What are the best private colleges for animation?

Top 40 Private Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S. – 2018 Rankings
1California Institute of the Artstop 1%
2Ringling College of Art and Designtop 2%
3School of Visual Artstop 3%
4University of Southern Californiatop 4%
5Pratt Institutetop 4%
6Rhode Island School of Designtop 5%
7Savannah College of Art and Designtop 6%
8Carnegie Mellon Universitytop 7%
9Rochester Institute of Technologytop 8%
10School of the Art Institute of Chicagotop 9%
11Brigham Young Universitytop 9%
12DePaul Universitytop 10%
13New York University top 15%
14Otis College of Art and Designtop 15%
15Gnomon School of Visual Effectstop 15%
16The New School's Parsons School of Designtop 15%
17Columbus College of Art and Designtop 15%
18Minneapolis College of Art and Designtop 15%
19Columbia College Chicagotop 20%
20ArtCenter College of Designtop 20%
21Academy of Art Universitytop 20%
22The University of the Artstop 20%
23Maryland Institute College of Arttop 20%
24California College of the Artstop 20%
25Full Sail Universitytop 25%
26Drexel Universitytop 25%
27The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School top 25%
28College for Creative Studiestop 25%
29Digipen Institute of Technologytop 25%
30Loyola Marymount Universitytop 25%
31University of Pennsylvaniatop 25%
32Chapman Universitytop 30%
33Syracuse Universitytop 30%
34Cleveland Institute of Arttop 30%
35Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutetop 30%
36Emerson Collegetop 30%
37Woodbury Universitytop 30%
38Northeastern Universitytop 35%
39Laguna College of Art and Designtop 35%
40Kansas City Art Institutetop 35%

Our 2018 list of the Top 40 Private Animation School Programs in the US.

For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (top 1% of schools considered)
California Institute of the Arts

Established in 1961, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Established by Walt and Roy Disney, the school is home to more than 1,400 students enrolled in more than 70 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 at CalArts, and the School of Theater. The School of Film/Video is the largest school at CalArts, accounting for nearly 30% of the student population. Programs offered include a BFA in Character Animation and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation.

Crowned the “Harvard Business School of Animation” by the Los Angeles Times, CalArts has produced hundreds of successful alumni who have generated billions at the box office worldwide. The school lists Tim Burton, Mark Andrews (director and screenwriter of Pixar’s Oscar winning animated feature Brave), Eric Darnell (co-director of Antz, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, and Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda) among its most famous alumni.

2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 2% of schools considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design

Established in 1931 by circus baron John Ringling, Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school is home to 1,400 students, offering BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Just a few majors include Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Motion Design, and Visual Studies.

The Computer Animation program is one of the most popular programs at RCAD, accounting for around 20% of the student population. Established in 1990, the BFA in Computer Animation allows students to do it all. Students learn to create characters and tell their stories, as well as design, paint, model, texture, animate, light, composite, and edit original films. The program also focuses on teaching students how to combine essential technical skills with conceptually original ideas that affect an audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually.

A BFA in Motion Design is also available. This program allows students to study animation, concept design, storyboard art, videography, composition, sound design, and art direction. Students in the program have the opportunity to work across many different fields with students of other majors and with actual, professional clients.

RCAD graduates have worked on every Oscar-winning animated feature since 2003, with 14 alumni working on 2016 Oscar winner, Inside Out and 21 working on 2017 Oscar winner Zootopia.  Graduates have also gone on to work at Blue Sky Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Walt Disney Animation, and many others.

3. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (top 3% of schools considered)
School of Visual Arts

Founded in 1947 as Cartoonists and Illustrators School, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in over 30 programs. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA degree in Animation as well as a BFA in Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects. An MFA in Computer Arts (Focus Animation, Motion Graphics or Fine Art) is also available as well as a BFA in Cartooning and Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses. Animation students have opportunities to intern or work part-time at alumni-owned studios such as Titmouse, Augenblick Studios, and Plympton, as well as with numerous independent animation studios in New York.

SVA animation graduates have gone on to work at major studios such as Blue Sky Studios, Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and independent animation studios across the globe.

4. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (top 4% of schools considered)
University of Southern California

University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880. The school serves 45,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Undergraduate offerings for aspiring animators include a BA in Animation and Digital Arts offered through The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts (Hench DADA) of the School of Cinematic Arts (USC Cinematic Arts), and a BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production with Animation and Interactive Media electives offered through the Division of Film and Television Production, USC Cinematic Arts.

Graduate offerings include MFA degrees in Animation and Digital Arts and Interactive Media with heavy Animation electives. Minors in Animation & Digital Arts and Game Animation are also on the menu. Graduates of both the undergraduate and graduate animation programs at USC Cinematic Arts have landed positions at DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Idea, Illumination Entertainment, Digital Domain and many others.

5. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (top 4% of schools considered)
Pratt Institute

Pratt institute was founded in 1887. The school serves some 4,600 students enrolled in 22 undergraduate degree programs, 26 graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. The Pratt Institute School of Art offers a BFA in Digital Arts and Animation with an Emphasis in Digital Animation and Motion Arts or Interactive Arts. Concentrations include 2-D Animation, 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts.

The School also offers an MFA in Digital Animation and Motion Arts. Students in the program have the opportunity to create narrative and non-narrative films using 2-D and 3-D digital animation techniques, live action and motion graphics. Electives include Storyboarding and Storytelling, Lighting and Rendering, Motion Dynamics, Compositing and Special Effects, Character Design, Character Animation, Matte Painting, and more.

School of Art alumni have landed positions at major studios such as Blue Sky, Digital Domain, Cartoon Network Studios, DreamWorks Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, Rhythm and Hues, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Curious Pictures, Gameloft, Sony Imageworks, and many others.

6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (top 5% of schools considered)
Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) was founded in 1877 and it serves around 2,480 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This private school of art offers 16 undergraduate and 16 graduate art and design programs, with Film/Animation/Video, Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Industrial Design leading the pack. The school’s popular Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV) offers a BFA in in FAV.

Famous RISD alumni include Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons. Other RISD alumni work as entrepreneurs or creative professionals through studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks or Harmonix, or for networks like Fox, HBO and PBS.

7. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 6% of schools considered)
Savannah College of Art and Design

Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) serves 13,000 students from nearly 50 states and 115 countries. The school, which has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including animation, one of the school’s top majors. Offered through the School of Digital Media, four options are available for aspiring animators including a BFA in Animation (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), an MA in Animation (Savannah, eLearning), an MFA in Animation (Atlanta, Savannah, eLearning) Animation, and a Minor in Animation.

Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.

8. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (top 7% of schools considered)
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was founded in 1900. The school is home to nearly 14,000 students representing 109 countries. The school has more than 100 programs across seven colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Electronic and Time-Based Media with a Focus in Animation and a BFA in Integrative Design, Arts & Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation & Special Effects. The Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network connects students and faculty from across the university through coursework and collaborative studio experiences. It allows students from every college to take minors or concentrations in Animation & Special Effects, Game Design, and more.

In addition to the programs listed, the School of Art offers supportive courses that serve to enrich the student experience in IDeATe. Offerings include Advanced ETB: 2D Animation, Advanced ETB: Animation, Advanced ETB: Moving Image Magic: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Animation, Art, and Technology.

9. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 8% of schools considered)
Rochester Institute of Technology

Founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) opened with just one class—mechanical drawing. The class attracted more than 400 students, which allowed the school to add Fine Arts just one year later, including freehand drawing, architectural drawing, and design. Today, RIT is home to nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) is home to the nation’s first PhD in Imaging Science and the School of Film and Animation (SOFA). SOFA offers BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.

Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Industrial Light and Magic, and Rhythm and Hues Studios.

10. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 9% of schools considered)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866, making it one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Home to 3,650 students, the school offers more than 25 programs, including several options for aspiring animators. Animation programs are available through SAIC’s Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA). Options include a BFA and MFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation. A Certificate in Studio is also available. 

Students in the FVNMA Department have access to world class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.

11. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 9% of schools considered)
Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The school is home to around 33,500 students enrolled in 178 undergraduate majors, 109 undergraduate minors, 68 master's programs, and 26 doctorate programs across dozens of colleges and departments. The College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design offers a BFA in Animation and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.

Students in both programs have the opportunity to gain entrance to the BYU Center for Animation (est. 2010), which operates under the direction of three colleges—the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Accepting just 20-25 students each year through the BFA or BS program, the BYU Center for Animation is a competitive, highly dynamic, hands-on program structured to provide students with the skill sets necessary for success in the animation, live-action, special effects, and game industries.

The program attracts faculty members from major studios such as Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros.

12. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
DePaul University

DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The school serves 22,769 students from across the U.S. and about 70 countries. The DePaul Animation Program in the School of Cinematic Arts, part of the College of Computing and Digital Media, offers BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation, with the following concentrations: Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics, and a VFX concentration is available within the Film and Television BFA.  With thirteen full-time Animation professors, DePaul has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.

DePaul Animation students can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter, a ten-week immersion program structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios. The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts.  Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students interested in animation, with tracks in hand-drawn, stop motion, and 3D animation for games.

13. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York (top 15% of schools considered)
New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts

Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU). Founded in 1965, the school is home to the famous Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. The Institute’s Department of Animation and Digital Arts offers a BFA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production and an MFA in Animation and New Media. This two-year program is also offered at Tisch Asia.

The Animation area of the Kanbar Institute of Undergraduate Film & Television at NYU Tisch School of the Arts began in 1979. The program had just three classes: Art & Design, Animation I, and Animation II. For the 1980-1981 academic year, the program was home to 80 students enrolled in five classes. In 2013, the program enrolled 461 students. Today, the program serves hundreds of students from 48 states and 39 countries.

The current NYU Tisch Animation curriculum consists of nearly twenty different classes. Graduates of the Animation program at Tisch have landed jobs at Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios and many others.

14. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Otis College of Art and Design

Established in 1918 by founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, General Harrison Gray Otis, Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) serves approximately 1,100 full-time students enrolled in 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing, and a variety of minors and certificate programs.

Specific programs for aspiring animators are offered in the Digital Media Department and include a BFA in Digital Media with an Animation Major, a Digital Media Minor, and a Digital Media Arts Certificate with a Specialization Track in Animation. Sample courses for the programs include Storytelling for Digital Artists, 3D Animation, The Visual Language of Film, Games and Design, Creative Action Studio, and Animation Explorations.

Just a few recent employers of Otis graduates include Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks, Nickeldeon, Electronic Arts, Sony Online Entertainment, and Blizzard Entertainment.

15. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Established in 1997, Gnomon School of Visual Effects offers a BFA and a Certificate in Digital Production. Individual animation courses are available and may be “mixed and matched” to suit students’ career goals. Options include Acting for Animators, Introduction to 3D with Maya, Character Sculpture, Color Theory and Light, History and Principles of Animation, History of Visual Effects, Animation and Visual Effects, Character Animation, Modeling, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding, Texturing and Shading, Timing for Animation, Animation for Games, Character Design, Character Modeling and Sculpting, Previsualization and Animatics, Stylized Character Creation, and Creature Animation.

Gnomon graduates, some 600 to date, have landed positions at some of the world’s top studios. A few include Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Blizzard Entertainment, Reel FX, Electronic Arts, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Nickelodeon Animation, Rhythm & Hues, and Marvel Entertainment.

16. The New School's Parsons School of Design, New York, New York (top 15% of schools considered)
The New School's Parsons School of Design

The New School's Parsons School of Design was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Established as The Chase School, the school later changed its name to New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today this art and design college is home to nearly 5,500 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, School of Art Media and Technology, School of Constructed Environments, School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.

Program options for animators are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and include a BFA and MFA in Design & Technology. Concentrations include Creative Technology and Game Design. Minors in Immersive Storytelling and Comics and Graphic Nature are also available, as well as a related program—the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, offered at the Parsons Paris Campus.

Graduates leave prepared for careers in advertising, animation, film, game design, graphic arts, hardware engineering, motion graphics, software design, and virtual reality and immersion experience design.

17. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio (top 15% of schools considered)
Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) was established in 1879, making it one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the U.S. The school is home to more than 1,300 students enrolled in 12 bachelor’s degree and two master’s degree programs covering a broad range of subjects. Programs for aspiring animators include an Animation BFA with 2D and 3D Tracks or a Concentration in Animation/Experimental or Animation/Game. Minor options include Animation 2D and Animation 3D. An MFA program is also available. Students in this program have executed individual projects from animation and video to interactive design and illustration.

All students may participate in CCAD’s International Exchange Program, which highlights study at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China; Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile; Xi’an Fine Arts Academy, Xi’an, China, and Northumbria, Newcastle, England. Students may also study at CCAD-approved programs at Studio Art Centers, Florence, Italy, and University of Arts London, London. Graduates of the CCAD Animation BFA Program have landed positions at Animal Logic, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, BET, Time Warner, Twentieth Century Fox, and many others. 

18. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (top 15% of schools considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Established in 1886, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was is home to more than 750 students from 29 states and 12 countries. The school offers more than 20 programs across several departments. The Animation Department offers a BFA in Animation and an MFA in Visual Studies. The BFA Program highlights courses such as Stop-Motion Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Filmmaking, Storyboard, Sound, and Drawing. A required internship is also part of the program as well as optional study abroad experiences in Japan, Germany, England, Italy, and other places. MCAD students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Housed in an all-MFA studio and gallery space, the MFA Program allows students to pursue creative work in areas such as Animation, Comic Arts, Filmmaking, Illustration, Installation Art, and Interactive Media.

19. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 20% of schools considered)
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College was established in 1890 and it serves more than 7,000 undergraduate students and 285 graduate students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School of Media Arts is home to the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers several programs for animators.

Options include BA degrees in Animation with a Concentration in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation, and BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation. Animation and Motion Graphics Minors are also available.

Computer Animation students have the option to focus in Visual Effects or Computer Animation. Traditional Animation students may focus in either Hand-Drawn or Stop-Motion Animation. Students in the BA programs and the BFA in Traditional Animation have the opportunity to either work collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or take any three Animation electives of their choosing. Computer Animation BFA students will collaborate on a team project and develop their own solo short film.

20. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (top 20% of schools considered)
ArtCenter College of Design

ArtCenter College of Design was founded in 1930 and serves approximately 2,100 students enrolled in 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs in a range of Industrial Design, Visual, and Applied Arts Disciplines. The school, which also offers a joint MS/MBA program with the Drucker-Ito School of Management, has two campuses in Pasadena and satellite studios in Los Angeles (at the Peterson Automotive Museum), and Berlin. Programs for aspiring animators include Entertainment Design with a Track in Animation or Concept.

The Animation Track develops students in the disciplines of character animation, storyboarding, modeling, art direction, and lighting for 3D and 2D animation, while the Concept Track focuses on the skills and creative ability required of entertainment industry concept designers. Both programs lead to a BS in Entertainment Design.

Entertainment Design graduates from both Tracks are prepared for career opportunities as performance and action animators with companies such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, ILM, Sony, Blur, 343 and Riot.

21. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Academy of Art University

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online. The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers AA, BFA, MA and MFA degrees in Animation and Visual Effects. A Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects is also available. These programs are available on campus and online.

Students take classes specializing in one main area of the industry. Emphasis is placed on creating a professional demo reel and/or portfolio in tune with the latest industry trends. Specialization areas include 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Rigging, Animation Generalist, Animation Producing, Storyboarding, 2D Animation, Puppet Fabrication, Stop Motion Animation, Compositing, Dynamics, Lighting, and Matte Painting.

The MA program provides students an opportunity to work in 2D Animation & Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, or Visual Effects, while focusing on storytelling with an emphasis on exhibiting technical skills and eliciting emotional responses. The MFA in Animation & Visual Effects program focuses on developing skills in any one of the many areas of expertise within the animation and visual effects industry. The program educates students in all aspects of animation and visual effects, from ideation to post production.

Graduates of the animation programs at Academy of Art University have landed positions at Blizzard Entertainment, CBS Interactive, Disney Interactive, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, NBCUniversal, Pixar, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

22. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 20% of schools considered)
The University of the Arts

The University of the Arts (UArts) was founded in 1876 and it is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school is home to 1,900 students enrolled in 46 undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 30 minors, through the College of Art, Media & Design, the College of Performing Arts, the Division of Liberal Art, and the Division of Continuing Studies (Grad Programs).

The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Film, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Animation, a BFA in Film + Animation, and a Minor in Animation. All animation students have access to international opportunities such as study abroad, festivals, and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea.

23. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (top 20% of schools considered)
Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) was founded in 1826, making it the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The school, which is home to nearly 3,500 students from 49 states and 65 countries, offers more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available and programs are offered in the areas of fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies.

Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA Studio Concentration – Animation with three paths including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. Students begin with a fundamental understanding of the art of movement. They work in 2D hand-drawn animation, 3D computer imaging, stop-motion, and history of animation and innovative combinations of these processes, culminating in a thesis film in their final year.

MICA also offers and a BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies. In addition to animation studies, students in this degree program will study philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history. Sample courses for the program include Character Animation, Elements of Visual Thinking, Digital Tools For Animation, Stop Motion, Electronic Media & Culture, Art Matters, and Drawing.

Graduates of MICA animation programs work for companies like Blue Sky Studio, Disney, DreamWorks, Yahoo, Laika, and MTV. Many graduates have continued their education in graduate programs or have successful careers as freelance artists in the field.

24. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (top 20% of schools considered)
California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts (CCA) was founded in 1907. The school is home to more than 1,500 undergraduates and 455 graduate students enrolled more than 30 degree programs. CCA’s Animation Department houses the third largest major at CCA—the BFA in Animation. Students in the program receive guidance from “the best animators in the industry” from Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Tippett Studio, among others. Students in the program also receive feedback and visual storytelling advice from actual industry animators and directors of such animated films as Toy Story, Star Wars, and Brave.

Graduates of CCA’s Animation program have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Pixar, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, and Cartoon Network, as well as game studios such as Electronic Arts, Phosphor Games, and Vigil Games.

25. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 25% of schools considered)
Full Sail University

Established in 1979, Full Sail University is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees and Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Options for aspiring animators include a BS in Computer Animation that takes 20 months to complete on-campus, and 32 months to complete online. Students can expect to take courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, Character Animation, Animation Production, Shading and Lighting, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.

A total of seven Project and Portfolio courses must be completed as well. These courses “combine hands-on learning experiences with summative and formative portfolio assessments.” Courses cover 3D Arts and Computer Animation.

26. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 25% of schools considered)
Drexel University

Established in 1891, Drexel University serves nearly 29,000 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers a BS and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects and an MS in Interactive Digital Media. The Animation & Visual Effects program features a six-month co-op, where students will “learn the underlying principles of animation along with industry-standard software technology. The entire creative pipeline from storyboarding through modeling and animation is covered in-depth, allowing students to experience all aspects of production.”

The two-year MS in Digital Media program offers comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods.

27. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida (top 25% of schools considered)
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (Dave School) was founded in 2000. The school consists of a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25, offering intensive and “comprehensive training” in 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, 3D Visual Effects, and Game Production. Programs for aspiring animators include a Bachelor’s degree in Animation or Motion Graphics, and a Diploma and Associate Program in Visual Effects Production or Game Production.

The Bachelor’s in Animation is a 30-month program “provides students with a practical application to the animation process.” Students in the program will learn and understand acting for animators, body and facial animation, character rigging, creature animation, drawing for animators, previsualization, principles of movement, rigging, visual storytelling, and performance using a variety of software.

The 30-month Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics introduces students to 3D Modeling and Animation for Motion Graphics. Students in the program will learn and practice the principles of Animation, Compositing, Composition, and Design. The 12-month Game Production Program covers Fundamentals of Computer Animation, Character, Prop and Environment Modeling, Level Design, Visual Effects, and Digital Modeling and Sculpting.

The 12-month Visual Effects Program covers 3D Animation, Digital Compositing, 2d/3D Tracking, Digital Modeling & Sculpting, Visual Effects, Studio Production, Lighting and Texturing, and Animation Fundamentals. Programs are offered either online, on-campus or in hybrid format.

DAVE school graduates and instructors have worked on major productions such as The Hunger Games, Green Lantern, Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, Captain America, The Hobbit, Godzilla, and many others.

28. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (top 25% of schools considered)
College for Creative Studies

The College for Creative Studies (CCS) was founded in 1906 and serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department, and it offers a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation. All Entertainment Art students have the opportunity to customize their curriculum by taking coursework in other concentrations such as Digital Film or Game Design.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program have been hired at major studios across the U.S. such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks Animation, and Disney ABC Television Group.

29. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (top 25% of schools considered)
Digipen Institute of Technology

Founded in 1988, DigiPen Institute of Technology is home to more than 1,050 students from all 50 states and nearly 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Art and Animation and an MFA in Digital Arts.

The BFA program is designed to prepare students to create artwork at the professional level. Students in the program will gain excellent drawing skills, production experience, familiarity with modern studio processes, and storytelling abilities. Sample courses include Animation, Human Anatomy, Art and Technology, Storytelling, Storyboards, 2D and 3D Animation, Cinematography, and Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development.

In addition to the Redmond campus, the BFA in Digital Art is available at the school’s international branch campuses including Digipen Europe-Bilbao and Digipen Singapore.

Graduates of Digipen have been hired at companies such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft.

Students entering the MFA in Digital Arts Program must have experience in animation, 3D modeling, digital painting, drawing, color theory and other areas. The program prepares graduates for careers in both academia and production. Possible roles include Animator, 3D Modeler, Character Artist, Senior Animator, Senior Character Artist, Texture Artist, and Professor of Fine Arts.

30. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California (top 25% of schools considered)
Loyola Marymount University

Established in 1911, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) serves nearly 9,500 students enrolled in more than 170 major, minor, master’s degree, and doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The School of Film and Television is home to LMUs Animation Program. The cross-disciplinary BA in Animation includes 3D Filmmaking, Advanced Storytelling and Production Techniques, Interactive Design, and Visual Effects. An internship during the Spring semester, senior year, is also part of the program.

LMU Animation students enjoy hands-on experience, access to the collaborative animation labs, and small class sizes, which encourages a high degree of student-faculty interaction in coursework.

The School of Film and Television also offers an Animation Minor that is available to all students, regardless of major. 

31. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 25% of schools considered)
University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) was founded in 1740 and serves more than 25,300 students enrolled in over 400 programs across 16 schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through both the School of Design-Department of Fine Arts and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The School of Design-DFA offers a BFA in Fine Arts with an Animation or 3D Modeling Studio. The program combines studio practices, seminar courses, and interactions with visiting artists and professionals in order to provide an open intellectual framework to foster critical awareness and independent methods of artistic research and learning.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). The School also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers a Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT), which leads to an MS. 

Created in 1998, the interdisciplinary BSE DMD program was designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies. A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also available. BSE DMD students go on the work at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates.

The Center for HMS established the MS in CGGT program in 2004 with a goal to expose recent graduates, as well as individuals returning from industry, to state-of-the-art graphics and animation technologies, as well as interactive media design principles, product development methodologies and engineering entrepreneurship.

The CGGT program prepares students for positions requiring multidisciplinary skills such as designers, technical animators, technical directors and game programmers. Students in the CGGT program use the equipment and resources available through the SIG Center for Computer Graphics. Opportunities for specialization are provided in such core areas as art and animation, creative design, animation and simulation technology, human/computer interfaces and production management.

32. Chapman University, Orange, California (top 30% of schools considered)
Chapman University

Chapman University was founded in 1861 as Hesperian College. The school is home to approximately 8,305 students from 49 states and more than 60 different countries. Chapman offers more than 100 programs across nine colleges and schools, including the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Dodge College offers a BFA and a Minor in Digital Arts that allows students to develop, design, and produce their own projects and contribute animation or visual effects to fellow students.

Students also have the opportunity to intern at some of the world’s top studios including Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Imageworks, and many others.

33. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York (top 30% of schools considered)
Syracuse University

Founded in 1870, Syracuse University (SU) is home to more than 22,500 students from across the U.S. and 118 countries. The school offers more 200 majors, 100 minors, and 200 advanced degree programs across 12 colleges and schools and a graduate school. The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Department of Transmedia offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA in Computer Art and Animation, an MFA in Computer Art, and a Minor in Animation.

The BFA in Computer Art and Animation explores the possibilities of digital media within a fine art, exploratory, and culturally aware setting. The degree program provides instruction in multiple art media where the computer plays the primary role. These media include computer-generated images, 3D computer animation, physical computing, creative computer programming, computer gaming, computer music, and sonic art. Students are mentored to become highly skilled critical thinkers producing art in individual and collaborative contexts.

The MFA program is an artistic research and development program situated in the context of technology where students are encouraged to develop a diverse set of practices within computer art. The program covers computer generated imagery, 3D computer animation, physical computing, creative computer programming, computer gaming, computer music, visual effects, multi-channel installation, and sonic art.

VPA animation graduates have found employment at major studios such as Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Blizzard Entertainment, Tippett Studios, Moving Picture Company, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Graduates have also presented their work at galleries and media art festivals around the world.

34. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (top 30% of schools considered)
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is an independent college of art and design that serves 615 students from around the globe. Established in 1882, the school offers 15 majors in Art, Craft, Design, and Interactive Media. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in animation that features an integrated curriculum focusing on sequential narrative storytelling, methods of animation, conceptual development, framing and staging, storyboarding, animatics, layers, and motion and figure studies. Students can expect to take courses such as Advanced 3D Animation, Mapping, Digital Lighting, 2D/3D Compositing for Animation, 3D Texture, and Concept Development,

The CIA Animation Program prepares graduates for positions such as Animator, 3D Character Animator, Storyboard Artist, Independent Filmmaker, Concept Artist, and Game Designer.

35. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York (top 30% of schools considered)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) was founded in 1824, making it the oldest technological research university in the U.S. Home to just under 7,650 students, RPI offers more than 145 programs across five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) is home to five academic departments including Arts, Cognitive Science, Communication and Media, Economics, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Department of Communication and Media (C&M) and the Department of the Arts.

The Department of the Arts is the first integrated electronic arts program within a research university in the United States. Offerings include a BS in Electronic Arts (BS EART) (est. 2002) with a Concentration in Animation & Algorithmic Art, a PhD in EART, and an MFA in EART that is currently being redesigned. Both advanced degree programs allow students to engage in creative work in the areas of computer-generated or mediated image, videotapes and installations, multimedia presentations, performance art, and others.

The Department of Communication and Media (C&M), in collaboration with the Department of Arts, offers a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC). Established in 1996, the BS in EMAC program is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses in communication as well as in digital art and animation, video, electronic music, and graphic design, supported by RPI’s strong technological infrastructure. The EMAC curriculum offers concentrations in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, Game Design), Graphic Design, Interaction Design, Marketing Communication and Design, Sound Design and Popular Culture.

Students may enhance their education by adding a minor, dual major, study abroad, internship, or even a co-terminal graduate program.

36. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts (top 30% of schools considered)
Emerson College

Founded in 1880, Emerson College is home to 4,424 students from across the U.S. and more than 57 countries. The school offers more than 50 programs leading to a BA, BS, BFA, MS, MA, or MFA degree. The School of the Arts, Department of Visual & Media Arts offers both BA and BFA degrees in Visual & Media Arts with a Specialization in Animation and Motion Media. The Department also offers an intensive three-year Film & Media Art MFA that admits just 22 students per class year.

The MFA program allows students to focus in one or more areas of Computer Animation, Documentary, Experimental Media, Fiction Narrative, Installation, Interactive Art, Media Production, Sound Design or an individualized hybrid form. According to the school, “the program includes a monthly colloquium in which you will present and discuss your in-progress work; the MFA Production Workshop, which provides advanced training and experimentation within a collaborative cohort; and an annual portfolio review.”

Recent graduates of Emerson’s Department of Visual & Media Arts have found employment at Soup2Nuts, Hallmark Channel, SCG Productions, World Wide Pants, Digital Domain, Fox Searchlight, MAD TV, MGM Studios, Bunim-Murray Productions, and more.

37. Woodbury University, Burbank, California (top 30% of schools considered)
Woodbury University

Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The school, which serves approximately 1,177 students, has campuses in Los Angeles/Burbank and San Diego. The school also has a Gallery called WUHO Gallery in Hollywood. Woodbury offers 20 undergraduate and graduate majors across four colleges and schools including the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Architecture, the School of Business, and the School of Media, Culture & Design. The School of Media, Culture & Design is home to the Animation BFA Program.

Because Woodbury promotes “cross-disciplinarity,” Animation students may study in other areas such as Game Art & Design, Media Technology, and Filmmaking. Students may also participate in Woodbury’s internship program and the Animation Club, which hosts events, speakers, and exhibitions. Internship opportunities include positions at Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Chiodo Bros., Bix Pix Entertainment, Blur Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Animation, Renegade Animation, Hasbro Studios, and others.

38. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts (top 35% of schools considered)
Northeastern University

Northeastern University was established in 1898. The school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 150 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 125 graduate programs, across nine colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Media and Design houses the Media Arts program, which has several offerings for aspiring animators—a BFA in Media Arts with a Concentration in Animation, and a Minor in Animation.

The BFA is an intensive studio program that consists of courses in imaginative and narrative arts, which are required for professional work in documentary films, game art and promotion, visualization, motion graphics, interactive art, illustration and short animated film. Sample courses include Animation Tools, Interactive Narrative, Character Design for Animation, Animation for Games, Interaction Design, Digital Sculpture and Model Making, 4D Fundamentals: Sequence and Drawing, and American Animation.

Northeastern also offers a BS in Computer Science/Media Arts. Offered through the College of Computer and Information Science, the combined major provides a solid foundation in Computer Science and Media Arts both through a curriculum that spans animation, computer graphics, database design, human-computer interaction, photography, and video. Sample courses for the program include Animation Basics and Animation Tools, Animation 1, 2 and 3, Virtual Environment Design, Animation for Games, Character Design for Animation, Digital Sculpting and Model Making, and Narrative Basics.

39. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (top 35% of schools considered)
Laguna College of Art and Design

Established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is home to more than 600 students and it offers twelve undergraduate majors and four graduate degrees. Options for aspiring animators include a BFA in Animation and a BFA in Illustration with an Emphasis in Entertainment. The Animation BFA provides the opportunity for students to participate in master class workshops each summer where they learn from leaders in the field. Each year, LCAD also hosts the LCAD Animation Film Festival that “showcases the best work from all levels of (the schools) animation artists.”

LCAD Animation graduates have worked for a number of major and other studios including Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Nickelodeon, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, Renegade Animation, Sony, South Park Studios, Titmouse, and Zynga.

40. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (top 35% of schools considered)
Kansas City Art Institute

Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) trained students such as Walt Disney (who took Saturday Classes as a child), and multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg. Today, the school serves more than 700 students, enrolled in 13 art and design programs across several departments. The Department of Converging Media houses the school’s animation program, which leads to a BFA.

The Animation BFA highlights intensive instruction in classical, experimental and computer animation. Students in the program work in technologically integrated classrooms and studios to produce a significant personal work. The Department of Converging Media houses Filmmaking, Interactive Arts, and Photography, so animation students also work in an environment that facilitates creativity and cross-disciplinary approaches to image making.

Sequential classes emphasize the creative process by combining aspects of animation principles, concept modeling, production methods, history, theory and technique into each project. Students will gain experience through internship opportunities at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Bazillion Pictures, Titmouse Inc., and many others.