2022

What are the top animation schools in the midwest for 2022?

Top 25 Animation Schools and Colleges in the Midwest - 2022 College Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinois
2DePaul UniversityIllinois
3The Ohio State UniversityOhio
4Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
5Columbus College of Art & DesignOhio
6Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesota
7College for Creative StudiesMichigan
8Purdue UniversityIndiana
9Kansas City Art InstituteMissouri
10Cleveland Institute of ArtOhio
11Ball State UniversityIndiana
12Bowling Green State UniversityOhio
13University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinois
14Ferris State UniversityMichigan
15Ohio UniversityOhio
16Kent State UniversityOhio
17University of WisconsinWisconsin
18American Academy of Art CollegeIllinois
19Webster UniversityMissouri
20University of IowaIowa
21Missouri State UniversityMissouri
22Grand Valley State UniversityMichigan
23Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis Indiana
24University of KansasKansas
25Drury UniversityMissouri

Our 2022 rankings -our eleventh annual- of the top animation programs in the Midwest. For reference, we define the Midwest as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. 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 that offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and BFA and MFA degrees in Studio. The degree programs offer extensive coursework in animation with course titles such as 3D Character Animation, Advanced Drawing for Animation, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Puppet Animation, Writing and Art Direction for Animation, Type and Image in Motion, and Intermediate Animation: Experimental Methods.

Other Department highlights include interaction with visiting artists, access to state-of-the-art production studios, the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, and on-campus galleries, and graduate seminars, screenings, and performances. In addition, FVNMA MFA students will 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, digital media, and more.

Founded in 1866 by a group of 35 artists, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the nation’s oldest accredited independent schools of art and design. Serving more than 3,500 students, SAIC offers over 50 areas of study in 24 academic departments. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Since 1948, the school has been accredited as a charter member by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

2. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) at DePaul University (DePaul) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the Animation Program. Degree options include a BA, BFA, MA, or MFA in Animation. An Animation (BFA), combined Bachelor’s/Master’s is also available.

Courses for the animation programs at DePaul are taught by one of the largest full-time animation faculties in the nation. More than a dozen animation professors teach courses such as 3D Animation, Design, Screenwriting, Motion Graphics, Stop-Motion Animation, Narrative Development, Drawing, Animation Production, History of Animation, and more.

The BFA program has concentrations in 3D Animation, Visual Effects Animation, Cinema, Game Art, Motion Graphics, and Storyboarding and Character Design. While the BA does not offer a concentration, animation students may enhance their skills in a focused area through major and open electives.  

The MA allows students to focus in 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist or Traditional Animation. Course highlights for the program include Advanced Topics in Visual Effects, Animation Figure Study, Topics in 3D Animation, Game Art Pipeline, and 3D Animation Production.

The Animation MFA follows the project model. Students 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. Animation, Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Film are just a few examples.

All 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 highlights 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 industry giants such as Electronic Arts, Google, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Laika Studios, Wargaming, and many others.

With 21,670 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. Founded in 1898, DePaul is also America’s 13th-largest private, not-for-profit university, and the largest private, not-for-profit college in the Midwest. DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

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

The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Both offer several programs for animators.

Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production (MIP) is a collaboration between departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wexner Center for the Arts. MIP majors can take production courses in the Departments of Art, Dance, and Theatre, and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Coursework covers live-action and animated filmmaking.

Animation students can expect to take nine credit hours of pre-major coursework, 24 credits in-production studios, two in cinema, six in MIP electives, and six for the senior project. A 15-credit hour Film Studies Minor is also part of the program. OSU MIP students will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses, complete an internship, or participate in the school’s study abroad program.

The Department of Art in OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. 3D modeling and animation, art games, sound, digital imaging, moving images, and emerging forms are just a few areas students will explore. Course highlights include Computer Animation, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, Moving Image Art, and 3D Modeling.

Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design. Established in 1968, the Department offers an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of study in design, the thesis project, and open electives.

Graduates of the Animation programs at OSU have gone on to become Animators, Human-Computer Interaction Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers. User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX) Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Freelance Artists, College Professors, and many others.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 61,000 students at campuses across Ohio in Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

4. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (Columbia College or Columbia) houses the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers several programs for animators. Options include a BA in Animation, BA and BFA degrees, a BFA in Computer Animation, and a Minor in Animation. A major component of all programs is the opportunity to begin animating in the very first year.

Columbia College Animation students may take courses such as Advanced Topics in Animation, Cinematics for Games, Alternative Strategies in Animation, Animation Layout, CVFX: Compositing, Stop-Motion Animation, Cartooning, Character Design and Modeling, The Business of Animated Content, and Animation Studios in LA, to name a few.

Animation Studios in LA is a one credit course that provides the opportunity for students to explore career opportunities at major Hollywood animation studios. Events include tours, portfolio reviews, and employment screenings. Past participating studios include Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., and Disney. During the final year of the program, Columbia BA students will have the option to work with a team or individually to create a film. BA students will also fine tune their demo reels.

As a senior, BFA students will produce an animated film as a solo project, serving as producer, editor, and director. Films will be presented at Manifest—Columbia Colleges annual art festival showcasing graduating students work.

Many graduates of the Animation programs at Columbia College Chicago run their own studios, while have gone on to win Oscars and Emmy Awards. Columbia College alumni have worked on films and series such as The Lion King, Robot Chicken, Brave, Frozen, Pocahontas, UP, The Lego Batman Movie, Coco, Finding Dory, and many others.

Columbia graduates can be found at networks and studios such as Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Warner Bros. Animation, Weta Digital, and many others.

Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago serves 7,000 students enrolled in more than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs. In addition to offering programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

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

Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) has an Animation program that has been existence since 1987. Leading to a BFA in Animation or a Minor, the program provides unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer, and teaching labs as well as flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.

Animation students may add a concentration or minor to the program. Concentration options include Experimental or Game Animation, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Drawing, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Modeling, or Illustration/Illustrative Design. Minor options include Animation 2D or 3D, Comics & Narrative Practice, Film & Video, Illustration, Advertising & Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Photography, Fine Art, and more. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework and minors require 15 credit hours.

Because Columbus College of Art & Design offers so many concentration and minor options, students interested in becoming animators/live action filmmakers or animators/visual effects artists can enroll in the BFA in Film & Video Program and add a concentration or minor in animation. 

Consisting of 120 total credit hours of study, the CCAD BFA in Animation is divided into 60 credit hours of program requirements, 40 in core liberal arts, and 18 in core studio. Visual Literacy, Historical Art & Design, Writing & the Arts, Visual & Narrative Storyboard, 3D Animation Modeling & Surfacing, Café Sketch, Animation Lab Pipeline, 3D Character Animation Simulation, and Animation Lab Production are a just a few course titles for the program.

Animation BFA alumni hold positions such as Animator, Character Animator, AR/VR Designer, Motion Designer, Game Artist, and Motion Designer. Many CCAD BFA program graduates go on to enroll in some of the nation’s top MFA programs. Recent employers include Electronic Arts, Cartoon Network, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Laika, Proctor & Gamble, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

BFA graduates who would like to pursue an MFA at CCAD typically choose the MFA in Visual Arts. 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. In the facility, 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 Visual Arts 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.

Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving more than 1,000 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, one MFA degree, and one MPS.

Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

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

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) offers a BFA and a Minor in Animation and an MFA in Visual Studies. The MFA is an interdisciplinary and experimental program, which allows students to focus in one or more areas of interest. Examples include animation, experimental film and video, illustration, drawing and painting, comic arts, and web and multimedia, to name a few. 

Other program highlights include some 50 private studios, smart classrooms, access to 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, artist studios, and more.

The MCAD Minor in Animation covers traditional animation techniques, storytelling, compositing, and pre-production. Students will also learn how to use the latest industry software to create animations. Four classes are required to complete the program: Character Design, Drawing for Animators, Experimental Animation, and Storyboarding.

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design BFA in Animation has two tracks: 2D and 3D Animation. Both tracks require 12 credit hours of study within the 120 credit hours required to graduate. Students may focus in other areas through the programs 26 required studio electives. Course examples include 3D Rendering, Experimental Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking, Stop-Motion Animation, and Professional Practice.

Both BFA and MFA students may complete an internship and/or study abroad in places such as Italy, the UK, Germany, and Japan. Students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, Massachusetts Museum of Art, and more.

Potential careers for MCAD Animation and Visual Studies graduates include Background Animator, Character Developer, 3D Modeler/Animator, Pixel Artist, Special-Effects Animator, Storyboard Artist Inker/Opaquer/Checker, Producer, Project Manager, Film Editor, Stop-Motion Animator, and Writer, among others.

Established in 1886, Minneapolis College of Art and Design serves more than 800 students. The school offers 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA programs, including the new MA in Creative Leadership (launching summer 2022), one MFA program, and five professional development certificate programs.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). MCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

7. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
College for Creative Studies

The Entertainment Arts Program at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) offers an Animation Concentration within the BFA in Entertainment Art Program. One of the largest offerings at CCS, Entertainment Arts also offers concentrations in Digital Film, Concept Design, and Game Design. All concentration areas are STEM-designated.

Entertainment Art/Animation students may customize the curriculum by taking coursework from all concentration areas. Internships are strongly encouraged, and students are required to complete Writing Workshop and Senior Production Studio courses. Other course highlights include 3D Computer Graphics, Advanced Rendering Techniques, 2D Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Gesture Drawing, Computer Character Animation, Experimental Animation, and Stop Motion.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program hold positions from Animator and Director to Rigger and VFX Artist. Companies that have hired College for Creative Studies graduates include ABC Television Group, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Disney, to name a few.

The College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. Serving more than 1,400 students, CCS offers art and design programs at all degree levels. The College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). CCS is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

8. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue University

Purdue University (Purdue) houses Purdue Polytechnic Institute—one of the 10 academic colleges at the university. Within the Institute is the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) which offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Animation or Animation and Visual Effects, an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, and a 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology. The CGT MS program participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.

The CGT BS in Animation program focuses on Character Rigging, Motion, Lighting, 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Texturing. Using the same software used in the animation industry, such as Maya and Autodesk, BS students will create animations, games, films, and more.

The CGT BS in Animation and Visual Effects covers Animation, Computer Rendering, Audio, Special Effects, Video, Digital Lighting, and more. Because Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, students will take courses such as Physics, Calculus, and Trigonometry. The business side of the industry is also covered. This includes coursework in marketing, management, business writing, and entrepreneurship.

Graduates of Purdue University’s CGT BS in Animation and Animation and Visual Effects programs are routinely hired at studios such as Walt Disney and DreamWorks, to name a few. Some graduates go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor.

The Purdue University MS in CGT provides study and training in Animation, Games, Information Visualization, and UX Design. A large number of course options allow students to concentrate in a specific area. Because CGT MS program is interdisciplinary, students have opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs.

MS students wishing to focus in Animation may choose the Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the Non-Thesis option will complete a Senior Capstone. Course samples for both options include The Art of Technology of Computer Animation, Visual Intelligence and Perception, The Development of Graphics in Technology, and Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology. Elective requirements also allow for the exploration of other areas.

Purdue University CGT MS alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Digital Lighting Specialists, Simulation and Visualization Specialists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and more.

Students with a graduate degree from Purdue University or other schools are eligible to apply to the PhD in Technology Program. Also offered in Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the PhD program supports study and research in CGT, including Computer Animation, Game Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience (UX) Design, and other related areas.

Graduates of the CGT PhD Program at Purdue University go on to pursue careers in entertainment, academics, technology, government, and more.

Purdue University was established in 1869. The school serves nearly 50,000 students, with around 6,000 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs in 10 colleges and schools. Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology. The Institute houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

9. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Art Institute

The BFA in Animation program at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is housed in the newly renovated Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration and is one of the fasted growing majors at the college. Animation students may also declare a double major or minor in Art History or Creative Writing or minor in Entrepreneurial Studies, Social Practice, or Sound.

Animation BFA course highlights include Digital Methods, Explorations in Animation, Contemporary Animation History, and Ideas in Motion. Elective options for the KCAI Animation BFA run the gamut from Documentary and Narrative Storytelling to The Art of Stop Motion Puppetry and Filmmaking and Animation. The Professional Practice course, taken during students’ senior year at KCAI, allows them to interact and network with industry professionals, visiting artists, and scholars.

During the final year of the program, students will engage in two six-credit studios, where they will have the opportunity to conceptualize and produce an animated work. Students may also complete an internship at a local or national studio. 

Many graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute BFA in Animation program go on to pursue advanced degrees at top institutions such as the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), School of Visual Art New York (SVA NY), and University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). Others have secured positions at major studios and networks such as Bazillion Pictures, Digital Domain, Disney, Hallmark, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Plympton Studios, Titmouse, and Warner Brothers, among others. 

Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885. The school serves more than 700 students and offers 13 different majors. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). KCAI is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and is a member institution of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

10. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) offers a BFA in Animation that allows students to declare a focus area during their junior year. Also during the third year of the program, CIA BFA Animation students will work on a number of projects—in teams and solo. Courses for the program are taught by experienced instructors who have worked for DreamWorks, Walt Disney Feature and Sony Animation, Illumination, and Warner Bros., among others.

Just a few required courses include Experimental Animation, Advanced 3D Animation, Narrative Production, Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts, 3D Modeling for Concept Vehicles, and Community Projects: Animation Production (EP). In this course, students will work together to animate and produce works for both individual clients and businesses.

In the senior year of the CIA BFA in Animation, students will work on a thesis project. Through the Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts course, students will develop and present a portfolio and demo reel in their chosen focus area. Both pieces are expected to be industry-ready.

Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art have worked on feature films, television series, and games. Some go on to work in the medical, sports, and communications industries, among others. Job titles range from Animator and 3D Character Animator to Game Designer and Independent Filmmaker.

Cleveland Institute of Art was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882. This independent, not-for-profit college serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 entertainment arts, design, fine arts, and craft majors. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

11. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
Ball State University

The Ball State University (Ball State) College of Fine Arts is home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Visual Arts/Animation. Students in the BFA program will explore traditional 2D animation, stop-motion animation, 3D amination, visual effects, and modeling, among others. The BFA also provides instruction and hands-on training in industry tools such as Maya, Adobe Illustrator, and Toon Boom.

Graduates of the BFA in Visual Arts/Animation at Ball State will leave the program with a professional portfolio and demo reel of their best work.

Ball State University was established in 1918. The school serves more than 20,000 students enrolled in over 200 programs in seven academic colleges. Programs in the School of Art at Ball State are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

12. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) houses the School of Art, which is one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio. Divisions housed in the 75 year-old School of Art include Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Art History, Studio, and Art Education. School of Art highlights include study abroad opportunities and internship opportunities with local studios and national studios such as Pixar and Disney Animation.

The Division of Digital Arts in the BGSU School of Art offers BA, BFA, and Minor programs in Digital Arts. At the graduate level, the Division offers an MFA in Art. The BGSU Minor in Digital Arts does not require a thesis or portfolio review. Students in the undergraduate degree programs may specialize in one or more areas of focus. Options include Animation, Gaming & Virtual Environments, or Interdisciplinary.

The Division offers courses such as Interactive Media, 3D Modeling and Animation, Imaging, and Video Art. Courses are also offered in the areas of special effects, rigging, simulations, and more. BA students can choose any minor. Examples include Film, Media & Communications or Computer Science. BFA students will complete a thesis project. Options for the project include an animated short, art installation or computer game, to name a few. The Digital Arts faculty will select projects to be screened or displayed at the BGSU BFA Exhibition and Film Festival.

Students in the two-year MFA in Art at Bowling Green State University may 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.

Graduates of the Bowling Green State University Digital Arts Programs are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, and Blizzard.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves around 19,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 programs in six colleges and BGSU Firelands (Huron, Ohio). Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The School of Art at BGSU has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.

13. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago

The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers BFA degrees in Moving Image and New Media Arts, a Minor in Art, and an MFA in Art. All programs provide opportunities to study animation.

The 16 credit hour Minor offers courses such as Moving Image, Motion Graphics, Film, New Media Arts, and Painting and Color.

The BFA in Moving Image Program explores experimental and documentary filmmaking. Emphasis is placed on production coursework, independent study, and seminars in Digital Animation and Film & Video. Students will complete at least 129 credit hours of study, with 61 credits in the major and up to a dozen credit hours of electives. Course examples include 3D Space: Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking, Introduction to Creative Coding in New Media Arts, and Topics in Drawing. Advanced Critique and the BFA Thesis Project are also part of the program.

The UIC BFA in New Media Arts is interdisciplinary, allowing students to focus in areas such as animation. The curriculum for the program covers 3D Animation, Physical Computing, and Mobile Application Design, to name a few. Course examples include Topics in New Media Arts: Intermediate Game Play, 3D Space: Animation, Creative Coding, and Information Aesthetics.

The University of Illinois at Chicago provides private studio spaces for all MFA students. This highly interdisciplinary program is a combination of collaborative projects, seminars, individual projects, research, advanced critique courses, and coursework from other Departments at UIC. Course options run the gamut from Drawing and Painting to New Media Arts and Moving Image.

All MFA students will present a public exhibition and complete a thesis or final project. The UIC MFA in Art requires 64 credit hours to graduate.

University of Illinois at Chicago serves more than 33,500 students, making it the largest university in the Chicago area. With roots dating back to 1859 when the Chicago College of Pharmacy was founded, UIC offers more than 250 degree programs and 85 minors across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

14. Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), Big Rapids & Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) at Ferris State University (Ferris or Ferris State) offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design, and a Minor. Students in the BFA program may choose from two focus areas: Entertainment Arts or Multimedia Design. Both areas allow students to develop portfolios in 2D Animation, Motion Design, 3D Game Art, Interaction Design, or Visual Development.

The Digital Art and Design Minor consists of five courses. The BFA program requires 120 credit hours of study consisting of supportive studio, major studio, art history, general education, and elective coursework. Professional Practices, Professional Studio I-II, and Digital Art & Design Thesis I-II are major components of the programs. Students in both focus areas can also expect to take courses such as Animation Processes, Interactive Multimedia Design, Digital Character Drawing, and Digital 3D.

From animation and entertainment to advertising and education, KCAD Digital Art and Design graduates are prepared to seek careers in a wide variety of industries. Possible job titles include 2D Character Animator or Designer, Storyboard Artist, 2D/3D Motion Graphics Animator, 2D/3D Character Concept Artist, Character Animator, Background Designer, and 2D/3D Prop & Environment Concept Artist.

Kendall College of Art and Design alumni work at Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, YouTube, and R/GA New York, to name a few. Graduates of the KCAD Digital Art and Design Program have also gone on to graduate school at School of Visual Arts, New York (SVA NY), Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA), Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada), and Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing (Indianapolis, IN).

Ferris State University was established in 1884. Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the school serves 11,165 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design is one of the seven colleges within Ferris State University. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, KCAD serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in dozens of specialized undergraduate degree programs and several graduate and certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design is accredited by the HLC-NCA. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

15. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Programs options for animators include a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A) and an MFA in Communication Media Arts.

Students in the Games & Animation Emphasis may choose from the Games or Animation Core. Both cores are offered in partnership with the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, also housed in Scripps College.

BS Animation students may pursue Animation for Games, Film/Television, and VR/AR. Students in both areas can expect to take courses such as Media & Creative Process, Technology, Communication, and Culture, Media & Development, and Global Media Systems. The Animation Core consists of Animation Foundation, and Animation I, II (3D), and III. Students in the Games Core will take Animation Foundation as well, along with Digital Game Design, and Game Development II-II.

Electives allow for further exploration of animation. Course examples include Special Topics in Games & Animation, Motion Graphics, Visual Storytelling, and History of Computer Graphics.

To graduate, all BS students must complete a Capstone. Options include Storytelling, Technology and Digital Media in Theme parks (Disney) or Digital Games.

The MFA in Communication Media Arts at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary program offered in partnership with Scripps College’s Schools of Media Arts and Studies, Visual Communication, and the McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies. 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, and Data Visualization and Infographics, to name a few.

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 MFA in Communication Media Arts Program at Ohio University will spend the final year of the program in two immersive Thesis Production courses.

Established in 1804, Ohio University is the oldest college in the state. The school opened in with one building, three students and one professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve 28,000 students across more than 10 campuses and centers across the state, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs in 11 colleges.

16. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University

The College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University (Kent State) offers a BS in Animation Game Design (AGD) with two concentration options: Animation and Game Design. Both concentrations require a minimum of 18 focused credits. Animation students will take Solid Modeling, Character Animation, Real-Time Rendering for Animation, and Animation Production and Visual Effects. Students will also take a variety of art, design, and film & video courses. An Animation Project worth three credits is also required. 

Graduates of the Kent State University BS in AGD Program are prepared to seek positions in animation, 2D and 3D modeling, game design, technical illustration, production, and more.

Also offered in the College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University is the Modeling and Animation Minor. The program requires 21 credit hours of study including courses such as 2D Graphics, Character Animation, Modeling and Texturing, and Digital Sculpting. Modeling and Animation students will complete a Final Animation Project worth three credits.

Both the BS in Animation Game Design and the Modeling and Animation Minor are fully offered at three Kent State Campuses: Kent, Stark, and Tuscarawas.

Kent State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training school. Consisting of an eight-campus system, Kent State serves around 35,000 students from across the U.S. and 116 countries. The school offers more than 300 programs with 280+ majors and minors. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The Animation Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

17. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Stout

The School of Art & Design at University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) offers a BFA in Animation & Digital Media and an MFA in Design. The BFA programs in the School of Art & Design are 120 credits consisting of liberal arts, art history, fine arts, and design coursework. Students in the BFA in Animation & Digital Media Program (formerly Entertainment Design) will explore 2D- and 3D-animation, stop-motion animation, and character animation. Program highlights include access to state-of-the-art animation studios, technology, and labs, local, national, and overseas internships, and a final professional portfolio of the student’s best work.

The UW-Stout MFA in Design emphasizes a cross-disciplinary environment, where graduate students may study Animation & Digital Media, Interactive Media & UX, Game Design, Digital Cinema, Photography & Video, and more. Graduate students will complete a number of design studios and seminar courses, independent study, and at least nine credits of focused electives. Successful Completion of the MFA Thesis is required to graduate. 

University of Wisconsin – Stout graduates enjoy a 97.8% employment rate. School of Art & Design alumni work in a range of roles at places such as Apple, DreamWorks Animation, and Shutterfly. Some graduate students have gone on to teach at Vancouver College of Art and Design, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stout, among others.

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State of Wisconsin. Serving nearly 8,000 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

18. American Academy of Art College, Chicago, Illinois
American Academy of Art College

American Academy of Art College (American Academy of Art) offers a BFA in 3-D Modeling and Animation. The program requires 122 credit hours of study to graduate. All American Academy of Art students will begin their respective programs with foundation coursework, which covers rendering, composition, and figure drawing, among other areas. A number of class projects during the first year of the program will help prepare students for entry into their major.

Upon completion of foundation coursework, 3-D Modeling and Animation students move into courses such as Advanced Character Animation, 2-D Computer Animation and Digital Video, Environmental Modeling, Storyboarding, Materials and Lighting for the 3-D Artist, Web Design., and Advanced Projects in 3-D Modeling and Animation. Students will produce a demo reel during the final year of the program.

Graduates of the American Academy of Art College Animation Program hold titles such as 2D or 3D Animator, VFX Artist, Motion Graphics Designer, Background Artist, Game Artist, Film/Video Editor, and Art Director, among others.

The American Academy of Art College was founded in 1923. The school serves approximately 169 students enrolled in six programs leading to a BFA degree. The American Academy of Art College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

19. Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri
Webster University

The School of Communications (SOC) at Webster University (Webster) offers BA degrees in Animation and Interactive Digital Media and a Minor in Animation Production.

Housed in the SOC Electronic and Photographic Media Department, the BA in Animation explores drawing, motion, storytelling, and performance. Students in the program will study both traditional and digital animation techniques. Sample courses include Advanced Animation, Voicing Your Creation, Animation Seminar, Graphics and Effects, Animation I-II, and Writing the Short Script. Elective options provide the opportunity to study games, visual effects, experimental animation, comic book creation, and more. Animation BA students will complete an internship and a Capstone course.

The Webster SOC BA in Interactive Media allows students to group electives into a focus area. While the program explores animation, video, graphics, and audio, courses in the Virtual and Augmented Reality delve deeper into animation production. Course examples include 3D Modeling, 3D Animation and Rigging, and Photorealistic 3D Animation.

The 18 credit hour Animation Production Minor explores the theory, principles, and practice of animation. Courses include Animation I-II and Writing Screenplays for Film. Students will also complete nine hours of animation electives.

All Webster University programs offer small classes, hands-on experience with equipment and resources during the first year, and collaboration across SOC disciplines and across the University.

Webster SOC graduates have been hired at major studio such as Disney, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Digital Domain, Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks. Just a few alumni credits include Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003), King Kong, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Webster University was founded in 1915 as Loretto College by the Sisters of Loretto. When it opened, the school became the first senior Catholic college for women in Missouri and one of the first Catholic women’s colleges west of the Mississippi River. Today, Webster serves a diverse population of 10,000 students enrolled in more than 160 programs housed in five colleges and schools. Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

20. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
University of Iowa

University of Iowa (U of Iowa) houses the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, home to the Department of Cinematic Arts, which offers opportunities to study animation. Degree options include a BA in Cinema, an MA in Film Studies, and MFA and PhD programs in Film and Video Production. Across all programs, students may focus in Animation, Experimental Film, Documentary Film, or Film Production.

Program highlights include workshops, group critiques, participation in film festivals, individual advising sessions, mock job interviews, and access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. 

The Department of Cinematic also offers ample opportunities to gain work experience through the internship program housed in the Pomerantz Career Center, the student-run Student Video Production (SVP) Club, and panels with faculty members. To learn about careers in film, all students may also enroll in Film/Video Production: The Business of Filmmaking. Department of Cinematic Arts graduates will leave a professional portfolio of their work.

University of Iowa Cinematic Arts alumni have found work at studios and firms in Hollywood, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, among others.

University of Iowa was founded in 1847, making it the state’s oldest college. The school serves around 31,200 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate areas of study and more than 100 graduate areas. Programs at U of Iowa are housed in 12 academic colleges. University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

21. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University

Missouri State University’s (MSU) Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Art with a Computer Animation Track. In partnership with the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film, the Department also offers a BS in Electronic Arts with a Computer Animation Studies Option.

MSU BFA students will complete Computer Animation II-V, Professional Practices in Computer Animation, and independent work on special projects in any studio area. An Art Internship, Public Affairs Capstone, and BFA Art Senior Exhibition, are also part of the program.

BS in Electronic Arts students will complete 69 credits in the major, including 18 in Computer Animation Studies. Students will complete the same coursework for the BFA program, along with Animation I and Principles of Cinematography or Editing for Film and Television. Junior Portfolio Review, Public Affairs Capstone, and Senior Project in Electronic Arts are also part of the BS program.

Graduates of the Missouri State University Animation Programs are prepared for careers in Animation/Computer Animation, Visual Effects, Game Art, Design and Development, Television/Film, Advertising/Marketing, Education, and more.

Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. Serving more than 26,000 students, MSU is the state's second largest university campus by enrollment. The school offers more than 270 majors and programs across eight colleges. Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

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

Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) houses the School of Communications. In the Department of Visual & Media Arts here, animators can earn a BA or BS in Film and Video Production.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Film and Video Production Program at GVSU explores animation, new media, sound design, scriptwriting, film studies, and more. While both the BA and BS pathways prepare students for careers in the industry, the BA requires proficiency in a foreign language and the BS requires three courses in Computer Information Systems, History or Statistics.

Program highlights include courses taught by working professionals in the field, membership in several student organizations, the opportunity to present work at local screening events, and experience through internships and production projects for clients outside of the classroom.

GVSU Film and Video Production students have interned at DreamWorks Animation, Voyage Pictures, Contact Light Films, 52 Watt Studios, Match Frame Creative, A2 Creative, D-Squared Creative, Coastline Studios, M-1 Studios, Detroit Public Television, and Allied Productions, among others. Grand Valley State University alumni are often hired by many of these studios and firms.

Grand Valley State University was established in 1960. With eight regional campuses and centers, GVSU serves around 22,400 students enrolled in 143 degree programs in seven schools. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

23. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, Indiana
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

The School of Informatics and Computing (SOIC) at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) offers a BS in Media Arts & Science with a 3D Graphics and Animation Specialization. A Minor in 3D Graphics and Animation is also available.

The BS program requires 120 credit hours of study, and the Minor requires 15 credit hours. Course examples for the programs include Advanced Topics in 3D, Advanced 3D Character Animation, Organic Modeling and Texturing, 3D Prototyping for Application in Medicine, 3D Compositing and Visual Effects, Motion Graphics, Stereoscopic Production and Display, Digital Storytelling, and Advanced Techniques in 3D.

Students in the BS program will complete the Career Planning, Portfolio Development, and Multimedia Project Development courses. While the Capstone Project Internship is strongly recommended, 3D Graphics and Animation students may complete the Mentorship or Bridge to Industry courses instead. Should the student choose the Capstone Project Internship, they will have the opportunity to develop a work in a professional setting and present it at an exhibition.

Graduates of the Animation Program in the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI are 2D and 3D Animators, Creative Directors, AR/VR Designers, Motion Graphics Artists, Medical Animators, Technical Animators, Film Production Artists, and Game Production Artists.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) alumni work at Pixar, EA Sports, Digital Domain, Sony Pictures ImageWorks, and Rockstar Games, to name a few.

Indiana University (est. 1820) and Purdue University (est. 1869) merged in 1969 to create what is known today as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The school serves 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degrees and majors in 17 degree-granting schools. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

24. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
University of Kansas

The School of Architecture and Design (SAD) at University of Kansas (KU) offers a BFA in Design with a Concentration in Illustration & Animation. Housed in the SAD Department of Design, the program explores art, design, illustration/drawing, animation, marketing, and professional practices. Course examples include Animation, Drawing for Media Illustration, Advanced Concept Art, Sequential and Narrative Illustration, Fundamentals of Animation, and Promotion and Marketing for Illustration.

Graduates of the University of Kansas Illustration & Animation Program are prepared to seek positions in animation, games, print media, advertising and marketing, toys and games, TV/film, book publishing, and design, among others.

Founded in 1865, University of Kansas opened in September 12, 1866 with one building and 55 students. Today, KU serves 28,500 students across five campuses the in Lawrence, Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina, Kansas. More than 400 degrees and certificate programs are offered in 13 academic schools. University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

25. Drury University, Springfield, Missouri
Drury University

The School of Communication & Fine and Performing Arts at Drury University houses the Department of Communication. Programs options for animators here include an Animation Major leading to a bachelor’s degree and a Minor.

The 18 credit hour Animation Minor covers the 12 Principles of Animation, the History of Animation, Traditional Animation, and Computer Animation. After completing these four courses, students have the option to take one advanced animation or computer animation course.

Drury University requires students to choose a major and two certificate programs. One certificate may be replaced with a minor or second major. Just a few certificate and minor options include Interactive Design, Professional and Visual Communication, Writing, Fine Arts, Computer Science, Graphic & Digital Design, and Web Communication & Design.

The Animation major requires 47 credit hours of coursework and students may choose a Concentration in 2D Traditional Animation or 3D Computer Animation. The program requires three interdisciplinary elective courses and at least two advanced animation courses. Students are also encouraged to complete an internship.

The Drury Animation Program culminates in a Senior Capstone consisting of Pre- and Post-Production courses.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Drury University are prepared to pursue graduate study or a wide range of roles in the film and television industries.

Drury University was established in 1873 as Drury College. The school was one of the first in the state to offer evening and continuing education classes to non-traditional students. Drury serves 4,000 students enrolled in more than 100 programs in eight colleges and schools. Drury University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

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