What are the top public animation schools of 2022?
|1||University of California, Los Angeles||California||Top 1%|
|2||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts||Top 2%|
|3||University of Central Florida||Florida||Top 3%|
|4||The Ohio State University||Ohio||Top 4%|
|5||San Jose State University||California||Top 5%|
|6||Texas A&M University||Texas||Top 6%|
|7||California State University, Long Beach||California||Top 7%|
|8||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas||Top 8%|
|9||California State University, Fullerton||California||Top 9%|
|10||Florida State University||Florida||Top 10%|
|11||Purdue University||Indiana||Top 15%|
|12||Clemson University||South Carolina||Top 15%|
|13||University of Colorado, Denver||Colorado||Top 15%|
|14||Arizona State University||Arizona||Top 15%|
|15||University of Florida||Florida||Top 15%|
|16||University of Washington||Washington||Top 20%|
|17||University of North Carolina School of the Arts||North Carolina||Top 20%|
|18||Ball State University||Indiana||Top 20%|
|19||Bowling Green State University||Ohio||Top 20%|
|20||California State University, Northridge||California||Top 20%|
|21||Edinboro University||Pennsylvania||Top 25%|
|22||California State University, Los Angeles||California||Top 25%|
|23||New Mexico State University||New Mexico||Top 25%|
|24||East Tennessee State University||Tennessee||Top 25%|
|25||Middle Tennessee State University||Tennessee||Top 25%|
|26||Louisiana State University||Louisiana||Top 30%|
|27||University of South Florida||Florida||Top 30%|
|28||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois||Top 30%|
|29||North Carolina State University||North Carolina||Top 30%|
|30||Sam Houston State University||Texas||Top 30%|
|31||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia||Top 35%|
|32||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia||Top 35%|
|33||University of Connecticut||Connecticut||Top 35%|
|34||Ferris State University||Michigan||Top 35%|
|35||Ohio University||Ohio||Top 35%|
|36||Kent State University||Ohio||Top 40%|
|37||University of Wisconsin||Wisconsin||Top 40%|
|38||Kennesaw State University||Georgia||Top 40%|
|39||New Jersey Institute of Technology||New Jersey||Top 40%|
|40||University of Maryland Baltimore County||Maryland||Top 40%|
Our 2022 list -our eleventh annual- 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)
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the UCLA Animation Workshop. Leading to an MFA, the three-year Workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end. Sample required courses include Animation Design, Interactive Animation, Advanced Computer Animation Maya, Writing for Animation, and Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation.
Students in this graduate program will complete one interactive project and several films including a thesis film, traditional film, and computer film.
At the undergraduate level, UCLA offers a BA in Film and Television with a Concentration in Animation. The concentration consists of 20 units of study to be completed during the student’s senior year. All students are required to complete coursework in three areas: film and television craft (writing, editing, directing, sound recording, and photography; cinema and media studies (aesthetics, theory, and history); and production (animation, digital, television, film, and experimental). An internship is also part of the program.
Students in the BA and MFA programs at UCLA have access to the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio. Both degree pathways are offered in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media (FTVDM), which is part of the School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT).
Graduates of the animation and film programs at the University of California Los Angeles work for Walt Disney Imagineering, Nickelodeon, Pixar, DreamWorks, and many other major studios.
Established in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies. The school serves 45,900 students enrolled more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. The University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
2. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 2% of colleges considered)
The Animation Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) offers a BFA in Animation. The program begins with the foundation year, which consists of courses such as Time, Form Study, Drawing Projects, Studio for Drawing, and Visual Language. Students are introduced to Animation Basics, Experimental Animation, and Digital 2D Animation during the second year of the program. Color & media, figure, liberal arts, and history of art courses are also explored during the second year.
In the third and fourth years of the Animation BFA, students will continue studying liberal arts and history of art. However, students will focus primarily on advanced animation coursework, the animation portfolio, and the final animation project.
MassArt Animation graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of positions in the film and animation industries, design, digital art, advertising and marketing, and more.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design serves 1,635 undergraduate students, 115 graduate students, and nearly 150 continuing education students. Founded in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, MassArt offers more than 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs, along with 100 classes and workshops in all areas of art and design.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The school is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (Top 3% of colleges considered)
The School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) offers animation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Housed in the College of Arts and Humanities, SVAD animation pathways include BFA and MFA degrees in Emerging Media. The BFA program has two track options for animators: Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The MFA has Animation & Visual Effects, and Studio Art & Design Tracks.
Character Animation is a portfolio-based track that takes two years to complete, full-time. Program highlights include courses taught by industry professionals, access to state-of-the-art labs, and internship opportunities.
In the Experimental Animation Track, students will complete courses such as Digital Effects & Compositing, Stop Motion Animation, and Modeling for Visual Language. Specific experimental animation courses include Advanced Experimental Animation, Experimental Animation Professional Practice, Experimental Animation Workshop, and Experimental Animation Portfolio. Students in this Track will also complete the BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.
Graduates of the UCF SVAD animation programs are employed with major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, Electronic Arts, and many others.
The University of Central Florida College of Sciences houses the Nichols School of Communication & Media—home to Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). Established in partnership with the City of Orlando, the State of Florida, and UCF, FIEA enrolls more than 130 students annually.
The Academy offers an MS in Interactive Entertainment that covers areas such as 3D animation and modeling, motion capture, technical and level design, technical art, and preproduction. The program requires 30 credits including 12 credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours in a specialization, a practicum, and a capstone experience. An internship is also part of the program.
University of Central Florida FIEA graduates have been hired at studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Universal, Google, Microsoft Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, Zynga, and many others.
Also housed in the College of Sciences’ Nichols School of Communication & Media is the Digital Media MA Program. This option prepares animation students for entry into a PhD program or employment in the animation, games, AR/VR, or special effects industries.
Founded in 1963, University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. When it began, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves more than 70,000 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the State of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. Program offerings include 106 bachelor’s degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 31 research doctorates, three professional doctorates, and three specialist degrees.
University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
4. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 4% of colleges considered)
The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Both offer several programs for animators.
Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production (MIP) is a collaboration between departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wexner Center for the Arts. MIP majors can take production courses in the Departments of Art, Dance, and Theatre, and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Coursework covers live-action and animated filmmaking.
Animation students can expect to take nine credit hours of pre-major coursework, 24 credits in-production studios, two in cinema, six in MIP electives, and six for the senior project. A 15-credit hour Film Studies Minor is also part of the program. OSU MIP students will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses, complete an internship, or participate in the school’s study abroad program.
The Department of Art in OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. 3D modeling and animation, art games, sound, digital imaging, moving images, and emerging forms are just a few areas students will explore. Course highlights include Computer Animation, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, Moving Image Art, and 3D Modeling.
Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design. Established in 1968, the Department offers an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of study in design, the thesis project, and open electives.
Graduates of the Animation programs at OSU have gone on to become Animators, Human-Computer Interaction Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers. User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX) Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Freelance Artists, College Professors, and many others.
The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 61,000 students at campuses across Ohio in Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
5. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the College of Humanities and the Arts, home to the Department of Design and the Department of Art and Art History. Both offer programs for animators.
Two degrees are offered in the Department of Design: a BFA in Animation/Illustration (A/I) and a BA in Design Studies, specializing in A/I. The Department of Art and Art History and the SJSU CADRE Institute offer an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Digital Media Art. CADRE (Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education) became SJSU’s formal fine arts program in 1985.
The 60-credit hour MFA is a three-year program that includes studio courses, independent study, art history, and seminars. Students in the program will explore animation, sound, computer visualization, multimedia, virtual reality, and other areas. The culminating experience for the program is the MFA Project, worth three credit hours.
San Jose State University’s BFA in A/I is a professional degree that covers 3D and traditional animation. Students in this program may specialize in Animation or Visual Development through upper-division coursework. Specializations are 21 credit hours. Students in both areas must pass a milestone portfolio review and complete a six-unit capstone—Senior Seminar Animation/Illustration.
The SJSU BA in Design Studies with A/I is a liberal arts degree that allows students to explore photography, design, and theater arts, in addition to animation and film. Both the BA and BFA programs offer professional internship opportunities.
Graduates of the Animation programs at SJSU have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Just a few include Animation Mentor, Cogswell Institute, Sony/Columbia, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Interactive, Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Zynga, and 20th Century Fox.
San Jose State University was established in 1857. The school, which serves around 36,000 regular and special session students, offers 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are offered through nine colleges housing dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
6. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 6% of colleges considered)
The College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Department of Visualization, which offers BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. The MFA degree is just one of a few programs of its kind in the U.S. and possibly the only one in the State of Texas.
Established in 1989 the TAMU Visualization Program is cross-disciplinary, allowing students to explore interaction, art, design, visualization, and computer graphics. Students at all levels may focus in an area of specialization through electives. Students also have opportunities to participate in the annual career fair and the semester away program in Italy, Germany, and other countries.
Internship opportunities are also available at all levels. This supervised undergraduate course spans 15 weeks and 600 hours and students earn six credit hours. Graduate internships are worth eight credits. TAMU Visualization students have interned at animation, game, and graphic design companies.
Texas A&M University Visualization graduates are often hired for positions at major studios. Examples include Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel FX, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Industrial Light & Magic.
With more than 73,000 students, Texas A&M University is one of the nation’s largest universities by enrollment. Established in 1876, TAMU is also the state’s first public institution of higher learning. More than 400 degree programs are offered at all levels across 17 colleges and schools. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
7. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 7% of colleges considered)
California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of the Arts—one of the universities largest and most popular colleges. Made up of six separate academic units, the College is home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Art and an MA or MFA in Studio Art. All options offer an Animation Track.
Also housed in the College of Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA and a Minor in Film and Electronic Arts. Students may customize their own focus area (unofficially) by taking courses such as 3D Computer Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), History of Animation, and others. The Minor, which consists of 18 units, offers the option to create a specialized track from approved animation and other courses.
The BFA, MA, and MFA options in the School of Art include workshops and presentations led by industry professionals, courses taught by experienced animators and illustrators, access to a range of study abroad experiences, and internship opportunities. Graduate students will have the opportunity to customize the program AND choose a track. Graduates will leave the CSULB Animation programs with a focused body of work.
California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves nearly 39,300 students enrolled in more than 300 programs in eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
8. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 8% of colleges considered)
The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) offers BA, MA, MFA, and PhD degrees in ATEC. BA students may select a concentration in Animation and Games. Coursework explores games, motion graphics, UX/UI, computer animation, and more.
MFA ATEC students may specialize in Animation, while MA and PhD students may focus their studies and research in animation, science and technology, games, and other areas. All graduate level programs provide advanced study in computer-based arts, interactive media, digital media, technology, professional practices, and more.
Other ATEC program highlights include guest speakers from Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and others, seminars and lectures presented by industry professionals, portfolio and project-based exercises, and applied and experimental research in collaboration with instructors in varying areas of expertise.
Graduates of the ATEC programs at UT Dallas are prepared to seek careers in animation, games, film, and television, as well as emerging fields such as medical and scientific visualization.
The University of Texas at Dallas began in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, established by the owners of Texas Instruments. Today, UT Dallas is an official member of the University of Texas System, serving nearly 29,700 students. More than 140 degree programs are offered in eight schools. University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 9% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts at California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) houses the Visual Arts Department, which offers a BFA in Art with an Entertainment Art/Animation Concentration. Students in this 132-unit program may select an option (A, B or C), which allows them to take a set of specific courses based on their interests.
Course highlights include Cartooning and Caricature, Visual Development and Background Painting, Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation, 3D Animation, and Elements of Sequential Art. Other courses include Animation Preproduction, Animation Production, Animal and Wildlife Drawing, and Writing in the Visual Arts.
BFA program highlights include a partnership with Nickelodeon Studios, Group Projects, Independent Research, internship opportunities at major studios, and the BFA Capstone.
Cal State Fullerton alumni have worked on The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman Returns, Avatar, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 3, and many other productions. BFA program graduates also work in positions at Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving more than 41,000 students. Cal State Fullerton offers 55 undergraduate and 55 graduate degree programs in eight academic colleges. California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
10. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Top 10% of colleges considered)
The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University (FSU) offers a BFA in Animation and Digital Arts. Students spend their first year of the program completing general education requirements. For the remaining years of the program, students will immerse in 91 credit hours of study in the major.
Course highlights include Reality & Illusion in World Cinema, Motion Picture Editing, Story Development and Screenwriting, History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation, Filmmaking, Lighting, Texturing and Rendering, and Professional Development. The FSU College of Motion Picture offers nearly 30 electives for the BFA program, allowing students to pursue a variety or interests. Examples include Documentary Filmmaking, Visual Effects, Screenwriting, Marketing and Exhibition, and Film Business.
Other program highlights include the opportunity to complete four major films, including the thesis film, small class sizes of no more than 15 student, and the chance to complete a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture students may participate in the Torchlight Program, which provides instruction in the financing, marketing, and distribution of films.
Florida State University BFA graduates are prepared to seek positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Animator, Effects Animator, Visual Effects Artist, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, Rigger, and Storyboard Artist, to name a few.
Founded in 1851, Florida State University serves nearly 44,000 students enrolled in around 276 degree programs at all levels. One of the largest and oldest universities in Florida, FSU houses 16 colleges and schools at campuses across the state. Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Purdue University (Purdue) houses Purdue Polytechnic Institute—one of the 10 academic colleges at the university. Within the Institute is the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) which offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Animation or Animation and Visual Effects, an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, and a 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology. The CGT MS program participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.
The CGT BS in Animation program focuses on Character Rigging, Motion, Lighting, 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Texturing. Using the same software used in the animation industry, such as Maya and Autodesk, BS students will create animations, games, films, and more.
The CGT BS in Animation and Visual Effects covers Animation, Computer Rendering, Audio, Special Effects, Video, Digital Lighting, and more. Because Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, students will take courses such as Physics, Calculus, and Trigonometry. The business side of the industry is also covered. This includes coursework in marketing, management, business writing, and entrepreneurship.
Graduates of Purdue University’s CGT BS in Animation and Animation and Visual Effects programs are routinely hired at studios such as Walt Disney and DreamWorks, to name a few. Some graduates go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor.
The Purdue University MS in CGT provides study and training in Animation, Games, Information Visualization, and UX Design. A large number of course options allow students to concentrate in a specific area. Because CGT MS program is interdisciplinary, students have opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs.
MS students wishing to focus in Animation may choose the Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the Non-Thesis option will complete a Senior Capstone. Course samples for both options include The Art of Technology of Computer Animation, Visual Intelligence and Perception, The Development of Graphics in Technology, and Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology. Elective requirements also allow for the exploration of other areas.
Purdue University CGT MS alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Digital Lighting Specialists, Simulation and Visualization Specialists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and more.
Students with a graduate degree from Purdue University or other schools are eligible to apply to the PhD in Technology Program. Also offered in Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the PhD program supports study and research in CGT, including Computer Animation, Game Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience (UX) Design, and other related areas.
Graduates of the CGT PhD Program at Purdue University go on to pursue careers in entertainment, academics, technology, government, and more.
Purdue University was established in 1869. The school serves nearly 50,000 students, with around 6,000 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs in 10 colleges and schools. Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology. The Institute houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
12. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson University (Clemson) is home to School of Computing, which houses the Division of Visual Computing’s Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program. Pathways for animators include MFA and MS degrees in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA, MS DPA).
A Digital Production Arts Minor is jointly offered by the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and the School of Computing. Launched in 2011 the Minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours of study.
Digital Production Arts at Clemson University encompasses dozens of disciplines. However, each DPA program pathway has its own learning objectives. The curriculum for the MFA DPA pathway blends computer science and engineering, psychology, graphic communications, art, philosophy, and performing arts. Course examples include Technical Character Animation, Physically Based Animation, Visual Foundations of Digital Production, 3D Modeling and Animation, and Special Effects compositing.
The 60 credit hour MFA DPA program at Clemson is the terminal degree in the field. Graduates are prepared for a range of roles in the film and animation, video, electronic gaming, and visual effects industries. Graduates have gone on to land positions at DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, ReelFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The MS DPA was established in 2017. The program focuses on the technical and visual effects aspects of film production, games, and commercial video. The program includes many of the same animation courses offered in the MFA program, which provides many opportunities for students to develop their animation skills. Other course highlights include Software Construction, Advanced Computer Graphics, Human and Computer Interaction (HCI), 2D Game Engine Design, and Virtual Reality. Six required electives allow students to explore areas such as improvisation, scene painting, audio engineering, visual narrative, photography, and drawing, to name a few.
In addition to technical roles in the animation industry, graduates of the Clemson University MS DPA Program can pursue positions such as Technical Director, 3D Graphics Programmer, Tool Builder, and Software Engineer, and VR Developer in the broad entertainment industry.
Clemson University began as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893. The school serves 27,350 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs. An additional 90+ minors are available. Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
13. University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts & Media (CAM) at University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the school’s Film and Television, Media Forensics, Music and Visual Arts programs. Within CAM is the Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC). Together, the VA and DAC offer a BFA in Visual Arts with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation.
This 120 credit hour program provides coursework and training that prepares students to work in film and animation, as well as science and medicine. Course examples include Dynamic Simulation, Environment Production, Surface Modeling, Character FX, Intro to Film, Character Creation, and Reproduction Look Development.
In the junior year of the program, students will begin an 18-month Capstone experience—the Senior Film. In collaboration with departments across CAM, animation students will work in all areas to create this final project. They will create sound, effects, storylines, soundtracks, motion graphics, and more. Students may also participate in the internship program during the final years of the BFA program.
Graduates of the CU Denver BFA in Visual Arts-3D Graphics and Animation, have produced films that have been screened in more than 300 film festivals in 22 countries. Graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.
University of Colorado Denver animation alumni are employed by major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts, to name a few.
University of Colorado Denver began in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school became CU Denver in 1973 making it an independent campus. Organized into eight colleges and schools, CU Denver serves a population of 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 academic degrees.
University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
14. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Arizona State University (ASU) offers several programs for animators across several institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the School of Art, and the Schools of Arts, Media and Engineering, and Music, Dance and Theatre. The Design School, The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, and the ASU Art Museum are also housed in the Institute.
The ASU Herberger Institute School of Art offers 18 major degrees including 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs. Minors are offered in Studio Art and Art History. Programs for animators include a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Animation and an Art MFA. The ASU Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering offers a BA in Digital Culture. An interdisciplinary, 21 credit hour undergraduate Minor, and an 18 credit hour Certificate in Digital Culture are also available.
The BFA in Art with a Concentration in Animation consists of 120 credit hours of study. Elective options allow students to gain experience in other areas such as game engine development, photography, or visual effects. Other program highlights include internship opportunities and the Animation Capstone, which leads to an independent short film, or a full-length film produced as a team.
Art MFA students have the opportunity to complete projects in a discipline of their choice in their own private studios. Other program highlights include visiting artist lectures, workshops, and teaching opportunities.
Graduates of the Arizona State University Herberger Art programs work in animation and film, games and game development, cinema and television, AR/VR, illustration, robotics, medical illustration, scientific and data visualization, fine arts and many other areas. ASU alumni are Animators, Creative Directors, Graphic Artists, Multimedia Designers, and Art Directors, among others.
The BA in Digital Culture offered in the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering provides animation coursework that allows students to create a focus. Course options include, but are not limited to, Animating Virtual Worlds, Introduction to Computer Animation, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Stop Motion Animation, Experimental Video Art, 3D Tools, Introduction to Animation for Film, and Motion Graphics & Animation.
Graduates of the ASU BA in Digital Culture have opportunities to work in animation and film, gaming and entertainment, media arts, computing, and communications, among others.
In early 2021, Arizona State University announced that enrollment at the school would be more than 134,500 undergraduate and graduate students for the fall semester. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses and 800 degree programs in 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The University of Florida (UF) houses the College of the Arts, home to the Digital Worlds Institute. Founded in 2001, the Institute is a partnership between seven UF colleges that focuses on advanced media systems by combining engineering, science, communications, and art.
The Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida offers two programs for animators—a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS) and a DAS Minor.
BADAS students benefit from the project-based learning environment which allows them to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills. Electives are offered in three areas: Animation, Game Design, and Experience Design & Production. Students may choose coursework in one or more of these areas based on their interests and goals. They may also take electives outside of the BADAS Program. The remaining courses for the program are in the BADAS cores and general education (30%).
BADAS core courses cover areas such as 2D and 3D animation, mobile games, design and production, digital visualization, game content creation, digital storytelling, writing for interactive media, and digital technologies. All students must complete the senior project and a portfolio. Independent study, an internship, and production practicum are optional.
Graduates of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida have been hired at major studios and companies such as DreamWorks Animation and Microsoft. Many UF alumni have also gone on to launch their own start-ups.
University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves nearly 58,000 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs in 14 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) offers BS degrees in Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CE), and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in CSE. Students in these highly interdisciplinary programs have the unique opportunity to study animation through a variety of elective options and three labs including the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and Animation Research Labs (ARL). Collectively, the Labs at UW engage in animation, graphics, visualization, computer game science, and vision.
Possible course options for the UW BS, PhD, and PMP programs include Computer Animation, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization.
Serving more than 1,500 students, the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering has an active study abroad program that provides the opportunity to study at four partner universities: ETH Zurich, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany; and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
Allen School students may also fulfill elective and general education requirements through hundreds of other study abroad options.
Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington are routinely hired by some of the world’s biggest companies. Top UW employers include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Amazon, to name a few.
Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves around 57,300 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options across in 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
17. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The School of Design & Production and the School of Filmmaking at University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs for animators.
Offered in the School of Filmmaking, the BFA in Animation requires 121 credit hours of study. The first year consists of liberal arts and foundations courses in filmmaking. At the end of the first year, students will complete a portfolio for entry into the Animation Program.
The Animation BFA emphasizes drawing, character design, lighting, props, and storytelling. Third year students will complete a three-minute animation project and begin working on the final fourth-year project. The final project is a five minute film that will serve as the BFA Thesis.
During the junior or senior years, students may complete an internship or independent study as well as upper level elective courses to enhance the degree. UNCSA Animation BFA students have interned at major studios such as Sony Pictures Imageworks and Stargate Studios.
Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at UNCSA have worked with Cartoon Network and Prologue Pictures, among others.
The School of Design and Production offers an MFA in Animatronics. This hybrid program blends electronics and animation. Students in the program will master animatronic programming and design, engineering and infrastructure of animatronic figures, sculpting, 3D printing, and project management.
Other program highlights include seminars and workshops led by professionals in the industry and access to a 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production space.
The Animatronics MFA Program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts culminates with a final project (thesis) conducted in collaboration with an advisor.
Graduates of the Animatronics MFA Program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts go on to establish careers at places such as Universal Studios, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Imagineering.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts was founded in 1963. The school became part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system in 1972. UNCSA serves 920 undergraduate and 150 graduate students enrolled in dozens of programs across five schools. University of North Carolina School of the Arts is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
18. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Ball State University (Ball State) College of Fine Arts is home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Visual Arts/Animation. Students in the BFA program will explore traditional 2D animation, stop-motion animation, 3D amination, visual effects, and modeling, among others. The BFA also provides instruction and hands-on training in industry tools such as Maya, Adobe Illustrator, and Toon Boom.
Graduates of the BFA in Visual Arts/Animation at Ball State will leave the program with a professional portfolio and demo reel of their best work.
Ball State University was established in 1918. The school serves more than 20,000 students enrolled in over 200 programs in seven academic colleges. Programs in the School of Art at Ball State are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
19. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) houses the School of Art, which is one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio. Divisions housed in the 75 year-old School of Art include Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Art History, Studio, and Art Education. School of Art highlights include study abroad opportunities and internship opportunities with local studios and national studios such as Pixar and Disney Animation.
The Division of Digital Arts in the BGSU School of Art offers BA, BFA, and Minor programs in Digital Arts. At the graduate level, the Division offers an MFA in Art. The BGSU Minor in Digital Arts does not require a thesis or portfolio review. Students in the undergraduate degree programs may specialize in one or more focus areas. Options include Animation, Gaming & Virtual Environments, or Interdisciplinary.
The Division offers courses such as Interactive Media, 3D Modeling and Animation, Imaging, and Video Art. Courses are also offered in the areas of special effects, rigging, simulations, and more. BA students can choose any minor. Examples include Film, Media & Communications or Computer Science. BFA students will complete a thesis project. Options for the project include an animated short, art installation or computer game, to name a few. The Digital Arts faculty will select projects to be screened or displayed at the BGSU BFA Exhibition and Film Festival.
Students in the two-year MFA in Art at Bowling Green State University may specialize in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Media, and Interactive Media). The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of study, with 21 semester hours within the studio specialization and 12 semester hours of studio electives.
MFA students will complete a body of work and accompanying brochure to be entered into the BGSU MFA Exhibition held each spring in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center.
Graduates of the Bowling Green State University Digital Arts Programs are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, and Blizzard.
Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves around 19,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 programs in six colleges and BGSU Firelands (Huron, Ohio). Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The School of Art at BGSU has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.
20. California State University Northridge, Northridge, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication at California State University Northridge (CSUN) is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BA in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation.
Three Tracks are offered including 2D Animation Design, 3D Animation Design, and Game Design. Students in the 2D Animation Track will take Compositing, Drawing, 2D Animation (Flash/Toonboom), Visual Development, 3D Design, 2D Design, and 3D Computer Animation. Potential careers for graduates in this Track include Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Background Designer, to name a few.
In the 3D Animation Track, students will explore Game Animation, Compositing, and Visual Development. During the final year of the program, students will work on collaborative projects and their final portfolio. Possible job titles for graduates include Character Animator, Lighting Artist, CG Modeler, and Compositor.
Game Track students will take a number of animation production, character animation, and compositing classes, which will prepare them for careers in game animation, level design, and character animation.
Students in all tracks may join the Animation Students League of Northridge and/or the CSUN Game Development Club. Both student-run organizations provide networking opportunities and the chance to interact with industry guests through lectures and workshops. Other program highlights include internship opportunities, participation in studio tours, and CSUN’s partnerships with Seoul Institute of the Arts and DreamWorks studios.
Enrolling more than 38,800 students, California State University Northridge is one of the largest universities in the nation. Founded in 1958, CSUN is also one of the youngest universities in the 23 campus California State University System and the U.S. This liberal arts school comprises eight academic colleges, The Tseng College, and the University Library. Programs include bachelor’s degrees in 65 disciplines, master’s degrees in 74 fields, three doctorates, and 17 teaching credential programs
California State University Northridge is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
21. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Edinboro University’s (EU) Department of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Housed in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department offers a BFA in Animation. Program highlights include the CTNX Animation Expo, which allows students to explore studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal, internship opportunities with regional and national studios, industry guest speakers, and participation in the EU Art Department’s Animation Club.
Another component of the Animation BFA Program at Edinboro University is the study abroad program. Department of Art student have the opportunity to spend one or two weeks exploring art and design in places such as Amsterdam, Paris, Athens, and London.
Graduates of the Edinboro University Animation BFA Program have been hired at South Park Studios, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, WetaFX, Disney, and Pixar Animation Studios, among others. EU Alumni film credits include Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Night at the Museum, Zootopia, and Frozen, to name a few.
Edinboro University was founded in 1857 a private training school for teachers known as Edinboro Academy. Today, EU serves around 4,300 students enrolled in more than 100 different areas of study in five colleges and schools. Edinboro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
22. California State University, Los Angeles, California (Top 25% of colleges considered)
California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) is home to the College of Arts & Letters, which houses the Department of Art. Students in the Department have interests in areas such as animation, studio arts, printmaking, visual communication, and photography. Programs lead to a BA, MA or MFA, and a minor and certificate program are available.
The BA in Art has an Animation Option. The MA and MFA degrees in Art offer a Design Option (Graphic Design/Visual Communication, Animation). The Animation Option explores traditional and emerging techniques. The program requires a minimum of 98 units of coursework and students may take select electives from art and film offerings.
Examples of required courses include Experimental Animation, Story and Visualization, Art and Motion, Advanced Animation, Color Theory and Perception, and World Animation History.
The MA in Art requires 30 units to graduate, while the MFA requires 60 units. Both programs allow students to explore animation studies. Course examples include Advanced Animation, Two-Dimensional Animation, Graduate Interactive Design, Experimental Animation, Advanced Illustration, and Problems in Advanced Design.
Each semester, Cal State LA Department of Art BA, MA, and MFA students will join professional artists and faculty for several events that provide the opportunity to present their work. Hosted in the Fine Arts Gallery of the Department of Art, graduate students will present at the Graduate Thesis Exhibition and undergraduates will present at the BA Capstone Show. In the student-run COMA, Art Department students will have additional opportunities to present their work to the public.
Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves more than 27,800 students enrolled in more than 150 degree, certificate, and minor programs. Part of the 23 campus, California State University System, Cal State LA is comprised of nine colleges and the University Library. California State University, Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Programs in the Cal State LA Department of Art are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
23. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University (NM State) is home to the Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI), which offers a Bachelor of Creative Media with an Emphasis in Animation & Visual Effects (BCM-ANVE), a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects, and Certificates in Graphics and Animation and Creative Media.
CMI also offers a BCM in Digital Filmmaking that offers a significant number of animation electives. The program requires 27 elective credits of study, which allows students to focus their studies in animation. Elective course options include History of Animation, 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Business of Filmmaking/Animation, Writing for Animation, Visual Effects, Screenwriting, and Editing.
The BCM-ANVE is a 120 credit hour, cross disciplinary program with two pathway options: 2D Production Studio and 3D & VFX Production Studio. Students in both options will explore animation, digital filmmaking, and digital arts. Course examples include 2D Compositing & FX, Advanced 2D Animation, Character Design and Development, Rigging for Animation, Script Development and Storyboarding, Motion Capture Techniques, Drawing for Animation, and Visual Effects.
BCM-ANVE and BCM Digital Filmmaking students have access to state-of-the-art animation and post-production labs, production space, and a digital projection screening room. All students are eligible to enter their film or animated productions into the Las Cruces International Film Festival. Entry is free for NMSU students.
Founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, New Mexico State University is a system of five colleges that serves nearly 21,700 students. Serving around 13,900 students, the Las Cruces campus is the largest in the NMSU system. More than 100 programs are offered across seven colleges and a graduate school. New Mexico State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) since 1926.
24. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Business and Technology at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) houses the Digital Media Department. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department offers a Digital Media Minor and a Major leading to a BS in Digital Media.
The Digital Media Minor is a 24 credit hour program that requires Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Visualization, and Digital Game Design courses. Students may choose up to eight elective credits to complete the program.
The Digital Media Major consists of 120 credit hours of study. A Digital Animation Concentration is available. Digital Media students will complete 35 credit hours of study in the Digital Media Core and 28 credit hours of study in the Digital Animation Concentration. The Department encourages students to select courses in additional areas such as scripting, digital film, or digital media production.
The following are just a few course titles for the program: Principles of Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Digital Game Design, 3D Animation, Effects Animation, Character Animation, Technical Direction, High-Fidelity Modeling for Entertainment, Visual Effects Compositing, and Raster-Based Imaging. Digital Media students will also complete several projects and a professional portfolio of their work through the final course in the program—Portfolio Development for Digital Media.
Graduates of the ETSU BS Digital Media/Digital Animation Concentration are well-positioned for careers in 2D or 3D animation, technical direction, motion graphics, or character animation, among others. Graduates are also prepared to pursue an advanced degree at ETSU or other university.
East Tennessee State University offers an MFA in Digital Media. While the program does not have an official focus in animation, students may complete 12 credit hours of study in any area, to create a specialization. The culminating experience for the MFA program is the development of a final body of work in digital media.
East Tennessee State University was established in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. The school serves around 13,120 students enrolled in 140 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. ETSU programs are housed in eleven colleges and schools.
25. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) houses the Department of Media Arts, which offers a BS in Animation. A 17 credit hour Minor in Animation is also available.
The 120 credit hour Animation BS Program requires an Art or Interactive/Illustration Minor worth 18 credits. Major requirements consist of 58 credit hours of study including the College Core (nine hours) and the Major (49). Courses such as Scripts for Media, Ethics and Law for Visual Communication, and Free Expression, Mass Media, and the American Public may count towards the required 41 General Education credits.
In the Animation area, students can expect to take courses such as Animation and Performance, Basic Video Production, Motion Graphics, Professional Practices in Animation, Texturing, Lighting, and Rendering, and Digital Compositing. An Animation Capstone is also part of the program. This final student project will consist of an original animated short film that will be submitted to film and animation festivals locally, nationally, and around the world.
Graduates of the Animation BS Program at Middle Tennessee State University are prepared to seek careers in animated and feature films, documentary filmmaking, television, and education (productions).
Middle Tennessee State University was established in 1909 as Middle Tennessee State Normal School. The school opened with 125 students on September 11, 1911. Today, MTSU serves around 22,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs in over a dozen colleges and schools. Middle Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
26. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The College of Art & Design at Louisiana State University (LSU) houses the School of Art, which has several pathway options for animators. The BFA in Studio Art with a Digital Art Concentration provides instruction and training in Animation, 3D Modeling, Visual Effects (VFX), Games, and Experimental New Media Art. Course examples include Virtual Space and Motion, Two-Dimensional Design, Moving Image, Creative Coding, Digital Art, and Three-Dimensional Design.
To enhance the BFA degree, students may add any Minor from the LSU School of Art Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE) Program or the Screen Arts Program.
The School of Art also offers a BA that allows students to integrate courses from areas such as Film & TV, Computer Science, Screen Arts, and Mass Communications, into the program. The BA explores Animation, VFX, New Media Art, and Games. Course highlights include Intermediate 3D Animation, Houdini, Digital Art Studio, Intermediate 3D Modeling, Unreal Engine, and Video Game Prototyping.
This Liberal Arts degree is an attractive option for transfer students and students seeking a second degree.
At the graduate level, Louisiana State University’s School of Art offers an interdisciplinary Master in DMAE that offers coursework in Animation, Video Games, and VFX and an MFA in Digital Art. This immersive program takes two years to complete.
The curriculum for the LSU Digital Art MFA is experimental and allows students to blend courses that explore computational artmaking with coursework in animation, film, computer science, painting, electronic music, and more. Graduate MFA students will complete 60 credit hours, with 12 general electives to be taken in any specialization, and nine in an area of focus. Six credit hours are devoted to Thesis Research.
Students in all School of Art programs at Louisiana State University have access to the Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) Initiative and they may join the Digital Art and Design Association (DADA), which hosts the Annual Animation Jam.
Louisiana State University was founded in 1860 as the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. The flagship institution of the Louisiana State University System, LSU serves nearly 36,000 students enrolled in more than 330 programs across 18 colleges, schools, and centers, and LSU Online. Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The three areas of concentration in the School of Art are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
27. University of South Florida, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The College of the Arts at the University of South Florida (USF) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers a BA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Studio Art. A 24 credit hour Minor in Studio Art is also available. All programs, including the minor, allow students to focus their studies in Animation & Digital Modeling.
Studio Art students will explore 2D and 3D animation, digital imaging, video, games, film, fine art, and virtual 3D production. Course highlights across pathways include Video, Animation, & Digital Arts (VADA) and Advanced VADA, Digital Modeling, Computer Animation, 3D Animation, Graduate Seminar, and Professional Practices.
USF BFA students will complete a senior thesis along with an internship and/or a study abroad experience, while graduate students will complete an MFA research project. BA students have the following options totaling two credit hours: Extended Studies, Artists Internships/Apprenticeships, The Paris or London Middlesex Program, Public Art, Museum Internships, or Community Art.
Students in all Studio Art Programs at the University of South Florida may explore courses in other disciplines within the School of Art & Art History. Graduates of the USF School of Art & Art History go on to establish careers in animation, television and film, advertising, art, education, science, medicine, games and more.
Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves around 46,350 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs and over 150 graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. The degree programs at USF are offered in 14 colleges from Arts to Engineering to Public Health. The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
28. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers BFA degrees in Moving Image and New Media Arts, a Minor in Art, and an MFA in Art. All programs provide opportunities to study animation.
The 16 credit hour Minor offers courses such as Moving Image, Motion Graphics, Film, New Media Arts, and Painting and Color.
The BFA in Moving Image Program explores experimental and documentary filmmaking. Emphasis is placed on production coursework, independent study, and seminars in Digital Animation and Film & Video. Students will complete at least 129 credit hours of study, with 61 credits in the major and up to a dozen credit hours of electives. Course examples include 3D Space: Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking, Introduction to Creative Coding in New Media Arts, and Topics in Drawing. Advanced Critique and the BFA Thesis Project are also part of the program.
The UIC BFA in New Media Arts is interdisciplinary, allowing students to focus in areas such as animation. The curriculum for the program covers 3D Animation, Physical Computing, and Mobile Application Design, to name a few. Course examples include Topics in New Media Arts: Intermediate Game Play, 3D Space: Animation, Creative Coding, and Information Aesthetics.
The University of Illinois at Chicago provides private studio spaces for all MFA students. This highly interdisciplinary program is a combination of collaborative projects, seminars, individual projects, research, advanced critique courses, and coursework from other Departments at UIC. Course options run the gamut from Drawing and Painting to New Media Arts and Moving Image.
All MFA students will present a public exhibition and complete a thesis or final project. The UIC MFA in Art requires 64 credit hours to graduate.
University of Illinois at Chicago serves more than 33,500 students, making it the largest university in the Chicago area. With roots dating back to 1859 when the Chicago College of Pharmacy was founded, UIC offers more than 250 degree programs and 85 minors across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
29. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 30% of colleges considered)
North Carolina State University (NC State University) houses the College of Design, home to the Department of Art + Design. Options for animators include the Bachelor of Art + Design (BAD) and Masters of Art + Design (MAD). A 15 credit hour Art + Design Minor consisting of courses such as Animation, Three-Dimensional Design, Drawing, Color and Light, and Sequential Imaging, is also available.
Department of Art + Design programs are highly multidisciplinary, allowing students to study both traditional disciplines and emerging techniques. Examples include animation, VR/AR, visual composition, interactive and computational media, and visual effects. Electives allow additional opportunities to focus the bachelor’s degree.
Examples of required courses and elective options for the NC State BAD Program include Advanced Digital Techniques, Animation I. Art + Design Laboratory I-II, Creative Technology Studio I-III, Drawing I-II, Visualization I-II, Digital Motion, Sequential Imaging, Color and Light, Digital Modeling, Digital Representation, and Writing About Film.
Undergraduate students will move from foundation courses in the first and second years to intermediate and advanced classes in the final two years of the program. Students will leave the Bachelor of Art + Design program with a final project and a polished portfolio of their work.
The NC State MAD Program emphasizes experimental media arts and provides the same opportunities to study animation as the BAD Program does. Examples of past MAD elective options include 3D Animation, Seminar in Animation, Special Effects, Creative Coding, Digital Motion, Visualizing Narrative, Digital Modeling, Sequential Imaging, and Business of Design. During the final years of the program, MA students will have the option to produce a project in animation, interactive media or other area of their choosing, or complete a research-based study or paper.
North Carolina State University Art + Design graduates are currently working in fields such as animation, digital special effects, multimedia, illustration, filmmaking, and software design. Many graduates go on to become art and design educators or entrepreneurs.
North Carolina State University was established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering. Employing more than 9,000 faculty and staff members that serve 36,000+ students, NC State University offers more than 260 degree programs across 11 colleges. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
30. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Sam Houston State University’s (SHSU) College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Computer Animation. This 120 credit hour program consists of courses such as Character Animation, 2D Animation, 3D Modeling, History of Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Pre-Visualization, and 3D Animation for Interactive Games, among others.
Electives allow students to focus in additional areas in the arts. In addition, all Department of Art students will spend a semester in the Workshop in Art Studio and History (W.A.S.H.) Program. The Workshop encourages innovation and collaboration.
Graduates of the Sam Houston State University Animation BFA Program go on to pursue careers in animation, film, game design, advertising and marketing, multimedia, and more.
Sam Houston State University (SHSU) was founded in 1879 as the Sam Houston Normal Institute. The school serves more than 21,500 students enrolled in 90 bachelor's degree programs, 55 master’s degree programs, and 10 doctoral programs, including the nation’s first PhD in Forensic Science. Programs at SHSU are offered in eight colleges. Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
31. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of the Arts (VCUArts) houses the Department of Kinetic Imaging (KI), which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Kinetic Imaging. Students in these multidisciplinary programs will take courses in, and explore areas, such as animation, virtual reality, emerging media, video art, programming, sound design, interactivity, web technologies, and motion graphics, among others.
At the undergraduate level, students will complete the Art Foundation Program (AFO) in the first year. This is a requirement for all students in all art and design departments. The AFO is studio-based.
After completing the foundation year, BFA in KI students will level up to courses such as Animation I-IV, Virtual Interactive Worlds, 3D Computer Animation, and Sound Communication. The BFA in KI takes four years to complete, full-time.
Graduates of the VCUArts BFA in Kinetic Imaging Program are 2D and 3D Animators, Directors, Sound Designers, Motion Graphics Artists, and UI/UX Designers, to name a few.
The MFA in Kinetic Imaging is a 60 credit hour, studio-based program that supports no more than eight students. Graduate students have 24/7 access to personal studios, and access to animation, video and sound production spaces. MFA students also have opportunities to teach in the undergraduate KI program.
The Virginia Commonwealth University MFA in KI Program takes two years to complete, full-time.
Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University serves around 29,400 students. VCU offers more than 200 programs across 15+ colleges, school, and centers. Virginia Commonwealth University accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
32. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which offers BFA and MFA degrees in Creative Technologies (CT). Students in both programs benefit from the SOVA Study Abroad Program (three weeks in Europe), visiting artist workshops, exhibitions, and internship opportunities.
Areas of exploration for these cross-disciplinary programs include animation, virtual reality, emerging media, fine arts, gaming, visual art, technology, 3D modeling, games, design, virtual environments, video art, installation, and more. MFA students will present an MFA Thesis Project to graduate and BFA students will complete a final project and portfolio.
Virginia Tech SOVA graduates go on to establish successful careers in animation, film, and visual effects industries, game art and design, virtual reality, UI/UX, motion graphics, production, and education, among others.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University opened on October 1, 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 36,000 students enrolled in 280 programs in nine colleges and a graduate school. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
33. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Stamford, Connecticut (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The University of Connecticut (UConn) houses the School of Fine Arts—home to the Departments of Art and Art History and Digital Media Design (DMD).
The Art & Art History Department offers a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Illustration/Animation.
The Digital Media Design Department offers a BA in Digital Media & Design.
The BFA in Art: Illustration/Animation Concentration consists of 120 credit hours of study. The program is flexible, so it allows students to focus in and create works in an area or areas that match their goals. Examples include comics, cartoons, and graphic novels, 2D and stop-motion animation, and character and environment design. All students will complete at least 30 credit hours in Illustration/Animation.
The BA in Digital Media & Design has seven focus areas: 3D Animation, Motion Design & Animation, Digital Culture, Film and Video Production, Game Design, Web & Interactive Media Design, and Business Strategies. Students may choose one focus. The most popular options for animators are 3D Animation and Motion Design & Animation.
3D Animation students will explore all areas of 3D animation production, including rigging and compositing for visual effects, lighting and rendering, simulations and visualizations, modeling, and just about every animation technique, with a focus on 3D animation.
Students in the Motion Design & Animation area will develop skills in AR/VR, design, 2D and 3D animation, interactivity, motion for UI/UX, and video, among others. Both concentration areas are project-based and offer the opportunity to collaborate with other students and work in teams.
Graduates of the UConn Animation and Digital Media & Design Programs are prepared to pursue a variety of roles in animation, visual effects, film, UI/UX, educational media, TV and video, AR/VR, games, and more. Most graduates are offered positions within six months of graduation.
Founded in 1881, University of Connecticut began as Storrs Agricultural School, with just three faculty members and 13 male students. Today, UConn’s more than 18,000 faculty and staff members serve nearly 32,700 students across the main campus at Storrs, and four regional campuses. Programs at UConn are administered across 14 colleges and schools. Offerings include eight undergraduate degrees in 119 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 88 fields of study, and six professional degree programs. University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
34. Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), Big Rapids & Grand Rapids, Michigan (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) at Ferris State University (Ferris or Ferris State) offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design, and a Minor. Students in the BFA program may choose from two focus areas: Entertainment Arts or Multimedia Design. Both areas allow students to develop portfolios in 2D Animation, Motion Design, 3D Game Art, Interaction Design, or Visual Development.
The Digital Art and Design Minor consists of five courses. The BFA program requires 120 credit hours of study consisting of supportive studio, major studio, art history, general education, and elective coursework. Professional Practices, Professional Studio I-II, and Digital Art & Design Thesis I-II are major components of the programs. Students in both focus areas can also expect to take courses such as Animation Processes, Interactive Multimedia Design, Digital Character Drawing, and Digital 3D.
From animation and entertainment to advertising and education, KCAD Digital Art and Design graduates are prepared to seek careers in a wide variety of industries. Possible job titles include 2D Character Animator or Designer, Storyboard Artist, 2D/3D Motion Graphics Animator, 2D/3D Character Concept Artist, Character Animator, Background Designer, and 2D/3D Prop & Environment Concept Artist.
Kendall College of Art and Design alumni work at Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, YouTube, and R/GA New York, to name a few. Graduates of the KCAD Digital Art and Design Program have also gone on to graduate school at School of Visual Arts, New York (SVA NY), Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA), Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada), and Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing (Indianapolis, IN).
Ferris State University was established in 1884. Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the school serves 11,165 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design is one of the seven colleges within Ferris State University. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, KCAD serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in dozens of specialized undergraduate degree programs and several graduate and certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design is accredited by the HLC-NCA. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
35. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Programs options for animators include a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A) and an MFA in Communication Media Arts.
Students in the Games & Animation Emphasis may choose from the Games or Animation Core. Both cores are offered in partnership with the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, also housed in Scripps College.
BS Animation students may pursue Animation for Games, Film/Television, and VR/AR. Students in both areas can expect to take courses such as Media & Creative Process, Technology, Communication, and Culture, Media & Development, and Global Media Systems. The Animation Core consists of Animation Foundation, and Animation I, II (3D), and III. Students in the Games Core will take Animation Foundation as well, along with Digital Game Design, and Game Development II-II.
Electives allow for further exploration of animation. Course examples include Special Topics in Games & Animation, Motion Graphics, Visual Storytelling, and History of Computer Graphics.
To graduate, all BS students must complete a Capstone. Options include Storytelling, Technology and Digital Media in Theme parks (Disney) or Digital Games.
The MFA in Communication Media Arts at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary program offered in partnership with Scripps College’s Schools of Media Arts and Studies, Visual Communication, and the McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies. This three-year, 90 credit hour program provides the opportunity to study in two or more areas such as Animation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Digital Games and Animation, Interactive Web Design, and Data Visualization and Infographics, to name a few.
Ohio University MFA students will receive hands-on training through collaborative and experiential projects. A required component of OU MFA program, projects may include practicum projects through Scripps College or the College of Fine Arts, projects in the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, grant-funded faculty initiatives, or projects through WOUB Public Media—a broadcasting service licensed to Ohio University.
Other program highlights include opportunities to teach, professional internships and externships, and study abroad experiences. Students in the MFA in Communication Media Arts Program at Ohio University will spend the final year of the program in two immersive Thesis Production courses.
Established in 1804, Ohio University is the oldest college in the state. The school opened in with one building, three students and one professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve 28,000 students across more than 10 campuses and centers across the state, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs in 11 colleges.
36. Kent State University, Kent, Ohio (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University (Kent State) offers a BS in Animation Game Design (AGD) with two concentration options: Animation and Game Design. Both concentrations require a minimum of 18 focused credits. Animation students will take Solid Modeling, Character Animation, Real-Time Rendering for Animation, and Animation Production and Visual Effects. Students will also take a variety of art, design, and film & video courses. An Animation Project worth three credits is also required.
Graduates of the Kent State University BS in AGD Program are prepared to seek positions in animation, 2D and 3D modeling, game design, technical illustration, production, and more.
Also offered in the College of Applied and Technical Studies at Kent State University is the Modeling and Animation Minor. The program requires 21 credit hours of study including courses such as 2D Graphics, Character Animation, Modeling and Texturing, and Digital Sculpting. Modeling and Animation students will complete a Final Animation Project worth three credits.
Both the BS in Animation Game Design and the Modeling and Animation Minor are fully offered at three Kent State Campuses: Kent, Stark, and Tuscarawas.
Kent State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training school. Consisting of an eight-campus system, Kent State serves around 35,000 students from across the U.S. and 116 countries. The school offers more than 300 programs with 280+ majors and minors. Kent State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The Animation Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
37. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The School of Art & Design at University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) offers a BFA in Animation & Digital Media and an MFA in Design. The BFA programs in the School of Art & Design are 120 credits consisting of liberal arts, art history, fine arts, and design coursework. Students in the BFA in Animation & Digital Media Program (formerly Entertainment Design) will explore 2D- and 3D-animation, stop-motion animation, and character animation. Program highlights include access to state-of-the-art animation studios, technology, and labs, local, national, and overseas internships, and a final professional portfolio of the student’s best work.
The UW-Stout MFA in Design highlights a cross-disciplinary environment, where graduate students may study Animation & Digital Media, Interactive Media & UX, Game Design, Digital Cinema, Photography & Video, and more. Graduate students will complete a number of design studios and seminar courses, independent study, and at least nine credits of focused electives. Successful Completion of the MFA Thesis is required to graduate.
University of Wisconsin – Stout graduates enjoy a 97.8% employment rate. School of Art & Design alumni work in a range of roles at places such as Apple, DreamWorks Animation, and Shutterfly. Some graduate students have gone on to teach at Vancouver College of Art and Design, UW-River Falls, and UW-Stout, among others.
University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State of Wisconsin. Serving nearly 8,000 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout offers 45 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
38. Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Kennesaw State University (KSU) offers a BFA in Digital Animation and an MA in Art and Design (MAAD). Programs are offered in the College of the Arts’ School of Art and Design (SOAAD), which serves more than 1,200 students.
The KSU Digital Animation BFA Program consists of general studies and 45 credit hours in the Animation Core and Animation Studio. Course examples include 3D Animation Modeling, Concept Art, Digital Animation Production I-II, Storyboarding & Composition, Environments for Animation, and Digital Animation Studio. Students in the BFA program have access to printers, design studios, and several iMac computer classrooms. Graduates will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their work.
The Kennesaw State University MA in MAAD is an interdisciplinary program that has three concentrations: Digital Animation, Art Education, and Museum Studies. The Digital Animation Concentration explores rigged animation, storyboarding, visual development for games and film, and frame-by-frame animation. Course examples include Creative Problems in Digital Animation I-II, Technologies, Innovation Design Thinking, and Ideation and Iteration for Creatives.
KSU MAAD MA students will complete a final research project consisting of two courses and the two-course thesis. The Kennesaw State University MA in MAAD may be completed entirely online in just one year.
Founded in 1963 as a junior college, Kennesaw State University (KSU) serves nearly 43,000 students enrolled in over 170 degree programs in 11 colleges and KSU Journey Honors College. Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
39. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey (Top 40% of colleges considered)
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) houses the J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier College of Architecture and Design (HCAD), home to the School of Art + Design. Programs for animators include BA, MS, and MFA degrees in Digital Design.
The Digital Design BA has two tracks: Entertainment and Interactive Media. Students in both tracks can expect to take required courses such as 2D and 3D Character Design and Modeling, Simulated Environments, Game Level Design, Video & Animation, Digital Audio, Imaginary Worlds, Acting Fundamentals for Animators, Environment Design in Motion Pictures, and SFX/VFX in Movies.
Collaborative design studios are a major component of both tracks, and the curriculum also allows for study in areas across HCAD including VR/AR, robotics, and physical computing.
The NJIT MFA in Digital Design (MFADD) and the MS in Digital Design (MSDD) offer opportunities to focus in animation through coursework and the 12 credit hour Certificate in Animation Essentials. Sample courses for the MFADD and MSDD Programs include Animation, and UI/UX, Acting for Animators, Character Modeling, Environment Design, Visual Storytelling, and Game Design and Interactivity.
Graduates of the Digital Design Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology are prepared to pursue careers in Animation, Game Design, Advertising, Digital Media Design, Web Design, and Visualization, among other industries. Program alumni work or have interned at NTropic, Tripwire Interactive, 1st Avenue Machine, SUSPECT vfx+design, CSALAS & Co Labs, and SWDTech Games, among others.
Established in 1881 as Newark Technical School, New Jersey Institute of Technology is a polytechnic university that serves more than 11,400 students enrolled in 126 degree programs through six colleges and schools. New Jersey Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
40. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 40% of colleges considered)
University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) houses the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS), home to the Department of Visual Arts. Program options for animators here include BA and BFA degrees in Visual Arts. Both programs offer a Concentration in Animation.
BA and BFA students will take Visual Arts foundation totaling 27-30 credits. Visual Arts course examples include Visual Concepts: Time-Based Media, Art and Media Studies, and Space and Place in Public Art and Urbanism. Required animation courses total 27 credits. Students can expect to take courses such as Animation in the Physical World, Real Time Animation, Advanced 3D Animation, Motion Graphics and Compositing, and Team-Based Game Development. Students will complete a Senior Project and an internship outside the university or in the school’s Imaging Research Center (IRC).
Graduates of the Visual Arts BA/BFA Programs at University of Maryland Baltimore County are graduate students, freelance artists, educators or salaried artists at animation or game studios, advertising agencies, digital media companies, web design studios, and television and film studios, among others.
University of Maryland Baltimore County is part of the University System of Maryland. The school was established as a member in 1966. UMBC serves around 13,640 students enrolled in more than 200 degree, minor, and certificate programs in seven colleges and schools. The University of Maryland Baltimore County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).