What are the top east coast animation schools for 2020?
|1||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|2||New York University||New York|
|3||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island|
|4||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|5||Pratt Institute||New York|
|6||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|7||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts|
|8||University of the Arts||Pennsylvania|
|9||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania|
|11||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|12||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||New York|
|13||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia|
|14||The New School’s Parsons School of Design||New York|
|16||Syracuse University||New York|
|17||Maine College of Art||Maine|
|18||University of Connecticut||Connecticut|
|20||New Jersey Institute of Technology||New Jersey|
|21||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia|
|22||Rutgers University||New Jersey|
|24||Alfred State College||New York|
|25||Point Park University||Pennsylvania|
Our 2020 list of the Top 25 Animation School Programs on the East Coast. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The school serves more than 3,700 students enrolled in over 30 programs. With nearly 400 students, 50 faculty and 40 courses Animation is the largest program at SVA. Students have a range of degree options to choose from including BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, and Cartooning. An MFA in Computer Art (Focus Animation, Motion Graphics or Fine Art) is also available as well as Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses.
The school says all animation students “learn the fundamentals of drawing, storytelling, character development, and professional animation software, as well as the history of animation, all for the purpose of bringing their creations to life.” The curriculum “covers the entire spectrum of animation professions, from traditional animation to stop motion to digital; and access to faculty- and alumni-operated studios provides numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, internships and employment.”
Students have studied and worked at studios such as Titmouse, Augenblick Studios, and Plympton, as well as numerous independent animation studios across New York. SVA animation graduates have gone on to work at major studios such as Blue Sky Studios, Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and independent animation studios across the globe.
2. New York University, New York, New York
Serving more than 60,500 students, New York University (NYU) is the largest private university in the U.S. Founded in 1831, the school also has the highest number of international students in America with degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai. NYU operates 11 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries. With more than 19,000 employees, NYU is also one New York’s largest employers.
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of NYU. The school houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, home of the Department of Animation and Digital Arts. The Institute offers a BFA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production and an MFA in Animation and New Media. The two-year MFA program is also offered at Tisch Asia.
The Animation Area of the Kanbar Institute of Undergraduate Film & Television at NYU Tisch School of the Arts began in 1979. The program had just three classes: Art & Design, Animation I, and Animation II. For the 1980-1981 academic year, the program was home to 80 students enrolled in five classes. In 2013, the program enrolled 461 students. Today, the program serves hundreds of students from 48 states and 39 countries.
The school says that the Animation Area at NYU Tisch “serves the needs of all Film and TV students for both animation and live-action projects.” The current curriculum “is varied and integrated with both traditional animation and 2D and 3D animation courses at fundamentals, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as storyboarding, titles, optical and digital effects, life drawing and history and criticism classes.” Nearly 20 courses are offered as part of the program. Highlights include Action Analysis, Animation: From Pitching to Pipeline to Production, Drawing and Design for Animation, Experimental Animation, Life Drawing: Anatomy, Motion Design & Titles, Special Topics in 3D Computer Animation, Stop Motion Animation, Storyboarding, Visual Effects and Compositing, and Writing for Animation.
Other program highlights include internship opportunities, study abroad experiences, and guest speakers. Past guests have included Frank Thomas, Chuck Jones, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, George Griffin, David Polonski, Ed Catmull, Amid Amidi, and Willis Pyle, among others.
Graduates of the Animation program at Tisch have landed jobs at Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios and many others.
3. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. Serving approximately 2,500 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries, the school has 19 studio majors and leading to bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the Fine Arts, Architecture, Design or Art Education. The school’s most popular programs are Film/Animation/Video (FAV), Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Industrial Design.
The Film/Animation/Video Department offers a BFA in in FAV. Course highlights for the program include Animation Integration/Installation, Computer Animation: Integrated Techniques, Computer Generated Imagery 3d, Digital Effects and Compositing for the Screen, Directing, Film and Video Installation, Film Explorations, Game Development & Programming, Lighting for the Moving Image, Sound for the Screen, Stop Motion Animation, Time, Light and Sound, and Writing for the Screen.
Students in the program can expect to take a range of studio courses such as Animation, Live Action, and Open Media, as well as several Collaborative Study courses and a Professional Internship.
The school reports that RISD alumni can be found working as “entrepreneurs or through studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks or Harmonix, or for networks like Fox, HBO and PBS, where they write, direct, produce, serve as animators, cinematographers, character designers, game designers, lighting specialists, sound artists and much more.”
Famous RISD alumni include Gus Van Sant, director of films such as Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, and Milk; Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons.
4. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was born of an unlikely institutional marriage of an influential cultural association, the Rochester Athenaeum (est. 1829), and a technical training school, the Mechanics Institute (est. 1885). The Institute adopted the name Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944 and awarded its first bachelor of science degree in 1955.
Today, RIT serves more than 19,000 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) is home to the nation’s first PhD in Imaging Science and the School of Film and Animation (SOFA). SOFA offers BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.
The BFA in Film and Animation is one of the most selective majors at RIT. “All undergraduates share the same first semester, where they immediately begin production in both film and animation, ensuring each student is exposed to each form. “This also gives BFA students time to explore before deciding which to pursue,” says the school. Three options are available: 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Stop Motion.
The 2D Animation Option “begins with character design and progresses through dynamics and sequences. Hand drawing on paper or acetate, using a traditional layering technique, or creating elements originally in 2D software applications are the common options. Then shooting on a crane, bulk scanning the drawings into a computer or animating directly in a software application are the usual production techniques.”
The 3D Animation Option covers all aspects of computer animation. “Modeling in Polygons, NURBs and Subdivision surfaces is taught with an emphasis placed on the need to strike a balance between heavy detail and economy of animation. Other areas covered include, character rigging, set construction, dynamics, character animation, particles, and compositing.
Stop Motion “takes student through all aspects involved in creating stop motion films. Students are taught animating technique, wire armature construction and set construction.”
The Film and Animation MFA is a three-year program “designed to educate complete filmmakers.” Students will “learn the artistic, narrative, technical, historical, and business aspects” of whatever form they choose during the first two years, and then create a thesis project in the third year that can be completed on or off campus. Like BFA students, MFA Animation students will concentrate in either 2D, 3D, or Stop Motion, “but be able to explore the other types of animation.”
The MFA is a terminal degree that prepares students for professional careers in the industry or “teach filmmaking in other higher education programs of merit.” Top careers for MFA graduates include Director, Documentary Filmmaker, Experimental Artist, Producer, and Visual Effects Supervisor. Top careers for BFA graduates include Character Animator, Effects Animator, 3D Modeling and Character Designer, Art Director, and Experimental Film Artist.
Graduates of RIT’s BFA and MFA Film and Animation programs have landed positions at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, Paramount, HBO, Rhythm and Hues Studios, and many others.
5. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute serves more than 4,800 students enrolled in over 25 undergraduate degree programs and concentrations and more than 26 graduate degree programs in its Schools of Art, Design, Architecture, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Information. The Pratt Institute School of Art offers a BFA in Digital Arts and Animation with an Emphasis in Digital Animation and Motion Arts or Interactive Arts. Concentrations include 2D Animation, 3D Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts. An MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts is also available.
The school says students in the BFA programs will “develop aesthetic finesse, technological skill, conceptual sophistication related to digital media, and thorough comprehension of the potential of art and technology.” Students also learn to create professional documentation and presentation. Graduates of the program “demonstrate an expertise in their discipline, a unique voice in their medium and knowledge of historical works in art and technology.”
Students will create animated films at Myrtle Hall, a LEED Certified Green Building that includes nine state of the art digital studio/classrooms, the Digital Arts Resource Center and Digital Commons flex-space, a High Speed Fibre Channel Network, and Traditional Animation Facilities. An Audio Recording Studio, a Dedicated Green Screen facility, Graduate Studio spaces, 2D/3D Printers and production facility, and the Mediated Digital Arts Gallery are also housed in the building.
Students in the 60 credit hour MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts program will have the opportunity to create narrative and non-narrative films using 2D and 3D digital animation techniques, live action and motion graphics. Electives include Storyboarding and Storytelling, Lighting and Rendering, Motion Dynamics, Compositing and Special Effects, Character Design, Character Animation, Matte Painting, and more. Students will complete one year of work on a thesis, which culminates in an exhibition or screening of the completed work and a thesis paper. The MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts can be completed in two years.
Pratt School of Art alumni have landed positions at major studios such as Augenblick, Blue Sky, Digital Domain, Cartoon Network Studios, DreamWorks Studios, Curious Pictures, Industrial Light & Magic, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Rhythm and Hues Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Curious Pictures, Gameloft, Sony Imageworks, NBC Universal, Titmouse, and many others.
6. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) serves more than 14,500 students representing over 100 countries. The school offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges, including the College of Fine Art, home of the School of Art. The CFA SA offers a BFA in Electronic and Time-Based Media with a Focus in Animation and a BFA in Integrative Design, Arts & Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation & Special Effects. A Minor in Animation & Special Effects is also available.
The Electronic and Time-Based Media BFA “explores the creative potential of emerging technologies and the critical impact they have on contemporary culture,” says the school. The curriculum “implicitly encourages cross-disciplinary study.” As such, “many students merge fine art and computer science based interests either within the BFA program or through the unique BCSA degree program.” Besides Animation, students may focus in unique areas such as Bioart, Computational and Interactive Art, Tactical Media, and Tangible Media, as well as Game Arts and Video and Performance. “Students particularly interested in the intersection of art and technology can take advantage of expanded course offerings through the IDeATe Program.”
Students in the BFA in IDeATe with Animation & Special Effects “will study the interconnected components of performance capture, rendering, 3D and 2D animation, and special effects. They will merge arts and technology perspectives in all courses to explore each of these components and the area of digital animation as a whole. Through common repositories across courses and collaborative projects, students will explore how the different components and types of expertise come together to create a convincing computer animated experience.”
Students in this program will also be able to “connect to other IDeATe courses to explore applications of digital animation in different contexts (games, interactive environments etc.) and to integrate other key areas of knowledge (narrative, sound) into digital animation projects.”
The School of Art at CMU also offers supportive courses that “serve to enrich the student experience in IDeATe.” Offerings include Advanced ETB: 2D Animation, Advanced ETB: Animation, Advanced ETB: Moving Image Magic: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Animation, Art, and Technology.
7. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, the school offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs to a population of nearly 2,100 students.
Programs are offered through departments such as the Animation Department. Here, aspiring animators can earn a BFA in Animation that provides the opportunity to engage in a variety of conventional and experimental techniques. Students in the program study Documentary Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Character Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental Video, and Emerging Technologies. In addition, students will complete an Independent Study course, a course assistantship, and an internship.
The school says, “coursework for the program culminates in a degree project consisting of a sustained film as well as a portfolio and reel highlighting students' professional and creative objectives.”
Other program highlights include “classrooms, labs, and studios that facilitate and enhance the work of animation majors,” the Animation Senior Showcase, visiting artists and lectures, and “Squealing Pegs”—an annual screening of recent animated short films.
8. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1876, University of the Arts (UArts) is one of the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school serves 1,900 students enrolled in 47 undergraduate and graduate programs on the University's campus at the center of Philadelphia's vibrant Avenue of the Arts.
Programs, including more than 30 minors, are offered through the Colleges of Art, Media & Design and Performing Arts, and the Divisions of Liberal Art and Continuing Studies.
The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Film, which offers BFAs in Animation and Film + Animation, and a Minor in Animation. The school says that the BFA program “supports traditional hand drawn, 3D computer, stop motion and any animation techniques that can be imagined or explored.” Students in the program will explore the variety of techniques available to the current animator, hone traditional skills, and learn how to tell engaging stories as well as create memorable characters, and bring their concepts to life.
Besides taking courses such as Drawn Character Animation, Screenwriting, Special Effects Compositing, Storyboarding, and 2D Computer Character Animation, BFA students will create a Junior and Senior Animation Piece, an Animation Thesis, and an Internship.
The BFA in Film + Animation “allows students to explore the possibilities of both film and animation.” Students in the program will study “film and animation techniques, explore various genres and styles, and create a capstone project that combines film and animation in innovative way.” Other program highlights include hands-on instruction by “award-winning, professional filmmakers and animators,” production workshops, lectures, screenings and critiques, and internship and study abroad opportunities. In addition to study abroad, international opportunities include festivals and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea.
UArts animation alumni work on blockbuster special effects films, animated television series, commercials, and video games in a variety of roles–from director to animator to storyboard artist to editor to many other positions.
9. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. The school serves 25,860 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the School of Design-Department of Fine Arts and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The School of Design-DFA offers a BFA in Fine Arts with an Animation or 3D Modeling Studio. The program combines studio practices, seminar courses, and interactions with visiting artists and professionals in order to provide an open intellectual framework to foster critical awareness and independent methods of artistic research and learning.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). The School also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT), which leads to an MS.
Created in 1998 to educate a new generation of people to work in computer graphics, the interdisciplinary BSE DMD program was designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies. A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also available. BSE DMD students go on the work at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates.
The Center for HMS established the CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship.
The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers. Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.
10. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University was established in 1891. The school serves nearly 29,000 campus and online students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers a BS and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects. MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media are also available.
The BS in Animation & Visual Effects gives students the “technological, story-telling and design skills to succeed as animators and visual effects artists in the highly competitive entertainment and design worlds,” says the school. “Over the course of their education in the program, students will pursue a foundation of design and technology by taking core courses in all aspects of digital media while delving into coursework covering many areas of specialization.”
The program consists of 51 credits of core courses, 45 hours of general education courses, 27 elective credits, 24 credit hours of art and art history requirements, 18 credits of animation requirements, 15 credits in media and computer science, and six credits of animation electives.
The Animation & Visual Effects program features a six-month co-op, where students will “learn the underlying principles of animation along with industry-standard software technology. The entire creative pipeline from storyboarding through modeling and animation is covered in-depth, allowing students to experience all aspects of production.”
The two-year MS in Digital Media is a hybrid program that offers comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods. The curriculum for the two-year program “offers a mix of academic course work and project-related activities. Projects consist of funded grant research opportunities, industry-sponsored projects and independent, student-generated and faculty-approved projects.”
The PhD in Digital Media “focuses on translational research in digital media within an experiential learning environment. It studies the application of digital media towards solving research problems in various disciplines including but not limited to engineering, education, cultural heritage, health or business. This doctoral program is built on a fundamentally interdisciplinary course structure and emphasizes an iterative and design based research philosophy.”
PhD students have the same project opportunities as MS students. Past projects for the programs have included Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) for video games, theme park ride and animation design, interactive online non-linear narrative comics, advanced animation production techniques, a multi-media interactive dance performance with body tracking, and multi-touch games for teaching middle-school children.
Graduates of the Westphal Animation and Digital Media programs at have landed positions at leading companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Microsoft XBOX, Disney, NCSoft, and many others.
11. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the U.S. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and open studies students from 49 states and 52 countries. Around 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees are available in the areas of fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also offered.
Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Animation Department and include a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Animation. Three pathways are available including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop Motion, and 3D Animation. Students begin with a fundamental understanding of the art of movement. They work in 2D hand drawn animation, 3D computer imaging, stop motion, and history of animation and innovative combinations of these processes, culminating in a thesis film in their final year.
MICA also offers a BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies. In addition to animation studies, students in this degree program will study philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history. Sample courses for the program include Character Animation, Elements of Visual Thinking, Digital Tools For Animation, Stop Motion, Electronic Media & Culture, Art Matters, and Drawing.
Graduates of MICA animation programs work for companies like Blue Sky Studio, Disney, DreamWorks, Yahoo, Laika, and MTV. Many graduates have continued their education in graduate programs or have successful careers as freelance artists in the field.
12. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
Established in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) serves nearly 8,000 students enrolled in more 100 degree programs through five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) houses the Department of Art, which offers BS, MFA, and PhD degrees in Electronic Arts (EART).
The school says undergraduate students in the Arts have the opportunity to express themselves with a variety of media from fine art and music to experimental video and animation. Students will select from several concentrations within the BS EART degree to suit their interests. Options include Visual Arts & Animation, Computer Music & Sound Art, Video and Emerging Media, and Art, Technology & Culture.
The Department of Art is a partner in several other cutting-edge majors at Rensselaer, such as Information Technology and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences. Even if the student is not an arts major, they can still exercise their creativity with one of the schools arts minor programs.
The school says that the BS in EARTS degree is designed to support either a single or dual major option. It is intended for students who want to critically and creatively explore the arts at the intersection of the humanities, and the physical, computational, engineering, and social sciences.
The MFA in EARTS, which is being redesigned, is for students pursuing artistic and academic careers emphasizing electronic media. The 60 credit hour program allows students to create independent works such as multimedia presentations, computer-generated or mediated images, videotapes and installations, performance art, and musical compositions and performances. Graduates of the BS and MFA programs are prepared to seek positions in animation, multimedia arts, design, research, and more.
The school says that the PhD in EARTS was established in 2007 to “fulfill increasing demands for a practice-based interdisciplinary arts doctoral degree within academe [the university], as well as to appeal to students who wish to pursue innovative research that integrates diverse media, performance, science-based and/or social practices, and curatorial studies into their artwork.”
The core of the curriculum focuses on the student's creative practice, which is informed by coursework, individual attention from advisors, and culminates in a dissertation that is composed of the dissertation text and practice-based work. Graduates are prepared for academic positions in research-intensive fine arts settings, as well as visual culture, musicology/sound studies, cultural studies, humanities and media studies programs. They are also prepared for careers as artists, composers, curators, and administrators in galleries, museums, performing arts organizations, artist-run centers, and art-science programs and projects.
13. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) welcomed its first class in 1872 under the name Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, with a 2,600-acre main campus, educational and research facilities across the state, a study-abroad site in Switzerland, and a 1,800-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus, the school serves more 34,950 students enrolled in around 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across nine colleges and a graduate school. The College of Architecture and Urban Studies houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Creative Technologies.
Students in this 120 credit hour BFA program will take courses in areas such as 3D Animation and Modeling, Digital Video and Visual Effects, and Digital Painting. Course highlights include 3D Computer Animation, Computer Animation Studio, New Media Art, Drawing, and Digital Photography. Students may also choose a Plan of Study from the following: Immersive Virtual Environments, Code and Form, and Moving Image. All Plans offer animation coursework.
Immersive Virtual Environments students will take Topics in Computer Animation (Character Modeling), Topics in Computer Animation (Character Animation), Topics in Computer Animation (Video Game Design), and one other 3500 or 3600-level art course.
Code and Form consists of Topics in Computer Animation (Processing), Topics in Digital Art + Design (Multimedia Studio Max/MSP), Intermediate Sculpture, and one other 3500- or 3600-level art course.
Moving Image consists of Topics in New Media Art (Digital Video), Topics in New Media Art (2D Motion Graphics), Topics in New Media Art (Digital Illustration), and one other 3500, 3600 or 3700-level art course.
The MFA in Creative Technologies is a terminal degree program that the school says, “prepares students to use digital and new media technology to create, present, communicate, and shape information and imagery.” The program, which “focuses on creative practice at the intersections of digital technology and artistic exploration,” allows MFA students to design a specific program of study that fits their individual interests.
Students in this 60 credit hour program will have the opportunity to develop original work in motion graphics, digital imaging, 3D animation, interactive multi-media design, video, installation, creative coding, spatial interactivity, web design, and sound and imaging. A thesis is required (12 credit hours) and students can complete up to 15 credit hours in field studies and internships.
14. The New School’s Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
The New School was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Back then, the school was known as The Chase School, and later as New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today, known as The New School/Parsons, this art and design college serves nearly 6,000 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, School of Art Media and Technology, School of Constructed Environments, School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
Program options for animators are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and include BFA and MFA degrees in Design & Technology. Pathways include Creative Technology and Game Design. Minors in Immersive Storytelling and Comics and Graphic Nature are also available, as well as a related program—the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, offered at the Parsons Paris Campus.
According to Parson’s, the BFA Creative Technology pathway “focuses on methods of combining physical computing, creative coding, user experience, responsive environment, and immersion technology for innovative design solutions.” The Game Design pathway “emphasizes the aesthetic aspects of designing games.” It provides a set of tools that grows along with students’ skills and provides them with an understanding of the game design process, from brainstorming to game publication.
Students in the program will visit industry leaders like the Rockwell Interaction Lab, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Curious Pictures. Other industry partners include Apple, Atari, Human Rights Watch, MTV, Siemens, and UNESCO. Students also have access to the university’s extensive libraries, galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities that help students engage their creativity and enable them to showcase their work.
Graduates leave the program prepared for careers in advertising, animation, film, game design, graphic arts, hardware engineering, motion graphics, software design, and virtual reality and immersion experience design.
The full-residency, two-year MFA program is studio based with areas of practice including interaction design, physical computing, game design, new media art, digital fabrication, data visualization, and critical design. In Collaboration Studio courses, students work on real-world projects with industry firms and nonprofits. Past partners include Red Bull, Intel, Apple, Eyebeam, gameLab, Human Rights Watch, Mozilla, NASA, the Red Cross, Samsung, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
MFA graduates go on to establish careers in mobile and application design, Web, UI and UX design, interaction design, new media art, game design, motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation, and digital filmmaking.
15. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as a private training school for teachers under the name Edinboro Academy. The school serves nearly 5,000 students and offers more than 100 areas of academic study across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Art Department, which offers a BFA in Animation.
The school says that the program offers “direct, hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, including professional studio/field film and video cameras, lights and sound recording equipment, non-linear video editing systems, animation rostrum stands, a large green screen area, Screendigital scanners, animation line testers, and both 2D and 3D computer animation workstations” Animation, film and video production internships are available locally, regionally, and nationally.
Graduates Edinboro’s Animation BFA program find success in every facet of animation. They work at small independent firms like Animal, and large high-profile studios like Disney, Pixar, Blizzard and Nickelodeon. They are modelers and character designers, animation generalists and visual effect specialists, directors and editors. Names of alumni can be spotted in the credits for such films as Zootopia, Frozen, Night at the Museum, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
16. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University (SU) was founded in 1870. The school serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and 126 countries. The school offers more 200 majors, 100 minors, and 200 advanced degree programs across 13 schools and colleges. The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Department of Transmedia offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Computer Art and Animation, an MFA in Computer Art, and a Minor in Animation.
The 120 credit hour BFA in Computer Art and Animation “explores the possibilities of digital media within a fine art, exploratory, and culturally aware setting,” says the school. The degree program provides instruction in multiple art media where the computer plays the primary role. These media include computer-generated images, 3D computer animation, physical computing, creative computer programming, computer gaming, computer music, and sonic art. Students are mentored to become highly skilled critical thinkers producing art in individual and collaborative contexts.
The 60 credit hour MFA program “is an artistic research and development program situated in the context of technology where students are encouraged to develop a diverse set of practices within computer art.” The program covers computer generated imagery, 3D computer animation, physical computing, creative computer programming, computer gaming, computer music, visual effects, multi-channel installation, and sonic art.
Students in the program “are expected to develop a strong record of professional practice in a variety of contexts, including exhibition, screenings, public intervention, installation, performance, workshops, gaming events, and viral media, among other forms of public engagement.” Students can expect to complete the MFA program in three years.
Students in both the BFA and MFA programs have access to study abroad programs in 60 countries throughout the world, enabling them “to gain a global perspective as they pursue their studies.”
VPA animation graduates have found employment at major studios such as Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Blizzard Entertainment, Tippett Studios, Moving Picture Company, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Graduates have also presented their work at galleries and media art festivals around the world.
17. Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine
Maine College of Art (MECA) was founded in 1882 as part of the Portland Society of Art. The school serves around 550 degree-seeking students and 1,500 continuing studies students. The school offers BFA, MFA, MA, and Certificate programs, including 11 majors in the BFA program. Among the BFA programs is the Animation & Game Art (AG) Major.
Launched in 2018, the school says that the AG Major is “designed on the premise that in order to effectively tell a story, animators must understand screenwriting, character development, cinematic structure, narrative and composition, and be able to effectively convey the emotions and motivations of a character by mastering skills in drawing, modeling, timing, and gesture.” To develop these skills students will work in studio-like settings to create works and take courses such as Cinematic Storytelling, Character Design for Games & Animation, and Intro to 3D Modeling & Animation.
Students will also take Special Topics: Stop Motion Product and complete the Major Capstone Production. “The program’s dual emphasis on developing both individual exploration and collaborative practices prepares graduates for lifelong personal and professional creative practice. Internships and Professional Studio Courses prepare students to competitively enter the professional marketplace.”
18. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Stamford, Connecticut
Established in 1881 as Storrs Agricultural School, the University of Connecticut (UConn) opened with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, the school has nearly 9,500 faculty and staff members serving 32,257 students enrolled in seven undergraduate degrees in 113 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 90 research and professional practice fields of study, and six professional degree programs (JD, LLM, MD, DMD, PharmD, SJD). Programs are offered across one main campus, five regional campuses and 14 colleges and schools.
The School of Fine Arts offers several programs for aspiring animators including BA and BFA programs in Digital Media and Design with Concentrations in 2D Animation & Motion Graphics, and 3D Animation & Visualization. MA and MFA degrees in Digital Media and Design are also the available. Creative areas include Digital Arts, Entertainment, Digital Humanities/Social Sciences, STEM, and Business.
Also available is a Certificate in Digital Media and Design. This 12-credit, online program will help students develop proficiency with the concepts and tools for business, web design, motion graphics, animation, and video games, among others.
The school says the 2D Animation & Motion Graphics area educates students in the “conceptual and technical aspects of time-based storytelling,” preparing “students for careers using 2D/3D animation, design, and video in the context of the arts, entertainment, marketing, communications, education, advertising, scientific visualization, and more.” Course highlights include Animating Science, Experimental & Alternative Techniques, and Motion Graphics I & II.
The 3D Animation & Visualization area gives students “experience in all aspects of 3D animation production: modeling, lighting, rendering, animation, simulations and visualizations, rigging and compositing for visual effects. Courses “focus on the core principles of 3D animation” and “experiential learning through personal and group projects employing problem-solving methods, critical thinking, and analysis, research and reflection.” 3D Simulations, Modeling, Lighting & Rendering, Compositing for Visual Effects, and Animation are just a few course highlights.
Per the school, students in all programs “have the opportunity participate in initiatives like AntU, which brings together Digital Media and Design, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. Throughout their coursework, UConn Storrs students are able to work with faculty and peers across the School of Fine Arts, as well as in science, engineering, business, and humanities departments.”
UConn Storrs students have obtained jobs (often within six months of graduation) and paid internships at Adobe, CBS 2 News, and NBC Sports Group, as well as at smaller animation and design studios like Alessandro Weber Design, DW Advertising, milk*, Fusion 360, and XVIVO | Scientific Animation.
19. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts
Founded in 1880, Emerson College serves nearly 4,500 students from all 50 states and 55 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 (VMA) offers both BA and BFA degrees in Media Art Production. The Department also offers an intensive three-year Film & Media Art MFA that admits just 22 students per class year.
The BA degree requires 44 credits in the major and the BFA requires 60. Both degrees include eight additional upper-level liberal arts credits. Per the school, the programs focus on computer animation, film animation, motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing techniques. Students have the opportunity to “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.” Course highlights include Computer Animation, Advance Computer Animation, Film Animation, Motion Graphics, Advances Interactive Media, Programming for Digital Media, and 3D Gaming.
Graduates of the VMA animation programs will be prepared to seek careers in the movie, gaming, and television industries.
The VMA MFA program allows students to focus in one or more areas of Computer Animation, Documentary, Experimental Media, Fiction Narrative, Installation, Interactive Art, Media Production, Sound Design or an individualized hybrid form. The program includes a monthly colloquium in which students will present and discuss their in-progress work. The MFA Production Workshop provides advanced training and experimentation within a collaborative cohort, and an annual portfolio review helps students develop and fine-tune their portfolios.
Recent graduates of Emerson’s Department of VMA 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.
20. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey
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 more than 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 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.
21. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. The school serves more than 31,000 students enrolled in 225 academic programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts, Department of Kinetic Imaging offers BFA and MFA degrees in Kinetic Imaging. The program is dedicated to Animation Art, Emerging Media, Sound and Video.
The BFA program has 100 to 110 students, and accepts just 28 to 35 new incoming sophomores each year. Students in the program will take courses such as Principles of Experimental Animation, 3D Computer Graphics and Animation, Theory and Production of Media-Based Sound, and Video Editing Techniques.
The MFA in Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging expands the field of video art, experimental animation, sound art and emerging media through the production of works of art that explore the artist’s relationship to culture and society. Potential works include media projects that take such forms as the poem, the essay, the video sculpture, and the installation. The two-year curriculum for this studio-based fine art program consists of 60 academic credits. The program is designed to support 4-8 graduate students.
22. Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey
Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the largest and most comprehensive higher education institution in the state. The school serves nearly 70,900 students from all 50 states and more than 125 countries enrolled in more than 150 undergraduate and 400 graduate programs through 29 schools and colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts (VMPA), which offers a BA with a Concentration in Animation.
The school says students in the program “learn to prepare two and three-dimensional art for animation films, gaming, video, advertising, architecture, medical research, and web design in the most comprehensive and advanced courses available in this region.” Course highlights include Animation Production, Advanced Computer Studio, Visual Fundamentals, Character Animation, Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Kinetic Sculpture, New Media Art, Color Theory, Classical Animation, Computer Multimedia, Environmental Design, Design for the World Wide Web and Video and Film Production.
Students in the program will also complete Special Studio Projects, which allows them to work closely with a studio faculty adviser to develop and execute a specified series of art works. An internship is also part of the program and all students have access to three on-campus laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art networked computers and post-production units, as well as 2D/3D editing software.
Graduates of the program have worked in the 3D animation industry as art directors and technical directors for various companies, such as Blue Sky, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Digital Domain, Ubisoft, BBC Earth, Quiet Man, Psyop, The Mill, Smoke & Mirrors, etc. In addition, they have participated making a variety of award-winning movies and games, such as Ice Age, Happy Feet, Frozen, Sesame Street 3D, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and more.
23. Towson University, Towson, Maryland
Towson University opened its doors on January 15, 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School. By 1875, the school had enough space to accommodate 300 students. Today, with nearly 23,000 students, Towson University is the largest university in the Baltimore area, the second-largest university in the prestigious University System of Maryland, and the 12th-largest public university system in the United States. Students pursue 64 undergraduate majors, 46 master’s programs and four doctoral degree programs at Towson University.
The College of Fine Arts & Communication (COFAC), Department of Art offers a BFA in Design Studies or Fine Art with a Digital Art & Design Concentration and an MFA in Studio Art. The school says the BFA program focuses on “digital media as a vehicle for content and design in formats that emphasize interactivity, media-rich digital environments and motion graphics. In addition, digital art courses support the development of digital painting and composing skills.” Students gain practical expertise, as well as creative insight, while problem solving in a variety of digital contexts. Graduates of the program are prepared for entry-level positions in animation, digital illustration, interactive design, web design, multimedia design, broadcast design, or digital imaging.
The MFA consists of professional study in animation, interactive media design, digital media, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, interrelated media, sculpture, printmaking, metalsmithing and jewelry. Full-time MFA students will maintain a residency in the Department of Art, working in an assigned studio space. The Department of Art fosters an MFA program that draws from all aspects of a diverse and comprehensive curriculum.
24. Alfred State College, Alfred, New York
Founded in 1908, Alfred State College is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The school serves nearly 3,700 undergraduates enrolled in more than 70 majors in agriculture, allied health, applied technology, architecture & engineering technology, business, and liberal arts and sciences at the baccalaureate, associate and certificate levels. Programs are offered through a number of colleges and departments, including Alfred State College of Technology, Department of Digital Media & Animation.
Here, students can earn an AAS or BS in Digital Media and Animation. The 63 credit hour, four-semester AAS program provides students “with a broad range of technical, creative, and problem-solving skills,” says the school, “to facilitate employment in new media and animation.”
“At the core of the program is a sequence of studio courses that enhances individual artistic creativity and provides instruction in the traditional arts and industry-standard computer graphics software.” Course highlights include Digital Foundations, Interactive Design, Intermediate 3D Animation, Production, Foundations: Form/Space Relationship, Figure and Motion, and Survey of Animation & Visual Effects.
Graduates of the AAS program are prepared to enter the field in a range of areas including animation, fine art, digital imaging, interactive design, media design and more. They may also enter directly into the Digital Media and Animation BS, the Interdisciplinary Studies BTech, or the Technology Management BBA degree program.
The program has an employment and continuing education rate of 100% – 33 percent are employed; 67 percent continued their education.
The Digital Media and Animation BS requires around 123 credit hours of study, including a Senior Seminar, Senior Studio Project, Portfolio Courses, and Studio Tokyo. Studio Tokyo provides the opportunity for students to explore Japanese art, cinema, animation and digital media through a study-abroad program based in Tokyo. Students will create animation and digital media projects in collaboration with local artists, and expand upon their research from the Japanese Media course through screenings and site visits.
A Digital Media & Animation Internship is also part of the program. The course provides students with practical application of skills in the Digital Media and Animation major. The internship provides valuable real-life experience while extending the skills of the student towards various businesses, organizations, and professionals.
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in animation, digital imaging, fine art, interactive media, media design, and many other areas. The program has a 100% employment and continuing education rate, meaning 100% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate programs.
25. Point Park University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1933, Point Park University began as a small business training college. By 1960, the school had grown to 800 students. Today, growing nearly seven percent within the past decade, the school serves more than 4,000 students from 49 states and 33 countries, enrolled in 77 undergraduate programs, 17 master's programs and three doctoral programs. Programs are offered through the School of Arts and Sciences, Rowland School of Business, School of Education, School of Communication, and the Conservatory of Performing Arts and Community Engagement (COPA).
The COPA offers BA and BFA degrees in Animation & Visual Effects. Students may choose to focus on Animation or Visual Effects. The BA is a 120 credit hour program with fewer required courses than the BFA. The major allows students to take more general electives in order to build their own interdisciplinary course of study. The BFA is a 126 credit hour program that culminates in a Senior Project. “Upon completion of the program” says the school, “graduates possess the necessary balance of narrative and technical skills and aesthetic development to find their path in the expanding animation and visual effects industry.”
Students in both programs will “combine artistic vision and technical skills to transform their wildest imaginations into moving images on the screen.” Students will study 2-D, 3-D and stop-motion animation, as well as visual effects for movies and motion graphics. In the Animation Concentration, students will develop skills for storyboarding, character development, modeling, compositing, and game design. In the Visual Effects Concentration, students will use “cutting-edge technology,” to create effects for movies, online, and broadcast content.
Course highlights for the programs include Classical Animation, Classical Animation, Designing for Commercial Media Platforms, Illustrating for Electronic Media, Intermediate and Advanced Animation, Intermediate and Advanced Visual Effects, Intro to Digital Tools and Techniques, Sound for Digital, Stop Motion Workshop, Theory of Game Design, and Web Media Development, to name a few.