|1||University of California Los Angeles||California||1%|
|2||The Ohio State University||Ohio||3%|
|3||California State University-Long Beach||California||4%|
|4||San Jose State University||California||5%|
|5||University of Central Florida||Florida||6%|
|6||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts||7%|
|7||Texas A&M University||Texas||8%|
|8||Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute||Indiana||9%|
|9||Clemson University||South Carolina||10%|
|10||California State University-Fullerton||California||15%|
|11||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas||15%|
|12||Florida State University||Florida||15%|
|13||University of Washington||Washington||15%|
|14||Bowling Green State University||Ohio||15%|
|15||Ball State University||Indiana||20%|
|16||California State University-Northridge||California||20%|
|17||California State University-Los Angeles||California||20%|
|18||University of Wisconsin–Stout||Wisconsin||20%|
|20||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia||25%|
|22||Alfred State College||New York||25%|
|23||Middle Tennessee State University||Tennessee||25%|
|24||University of Colorado-Denver||Colorado||25%|
|25||North Carolina State University at Raleigh||North Carolina||30%|
|26||Missouri State University||Missouri||30%|
|27||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia||30%|
|28||New Jersey Institute of Technology||New Jersey||30%|
|29||Louisiana State University||Louisiana||35%|
|30||New Mexico State University||New Mexico||35%|
|31||University of Florida||Florida||35%|
|32||Minnesota State University–Moorhead||Minnesota||35%|
|33||Rutgers University||New Jersey||35%|
|34||California State University||California||40%|
|35||University of Connecticut||Connecticut||40%|
|36||University of Maryland Baltimore County||Maryland||40%|
|37||Sam Houston State University||Texas||40%|
|38||University of South Florida||Florida||40%|
|39||University of North Carolina School of the Arts||North Carolina||45%|
|40||East Tennessee State University||Tennessee||45%|
Our 2019 list of the Top 40 Public Animation School Programs in the US.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 1% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) serves nearly 45,500 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments, and more than 40 graduate programs including the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television.
Founded in 1948 by Disney animator William Shull, the UCLA Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program that accepts just 12 new students each year. Per the school, "the first year of the program is devoted to learning the principles of making a traditional hand-done, animated film and the second year is devoted to creating computer animation; the film may be 2D, 3D, or a combination.” The third year of the program “begins with the creation of an interactive animation project or game. Electives and outstanding requirements are completed. Most significantly, the student forms a Thesis Committee and begins production on their thesis film.”
Graduates of UCLA’s animation programs have landed positions at Pixar, they have worked with directors such as Tim Burton, and on films such as The Simpsons Movie and Monster House.
2. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 3% of colleges considered)
Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations from which more than 66,000 students can choose multiple paths to focus on animation in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Paths in animation encourage students to explore courses in 3D modeling, 2D/3D animation, video game production, augmented and virtual reality, digital imaging, digital video, interactive visualization, interactive art, game art and design, Art Games, motion capture, procedural content generation for games, real-time rendering, photogrammetry and more at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in all programs can work on individually defined or team-based projects.
The Department of Art offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. It emphasizes the creation of animation, interactive art and experimental forms in the context of art making.
The Department of Design offers an MFA degree in Design focusing on Digital Animation and Interactive Media. This program emphasizes the production of creative research-based projects in the user-centered context of design.
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a specialization in Computer Graphics and Game Design.
Ohio State introduced an interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production in Autumn, 2017.
Students utilize state of the art facilities, equipment, and interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
3. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 4% of colleges considered)
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves 37,500 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts houses the School of Art, which offers a BFA with an Option in Illustration/Animation. Students may choose the Animation or Illustration Track, but they may take courses in both tracks and work with students in both tracks in the digital lab.
Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities, as well as visiting artists that present workshops and presentations in collaboration with faculty.
Per the school, graduates of the program “work in a variety of fields such as film and entertainment (gaming, animation and live action film), advertising, textiles, biomedical illustration, the gift market, educational illustration, architectural illustration, print publications (newspapers, magazines, graphic novels and books) and more.” Many alumni have also “distinguished themselves in visual journalism, in storyboarding for film and television, and in all aspects of editorial art as well as gallery exhibition.”
In addition to the BFA, CSULB has a graduate program (MFA/MA) that it says is “individualized and dependent on the student’s preparation, interests and talents.” The program “centers on each student developing a strong personal and independent creative vision.” Students will “create a focused body of work in the form of an exhibition as the culminating experience of the degree.”
Also part of the College of the Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA in Film and Electronic Arts. Although the program does not have a formal animation specialization, the program highlights heavy animation coursework including 3D Computer Animation, History of Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), and others.
4. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1857, San Jose State University (SJSU) serves nearly 33,000 students enrolled in 145 areas of study, with an additional 108 concentrations, across eight colleges. The College of Humanities and the Arts houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. Per the school, the core curriculum for the 120 credit hour program “combines both traditional and innovative educational strategies.”
“Rigorous drawing classes and intensive study of color theory, design, perspective, and conventional and digital painting are required, as well as the study of the principles of both traditional and 3-D animation, physics of motion, modeling, storyboarding, character design, and visual development.” The program’s upper-division courses “further define these disciplines offering students an opportunity to specialize in their area of choice.”
Graduates of the BFA in Animation/Illustration program have worked on films such as A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Shrek and they have been hired at more than 135 animation studios, game design companies, film studios, and academic institutions. Just a few include 20th Century Fox, Animation Mentor, Blue Sky Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Cogswell Institute, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony/Columbia, The Art Institute of Las Vegas, Disney Animation, and Zynga.
For BFA graduates seeking an advanced degree, the Department of Design at SJSU offers an MFA in Digital Media Art. The program is offered at the CADRE Institute, which “reflects the innovative atmosphere in Silicon Valley.” Academic programs emphasize artistic experimentation within a context of historical, cultural, and theoretical study. The program is intended for students with interest in contemporary research. CADRE's diverse community of faculty and graduate students produce artworks involving visualization, simulation, hypertextuality, information, mapping, telepresence, networks, and interactive systems.
Technical facilities include a wide range of computing resources. Students work across the boundaries of computer visualization, animation, digital video, multimedia, electronic sculpture, sound and virtual reality. CADRE supports its own networking environment and offers excellent opportunities to produce internet-based artworks.
5. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (Top 6% of colleges considered)
Established in 1963 and serving approximately 68,571 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university and Florida’s largest by enrollment. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers a number of degree programs for aspiring animators.
Options include a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. Per the school, Character Animation “allows students to integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology.” The program is “designed to provide a solid foundation in techniques and theory in one focused area of competence, as well as a broad understanding of related disciplines including arts, humanities, and technology.” The program also offers, “extended experience in working in multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems.”
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek careers as animators, modelers, riggers, or texture artists in the film or computer game industries.
The Experimental Animation Specialization “offers students the opportunity to explore expression through innovative and hybrid analog and digital methodology.” Students in the program will “engage in classic, current, and widely varied techniques and mediums making moving images, which may be narrative or non-narrative.” Students will have the opportunity to “develop a unique creative vision which culminates in the completion of a BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.”
All animation students will use industry-leading software on Mac and PC-based platforms to create projects, works and portfolios.
For students looking to continue on to a graduate program, UCF SVAD offers an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media, and an MFA in Emerging Media with an Animation and Visual Effects, Entrepreneurial Digital Cinema, or Studio Art and the Computer Track. The MA focuses on the development of advanced skills for digital media professionals, while the MFA is a terminal scholarly and creative degree suitable for students wishing to pursue careers as professors in higher education or as creative leaders in industry. The graduate programs are designed to “emulate the professional studio environment, providing each student with an opportunity to assume an artistic leadership role. The principal emphasis is placed on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspect of animation as related to studio and job creation.” Courses for the programs are designed to give students the “ability to understand the collaborative function of a commercial studio.” Labs and studios are equipped with the same industry-standard software and hardware used in professional studios.
Graduates of SVAD’s Emerging Media Program work in creating simulations for the U.S. Navy, NASA, DISTI, Lockheed Martin and other local and regional companies. In addition, SVAD alumni are currently working nationally and internationally for major animation and gaming companies such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel EFX, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.
6. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 7% of colleges considered)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, the school offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs to a population of nearly 2,100 students. Programs are offered through dozens of departments.
The Animation Department at MassArt offers a BFA in Animation that gives students the opportunity to engage in a variety of conventional and experimental techniques. With access to students in the program study Documentary Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Character Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental Video, and Emerging Technologies. In addition, students will complete an Independent Study course, a course assistantship, and an internship.
Per the school, “coursework for the program culminates in a degree project consisting of a sustained film as well as a portfolio and reel highlighting students' professional and creative objectives.”
Other program highlights include “classrooms, labs, and studios that facilitate and enhance the work of animation majors,” the Animation Senior Showcase, visiting artists and lectures, and “Squealing Pegs”—an annual screening of recent animated short films.
7. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Texas A&M University (TAMU) is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school serves nearly 69,400 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture, which broadly defines animation within “Visualization,” offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization.
The BS in Visualization is a 120 credit hour studio-based program that includes elements of traditional art, programming, history, theory and digital media. The MFA in Visualization is a 60 credit hour program that the school says is designed for students “seeking a computing technology-infused terminal degree in the visual arts applicable to employment in digital media fields, working as a contemporary artist, and teaching in post-secondary digital arts programs.” This non-thesis degree program requires “a satisfactory presentation of a body of work by the candidate” and “a written document addressing issues pertinent to the final study.
The MS in Visualization requires a minimum of 48 credit hours of study to graduate. The curriculum for the program is designed to “develop new understanding through research and creativity.” Students in this master’s program will pursue a thesis option.
Visualization course highlights include Drawing for Visualization, Graphic Design, Color Theory, Visualization Technology, Programming, Visualization Studio, Digital Painting, and Visual and Performing Arts. The interdisciplinary Visualization programs offered in the College of Architecture prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and many other related areas.
8. Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic Institute, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 9% of colleges considered)
Established in 1869, Purdue University serves around 43,400 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Part of Purdue University, Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology. Around 12% of Purdue’s students are enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute, which houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas. The Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) offers animation programs at all degree levels.
The BS in CGT with a Major in Animation focuses on six areas of animation including 3-D Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Rendering, Character Rigging (creating a digital skeleton) and Motion. Graduates of the BS program have found employment at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues and eight of the school’s alumni were part of the creative teams behind 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 and 2014 Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2.
The CGT Department also offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Visual Effects Compositing that combines Animation, Visual Effects, and Video to create “highly graphical” videos for episodic television and films. A BS in Effects Technical Direction is also available and it highlights supplemental coursework in Animation. Graduates of the program have also landed positions at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues.
Graduate offerings include an MS in CGT and a PhD in Technology offered through the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT). The MS offers several focus areas for aspiring animators including Computer Animation, Video Production and Visual Effects, Computational Art, and Virtual and Augmented Reality.
The PhD Program offers a CGT Specialization that covers Animation, Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, and Web Programming and Design. Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more if pursued separately.
9. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 10% of colleges considered)
Established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson University serves around 23,100 students enrolled in 80+ majors, 80+ minors, and 110+ graduate degree programs across seven colleges. The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, School of Computing offers several programs for aspiring animators including an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA), a new MS in DPA, and a Minor in DPA.
The DPA MFA Program is a professional degree program that offers a unique blend of instruction from art, computer science, computer engineering, graphic communications, performing arts, philosophy, and psychology, together with newly designed courses targeted at production techniques specific to the animation, visual effects, and electronic games industries. Sample courses include Computer Animation, 3D Modeling, Compositing, Computer Games, FX, Lighting, Rigging, Simulation, and Visual Effects, to name a few.
The new MS in DPA focuses on the technical components of visual effects production for the film, electronic games, and commercial video industries. Sample courses include 3D Modeling and Animation, Virtual Reality, 2D Game Engine Design, Character Animation, Physically Based Visual Effects, Visual Foundations for Digital Production, Audio Engineering, Improvisation, and Advanced Animation.
DPA program graduates have worked on films such as Frozen, Hobbit, Rio, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Croods. Many have been hired by major studios such as Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, EA, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
10. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton or CSUF) serves around 39,750 students enrolled in more 109 undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs. Established in 1957, the school consists of eight colleges, including the College of the Arts (Department of Visual Arts), which offers more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate programs for artists. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation.
The 132-unit program requires a minimum of 81 units in art: The 12 units of studio art “Admission Requirements” plus 12 units of Art History and 57 units of art. The major is divided into 21 units of lower-division preparation and 48 upper-division units. In addition to the minimum 69-unit requirement for the BFA degree, students must meet the other university requirements for a bachelor’s degree.
Course highlights for the program include Animal and Wildlife Drawing, Animation Preproduction, Animation Production, Cartooning and Caricature, Elements of Sequential Art, Illustration, Life Studies – Drawing, Motion Graphics Design, Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Visual Development and Background Painting, and Writing in the Visual Arts. Independent Research (ART 499) and Internship in Art (ART 495) are also part of the program.
Through a partnership with Nickelodeon Studios, the Entertainment Art/Animation area has “developed educational opportunities to further the career goals of its students.” In addition to Nickelodeon, graduates of the program have landed positions at Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Graduates have worked on productions such as Superman Returns, Avatar, Spiderman 3, SpongeBob Squarepants, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Ice Age 2, and The Simpsons.
11. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school serves 28,755 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including a BA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication with an Animation Pathway, (BA ATEC), an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC), an MFA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (MFA ATEC) with an Animation Pathway, and a PhD in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (PhD ATEC).
Per the school, the “ATEC curriculum provides exposure to arts, science, technology, history, design, criticism, new knowledge creation, and complex understandings.” Undergraduate students “acquire foundational skills in media studies, cultural theory, computer programming, and creative production.” Master’s degree students “deepen their expertise in an area and develop understanding in adjacent topics.” Students in the doctoral program “demonstrate mastery in methods of research, analysis, and creative practice, informed by history, theory, and aesthetics.”
The Animation Pathway “blends creative storytelling with technology to encourage experimentation in form, content, and medium and emphasizes 3D animation, which includes various artistic and technical disciplines such as modeling and texturing, character rigging, lighting and composition, computer programming and scripting, as well as character movement and acting.”
ATEC students have the opportunity to take a total of 15 credit hours/five courses in Animation, Design, Storytelling, and Games, to name a few. Courses such as Topics in Animation, Topics in ATEC, and Topics in Game Development are also available. Other program highlights include seminars and lectures, project and portfolio-based exercises, and applied and experimental research. In addition to careers in animation and other areas of entertainment, students will learn skills that will prepare them for new and emerging fields such as medical and scientific visualization.
12. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1851 and serving 41,900 students from every Florida County and 132 countries, Florida State University (FSU) is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida. The school offers more than 275 degree programs through 16 colleges. The College of Motion Picture Arts houses FSU Film School, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include a BFA in Motion Picture Arts – Animation and Digital Arts, and The Torchlight Program.
BFA students will begin with Film History, Screenwriting, Directing, Cinematography, CG and Live Action Production, Editing and Sound. Students will then learn the craft of digital filmmaking through 3D Animation, Character Development, Compositing, Modeling, Stop Motion, Texturing, Rendering, and Visual Effects Cinematography. Other program highlights include the opportunity to collaborate in small cohorts and work alongside industry professionals, and the opportunity to create four major films before graduation, one of which is an area-specific thesis film.
The Torchlight Program gives FSU animation students who would like to freelance or start their own studios the opportunity to learn about “current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry.” The non-degree-granting academic program “functions as a gateway between school and career by providing instruction in current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry.” The program offers coursework in key areas such as Distribution, Marketing, and Motion Picture Financing.
The program is located at the Torchlight Center in the studio facilities at FSU’s Critchfield Hall, which includes production offices, conference rooms, post-production facilities, and a sound stage.
13. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Established in 1861, University of Washington (UW) serves nearly 56,780 students across three campuses located in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The school offers more than 570 degree options across 300+ programs and 16 colleges and schools. The Paul G. Allen School Computer Science & Engineering offers a BS in Computer Science, a BS in Engineering, and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE).
In both degrees, students can work with faculty and graduate students on research; collaborate with industry partners; tackle complex design and implementation projects in capstone courses; and tailor their degree to meet their interests and goals. Sample courses include Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Data Visualization, and Artificial Intelligence.
Students in both programs have access to three main labs at UW CSE. All are engaged in research spanning the areas of animation, computer game science, graphics, vision, and visualization. Labs include the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs. Per UW, The GRAIL group is known for “groundbreaking” research in computational photography, games for science and education, 3-D reconstruction, Internet photo collections, object recognition, human shape and motion analysis, information visualization, and animation, while researchers at the Center for Game Science use gaming to solve grand challenges, crowdsource human problem-solving to aid scientific discovery, and improve student interest and achievement in mathematics.
The Animation Research Labs is a multi-disciplinary effort that brings together faculty and students from UW CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, DXARTS, Drama, and Music. The ARL is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in animation through teaching, research, and computer-animated production in collaboration with experts from Disney Animation Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar, and many others.
In addition to the Computer Science and Engineering Programs, University of Washington offers an undergraduate minor in Digital Arts and Experimental Arts (BFA DXARTS) as well as a PhD in DXARTS. Students in both programs have the opportunity to focus their work in a particular area of experimental arts (computer animation, digital video, digital media art, computer music and sound art, design computing, mechatronics, and so on). Whatever the chosen area, “artists and scholars working at DXARTS engage in teaching, learning, and research within the synergistic, multidisciplinary setting of the center's labs, studios, and classrooms.”
14. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) serves 19,000 students, including 2,500 at BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. The school offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and programs on the main campus and 22 at BGSU Firelands. The school houses nine colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences, home of the School of Art. The School houses the BGSU Digital Arts program, which offers a BFA and MFA degrees in Digital Arts, a BA in Art with a Digital Arts Specialization, and a Minor in Digital Art.
The programs offer three Focus Areas including Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia. Per the school, the Digital Arts program at BGSU is “one of the leading programs in the nation for studying digital arts and animation, focusing on creative expression using digital technology. Students are encouraged to investigate aesthetic and perceptual possibilities as they engage in alternative art discourses. Digital Arts courses investigate the theoretical, aesthetic, and technical aspects of the digital arts while providing hands-on experiences with state-of-the-art equipment.”
Students in the program focus on 3D animation, digital imaging, interactive art, video art, virtual environments and gaming, mobile web app development, digital painting, and hybrid forms of digital art. Other program highlights include diverse study abroad opportunities in more than 40 countries worldwide as well as facilities and faculty that “position students for successful internships and careers with organizations such as Disney Animation, Pixar and the Museum of Modern Art.”
The MFA in Art with a Major in Digital Arts (Computer Animation & Video, Imaging and Interactive Multimedia) is an intensive, 60 credit hour studio degree designed to prepare students to become both professional artists in industry and university-level instructors while developing their own studio practice. Students have the opportunity to explore 3D Modeling and Animation, Interactive Multimedia Development, Digital Video, Digital Imaging, and Hybrid Media forms including 3D printing, Architectural Projection Mapping, Web App Development and Interactive Installation Art. All supported graduate students are provided with studio space and computers.
Though the Digital Arts MFA has three areas of focus, students also have the opportunity to “merge art disciplines and investigate new directions. Students are also encouraged to explore interests in media outside of Digital Arts. For instance, a student may want to explore the integration of drawing, computer programming, sculpture, theater, or film with their Digital Arts work.”
In recent years, BGSU Digital Arts graduates have been hired by companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Volition, DNA Productions, Rhythm & Hues Studios, Blizzard, Friendly Software (Microsoft games), American Greetings, Epic Games, Apple, Designing Digitally, Root Learning (interactive training), LogicJunction (interactive web) and many more digital art companies.
15. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Established in 1918, Ball State University enrolls around 22,000 students from every state, two U.S. territories, about 55 countries, and every Indiana county. The school has more than 300 programs across 10 colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Animation that explores 3D animation, stop-motion, and traditional 2D animation.
Per the school, in the programs 3-D classes, students “will get into modeling, texturing, lighting, character animation, and visual effects.” They will also have opportunities to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects with faculty and students in other courses of study. Course highlights include Character Design, Drawing for Animation, Animation Production, 3D Modeling and Rendering, Animation Specialty, Character Design, 3D Animation, Narrative Painting, and Storyboarding. A Senior Capstone Experience (Senior Project in Animation) is also part of the program.
In every animation course, students “will gain valuable experience with leading animation industry software.” Toon Boom, Toon Boom Harmony, Maya, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator are just a few. Students will create a demo reel or portfolio, and they will “learn how to market” themselves “in relation to today’s jobs.”
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in industries such as film, television, video games, medical animation, architectural rendering, advertising, product visualization, and many others.
16. California State University-Northridge, Northridge, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1958, California State University Northridge (CSUN) serves more than 40,000 students enrolled in more than 140 programs. The school consists of nine colleges, including the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, which houses the Department of Art. Here, aspiring animators can earn a BA Visual Arts with one of three Animation Tracks including 2D Animation Design, 3D Animation, and Game Animation.
Per the school, 2D Animation Design “provides students with a foundation in drawing, design and the essential software skills necessary to thrive in post-graduation careers. Upon completing four lower division foundation courses, students take courses in 2D animation (flash/toonboom), pre-production and visual development, with optional classes in compositing and 3D computer animation classes. Students concentrating in the 2D design track spend their senior year focusing on their portfolios and/or collaborative group projects.”
The program prepares students for an artistic career in 2D animation as storyboard revisionists, in visual development, background design or painting, or as animators with a proficiency in flash and/or toonboom.
The 3D Animation Track offers four core CG animation courses with options in compositing, game animation, and Visual Development. Students concentrating in this track spend their senior year focusing on their portfolios and/or collaborative group projects. Career paths for 3D Animation graduates include Pre-Vis artist, character animator, CG modeler, texture painting and lighting artist, and compositor.
Students in all tracks have the opportunity to participate in industry and studio events, organized studio tours, and ongoing collaborative educational partnering with DreamWorks studios and Seoul Institute of the Arts. Students also participate in industry events and internships with Nickelodeon, Disney, Film Roman, Warner Bros., and others. Students in all programs have access to two award-winning student run animation clubs—the Animation Students League of Northridge and the Game Development Club.
Game Animation “builds on 3D computer animation courses to a two sequence game production classes.” Students who complete the track will take optional animation production, compositing, and character animation courses. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in quality assurance, level design, modeling, texture painting & lighting, and character animation.
17. California State University-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1947, California State University-Los Angeles (Cal State LA or CSLA) serves around 27,830 students enrolled in more than 150 programs through eight colleges. The College of Arts & Letters consists of nine departments including ART, Communication Studies, English, Liberal Studies, Modern Languages and Literatures, Music, Philosophy, Television, Film and Media Studies, and Theatre and Dance.
The ART Department offers BA, MA, and MFA programs that the school says are “structured so that students have the opportunity to acquire an understanding of the variety of subjects encompassed within the visual arts as well as to develop excellence in a specific area. They are Animation; Art Education; Art History; Graphic Design/Visual Communication; Fashion and Textiles; and Studio Arts, which include ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and new genre.”
Specific programs for aspiring animators include a BA in Art with an Animation Major and MA and MFA degrees with a Design Option in Animation. The BA is a 120-unit program that “provides a thorough education in the creative, practical and historical uses of animation. The option encourages an experimental approach to animation that combines traditional and contemporary techniques.” Animation majors can choose courses involving: stop-motion animation, digital 2D and 3D animation, computer graphics, hand-painted abstract animation, story and visualization, as well as other art and film courses that galvanize their understanding of art-making, animation production, mixed-media, narrative, and cinema.
The MA is a 30-unit graduate program consisting of advanced study and practice Animation. “The degree provides students with an opportunity to gain stronger educational and experiential basis for a professional career and may be an interim step to pursue further graduate work in the field. It is considered to be a general degree, and is well suited for individuals that are seeking an advanced degree for teaching purposes.”
The MFA is a “highly selective” 60-unit graduate program designed for students who have “already achieved a strong direction and focus in their work and a high level of technical proficiency in a specific discipline in the Design Option or Studio Arts Option.” The goal of the program is to “develop students into professional artists capable of producing high quality work for public exhibition and presentation, or professional designers well-positioned to be leaders in their industry.”
MFA graduates will have the qualifications needed to teach at the university level, and are “prepared to take their place within the visual arts or design communities and to make a significant contribution to their fields.”
Students in all programs will benefit from The Getty Trust, which offers graduate internships as well as multicultural undergraduate internships at the Getty Center. In addition, the Getty supports multicultural internships at Los Angeles area museums and visual arts organizations. Students will also benefit from access to Cal State LA Fine Arts Gallery and frequent visits by guest artists and scholars.
18. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School, University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is a Polytechnic University that serves 8,725 students from the U.S. and 47 countries. The school offers 45+ undergraduate majors and 20+ graduate programs across three colleges and six schools. The School of Art And Design offers a BFA in Entertainment Design with Concentrations in Animation, Comics and Sequential Art, and Digital Cinema.
Per the school, the BFA curriculum includes “collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects and a comprehensive program that combines art and technology, and a strong foundation in art and design.” The program is one of a few art schools in the country offering a degree in Comics and Sequential Art, as well as a focus on both storytelling and technique, domestic and international travel opportunities, energetic, engaged and innovative faculty, rigorous program with a strong professional advisory board, and green screen studios, labs and modern technology.
Sample courses for the BFA program include Animation Studio, 3D Modeling and Animation, 3D Game Art and Engines, Digital Cinema Studio, Typography in Motion, Comics and Sequential Art, Video Production, and Graphic Design. The program prepares students to enter the industry immediately or to enroll in an MFA program.
The School of Art and Design’s MFA in Design is a cross-disciplinary program that consists of study in the areas of Entertainment Design, Studio Art, Game Design, Interactive Media, Graphic Design, and more. Courses for the program are delivered through a variety of methods including on-site courses, online, evening, weekend and intensive summer courses. Graduates of the program will be prepared to pursue roles in the academic community and as design professionals and leaders.
Students in both programs will benefit from the two galleries housed in the School of Art and Design: student gallery and the John Furlong Gallery. These, along with other spaces on and off campus, provide student, faculty and outside exhibition opportunities throughout the academic year.
19. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Ohio University (OU) was established in 1804 as Ohio’s first university. The school serves 34,443 students (fall 2018) enrolled in more than 300 programs across 11 colleges. The E.W. Scripps College of Communications houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Serving nearly 700 undergraduates, the School offers a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation.
The program encourages students to explore the production of computer animation and digital games, while also providing an understanding of the management and leadership roles in these industries. Sample courses include 3D Modeling & Animation, Digital Game Design, Narrative Animation, Visual Storytelling, Screenwriting, Compositing, Motion Graphics, Video Game Design, Video Production, Game Development, Media Content Management, Sound for Moving Images, and Media Arts Management (FILM), to name a few.
20. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. The school serves more than 31,000 students enrolled in 225 academic programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts, Department of Kinetic Imaging offers BFA and MFA degrees in Kinetic Imaging. The program is dedicated to Animation Art, Emerging Media, Sound and Video.
The BFA program has 100 to 110 students, and accepts just 28 to 35 new incoming sophomores each year. Students in the program will take courses such as Principles of Experimental Animation, 3D Computer Graphics and Animation, Theory and Production of Media-Based Sound, and Video Editing Techniques.
The MFA in Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging expands the field of video art, experimental animation, sound art and emerging media through the production of works of art that explore the artist’s relationship to culture and society. Potential works include media projects that take such forms as the poem, the essay, the video sculpture, and the installation. The two-year curriculum for this studio-based fine art program consists of 60 academic credits. The program is designed to support 4-8 graduate students.
21. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy. The school serves more than 6,000 students enrolled 135 degree programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Art Department which houses Edinboro’s second largest program by enrollment—the BFA in Applied Media Arts with 15 majors and programs. The Applied Media Arts – Cinema program allows students to focus on Traditional Animation, Computer Animation, or Film and Video.
Per the school, Applied Media Arts - Cinema offers “direct, hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, including professional studio/field film and video cameras, lights and sound recording equipment, non-linear video editing systems, animation rostrum stands, a large green screen area, Screendigital scanners, animation line testers, and both 2D and 3D computer animation workstations” Animation, film and video production internships are available locally, regionally, and nationally.
Graduates of the animation program at Edinboro have landed careers with Walt Disney Animation, Discovery Channel Pixar, and A&E Network as animators, writers, filmmakers, directors and producers. Names of alumni can be spotted in the credits for such films as Zootopia, Frozen, Night at the Museum, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
22. Alfred State College, Alfred, New York (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1908, Alfred State College is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The school serves nearly 3,700 undergraduates enrolled in more than 70 majors in agriculture, allied health, applied technology, architecture & engineering technology, business, and liberal arts and sciences at the baccalaureate, associate and certificate levels. Programs are offered through a number of colleges and departments, including Alfred State College of Technology, Department of Digital Media & Animation.
Here, students can earn an AAS or BS in Digital Media and Animation. The 63 credit hour, four-semester AAS program provides students “with a broad range of technical, creative, and problem-solving skills,” says the school, “to facilitate employment in new media and animation.”
“At the core of the program is a sequence of studio courses that enhances individual artistic creativity and provides instruction in the traditional arts and industry-standard computer graphics software.” Course highlights include Digital Foundations, Interactive Design, Intermediate 3D Animation, Production, Foundations: Form/Space Relationship, Figure and Motion, and Survey of Animation & Visual Effects.
Graduates of the AAS program are prepared to enter the field in a range of areas including animation, fine art, digital imaging, interactive design, media design and more. They may also enter directly into the Digital Media and Animation BS, the Interdisciplinary Studies BTech, or the Technology Management BBA degree program.
The program has an employment and continuing education rate of 100% – 33 percent are employed; 67 percent continued their education.
The Digital Media and Animation BS requires around 123 credit hours of study, including a Senior Seminar, Senior Studio Project, Portfolio Courses, and Studio Tokyo. Studio Tokyo provides the opportunity for students to explore Japanese art, cinema, animation and digital media through a study-abroad program based in Tokyo. Students will create animation and digital media projects in collaboration with local artists, and expand upon their research from the Japanese Media course through screenings and site visits.
A Digital Media & Animation Internship is also part of the program. The course provides students with practical application of skills in the Digital Media and Animation major. The internship provides valuable real-life experience while extending the skills of the student towards various businesses, organizations, and professionals.
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek positions in animation, digital imaging, fine art, interactive media, media design, and many other areas. The program has a 100% employment and continuing education rate, meaning 100% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate programs.
23. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) opened on September 11, 1911 as one of three state normal schools for teacher training. Today, the school serves nearly 22,000 students enrolled in more than 240 programs through nine academic colleges and more than 40 departments. The College of Media and Entertainment offers a BS in Animation, an MS in Media and Communication, and a 15 credit hour Minor in Animation.
Per the school, “the Animation major is designed for those who wish to work professionally in animation and/or imaging, including character animation, video games, motion graphics, visual effects, simulation and visualization, and image manipulation. This program blends theoretical and hands-on approaches to traditional and digital animation. Students are encouraged to complete their education with internships in professional settings.” This 120 credit hour program requires a Minor in Art.
Students in the MS program (both the thesis and non-thesis option) may choose six hours of approved electives in Animation. Specializations for the program include traditional/new media, media law, journalism, management, public relations, advertising, health communication, and international communication.
The Animation Programs at MTSU prepare students for careers in character animation, motion graphics, visual effects, and many others. Students are prepared to create Animated and Feature Films, as well as content for Documentary Films, Television, and Educational Videos.
24. University of Colorado - Denver, Denver, Colorado (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Established in 1912, the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) serves around 19,560 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs in 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts & Media is home to the Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC), which offer a BFA in Visual Arts with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation.
Per the school, the 3D Graphics and Animation Emphasis “is a competitive and rigorous four-year curriculum focused on preparing students to work in a wide variety of fields that use animated digital computer graphics (CG), including entertainment, film and television, gaming, medicine, and science.” Each year between 28 and 34 students are selected for the program, which consists of courses such as Character Creation, Environment Production, Surface Modeling, VFX Rigging and Animation, and Digital 3D Methods: Motion Graphics for Animators.
To fine-tune the emphasis, students are also required to take at least twelve semester hours of Visual Arts electives.
To date, DAC student senior short films have been seen in over 230 national and international film festivals in 22 countries. The school says its student films have been seen by hundreds of thousands across the globe, winning more than 50 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.
25. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 30% of colleges considered)
North Carolina State University (NC State) was established in 1887 and it serves nearly 35,500 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs through 12 colleges and 65 academic departments. The College of Design, Department of Art + Design, offers several programs for aspiring animators. Programs include a Bachelor of Art + Design: Animation + Interactive Media, a Masters of Art + Design (MAD): Experimental Media Arts with an Animation and Digital Storytelling Area and a Minor in Art + Design.
Per the school, the undergraduate animation program “gives students the opportunity to learn as they develop their creative portfolios through a wide-range of two-dimensional and three-dimensional traditional materials and computer-based processes.” These include “drawing and illustration, visual composition, soft materials construction, fibers, graphic and interactive narratives, motion graphics, visual effects, animation, web design, game design, interactive and computational media, virtual and augmented reality, 3D modeling, digital fabrication, and more.”
Animation students will take studios that introduce them to Principles of Storytelling, Animation, and Character Design through Sequential Imaging, along with courses such as Digital Imaging, Design Thinking, Advanced Writing, and Drawing. Students will also complete an optional internship and participate in the Art + Designer Showcase.
The MAD program “encourages students to explore the intersection of digital and material technologies to create interactive and engaging experiences that push the boundaries of storytelling, learning and play. The outcome of graduate student work can be the development of creative portfolio works that are backed by rigorous exploration, discovery, and historical and contemporary precedents.”
Graduates of the animation programs at NC State are prepared to work on short and full-length animated films, in character development for animated films, games, and digital storybooks, and on interactive and experimental projects.
26. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. With a student population of nearly 25,000 students, Missouri State is the state's second largest university campus by enrollment. The school offers hundreds of programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College. The College of Arts and Letters houses the Art and Design Department, which offers a BFA in Art with a Computer Animation Track.
Course highlights for the program include 2D Design, 3D Design, Drawing, Computer Animation I-V, Introduction to Digital Arts, and Digital Film and Media Production. Students in the program will complete a Senior Exhibition and internship opportunities are also part of the program.
Missouri State University also lists computer animation as part of its Electronic Arts (EA) program. Students in this program will take many of the same classes as students in the BFA in Art program. In addition to these courses, students will complete a Senior Project in Electronic Arts.
27. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) welcomed its first class in 1872 under the name Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, the school serves more than 34,000 students enrolled in about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across nine colleges and a graduate school. The College of Architecture and Urban Studies houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Creative Technologies.
Students in this 120 credit hour BFA program will take courses in areas such as 3D Animation and Modeling, Digital Video and Visual Effects, and Digital Painting. Course highlights include 3D Computer Animation, Computer Animation Studio, New Media Art, Drawing, and Digital Photography. Students may also choose a Plan of Study from the following: Immersive Virtual Environments, Code and Form, and Moving Image. All Plans offer animation coursework.
Immersive Virtual Environments students will take Topics in Computer Animation (Character Modeling), Topics in Computer Animation (Character Animation), Topics in Computer Animation (Video Game Design), and one other 3500 or 3600-level art course.
Code and Form consists of Topics in Computer Animation (Processing), Topics in Digital Art + Design (Multimedia Studio Max/MSP), Intermediate Sculpture, and one other 3500- or 3600-level art course.
Moving Image consists of Topics in New Media Art (Digital Video), Topics in New Media Art (2D Motion Graphics), Topics in New Media Art (Digital Illustration), and one other 3500, 3600 or 3700-level art course. .
The MFA in Creative Technologies is a terminal degree program that the school says, “prepares students to use digital and new media technology to create, present, communicate, and shape information and imagery.” The program, which “focuses on creative practice at the intersections of digital technology and artistic exploration,” allows MFA students to design a specific program of study that fits their individual interests.
Students in this 60 credit hour program will have the opportunity to develop original work in motion graphics, digital imaging, 3D animation, interactive multi-media design, video, installation, creative coding, spatial interactivity, web design, and sound and imaging. A thesis is required (12 credit hours) and students can complete up to 15 credit hours in field studies and internships.
28. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey (Top 30% of colleges considered)
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) was founded in 1881. The school opened its doors as The Newark Technical School on Monday, February 9, 1885, with just 88 students. Today, NJIT serves more than 11,400 students enrolled in 50 bachelors, 59 masters and 19 doctoral degree programs across eight colleges and schools. The College of Architecture and Design houses the School of Art + Design, which offers a BA in Digital Design with two Tracks: Entertainment and Production.
Sample courses for the program include Digital Design Studio, 2D Character Design, 3D Character Development, Acting for Animators, Simulated Environments, Imaginary Worlds, Game Architecture and Design, Digital Sound and Music, Design Techniques, Color and Composition, and Game Modification.
Graduates of NJIT’s Digital Design Program have landed positions in the areas of animation, game design, graphic design, architectural and environment visualization, web design, storyboard art, and more. Among the studios where NJIT students have interned or worked full-time are 1st Avenue Machine, CSALAS & Co Labs, KWD – Kim Wendell Design LLC, Miskowski Design LLC, NTropic, SUSPECT vfx+design, SWDTech Games, and Tripwire Interactive.
29. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. The school offers 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools to 29,292 students (spring 2017). The College of Art + Design, School of Art offers several multidisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Digital Art and an MFA in Digital Art.
The programs allow students to refine their skills in classes that provide a broad, integrated understanding of creative practice across 3D modeling, animation, video, web, interactive systems, photo-based media, and digital printmaking.
Students may also choose to pursue the interdisciplinary Master in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) or the 21-credit-hour Minor in DMAE, a collaborative endeavor with seven campus units at LSU.
With around 500 students, the Digital Art Program provides access to the Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) Initiative and The Digital Art and Design Association (DADA). Both provide support to Digital Art students as they pursue “opportunities throughout the university and the broader community.”
30. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico (Top 35% of colleges considered)
New Mexico State University (NMSU) was established in 1888 as Las Cruces College. The school, which offers 276 programs across seven colleges and a graduate school, serves more than 24,580 students from 49 states and 89 foreign countries across at five campuses, a satellite learning center in Albuquerque, cooperative extension offices located in each of New Mexico's 33 counties, and 12 agriculture research and science center.
NMSU houses eight colleges and schools, including the College of Arts and Sciences. The College is home the Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI), which offers a Bachelor of Creative Media in Animation & Visual Effects (BCM-ANVE) and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects. The BCM program is a cross-disciplinary program that prepares students for the 21st century in Digital Filmmaking and Animation & Visual Effects.
While students may choose an area of emphasis, they study all aspects of Digital Filmmaking and Digital Arts, whether they are aspiring writers, directors, cinematographers, or animators. Sample courses include Drawing for Animation, 2D Animation, Rigging for 3D Animation, Modeling, Screenwriting, Visual Effects, Writing for Animation, Character Design and Development, Sets and Environments, Acting and Directing for Voiceover, and Short 2D Animation Production.
Students in both all programs have access to a state of the art digital projection screening room, post-production lab, animation lab, and production space.
31. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The University of Florida (UF) dates back to 1853, making it the oldest university in the state of Florida. Serving nearly 56,000 students, the school is also the largest post-secondary institution in the state. More than 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate programs are offered through 16 colleges and UF Online offers 20 majors across a variety of disciplines, seven minors, and dedicated academic advisors to help students design their own academic pathway.
The College of Arts houses the Digital Worlds Institute, which offers a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS) and a Minor in DAS that allows students to focus in Animation. Per the school, the BA in DAS degree “crosses traditional college boundaries between arts, communications and technology.” Students in the program will “immerse themselves in every aspect of the new and developing digital landscape — from digital illustration to 3D animation, from programming to video-game design.”
Course highlights include Creating Mobile Games, 3D Digital Animation Techniques, Advanced Digital Animation Techniques, Digital Storytelling, Applied Digital Media Protocols, Wearable & Mobile Apps, Principles of Digital Visualization, and Entrepreneurship in New Media. Students in the program will also complete several design production studios and a senior project, and they will have the opportunity to complete an internship.
Other program highlights include the opportunity to participate in a cohort experience, where students join a community of learners in taking a set sequence of courses together, access to facilities that include a 5-screen Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater (PICT) and a Virtual Production Studio (VPS), and the opportunity to gain experience working on projects in team-oriented environments.
Graduates of the BADAS program have gone on to work for companies like DreamWorks and Microsoft, as well as to form their own successful startups. Sample careers include 2D animator, 3D animation, animation director, interactive designer, storyboard artist, effects artist, and texture artist, to name a few.
32. Minnesota State University – Moorhead, Moorhead, Minnesota (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1887, Minnesota State University – Moorhead (MSUM) serves nearly 6,000 students enrolled in 247 academic programs through five colleges and the Graduate School. The College of Arts, Media & Communication houses the School of Media Arts & Design and the School of Art. The School of Media Arts & Design offers a BA in Animation and the School of Art offers a Certificate in Sequential Art that prepares students for careers in animation, comic illustration, printmaking, and other sequential art forms.
Per the school, the BA in Animation at MSUM “concentrates on the creation of technical graphics, 3D modeling, and techniques used in the animation industry, including game graphics and 3D simulations. Classes also include film studies and video/audio production.” Students will learn techniques for traditional stop motion animation and 2D and 3D computer animation, and they will become familiar with hardware such as cameras, lights and animation stands, as well as software such as 3D Studio Max, MAYA, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop, InDesign and more.
The curriculum for the program provides students with the unique opportunity to “develop a background in film and a foundation in live-action shooting, which is highly beneficial for animation professionals.”
Graduates of the BA in Animation at MSUM may find employment with animation studios, video production houses, television stations, music industry, multimedia, web, and advertising agencies.
33. Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the largest and most comprehensive higher education institution in the state. The school serves nearly 70,900 students from all 50 states and more than 125 countries enrolled in more than 550 programs through 29 schools and colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Fine Arts, which offers a BA with an area of Specialization in Art: Concentration Animation.
Per the school, students in the program “learn to prepare two and three-dimensional art for animation films, gaming, video, advertising, architecture, medical research, and web design in the most comprehensive and advanced courses available in this region.” Sample courses include Animation Production, Advanced Computer Studio, Visual Fundamentals, Character Animation, Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Kinetic Sculpture, New Media Art, Color Theory, Classical Animation, Computer Multimedia, Environmental Design, Design for the World Wide Web and Video and Film Production.
Students in the program will also complete Special Studio Projects, which allows them to work closely with a studio faculty adviser to develop and execute a specified series of art works. An internship is also part of the program and all students have access to on-campus laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art networked computers and post-production units, as well as 2D/3D editing software.
Graduates of the program have worked in the 3D animation industry as art directors and technical directors for various companies, such as Blue Sky, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Digital Domain, Ubisoft, BBC Earth, Quiet Man, Psyop, The Mill, Smoke & Mirrors, etc. In addition, they have participated making a variety of award-winning movies and games, such as Ice Age, Happy Feet, Frozen, Sesame Street 3D, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and more.
34. California State University, Chico, Chico, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico (CSU Chico) serves nearly 17,500 students enrolled in over 300 undergraduate and graduate academic programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 29 centers and institutes. The school offers several programs for aspiring animators. The College of Humanities & Fine Arts (HFA), School of the Arts (SOA) offers a BFA in Art with a Computer Animation Studio Pattern. The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management offers a BS in Computer Animation and Game Development (BS CAGD) and a Minor in Applied Computer Graphics.
Per the SOA, the Computer Animation Studio Pattern is collaboration between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Art and Art History. This interdisciplinary program “incorporates a solid understanding of the science of computer graphics and the visualization skills required of the creative animator. Studio practice integrates traditional and digital imagemaking skills with the conceptualization and production of meaningful pictorial and narrative experiences.” The program also includes a professional level internship.
The CAGD program is “designed to guide students through curricula which will enhance their knowledge of industry standards and expectations through hands-on experience, collaboration on group projects, and skill development in 3D modeling, 3D animation, rigging, digital lighting and texturing, game design and development, game scripting, motion capture and digital art.”
Sample courses for program include Digital Modeling, 2D Design, 3D Design, Digital Animation, Animation Production, Motion Capture, 3D Character Animation, Computer Animation, Advanced Production, and Digital Lighting and Texturing. CAGD graduates are prepared for careers in animation, film, video game, television, commercials, web design, business and more.
The Minor allows students to select three units from any CAGD courses and nine units from upper-division CAGD courses. Required courses for the program include Computer-Assisted Art, Digital Photography, and Concept Design and Storyboarding.
35. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Stamford, Connecticut (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Established in 1881 as Storrs Agricultural School, the University of Connecticut (UConn) opened with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, the school serves nearly 32,200 students enrolled in seven undergraduate degrees in 113 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 90 research and professional practice fields of study, and six professional degree programs (JD, LLM, MD, DMD, PharmD, SJD). Programs are offered across one main campus, five regional campuses and 14 colleges and schools.
The School of Fine Arts offers several programs for aspiring animators including BA and BFA programs in Digital Media and Design with Concentrations in 2D Animation & Motion Graphics, and 3D Animation & Visualization. MA and MFA degrees in Digital Media and Design are also the available. Creative areas include Digital Arts, Entertainment, Digital Humanities/Social Sciences, STEM, and Business.
Also available is a Certificate in Digital Media and Design. This 12-credit, online program will help students develop proficiency with the concepts and tools for business, web design, motion graphics, animation, and video games, among others.
Per the school, the 2D Animation & Motion Graphics area educates students in the “conceptual and technical aspects of time-based storytelling,” preparing “students for careers using 2D/3D animation, design, and video in the context of the arts, entertainment, marketing, communications, education, advertising, scientific visualization, and more.” Course highlights include Animating Science, Experimental & Alternative Techniques, and Motion Graphics I & II.
The 3D Animation & Visualization area gives students “experience in all aspects of 3D animation production: modeling, lighting, rendering, animation, simulations and visualizations, rigging and compositing for visual effects. Courses “focus on the core principles of 3D animation” and “experiential learning through personal and group projects employing problem-solving methods, critical thinking, and analysis, research and reflection.” 3D Simulations, Modeling, Lighting & Rendering, Compositing for Visual Effects, and Animation are just a few course highlights.
Per the school, students in all programs "have the opportunity participate in initiatives like AntU, which brings together Digital Media and Design, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History. Throughout their coursework, UConn Storrs students are able to work with faculty and peers across the School of Fine Arts, as well as in science, engineering, business, and humanities departments.”
UConn Storrs students have obtained jobs (often within six months of graduation) and paid internships at Adobe, CBS 2 News, and NBC Sports Group, as well as at smaller animation and design studios like Alessandro Weber Design, DW Advertising, milk*, Fusion 360, and XVIVO | Scientific Animation.
36. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1966, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) serves approximately 13,767 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, minors, certificate, master’s and doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) houses the Department of Visual Arts, which offers BA and BFA degrees in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation.
Students in both programs will study “animation and interactive media through a combination of traditional media and digital tools,” says the school. “In-class critiques of personal work and investigation of the history of animation and interactive art are emphasized for the development of a framework from which students can begin their path as animators and interactive artist.”
Advanced level courses in animation "incorporate technically intensive experiences in 3-D computer animation and digital compositing, as well as explorations of emerging practices including real-time applications and interactive animation.” The BFA program also includes intensive lecture, studio, and lab investigation of techniques, methods, and concepts.
Students completing the Animation Concentration have the opportunity to produce a fully developed work at the culmination of the program, either individually or as part of a team.
Graduates of the animation programs at UMBC “have become successful freelance artists and many remaining locally have found jobs at government agencies, game companies, and broadcast studios. Others have been hired at west coast animation houses, or are accepted into graduate programs of their choice.”
37. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Established in 1879 as Sam Houston Normal Institute or School, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) serves 21,115 students, making it the twelfth largest university in Texas. The school offers more than 80 bachelor's degree programs, more than 50 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Computer Animation.
One of the most popular programs in the Department of Art, the Computer Animation program offers a highly collaborative experience in 2D and 3D animated storytelling to a diverse student body. Students in the program take courses such as 2D Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation for Interactive Games, 3D Modeling, the History of Animation, and Pre-Visualization.
In addition, all art majors will spend a semester in the W.A.S.H. (Workshop in Art Studio and History) program, which emphasizes contemporary and collaborative art practices. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in animation and film, game production, fine art, video production, and advertising.
38. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The University of South Florida (USF) is part of three-school USF System including USF, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Established in 1956, the school serves more than 50,000 students enrolled in 180 undergraduate majors and concentrations, and dozens of graduate programs, across 14 colleges. The College of the Arts, School of Art & Art History offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Studio Art with a Focus in Animation and Modeling.
The Animation program offers a unique opportunity for artists to pursue a “cutting edge” approach to Video, 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Sound, and Digital Media. This comprehensive digital arts program offers students the ability to both develop an expertise in specific digital tools and allows students the flexibility to combine classes to hone a student’s individual artistic voice.
Per the school, “courses offered within the program explore a range of topics in motion, composition, acting, visual storytelling, 3D modeling, lighting, concept design, and 3D printing.” Students can also “selectively combine the study of Animation and Digital Modeling with other disciplines within the department” in order to fully explore their creative interests.
Another option for aspiring animators is the MFA in Studio Art. This graduate degree is an idea-centered program encouraging broad media exploration, interdisciplinary projects, and engagement with current theoretical and cultural issues. Students may choose any medium or discipline.
39. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Top 45% of colleges considered)
Established in 1963 as the North Carolina School of the Arts, University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is a free-standing campus within the University of North Carolina. The school serves nearly 1,300 students enrolled in dozens of programs through five schools—Dance, Design & Production (includes a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking and Music. The Filmmaking School offers a BFA In Animation that consists of 121 credit hours of study.
Students in the program will take 85 credit hours in Filmmaking, 30 in General Education, and six in Liberal Arts or Designated Arts Course. Course highlights include Fundamentals of Screenwriting, Fundamentals of Sound Design, Introduction to Animation I & II, Intensive Arts, Animations Foundations I & II, Storyboarding I & II, The History of Experimental & Stop-Motion Animation, International Animation, Advanced Computer Animation I & II, and Computer Graphics I & II.
Classes consist of lectures, workshops and individual projects, allowing students to add to their portfolios as they progress through the program. Third year of the program consists of the development, pre-production, production and post-production stages of a three-minute animation project. Students will also begin the development and pre-production phases of the fourth-year animation project. During the fourth year, students may choose independent study or a professional internship.
Graduates of the Animation Program at UNCSA have landed internships at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Stargate Studios and established careers with companies such as Cartoon Network and Prologue Pictures. A recent Animation graduate was honored with a 2015 Emmy Award Nomination for his work on the title sequence for American Horror Story.
40. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee (Top 45% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School, East Tennessee State University (ETSU) serves more than 14,500 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The school offers more than 350 programs across 11 colleges and schools. Part of the College of Business and Technology, the Department of Engineering Technology, Surveying, and Digital Media offers a BS in Digital Media (BS DIGM) with a Concentration in Digital Animation, a DIGM Minor, and a New Media Studio MA.
Per the school, Digital Animation “gives students the background necessary to animate in any media/software with strong skills in one of several specialty areas of animation, such as character animation and special effects animation.” Course highlights for the program include Acting I, Animation Fundamentals Character Animation Laboratory, Motion Tools, Technical Direction for Animation, Interactive Design, Raster-Based Imaging Laboratory, 3D Effects Animation, 3D Lighting & Rendering, and Special Topics in Digital Media.
The MA Program covers 3D Animation, Gaming, Motion Capture, Visualization, Video and Special Effects, Digital Illustration, and Graphic Design. The DIGM Minor offers courses such as Animation Fundamentals, 3D Animation, Fundamentals of Character Animation, Effects Animation and Lab, 3D Model Design, Motion Tools, and Interactive Development.
Graduates of the Animation Programs at ETSU are prepared for careers in 3D animation, 2D animation, motion graphics, character animation, technical direction, and many others.