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What are the top public animation schools of 2023?
|1||University of California, Los Angeles||California||Top 1%|
|2||Texas A&M University||Texas||Top 2%|
|3||The Ohio State University||Ohio||Top 3%|
|4||University of Central Florida||Florida||Top 4%|
|5||San Jose State University||California||Top 5%|
|6||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts||Top 6%|
|7||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas||Top 7%|
|8||Florida State University||Florida||Top 8%|
|9||California State University, Fullerton||California||Top 9%|
|10||Purdue University||Indiana||Top 10%|
|11||University of Colorado, Denver||Colorado||Top 15%|
|12||Clemson University||South Carolina||Top 15%|
|13||Arizona State University||Arizona||Top 15%|
|14||California State University, Long Beach||California||Top 15%|
|15||University of Florida||Florida||Top 15%|
|16||University of North Carolina School of the Arts||North Carolina||Top 20%|
|17||California State University, Los Angeles||California||Top 20%|
|18||California State University, Northridge||California||Top 20%|
|19||New Mexico State University||New Mexico||Top 20%|
|20||North Carolina State University||North Carolina||Top 20%|
|21||Bowling Green State University||Ohio||Top 25%|
|22||Ball State University||Indiana||Top 25%|
|23||Pennsylvania Western University||Pennsylvania||Top 25%|
|24||East Tennessee State University||Tennessee||Top 25%|
|25||Sam Houston State University||Texas||Top 25%|
|26||University of Washington||Washington||Top 25%|
|27||Middle Tennessee State University||Tennessee||Top 30%|
|28||Ohio University||Ohio||Top 30%|
|29||Louisiana State University||Louisiana||Top 30%|
|30||University of Illinois at Chicago||Illinois||Top 30%|
|31||University of South Florida||Florida||Top 30%|
|32||University of Iowa||Iowa||Top 35%|
|33||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia||Top 35%|
|34||University of Connecticut||Connecticut||Top 35%|
|35||Rutgers University||New Jersey||Top 35%|
|36||Ferris State University||Michigan||Top 35%|
|37||California State University, Chico||California||Top 40%|
|38||University of North Carolina, Wilmington||North Carolina||Top 40%|
|39||Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis||Indiana||Top 40%|
|40||Grand Valley State University||Michigan||Top 40%|
Our 2023 list -our twelfth 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 UCLA Animation Workshop launched in 1948, making one of the oldest animation programs in the U.S. Part of the School of Theater, Film & Television’s (TFT), Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media (FTVDM), the three-year Animation Workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end.
Examples of required courses for the Workshop include Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation, Advanced Computer Animation Maya, Animation Design, Interactive Animation, and Writing for Animation. Other courses include Experimental Film, Animation Seminar, and Directing.
Workshop students may develop skills in specific areas of animation through electives. Examples include Writing for the Animated TV Series, Real Time Animation: Puppetry Arts, and Film and Television Sound Recording. Throughout the program, students will complete one interactive project and several films including a thesis film, traditional film, and computer film.
At the undergraduate level, UCLA has a Film and Television BA 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 and must be completed in the students junior or senior year.
Students in the BA and MFA programs at UCLA have access to the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio.
Graduates of the animation and film programs at the University of California Los Angeles work for Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Imagineering, Nickelodeon, and many other major studios.
Established in 1919, University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies. Serving 45,900 students from 118 countries, UCLA offers more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 2% of colleges considered)
The School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Visualization Program, which has three degree pathways for animators including the BS, MS, and MFA in Visualization. The Visualization MFA is 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 emphasis. Options for BS students include Animation and Virtual Production, Media Art, Interactive Design, Game Creation, and Visual Computing.
MS students may focus in areas such as Computer Animation, Interactive Design, Gaming, Virtual Reality or Computer Graphics, to name a few. Examples of emphasis areas for MFA students include Computer Animation, Visual Storytelling, Visual Effects, Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Interactive Art, and Gaming.
Students in all programs have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Career Fair, the Semester Away Program in Italy, Germany, and other countries, and the TAMU Internship Program. The supervised undergraduate internship spans 15 weeks and 600 hours, and students earn six credit hours. Graduate internships are worth eight credits. TAMU Visualization students have completed internships at animation, game, and graphic design companies.
Texas A&M University Visualization graduates will leave the program with a polished portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are routinely hired for positions at major studios. Examples include DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Reel FX Animation Studios.
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 Texas’s first public institution of higher learning. Texas A&M houses 17 colleges and schools that provide more than 400 degree programs. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 3% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses 38 departments, more than 20 research centers, and over 2,000 faculty and staff members that provide more than 80 majors, 100+ minors and certificates, and over 50 graduate programs. Among the College’s programs are several pathways to study animation.
Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary Moving Image Production (MIP) BA Program is a collaboration between The Departments of Theatre, Film, and Media Arts; Art; Design; and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
The program, which combines live-action and animated filmmaking, features studio practice in Animation, Experimental, Narrative, and Documentary. Course examples include Motion Studies Through Hand-Drawn Animation, Computer Animation: Form, Light, Motion I & II Group Studies in Digital Animation and Interactive Media, Concept Development for Time-Based Media, and Film/Video: Topics in Technologies and Strategies.
OSU MIP students will take a 15 credit hour Flim Studies Minor as part of the program, and they will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses through electives, complete an internship, and participate in the school’s study abroad program.
The Department of Art houses the Art and Technology Area. Undergraduate students in this interdisciplinary emphasis area will explore everything from 3D modeling and animation to electronics/robotics/animatronics. Area course examples include Computer Animation, Moving Image Art, Digital Imaging, Art & Technology Studio Practice, Video Art, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, and Graphic Novel – Web Comic Production.
Graduate Art and Technology students will engage in project-based learning, while creating 3D animations, virtual reality, sound, interactive installations, and more. The undergraduate program leads to a BFA and the graduate program leads to an MFA.
The Department of Design has a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track, within the MFA Program. Students will complete 60 credit hours of study in design over three years including Exploration (year 1), Practice and Application (year 2), and Synthesis (year 3).
Graduates of the MIP, Art and Technology, and Digital Animation Programs at OSU are Animators, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers, and User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Designers, Freelance Artists, and College Professors.
The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves close to 67,800 students across six regional campuses including 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).
4. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (Top 4% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Central Florida (UCF) houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), home to the Emerging Media Program. Degree options for animators are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Emerging Media BFA has Character Animation and Experimental Animation Tracks and the MFA has an Animation & Visual Effects Track.
Character Animation and Experimental Animation are portfolio-based, highly competitive tracks that takes two years to complete, full-time. Students in the program benefit from courses taught by industry professionals; courses in multiple areas such as storytelling, technology, art, and design; access to state-of-the-art production labs; a studio-environment that mirrors today’s professional studios; faculty mentors; and internship opportunities.
Course examples for the Character Animation Track include Digital Effects and Compositing, Visual Storytelling and Visual Development, Digital Production in Artificial Environments, Advanced 3D Animation, New Imagery in Motion Workshop, 3D Textures, and Character Animation Portfolio Review.
Course examples for the Experimental Animation Track 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.
Both BFA Tracks allow students to work their way through the production pipeline from story creation to film completion.
The Emerging Media MFA: Animation & Visual Effects Track focuses on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspects of animation as it relates to independent filmmaking, job creation, and studio employment. Program benefits include co-directing opportunities; access to state-of-the-art labs and studios; and the opportunity to create an animation and/or visual effects thesis using techniques such as stop motion, 2D and 3D computer animation, and traditional hand-drawn. This competitive program requires 60 credit hours of study, completed over three years, full-time.
Graduates of the UCF SVAD Emerging Media Programs are Animators, Effects Artists, Story Artists, Modelers, Visual Development Artists, Lighting Artists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and Texture Artists. Program alumni are employed with major studios and gaming companies such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, and Electronic Arts (EA).
The College of Sciences at University of Central Florida has an additional option for animators seeking a MS degree. Housed within the College of Sciences is 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.
UCF FIEA has an MS in Interactive Entertainment that provides the opportunity for students to work in production teams mentored by industry professionals who provide instruction in 3D animation and modeling, game design, technical art, motion capture, creative collaboration, software engineering, and more. 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 and gaming companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts (EA), Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Universal, Google, Microsoft Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Zynga, and many others.
University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. On the first day of classes, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves around 70,400 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. The school provides 240 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees, and 81 doctorate degrees across 13 colleges. University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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 Departments of Design and Art and Art History. The Department of Design has three degree options for animators including a BFA in Animation/Illustration (A/I BFA), a BA in Design Studies Specializing in A/I, and a Master of Design (MDes) with a Specialization in Animation. The Department of Art and Art History has a Digital Media Art (DMA) MFA Program, provided in partnership with SJSU’s Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education (CADRE) Laboratory for New Media.
The multidisciplinary MFA explores areas from computer graphics and interactivity to computer games. Students in this program have the opportunity to create an area of focus through 24 units of required electives. In addition, students may choose three units of specialized study in any area of art.
Other program benefits include exclusive 24/7 access to lab facilities, collaborative art and technology projects, and internship opportunities throughout Silicon Valley. Consisting of 60 units of study, the DMA MFA culminates with the MFA Project worth three units.
The SJSU A/I BFA is a professional degree that covers 3D and traditional animation. Students in this program may specialize in Animation or Visual Development. Specializations are 21 units, including 12 units of approved electives. Course examples across specializations include Animation Production – Storyboarding, Digital Animation I-II, Visual Development I-II, and Digital Modeling I-II. Students in both areas must pass a milestone portfolio review and complete a six-unit capstone—Senior Seminar Animation/Illustration.
The SJSU Design Studies BA with A/I is a liberal arts degree that allows students to explore animation and film, as well as photography, design, and theater arts. Both the BA and BFA programs provide professional internship opportunities.
San Jose State University’s MDes with a Specialization in Animation focuses on current, experimental, and emerging professional practices. Comparable to an MFA, the MDes features technical courses such as CG Animation, Building Interactivity in Animation and Games, Lighting and Rendering. An additional program benefit is SJSU’s partnership with industry professionals who provide mentoring as students work on their portfolio and final projects.
Students in all programs benefit from access to state-of-the-art studios, courses taught by industry professionals, and guest speakers from major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon, Disney, Sony Pictures Animation, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Hallmark, Warner Bros. Animation, and many others.
Graduates of the A/I and Design Studies Programs at SJSU have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Examples include Disney Interactive, Cartoon Network, Cogswell Institute, Sony Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment, Lucasfilm Animation, Animation Mentor, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Zynga, and 20th Century Fox.
San Jose State University was established in 1857. Located in the center of Silicon Valley, SJSU serves approximately 36,000 students, offers 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are offered across nine colleges that house dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
6. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 6% of colleges considered)
The Animation Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) houses more than 20 classrooms, studios, and labs dedicated to animation. The Animation Program, which leads to a BFA, begins with the foundation year, which consists of courses such as Time, Form Study, Drawing Projects, Studio for Drawing, and Visual Language. During the second year of the program, students are introduced to animation basics, experimental animation, and digital 2D animation. Color & media, figure, liberal arts, and history of art courses are also explored during the second year. Course examples for the program include Stop-Motion Animation, Puppet Animation & Fabrication, Drawing for Animators, VFX Alchemy: Pixels & Grain, 3DCG Character Animation, Motion Graphics, Figurative Clay Construction, and Advanced 3D Digital Animation.
In the third and fourth years of the MassArt Animation BFA Program, students will focus primarily on advanced animation coursework, the animation portfolio, and the final animation project, while continuing to complete liberal arts and art history coursework. An internship is also available.
Graduates of the MassArt Animation BFA Program are prepared to pursue a wide range of positions in the film and animation industries, digital art, advertising and marketing, design, and many other industries.
Founded in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the nation’s first and only public college of art and design. The school serves around 1,800 students enrolled 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs. More than 150 continuing education students are enrolled in more than 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).
7. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 7% of colleges considered)
The School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology (AHT) at University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) has four degree options including the BA, MA, MFA, and PhD in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC). A concentration in Animation and Games (A&G) is available for ATEC BA students. ATEC coursework for this option explores computer animation, motion graphics, game studies, user experience/user interface UX/UI design, and digital fabrication.
Required A&G courses include Computer Animation, Modeling and Texturing, Lighting and Composition, Rigging, Game Design, and Level Design. Students will complete 30 semester credit hours of required electives as well. Examples include Animation Lab, Procedural Animation, Motion Capture Animation. Virtual Environments, Animation Studies, Game Production Lab, and Project Management for ATEC.
ATEC MFA students may specialize in Animation, while MA and PhD students may focus their studies and research in animation, games, science and technology, or other areas. All graduate level programs provide advanced study in computer-based arts, interactive media, digital media, technology, and professional practices.
Other ATEC program highlights include guest speakers from major studios such as Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks; applied and experimental research in collaboration with instructors in varying areas of expertise; seminars and lectures presented by industry professionals; and portfolio and project-based exercises.
ATEC students have access to the following labs and studios: 3D Studio, ArtSciLab, Creative Automata Lab, Cultural Science Lab, Emerging Gizmology Lab, Fashioning Circuits, LabSynthE, Narrative Systems Research Lab, Public Interactives Research Lab (PIRL), SP&CE Media, and The Studio for Mediating Play. Students focusing in animation also have access to the ATEC Animation Lab, which provides the opportunity to participate in a simulated animated studio experience. Over two semesters, a crew of 40 students will write, design, direct, and produce a two-minute CG animated short film. Just a few past films include Bad Timing (2022), Octo Ninja (2021), Night Shift (2020), and Stargazer (2019).
Graduates of the ATEC programs at UT Dallas are prepared to seek careers in 3D computer animation, film and television, games, modeling and simulation, virtual environments, and medical and scientific visualization.
University of Texas at Dallas opened in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. Established by the owners of Texas Instruments, UT Dallas is an official member of the University of Texas System. The school serves 31,570 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across eight schools. University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Top 8% of colleges considered)
The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University (FSU) has an Animation and Digital Arts Program that leads to a BFA. Students in this four year program will spend their first year completing general education requirements. For the next three years, students will immerse in the major.
Course examples for the program 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 Arts provides close to 30 elective options for the BFA program, allowing students to pursue a variety of interests. Examples include Visual Effects (VFX), Screenwriting, Documentary Filmmaking, Film Business, and Marketing and Exhibition.
FSU Animation and Digital Arts students will have the opportunity to complete four major films (including the thesis film), and a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture Arts 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, VFX Artist, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, Rigger, and Storyboard Artist.
Founded in 1851, Florida State University serves close to 45,500 students enrolled in nearly 300 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).
9. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 9% of colleges considered)
California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) houses the College of the Arts, home to Department of Visual Arts. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department features partnerships with studios such as Nickelodeon and Walt Disney; access to the Visual Arts Complex, which houses state-of-the-art animation, illustration, drawing, and painting studios; and an Art BFA with an Entertainment Art/Animation Concentration.
Students in this 132-unit program will complete 36 units in the concentration. 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. Studio Art electives allow students to explore other areas of art such as illustration, graphic design, photography, kinetic sculpture, and even glass blowing.
In addition to a wide range of course options, the Cal State Fullerton Art BFA Program includes 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 hold positions at Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Electronic Arts (EA), among others.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving just over 39,550 students. Cal State Fullerton offers 110 degree programs across 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. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 10% of colleges considered)
Purdue University (Purdue) houses Purdue Polytechnic Institute (Purdue Polytechnic). Within the Institute is the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT), which has several paths to study animation. Options include a CGT BS with a Major in Animation or Animation and Visual Effects, CGT MS, and a 5-Year CGT BS/MS. The CGT MS Program participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.
The CGT BS/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 other related productions.
The CGT BS/Animation and Visual Effects explores areas such as Animation, Computer Rendering, Audio, Special Effects, Video, and Digital Lighting. Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, so students will also take courses in Physics, Calculus, and Trigonometry. The animation business is also explored, including coursework in marketing, management, business writing, and entrepreneurship.
Graduates of Purdue University’s CGT BS/Animation and Animation and Visual Effects Programs are routinely hired at studios such as Walt Disney and DreamWorks. Some graduates go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor, while others have launched their own studios and freelance businesses.
The Purdue University CGT MS 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 the CGT MS program is interdisciplinary, students have opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs.
MS students who would like to study animation may choose the Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the Non-Thesis option will complete a Senior Capstone. Course examples across options include The Art and Technology of Computer Animation, Visual Intelligence and Perception, The Development of Graphics in Technology, and Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology. Elective requirements also allow students to explore other areas.
Purdue University CGT MS alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Digital Lighting Specialists, Simulation and Visualization Specialists, Riggers, and Technical Artists at both independent and major studios.
Students with a graduate degree from Purdue University are eligible to apply to the Technology PhD Program. Also offered in Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the PhD program supports study and research 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, and government, among others.
Founded in 1869, Purdue University began classes in 1874 with six instructors and just 39 students. Today, the school serves approximately 50,885 students, with around 5,600 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs across 10 colleges and schools. Purdue is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. 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 Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC). Together, the VA Department and DAC manage the Visual Arts BFA Program. Student who would like to study animation can enroll in the 3D Graphics and Animation Emphasis Area.
This 120 credit hour program includes courses such as Animation Foundations, Digital Cinematography, 2D Design, Advanced Character Animation, 3D, Advanced Character FX, Production I-II, Lighting & Rendering, Surface Modeling, and Reproduction Look Development. In the junior year of the program, VA BFA 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 program.
Graduates of the CU Denver VA BFA with 3D Graphics and Animation have produced films that have been screened at more than 300 film festivals in 22 countries. Program graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.
University of Colorado Denver animation alumni are employed in a variety of positions at major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts.
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 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 academic degrees. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences (CECAS) at Clemson University (Clemson) houses the School of Computing—home to the Division of Visual Computing and the Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program. Pathways for animators include the DPA MFA and DPA MS. 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 DPA MFA at Clemson no longer requires the GRE and it 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 been hired at major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts (EA), Walt Disney Animation Studios, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Established in 2017, the DPA MS 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 DPA MFA, which provides many opportunities for students to develop their animation skills. Other course examples 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 visual narrative, drawing, improvisation, scene painting, and audio engineering.
In addition to technical roles in the animation industry, graduates of the Clemson University DPA MS Program can pursue positions such as Technical Director, Software Engineer, VR Developer, 3D Graphics Programmer, or Tool Builder in the broad entertainment industry.
Clemson University began as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893. The school serves approximately 27,340 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs and 90+ minors across seven colleges and a graduate school. Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
13. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Arizona State University (ASU) provides several paths to study animation across a number of institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the Schools of Art; Arts, Media and Engineering; and Music, Dance and Theatre; The Design School; The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; and the ASU Art Museum.
The School of Art provides 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs. Minors are offered in Studio Art and Art History. Pathways for animators include am Art BFA with a Concentration in Animation and an Art MFA. The ASU Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering houses the Digital Culture BA Program. An interdisciplinary, 21 credit hour undergraduate Minor, and an 18 credit hour Certificate in Digital Culture are also available.
The Art BFA 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, visual effects (VFX), or photography. Other program benefits 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.
ASU Herberger graduates 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, VFX Artists, Graphic Artists, Multimedia Designers, and Art Directors, among others.
The Digital Culture BA in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering features a number of courses that allow students to focus in animation. Examples include 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.
Arizona State University serves approximately 140,760 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses that provide 800 fully accredited degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of the Arts (COTA). One of the universities largest and most popular colleges, COTA consists of six separate academic units including the School of Art, The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, and the Departments of Film and Electronic Arts, Dance, Design, and Theatre Arts. The School of Art houses the Art BFA and MFA Programs. The BFA has an Illustration/Animation Option and the MFA has an Illustration/Animation Track.
For the BFA Program, students may choose one of three Tracks within the Option: Animation, Illustration or Pre-Production. Consisting of 132 units, the Art BFA Program requires 31 units in the Animation Track, six units of upper division Art History courses, and nine units of electives. Examples of required courses include Core Studio: Animation - Practices, Core Studio: Animation - Design 1-2, Professional Practices in Illustration/Animation, Core Studio: Animation - Story Art, Advanced Studio: Animation Filmmaking, Advanced Studio: Animation - 3D CG 1, Experimental Animation, and Animation Senior Project.
Electives provide opportunities to create additional works. Elective examples include Costumed Figure Drawing, Experimental Animation, Advanced Animation Practices, Animation: Acting and Staging, and Animation Senior Film I-II.
The Art MFA-Illustration/Animation Track requires 39 units in the focus area. Course examples include Experimental Animation 2, Graduate Studies: Advanced Illustration/Animation, Animation 4, Computer Animation 2, Graduate Studies: Directed Studio, Writing for Artists, Graduate Studies: Image as Text, and Graduate Studies: Professional Practices for Visual Communication. In the final semester of the program, students will take the Graduate Studies: MFA Project course with members of the student’s Project Committee.
The COTA Department of Film and Electronic Arts has an Option in Theory and Practice of Cinema. Within the Option is a Specialization Track in Postproduction. The Track provides a number of courses for animators including 3D Computer Animation, Digital Arts Production, Color Correction, Editing, Sound Design, and Audio Production. Students in this program also have access to courses such as Advanced Screenwriting, Alternative Media, Writing the Short Script, Film Production, and Studio Directing.
Graduates of the COTA BA, BFA, and MFA Programs at California State University Long Beach will enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared for careers such as Animator, Animation Technical Director, Character Animator, Compositing Artist, Illustrator, Art Director, Storyboard Artist, and Forensic Animator.
California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves more than 38,000 students enrolled in over 300 programs across eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of the Arts (COTA) at University of Florida (UF) is home to the Digital Worlds Institute. Founded in 2001, the Institute began as a partnership between COTA and the College of Engineering. Today, the Digital Worlds Institute has expanded to include six additional colleges, with a focus on advanced media systems.
The Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida has two program options for animators—a Digital Arts & Sciences BA (BADAS) and a DAS Minor. BADAS students benefit from a project-based learning environment that allows them to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills. Electives are offered in three areas: Animation, Experience Design & Production, and Game Design. UF BADAS students may choose coursework in one or more of these areas based on their interests and career goals. Students 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 explore areas such as 2D and 3D animation, digital storytelling, writing for interactive media, mobile games, design and production, digital visualization, game content creation, and digital technologies. Course examples include Digital Storytelling, 2D Digital Animation Techniques, Writing for Interactive Media, Advanced Digital Animation Techniques, Principles of Interaction & Usability, Design Production Studio, 3D Modeling and texturing, 3D Character Animation, and Advanced 2D Digital Animation Techniques.
Elective examples include Blockchain Innovation in Digital Arts and Sciences, Digital Tools for Arts and Humanities, and Undergraduate Research in DAS. 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 are prepared for positions in a variety of areas from animation, game design, and filmmaking to science and technology. Institute graduates have been hired at major studios and companies from DreamWorks Animation to Microsoft. Many graduates have also gone on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses.
University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves approximately 61,110 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs across 16 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Top 20% of colleges considered)
University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) houses the School of Filmmaking and the School of Design & Production. The School of Filmmaking is home to Animation BFA, and the School of Design & Production (S&P) is stand-alone design and production conservatory that houses the Animatronics MFA.
The Animation BFA 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. Once admitted, students will begin exploring character design, storytelling, lighting techniques, drawing, and props. Third year students will complete a three-minute animation project and begin working on the final fourth-year project. This final project consists of 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 Animatronics MFA in the School of D&P launched in Fall 2021. This hybrid, three-year program blends electronics and animation. Students will take hands-on, immersive courses that explore animatronic programming and design, engineering and infrastructure of animatronic figures, sculpting, 3D printing, and project management. Other program benefits 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 have launched their careers at places such as Nickelodeon, Universal Studios, and Walt Disney Imagineering.
North Carolina School of the Arts was established in 1963 by the N.C. General Assembly. The school opened in 1965, becoming the nation’s first public arts conservatory. North Carolina School of the Arts became part of the University of 17-campus North Carolina System in 1972, and was renamed University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Today, UNCSA serves more than 1,300 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).
17. California State University, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Department of Art at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA or CSU) has an Animation Option that combines the study of experimental, traditional, and contemporary animation techniques with hands-on learning in digital classrooms, labs, and other facilities. Part of the College of Arts & Letters, the Art Department provides access to the Stop-Motion Animation Labs, Design Library, and the Tool Crib. Art Department students will also have opportunities to exhibit in the student-run COMA Gallery and/or Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery.
The Animation Option is a path within the Art BA Program. The program requires a minimum of 98 units of coursework, including 48 units in the Option, and students may take select electives from art and film offerings. Course examples include Story and Visualization, Art and Motion, Digital Modeling, Three-Dimensional Animation, Advanced Animation, Experimental Animation, Video for Artists, Digital Design Tools, Color Theory and Perception, World Animation History, and Advanced Illustration. A Capstone Animation Project worth up to six credits is required to graduate.
Also within the Art Department is the Art MA and MFA Programs. Both provide the opportunity to enroll in the Design Option (Graphic Design/Visual Communication, Animation). The Art MA requires 30 units to graduate, while the MFA requires 60 units. Elective options allow students to take additional coursework in animation. Course examples across programs include Advanced Animation, Two-Dimensional Animation, Graduate Interactive Design, Experimental Animation, Advanced Illustration, and Problems in Advanced Design.
Each semester, students in the Cal State LA Art Department will join professional artists and faculty for several events that provide the opportunity to present their work to their peers and the public. Graduates of the Art Programs at Cal State LA are prepared to pursue careers in animation, game design, screenwriting, storyboard art, visual effects (VFX), art direction, production, advertising, film editing, and special effects, among others.
Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves approximately 27,030 students enrolled in more than 150 degree, certificate, and minor programs. Part of the 23 campus, California State University System of nearly 480,000 students, 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 CSU Department of Art are accredited by National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
18. California State University Northridge, Northridge, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Department of Art at California State University Northridge (CSUN) houses a Visual Arts Program with several pathways to study animation. Within the Department’s Visual Arts BA is a Concentration in Animation with three Tracks: 2D Animation Design, 3D Animation, and Game Design. As part of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, all tracks provide access to the Entertainment Industry Institute (EII) and the student-operated creative agency known as IntersectLA.
In addition, 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.
Students in the Visual Arts BA: 2D Animation Design Track will take courses such as Visual Development, Pre-Production, Compositing, and 3D Computer Animation. Potential careers for graduates of this Track include Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Background Designer. In the Visual Arts BA: 3D Animation Track, students will explore Game Animation, Compositing, and Visual Development. Possible job titles for graduates include Character Animator, Lighting Artist, CG Modeler, Compositor, and Pre-Vis Artist. During the final year of both Tracks, students will work on collaborative group projects and their final portfolio.
Game Track students will take Character Animation, Compositing, Animation Production, 3D Computer Animation, and Game Production courses. Graduates of this track are prepared for careers in character animation, modeling, texture painting & lighting, quality assurance, and level design, among others.
With a population of more than 38,500 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 U.S. and within the 23 campus California State University System. This liberal arts institution comprises eight academic colleges, The Tseng College, and the University Library.
CSUN program offerings include bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 76 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).
19. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University (NM State or NMSU) houses the Creative Media Institute (CMI), home to the Bachelor of Creative Media (BCM) Program. Students in this program can study animation by adding an Emphasis in Animation & Visual Effects (BCM-ANVE), an ANVE Minor, or a Graphics and Animation Certificate. A Creative Media Certificate is also available.
The CMI also has a Digital Filmmaking Program a (BCM) that provides a number of animation electives. Leading to a BCM in Filmmaking, the program requires 27 elective credits of study, which allows students to focus their studies in animation. Examples of elective options include History of Animation, 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Business of Filmmaking/Animation, Writing for Animation, Visual Effects, Screenwriting, and Editing.
The Animation & Visual Effects BCM is a 120 credit hour, cross-disciplinary program with two focus options: 2D Production Studio and 3D & Visual Effects (VFX) Production Studio. Students in both areas 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 spaces, a digital projection screening room, motion capture lab, the Tool Crib, and THX sound mixing theatre. All students are eligible to enter their films or animated productions into the Las Cruces International Film Festival. Entry is free for NMSU students.
Graduates of the Animation Programs at New Mexico State University are prepared for careers in animation, film and television advertising, and game design, among others.
Founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, New Mexico State University is New Mexico’s land-grant institution and a NASA Space Grant College. Consisting of five campuses, NM State serves 23,365 students, including approximately 13,900 at the Las Cruces—the system’s largest campus. More than 100 programs are offered across seven colleges and a graduate school at Las Cruses. New Mexico State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1926.
20. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State) began as the School of Architecture and Landscape Design in 1946. It was renamed the School of Design in 1948 and the College of Design in 2000. Today, the College provides programs in architecture, art and design, design studies, graphic and experience design, industrial design, and landscape architecture and environmental planning. Programs are available at all levels—including the doctorate.
Other College of Design highlights include swing studios in other majors; study abroad experiences in places such as Greece, Chile, and Prague; an interdisciplinary first-year experience; workshops; and internship opportunities.
The College of Design at NC State also has several pathways to study animation. Housed in the College’s Department of Art + Design are the Bachelor of Art + Design (BAD) and Masters of Art + Design (MAD) Programs. 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 BAD. Examples of required courses and elective options 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 and 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, MAD 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.
NC State Art + Design graduates work in fields such as animation, digital special effects, multimedia, illustration, filmmaking, and software design. Some graduates go on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses, while others are become art and design educators.
North Carolina State University employs more than 9,000 faculty and staff members serving 36,000+ students, making it the largest university in the University of North Carolina System. Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State offers more than 300 degree programs across 11 colleges, 68 departments, and The Graduate School. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
21. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home to one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio. In existence for 75 years, the School of Art houses the Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Art History, Studio, and Art Education Divisions. Students in all Divisions have the opportunity to study abroad and complete an internship at a major studio such as Pixar or Disney Animation.
The Division of Digital Arts has BA, BFA, MFA, and Minor options. A Studio MFA is also available in the School of Art. The BGSU Digital Arts Minor does not require a thesis or portfolio review and students may focus in any area at BGSU. The Digital Arts Minor pairs well with Computer Science and other STEM programs as well as business, music, and other majors.
Students in the Digital Arts BA and BFA Programs may Specialize in Animation. 2D and 3D Animation Tracks are available within the specialization. Undergraduate students may also choose the Interdisciplinary Track, which provides the opportunity to incorporate classes from areas such as Drawing, Graphic Design, and Photography.
The Animation Track culminates in a semester-long senior capstone project that is screened at The Wolfe Center for the Arts during the School of Art's annual BFA exhibition and Film Festival.
The Digital Arts MFA Program is designed for students interested in 3D Modeling and Animation, Digital Imaging, Interactive Multimedia Development, Digital Video, and Hybrid Media forms Web App Development and Interactive Installation Art, 3D Printing, and Architectural Projection Mapping. While coursework can be customized to suit the students goals, several formal focus areas are available including Computer Animation and Video, Interactive Multimedia, Imaging, or Cross-Disciplinary Study.
Other program benefits include Graduate Assistantships, the opportunity to work the BGSU’s professional large-format printing studio, and access to the newly built Wolfe Center for the Arts, which houses three state-of-the-art digital studio classrooms, a 20-seat Mac Pro OSX lab, a 20-seat HP (Windows 7) lab, and an editing lab with 20 Mac Pro video editing workstations. In addition, the School of Art houses The Media Center, which features high-dynamic range wide format printers, high-resolution scanners, 3D printing, and high-end digital a/v equipment for student checkout. The intensive, 60 credit hour Digital Arts MFA can be completed in two years, full-time.
The Studio MFA at Bowling Green State University allows students to 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. The Studio MFA takes two years to complete, full-time.
Graduates of the Digital Arts and Studio Programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared to pursue positions such as 2D or 3D Animator, Special Effects Artist, Motion Graphics Artist, Video Game Animator, and Web Design Animator, among others. BGSU Studio and Digital Arts alumni are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as Blizzard, DreamWorks Animation, and Epic Games.
Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves more than 19,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate majors and programs across six colleges and BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The School of Art at BGSU has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.
22. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Fine Arts at Ball State University (Ball State) houses the School of Art, home to the Visual Arts/Animation BFA Program. Students in this program will explore areas such as traditional 2D animation, stop-motion animation, 3D animation, visual effects, character animation, lighting, texturing, and modeling. The BFA Program also provides instruction and hands-on training in industry tools such as Toon Boom, Adobe Illustrator, Toon Bom Harmony, Photoshop, and Maya.
Other program highlights include collaborative projects, professional skills development including professional terminology and marketing, and courses taught by industry professionals. Course examples include 3D Animation, Rigging, and Simulation, Pre-Production, Production, Traditional Animation, Storyboarding, Character Design, Experimental techniques, Compositing and Motion Graphics, Drawing Studio, 4D Foundations Studio, and Animation: Specialty. Students will complete a senior project, professional portfolio, and demo reel of their best work to graduate.
Ball State University was established in 1918. The school serves more than 20,000 students enrolled in over 200 programs across seven academic colleges. Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Programs in the School of Art at Ball State are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
23. Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro (PennWest Edinboro) is home to the Department of Art, which provides programs in the visual arts at all degree levels. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department houses dedicated studio spaces, several galleries with frequent exhibitions, and several student organizations. Students in all programs in the Department of Art also benefit from engagement with visiting artist and speakers on a regular basis and courses taught by accomplished specialists in their respective fields.
The PennWest Art Department has an Animation BFA Program that prepares students for positions in film, television, games, advertising, and other related areas. Course examples for the program include 2D Design, Animation I-IV, 3D Design, Drawing I-II, Graphic Design Software, and 4D Design.
Animation BFA students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and software such Maya and the 2D Cintiq Lab, the Animation Club, and the internship program, which provides opportunities to work with local, regional, and national production studios. In addition, the Animation Program welcomes professional animators, storyboard artists, and directors to the campus to present talks to students about the industry. Students will also have opportunities to travel to animation conferences and festivals in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, and tour major studios such as DreamWorks, Sony, Disney, Warner Bros, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, Nickelodeon, and Universal.
Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at PennWest Edinboro are Animators, Storyboard Artists, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Directors, Character Designers, and Modelers. Program alumni have been hired at major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Blizzard Entertainment.
Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro has campuses in Clarion and Edinboro, Pennsylvania, and California. Dating back 165 years, the school serves 12,800 students, making it the second largest university in Western Pennsylvania. PennWest provides hundreds of programs across its three campuses and the Global Online Division. PennWest Edinboro is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
24. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The Digital Media (DIGM) Department at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) has National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredited program that provides the opportunity to study animation. Housed in the College of Business and Technology, the Department emphasizes hands-on learning and technical skills development. Students in all DIGM programs will learn and work in the Niswonger Digital Media Center and the Millennium Center—a shared space with the ETSU Computing Department.
Specific program options for animators include the Digital Media BS, MFA, and Minor. The 24 credit hour DIGM Minor consists of four required courses (four credits each) and eight credits of approved electives. Required courses include Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Digital Game Design, and Visualization. Electives allow students to create an emphasis in a specific area of specialization in Digital Media.
The Digital Media BS has Digital Animation Concentration that consists of 28 credit hours of study out of the 120 required credits for the program. Course examples for the program include Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Digital Game Design, 3D Animation, Effects Animation, Character Animation, Technical Direction, High-Fidelity Modeling for Entertainment, Visual Effects Compositing, and Raster-Based Imaging. DIGM BS students will also complete several projects and a professional portfolio of their work during the final course in the program—Portfolio Development for Digital Media.
Graduates of the ETSU BS Digital Media/Digital Animation are well-positioned for careers in 2D or 3D animation, technical direction, motion graphics, and character animation, among others. Graduates are also prepared to pursue an advanced degree at ETSU or other university.
The Digital Media MFA at East Tennessee State University is a terminal degree designed for Animators, Visual Effects Artists, Cinematographers, Coders, UI/UX Designers, 3D Designers, Creature Artists, Character Animators, and other related professionals with a bachelor’s degree. This non-thesis degree program allows students to complete 12 credit hours of study in any area. An additional 12 credit hours are dedicated to team projects for both internal and external clients, and another six credits are dedicated to experimental media.
The culminating experience for the ETSU DIGM MFA allows students to develop and finalize a body of work for peer and faculty review.
Graduates of the DIGM Programs at East Tennessee State University have worked on productions and games such as Kung Fu Panda, World of Warcraft, The Last Jedi, The Walking Dead, Thor: Ragnarok, Halo, and Charlie Brown. Program alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Modelers, Advertising Designers, Level Designers, Game Artists, VFX Artists, 3D Artists, and Compositors. They work at studios big and small such as Ubisoft Red Storm, Luma Pictures, Idol Minds, and Volition.
East Tennessee State University was established in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. The school serves approximately 13,740 students enrolled in more than 140 academic programs leading to degrees at all levels. ETSU programs are housed across eleven colleges and schools, and two campuses.
25. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) houses the Department of Art, home to the Computer Animation Program. Leading to a BFA, the program consists of 120 credit hours of study, including 45 credit hours in Animation. Courses explore pre-visualization of virtual environments, characters, and objects, 3D modeling, lighting and shading, character modeling and rigging, texturing, creating realistic and expressive movement, motion graphics, and video compositing.
Course examples include Animation Concepts and Techniques, Character Animation, Shading, Lighting, and Rendering, Advanced 3D Animation, Experimental Animation, and Animation Preproduction.
Electives allow students to focus in additional areas in the arts. All Department of Art students will spend a semester in the Workshop in Art Studio and History (W.A.S.H.) Program and they will have opportunities to complete an internship and join SHSU SIGGRAPH—the Animation Program’s student organization.
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 many other areas. Program alumni work at places such as Zynga, EA Mobile, Kiloo Games, Perkins+Will, Stoic Studio, and Jacobs Visual Media Group.
Graduates of the SHSU Department of Art have also been accepted into graduate programs at top universities and art and design colleges such as Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Southern Methodist University (SMU), Florida State University (FSU), and University of Texas Dallas (UT Dallas).
Sam Houston State University was founded in 1879 as the Sam Houston Normal Institute. The school serves approximately 21,500 students enrolled in 90 bachelor's degree programs, 55 master’s degree programs, and 10 doctoral programs, including America’s first PhD in Forensic Science. Programs at SHSU are housed across eight colleges. Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
26. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) has a Computer Science (CS) Program with several pathways to study animation. Options are highly interdisciplinary, and each provides access to 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.
Undergraduate pathways include BS degrees in CS and Computer Engineering (CE). Graduate options include a PhD and Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Course examples across programs include Computer Animation, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization.
Serving more than 1,500 students, the Allen School at UW 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 University of Washington are routinely hired by some of the world’s top companies. Examples include Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel, and Meta.
Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves approximately 59,725 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. UW 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).
27. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The Animation Program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Housed in the College of Media and Entertainment’s Department of Media Arts, the program is designed for artists seeking a career in character animation, visual effects, motion graphics, virtual production, video games, or visualization. Students may enroll in the Animation BS Program or the 18 credit hour Animation Minor.
Consisting of 120 credit hours, the Animation BS includes courses such as 2D Animation, History of Animation, Visual Effects, Texturing, Lighting, and Rendering, Motion Graphics, Animation Mechanics, Character Modeling and Rigging, Bodies in Motion, and Animation Preproduction. Professional Practices in Animation and Animation Capstone I &II are also part of the program curriculum. The Capstone consists of an original animated short film that will be submitted to film and animation festivals locally, nationally, and around the world.
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 more than 20,000 students enrolled in 300+ programs across eight undergraduate colleges and the College of Graduate Studies. Middle Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
28. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Options for animators here include the Animation BSC and the Communication Media Arts MFA. The Animation BS takes the place of the Games and Animation emphasis area, and it provides access to the new Advanced Animation Lab.
The new curriculum includes digital techniques for 2D and 3D animation; animation for film/TV, video games, and VR/AR; hybrid animation techniques; narrative storytelling in animation; motion graphics for video; preproduction and postproduction for animation; animation for visual effects; and sound design for animation. Coursework for the program is complemented by capstone projects, study abroad opportunities, industry internships and other experiences, and participation in student organizations.
Examples of industry experiences include OHIO-in-LA, where students will live and work in Hollywood; attendance at South by Southwest; Storytelling in Theme Parks, which includes all access tickets, workshops, speakers, and behind-the-scene tours at Walt Disney World; Animation and Culture in Tokyo, where students will explore Tokyo’s animation scene and culture; and the 48-Hour Shoot-Out where students have just two days to write, direct, and shoot polished 5-minute film.
Graduates of Ohio University’s School of Media Arts & Studies are Animators, Motion Graphics Designers, 3D Artists, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Animation Production Assistants, Cinematic Artists, Video Editors, Multimedia Artists, Technical Artists, Art Directors, and Environmental Artists, among others.
The Communication Media Arts MFA at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary program provided in partnership with the schools of Visual Communication and Media Arts and Studies, and the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies in the E.W. Scripps College of Communication. 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, or Data Visualization and Infographics. In addition, all students must declare a Cognate Area outside of their production skills. Areas might include Film History, Media Studies, Educational Technologies, or Public Media.
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 Communication Media Arts MFA 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), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges that house 16 schools and dozens of departments.
29. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The School of Art at Louisiana State University (LSU) is part of the LSU College of Art and Design. The School has several pathways to study animation including BFA and MFA degrees in Studio Art with a Digital Art Concentration, a Digital Art BA, and the Master in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE).
For students in related majors seeking a digital art minor or those interested in a short program, the LSU School of Art has an arts-oriented Digital Media Art Minor (DMART) and a technology-oriented Digital Media Arts and Engineering Technology (DMAET) Minor. In addition to the School of Art, the DMAET Minor is provided in partnership with the Manship School of Mass Communication, the School of Music and the Departments of Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and English.
Both Minors are interdisciplinary and consist of 21 credit hours, including 12 credit hours of electives. Course examples across programs include Moving Image, 3D Animation, Interactive Computer Graphics, Video Game Design, Computer Music, and Screenwriting Workshop. A three credit hour Capstone is also part of both programs.
The LSU Studio Art-Digital Art BFA 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.
The Studio Art-Digital Art MFA is an experimental program that 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.
The interdisciplinary Master in DMAE is part of the College of Art & Design-School of Art and the College of Engineering. This intensive, two-year program explores Animation, Video Games, and VFX. Course examples include Principle Production Workshop, Digital Media Production & Project management, Advanced Programming & Digital Art, Interactive Production Team I-II, and Interactive Design, Rapid Prototyping, and Innovation. Electives allow students to take additional animation courses or other courses of interest. A Digital Media Internship also part of the Master in DMAE Program as well as a Capstone
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 have the opportunity to 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 more than 35,000 students enrolled in over 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).
30. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 30% of colleges considered)
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has several pathways to study animation. Housed in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ School of Literatures, Cultural Studies and Linguistics (LCSL) is the Moving Image Arts Minor. The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts’ School of Art & Art History is home to the Moving Image and New Media Arts BFA Programs, and the Art MFA Program.
The 18-20 credit hour Moving Image Arts Minor consists of courses such as Moving Image Arts, Filmmaking, and Communication Technologies. The Moving Image BFA 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 New Media Arts BFA 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 Art 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 Art MFA requires 64 credit hours to graduate.
University of Illinois at Chicago serves nearly 34,000 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).
31. 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, home to the Studio Art Program, which has a specialization in Animation and Digital Modeling. Programs in the School lead to a BA, BFA, or MFA in Studio Art. A 24 credit hour Minor in Studio Art is also available. All programs, including the minor, allow students to specialize in Animation and Digital Modeling.
All Studio Art students will explore 2D and 3D animation, digital imaging, video, games, film, fine art, and virtual 3D production. Course examples across pathways include Video, Animation, & Digital Arts (VADA) and Advanced VADA, Selected Topics in VADA, 3D Animation, Digital Modeling, Computer Animation, Tech Essentials, Visual Arts, RealWorld, 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 Studio Art Programs at University of South Florida have established careers in animation, television and film, advertising, art, education, science, medicine, and games, among others.
Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students at its campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. Students have access to 200+ undergraduate programs and over 150 graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. The degree programs at USF are offered across 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).
32. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa Top (35% of colleges considered)
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at University of Iowa (U of Iowa) houses the School of Art and Art History. Established in 1936, the School provides opportunities to study across disciplines. Within the School is the Department of Cinematic Arts, which also provides opportunities to study animation through several degree programs.
Degree options include the Cinema BA and Minor, the Film Studies MA, the MFA in Film and Video Production, and the Film Studies PhD. Across all programs, students may choose coursework that explores Animation, Experimental Film, Documentary Film, and Film Production. Course examples include Animation, Digital Production: Animation, Film/Video: Image Design, Video for Performance, Digital Arts, Modes of Film and Video Production, Screenwriting: Short Form, Film/Video Production: Video Games and Identity, Alternative Forms, and Film and Media Practicum. To learn about careers in film, all Department of Cinematic Arts students may enroll in Film/Video Production: The Business of Filmmaking.
Program highlights include workshops, group critiques, participation in film festivals, individual advising sessions, mock job interviews, and access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The University of Iowa Department of Cinematic Arts also offers ample opportunities to gain work experience through the internship program housed in the Pomerantz Career Center and the student-run Student Video Production (SVP) Club. In addition, the Department also hosts panels with faculty members and students may join EPX Studio—a student run organization that supports artists and their game, animation, and digital projects. The Studio also hosts trips to studios and conferences.
Graduates of the Film Programs at University of Iowa enter the job market with a professional portfolio of their best work. University of Iowa Film graduates can be found at studios, entertainment companies, and agencies in Hollywood, New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Milwaukee, among others.
University of Iowa was founded in 1847, making it the state’s oldest college. The school serves approximately 31,655 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate areas of study and 100+ graduate areas. Programs at U of Iowa are housed in 12 academic colleges. University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
33. 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 has two pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, students can earn a Kinetic Imaging BFA. At the graduate level, students can earn an MFA in Fine Arts with a Kinetic Imaging Concentration. Both programs are multidisciplinary and explore areas such as animation, video, virtual reality, emerging art, and sound.
BFA students will complete the studio-based Art Foundation Program (AFO) in the first year. This is a requirement for all undergraduate students in all art and design departments. After completing the AFO, students will advance to courses such as Animation I-IV, Virtual Interactive Worlds, 3D Computer Animation, and Sound Communication. The VCU Kinetic Imaging BFA takes four years to complete, full-time. Graduates of the program are 2D and 3D Animators, Directors, Sound Designers, Motion Graphics Artists, and UI/UX Designers, among others.
The Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging MFA is a 60 credit hour, studio-based program designed to support six-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 Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging MFA Program takes two years to complete, full-time.
Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University is a top 100 research university that serves more than 28,900 students. The largest employer in Richmond, Virginia, VCU offers more than 200 programs across 15+ colleges, schools, and centers. Virginia Commonwealth University accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
34. University of Connecticut, Storrs, Stamford, Connecticut (Top 35% of colleges considered)
The School of Fine Arts at University of Connecticut (UConn) houses the Digital Media & Design (DMD) Department and the Art and Art History Department. Both provide several pathways to study animation. The Art & Art History Department has an Art BFA Program with an Illustration/Animation Concentration. The DMD Department has a 3D Animation BFA and Digital Media & Design BA Program, which provides the opportunity to take 15 credit hours of electives in 3D Animation. The DMD also has a Motion Design & Animation (MDA) BFA Program.
Across programs, students enjoy collaborative and project based-learning, and access to state-of-the-art facilities in the UConn Bishop Center. Facilities include a high-powered Cintiq computer lab for high-end 3D work, a speedy render farm, and a brand new 688 ft Motion Capture studio. In addition, graduates enjoy a high employment rate. Most graduates are offered positions within six months of graduation.
The Art BFA-Illustration/Animation requires 66 art/design credits, 12 art history credits, and 42 credits general education credits. Students will create projects in both digital and analog environments including 2-D and stop-motion animation; character and environment design; comics, cartoons, and graphic novels; book, editorial, institutional, and children’s illustration; design for products; and self-promotion. Graduates are prepared for careers in these areas and many others.
Program alumni are employed at major studios and companies such as Pixar, Google Creative, Stoopid Buddy Studios, YouTube Gaming, and Lego.
The 3D Animation BFA Program explores all areas of animation production including compositing for visual effects, simulations and visualizations, modeling, animation, lighting, rendering, and rigging. Courses focus on the core principles of 3D animation. Examples include 3D Animation I, 3D Modeling, Lighting & Rendering II, and Motion Graphics I.
Graduates of the 3D Animation BFA Program are Animators, 3D Specialists, Video Game Artists, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Medical and Scientific Animators, and Advertising Designers and Animators. Program alumni have gone on to work at Epic Games, NBC Sports Group, Blur Studio, Twitter, Greenhouse Studios, and Matter Communications.
MDA BFA students will learn to animate and design for entertainment, marketing, communications, and emerging media, such as augmented reality, digital media & performance, scientific visualization, UI/UX, projection mapping, and social media content creation.
MDA graduates and students have landed positions and paid internships at animation and design studios such as AW Design, DW Advertising, Fusion 360, and XVIVO | 3D Animation & Illustration as well as major companies and studios such as NBC Universal, Adobe, Viacom, CBS 2 News, World Wide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE,) ESPN, and NBC Sports Group.
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 approximately 32,150 students across the main campus at Storrs, and four regional campuses. Programs at UConn are provided across 14 colleges and schools. Offerings include eight undergraduate degrees with 120 majors, 17 graduate degrees in 92 fields of study, and six professional degree programs.
University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). UConn School of Fine Arts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD).
35. Rutgers University Camden, Camden, New Jersey (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Rutgers University Camden (Rutgers-Camden) is home to the College of Arts and Sciences. The largest academic unit at Rutgers-Camden, the College of Arts and Sciences provides opportunities to gain hands-on experience through experiential learning, internships, and study abroad experience.
Within Arts and Sciences is the Visual, Media, and Performing Arts (VMPA) Department, which has one pathway to study animation—the Art BA Program. Students have the opportunity to Concentrate in Animation—the fastest growing section of the VMPA Art Program. Program highlights include access to three on-campus laboratories outfitted with state-of-the-art networked computers, post-production units, and 2D/3D and editing software; internship opportunities; and study abroad experiences.
The Animation Concentration consists of 21 focused credit hours. Students may also explore video game design, 3D modeling and printing, and character rigging through electives or they can add a minor in an area such as Painting & Drawing, Graphic Design, Computer Science, Film, Digital Studies, or Art History.
Required courses for the Art BA/Animation include Computer Animation I-II, Classical Animation, Effects and Production, Storyboard and Character Design, and Character Animation. Animation students must complete Animation Capstone I-II to graduate.
Graduates of the Rutgers University Camden Animation Program have been hired at Digital Domain, Disney, Warner Brothers, Psyop, Ubisoft Entertainment, and BBC Earth, among others. Alumni credits include (but are not limited to) Frozen, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Assassin’s Creed Unity (video game), Ice Age, Happy Feet, and Sesame Street 3D.
Rutgers University Camden is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Founded in 1766, Rutgers is the 8th oldest university in the U.S. New Jersey’s land-grant university, Rutgers has locations in all 21 New Jersey counties. Camden was founded in 1926 as South Jersey Law School and the College of South Jersey. SJLS & the CSJ merged with Rutgers University in 1950, and became Rutgers University Camden.
Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and serving approximately 6,075 students today, Rutgers University Camden offers nearly 70 degree programs across four colleges and schools.
36. 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) of Ferris State University (Ferris or Ferris State) has Digital Art and Design BFA that provides opportunities to develop a portfolio in 2D Animation, Interaction Design, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, or Visual Development. A Digital Art and Design Minor consisting of five courses is also available.
The Digital Art and Design BFA combines imaging, animation, sound, and interactivity. The program, which has focus options in Multimedia Design and Entertainment Art, requires 120 credit hours of study. Multimedia Design students will take courses that explore interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, video and motion design animation. Entertainment Art students will take courses that explore 2D animation, 3D game art, and concept and production art for animation and games.
Graduates of the Digital Art and Design Programs at Kendall College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue 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.
KCAD alumni hold positions at places such as Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, YouTube, and R/GA New York. KCAD alumni have also been accepted into graduate programs at the 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 more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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 565 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. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
37. California State University, Chico, Chico, California (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Computer Animation and Game Development (CAGD) is one of the top 10 largest majors at California State University, Chico. Established in 1999 as the Applied Computer Graphics Program, The CAGD Program is housed in the College of Engineering, Computer Science & Construction Management. Highlights for this 120-unit program include the opportunity to complete an internship, access to labs, workshops, and studios, and study abroad experiences in Germany and other destinations. The CAGD Program leads to a BS in CAGD. Minors in Applied Computer Graphics and Video Game Design (both require 21 units of study) are also available.
CAGD BS students must choose an Animation Production or Game Development Option, and five courses from an Interdisciplinary Program Area. Options include Media Arts, Design, and Technology, Art Studio, and Computer Science. The Animation Production Option combines coursework in Art Studio or Communication Design, with Graphics and Animation. Both options explore game scripting, media arts design and technology, and computer science. Course topics may include 3D Animation and Character Animation, 3D Modeling, Motion Capture, Video Character Modeling, and Team Production Development.
Students in all CAGD Programs have access to the in-house motion capture studio, and they may participate in the student-run Computer Graphics Club (CGC). Chico State alumni work in game development, animation, CGI/VFX, or other areas at major studios such as Blizzard, Pixar, Epic Games, Zynga, Disney, Sony Imageworks, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts (EA), and WetaFX, among others.
The College of Humanities & Fine Arts at California State University, Chico (Chico State) houses the Department of Art & Art History, which has an additional option for animators—the Art Studio BFA with Digital Media Concentration. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the program has three focus areas: Time-Based Media, Digital illustration, and Fine Arts. While all focus areas provide opportunities to study animation through required coursework and electives, the most popular option for animators is Time-based Media. This focus area explores stop-motion animation, hand-drawn animation, digital filmmaking, and computer-assisted 2D animation.
Graduates of the Art Studio BFA at Chico State will leave the program with an industry-ready portfolio of their work. Program alumni are animators, studio owners, game artists, illustrators, freelance artists, film directors, digital artists, graphic designers, editors, and art directors, among others.
Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico serves 13,840 students from 43 nations, 30 states, and one U.S. territory. Chico State offers more than 350 programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 22 centers and institutes. California State University, Chico is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
38. University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts and Sciences at University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is home to the Department of Art and Art History, which houses the interdisciplinary Digital Arts Program. Within the Program are two pathways for animators including the Digital Arts BA and a Minor. The Digital Arts BA has an optional Concentration in Interactive Graphics. Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Computer Science (CS) Program. CS student can add a Digital Arts Concentration, which leads to a BS in CS/Digital Art.
Students in the interdisciplinary Digital Arts BA Program will learn to design 3D graphics and interactive user experiences for film animation, VR/AR, digital art, games, and 3D animation applications. Course examples include Computer Animation, Computer Gaming, Digital Visual Effects, Life Drawing, Visual Design for Multimedia, and Computer Graphics Programming. A Digital Arts Capstone (Portfolio Project) is also part of the program. Students will complete the Capstone during the last year in the major and present it in a campus venue.
The UNCW BS in CS/Digital Art Program requires 55 credit hours in the CS Core and 24 credit hours of study in the concentration. Course examples for the program include Computer Networks, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Programming Languages, and Software Engineering. In the concentration, students may take courses such as Computer Animation, Film Production, Digital Video Production, 3D Computer Graphics, Multimedia Systems, Graphic Design, and Tools & Literacy.
Graduates of the Digital Arts Programs at University of North Carolina Wilmington are prepared to pursue positions at animation, VFX, and game design studios; graphic design firms; companies that specialize in using VR/AR for entertainment, training, and education; video production companies; and places that utilize HCI such as theaters, galleries, and museums, architectural firms, and engineering companies.
Established in 1946, University of North Carolina Wilmington is part of the part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. The school serves approximately 17,845 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five colleges and schools. The University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC).
39. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indianapolis, Indiana (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Luddy School of Informatics, Computing & Engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has a Media Arts & Science Program with two undergraduate pathways to study animation: the Media Arts & Science BS with a 3D Graphics and Animation Specialization, and the 3D Graphics and Animation Minor.
The IUPUI Luddy School Media Arts & Science BS requires 120 credit hours of study. The Minor requires 15 credit hours. Examples of courses across programs include Advanced 3D Character Animation, 3D Compositing and Visual Effects, Stop-Motion Animation, Storyboarding for Multimedia, 2D Animation, Character Design and Animation, Digital Storytelling, Creature and Character Design for Videogames, Comics, Film, and Animation, Digital Effects, Design Issues in Digital Media, 3D Prototyping for Application in Medicine, Motion Graphics, Visualizing Information, and Stereoscopic Production and Display.
Students in the Luddy School IUPUI BS Program will complete the Career Planning, Portfolio Development, and Multimedia Project Development courses. While the Capstone Project Internship is strongly recommended, 3D Graphics and Animation students may complete the Mentorship or Bridge to Industry courses instead. Should a student choose the Capstone Project Internship, they will have the opportunity to develop a work in a professional setting to be presented at an exhibition.
Graduates of the Media Arts & Science/Animation Programs at IUPUI are 2D and 3D Animators, Technical Animators, Medical Animators, Compositors, Game Production Artists, Creative Directors, Digital Designers, Film Production Artists, Architectural Visualization Artists, Motion Graphics Artists, Visual Effects Artists, and AR/VR Designers. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) alumni have been hired at major studios such as Pixar Animation Studios, EA Sports, Digital Domain, Sony Pictures ImageWorks, and Rockstar Games.
Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI houses the Department of Computer Information and Graphics Technology (CIGT), which has an additional program option for students who wish to pursue a career in animation. The Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) Program here features an Animation and Spatial Graphics plan of study consisting of 120 credit hours of study. This unique Track requires courses such as Computer Animation, Visual Effects in Film and Animation, Sketching for Visualization and Communication, Animation Preproduction, Production for Computer Animation, Motion for Computer Animation, Digital Lighting and Rendering for Computer Animation, Digital Post Production, and Raster Imaging for Computer Graphics.
CGT/Animation and Spatial Graphics students will have the opportunity to enhance the degree program through 25 required credit hours of selective and technical electives. A Career Enrichment Internship is part of the program as well as the Senior Design Project. Graduates of the CGT Program at IUPUI are prepared to pursue a variety of careers. Potential titles include 3D Animator, Motion Designer, Multimedia Designer, 3D Production Artist, Themed Attraction & Experience Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and Computer Graphics Trainer and Educator.
Indiana University (est. 1820) and Purdue University (est. 1869) merged in 1969 to create what is known today as Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The school serves approximately 27,690 students enrolled in more than 550 degrees and majors across 17 degree-granting schools. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
40. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan (Top 40% of colleges considered)
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) houses the Department of Visual & Media Arts. An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department serves nearly 700 students enrolled in five programs leading to ten different degrees. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed for work in traditional and new media; experiential learning opportunities such as internships, study abroad, and field trips; visiting artists; and campus exhibition and independent study programs.
The Department of Visual & Media Arts at GVSU also has two pathways to study animation including the BA and BS in Film and Video Production. Both programs explore animation, scriptwriting, film studies, sound design, new media, nonfiction, documentary, and fiction.
While both the BA and BS pathways prepare students for careers in the industry, the BA requires proficiency in a foreign language and the BS requires three courses in Computer Information Systems, History or Statistics. All courses are taught by working professionals in the field. Other program benefits include membership in several student organizations, the opportunity to present work at local screening events, and the opportunity to complete production projects for clients outside of the classroom.
GVSU Film and Video Production students have worked with or interned at DreamWorks Animation, Voyage Pictures, Contact Light Films, 52 Watt Studios, Match Frame Creative, A2 Creative, D-Squared Creative, Coastline Studios, M-1 Studios, Detroit Public Television, and Allied Productions, among others. Grand Valley State University alumni are often hired by many of these studios and firms.
Grand Valley State University was established in 1960. With eight regional campuses and centers, GVSU serves approximately 21,650 students enrolled in 145 degree programs across seven schools and eight locations throughout Michigan. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).