What are the top animation schools on the west coast for 2022?
|1||California Institute of the Arts||California|
|2||University of Southern California||California|
|3||University of California, Los Angeles||California|
|4||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||California|
|5||ArtCenter College of Design||California|
|6||Academy of Art University||California|
|7||California College of the Arts||California|
|8||Otis College of Art and Design||California|
|9||San Jose State University||California|
|10||California State University, Long Beach||California|
|11||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|12||California State University, Fullerton||California|
|13||Laguna College of Art and Design||California|
|14||Loyola Marymount University||California|
|15||University of Washington||Washington|
|17||California State University, Northridge||California|
|18||California State University, Los Angeles||California|
|20||University of Silicon Valley||California|
|21||New York Film Academy||California|
|23||Cornish College of the Arts||Washington|
|24||California State University, Chico||California|
|25||Academy of Interactive Entertainment||Washington|
Our 2022 list -our eleventh annual- of the Top 20 Animation School Programs in the West. For reference, we define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska. For an explanation of our ranking criteria, click here.
1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) offers a BFA in Character Animation, and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation. Programs are housed in the School of Film/Video, which claims famous alumni such as Chris Buck (Frozen), John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), and Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood).
The largest school at CalArts, the School of Film/Video focuses on intensive programs that emphasize technical and comprehensive artistic training. The programs are taught by experienced professionals working in CG, traditional, and independent animation.
The California Institute of the Arts BFA in Character Animation is a four-year program that prepares students to work in both traditional and computer graphic (CG) animation environments. In addition to required courses such as Acting for Animators and Perspective, Character Animation students may take courses such as Digital Methods, Life Drawing, and Storyboarding. Character Animation I-IV, Film Workshop I-IV, and Professional Preparation are also part of the program, which concludes with the creation of a professional portfolio and several short films.
Students in CalArts Experimental Animation BFA and MFA programs collaborate closely with mentors to master a range of animation approaches, processes, and techniques. Examples include 2D animation, digital production, installation, motion capture, multipane, performance animation, programming, stop motion, and more. Students can expect to participate in independent study, internships, lecture courses, seminars, workshops, and visiting artist lectures.
BFA course examples include Animation Production, Hybrid Imaging, and Motion and Meaning. MFA course examples include First Year Shorts, Sound for Experimental Animation, and The Digital Path for Animation. Students in both the BFA and MFA programs will produce a professional portfolio and final project to graduate.
Many California Institute of the Arts graduates go on to successful careers in advertising, animation, film/video, and marketing, while others have started their own studios.
California Institute of the Arts traces its roots back to 1961, when Walt and Roy Disney formed the school through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. Today, CalArts serves nearly 1,200 students enrolled in more than 70 degree programs across six schools including the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Art, the School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music, and the School of Theater.
California Institute of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also an accredited institution member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
2. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of California (USC) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts (Hench DADA), which offers BA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Animation + Digital Arts. Minor options include 3D Animation, Animation + Digital Arts, and Game Animation. The 3D Animation Minor allows students to focus in a specific area such as Character Animation, Motion Capture, Modeling, Virtual Reality, or Visual Effects. The Animation + Digital Arts Minor covers animation theory and practice. The program ends with a required final project. The Game Animation Minor covers systems, animation, and the games industry.
The USC Hench DADA BA and BFA programs may offer concentration options such as Character Animation, Immersive Media, 3D Computer Animation, Experimental Animation, Motion Graphics, Interactive Animation, Visualizing Science, Documentary Animation, and Visual Effects. Students will take courses in the major, concentration area, and other areas such as dance, dramatic arts, and physical education.
During the final year of the programs, BA and BFA students will complete a Senior Project, to include production and post-production of a fully rendered, animated piece—with soundtrack. Projects are presented to a committee upon completion.
The University of Southern MFA Program provides mini studios for all students. The spaces are provided for animation production and thesis work. Students in the program can expect to master techniques and approaches, from hand-drawn character animation to interactive digital animation. Course examples include Expanded Animation, Animation Production, and Storytelling for Animation. Elective units are an important part of the program, and include titles such as Survey of Interactive Media, Seminar: Avant-Garde Film/Video, and World Cinema Before 1945.
Graduates of the Animation programs at the University of Southern California work for studios such as Digital Domain, Digital Idea, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, and Sony Pictures. Many USC alumni have founded their own independent studios.
The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university established in 1880. The largest private sector employer in the city of Los Angeles, USC houses 23 schools and divisions, and serves a population of 49,500 students. More than 600 graduate and professional programs are offered. The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
3. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the UCLA Animation Workshop. Leading to an MFA, the three-year workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end. Sample required courses include Animation Design, Interactive Animation, Advanced Computer Animation Maya, Writing for Animation, and Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation.
Students in this graduate program will complete one interactive project and several films including a thesis film, traditional film, and computer film.
At the undergraduate level, UCLA offers a BA in Film and Television with a Concentration in Animation. The concentration consists of 20 units of study to be completed during the student’s senior year. All students are required to complete coursework in three areas: film and television craft (writing, editing, directing, sound recording, and photography; cinema and media studies (aesthetics, theory, and history); and production (animation, digital, television, film, and experimental). An internship is also part of the program.
Students in the BA and MFA programs at UCLA have access to the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio. Both degree pathways are offered in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media (FTVDM), which is part of the School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT).
Graduates of the animation and film programs at the University of California Los Angeles work for Walt Disney Imagineering, Nickelodeon, Pixar, DreamWorks, and many other major studios.
Established in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies. Serving 45,900 students, UCLA offers more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. The University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
4. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California
Gnomon School of Visual Effects offers a BFA or Certificate in Digital Production. A preparatory program, Foundation in Art & Design, is also available. The BFA in Digital Production is a full-time program that may be completed in three to four years. The Certificate in Digital Production is a full-time, two-year program, and the preparatory program may be completed in just one year.
Gnomon BFA students will receive training in industry software such as After Effects, Nuke, V-Ray, Photoshop, ZBrush, and Maya. Students will graduate from the BFA program with a professional demo reel that showcases their best work.
The Certificate in Digital Production has five areas of emphasized study. Options include Visual Effects Animation, Character & Creature Animation, 3D Generalist, Games, and Modeling & Texturing. Students in the program may also focus on Film, Games, or Visual Effects Production.
Gnomon’s preparatory program Foundation in Art & Design requires a full year of continuous study, including four courses per quarter. The goal of the program is to help students enhance existing skills, pursue a degree in a related field, or polish their portfolios.
With a nearly 100% employment rate, Gnomon School of Visual Effects has alumni working at studios such as Marvel Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation, Blizzard Entertainment, Reel FX, Digital Domain, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. Located in Hollywood, California, the school sits on a 35,000 square foot lot within the Television Center Studio lot. Gnomon offers degree programs, vocational certificate programs, and more than 100 individual 10-week courses. Gnomon School of Visual Effects is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
5. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California
ArtCenter College of Design (ArtCenter) offers a BS in Entertainment Design with an Animation Track. Students in the program will develop skills in lighting, character animation, modeling, storyboarding, and art direction across 132 units and eight terms. 2D Fundamentals, 2D Mechanics, Concept Art, Design History of Comic Animation, and Shorts are just a few of the courses ArtCenter Animation students can expect to take. All students will complete three Capstone Production courses, 5th Term Portfolio Review, and Business & Professional Practice.
ArtCenter College of Design graduates are prepared for positions within the entertainment industry such as Animator, Modeler, Digital Artist, Production Designer, and Storyboard Artist. Animation program alumni work at Marvel, Paramount, and other major studios.
ArtCenter College of Design serves more than 2,000 students across campuses in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California. ArtCenter also has satellite studios in Petersen Automotive Museum (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) and Berlin, Germany. Founded in 1930, the school offers 11 undergraduate programs, seven graduate degree program leading to an MFA or MS, a joint MS/MBA program, and undergraduate minors for Business, Creative Writing, and Social Innovation students.
ArtCenter College of Design is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)
6. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) houses the School of Animation & Visual Effects (VFX), which offers four programs leading to an animation degree and one leading to a certificate. Options include AA, BFA, MA, and MFAs in Animation & Visual Effects. Although the certificate program does not lead to a degree, this four-year program skips the liberal arts coursework, allowing artists to dive right into animating.
All programs are taught in a studio production environment known as StudioX. The School of Animation & VFX is the only school of its kind to teach in this type of environment. Because StudioX mimics most real-world studios, students gain hands-on experience with industry standard equipment, collaborating with other artists and on teams, and managing a production from start to finish.
In addition to several collaborative projects, students will complete an internship and create a professional portfolio.
Academy of Art Animation alumni work at major studios and companies such as Google, Laika, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel, Sony Pictures Animation, CASA VFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Riot Games, Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic, and many others.
Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university located in one of the world’s top cities for animation careers—San Francisco. Serving more than 7,000 students, Academy of Art is one of the nation’s largest private art and design schools. Divided into 22 schools, Academy of Art University offers more than 129 degree programs in 40+ areas of study. Programs lead to the AA, BA, BFA, BS, B. Arch, MAT, MA, MFA and M. Arch degrees.
The art and design programs at Academy of Art University are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Academy is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
7. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California
The BFA in Animation at California College of the Arts (CCA) is the school’s largest major. Housed in the Animation Department, the program provides hands-on learning in state-of-the art studios and labs such as the Foley Room, Hybrid Lab, Sound Studio, and Founder 309. Students will learn to create 2D and 3D animation, stop-motion animation, sound effects, animation for games, and more.
Courses for the BFA program are taught by instructors who are working in the industry with studios such as DreamWorks, Tippett, and Pixar. Course examples include 2D, 3D, and 4D, Animation 1 and 2, Visual Storytelling, Sound for Animation, Acting for Animation, and Writing 1 and 2. During the third year of study, CCA animation students will complete Junior Project 1 and 2. In the final year of the program, students will complete Senior Project 1: Pre-production and Senior Project 2: Production. This means graduates will leave the program with a polished piece.
Graduates of the California College of Art Animation BFA in Animation program have gone on to establish successful freelance careers and their own studios. CCA graduates have also been hired by studios such as Electronic Arts, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Bento Box Entertainment, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Phosphor Games, and many others.
California College of the Arts (CCA) began in 1907 as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. When it opened, CCA had just three teachers and 43 students. Today, 420 faculty members serve just over 1,600 students enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, minors, and dual degree options.
California college of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
8. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
Otis College of Art and Design’s (OTIS) Digital Media Department offers an Animation Emphasis as part of the Digital Media BFA Program. Students will begin the program with foundations. By the third year of the program, students can expect to advance into major and 300 level courses such as 3D Animation I-II, Creative Action Studio, Advanced Concept Development, and Practicum in Animation I-II. OTIS BFA students can also expect to complete a capstone and the senior project.
Otis College of Art and Design offers students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in an additional area through electives such as Virtual Reality, Sketching & World Building, Storyboarding & Pitching, or Producing & Production Management. An optional internship is also offered.
Graduates of OTIS Digital Media BFA Program have gone on to establish successful careers at Disney, Pixar Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, and many others.
Founded in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is Los Angeles’ oldest professional school of the arts. Serving more than 1,200 students, OTIS offers 11 BFA degree programs and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available. Programs and courses at OTIS are led by more than 430 professors—all active professionals in their respective fields.
Otis College of Art and Design is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
9. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the College of Humanities and the Arts, home to the Department of Design and the Department of Art and Art History. Both offer programs for animators.
Two degrees are offered in the Department of Design: a BFA in Animation/Illustration (A/I) and a BA in Design Studies, specializing in A/I. The Department of Art and Art History and the SJSU CADRE Institute offer an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Digital Media Art. CADRE (Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education) became SJSU’s formal fine arts program in 1985.
The 60-credit hour MFA is a three-year program that includes studio courses, independent study, art history, and seminars. Students in the program will explore animation, sound, computer visualization, multimedia, virtual reality, and other areas. The culminating experience for the program is the MFA Project, worth three credit hours.
San Jose State University’s BFA in A/I is a professional degree that covers 3D and traditional animation. Students in this program may specialize in Animation or Visual Development through upper-division coursework. Specializations are 21 credit hours. Students in both areas must pass a milestone portfolio review and complete a six-unit capstone—Senior Seminar Animation/Illustration.
The SJSU BA in Design Studies with A/I is a liberal arts degree that allows students to explore photography, design, and theater arts, in addition to animation and film. Both the BA and BFA programs offer professional internship opportunities.
Graduates of the Animation programs at SJSU have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Just a few include Animation Mentor, Cogswell Institute, Sony/Columbia, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Interactive, Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Zynga, and 20th Century Fox.
San Jose State University was established in 1857. The school, which serves around 36,000 regular and special session students, offers 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are offered through nine colleges housing dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
10. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of the Arts—one of the universities largest and most popular colleges. Made up of six separate academic units, the College is home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Art and an MA or MFA in Studio Art. All options offer an Animation Track.
Also housed in the College of Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA and a Minor in Film and Electronic Arts. Students may customize their own focus area (unofficially) by taking courses such as 3D Computer Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), History of Animation, and others. The Minor, which consists of 18 units, offers the option to create a specialized track from approved animation and other courses.
The BFA, MA, and MFA options in the School of Art include workshops and presentations led by industry professionals, courses taught by experienced animators and illustrators, access to a range of study abroad experiences, and internship opportunities. Graduate students will have the opportunity to customize the program AND choose a track. Graduates will leave the CSULB Animation programs with a focused body of work.
California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves nearly 39,300 students enrolled in more than 300 programs in eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
11. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of technology (DigiPen) offers a BFA in Digital Art and Animation and an MFA in Digital Arts. The BFA program is designed for professional artists looking to enhance their skills. Competitive and challenging, the program covers traditional media, 2D and 3D digital art, animation production, pipelines, and more. Students will work solo and in teams to create animated projects, games, and/or films.
Coursework for the BFA ranges from foundation courses such as Animation Basics and The Language of Drawing to advanced courses such as Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development, Cinematic Production, and Scripting and Programming. BFA students will complete a career preparation course and several projects.
The BFA in Digital Art and Animation is available at the main campus in Redmond and at the school’s international branch campuses—DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and DigiPen Singapore.
The MFA in Digital Arts at DigiPen Institute of Technology provides advanced training in animation, 3D modeling, drawing, and digital painting, among other areas. Free electives and independent study provide opportunities for students to customize their pathway. Course highlights include Organic and Hard Surface Modeling, Art Research Methodology, Art Production Process, Character Design, Digital Arts Survey and Analysis, and 3D Concepts and Production.
Digital Arts MFA students will complete the MFA Thesis, which begin with the Thesis Pre-Production course, which lasts a semester. For the final two semesters of the program, students will work with a faculty advisor to complete the Thesis project. Throughout the program, students will also work in teams to create several games, films, and more.
Graduates of the Digital Art programs at DigiPen are prepared to compete for positions such as Animator, Character Artist, 3D Modeler, Simulation and Effects Animator, Producer, Art Director, Environmental/Asset Artist, UI Designer, Concept Artist, and many others. To date, more than 600 companies worldwide have hired DigiPen Institute of Technology graduates.
DigiPen alumni have landed position at major studios and companies such as Apple, Amazon Game Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Activision, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Zynga, Meta (formerly Facebook), DreamWorks Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment, Riot Games, ArenaNet, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, and many others.
DigiPen Institute of Technology was established in 1988 as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company. The school serves 1,200 students enrolled in 10 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Engineering, Game Design and Development, and Music and Audio.
DigiPen has international campuses in Singapore and Spain, and educational partnerships with Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Keimyung University in South Korea, The One Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Thammasat University in Thailand.
DigiPen Institute of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
12. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California
The College of Arts at California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) houses the Visual Arts Department, which offers a BFA in Art with an Entertainment Art/Animation Concentration. Students in this 132-unit program may select an option (A, B or C), which allows them to take a set of specific courses based on their interests.
Course highlights include Cartooning and Caricature, Visual Development and Background Painting, Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation, 3D Animation, and Elements of Sequential Art. Other courses include Animation Preproduction, Animation Production, Animal and Wildlife Drawing, and Writing in the Visual Arts.
BFA program highlights include a partnership with Nickelodeon Studios, Group Projects, Independent Research, internship opportunities at major studios, and the BFA Capstone.
Cal State Fullerton alumni have worked on The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman Returns, Avatar, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 3, and many other productions. BFA program graduates also work in positions at Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving more than 41,000 students. Cal State Fullerton offers 55 undergraduate and 55 graduate degree programs in eight academic colleges. California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
13. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) offers BFA degrees in Animation and Experimental Animation. LCAD also offers an Animation Minor that provides instruction in the principles of both traditional and CG animation. The program consists of five courses including Animation 1, Character Design for Animators 1, Storyboarding 1, CG Animation 1, and Animation 2.
The largest program at LCAD, the Animation BFA provides instruction and hands-on training in creating animated characters, filmmaking (editing, directing, screenwriting, sound design), pitching stories, and working in teams. The program consists of a combination of liberal arts and studio courses. Examples of liberal arts courses include Age of Michelangelo, Illuminating Women: Female Artists, Scientists, Poets, and Philosophers of the Renaissance, Worldly + Otherworldly Creatures, Traditional Arts of West Africa, and the Science of Sight.
Studio requirements include Digital Skills, CG Modeling, Directing for Animators, Visual Development, and Figure Drawing for Animators, to name a few. BFA students will also complete the Animation Practicum, Senior Capstone, and three Thesis Film courses.
The Experimental Animation BFA at Laguna College of Art and Design is led by experienced instructors who are active in the television, film, games, and internet animation industries. With class sizes limited to 18 students, the program emphasizes learning by doing. This means, students will complete several projects throughout the program. During the final years of the BFA in Experimental Animation program, students may specialize in one or more areas such as Storyboarding, Internet Series Projects, and Show Design.
Graduates of the LCAD BFA in Animation and Experimental Animation programs are often hired by major players in the television, film, games, and animation industries. Examples include Warner Brothers Feature Animation, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, The Jim Henson Company, Sony, South Park Studios, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Laika, DreamWorks, Fox, Industrial Light & Magic, and Titmouse.
Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art and Design began as Laguna Beach School of Art (LBSA). In addition to the main campus in Laguna Beach, LCAD has educational affiliates locally and around the world including Florence Academy of Arts in Florence, Italy, Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), Netherlands.
Laguna College of Art and Design serves nearly 750 students enrolled in dozens of degree and minor programs. The school is regionally and nationally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
14. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) houses the Walter and Grace Lantz Undergraduate Animation Program, which offers a BA and a Minor in Animation. The BA is a four year program that requires 45 semester hours of study in upper division coursework. The Minor consists of 18 semester hours of study and is open to all LMU students, regardless of major.
The BA program requires a significant number of electives, allowing students to focus their studies in an area of interest. All students will learn about and complete projects in 3D filmmaking, visual effects, motion-capture, stop motion, and more. During the final year of the program, students will complete Animation Practicum and the Senior Thesis Project.
Graduates of the program are prepared for positions in animation, film, games, design, television, and more. Animation program alumni have worked on The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie, Wonder Woman, Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, and many others.
Loyola Marymount University was established in 1911. The school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in 55 major and 59 minor undergraduate degrees and programs, 47 master's degree programs, one education doctorate, one doctorate in juridical science, one juris doctorate, and 13 credential programs. LMU programs are offered in seven colleges and schools.
Loyola Marymount University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
15. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) offers BS degrees in Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CE), and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in CSE. Students in these highly interdisciplinary programs have the unique opportunity to study animation through a variety of elective options and three labs including the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and Animation Research Labs (ARL). Collectively, the Labs at UW engage in animation, graphics, visualization, computer game science, and vision.
Possible course options for the UW BS, PhD, and PMP programs include Computer Animation, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization.
Serving more than 1,500 students, the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering has an active study abroad program that provides the opportunity to study at four partner universities: ETH Zurich, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany; and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
Allen School students may also fulfill elective and general education requirements through hundreds of other study abroad options.
Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington are routinely hired by some of the world’s biggest companies. Top UW employers include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Amazon, to name a few.
Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves around 57,300 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options across in 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
16. Chapman University, Orange, California
The Dodge College of Film & Media Arts at Chapman University (Chapman) offers a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) that allows students to focus in Animation OR VFX. Program highlights include opportunities to work with industry software and tools such as Xsens MVN Animate, Autodesk Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, and 3ds Max, and access to the Digital Media Arts center (DMAC)—a digital arts studio and lounge inspired by studios such as Disney and Pixar.
All students are eligible to apply for internship opportunities at Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, and Blur, among others. Students may also participate in student clubs and organizations such as Chapman Animation and Visual Effects Club, The Collective or Virtual Reality/AR Club. Chapman University also has an active study abroad program that provides opportunities to work in entertainment studios around the world.
Graduates of the Animation and Visual Effects Program at Chapman University are prepared for careers in the animation, film and gaming industries. Job titles for graduates may include Animator, Production Designer, Modeler, Texture Painter, Visual Effects Artist or Supervisor, Rigger, and Compositor, among others.
Founded in 1861 as Hesperian College, Chapman University is a business, entertainment, and technology college that serves 7,656 undergraduate and 2,345 graduate students from just about every state and 82 countries. Chapman offers 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools at the main campus in Orange, California. Chapman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC).
17. California State University Northridge, Northridge, California
The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication at California State University Northridge (CSUN) is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BA in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation.
Three Tracks are offered including 2D Animation Design, 3D Animation Design, and Game Design. Students in the 2D Animation Track will take Compositing, Drawing, 2D Animation (Flash/Toonboom), Visual Development, 3D Design, 2D Design, and 3D Computer Animation. Potential careers for graduates in this Track include Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Background Designer, to name a few.
In the 3D Animation Track, students will explore Game Animation, Compositing, and Visual Development. During the final year of the program, students will work on collaborative projects and their final portfolio. Possible job titles for graduates include Character Animator, Lighting Artist, CG Modeler, and Compositor.
Game Track students will take a number of animation production, character animation, and compositing classes, which will prepare them for careers in game animation, level design, and character animation.
Students in all tracks may join the Animation Students League of Northridge and/or the CSUN Game Development Club. Both student-run organizations provide networking opportunities and the chance to interact with industry guests through lectures and workshops. Other program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in studio tours, and CSUN’s partnerships with Seoul Institute of the Arts and DreamWorks studios.
Enrolling more than 38,800 students, California State University Northridge is one of the nation's largest universities. Founded in 1958, CSUN is also one of the youngest universities in the 23 campus California State University System and the U.S. This liberal arts school comprises eight academic colleges, The Tseng College, and the University Library. Programs include bachelor’s degrees in 65 disciplines, master’s degrees in 74 fields, three doctorates, and 17 teaching credential programs
California State University Northridge is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
18. California State University, Los Angeles, California
California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) is home to the College of Arts & Letters, which houses the Department of Art. Students in the Department have interests in areas such as animation, studio arts, printmaking, visual communication, and photography. Programs lead to a BA, MA or MFA, and a minor and certificate program are available.
The BA in Art has an Animation Option. The MA and MFA degrees in Art offer a Design Option (Graphic Design/Visual Communication, Animation). The Animation Option explores traditional and emerging techniques. The program requires a minimum of 98 units of coursework and students may take select electives from art and film offerings.
Examples of required courses include Experimental Animation, Story and Visualization, Art and Motion, Advanced Animation, Color Theory and Perception, and World Animation History.
The MA in Art requires 30 units to graduate, while the MFA requires 60 units. Both programs allow students to explore animation studies. Course examples include Advanced Animation, Two-Dimensional Animation, Graduate Interactive Design, Experimental Animation, Advanced Illustration, and Problems in Advanced Design.
Each semester, Cal State LA Department of Art BA, MA, and MFA students will join professional artists and faculty for several events that provide the opportunity to present their work. Hosted in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Department of Art, graduate students will present at the Graduate Thesis Exhibition and undergraduates will present at the BA Capstone Show. In the student-run COMA, Art Department students will have additional opportunities to present their work to the public.
Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves more than 27,800 students enrolled in more than 150 degree, certificate, and minor programs. Part of the 23 campus, California State University System, Cal State LA is comprised of nine colleges and the University Library. California State University, Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Programs in the Cal State LA Department of Art are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
19. Woodbury University, Burbank, California
The School of Media, Culture & Design at Woodbury University (Woodbury) is home to the Animation BFA Program. This interdisciplinary degree allows students to study in other areas in the School of Media, Culture & Design, such as Game Art & Design, Filmmaking, or Graphic Design. Elective coursework provides opportunities to explore visual effects, puppetry, and digital painting.
Another program highlight is the required internship. Students have interned at major studios such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Animation, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, and Nickelodeon, among others.
The Animation BFA at Woodbury is a professional degree that requires the completion of a thesis. Students will complete this final project across four courses during the junior and senior years of the program.
Woodbury Animation BFA graduates have been hired at Netflix Animation, DreamWorks, 20th Century Studios, The Walt Disney Company, and ABC Television Network, among others.
Woodbury University was founded in 1884 as Woodbury College. It is one of the oldest universities on the west coast. Serving close to 1,200 students, Woodbury offers 20 undergraduate and six graduate programs in four schools and across campuses in Burbank (main), Hollywood, and San Diego, California.
Woodbury University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD) and the Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
20. University of Silicon Valley, San Jose, California
University of Silicon Valley (USV), formerly Cogswell University of Silicon Valley (USV), offers a BA in Digital Art & Animation. Housed in the Department of Digital Art & Animation (DAA), the program offers 3D Animation, Entertainment Design, and 3D Modeling Concentrations.
Course examples across concentrations include Character Rigging, Storyboarding, Perspective and Rendering, and Animated Film Production. The DAA Program at USV prepares students for careers in animation, game design, film and visual effects, and environmental design, among others.
Graduates of the University of Silicon Valley DAA BA Program are working at Cartoon Network, Disney, Activision Blizzard, Pixar, and DreamWorks.
University of Silicon Valley was founded in 1887 as Cogswell College—the first technical training institution in the West. Serving 515 students, USV offers BA, BS, BBA, MA, MS, and Certificate Programs. University of Silicon Valley is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
21. New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, California
New York Film Academy, Los Angeles (NYFA Los Angeles) offers Acting, Film, and Media degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels across 12 schools. The 3D Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) School at NYFA Los Angeles offers a BFA in Animation, a One-Year 3D Animation Conservatory Program, and an immersive Four-Week 3D Animation Workshop. Students in all programs work and learn in hands-on production workshops on the Universal Studios backlot.
Course examples across programs include Figure in Motion, Character Design & Creation, Digital Environments, Storyboard & Animatic, Stop-Motion Animation, Matchmoving, Screenwriting, Scripting in Python & MEL, and Cinematography, to name a few. Courses at NYFA Los Angeles are taught by professionals in the field who have worked with studios such as Disney Animation, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, and Sony Imageworks.
New York Film Academy, Los Angeles alumni are Animators, VFX Artists, and Filmmakers. They work for (or have worked with) DreamWorks Animation, NBCUniversal, Digital Domain, Tyler Perry Studios, Bad Robot Productions, Gearbox Software, and ACM Siggraph, among others.
New York Film Academy has degree-granting campuses in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. Additional campuses and programs are located at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) and in China, France, Australia, and Russia. Founded in 1992, NYFA serves thousands of students enrolled in dozens of Visual and Performing Arts programs. New York Film Academy is accredited Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
22. Willamette University, Salem & Portland, Oregon
Willamette University (Willamette U) offers a BFA in Animated Arts and a Minor in Arts, Technology and Multimedia. Housed in the Pacific Northwest College of Art, the Animated Arts BFA consists of 120 credit hours including the Media Arts Thesis. During the first two years of the program, students will take beginning and intermediate courses such as Animation I-II, Theory & Practice, Perspectives on Society & Culture, Basic Drawing, Visual Elements Digital Tools, Beginning Video, 3D Design, and Beginning Sound.
In the third and fourth years of the BFA program, students will take advanced courses such as Animated Short Film, Animated Installation, Professional Practices, Social Service Seminar, and Research for Creative Practice. A number of seminars and studio electives are part of the program, as well as an internship and the Media Arts Thesis. Students will produce the Thesis in collaboration with classmates, faculty, and a mentor.
Animated Arts BFA students have gained experience through internships with (or working on projects for) Laika, the NW International Animation Festival, Design Week Portland, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), and the Oregon Jewish Museum.
Graduates of the Willamette U PNCA Animated Arts BFA go on to become Animators, Storyboard Artists, Character Designers, Art Directors, Effects Animators, Visual Development Artists, Modelers, and Compositors.
The Minor in Arts, Technology and Multimedia is a multidisciplinary program that consists of coursework from the Departments of Computer Science, English (Film Studies), Art, Sociology, Art History, Music, Philosophy, and Theatre. Introduction to 4D Art, 3D Animation, Creating Music with Technology, Advanced 3D Animation, Computer Graphics, Images and Imagination, Digital Music Techniques, Video Art, Acting for Non-majors, and Cinema studies are just a few course options.
The Arts, Technology and Multimedia Minor requires 20 semester hours of study and may be taken alone or with any major offered at Willamette U/PNCA.
Willamette University was established in 1842, making it the oldest university in the West. This liberal arts college serves close to 1,900 students enrolled in dozens of programs across the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Law, Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Willamette University and PNCA merged in 2021.
PNCA, which will remain an independent college within Willamette, was established in 1909 and serves around 650 students. The school offers 11 BFA degrees, eight minors, and eight graduate MA and MFA degrees within the Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies.
Willamette University and Pacific Northwest College of Art are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). PNCA is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).
23. Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington
The Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts (Cornish) offers a BFA in Design with an Animation Major. This 120 credit hour program is project-based and requires at least 15 credit hours of Design Studio topics, included within the required 72 credit hours in the Animation major. Just a few course titles include Animation History: Parallel Narratives, Observation + Visualization, Motion Systems, Animation Tools, Time + Motion, Digital Tools for Motion, and Collaborative Studio.
The Cornish BFA in Design/Animation requires six hours of Professional Practices coursework, a Capstone Project, and Animation BFA Exhibition. Eighteen credit hours of college and open electives allow students to take any courses offered in or outside of the Design, Animation, or Illustration Departments. This provides the opportunity for students to work in emerging areas such Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) and User Interface/User Experience Design (UI/UX), as well as other areas like Game Art and Design, Interaction Design, and Web Design.
Cornish College of the Arts alumni work in Film and Video, Animation and VFX, Game Design, Theater, Advertising and Graphic Design, Media, and more.
Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts serves 635 students enrolled in Visual and Performing Arts programs leading to a BFA or Bachelor of Music. Cornish College of the Arts is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
24. California State University, Chico, Chico, California
California State University, Chico (Chico State) offers a BFA in Digital Media, a BS in Computer Animation and Game Development (BS CAGD), and a Minor in Applied Computer Graphics.
The Chico State BFA Digital Media is housed in the College of Humanities & Fine Arts (HFA), Department of Art & Art History. Focus areas include Time-Based Media, Digital illustration, and Fine Arts. The most popular option for animators is Time-based Media, which explores 2D and Stop-Motion Animation, Experimental Digital Filmmaking, and Computer-Assisted and Hand-Drawn Animation.
Other program benefits include access to five labs, workshops and studios and internship and study abroad opportunities. Chico State BFA alumni are Animators, Filmmakers, Directors, Entrepreneurs, Creative Directors, Comic Book Publishers, and more.
The BS in CAGD (est. 1999) and the Minor in Applied Computer Graphics are housed in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management at California State University, Chico. BS students must choose an Animation Production or Game Development Option, and five courses from an Interdisciplinary Program Area. Options include Media Arts, Design, and Technology, Art Studio, and Computer Science.
The Animation Production Option combines coursework in Art Studio or Communication Design, with Graphics and Animation. Both options explore game scripting, media arts design and technology, and computer science. The 21 credit hour Minor in Applied Computer Graphics required three units in CAGD, nine in upper-division CAGD, and nine units including Computer Assisted Art, Digital Photography, and Concept Design and Storyboarding.
CAGD students can expect to explore class topics such as 3D Animation and Character Animation, 3D Modeling, Motion Capture, Video Character Modeling, and Team Production Development.
Students in all CAGD and Computer Graphics Programs have access to the in-house motion capture studio, and they may participate in the student-run Computer Graphics Club (CGC).
Chico State alumni work in many positions at Pixar, Epic Games, Zynga, Sony Imageworks, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts (EA), and WetaFX, among others.
Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico serves around 14,230 students from 43 nations, 30 states, and one U.S. territory. Chico State offers more than 350 programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 22 centers and institutes. California State University, Chico is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
25. Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Seattle, Washington
Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) offers an Advanced Diplomas in Screen and Media: 3D Animation and VFX for Film and Professional Game Development: Game Art and Animation.
Both programs are hands-on and industry focused, and they take two years to complete, full-time. Students benefit from classes taught in a collaborative, studio-environment by industry professionals, AIE’s close relationships with many animation and game design studios, and a high rate of graduate employment.
Courses for the programs are completed in two stages. Students in the 3D Animation and VFX for Film Diploma Program will explore subjects such as character animation, storyboards, production planning, modeling and texturing, and digital lighting and compositing during stage one. Stage two covers visual effects, story development, and a specialization. At this stage, students will have the skills needed to complete a short film and online portfolio of their work.
AIE 3D Animation and VFX graduates work in industries such as animation, game design and development, and filmmaking. Job titles include Character Animator, Surfacing/Texture Painter, Environment Modeler, Digital/Matte Painter, Technical Director, Fur/Feathers or Water FX Artist, 3D Tracker/Match Mover, and Modeler.
Academy of Interactive Entertainment Game Art and Animation students will explore everything from 3D modeling to rendering and compositing in stage one of the program. They will also produce a short, animated film. In stage two, students will build a professional showreel of animation, 3D modeling, and a game level. As a team. Game Art and Animation students will produce a playable game.
AIE Game Art and Animation graduates go on to establish careers at major game studios, independent studios, and as entrepreneurs. They also work in defense, education, and health care (serious games and simulations), and for top mining companies.
Job titles include run the gamut and may include 3D Animator, Texture Artist, Level Designer, Rigger, Character Animator, Environment Modeler, 2D Artist, UI Designer, and Technical Artist.
Established in 1996, Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) is a non-profit institution that consists of four campuses in Australia, two in the United States (Seattle and Lafayette), and an Online campus. The school serves an estimated 150-200 students enrolled in four Diploma programs and a number of single courses.