Start your career as a 2D animator for film, TV and games! CG Spectrum’s offers specialized online career training and mentorship from expert animators working at top studios. Get access to career services and a supportive community. Learn more.
What are the top private animation schools for 2023?
|1||California Institute of the Arts||California||Top 1%|
|2||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia||Top 2%|
|3||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida||Top 3%|
|4||School of Visual Arts||New York||Top 4%|
|5||University of Southern California||California||Top 5%|
|6||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island||Top 6%|
|7||Pratt Institute||New York||Top 7%|
|8||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||California||Top 8%|
|9||New York University||New York||Top 9%|
|10||Brigham Young University||Utah||Top 10%|
|11||ArtCenter College of Design||California||Top 15%|
|12||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York||Top 15%|
|13||Full Sail University||Florida||Top 15%|
|14||Academy of Art University||California||Top 15%|
|15||DePaul University||Illinois||Top 15%|
|16||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois||Top 20%|
|17||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||Top 20%|
|18||California College of the Arts||California||Top 20%|
|19||Otis College of Art and Design||California||Top 20%|
|20||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois||Top 25%|
|21||Columbus College of Art & Design||Ohio||Top 25%|
|22||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Washington||Top 25%|
|23||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland||Top 25%|
|24||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota||Top 25%|
|25||College for Creative Studies||Michigan||Top 30%|
|26||Laguna College of Art and Design||California||Top 30%|
|27||Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Colorado||Top 30%|
|28||University of the Arts||Pennsylvania||Top 30%|
|29||The New School's Parsons School of Design||New York||Top 30%|
|30||Loyola Marymount University||California||Top 35%|
|31||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio||Top 35%|
|32||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri||Top 35%|
|33||Drexel University||Pennsylvania||Top 35%|
|34||Chapman University||California||Top 35%|
|35||The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School||Florida||Top 40%|
|36||Woodbury University||California||Top 40%|
|37||Emerson College||Massachusetts||Top 40%|
|38||New York Film Academy||New York||Top 40%|
|39||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania||Top 40%|
|40||Tufts University||Massachusetts||Top 40%|
Our 2023 list -our twelfth annual- 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 colleges considered)
The Animation Programs at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) are housed in the School of Film/Video where famous alumni such as Chris Buck (Frozen), John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), and Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood) got their start. The largest of CalArts’ six schools, the School of Film/Video focuses on intensive programs that emphasize comprehensive and technical artistic training. Programs, including BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation and a BFA in Character Animation, are led by experienced professionals working in computer graphic (CG), traditional, and independent animation.
The BFA in Character Animation at California Institute of the Arts is a four-year program that prepares students to work in both traditional and CG animation environments. In addition to required courses such as Acting for Animators and Perspective, the intensive Character Animation curriculum includes 2D Character Animation, Animation Layout, CG Foundation, Digital Methods, Life Drawing, Storyboarding, Character Animation I-IV, Film Workshop I-IV, and Professional Preparation. This four-year program concludes with the creation of a professional portfolio and several short films.
Students the Experimental Animation BFA and MFA Programs at in CalArts collaborate closely with mentors to develop skills in animation processes, approaches and techniques. Examples include 2D animation, digital production, installation, motion capture, multipane, performance animation, programming, and stop motion. Experimental Animation students will participate in independent study, lecture courses, and the internship program and attend seminars, workshops, and visiting artist lectures.
BFA students will take courses such as Animation Production, Animation Workshop, Concept Development, Film History, and Motion and Meaning. MFA course examples include Digital Workflow for Animators, Drawn Techniques for the Experimental Animator , First Year Shorts, Sound for Experimental Animation, and The Digital Path for Animation. Undergraduate students (including Character Animation students) may add the Digital Arts Minor to develop skills in video editing, digital sound production, computer programming, web design, digital fabrication, and digital arts.
The BFA Program takes four years to complete and the MFA takes three years to complete. Students in both programs will produce a professional portfolio and final project to graduate.
California Institute of the Arts graduates go on to successful careers in advertising, animation, film/video, and marketing. Many have launched their own freelance careers and studios.
In 1961, Walt and Roy Disney formed California Institute of the Arts through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. Today, CalArts serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in over 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 also encompasses the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), located in downtown LA, and the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) with community organizations and public schools across LA County.
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. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (Top 2% of colleges considered)
The School of Animation and Motion at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) houses the world’s first specialized degree in Motin Media Design, three Animation degrees, and three Visual Effects (VFX) options for students seeking an undergraduate or advanced degree. Students in all School of Animation and Motion programs have access to more than 800 networked computers along with a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art digital media center consisting of a green screen lab, in-house theater, and studio environment.
Students in all programs and at all degree levels receive instruction from celebrated professors who have worked at major studios and on award-winning productions such as Ice Age, Pocahontas, and The Lion King.
Programs for animators include the BFA, MA, and MFA in Animation. Available Minors include Animation, Animated Illustration and Publication Design, and Concept Design for Animation and Games. Examples of Minors that complement the Animation Programs include Visual Effects, Technical Direction, Storyboarding, Illustration for Entertainment, Interactive Design and Game Development, and Character Technical Direction.
Incoming BFA students may enroll in [email protected], which provides the opportunity to earn a BFA and MA or MFA at an accelerated pace. The BFA/MA could take less than four years to complete, and the BFA/MFA can be completed in five years or less.
The 180 credit hour BFA in Animation is available at SCAD’s Atlanta and Savannah campuses. The program includes 80 hours in the major, which consists of concentrations in 2D Animation, 3D Character Animation, Storytelling and Concept Development, or Technical Animation. Students may also choose 10 hours of free electives. Course examples for the program include Collaborative Experiences in Animation, 3D Character Animation: Creatures and Quadrupeds, and Story and Concept: Seeding the Narrative.
Each student in the SCAD Animation BFA Program will complete three Film Capstone courses including Preproduction, Production, and Postproduction. An optional internship is also part of the program.
Savannah College of Art and Design’s Animation MA and MFA Programs are 45 and 90 credit hours, respectively. The MA is available at the Savannah campus and through the schools online learning platform SCADnow. The MFA is available in Atlanta, Savannah, and via SCADnow. MA students will complete courses such as Animation Aesthetics and Practice, Environment Look Development, and Computer-Generated Modeling and Design. Students will also complete a collaborative project and a final project. The graduate internship is optional.
The SCAD Animation MFA requires a graduate internship and completion of three thesis courses. Students in the program can expect to take other courses such as Drawing in Motion, Media Theory and Application, and Storyboarding and Previsualization. Completion of at least seven 500- to 700-level electives are also part of the program.
From Stop-Motion Animator to Creature Technical Director, SCAD Animation graduates have been recruited by major studios, gaming companies, and networks such as Pixar, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Lucasfilm Animation.
Founded in 1978, Savannah College of Art and Design opened in the renovated Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory in September 1979. The school began with just one classroom, an administration building, and 71 students. Today, SCAD serves more than 15,000 students across campuses in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Lacoste, France. With more than 100 degree programs and over 75 minors and certificate programs, Savannah College of Art and Design has more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college in the U.S.
Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), and the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB).
3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (Top 3% of colleges considered)
The Computer Animation BFA at Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1990. Consisting of 120 credit hours of study, the program features courses taught by accomplished professionals in the field, complemented by communications with visiting artists and industry guest speakers from major studios such as DreamWorks.
Students in RCAD’s Computer Animation Program have the opportunity to complete an internship and work with area businesses on practical projects. In addition, all RCAD students participate in the school’s initiative known as INDEX (Industry Experience). Developed by in partnership with The Patterson Family Foundation, the initiative provides experiential learning opportunities through everything from internships to competitions sponsored by major brands and clients. INDEX also helps students build their portfolios and resumes.
Another degree option for individuals looking to launch a career in animation is RCAD’s Motion Design BFA. This program covers animation, design, stop motion, and sound. Motion Design students have the opportunity to collaborate on projects in teams and attend the week-long FutureProof conference. This event consists of workshops, presentations, and keynote speakers.
Ringling College of Art and Design Computer Animation students have won 17 Student Academy Awards since 1998. RCAD graduates have gone on to win a number of Oscars, they have launched successful careers at studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney Animation Studios, and many have started their own companies and animation studios.
Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit college. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), RCAD has been around for more than 90 years. Co-founded by circus baron, John Ringling the school serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in eleven majors leading to a BFA degree, two majors leading to a BA, and minor options in 10 areas.
4. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (Top 4% of colleges considered)
The Animation Department at School of Visual Arts (SVA) has three pathways for animators: Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects. Leading to a BFA, all programs emphasize hands-on experience; mentors who are accomplished special effects artists, directors, and character designers; and working relationships with independent animators across New York, and alumni-owned Augenblick Studios, Plymptoons, and Titmouse. As interns and part-time employees, SVA Animation students have produced animations for non-profit organizations and public service organizations such as UNESCO, Ted-ED, and UNICEF.
Students in all BFA programs will train on the latest industry software including Maya, Adobe Animate, Storyboard Pro, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony. SVA Animation students will also participate in the School of Visual Arts Thesis Celebration, where their best work will be presented to industry professionals and other prominent figures in the world of art.
Graduates of the Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects BFA programs at SVA have gone on to win awards presented by the Academy of Motion Pictures, The International Animation Festival, and the Association of International Film Animators (ASIFA). Graduates have also won awards for their short and feature films at numerous festivals around the world.
SVA Animation alumni can be found at independent animation studios worldwide and at major studios such as DreamWorks, Lucasfilm Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, and Disney Animation Studios.
At the graduate level, the Computer Arts Department at School of Visual Arts has an MFA Program in Computer Arts. SVA is also known for its Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses, which are designed to help students improve their skills through hands-on exercises and workshops. CE Animation students have the opportunity to create their own shorts.
The SVA MFA Computer Arts Department was the first MFA Program in the U.S. to focus on computer art. Established in 1986, the program features workshops, guest lectures, visiting artists, and internship experiences. During the final year of the program, MFA students will complete academic research and a creative work accompanied by an artist’s statement.
Graduates of the SVA MFA in Computer Arts Program have been hired at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), MTV, Pixar, Google, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Electronic Arts (EA), and Disney, DreamWorks. Some alumni have gone on to open their own studios or win Academy, Emmy Award, and Grammy awards.
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) opened in 1947 as the Cartoonists and Illustrators school. Classes began with just three teachers and 35 students. Today, the School of Visual Arts serves more than 4,000 students enrolled in dozens of BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS programs. SVA is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), with individual program accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
5. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
The School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at University of California (USC) houses the John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts (Hench DADA). The Division has programs for animators at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Options for undergraduates include an Animation + Digital Arts BFA and Minors in Animation, 3D Animation in Cinematic Arts, and Animation + Digital Arts. The Interactive Media Division offers a Minor in Game Animation.
Through electives, the 3D Animation in Cinematic Arts 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 students may create work in genres ranging from traditional animation to experimental to computer animation. The Game Animation Minor combines the teaching of systems thinking and developing animation skills. Through electives, Game Animation students may study Visual effects, Digital Effects, Game Development, and more. Minors are 16 units and all require a final project to graduate.
The Hench DADA BFA in Animation + Digital Arts consists of general education requirements, a concentration area, and several courses that must be taken from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences (Physical Education), USC Kaufman School of Dance, and USC School of Dramatic Arts. Potential areas of concentration include Character Animation, Immersive Media, 3D Computer Animation, Experimental Animation, Motion Graphics, Interactive Animation, Visualizing Science, Documentary Animation, and Visual Effects.
During the final year of the program, BFA students will complete a Senior Project, which consists of the production and post-production of a fully rendered, animated piece—with soundtrack. Projects are presented to a committee upon completion.
At the graduate level, USC Hench DADA houses an Animation + Digital Arts MFA Program, which takes three years to complete. In addition, the School of Cinematic Arts launched a new MFA in Expanded Animation Research + Practice (XA), with classes beginning Fall 2022. Research concentrations for the XA Program include Experimental Animation, Animation for Robotics, Documentary Animation, Performance Gesture, Fine Art Animation Practice, Gesture Movement, Advanced Character Performance, Cinematic Installations, Sound Design, Narrativity, Virtual Humans and AI, and Dreams and Consciousness and Science Visualization. Of the minimum 50 unites required to graduate with an XA MFA, 30 units are dedicated to Expanded Animation.
The Animation + Digital Arts MFA Program provides mini studios for all students as well as ongoing workshops in new technologies and internship opportunities. Techniques and approaches covered range from hand-drawn character animation to interactive digital animation. Course examples for the program include Expanded Animation, Animation Production, and Storytelling for Animation. Elective units are an important part of the MFA Program and include course 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 have been hired at major studios such as Digital Domain, Digital Idea, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, and Sony Pictures. Many USC alumni have founded their own independent studios.
Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) is the largest private sector employer in Los Angeles. Serving 49,500 students, USC houses 23 schools and divisions. 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).
6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (Top 6% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) combines three areas: Film, Animation, and Video (FAV). Leading to a BFA, the FAV Program provides the opportunity to focus in Animation, Live Action or a combination of the two. Students may produce experimental, narrative or documentary films, as well as productions for interactive media and installations. Student works may be viewed and analyzed through film festivals and visiting artists.
Course examples for the RISD FAV BFA include Advanced Stop Motion, Animation Practices, Character Animation Workshop, Computer Animation: Integrated Techniques, Computer Generated Imagery 3-D, Digital Effects and Compositing for the Screen, Directing, Experiments in Stop Motion Animation, Intermediate Studio: Live Action or Animation, Spatial Dynamics, Stop-Motion Animation, Time, Light, and Sound, and Video Practices.
All RISD FAV students have access to animation and live action studios, studios for green screen and blackout shooting, and Apple workstations equipped with Avid, Final Cut, Pro Tools, Autodesk Maya, the Adobe Production Suite, and a variety of animation software. Collaborative study, workshops, and a professional internship are also part of the program.
During the senior year of the FAV BFA Program, students will develop, design, animate, direct, and produce an independent project. Throughout this final year, students will receive critiques and individual guidance weekly from established professionals in the world of animation. Class meetings are devoted to specialized technical workshops, film screenings, and group critique. The year culminates with the RISD Senior Festival, a public showcase. Graduates will leave the program with a professional reel and portfolio.
Graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design FAV BFA Program have gone on to create, direct and/or produce a number of animated films and series such as The Simpsons (Lance Wilder, Animator), Family Guy (Seth Macfarlane, Creator), and the Oscar-nominated animated short Feral (Daniel Sousa, Animator and Director). RISD graduates have also landed positions at DreamWorks, HBO, Pixar, Fox, and PBS or launched their own studios and production companies.
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. This private, nonprofit college serves around 2,600 students enrolled in dozens of majors and programs. RISD is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). The Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and MA in Teaching programs have special accreditation by the National Architecture Accrediting Board, Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, and the RI Department of Education, respectively.
7. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (Top 7% of colleges considered)
The School of Art at Pratt Institute (Pratt) houses eight departments and more than 30 degree programs. The Department of Digital Arts here has a Digital Arts Program, which leads to a BFA. Also housed in the School of Art is the Graduate School of Art, which has a Digital Arts MFA Program with concentrations in 3-D Animation and Motion Arts and Interactive Arts.
The BFA program has several emphasis options: 2-D Animation, 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts. Department highlights include small class sizes, a collaborative environment, state-of-the art studios and classrooms, and courses taught by experienced artists in the field. BFA students can expect to take courses such as 3D Modeling, Coding for Animation, Compositing and Special FX, and Lighting and Rendering. Senior Project Development and Senior Projects courses are also part of the program.
Pratt MFA students will take courses such as Digital Animation Studio, Traditional Animation, and Advanced Digital Animation. Graduate Seminar I-II and Thesis I-II are also part of the program.
Pratt Institute graduates work in a wide variety of positions for major studios such as Digital Domain, Gameloft, Walt Disney Animation Studios, NBCUniversal, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Many Pratt alumni have also gone on to establish academic careers at institutions such as New York University (NYU), Rochester Institute of technology (RIT), New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), Howard University, and American Academy in Rome.
Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute was one of the nation’s first colleges to welcome students without regard to color, gender, or class. The school serves more than 5,000 students across campuses in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Utica, New York. More than 70 degree programs are offered across six schools and The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. Pratt Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
8. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects has several programs designed to develop studio-ready professionals. Options include a BFA or Certificate in Digital Production. A preparatory program, Foundation in Art & Design, is also available. The certificate can be completed in two years and the BFA can be completed in as few as three years. The preparatory program requires a full year of continuous study, which includes 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.
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.
With a near 100% employment rate, Gnomon School of Visual Effects has alumni working at studios and gaming companies such as DreamWorks, Electronic Arts (EA), Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Sony Pictures Imageworks, Marvel Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation, Blizzard Entertainment, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel FX, and Digital Domain.
Located in Hollywood, California, Gnomon School of Visual Effects sits on a 35,000 square foot lot within the historic Television Center Studio lot. Established in 1997, Gnomon offers degree and vocational certificate programs, as well as over 100 individual 10-week courses. Gnomon School of Visual Effects is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
9. New York University (NYU), New York, New York (Top 9% of colleges considered)
Tisch School of the Arts (Tisch) at New York University (NYU) houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, which produces more than 5,000 films per year. The Institute, which produces more than 5,000 films a year, houses the Department of Animation and Digital Arts home to the Film and Television BFA with an Animation Area.
The Animation Area launched in 1980 with just five classes and 80 students, and it was the first program to bring digital technology to Kanbar. Today, the Animation Area consists of nearly twenty different courses and more than 500 students from nearly every state and dozens of countries.
The Animation Area at NYU Tisch provides instruction in 2D, 3D, and Traditional Animation. The program begins with animation fundamentals and progresses to intermediate animation, then advanced. Course examples include Experimental Animation, Life Drawing: Anatomy, Storyboarding, Visual Effects and Compositing, Action Analysis, Writing for Animation, Drawing and Design for Animation, and Motion Design & Titles.
Besides a diverse array of classes. the Animation Area at NYU Tisch highlights guest speakers such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Polonski, and Chris Butler, study abroad experiences, and internship opportunities.
Graduates of the Animation Area at NYU Tisch work as freelancers, many have started their own studios, and others work at major studios such as DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Pixar.
New York University was founded in 1831. Serving nearly 55,000 students, NYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities. In addition to the New York campus, NYU has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, along with 11 global academic centers in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. With an estimated 400+ programs, New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of Arts at New York University serves more than 4,000 students from 48 states and 39 countries. Programs are offered at all degree levels through Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television, the Institute of Performing Arts, and the Institute of Emerging Media.
10. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (Top 10% of colleges considered)
The BYU Center for Animation at Brigham Young University (BYU) was established in 2010. Managed by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications and the Physical and Mathematical Sciences, the Center accepts just 20-25 students each year. The program is open to artists from the BYU Animation BFA Program, housed in the College of Fine Arts and Communications’ Department of Design, and the Computer Science BS: Animation and Games, housed in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences’ Department of Computer Science.
The Animation BFA is a 62.5-64.5 credit hour limited enrollment program (75 students) that explores animation, film production, storyboarding, special effects, video game production, illustration, screenwriting, and more. The Computer Science: Animation and Games BS is also a limited enrollment program that accepts just 42 students per enrollment period. Consisting of 77-80.5 credit hours, the program explores animation, computer graphics, video game production, programming, software engineering, visual effects, user interfaces, and more.
The BYU Center for Animation provides extensive hands-on training in animation, games, live-action, and special effects. All BFA, BS, and BYU Center for Animation students have opportunities to work on personal projects, group projects, and major films. Students will have the opportunity to complete an internship, study abroad, and develop a portfolio of their best work.
BYU Animation and Animation and Games graduates go on to establish successful careers at studios such as Blizzard, DreamWorks, Disney, Sony, Digital Domain, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon, Riot Games, and many others.
Brigham Young University was founded as Brigham Young Academy (BYA) in 1875 by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Brigham Young. With more than 35,000 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs and minors, BYU is the one of the largest private universities in the U.S. Brigham Young University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
11. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
ArtCenter College of Design (ArtCenter) houses an Entertainment Design Program with three tracks: Animation, Concept, and Game Design. Programs lead to a BS.
The Entertainment Design BS with an Animation Track explores lighting, character animation, modeling, storyboarding, and art direction. Course examples for the program include 2D Fundamentals, 2D Mechanics, Concept Art, Shorts, Design History of Comic Animation, CG Mechanics, Storyboard, Science & Technology, and Entertainment Design Industry.
BS students will complete one of three business courses (Business 101, Business, or Entrepreneurship), or Professional Practices as well as three Capstone Production courses and a 5th Term Portfolio Review. The Entertainment Design BS with an Animation Track requires 132 units to graduate.
ArtCenter College of Design graduates are prepared for positions within the entertainment industry such as Animator, Modeler, Digital Artist, Production Designer, and Storyboard Artist. ArtCenter graduates have been hired at Amazon, DreamWorks Animation, Cartoon Network, Google, Netflix, Paramount, Marvel, Rockstar Games, Ogilvy, Sony Pictures Animation, and Universal Creative, among others.
ArtCenter College of Design serves around 2,320 students from more than 50 countries. Founded in 1930, ArtCenter has campuses in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California, and satellite studios in Petersen Automotive Museum (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) and Berlin, Germany. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate programs, seven graduate degree programs 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).
12. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) houses the School of Film and Animation, home to the Animation Program. Several degree options are available including BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation, BFA degrees in Film and Animation with either an Animation Option or a Production Option, and a BS in Motion Picture Science.
The MFA has four options: 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Production, and Screenwriting. The BS program requires coursework in film, television, and animation production. In the Film BFA Animation Option, the focus is 2D and 3D Animation, production, screenwriting, and stop-motion animation. Three tracks are available including 2D, 3D and Stop Motion Animation. Students learn to animate for AR/VR, digital and visual effects, games, and films. Course examples across all programs include After Effects for Animators, Programming for 3D Animators, Production Processes, Experimental Animation, Virtual Production, Digital Effects & Compositing, World Building Workshop, and Directing.
Production Option BFA students will learn to produce documentary, fiction, experimental, and live-action films. Students will gain hands-on experience working with cameras, and editing and sound equipment. All Production Option students will have the opportunity to participate in RIT’s Study Away: LA Program. Students that choose to participate in the program will spend a semester in Los Angeles where they can intern at top studios and entertainment companies, and take two courses to complement the study-away experience.
RIT also has one of the fourth-oldest and one of the largest cooperative (co-op) education programs in the world. As such, all RIT programs provide co-op education opportunities as well as internships and other experiential learning opportunities. RIT animation students also have access to 52,000 square foot MAGIC Spell Studios, and labs and classrooms outfitted with industry standard technology and software.
At all levels, animation students will participate in the RIT’s Creative Industry Day, where they will have the opportunity to mingle with representatives of studios, design firms, and other creative companies.
Graduates of Rochester Institute of Technology can work in a wide variety of positions at Lucasfilm, Electronic Arts (EA), Dolby, Nickelodeon, Sony, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney Animation Studios, and many others.
Rochester Institute of Technology is a top research university that dates back to 1829. With global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, the school serves more than 19,000 students, making it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. RIT offers more than 200 academic programs across 11 colleges and institutes. Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
13. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Full Sail University’s (Full Sail) Computer Animation Program has online and on-campus options. Leading to a BS, the distance learning option takes 29 months to complete, while the campus option takes just 20 months to complete. Students in both programs will learn how to navigate the same production pipeline used in today’s major studios. Course examples include 3D Animation I-II, Visual Development, Industry Production, Technical Animation, and Character Rigging.
All Full Sail animation students are required to take two professional development seminar courses and seven project and portfolio courses covering 3D arts and computer animation. Professional development courses provide the opportunity for students to explore the computer animation industry, while learning to build their personal brand. Professional development courses are enhanced by industry guest speakers. Project and portfolio courses highlight hands-on, project-based learning, independent study, and portfolio development.
Full Sail University graduates have been credited on more than 45 Grammy-nominated projects; 2022 blockbusters such as Top Gun: Maverick, Thor: Love and Thunder, Lightyear, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Minions: The Rise of Gru; and other productions and series such Ms. Marvel, Stranger Things 4, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Full Sail University offers graduate certificates and programs at all degree levels in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Technology. The school, which opened in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio, is located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios. Serving approximately 21,000 students, Full Sail is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
14. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The School of Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) at Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) has an Animation Program with five pathways for artists seeking a career in animation. Options include a certificate and AA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation & Visual Effects.
The certificate is a top choice for students who would like to dive into animation coursework from day one. In addition to skipping liberal arts coursework, this 120-unit program allows students to complete an internship, a study abroad experience, and a senior portfolio in Animation and VFX.
Consisting of 66 units of study, the Animation & VFX AA explores 3D animation, 3D modeling, 2D animation and stop motion, storyboarding, and VFX through required coursework and electives. Students in the 132-unit Animation & VFX BFA have the opportunity to focus in one primary area of emphasis. Options include VFX, 2D animation and stop motion, 3D modeling, 3D animation, and storyboarding.
The Animation & VFX MA focuses on storytelling and technical skills. Students in this 36-unit graduate program will work in work in 2D Animation & Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, or VFX. Consisting of 63 units of study, the Animation & VFX MFA Program explores all areas of animation and visual effects from concept to post-production. Students in this program will also develop communication and management skills. A thesis is required to graduate.
All Academy of Art Animation programs take place 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 mirrors 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, all degree-seeking students will complete an internship and create a professional portfolio of their best work. Academy of Art Animation alumni go on to establish careers at major studios and companies such as Google, LAIKA Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel, Sony Pictures Animation, CASA VFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Riot Games, Weta Digital, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university located in San Francisco—one of the world’s top cities for animation careers. Established in 1929 and serving more than 7,000 students, Academy of Art is 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).
15. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University (DePaul) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the Animation Program. Listed as a Top Film School by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the School of Cinematic Arts features courses taught by award-winning filmmakers, access to a state-of-the-art, 32,000 square foot production facility known as DePaul Cinespace Studios, and seven degree options for animators including the Animation BA, BFA, MA, MFA, BA/MA, and BFA/MA, and the Computer Science (CS) + Animation (CS+ANI) with an Animation Technical Director (TD) Concentration. An Animation TD Minor is also available.
In addition to award-winning filmmakers, courses for the animation programs at DePaul are taught by members of one of the largest full-time animation faculties in the nation. They teach courses such as 3D Animation Production, Cinema, Animation and Art, Screenwriting, Motion Graphics, 3D Design and Modeling, Stop-Motion Animation, Narrative Development, Storyboarding, Drawing, and Motion Capture.
The BFA program has concentrations in 3D Animation, Visual Effects Animation, Cinema, Game Art, Motion Graphics, and Storyboarding and Character Design. While the BA does not offer a concentration, animation students may enhance their skills in a focused areas through major and open electives.
The MA allows students to concentrate in 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist or Traditional Animation. Course examples for the program include Advanced Topics in Visual Effects, Animation Figure Study, Topics in 3D Animation, Game Art Pipeline, and 3D Animation Production.
The Animation MFA follows the project model. Students will spend their time creating a single project with the assistance of an MFA co-chair and MFA faculty mentors. The program is designed for animators who have earned an undergraduate degree in the visual arts. Examples include Animation, Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Film.
The multidisciplinary CS+ANI is designed for students seeking technical artistic roles in animation and game development. In addition to the Concentration in Animation TD, the program offers a Concentration in Game Art TD. Course examples for the program include Motion Graphics Foundations, 3D Design and Modeling, 3D Animation, Optimized C++, Animation Production, Advanced 3D Rigging, Concepts of Programming Languages, and Game Art Pipeline. Students in the CS+ANI benefit from interdisciplinary collaborative group project experiences with teams of students majoring in 3D animation, game art, storyboarding and character design, game design, and game programming.
All DePaul Animation students may participate in the Los Angeles Quarter Program. This 10-week immersion program allows students to intern at major Hollywood studios such Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Nickelodeon, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, Warner Brothers, and many others.
Other program benefits include the visiting artist series, where past guests have included artists from Disney and Pixar, access to the Animation Lodge, and participation in Project Bluelight. Students at The Lodge collaborate on group projects, network, and build their portfolios. Bluelight provides hands-on experience in motion picture production to all interested students.
Graduates of the Animation Programs at DePaul University have been hired by major studios and gaming companies such as Electronic Arts (EA), Google, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, LAIKA Studios, Disney Animation Studios, Wargaming, Warner Bros. Animation, BioWare, and Iron Galaxy Studios.
With around 23,800 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges and schools, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. Founded in 1898, DePaul is also America’s 13th-largest private, not-for-profit university, and the largest private, not-for-profit college in the Midwest. DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a Studio Program that offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and BFA and MFA degrees in Studio. The BFA has Liberal Arts or Visual Critical Studies Thesis Options and all programs offer extensive coursework in animation. Course examples across pathways include Puppet Animation, 3D Character Animation, Sonic and Optics, Type and Image in Motion, Advanced Experimental 3D, Advanced Drawing for Animation, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Advanced Screenwriting, Writing and Art Direction for Animation, Visualization and Storyboarding,
Other FVNMA Department highlights include interaction with visiting artists; access to state-of-the-art film, editing, and production equipment, the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, and on-campus galleries; and graduate seminars, screenings, and performances. In addition, FVNMA MFA students have the opportunity to participate in Critique Week. This week-long event takes place each semester. The entire faculty, along with invited visiting artists and designers, form panels designed to critique students work. All classes are suspended during this time.
Graduates of SAIC’s FVNMA Department are prepared to seek careers in animation, film, games, digital media, and more.
Founded in 1866 by a group of 35 artists, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the nation’s oldest accredited independent schools of art and design. Serving more than 3,500 students, SAIC offers over 50 areas of study in 24 academic departments. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Since 1948, the school has been accredited as a charter member by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
17. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) College of Fine Art (CFA) houses the School of Art. Serving around 200 students, CMU School of Art has an interdisciplinary program that explores animation, bioArt, game arts, computational and interactive arts, video, and other related areas. Leading to a BFA in Electronic & Time-Based Media (BFA ETB), the program features advanced courses such as Animation, Art & Technology, Digital Storytelling and Resistance, Experimental Capture, and Visual Music.
Carnegie Mellon University is also home to the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe). In collaboration with the School of Computer Sciences’ Robotics Institute (est. 1979), the IDeATe network manages eight undergraduate areas that can be taken as minors. This includes Animation & Special Effects.
Courses for the Animation & Special Effects Minor are led by faculty with expertise in Art and Robotics. Course examples include Animation, Art, and Technology, Art of Robotic Special Effects, Computational Photography, Advanced ETB: Video: Experimental Science Fiction, Technical Character Animation, and IDeATe: Introduction to 3D Animation Pipeline. IDeATe Animation & Special Effects course are open to all students. This provides opportunities for animation minors to collaborate with students from game design, film, digital media, and more.
Graduates of the ETB and Animation & Special Effects Programs have gone on to establish successful careers at major studios, networks, and gaming companies such as Sony Interactive Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Interactive, Zynga Games, Comedy Central, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts (EA), MTV, Paramount, and Blizzard Entertainment.
Founded in 1900 by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Mellon University began as Carnegie Technical Schools. Today, the school serves around 15,800 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools. CMU also has more than a dozen degree-granting locations, and over 20 research partnerships in Silicon Valley, Australia, Africa, and Qatar. A private, global research university, Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
18. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Animation BFA 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. In the classroom and labs, Animation BFA students will learn to create 2D and 3D animation, sound effects, animation for games, stop-motion animation, and more.
Courses for the BFA program are taught by instructors who are working in the industry with studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Tippett Studio. Course examples include 3D Computer Animation, Drawing for Animation, Animation 1 and 2, Workshop: Experimental Animation, 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.
Upon completion of the Animation BFA Program, graduates will have a portfolio of their best work. CCA Animation alumni have gone on to establish successful freelance careers or launch their own studios. CCA graduates have also been hired at studios and gaming companies such as Sony Pictures Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts (EA), Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Phosphor Games, Bento Box Entertainment, and many others.
California College of the Arts began in 1907 as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. When it opened, the school had just three teachers and 43 students. Today, 420 faculty members serve more than 1,600 students enrolled in over 40 undergraduate, graduate, minor, and dual degree programs. 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).
19. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) has two pathways to becoming an animator: the Animation BFA and the Animation Certificate. The BFA explores 3D modeling, storyboarding, animation, character design, rendering and sound. Students will gain experience in 2D and 3D computer animation, 3D production, and visual development, as well as software such as Houdini, Maya, ToonBoom, Unreal, Nuke, Adobe Suite, Zbrush, and Cinema 4D. All BFA students will complete key projects including Animation Explorations, Animation Studio Project I & II, and Animation Senior Project I & II.
The Animation Certificate Program is provided through the Otis College of Art and Design Extension Center. Consisting of 16 required courses and two elective courses, the Certificate Program explores character creation, story development, visual effects, animated graphics, and creating environments. Course examples include 2D and 3D Animation, Digital Drawing: Illustrator, Digital Tools: Maya, Drawing and Composition, Storyboarding for Film and Animation, Digital Storytelling, and 2D Design.
The Animation Certificate concludes with the Final Portfolio: Digital Media Arts. Students can complete the program in 1.5 to 2 years.
Graduates of the Animation Programs at OTIS have gone on to secure positions at major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Pixar Animation Studios, among others. OTIS Animation alumni are 3D Animators, Animation Designers, Game Designers, Junior Character Animators, Layout Artists, 2D/3D CG Artists, Cinematic Animators, Previz Artists, Production Coordinators, and Storyboard Artists, among others.
Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is Los Angeles’ oldest professional school of the arts. This private, non-profit college serves more than 1,200 students enrolled in 11 BFA and MFA degree programs in the 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).
20. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) houses the Interactive Arts and Media Department (IAM), home to the Animation Program. Students in the program have access to state-of-the-art animation production spaces including Cintiq, stop-motion, and traditional animation labs, as well as the Equipment Cave, Game Lab, Sound Studio, and Open Lab. IAM program options include a BA in Animation, and BFA degrees in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation.
An Animation Minor that explores object, stop-motion, and hand-drawn animation is also available. Students in this program will use industry-standard editing and storyboarding software to create a story reel for a final project. All IAM Animation Programs provide the opportunity to begin animating in the very first year.
Course examples across programs include Alternative Strategies in Animation, Computer Animation: Keyframing, Environmental Design & Modeling, Animation for Comics, Stop-Motion Animation, Animation Maquettes, Character Design and Modeling, CVFX: Compositing, Advanced 3D Digital Sculpting, Character Design and Modeling, Cartooning, Acting for Animators, and Screenwriting: Writing the Short Film.
Select BFA students will have the opportunity to participate in the Animation Studios in LA Program. This one credit course provides allows students to explore career opportunities at major Hollywood animation studios. Events include tours, portfolio reviews, and employment screenings. Participating studios have included DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Warner Bros.
As a senior, BFA students will produce an animated film as a solo project, serving as producer, editor, and director. Films will be presented at Manifest—Columbia Colleges annual art festival showcasing graduating students work.
Animation BA students will have the option to work with a team or individually to create a film during the final year of the program. BA students will also spend the final year fine tuning their demo reels.
Graduates of the Animation Programs at Columbia College Chicago have launched their own studios, they have gone on to win Oscars and Emmy Awards, and some alumni have worked on films and series such as The Lion King, Robot Chicken, Brave, Frozen, Pocahontas, UP, The Lego Batman Movie, Coco, and Finding Dory. Columbia College graduates have been hired at networks and studios such as Disney, Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon, Pixar, DreamWorks Studios, Cartoon Network, and Weta Digital.
Columbia College Chicago was established in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory. The school serves nearly 6,700 students enrolled in more than 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In addition to programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
21. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) was established in 1987. Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, the Program has BFA and Minor options. Students in both programs have unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer and teaching labs. The Center also houses flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.
CCAD Animation students have the option to add concentration or one of 18 minors to the program. Just a few concentrations include Animation/Experimental, Animation/Game Design, Illustration/Entertainment Design/Drawing, Illustration/Illustrative Design, and Illustration/Entertainment Design/Modeling. Minors that complement the program include Animation 2D or 3D, Comics & Narrative Practice, Film & Video, Illustration, Advertising & Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Photography, and Fine Art. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework and minors require 15 credit hours.
Students with an interest in animation, live action, and visual effects (VFX) can enroll in the BFA in Film & Video Program and add a concentration or minor in animation.
Consisting of 120 total credit hours of study, the CCAD BFA in Animation is divided into 60 credit hours of program requirements, 40 in core liberal arts, and 18 in core studio. Visual Literacy, Historical Art & Design, Writing & the Arts, Visual & Narrative Storyboard, 3D Animation Modeling & Surfacing, Café Sketch, Animation Lab Pipeline, 3D Character Animation Simulation, and Animation Lab Production are a just a few course titles for the program.
BFA graduates who would like to pursue an MFA at CCAD typically choose the MFA in Visual Arts. This 60-credit hour program operates within a 13,700-square-foot graduate facility that houses individual private studios for MFA students, a lounge, exhibition space, and faculty offices. In the facility, students may work on individual projects and the thesis in any area of interest. Examples include animation, interactive design, illustration, film, game art, and television. Students may focus in any of these areas through six hours of required art and design electives or even through CCAD’s many minor and concentration options.
Other CCAD MFA highlights include small class sizes (the program accepts nine to 15 students per year), internship opportunities with nonprofits and businesses located in places such as New York, Honduras, Chicago, Seattle, Ireland, and Oregon, and the visiting artist series, which welcomes designers and guest artists who teach workshops and seminars, present lectures, and mentor students.
Graduates of the Animation and Visual Arts Programs at Columbus College of Art & Design work in a variety of fields as Character Animators, Motion Designers, Television Animators, Storyboard Artists. VFX Animators, Game Artists, and Architectural Visualization Producers, among others. Recent employers include Electronic Arts (EA), Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks Animation, LAIKA Studios, Proctor & Gamble, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.
Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving around 1,010 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, 18 Minors, an MFA in Visual Arts, and a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Retail Design.
Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
22. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (Top 25% of colleges considered)
DigiPen Institute of Technology (DigiPen) students have earned more than 300 awards and festival selections and more than 230 awards for game projects and academic papers since the school’s inception in 1988. The school provides programs for talented professionals seeking a degree in art, design, technology or engineering.
For animators, DigiPen has two options: a Digital Art and Animation BFA and a Digital Arts MFA. 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 Digital Art and Animation BFA is available at the main DigiPen campus in Redmond and at the school’s international branch campuses DigiPen Europe-Bilbao, Spain and DigiPen Singapore.
The Digital Arts MFA 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 examples 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 an MFA Thesis, which begins with a 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 other productions.
Graduates of the Digital Art Programs at DigiPen Institute of Technology are prepared for positions such as Animator, Character Artist, Simulation and Effects Animator, Art Director, 3D Modeler, Concept Artist, Producer, Environmental/Asset Artist, and UI Designer, among others. To date, more than 600 companies worldwide have hired DigiPen graduates. Examples include Apple, Amazon Games, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Warner Bros. Games, Zynga, Meta, DreamWorks Interactive, Sony, Riot Games, ArenaNet, Electronic Arts (EA), 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 around 1,200 students enrolled in 10 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).
23. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) requires all undergraduates to complete The First Year Experience (FYE), which explores contemporary art and design practice. The rigorous curriculum also highlights skill-building, technology, and 2D, 3D, and 4D media. Upon completion of The FYE, students will move on to their chosen major.
Housed in the Animation Department at MICA is the BFA and Minor in Animation. The Animation BFA Program requires 24 credit hours of study in the major. Course highlights include Digital Tools for Animation, 3D Character Animation: Performance, Stop-Motion Animation, Haptics and Optics, 2D and 3D Character Animation, and Professional Practice for Animators. Students in the program must complete several project courses and Animation Senior Thesis I and II.
The MICA Animation Minor requires 15 credit hours of study. Course examples include Digital Tools for Animation, Stop-Motion Animation, Animation Pre-Production, and Storyboarding for Animators.
The art and design programs at Maryland Institute College of Art have helped launch the careers of thousands of students. MICA alumni are Google Animators, Mobile App Developers, Comic Artists, Filmmakers, and more. They have been hired at DreamWorks, LAIKA Studios, MTV, Disney, and other major networks and studios. Many MICA graduates have also entered graduate programs or launched careers as independent artists in the animation industry.
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art is the nation’s oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design. The school serves nearly 3,500 students from 49 states and 52 countries. Programs at MICA lead to a BFA, MA, MFA, MBA, MPS degree, or post-baccalaureate certificate.
Maryland Institute College of Art is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
24. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) has several pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, MCAD has a collaborative Animation BFA Program and a 15 credit-hour Animation Minor. At the graduate level, MCAD has interdisciplinary and experimental Visual Studies MFA Program that allows students to focus in one or more areas of interest. Examples include animation, experimental film and video, comic arts, illustration, drawing and painting, and web and multimedia.
Students in the MCAD MFA Program also benefit from access to some 50 private studios, smart classrooms, state-of-the-art production facilities, and a large gallery space. MCAD MFA students may also participate in the Master’s Trip to NYC featuring visits to art and design venues, creative agencies, and artist studios.
The MCAD Animation Minor explores traditional animation techniques, compositing, storytelling, and pre-production. Students will also learn how to use the latest industry software to create animations. Four classes are required to complete the program: Character Design, Drawing for Animators, Experimental Animation, and Storyboarding.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design Animation BFA has two tracks: 2D and 3D Animation. Both tracks require 12 credit hours of study within the 120 credit hours required to graduate. Students may focus in other areas through the programs 26 credits of required studio electives. Course examples include 3D Rendering, Experimental Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking, Stop-Motion Animation, and Professional Practice.
Both BFA and MFA students may complete an internship and/or study abroad in places such as Italy, Germany, Japan, and the UK. MCAD Students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, Massachusetts Museum of Art, among others.
Potential careers for MCAD Animation and Visual Studies graduates include Background Animator, 3D Modeler/Animator, Stop-Motion Animator, Film Editor, Pixel Artist, Special-Effects Animator, Storyboard Artist, Character Developer, Inker/Opaquer/Checker, Director, Producer, Writer, and Project Manager.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design was established in 1886 by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts. The school serves more than 800 students from 45 states and 15 countries. Programs include 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA degrees, one MFA degree, and five professional development certificate options.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
25. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (Top 30% of colleges considered)
College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an Entertainment Arts BFA Program with a variety of STEM-designated concentrations. This includes animation. Students in this concentration have the opportunity to customize a specific track. Examples include Traditional Animation, Storyboarding, CG, Visual Development, and Stop Motion. Other program benefits include an optional internship; coursework and mentorships that help students build an understanding of the production pipeline for animation, games, television, and advertising, and a Writing Workshop.
All students at CCS are required to complete 42 to 43 credits in liberal arts and 84 credits in studio. Course examples for the program include 2D Design Principles, Creative Visualization, 2D Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Storyboarding for Film/Animation, Animation Projects I-II, Lighting & Rendering, Computer Character Animation, Advanced Story Concepts, Stop Motion, Environments & Characters, Sound Design, Animation Nuts & Bolts, and Senior Production Studio I-II.
Graduates of the CCS Animation BFA Program are Animators, Directors, Storyboard Artists, Riggers, and VFX Artists, among others. College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at studios and networks such as DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Disney, and ABC Television Group.
College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. This private, nonprofit college serves more than 1,400 students enrolled 12 majors leading to a BFA, four programs leading to an MFA, and one program leading to an MA. College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
26. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) has the largest enrollment of any other program at the school. Degree options include BFAs in Animation and Experimental Animation. An Animation Minor that provides instruction in the principles of both traditional and CG animation is also available. Courses for the program include Animation 1, Character Design for Animators 1, Storyboarding 1, CG Animation 1, and Animation 2. History of Animation is strongly recommended for this program, but it is not a requirement.
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.
Examples of studio courses and other course requirements include Character Design for Animators, Digital Skills, Acting for Animators, CG Modeling, Directing for Animators, Visual Development for Animators, and Figure Drawing for Animators. Animation BFA students will also complete the Animation Practicum, and the Senior Capstone and Thesis Defense course.
The Experimental Animation BFA Program at Laguna College of Art and Design is led by experienced instructors who are active in the television, film, games, and 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, including Experimental Thesis Film 1 and 2. In addition, students may specialize in one or more of the following areas: storyboarding, internet series projects, and show design.
Course examples for the Experimental Animation BFA Program include Fundamentals of Maya, 2D Analog/Digital Puppetry, Directing for Limited and Experimental Animation, Paperless Animation, Experimental Stop Motion Techniques, Compositing for Animators, Animation for New Media, Art Direction for TV and New Media, New Media Auteur, Storyboarding for Limited Animation, and Character Design or Limited Animation and Stop Motion.
Students in all LCAD Animation Programs have the opportunity to participate in the LCAD Animation Film Festival (LAFF). Held annually, LAFF is a theatrical exhibition that showcases the best student animated films.
Graduates of the LCAD Animation Programs are routinely hired by major television, film, games, and animation studios. Examples include Warner Brothers Feature Animation, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, The Jim Henson Company, Sony, South Park Studios, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, LAIKA Studios, DreamWorks, Fox, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), 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 around 770 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) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
27. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) has two options: 2D Animation and 3D Animation. Leading to a BFA, both programs require courses in the areas of 2D and 3D drawing, modeling, character design, line of action, storyboarding, and stop motion. However, the 2D Animation BFA is designed for students interested in traditional animation, while the 3D BFA emphasizes computer animation.
While both the 2D and 3D Animation Programs are offered on-campus and online, campus-based students are required to take part in online education to experience learning in a virtual environment.
RMCAD Animation graduates will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni have been hired at major networks and studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. Alumni are Animators, Story Artists, 3D Modelers, Texture Artists, Lighting Artists, and 3D Artists, among others.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design began in 1963 as Rocky Mountain School of Art. Serving more than 1,000 students, RMCAD offers 16 degree and certificate programs offered in campus/hybrid and online formats. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
28. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The School of Film at University of the Arts (UArts) has three paths to study animation including a BFA in Animation, a BFA in Film & Animation, and a Minor in Animation. The School of Film encourages collaboration between schools, so students have opportunities to study design, acting, photography, and other disciplines.
The Animation BFA Program allows students to focus in 2D, 3D, Stop Motion/Experimental, or a hybrid focus path. The Film & Animation BFA explores many styles and genres in both animation and filmmaking. Examples include traditional animation, narrative, computer-generated animation, documentary, stop motion, and experimental. Across programs, students will have opportunities to work with professionals and faculty associated with major studios and networks such as Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, HBO, Cartoon Network, and Netflix.
The curriculum for the BFA Programs combines a collaborative, hands-on teaching environment with internships at studios such as Augenblick, and study away experiences in places such as France and South Korea. Students will also participate in lectures, screenings, and formal critiquing sessions designed to evaluate their progress and work.
A major component of the Animation Programs at University of the Arts is the Professional Practices class. This multifaceted course, which takes place in the final year of the program, includes guest speakers, personal branding development, mock interviews, social media strategies, design, and resume building. At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to display their final portfolio reels online.
The Animation Program at UArts also provides access to a 5,600-square-foot space known as the Center for Immersive Media (CIM), which allows students to explore other areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI), VR/AR, and performance motion-capture. In addition to CIM, animation students have unlimited access to computer labs and state-of-the-art animation, film, and stop-motion studios.
University of the Arts Animation graduates are Character Animators, Storyboard Artists, Effects Animators, Computer Animators, Art Directors, Clay/Puppet Animators, Directors, Scientific Animators, Forensics Animators, and Background Artists, among others.
UArts graduates have been hired at a number of local companies such as unPOP, Alkemy X, and Center City Film & Video. UArts alumni also work at major companies, studios, and networks such as Netflix, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Google, DreamWorks, HBO, and Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves nearly 1,500 students enrolled in over 40 degree programs in fine arts, design, media arts, dance, music, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. UArts programs are offered in the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies. University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
29. The New School's Parsons School of Design, New York, New York (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The New School houses Parsons School of Design, which is the largest of the school’s seven colleges. Within Parsons School of Design is a Design and Technology Program that has BFA and MFA pathways. The MFA is a STEM-designated, studio-based degree that requires on-campus study. Consisting of 60 credit hours of study, the MFA includes courses and studios such as xFab Lecture and Lab, Creative Practice Seminar, Collaboration Studio, Major Studio, and Thesis Studio.
Also a STEM-designated program, the 120 credit hour BFA in Design and Technology focuses on interaction, storytelling, and emerging art and design practices. Specializations include Creative Technology and Game Design. Course examples include Code 2, Design Studies, Core Lab Objects, and Core Studio Environments.
All undergraduate students at The New School Parsons must complete the first-year experience. Consisting of 30 credits, the experience includes seminars and studios, liberal arts studies, and the exploration of 2D and 3D processes, digital design, drawing, and other tools and methods relevant to art and design. Course examples include Time, Sustainable Systems, Drawing/Imaging, Objects as History, Space/Materiality, and Integrative Seminar 1-2.
The School of Continuing & Professional Education at The New School Parsons has an additional option for animators. Leading to a Certificate, the Motion Design and Animation Program consist of three courses that explore the production process from start to finish. This includes storyboarding, editing, special effects, film production, and more. The Certificate Program can be taken alone or in combination with the Design and Technology BFA or MFA Programs.
Students in all New School programs have the opportunity to interact with and work on projects with professionals at places such as Apple, Siemens, Nickelodeon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, gameLab, Samsung, MTV, Rockwell Interaction Lab, Atari, UNESCO, OnePlus Technology, and Eyebeam Art & Technology Center.
Graduates of the BFA, MFA, and Certificate programs at The New School Parsons are prepared for success in a wide range of positions in areas such as 2D and 3D animation, game design, advertising, VR/AR, UI/UX, graphic arts, interaction design, film and television, mobile and application design, digital filmmaking, web design, hardware engineering, media art, and software design.
The New School Parsons was founded in 1896 as The Chase School. The school serves approximately 10,815 students enrolled more than 120 degree and diploma programs across six colleges and schools, including Parsons Paris. The New School Parsons is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
30. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) houses the Walter and Grace Lantz Undergraduate Animation Program. Students in this program will study traditional and digital techniques to develop films, television productions, video games, and emerging media forms. Animation students will gain hands-on experience in storytelling, 3D filmmaking, visual effects (VFX), stop-motion animation, and motion capture, among others. Programs lead to a BA or a Minor in Animation.
The LMU 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. Course examples across programs include Visual Story Development, 3D Computer Animation, Discovering Animation, Pixel Animation, Animated Perspectives, Virtual Production, Character Development, Interactive Animation, History of Animation, Immersive Media Studio, and Animation Workshop.
The Animation BA requires a significant number of electives, allowing students to focus their studies in an area of interest. During the final year of the Animation BA Program, students will complete the Animation Practicum and Senior Thesis Project.
Graduates of Animation Programs at Loyola Marymount University are prepared for positions in animation, film, games, design, television, advertising, science, medicine, law, and education, among others. Animation Program alumni have worked on a number of major productions such as Wonder Woman, Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, The Simpsons, and The Simpsons Movie.
Loyola Marymount University was established in 1911. The school serves 10,000 students enrolled in 55 undergraduate majors, 58 minors, 46 master's degree programs, one education doctorate, one doctorate in juridical science, one juris doctorate, and 14 credential programs across seven colleges and schools. Loyola Marymount University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
31. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) prepares students for careers in animation through work experiences with real clients and community partners, internships, and both independent and collaborative projects. Students in the program are also mentored by veteran industry professionals with hundreds of feature film credits. CIA faculty have worked with major studios and companies such as DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Hasbro, Sony Animation, Illumination, American Greetings.
Leading to a BFA, the CIA Animation Program consists of courses such as Experimental Animation, Advanced 3D Animation, Narrative Production, Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts, 3D Modeling for Concept Vehicles, and Community Projects: Animation Production (EP). Open electives allow students to declare a customized focus area in their junior year, study outside the program, and collaborate with other CIA departments.
In the senior year of the CIA Animation BFA Program, students will work on a thesis project. Through the Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts course, students will develop and present an industry-ready portfolio and demo reel in their focus area.
Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art have worked on feature films, games, and television series. Program alumni also work in the medical, sports, and communications industries, among others. Graduate are Animators, Storyboard Artists, Game Designers, 3D Character Animators, and Independent Filmmakers, among others.
Cleveland Institute of Art was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882. This independent, not-for-profit college serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 entertainment arts, design, fine arts, and craft majors. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
32. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The Animation BFA Program at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is housed in the Department of Converging Media. Because Filmmaking, Interactive Arts, and Photography are also housed in the Department, cross-disciplinary study is encouraged. Animation students may also declare a double major in Art History and Animation or Creative Writing and Animation. Both options require 141 credit hours to graduate.
Animation BFA course examples include Digital Methods, Explorations in Animation, Contemporary Animation History, and Ideas in Motion. Elective options for the KCAI Animation BFA run the gamut from Documentary and Narrative Storytelling to The Art of Stop Motion Puppetry and Filmmaking and Animation. The Professional Practice course, taken during the senior year of the program allows students to interact and network with visiting artists, scholars, and industry professionals.
Also during the final year of the program, students will engage in two six-credit studios where they will have the opportunity to conceptualize and produce an animated work. Students may also complete an internship at a local or national studio.
Many graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute BFA in Animation Program go on to pursue advanced degrees at top institutions such as School of Visual Art New York (SVA NY), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC), and California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts). Others have been hired at major studios, companies, and networks such as Nickelodeon, Titmouse, Warner Bros., Disney, Netflix, Hallmark, and Digital Domain.
Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Situated within Kansas City’s arts corridor—just steps from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—this four-year art and design college serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 majors across 15 program areas. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
33. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Drexel University houses the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which lists several programs for animators. Options include the Animation and Visual Effects BS, the Dual Animation and Visual Effects BS/Digital Media MS, a Digital Media PhD, and a 24 credit hour Animation and Visual Effects Minor. The Dual BS/MS consists of coursework and projects in animation, 3-D modeling, interactivity, gaming, advanced digital design, and digital media history, theory, and methods. This program requires a minimum of 232 credit hours to graduate.
Drexel University has one of the nation’s top cooperative (co-op) education programs, so students in all degree programs have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience prior to graduation. During the junior year of undergraduate programs, students will spend six months working full-time in the industry. Positions may be paid or unpaid. Dual BS/MS students will participate in three co-op experiences in the second, third, and fourth years of study.
The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) Program provides instruction and hands-on training in 3D modeling, character design, scripting and storytelling, motion capture, compositing, storyboarding, and rigging. Students apply the skills they have learned to co-op positions in animation, visual effects, technical direction, and 3D at Cartoon Network, Pixar, Sony Studios, FuseFX, and MediaKraft TV, among others.
The Digital Media MS at Drexel University is a two-year program that focuses on research and medias applications. Areas explored include animation, gaming and digital media history, 3D modeling, and interactivity. Students in the program will complete several independent, industry-sponsored, student-created or faculty-approved projects. Past projects have focused on animation design, advanced animation production techniques, narrative comics, and video games, among others.
The PhD is a research-driven degree program that take place in an experiential learning environment. Besides entertainment, PhD students may conduct research in business, engineering, health, education, or other areas.
Graduates of the Animation/VFX and Digital Media Programs at Drexel University work in a variety of positions at major companies and studios such as Disney, Microsoft, XBOX, DreamWorks, NCSoft Corp., and Pixar.
Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science, & Industry. The school serves approximately 23,215 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) and Digital Media Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD).
34. Chapman University, Orange, California (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Chapman University (Chapman) houses Dodge College of Film & Media Arts—one of the fastest growing film, advertising, and broadcast journalism school in the U.S. Students in all Dodge programs have access to the highly collaborative Digital Media Arts Center (DMAC), which was inspired by the creative spaces at major studios and companies such as Google, Disney, Microsoft, and Pixar.
Other Dodge College highlights include internships with studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, and Blur Studios; study abroad experiences in places such as Japan, France, Mozambique, Peru and New Zealand; access to industry software and tools such Adobe Creative Suite, 3ds Max, Xsens MVN Animate, and Autodesk Maya; and participation in student clubs such as the Chapman Animation and Visual Effects Club, The Collective, and the Virtual Reality/AR Club.
For animators, Chapman’s Dodge College of Film & Media Arts has an Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) Program with a focus in either Animation or VFX. Within the Animation Focus are two Areas: CG and 2D. Course examples for the CG Area include Mechanics of Motion, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Character Animation for CG, Storyboarding and Story Reels, Production Design, and Storytelling in Animation and Visual Effects.
2D students will take courses such as Fundamental Graphics I-II for Animation and Visual Effects, 3D Computer Graphics I-II, Character Design, Visual Storytelling, and Color and Design: Principles and Practice. Students in both areas will complete Senior Thesis I: Concept Development, Senior Thesis II: Pre-Production and Production I, and Senior Thesis III: Production II and Post-Production. The Animation and VFX Program leads to a BFA.
Graduates of the Animation and VFX Program at Chapman University are prepared for careers in the animation, film and gaming industries. Possible job titles 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 9,600 students enrolled in 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools. Chapman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC).
35. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) has several programs for animators looking to enter the entertainment industry. Options include Visual Effects Production (VFX), Game Production, and Virtual Production. Programs lead to a Diploma or a Bachelor’s degree.
DAVE School Diploma programs take 12 or 18 months to complete, and bachelor’s degree programs may be completed in 32 or 36 months. Through electives, students in all programs have the opportunity to learn and work in animation. Students will master industry software such as Unreal Engine, After Effects, and Maya, while immersing in the production process from concept to finished works.
Course examples across all programs include 3D Animation, Digital Compositing, Visual Effects, Level Design, 2D/3D Tracking, Lighting and Texturing, and Demo Reel and Portfolio Creation. Students will also learn the basics of creating a start-up.
All programs are offered in a hybrid format where students will complete the curriculum virtually and via studio residencies at the Orlando campus. Residencies take place in a collaborative studio environment.
Graduates will leave The DAVE School with the experience needed to launch their own studios and freelance businesses or pursue employment at major studios. Possible job titles include (but are not limited to) Animator, Technical Artist, Rigger, Environment Artist, and 3D Modeler.
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School was founded in 2000. Located on the backlot of Universal Studios, Florida, The DAVE School is an academic unit of NUC University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MCSHE). DAVE serves around 1,000 students enrolled in six programs leading to a Bachelor’s degree or Diploma.
36. Woodbury University, Burbank, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The School of Media: Culture : Design at Woodbury University (Woodbury) has an Animation + VFX Program that prepares students for careers in professional animation and visual effects production. This STEM-designated BFA program consists of coursework in 2D animation production, 3D animation production, stop-motion animation production, and visual effects. The program also provides a variety of electives such as Digital Painting, History of Women in Animation, Puppet Building, Digital Sculpting, and History of Disney Animation.
The Animation + VFX BFA at Woodbury University 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. In addition, all students are required to complete an internship. Students have interned at major studios such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, and Nickelodeon.
Graduates of the Animation + VFX Program at Woodbury have been hired at Netflix Animation, DreamWorks, 20th Century Studios, The Walt Disney Company, and American Broadcasting Company (ABC), among others.
Woodbury University was founded in 1884 as Woodbury College, making it one of the oldest universities on the west coast. Serving approximately 950 students, Woodbury offers 25 undergraduate and five graduate programs across four schools and three 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 Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities (WSCUC).
37. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Emerson College (Emerson) houses the School of the Arts, home to the Department of Visual & Media Arts (VMA). Department highlights include faculty members who work in the industry, access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and two pathways to study animation including the Media Arts Production (MAP) BA and BFA. The BA has two tracks: Production and Media Studies and both programs allow students to design and develop a focus area through a variety of course offerings.
Emerson MAP students may focus in areas such as Animation and Motion Media, Interactive Media and Games, Experimental Media Production, Filmmaking, Cinematography/Videography, and Post-Production, among others. Course examples include Computer animation, Drawing for Character Design, Film Production, Game Design, Interactive Media, Visual and Media Arts Production, and Writing the Short Subject.
MAP BA students have the option to complete the BA Production Capstone Project or apply to the BFA program. The one-semester Capstone results in a professional production project, portfolio, or reel.
The MAP BFA provides the opportunity to develop expertise in a specific area through plans of study designed by the VMA Faculty. Examples include Animation and Motion Media, Interactive Media and Games, Filmmaking, Experimental Media Production, and Post-Production. Course examples across plans include Computer Animation, Drawing for Character Design, Game Design, Film Production, and Interactive Media.
Emerson BFA students must complete a thesis-level project that takes one year to complete. All students have access to the Emerson College Emerging Media Lab (EML), where they can work in multiple areas of new media including 3D modeling and animation, artistic anatomy & 2D animation, rigging and animation, VR/AR, character design, and game design, among others.
Graduates of the VMA Department at Emerson College have been hired in a variety of roles at studios such as Worldwide Pants, Digital Domain, MGM Studios, Bunim Murray Productions, and Searchlight Pictures.
Emerson College was established in 1880. The school serves approximately 4,930 students enrolled in 25 undergraduate majors, 30+ minors, 16 graduate degrees, and six graduate certificate programs. In addition to the main campus in Boston, Emerson has campuses Los Angeles and the Netherlands. Emerson College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
38. New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The 3D Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) School at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA Los Angeles) has several pathways to study animation including an Animation BFA, 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 in the Burbank area of Los Angeles.
Course examples across programs include Animation, Maya Polygonal Modeling, Professional Development in Animation, Character Design, Screenwriting, Acting for Animation, Advanced Rigging, UP Mapping, and Particle Dynamics and Visual Effects in Maya. Courses at NYFA Los Angeles are taught by professionals in the field who have worked with studios and companies such as Disney Animation, DreamWorks, Netflix, Digital Domain, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
NYFA Los Angeles alumni are Animators, VFX Artists, and Filmmakers. They work for (or have worked with) NBCUniversal, Bad Robot Productions, Digital Domain, DreamWorks Animation, Tyler Perry Studios, ACM Siggraph, and Gearbox Software, 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).
39. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Stuart Weitzman School of Design at University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) houses the undergraduate program in Fine Arts and Design (FNAR) with an interdisciplinary major in FNAR. The FNAR Major combines seminar courses, studio instruction, and the visiting artist lecture series. Coursework for the program allows students to study animation, 3D modeling, digital design, and more. Course examples include Mixed Media Animation, Hand-Drawn Computer Animation, Environmental Animation, Computer Animation, Digital Figure Modeling, 3D Computer Modeling, Advanced 3D Modeling, Art, Design and Digital Culture, and Cinema Production.
Another pathway to study animation is the Digital Media Design (DMD) Program. Launched in 1998, this interdisciplinary program allows for study in animation, games, interactive technologies, computer graphics, and the design of virtual reality design. Course examples include Computer Animation, Drawing Investigations, Interactive Computer Graphics, Advanced Rendering, and 3D Computer Modeling. Housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), the DMD Program leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with DMD Mahor.
SEAS also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which has a Computer Graphics and Game Technology (CGGT) Engineering MS (MSE) Program. Established in 2004, this interdisciplinary program provides opportunities to specialize in Animation or Animation and Simulation Technology. Course examples for the program include Physically-Based Animation, Computer Animation, 3D Computer Modeling, Interactive Computer Graphics, Physically-Based Rendering, Digital Figure Modeling, and Advanced Project Animation.
Students in the CGGT Program will spend their first year in the Master of Computer and Information Technology (MCIT) Program. This means, graduates will receive two degrees: the MCIT and MSE CGGT.
Graduates of UPenn’s CGGT and DMD Programs are prepared for careers and entrepreneurship in areas such as animation, design, directing, and game programming. Program alumni are routinely hired by companies and studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Walt Disney Animation, Activision, Microsoft, Pixar, Zynga Games, Electronic Arts, and Sony.
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. Established in 1740, UPenn houses 189 research centers and institutes, 16 colleges and schools, and more than 400 programs. The school serves approximately 28,040 students from across the U.S. and just about every continent. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
40. Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (SMFA at Tufts) is part of a top-tier research university that provides intensive studio arts training, an interdisciplinary learning environment, networking opportunities, and hands-on experience through on-campus projects and internships.
Programs for animators include a BFA and Combined BFA + BA/BS. These unique pathways allow students to focus their work with their academic advisors to customize a focus in one or more mediums. Examples include Animation, Film and Video, Virtual Reality, Digital Media, and Graphic Arts. Animation coursework includes Animation Basics, Animation Integration, Drawing for Animation, Animation 2, Stop-Motion Animation, and Moving Image.
Coursework for both programs is complemented by visiting artist lectures, screenings, projects, and demos, and students may add a Studio Art Minor to enhance their degree.
In the final year of the BFA program, students may apply to the SMFA Tufts Senior Thesis Program. This yearlong capstone leads to a professional work and exhibition. Combined BFA + BA/BS students will graduate with two degrees: a BFA and a BA or BS in their chosen area.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) was founded in 1876 as part of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. SMFA began a partnership with Tufts University in 1945, with the goal to offer joint degree programs. Today, SMFA at Tufts serves more than 400 students enrolled in BFA, MFA, MAT, Combined-degree (BFA + BA/BS), Certificate or Studio Diploma programs.
The School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). As part of Tufts University, SMFA is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).