study. Consisting of 60 credit hours of study, the MFA includes courses and studios such as xFab Lecture and Lab, Creative Practice Seminar, Collaboration Studio, Major Studio, and Thesis Studio.

Also a STEM-designated program, the 120 credit hour BFA in Design and Technology focuses on interaction, storytelling, and emerging art and design practices. Specializations include Creative Technology and Game Design. Course examples include Code 2, Design Studies, Core Lab Objects, and Core Studio Environments.

All undergraduate students at The New School Parsons must complete the first-year experience. Consisting of 30 credits, the experience includes seminars and studios, liberal arts studies, and the exploration of 2D and 3D processes, digital design, drawing, and other tools and methods relevant to art and design. Course examples include Time, Sustainable Systems, Drawing/Imaging, Objects as History, Space/Materiality, and Integrative Seminar 1-2.

The School of Continuing & Professional Education at The New School Parsons has an additional option for animators. Leading to a Certificate, the Motion Design and Animation Program consist of three courses that explore the production process from start to finish. This includes storyboarding, editing, special effects, film production, and more. The Certificate Program can be taken alone or in combination with the Design and Technology BFA or MFA Programs.

Students in all New School programs have the opportunity to interact with and work on projects with professionals at places such as Apple, Siemens, Nickelodeon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gameLab, Samsung, MTV, Rockwell Interaction Lab, Atari, UNESCO, OnePlus Technology, and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center.

Graduates of the BFA, MFA, and Certificate programs at The New School Parsons are prepared for success in a wide range of positions in areas such as 2D and 3D animation, game design, advertising, VR/AR, UI/UX, graphic arts, interaction design, film and television, mobile and application design, digital filmmaking, web design, hardware engineering, media art, and software design.

23. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home to one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio. In existence for 75 years, the School of Art houses the Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Art History, Studio, and Art Education Divisions. Students in all Divisions have the opportunity to study abroad and complete an internship at a major studio such as Pixar or Disney Animation.

For professional animators seeking a graduate degree, the School of Art has two options: the Digital Arts MFA and the Studio MFA. The Digital Arts MFA Program is designed for students interested in 3D Modeling and Animation, Digital Imaging, Interactive Multimedia Development, Digital Video, and Hybrid Media forms Web App Development and Interactive Installation Art, 3D Printing, and Architectural Projection Mapping. While coursework can be customized to suit the students goals, several formal focus areas are available including Computer Animation and Video, Interactive Multimedia, Imaging, or Cross-Disciplinary Study.

Other program benefits include Graduate Assistantships, the opportunity to work the BGSU’s professional large-format printing studio, and access to the newly built Wolfe Center for the Arts, which houses three state-of-the-art digital studio classrooms, a 20-seat Mac Pro OSX lab, a 20-seat HP (Windows 7) lab, and an editing lab with 20 Mac Pro video editing workstations.

In addition, the School of Art houses The Media Center, which features high-dynamic range wide format printers, high-resolution scanners, 3D printing, and high-end digital a/v equipment for student checkout. The intensive, 60 credit hour Digital Arts MFA can be completed in two years, full-time.  

The Studio MFA at Bowling Green State University allows students to specialize in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Media, and Interactive Media). The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of study, with 21 semester hours within the studio specialization and 12 semester hours of studio electives. MFA students will complete a body of work and accompanying brochure to be entered into the BGSU MFA Exhibition, held each spring in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center. The Studio MFA takes two years to complete, full-time.

Graduates of the Digital Arts and Studio Programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared to pursue positions such as 2D or 3D Animator, Special Effects Artist, Motion Graphics Artist, Video Game Animator, and Web Design Animator, among others. BGSU Studio and Digital Arts alumni are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as Blizzard, DreamWorks Animation, and Epic Games.

24. Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA at Tufts) is part of a top-tier research university that provides intensive studio arts training, an interdisciplinary learning environment, networking opportunities, and hands-on experience through on-campus projects and internships. For animators seeking an advanced degree, SMFA at Tufts has a Studio MFA that provides the opportunity to work with faculty and staff to develop a personalized studio curriculum. Students can focus their studies in Animation, Film and Video, Virtual Reality, Digital Media, Graphic Arts and other areas.

Coursework for this 60 credit hour program is complemented by seminars, visiting artists, exchange and travel opportunities, and the Graduate Colloquium. A forum for graduate students, professional artists, and faculty, Colloquia are all-day events that take place at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Colloquia are open to the public.

The SMFA at Tufts Studio MFA culminates in a self-curated exhibition of the students best work. Students will also complete a thesis to graduate.  

25. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

The Communication Media Arts MFA at Ohio University (OU) is a multidisciplinary program provided in partnership with the schools of Visual Communication and Media Arts and Studies, and the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies in the E.W. Scripps College of Communication. This three-year, 90 credit hour program provides the opportunity to study in two or more areas such as Animation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Digital Games and Animation, Interactive Web Design, or Data Visualization and Infographics. In addition, all students must declare a Cognate Area outside of their production skills. Areas might include Film History, Media Studies, Educational Technologies, or Public Media.

Ohio University MFA students will receive hands-on training through collaborative and experiential projects. A required component of OU MFA program, projects may include practicum projects through Scripps College or the College of Fine Arts, projects in the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, grant-funded faculty initiatives, or projects through WOUB Public Media—a broadcasting service licensed to Ohio University.

Other program highlights include opportunities to teach, professional internships and externships, and study abroad experiences. Students in the Communication Media Arts MFA at Ohio University will spend the final year of the program in two immersive Thesis Production courses.