2023

What are the top animation schools in the midwest for 2023?

Top 25 Animation Schools in the Midwest - 2023 College Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1DePaul UniversityIllinois
2School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinois
3The Ohio State UniversityOhio
4Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
5Columbus College of Art & DesignOhio
6Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesota
7College for Creative StudiesMichigan
8Purdue UniversityIndiana
9Cleveland Institute of ArtOhio
10Kansas City Art InstituteMissouri
11Bowling Green State UniversityOhio
12Ball State UniversityIndiana
13Ohio UniversityOhio
14University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinois
15University of IowaIowa
16Ferris State UniversityMichigan
17Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis Indiana
18Grand Valley State UniversityMichigan
19American Academy of Art CollegeIllinois
20Kent State UniversityOhio
21Milwaukee Institute of Art and DesignWisconsin
22University of Wisconsin – StoutWisconsin
23Webster UniversityMissouri
24Bradley UniversityIllinois
25Eastern Michigan UniversityMichigan

Our 2023 rankings -our twelfth 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. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University (DePaul) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the Animation Program. Listed as a Top Film School by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the School of Cinematic Arts features courses taught by award-winning filmmakers, access to a state-of-the-art, 32,000 square foot production facility known as DePaul Cinespace Studios, and seven degree options for animators including the Animation BA, BFA, MA, MFA, BA/MA, and BFA/MA, and the Computer Science (CS) + Animation (CS+ANI) with an Animation Technical Director (TD) Concentration. An Animation TD Minor is also available.

In addition to award-winning filmmakers, courses for the animation programs at DePaul are taught by members of one of the largest full-time animation faculties in the nation. They teach courses such as 3D Animation Production, Cinema, Animation and Art, Screenwriting, Motion Graphics, 3D Design and Modeling, Stop-Motion Animation, Narrative Development, Storyboarding, Drawing, and Motion Capture.

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

The MA allows students to concentrate in 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist or Traditional Animation. Course examples 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. Examples include Animation, Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Film.

The multidisciplinary CS+ANI is designed for students seeking technical artistic roles in animation and game development. In addition to the Concentration in Animation TD, the program offers a Concentration in Game Art TD. Course examples for the program include Motion Graphics Foundations, 3D Design and Modeling, 3D Animation, Optimized C++, Animation Production, Advanced 3D Rigging, Concepts of Programming Languages, and Game Art Pipeline. Students in the CS+ANI benefit from interdisciplinary collaborative group project experiences with teams of students majoring in 3D animation, game art, storyboarding and character design, game design, and game programming.

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

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

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

With around 23,800 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges and schools, 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).

2. 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 BFA has Liberal Arts or Visual Critical Studies Thesis Options and all programs offer extensive coursework in animation. Course examples across pathways include Puppet Animation, 3D Character Animation, Sonic and Optics, Type and Image in Motion, Advanced Experimental 3D, Advanced Drawing for Animation, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Advanced Screenwriting, Writing and Art Direction for Animation, Visualization and Storyboarding.

Other FVNMA Department highlights include interaction with visiting artists; access to state-of-the-art film, editing, and production equipment, the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, and on-campus galleries; and graduate seminars, screenings, and performances. In addition, FVNMA MFA students have the opportunity to participate in Critique Week. This week-long event takes place each semester. The entire faculty, along with invited visiting artists and designers, form panels designed to critique students work. All classes are suspended during this time.

Graduates of SAIC’s FVNMA Department are prepared to seek careers in animation, film, games, 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). Since 1948, the school has been accredited as a charter member by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses 38 departments, more than 20 research centers, and over 2,000 faculty and staff members that provide more than 80 majors, 100+ minors and certificates, and over 50 graduate programs. Among the College’s programs are several pathways to study animation.

Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary Moving Image Production (MIP) BA Program is a collaboration between The Departments of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts; Art; Design; and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).

The program, which combines live-action and animated filmmaking, features studio practice in Animation, Experimental, Narrative, and Documentary. Course examples include Motion Studies Through Hand-Drawn Animation, Computer Animation: Form, Light, Motion I & II Group Studies in Digital Animation and Interactive Media, Concept Development for Time-Based Media, and Film/Video: Topics in Technologies and Strategies.

OSU MIP students will take a 15 credit hour Flim Studies Minor as part of the program, and they will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses through electives, complete an internship, and participate in the school’s study abroad program.

The Department of Art houses the Art and Technology Area. Undergraduate students in this interdisciplinary emphasis area will explore everything from 3D modeling and animation to electronics/robotics/animatronics. Area course examples include Computer Animation, Moving Image Art, Digital Imaging, Art & Technology Studio Practice, Video Art, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, and Graphic Novel – Web Comic Production.

Graduate Art and Technology students will engage in project-based learning, while creating 3D animations, virtual reality, sound, interactive installations, and more. The undergraduate program leads to a BFA and the graduate program leads to an MFA.

The Department of Design has a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track, within the MFA Program. Students will complete 60 credit hours of study in design over three years including Exploration (year 1), Practice and Application (year 2), and Synthesis (year 3).

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

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 67,800 students across six regional campuses including 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).

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

The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) houses the Interactive Arts and Media Department (IAM), home to the Animation Program. Students in the program have access to state-of-the-art animation production spaces including Cintiq, stop-motion, and traditional animation labs, as well as the Equipment Cave, Game Lab, Sound Studio, and Open Lab. IAM program options include a BA in Animation, and BFA degrees in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation.

An Animation Minor that explores object, stop-motion, and hand-drawn animation is also available. Students in this program will use industry-standard editing and storyboarding software to create a story reel for a final project. All IAM Animation Programs provide the opportunity to begin animating in the very first year.

Course examples across programs include Alternative Strategies in Animation, Computer Animation: Keyframing, Environmental Design & Modeling, Animation for Comics, Stop-Motion Animation, Animation Maquettes, Character Design and Modeling, CVFX: Compositing, Advanced 3D Digital Sculpting, Character Design and Modeling, Cartooning, Acting for Animators, and Screenwriting: Writing the Short Film. 

Select BFA students will have the opportunity to participate in the Animation Studios in LA Program. This one credit course provides allows students to explore career opportunities at major Hollywood animation studios. Events include tours, portfolio reviews, and employment screenings. Participating studios have included DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Warner Bros.

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.

Animation BA students will have the option to work with a team or individually to create a film during the final year of the program. BA students will also spend the final year fine tuning their demo reels.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Columbia College Chicago have launched their own studios, they have gone on to win Oscars and Emmy Awards, and some alumni have worked on films and series such as The Lion King, Robot Chicken, Brave, Frozen, Pocahontas, UP, The Lego Batman Movie, Coco, and Finding Dory. Columbia College graduates have been hired at networks and studios such as Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon, Pixar, DreamWorks Studios, Cartoon Network, and Weta Digital.

Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school serves nearly 6,700 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to 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).

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

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

CCAD Animation students have the option to add concentration or one of 18 minors to the program. Just a few concentrations include Animation/Experimental, Animation/Game Design, Illustration/Entertainment Design/Drawing, Illustration/Illustrative Design, and Illustration/Entertainment Design/Modeling. Minors that complement the program include Animation 2D or 3D, Comics & Narrative Practice, Film & Video, Illustration, Advertising & Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Photography, and Fine Art. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework and minors require 15 credit hours.

Students with an interest in animation, live action, and visual effects (VFX) 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.

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

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

Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving around 1,010 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, 18 Minors, an MFA in Visual Arts, and a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Retail Design.

Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 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) has several pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, MCAD has a collaborative Animation BFA Program and a 15 credit-hour Animation Minor. At the graduate level, MCAD has interdisciplinary and experimental Visual Studies MFA Program that allows students to focus in one or more areas of interest. Examples include animation, experimental film and video, comic arts, illustration, drawing and painting, and web and multimedia.

Students in the MCAD MFA Program also benefit from access to some 50 private studios, smart classrooms, state-of-the-art production facilities, and a large gallery space. MCAD MFA students may also participate in the Master’s Trip to NYC featuring visits to art and design venues, creative agencies, and artist studios.

The MCAD Animation Minor explores traditional animation techniques, compositing, storytelling, 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 Animation BFA 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 credits of 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, Germany, Japan, and the UK. MCAD Students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, Massachusetts Museum of Art, among others.

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

Minneapolis College of Art and Design was established in 1886 by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. The school serves more than 800 students from 45 states and 15 countries. Programs include 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA degrees, one MFA degree, and five professional development certificate options.

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). The school 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

College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an Entertainment Arts Program with a variety of STEM-designated concentrations. This includes animation. Students in this concentration have the opportunity to customize a specific track. Examples include Traditional Animation, Storyboarding, CG, Visual Development, and Stop Motion. Other program benefits include an optional internship; coursework and mentorships that help students build an understanding of the production pipeline for animation, games, television, and advertising; and a Writing Workshop.  

All students at CCS are required to complete 42 to 43 credits in liberal arts and 84 credits in studio. Course examples for the program include 2D Design Principles, Creative Visualization, 2D Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Storyboarding for Film/Animation, Animation Projects I-II, Lighting & Rendering, Computer Character Animation, Advanced Story Concepts, Stop Motion, Environments & Characters, Sound Design, Animation Nuts & Bolts, and Senior Production Studio I-II.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program are Animators, Directors, Storyboard Artists, Riggers, and VFX Artists, among others. College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at studios and networks such as DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Disney, and ABC Television Group.

College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. This private, nonprofit college serves more than 1,400 students enrolled 12 majors leading to a BFA, four programs leading to an MFA, and one program lading to an MA. College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is 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 (Purdue Polytechnic). Within the Institute is the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT), which has several paths to study animation. Options include a CGT BS with a Major in Animation or Animation and Visual Effects, CGT MS, and a 5-Year CGT BS/MS. The CGT MS Program participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.

The CGT BS/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 other related productions.

The CGT BS/Animation and Visual Effects explores areas such as Animation, Computer Rendering, Audio, Special Effects, Video, and Digital Lighting. Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, so students will also take courses in Physics, Calculus, and Trigonometry. The animation business is also explored, including coursework in marketing, management, business writing, and entrepreneurship.

Graduates of Purdue University’s CGT BS/Animation and Animation and Visual Effects Programs are routinely hired at studios such as Walt Disney and DreamWorks. Some graduates go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor, while others have launched their own studios and freelance businesses.

The Purdue University CGT MS 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 the CGT MS program is interdisciplinary, students have opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs.

MS students who would like to study animation may choose the Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the Non-Thesis option will complete a Senior Capstone. Course examples across options include The Art and Technology of Computer Animation, Visual Intelligence and Perception, The Development of Graphics in Technology, and Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology. Elective requirements also allow students to explore other areas.

Purdue University CGT MS alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Digital Lighting Specialists, Simulation and Visualization Specialists, Riggers, and Technical Artists at both independent and major studios.

Students with a graduate degree from Purdue University are eligible to apply to the Technology PhD Program. Also offered in Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the PhD program supports study and research 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, and government, among others.

Founded in 1869, Purdue University began classes in 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school serves approximately 50,885 students, with around 5,600 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Purdue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

The Animation Program at Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) prepares students for careers in animation through work experiences with real clients and community partners, internships, and both independent and collaborative projects. Students in the program are also mentored by veteran industry professionals with hundreds of feature film credits. CIA faculty have worked with major studios and companies such as DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Hasbro, Sony Animation, Illumination, American Greetings.

Leading to a BFA, the CIA Animation Program consists of courses such as Experimental Animation, Advanced 3D Animation, Narrative Production, Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts, 3D Modeling for Concept Vehicles, and Community Projects: Animation Production (EP). Open electives allow students to declare a customized focus area in their junior year, study outside the program, and collaborate with other CIA departments.

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

Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art have worked on feature films, games, and television series. Program alumni also work in the medical, sports, and communications industries, among others. Graduate are Animators, Storyboard Artists, Game Designers, 3D Character Animators, and Independent Filmmakers, among others.

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).

10. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

The Animation BFA Program at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is housed in the Department of Converging Media. Because Filmmaking, Interactive Arts, and Photography are also housed in the Department, cross-disciplinary study is encouraged. Animation students may also declare a double major in Art History and Animation or Creative Writing and Animation. Both options require 141 credit hours to graduate.

Animation BFA course examples 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 the senior year of the program allows students to interact and network with visiting artists, scholars, and industry professionals.

Also 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 School of Visual Art New York (SVA NY), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC), and California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts).   Others have been hired at major studios, companies, and networks such as Nickelodeon, Titmouse, Warner Bros., Disney, Netflix, Hallmark, and Digital Domain.

Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Situated within Kansas City’s arts corridor—just steps from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—this four-year art and design college serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 majors across 15 program areas. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

11. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

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

The Division of Digital Arts has BA, BFA, MFA, and Minor options. A Studio MFA is also available in the School of Art. The BGSU Digital Arts Minor does not require a thesis or portfolio review and students may focus in any area at BGSU. The Digital Arts Minor pairs well with Computer Science and other STEM programs as well as business, music, and other majors.

Students in the Digital Arts BA and BFA Programs may Specialize in Animation. 2D and 3D Animation Tracks are available within the specialization. Undergraduate students may also choose the Interdisciplinary Track, which provides the opportunity to incorporate classes from areas such as Drawing, Graphic Design, and Photography.

The Animation Track culminates in a semester-long senior capstone project that is screened at The Wolfe Center for the Arts during the School of Art's annual BFA exhibition and Film Festival.

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

Other program benefits include Graduate Assistantships, the opportunity to work the BGSU’s professional large-format printing studio, and access to the newly built Wolfe Center for the Arts, which houses three state-of-the-art digital studio classrooms, a 20-seat Mac Pro OSX lab, a 20-seat HP (Windows 7) lab, and an editing lab with 20 Mac Pro video editing workstations. In addition, the School of Art houses  The Media Center, which features high-dynamic range wide format printers, high-resolution scanners, 3D printing, and high-end digital a/v equipment for student checkout. The intensive, 60 credit hour Digital Arts MFA can be completed in two years, full-time. 

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

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

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

12. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
Ball State University

The College of Fine Arts at Ball State University (Ball State) houses the School of Art, home to the Visual Arts/Animation BFA Program. Students in this program will explore areas such as traditional 2D animation, stop-motion animation, 3D animation, visual effects, character animation, lighting, texturing, and modeling. The BFA Program also provides instruction and hands-on training in industry tools such as Toon Boom, Adobe Illustrator, Toon Bom Harmony, Photoshop, and Maya.

Other program highlights include collaborative projects, professional skills development including professional terminology and marketing, and courses taught by industry professionals. Course examples include 3D Animation, Rigging, and Simulation, Pre-Production, Production, Traditional Animation, Storyboarding, Character Design, Experimental techniques, Compositing and Motion Graphics, Drawing Studio, 4D Foundations Studio, and Animation: Specialty. Students will complete a senior project, professional portfolio, and demo reel of their best work to graduate.

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

13. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Options for animators here include the Animation BSC and the Communication Media Arts MFA. The Animation BS takes the place of the Games and Animation emphasis area, and it provides access to the new Advanced Animation Lab.

The new curriculum includes digital techniques for 2D and 3D animation; animation for film/TV, video games, and VR/AR; hybrid animation techniques; narrative storytelling in animation; motion graphics for video; preproduction and postproduction for animation; animation for visual effects; and sound design for animation. Coursework for the program is complemented by capstone projects, study abroad opportunities, industry internships and other experiences, and participation in student organizations.

Examples of industry experiences include OHIO-in-LA, where students will live and work in Hollywood; attendance at South by Southwest; Storytelling in Theme Parks, which includes all access tickets, workshops, speakers, and behind-the-scene tours at Walt Disney World; Animation and Culture in Tokyo, where students will explore Tokyo’s animation scene and culture; and the 48-Hour Shoot-Out where students have just two days to write, direct, and shoot polished 5-minute film.

Graduates of Ohio University’s School of Media Arts & Studies are Animators, Motion Graphics Designers, 3D Artists, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Animation Production Assistants, Cinematic Artists, Video Editors, Multimedia Artists, Technical Artists, Art Directors, and Environmental Artists, among others.

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

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

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

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), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges that house 16 schools and dozens of departments.

14. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has several pathways to study animation. Housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics (LCSL) is the Moving Image Arts Minor. The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts’ School of Art & Art History is home to the Moving Image and New Media Arts BFA Programs, and the Art MFA Program.

The 18-20 credit hour Moving Image Arts Minor consists of courses such as Moving Image Arts, Filmmaking, and Communication Technologies. The Moving Image BFA 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 New Media Arts BFA 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 Art 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 Art MFA requires 64 credit hours to graduate.

University of Illinois at Chicago serves nearly 34,000 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).

15. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
University of Iowa

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at University of Iowa (U of Iowa) houses the School of Art and Art History. Established in 1936, the School provides opportunities to study across disciplines. Within the School is the Department of Cinematic Arts, which also provides opportunities to study animation through several degree programs.  

Degree options include the Cinema BA and Minor, the Film Studies MA, the MFA in Film and Video Production, and the Film Studies PhD. Across all programs, students may choose coursework that explores Animation, Experimental Film, Documentary Film, and Film Production. Course examples include Animation, Digital Production: Animation, Film/Video: Image Design, Video for Performance, Digital Arts, Modes of Film and Video Production, Screenwriting: Short Form, Film/Video Production: Video Games and Identity, Alternative Forms, and Film and Media Practicum. To learn about careers in film, all Department of Cinematic Arts students may enroll in Film/Video Production: The Business of Filmmaking.

Program highlights include workshops, group critiques, participation in film festivals, individual advising sessions, mock job interviews, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The University of Iowa Department of Cinematic Arts also offers ample opportunities to gain work experience through the internship program housed in the Pomerantz Career Center and the student-run Student Video Production (SVP) Club. In addition, the Department also hosts panels with faculty members and students may join EPX Studio—a student run organization that supports artists and their game, animation, and digital projects. The Studio also hosts trips to studios and conferences.

Graduates of the Film Programs at University of Iowa enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. University of Iowa Film graduates can be found at studios, entertainment companies, and agencies 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 approximately 31,655 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate areas of study and 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).

16. 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) of Ferris State University (Ferris or Ferris State) has Digital Art and Design BFA that provides opportunities to develop a portfolio in 2D Animation, Interaction Design, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, or Visual Development. A Digital Art and Design Minor consisting of five courses is also available.

The Digital Art and Design BFA combines imaging, animation, sound, and interactivity. The program, which has focus options in Multimedia Design and Entertainment Art, requires 120 credit hours of study. Multimedia Design students will take courses that explore interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, video and motion design animation. Entertainment Art students will take courses that explore 2D animation, 3D game art, and concept and production art for animation and games.

Graduates of the Digital Art and Design Programs at Kendall College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue 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.

KCAD alumni hold positions at places such as Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, YouTube, and R/GA New York. KCAD alumni have also been accepted into graduate programs at the 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 more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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 565 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. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

Luddy School of Informatics, Computing & Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has a Media Arts & Science Program with two undergraduate pathways to study animation: the Media Arts & Science BS with a 3D Graphics and Animation Specialization, and the 3D Graphics and Animation Minor.

The IUPUI Luddy School Media Arts & Science BS requires 120 credit hours of study. The Minor requires 15 credit hours. Examples of courses across programs include Advanced 3D Character Animation, 3D Compositing and Visual Effects, Stop-Motion Animation, Storyboarding for Multimedia, 2D Animation, Character Design and Animation, Digital Storytelling, Creature and Character Design for Videogames, Comics, Film, and Animation, Digital Effects, Design Issues in Digital Media, 3D Prototyping for Application in Medicine, Motion Graphics, Visualizing Information, and Stereoscopic Production and Display.

Students in the Luddy School IUPUI 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 a student choose the Capstone Project Internship, they will have the opportunity to develop a work in a professional setting to be presented at an exhibition.

Graduates of the Media Arts & Science/Animation Programs at IUPUI are 2D and 3D Animators, Technical Animators, Medical Animators, Compositors, Game Production Artists, Creative Directors, Digital Designers, Film Production Artists, Architectural Visualization Artists, Motion Graphics Artists, Visual Effects Artists, and AR/VR Designers. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) alumni have been hired at major studios such as Pixar Animation Studios, EA Sports, Digital Domain, Sony Pictures ImageWorks, and Rockstar Games.

Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI houses the Department of Computer Information and Graphics Technology (CIGT), which has an additional program option for students who wish to pursue a career in animation. The Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) Program here features an Animation and Spatial Graphics plan of study consisting of 120 credit hours of study. This unique Track requires courses such as Computer Animation, Visual Effects in Film and Animation, Sketching for Visualization and Communication, Animation Preproduction, Production for Computer Animation, Motion for Computer Animation, Digital Lighting and Rendering for Computer Animation, Digital Post Production, and Raster Imaging for Computer Graphics.

CGT/Animation and Spatial Graphics students will have the opportunity to enhance the degree program through 25 required credit hours of selective and technical electives. A Career Enrichment Internship is part of the program as well as the Senior Design Project. Graduates of the CGT Program at IUPUI are prepared to pursue a variety of careers. Possible job titles include 3D Animator, Motion Designer, Multimedia Designer, 3D Production Artist, Themed Attraction & Experience Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and Computer Graphics Trainer and Educator.

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 approximately 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degrees and majors across 17 degree-granting schools. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) houses the Department of Visual & Media Arts. An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department serves nearly 700 students enrolled in five programs leading to ten different degrees. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed for work in traditional and new media; experiential learning opportunities such as internships, study abroad, and field trips; visiting artists; and campus exhibition and independent study programs.

The Department of Visual & Media Arts at GVSU also has two pathways to study animation including the BA and BS in Film and Video Production. Both programs explore animation, scriptwriting, film studies, sound design, new media, nonfiction, documentary, and fiction.

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. All courses are taught by working professionals in the field. Other program benefits include membership in several student organizations, the opportunity to present work at local screening events, and the opportunity to complete production projects for clients outside of the classroom.

GVSU Film and Video Production students have worked with or 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 approximately 21,650 students enrolled in 145 degree programs across seven schools and eight locations throughout Michigan. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

American Academy of Art College (American Academy of Art) has one pathway to study animation—the BFA in 3-D Modeling and Animation. Consisting of 122 credit hours of study, the program begins with foundation coursework which covers the fundamentals of art, anatomy, and life drawing. A number of class projects during the first year of the program will help prepare students for entry into the 3-D Modeling and Animation Area.

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. Academy of Art Animation students will produce a portfolio and demo reel during the final year of the program.

Graduates of the Animation Program at American Academy of Art College have been hired in variety of roles at local and national studios. Job titles include 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 has been training professional artists since 1923. The school serves approximately 170 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).

20. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
Kent State University

The Animation Game Design (AGD) BS at Kent State University (Kent State) is part of the College of Applied and Technical Studies. The program has two separate concentration options: Animation or Game Design. Both concentrations require a minimum of 18 focused credits. All students will learn to create digital media works such as cartoons, virtual reality environments, digital and non-digital games, simulations, motion graphics, and 3D walkthroughs using industry software and technologies for traditional animation, 3D models, digital sculpting, and 2D graphics.

Animation students will take courses such as Character Animation, Real-Time Rendering for Animation, Animation Production and Visual Effects, and Solid Modeling. 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 AGD BS Program are prepared to seek positions in animation, 2D and 3D modeling, game design, technical illustration, production, and more. Program alumni have been hired at studios such as Epic Games, EA Games, and High Moon Studios.

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 Character Animation, Modeling and Texturing, 2D Graphics, and Digital Sculpting. Students in the Modeling and Animation Minor will complete a Final Animation Project worth three credits.

Both the Modeling and Animation Minor and AGD BS are fully offered at three Kent State University 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 more than 28,000 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). The Animation Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

21. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

The Illustration Program at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) houses the new Animation Track that emphasizes hands-on experience in a range of animation techniques. In addition to the Animation Track, this BFA Program allows students to focus their studies further through required electives.

All students will take courses that explore 2D, 3D, and interactive animation, video games, and virtual reality. Course examples for the program include 3D Modeling & Animation, Visual Development & Storytelling, Animation Professional Practice, Illustration I-III, Digital 2D, Interactive & New Media, Visual Language, 2D Motion Fundamentals, and Systems of Drawing. For the culminating experience, Animation Track students will produce industry-ready animation projects individually or in teams across two Thesis courses (Animation Thesis Pre-Production and Animation Thesis Production). Final projects will be presented at MIAD’s Thesis Exhibition.

Graduates of the Illustration BFA: Animation Track are prepared for careers in animation for entertainment, games, advertising, medical, education, architecture, and law; news media; graphic design; computer systems design and software publishing; and data visualization. Potential job titles include Advertising Animator, Art Director, Special Effects Artist, Visual Effects (VFX Artist), Online News Media Animator, 3D Modeler, Game Artist, Keyframe Animator, Concept Artist, Illustrator, Television/Film/Video Editor, E-Learning Designer, and Multimedia Specialist.

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD)—a consortium of 39 leading art schools in the United States and Canada. The school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1974, MIAD is the only four-year, nonprofit, private college of visual art and design in the State of Wisconsin. Serving 1,750 degree-seeking, pre-college, and outreach/special programs students, MIAD offers 20 degree and minor programs in everything from Animation to Sustainability.

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

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) has two pathways to study animation at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Programs are housed in the School of Art & Design and include an Animation & Digital Media BFA (formerly Entertainment Design) and a Design MFA. Program highlights across pathways include access to studio classrooms, galleries, and industry-caliber labs, animation studios, and technology; collaborative learning; and local, national, and international internship opportunities.

The UW-Stout Animation & Digital Media BFA consists of 120 credit hours of study. The program explores traditional two-dimensional animation, three-dimensional modeling and animation, real-time production, character and environment design, motion capture, and principles of visual storytelling. Students will develop creative and critical thinking skills and they will take courses that cover specific animation and design software.

Course examples for the program include 3D Modeling and Animation, 3D Character Animation, Animation Production, Typography in Motion, Comics, Commercial Motion Graphics, Virtual and Augmented Reality Video Applications, Digital Illustration, Visual Effects and Compositing, Video Production, and Digital Sound.

The University of Wisconsin – Stout Design MFA takes place in a cross-disciplinary environment where graduate students may study Animation & Digital Media, Interactive Media & UX, Game Design, Digital Cinema, Photography & Video, and more. Design MFA 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 variety of roles such as Animator (2D or 3D), Stop-Motion Animator, Concept Artist, Game Designer, Art Director, and 3D Modeler. Graduates have been hired by companies and studios, big and small. Examples include Apple, Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Raven Software, Shutterfly, PUNY Entertainment, Fantasy Flight Games, Larsen Design, and The Nerdery. Some Design MFA alumni 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 Wisconsin. Serving approximately 7,700 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 Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

23. Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri
Webster University

The School of Communications (SOC) at Webster University (Webster) provides degrees, minors, and certificates in areas from Audio in Media Arts  and Sound Recording and Engineering to Animation and Scriptwriting. Housed in the SOC Media Arts Department, the Animation Program has two options: the Animation BA and Animation Production Minor. Students in both programs benefit from small classes, collaboration across SOC disciplines and the University, hands-on experience, and access to state-of-the-art production facilities and equipment.

The Animation BA Program at Webster University explores animation, storytelling, production, performance, and more. The major consists of 57 credit hours, with required courses such as Graphics and Effects, Animation I-II, 3D Modeling, Storyboarding, Writing the Short Script, Voicing Your Creation, Character Design, and Professional Development for Media Careers. Students may develop additional skills in a specific area through the required 12 credit hours (minimum) of electives. Course examples include Cartooning, Comic Book Creation, Game Art, Visual Effects, and Writing Screenplays for Film.

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. Examples include Experimental Animation, Storyboarding, Animation Production, Cartooning, Visual Storytelling, 3D Animated Short Film, Character Design, Photorealistic 3D Animation, and Special Topics in Animation.

Students in all Webster SOC Programs have the opportunity to add the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and complete an internship. SOC students have interned at companies and studios in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Orlando, and New York City. Examples include MTV Networks, Titmouse, Bad Dog Pictures, ESPN, Genius Games, Plymptoons, and Vidzu Media. Offered by the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology/Management Department, the Entrepreneurship Certificate is an 18 credit hour program that covers small business management, marketing, and financial management for Animation, Media Arts, Film/Television and Video Production, Music, and Graphic Design Majors, among others.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Webster University have been hired at major studios such as Disney, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Digital Domain, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and DreamWorks. Alumni credits include Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003), and King Kong.

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 across five colleges and schools. Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC),

24. Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois
Bradley University

The Animation Major at Bradley University provides the opportunity to begin animating during the first semester of the program. Leading to a BA or BS, the degree also provides the opportunity to intern at places such as OneFire, Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center,  Maui Jim, or the Boy Scouts of America. Other program benefits include off-campus study in Ireland, the Netherlands, or Los Angeles, and opportunities to show your work to the public at the Annual FUSE Exhibit. 

Across pathways, students will take courses such as Storytelling for Animation, Drawing I-II, New Media Theory, Three-Dimensional Animation, Two-Dimensional Rigging for Animation, History of Animation, Scripting for Animators, Experimental Animation, and Interactive Media Practicum I-II.

The culminating experience for the Bradley Animation Program is the Animation Capstone, which consists of two courses worth nine credit hours.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Bradley University are prepared for careers in all areas of animation. Recent Bradley graduates are working at Sony Pictures Imageworks, DNEG (formerly Double Negative), United Renderworks, MGM, Scientific Games, Float, Cutters Studios, and ArtSkills. Program alumni have also gone on to pursue graduate degrees in animation, computer science, creative writing, and many other areas at major universities across the country.

Bradley University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded by Lydia Moss Bradley in 1897, the school serves approximately 5,900 students from the U.S. and 49 other countries. Bradley University offers 185 programs across eight colleges and schools. Leading to degrees at all levels, programs are available in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology.

25. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic College at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and home to the School of Art & Design. Five undergraduate majors, three minors, and three graduate programs are available. For animators, the School of Art & Design has a Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) BS Program, and a 20 credit hour SAG Minor.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the multidisciplinary SAG BS serves 138 students. The program combines traditional art disciplines, writing, and story development with coursework in animation, illustration, rigging, lighting and camera techniques, graphics for simulation, and game development tools such as Unity.

Specific animation courses include Simulation and Animation Dynamics, Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Animation, Advanced Principles of Animation, Simulation, Animation and Gaming, 2D Animation, Vector Illustration for SAG, and SAG Movement. EMU SAG students will complete several studios and Senior Projects in SAG to graduate from the program.

Graduates of the Eastern Michigan University SAG BS Program are prepared to pursue positions in computer animation, special effects, storyboard art and design, games, concept art, character design and development, and graphic design, among others.

Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University is the state’s second oldest public university. The school provides around 200 undergraduate majors and 150 graduate programs to more than 14,000 students (Fall 2022). Programs at EMU are offered across five colleges, the Graduate School, and the Honors College. Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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