2024

What are the top public animation schools of 2024?

Top 40 Public Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S. – 2024 College Rankings
RankingSchoolState%
1University of California, Los AngelesCalifornia Top 1%
2Texas A&M UniversityTexasTop 2%
3University of Central FloridaFloridaTop 3%
4The Ohio State UniversityOhio Top 4%
5San Jose State UniversityCalifornia Top 5%
6University of Texas at DallasTexas Top 6%
7Massachusetts College of Art and DesignMassachusetts Top 7%
8Purdue UniversityIndiana Top 8%
9California State University, FullertonCalifornia Top 9%
10Arizona State UniversityArizona Top 10%
11Florida State UniversityFloridaTop 15%
12University of Colorado, DenverColorado Top 15%
13California State University, Long BeachCalifornia Top 15%
14Clemson UniversitySouth Carolina Top 15%
15University of FloridaFloridaTop 15%
16California State University, Los AngelesCalifornia Top 20%
17New Mexico State UniversityNew MexicoTop 20%
18Ball State UniversityIndiana Top 20%
19Bowling Green State UniversityOhio Top 20%
20California State University, NorthridgeCalifornia Top 20%
21University of North Carolina School of the ArtsNorth CarolinaTop 25%
22Middle Tennessee State UniversityTennessee Top 25%
23North Carolina State UniversityNorth CarolinaTop 25%
24Ohio UniversityOhio Top 25%
25University of WashingtonWashingtonTop 25%
26Sam Houston State UniversityTexas Top 30%
27East Tennessee State UniversityTennessee Top 30%
28Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Top 30%
29University of South FloridaFloridaTop 30%
30University of Illinois at ChicagoIllinois Top 30%
31California State University, ChicoCalifornia Top 35%
32University of Wisconsin – StoutWisconsin Top 35%
33Louisiana State UniversityLouisiana Top 35%
34University of Maryland Baltimore CountyMaryland Top 35%
35Ferris State University Michigan Top 35%
36Pennsylvania Western University, EdinboroPennsylvania Top 40%
37Rutgers University, CamdenNew Jersey Top 40%
38Indiana University IndianapolisIndiana Top 40%
39Utah Valley UniversityUtah Top 40%
40University of South CarolinaSouth CarolinaTop 40%

Our 2024 list -our thirteenth 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)
University of California Los Angeles

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to one of the oldest animation programs in the U.S. Leading to an MFA and known as the UCLA Animation Workshop, this competitive program accepts just 12 students each year. Part of the School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT)-Department of Film, Television & Digital Media (FTVDM), the three-year Animation Workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end.

Program features include immersive studies in CG technologies within the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio; personalized instruction by celebrated industry professionals; and the opportunity to develop individual projects across styles from traditional to computer to experimental.

All UCLA Animation Workshop students will complete a combination of required courses; two Cinema Media Studies program (CMS) courses; one live-action course; and several electives. Course examples include Animation Design; Computer Animation for Film; Cinematography; Interactive Animation; Viewing and Reading Media; Animation Seminar; Introduction to Experimental Film; The Disney Feature: Then and Now (elective); Real Time Animation: Puppetry Arts; Advanced Animation (Character Animation); Advanced Animation (Writing for the Animated TV Series); and Legal Issues in Animation.

To graduate from the UCLA Animation Workshop, every student will complete one traditional film one computer film, one interactive project, and one thesis film (if needed).

At the undergraduate level, School of TFT/FTVDM has a Film, Television & Digital Media BA with a concentration in Animation Cinema and Media Studies. Like all Animation Workshop students, students in the BA program at UCLA have access to the Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio, as well as courses such as Film Editing; Screenwriting; and Introduction to Digital Media and Tools.

The Film, Television & Digital Media BA culminates with a professional internship.

Graduates of the animation and film programs at University of California Los Angeles are prepared to pursue leadership roles and others at major companies and studios across the U.S. and abroad. School of TFT alumni have been hired at studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Nickelodeon.  

Founded on May 23, 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, UCLA serves 46,430 students from more than 100 countries. More than 250 programs are provided across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

2. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 2% of colleges considered)
Texas A&M University

The School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts (PVFA) at Texas A&M University (TAMU) is a multidisciplinary school that provides cross-disciplinary programs in music, film, theater, dance, visualization, and production. Across programs, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and studios; courses taught by faculty who are accomplished directors, computer graphics engineers, composers, sound technologists, art historians, and dancers; and student organizations such as Women in Animation, Viz Industry Fair (VIF), and Texas Aggie Game Developers (TAGD).

Within the TAMU School of PVFA is a Visualization program that was established nearly 35 years ago. Three pathways are available for students who would like to pursue a career in animation. These include BS, MS, and MFA degrees 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.

All options allow students to explore computer graphics, interaction, design, visualization, and art. Students at all levels may focus in an area of emphasis. Options for BS students include Animation and Virtual Production, Visual Computing, Media Art, Game Creation, and Interactive Design.

Students in this program will have the opportunity to work in project-based studios on courses that explore art theory, technical skills, programming, and the production pipeline. Course examples include Digital Media; Scientific and Technological Developments in Visual Arts; 2D Visualization Techniques; Visual Studies Studio 1-3; Art History; Computing for Visualization I-II; and Principles of Design 1-3. BS students may also participate in the Field Study course or sign up for the TAMU Internship Program. This supervised work experience spans 15 weeks and 600 hours. TAMU Visualization students have completed internships at animation, game, and graphic design companies. Students earn six credit hours.

TAMU Visualization MS students may focus in one of eight areas of emphasis. These include Computer Animation, Interactive Design, Virtual Reality (VR), Gaming, Augmented Reality (AR), User Experience Design, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization. This program has both thesis (32 credit hours) and non-thesis (36 credit hours) options.

Free electives allow MS students in both options to acquire additional advanced skills in their focus area and others. Elective examples include Advanced Animation; 3D Modeling and Animation; Computer Aided Sculpting; Design Communication I-II; Form, Installation, and Environment; Physical Computing for Art & Design; and Image Synthesis.

The Visualization MFA program at TAMU focuses on technological applications and innovations, collaborative projects, and team-building. Students in this program select from eight areas of emphasis including Visual Storytelling, Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR), Gaming, Interactive Art, User Experience Design, and Data Visualization.

Students in all emphasis areas will take courses such as Contemporary Art Studio/Seminar; Professional Study; and Professional Practice. Other courses will come from a long list of prescriber and free electives. Examples include 3D Modeling and Animation; Computer Animation; Digital image; Color Photography; Multi-Media Web Design; Physical Computing for Art & Design; and Generative Art. Students in both the MS and MFA programs also have the opportunity to complete a professional internship. Graduate internships are worth eight credits.

In addition, select Visualization graduate students will have the opportunity to participate in a Summer Industry Workshop. Students in this intensive course will work with professionals from major animation studios to produce professional-grade short films. The course takes place all day, every day, for 10 weeks.

Across all TAMU Visualization programs, students will have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Career Fair, and the Semester Away Program in Italy, Germany, and other countries.

Graduates of the Texas A&M University Visualization programs will enter the job market with a polished portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared for careers across industries. However, Visualization graduates are routinely hired for positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Reel FX Animation.

With approximately 77,490 students, Texas A&M University the largest university in the state and one the largest in the nation. Established in 1876, TAMU is also the state’s first public institution of higher learning. With two Texas campuses, a Health Science Center, and a campus in Doha, Quatar, Texas A&M houses 16 colleges and schools that provide approximately 415 degree programs. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (Top 3% of colleges considered)
University of Central Florida

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 tracks in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The MFA in Emerging Media has an Animation and Visual Effects Track.

Character Animation and Experimental Animation are portfolio-based, highly competitive tracks that take place in a studio-environment that mirrors today’s professional studios. Students in both tracks also benefit from faculty mentors; courses taught by industry professionals and in multiple areas such as storytelling, technology, art, and design; access to state-of-the-art production labs; and internship opportunities.

Course examples for the Character Animation track include Advanced 3D Animation; Digital Effects and Compositing; New Imagery in Motion Workshop; 3D Textures; Visual Storytelling and Visual Development; Digital Production in Artificial Environments; and Character Animation Portfolio Review.

Course examples for the Experimental Animation track include Advanced Experimental Animation; Experimental Animation Workshop; Experimental Animation Professional Practice; and Experimental Animation Portfolio. Students in this track will also complete the BFA thesis project with exhibition/screening.

Both BFA tracks allow students to work their way through the production pipeline from story creation to film completion. After completing general education and other program requirements, the Emerging Media tracks take two years to complete, full-time.

The Emerging Media MFA with an Animation & Visual Effects track is a 60 credit hour program that focuses on narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspects of animation as it relates to independent filmmaking, studio employment, and job creation. Program benefits include 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; co-directing opportunities; and access to state-of-the-art labs and studios. This competitive program requires 60 credit hours of study, completed over three years, full-time.

Graduates of the Emerging Media programs at University of Central Florida 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 graduate 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 Interactive Entertainment MS that provides the opportunity for students to compete and internship and work in production teams mentored by industry professionals. These mentors provide instruction in areas such as 3D animation and modeling, software engineering, game design, motion capture, technical art, and creative collaboration.

The Interactive Entertainment MS requires 30 credit hours of study, including 12 credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours in a specialization (Art, Production or Programming), a practicum, and a capstone experience. The Capstone results in a large-scale project that will be presented at a special event for the FIEA community and invited guests.

Graduates of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at University of Central Florida are prepared to pursue careers at major studios across the U.S. and abroad. Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as Universal, Blizzard Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Marvel, Sony, Walt Disney Imagineering, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts (EA), DreamWorks, Google, Microsoft Studios, and Zynga.  

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 approximately 68,440 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the state of Florida, and one of the top 10 largest universities in the U.S. The school provides 243 bachelor’s degrees, 219 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).

4. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 4% of colleges considered)
The Ohio State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses more than 20 centers and institutes, 38 departments and schools, and over 2,000 faculty and staff members. The College provides more than 250 majors, minors, certificates, and graduate programs to approximately 19,310 students. Among the many programs in the College of Arts and Sciences are several paths to study animation. These include the Moving Image Production (MIP) BA; BFA and MFA degrees in Art and Technology; and an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track.

Established in 2017, the MIP BA is an interdisciplinary program and a collaboration between The Departments of Art; Theatre, Film, and Media Arts; 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 I & II Group Studies in Digital Animation and Interactive Media; Concept Development for Time-Based Media; Motion Studies Through Hand-Drawn Animation; Animation Techniques and Practices; Computer Animation: Form, Light and Motion; Procedural Animation; Designing Immersive Virtual Environments; and Motion Capture Production and Experimentation.

OSU MIP students are also required to take a 15 credit hour Film Studies Minor as part of the program. Students will also have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses through electives; complete an internship; and participate in the school’s study abroad program. Possible locations include London, Prague, Rome, Germany, Dublin, and Copenhagen.

Part of the Department of Art, the Art and Technology BFA is an interdisciplinary program that explores everything from 3D modeling and animation to electronics/robotics/animatronics. Course examples include Computer Animation; Graphic Novel – Web Comic Production; Moving Image Art; Art & Technology Studio Practice; Digital Imaging; New Media Robotics; Video Art; and Internet Art.

Art and Technology MFA students will engage in project-based learning, while creating 3D animations, virtual reality, sound, interactive installations, and more.

Students in both options have access to dedicated labs, state-of-the-art facilities, and collaborative spaces for producing animations, moving image art, interactive and robotic art, game art, internet art, and more.

The Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track within the MFA program is part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Design. Students in this program will complete 60 credit hours of study in design over three years. Course and elective examples include Graduate Studio; Exploration in Graduate Design Studies; Virtual Modeling; Aspects of Art and Technology; and Computer Game Art and Design.

In the final year of the Digital Animation and Interactive Media program at OSU, students will complete two Thesis Writing courses, and two Thesis Project Development courses to graduate. These courses culminate with the Project Exhibition and Oral Defense.

Graduates of the MIP, Art and Technology, and Digital Animation Programs at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue roles across industries such as entertainment, advertising, education, architecture, medical, and legal. Program alumni are Animators, CG Generalists, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers, Art Directors, Design Educators, Interaction Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Freelance Artists, Multimedia Designers, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designers, User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Designers, Game Designers, and Visual Communication Designers.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves 65,795 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 provided across 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
San Jose State University

The College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the Design Department and the Department of Art and Art History. The Design Department has three paths to study animation: the Animation/Illustration BFA (ANI BFA), the Design Studies BA, and a Master of Design (MDes) with a Specialization in Animation. The Department of Art and Art History has an Art MFA with a Digital Media Art (DMA) concentration.

The Art/DMA graduate program is provided in partnership with CADRE (Computer in Art, Design, Research, and Education).  Established in 1985, CADRE is the second oldest education art media lab in the U.S. MIT’s Media Lab was the first. CADRE houses the Physical Computing Lab (Art 237) and the Game Development Lab (Art 241) on the San Jose State University campus.

The SJSU ANI BFA is a professional degree that explores traditional and 3D animation, storyboarding, visual development, character design, modeling, and physics of motion. 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 Digital Animation I-II; Visual Development I-II; Animation Production – Storyboarding; and Digital Modeling I-II.

Students in both specializations will take courses such as Drawing for Animation/Illustration; Visual Storytelling; 2D Animation I-II; Illustration Fundamentals I-III; Color Principles for Screen Arts; and All ANI BFA students must also pass a milestone portfolio review and complete the six-unit capstone Senior Seminar Animation/Illustration.

The SJSU Design Studies BA is a liberal arts degree that requires a specialization. If a student was admitted to the ANI BFA program, but did not pass the portfolio review, they may enroll in the Design BA with a specialization in Animation and Illustration. Even without the specialization, the Design BA provides plenty of opportunities to study animation. Course examples for the program include 2D Animation; Digital Apps: Motion & Interaction Design; Fundamentals of Graphic Visualization; Design Process; Illustration Fundamentals; Visualization I-II; and Sketching, Drawing + Modeling.

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 emphasizes technical courses such as Building Interactivity in Animation and Games; CG Animation; and Lighting and Rendering.

An additional program benefit is SJSU’s partnership with industry professionals who provide mentoring as MDes students work on their portfolio and final projects.

The multidisciplinary Art MFA with a DMA concentration 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 DMA MFA program benefits include exclusive 24/7 access to lab facilities; collaborative art and technology projects; and internship opportunities at major companies and studios throughout Silicon Valley. Consisting of 60 units of study, the DMA MFA culminates with the MFA Project, worth three units.

Across all programs, students have access to state-of-the-art studios; courses taught by industry professionals; and internship and study abroad opportunities. Students also benefit from interactions with guest speakers from major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, and Hallmark.  

Graduates of the A/I, DMA, and Design Studies programs at San Jose State University are prepared to pursue roles at major studios, top academic institutions, and any industry that utilizes animation, illustration, digital media, and games. To date, SJSU alumni have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Examples include Disney Interactive, the Cogswell Institute, Sony Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment, Pixar, Animation Mentor, Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, 20th Century Fox, and Zynga.

San Jose State University was established in 1857. Located in the center of Silicon Valley, SJSU serves approximately 35,800 students enrolled in 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are provided across nine colleges and dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

6. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 6% of colleges considered)
University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) is home to the Harry W. Bass Jr. School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology (Bass School). Founded in 1975, the Bass School houses the first arts and technology degree in Texas. Launched in 2002, Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at UT Dallas today consists of BA, MA, and MFA degrees. ATEC students can also earn a PhD.

For undergraduates seeking an animation degree, the ATEC BA has an Animation and Games (A&G) concentration. 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; Game Design; Modeling and Texturing; Rigging; Lighting and Composition; and Level Design.

A&G students will also complete 30 semester credit hours of required electives. Examples include Motion Capture Animation; Animation Studies; Game Production Lab; Virtual Environments; Animation Lab; Procedural Animation; and Project Management for ATEC.

MA and PhD students may focus their studies and research in animation, science and technology, games, or other areas. ATEC MFA students may specialize in Animation or Creative Practice. All graduate level programs provide advanced study in computer-based arts, interactive media, technology, digital media, 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 Bass School research labs and creative practice 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, where they can participate in a simulated animated studio experience (SASE). Over two semesters, a crew of 40 SASE students will write, design, direct, and produce a two-minute CG animated short film. Examples of past productions include Bad Timing (2022), Octo Ninja (2021), Night Shift (2020), and Stargazer (2019).

Graduates of the ATEC programs at UT Dallas are prepared to pursue careers across industries and in areas such as 3D computer animation, film and television, games, modeling and simulation, virtual environments, and medical and scientific visualization. A variety of major companies and studios have hired ATEC alumni. Examples include Disney, Blizzard Entertainment, Cisco Systems, Texas Instruments, Gearbox Software, AT&T Foundry, id Software, JP Morgan Chase, and 900lbs of Creative.

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, and a Carnegie R1 Doctoral Institution. The school serves more than 31,000 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across seven schools. University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

7. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 7% of colleges considered)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) has an Animation BFA program that emphasizes experimentation, collaboration, studio-based learning. Housed in the Animation Department, the program takes place across 20 state-of-the-art classrooms, studios, and labs dedicated to animation. The BFA begins with the foundation year, which consists of courses such as Thinking, Making, Writing: Using Words with Clarity and Flair; Time; Studio for Drawing; Form Study; Visual Language; and Drawing Projects.

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 include Figurative Clay Construction; Design for Animators; Media Techniques; Animation 1: Basics; Color for Painting; Animation 2: Experiments; Introduction to Digital 2D Animation; Life Drawing; and Human Figure in Illustration.

In the final years of the Animation BFA program at MassArt, students will focus primarily on studio electives such as Puppet Animation & Fabrication; Sound Design for Animators; and 3DCG Character Animation, along with advanced coursework such as Animation 3: Communication, and Animation 4: Production. Students will also complete an animation portfolio and the final animation project, while finishing any liberal arts and art history coursework. In addition, a professional internship may be completed during this time.

Graduates of the Animation BFA program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue a wide range of positions in industries such as film and animation, digital art, advertising and marketing, and design. Program alumni are also prepared to launch their own studios or freelance careers. MassArt alumni hold titles such as Director, Cartoonist, Designer, Composer, Visual Artist, Art Educator/Professor, Comic Book Creator, Illustrator, Painter, Producer, and Screenwriter.  

Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the nation’s first and only public college of art and design. Founded in 1873, the school serves approximately 1,785 students enrolled more than 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs. Approximately 155 continuing education students are enrolled in over 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).

8. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Purdue University

Purdue University (Purdue) is home to Purdue Polytechnic Institute (Purdue Polytechnic). Formally organized in 1964 as the School of Technology, Purdue Polytechnic houses the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT). Within the CGT Department are several paths to study animation. Options include a CGT BS with a major in Animation and Visual Effects (ANFX); the CGT MS; and a 5-Year CGT BS/MS. The CGT MS participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.

The CGT BS in ANFX focuses on 3D Modeling, Character Rigging, Lighting, Motion, Rendering, and Texturing. Students will also explore Video, Digital Lighting, Audio, and Computer Rendering. Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, so students will also take courses in Calculus, Trigonometry, and Physics. Throughout the program, students will create animated films, games, and other related productions using industry software such as Maya and Autodesk. Students also have the opportunity to experiment with other types of animation software.

The CGT BS in ANFX requires 120 credit hours, including 39 major course credits, 15 entertainment electives, 52 in other departmental requirements, and 14 elective credits. Course examples include Animation Foundations; Sketching for Visualization and Communication; Technical Writing; Visual Effects; Computer Animation; Business Writing; and Computer Graphics Professional Practices I and II.

Graduates of Purdue Polytechnic’s CGT BS in Animation and Visual Effects are routinely hired at major studios such as Walt Disney and DreamWorks. Some program alumni go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor, while others have launched their own studios and freelance businesses.

The CGT MS at Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute serves around 90 students. The program has four primary focus areas: Computer Animation, Games, Information Visualization, and UX Design. This highly flexible, interdisciplinary program also provides opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs or develop a customized plan of study that includes computational art, computer graphics programming, and other areas.

MS students who would like to focus in Computer Animation will explore the entire digital animation process. The program also explores game studies, virtual reality, and visual effects. Course examples include The Art and Technology of Computer Animation; Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology; Visual Intelligence and Perception; and The Development of Graphics in Technology. Elective requirements also allow students to explore other areas of interest.

Students may choose the Animation Research Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the non-thesis option will complete the Animation Capstone (Production). Graduates of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute CGT MS program are prepared for leadership and other roles across industries. Examples include Lead Animator, Technical Director, Senior Simulation and Visualization Specialist, Animation Director, Game Developer, Art Director, and Lead Technical Artist.

Program alumni have been hired at companies and studios such as DreamWorks, Google, Deloitte, and Salesforce. CGT MS graduates are also eligible to apply to the Technology PhD program. Also housed in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue Polytechnic, the PhD supports study and research in Computer Animation, Game Studies, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Digital Enterprise Systems, User Experience (UX) Design, and Data Visualization.

Graduates of the CGT PhD Program at Purdue University go on to pursue leadership positions in in industries such as entertainment, technology, education, science, medicine, and government.

Established in 1869, Purdue University is Indiana’s only land-grant university. Serving approximately 60,240 students, Purdue is also the second largest university in the state. Students hail from all 50 states and more than 135 countries. Purdue University provides more than 400 programs across 11 academic colleges and schools. Approximately 11% of all students at Purdue are enrolled at Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 9% of colleges considered)
California State University

California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton or CSUF) houses the College of the Arts, home to Department of Visual Arts. This National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD)-accredited Department features partnerships with major studios such as Walt Disney and Nickelodeon. Visual Arts students also benefit from experiential learning through exhibitions, visiting artists, internships, and external projects; and access to the Visual Arts Complex, which houses state-of-the-art animation, illustration, drawing, and painting studios.

The Visual Arts Department also provides eight studio concentrations. This includes an Art BFA with a concentration in Entertainment Art/Animation.

Students in this 132-unit program will complete 36 units in the concentration. Course examples include Principles of Animation; Intermediate Character Animation; 3D Animation; Design for Interactive Art; Video Art and Moving Image; Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation; Elements of Sequential Art; Digital narrative Illustration; and Cartooning and Caricature. Studio Art electives allow students to explore other areas of art such as sculpture, photography, printmaking, and even glass casting.

In addition to a wide selection of course options, the Cal State Fullerton Art BFA program includes Group Projects, Independent Research, and internship opportunities at major studios. The program culminates with the BFA Capstone: Game Art, Animation and Immersive Media, worth three credits.

Graduates of the Entertainment Art/Animation BFA program at Cal State Fullerton alumni have worked on productions such as Avatar, The Simpsons, Spiderman 3, SpongeBob Squarepants, Ice Age 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Superman Returns. BFA alumni also hold positions at major studios such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Disney Feature Animation, Electronic Arts (EA), Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm, and Sony Games.

Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving more than 41,000 students, CSUF provides 110 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across eight academic colleges. California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

10. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 10% of colleges considered)
Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) provides several paths to study animation across several institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the School of Art; the School of Arts, Media and Engineering; the Design School; The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; ASU FIDM; the School of Music, Dance and Theater; and the ASU Art Museum.

The Herberger School of Art provides 13 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs. Minors are provided in Art History and Studio Art. Pathways for animators include the 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 is available, as well as an 18 credit hour Digital Culture certificate. 

The Art BFA with a concentration in Animation consists of 120 credit hours of study. Course examples include The Art Experience; 3D Computer Imaging and Animation; Illustration; Animation Motion Studies; Storyboarding and Narrative Sequencing; and Junior Animation Projects I-II. Elective options for this program allow students to gain experience in other areas such as visual effects (VFX), game art and graphics, stop motion animation, screenwriting, prototyping, and experimental video art.

Other BFA program benefits include internship opportunities and the Animation Capstone completed across two courses. This culminating experience for the program consists of an independent short film or a full-length film produced as a team.

Art MFA students at ASU Herberger have the opportunity to complete projects in a discipline of their choice. Examples include animation, drawing and painting, intermedia, printmaking, and photography. All MFA students have access to private, state-of-the-art studio space at Grant Street Studios. Located in downtown Phoenix, the facility is also home to several galleries and resources such as a computer lab and 3D print lab, printmaking presses, and a photography darkroom. Other program highlights include workshops, visiting artist lectures; and teaching opportunities.

The Art MFA program at Arizona State University culminates in a solo thesis exhibition in Step Gallery, Northlight Gallery, or Harry Wood Gallery. All galleries are part of the School of Art.

Graduates of the Art BFA/Animation and MFA programs at Arizona State University are professionals in a range of creative, technical, and scientific industries. Examples include animation and film, robotics, medical illustration, scientific and data visualization, games and game development, cinema and television, AR/VR, illustration, and fine arts. ASU alumni hold titles such as Animators, Creative Director, VFX Artist, Multimedia Designer, Art Director, and Graphic Artist.

The Digital Culture BA in the Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering features many courses that allow students to focus in animation. Examples include Introduction to Computer Animation, Motion Graphics & Animation, Animating Virtual Worlds, 2D Digital Animation, Stop Motion Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Experimental Video Art, Introduction to Animation for Film, and 3D Tools.

Graduates of the Digital Culture BA at Arizona State University have opportunities to work in areas such as animation and film, media arts, gaming and entertainment, computing, and communications.

Arizona State University opened on Feb. 8, 1886 as Territorial Normal School (TNS)—the state’s first higher education institution. On the first day of class, TNS welcomed 33 students to a four-classroom building in Tempe, Arizona. Today, ASU serves 145,655 students from across the U.S. and nearly 160 other countries. More than 800 degree programs are provided across four campuses, 16 colleges and schools, and ASU Online. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Engineering at ASU is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

11. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Florida State University

Florida State University (FSU) is home to the College of Motion Picture Arts, which houses a limited access Animation and Digital Arts program. Each class for this BFA program is limited to just nine students. Consisting of 120 credit hours (with 91 in the major), this four year program highlights three years of immersive animation coursework.  

Course examples include History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation; Advanced Filmmaking; Story Development and Screenwriting; Character Art; Lighting, Texturing, and Rendering; Visualization I-III; Character Animation; Film Aesthetics; Reality & Illusion in World Cinema; Character Animation; Motion Picture Editing; Digital Studio Department Leadership; and Production Management. Courses such as the Professional Internship; Portfolio Production; and marketing and Exhibition are provided as electives.

Throughout the Animation and Digital Arts program at FSU will have the opportunity to complete a total of four major films. This includes the Thesis film. All enrolled students in the College of Motion Picture Arts may participate in the Torchlight Program. This option provides instruction in the marketing, financing, and distribution of films.

Graduates of the Animation and Digital Arts BFA program at Florida State University are prepared to pursue positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Animator, Effects Animator, VFX Artist, Animatics Supervisor, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Storyboard Artist, and Rigger.

Founded in 1851 and serving approximately 44,600 students, Florida State University is one of the oldest and largest universities in Florida. The school provides 276 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. With more than 100 campuses, centers, and institutes across the state and around the world, Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

12. University of Colorado, Denver, Denver, Colorado (Top 15% of colleges considered)
University of Colorado Denver

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 (DAV), home to the 3D Graphics and Animation emphasis. Offered within the Visual Arts BFA, the emphasis consists of 75 credit hours.  Course examples include Dynamic Simulation; Creating Visual Story – Narrative Techniques and Visual Design; Digital Cinematography; International Perspectives through Animation; and Production I-III.

Students in this program will learn and create in the DAC, with access to other CAM centers such as the Comcast Media and Technology Center (CMTC). The DAC is a state-of-the-art facility that focuses on collaboration. Students here have access to over 100 workstations; a large volume Vicon motion capture system; and a dedicated tender farm with more than 4,300 cores. Industry standard 3D software includes Houdini, Maya, and Zbrush.

The CMTC is a transdisciplinary center for innovation that focuses on research and development. The CMTC is a partnership between CAM and the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). Other 3D Graphics and Animation program benefits include internship opportunities at major studios and study abroad experiences in places such as France, Italy, Greece, Sout Korea, and the UK.

CU Denver CAM students have interned with studios, productions, and organizations such as Pixar Animation Studios, NBC Universal, Walt Disney Animation Studios; AMC's The Walking Dead, The Denver Art Museum, and High Noon Entertainment.

In the third year of the 3D Graphics and Animation program at CU Denver, 3D Graphics and Animation students will begin their 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.

To date, graduates have produced films that have been screened at more than 300 film festivals across 22 countries. Program graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories. CU Denver Animation alumni work in a variety of roles at major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts.

University of Colorado Denver opened in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school became the University of Colorado Denver Center in 1965, and CU Denver in 1973, making it an independent campus. Organized into seven colleges and schools, University of Colorado Denver serves more than 15,000 students enrolled in approximately 115 degree programs. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

13. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
California State University, Long Beach

The College of the Arts (COTA) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) is one of the school’s largest and most popular colleges. Housing six separate academic units (departments), COTA employs over 100 full-time and 150 part-time faculty members that serve more than 3,000 students. Departments include the School of Art; Bob Cole Conservatory of Music; Theatre Arts; Film and Electronic Arts; Design; and Dance.

The COTA School of Art at California State University, Long Beach received designation as a school in 2012. The school houses state-of-the-art facilities and top-rated work spaces and seven separate and customizable galleries for displaying, critiquing, and viewing student work. School of Art students also have access to international travel opportunities to support their work, as well as opportunities to interact with professional working artists.

Within the CSULB COTA School of Art are several paths to study Animation. Students can enroll in the multidisciplinary Art BA with an Option in Studio Art; the Art BFA with an option in Animation; or the Art MFA (concentration in Studio Art) with an Animation track.  

The Art BA at California State University, Long Beach is the most flexible degree option, as it allows students to develop a distinct focus area and select courses from a broad range of art and art history courses. In addition to required courses in both 2D and 3D media, students have access to courses such as Computer Art; Intro Studio: Animation; Color Theory; Intro Studio: Illustration- Rendering; Transdisciplinary Practice; and Life Drawing.

The Art BFA at CSULB requires 15 units in the track. Note that BFA students can select the Animation track or the Pre-Production track. Both provide plenty of opportunities to study animation. Animation track students are required to take Professional Practices in Illustration/Animation and Experimental Animation 1. Pre-Production students must take Core Studio: Illustration. Examples of common course options include Advanced Studio: Animation; Special Studies in Animation; Animation Film I; and Animation Film II.

The Art MFA in Studio Art with an Animation track requires 39 approved 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.

Upon completion of the COTA BA, BFA, and MFA programs at California State University, Long Beach graduates will have a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared for careers such as Animator, Art Director, Storyboard Artist, Animation Technical Director, Forensic Animator, Character Animator, Compositing Artist, and Illustrator.

California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949 as Los Angeles-Orange County State College. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves approximately 39,965 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

14. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Clemson University

The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences (CECAS) at Clemson University (Clemson) is home to the School of Computing, which houses the Division of Visual Computing. Within the Division is the Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program, which provides several paths to study animation. Graduate degree options include the DPA MFA and DPA MS. At the undergraduate level, students can enroll in the DPA minor.  

Launched in 2011, the minor is jointly offered by the School of Computing and the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. The program explores computer animation, visual effects, animation production, computer games, and graphics production using Maya.

Course examples include Studio Methods for Digital Production; Advanced 3D Modeling; Visual Foundations of Digital Production I-II; and Special Topics in Digital Production Arts. The DPA minor requires a minimum of 15 credits.

Digital Production Arts at Clemson University encompasses dozens of disciplines. However, each DPA degree program has its own learning objectives. The curriculum for the DPA MFA blends art, computer science and engineering, graphic communications, performing arts, philosophy, and psychology. Course examples include 3D Modeling and Animation; Visual Foundations of Digital Production; Physically Based Animation; Special Effects Compositing; Advanced Animation; and Technical Character Animation.

Consisting of 60 credit hours, the DPA MFA at Clemson is the terminal degree in the field. Graduates are prepared for a range of roles in the film and animation, video, electronic gaming, and visual effects industries. Graduates have been hired at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, ReelFX, Electronic Arts (EA), and DreamWorks.

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 Virtual Reality; Software Construction; Physically Based Visual Effects; Human and Computer Interaction (HCI), 2D Game Engine Design; and Advanced Computer Graphics. Six required electives allow students to explore areas such as audio engineering, visual narrative, scene painting, drawing, and improvisation.

In addition to technical roles in the animation industry, graduates of the DPA MS program at Clemson University can pursue positions such as Technical Director, 3D Graphics Programmer, Software Engineer, Tool Builder or VR Developer in the broad entertainment industry.

Founded in 1889, Clemson University opened in 1893 as Clemson Agricultural College. On the first day of classes, the school welcomed 446 students. Today, Clemson serves approximately 28,465 students enrolled in more than 80 majors, 90+ minors, and over 130 graduate degree programs. Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

15. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
University of Florida

University of Florida (UF) is home to the College of the Arts (COTA). Within COTA is a community of students, faculty, and staff known as 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 pathways for animators: the Digital Arts & Sciences BA (BADAS) and a DAS Minor. BADAS program highlights include a project-based learning environment that allows students to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills; elective courses across Animation, Game Design, and Experience Design & Production; and learning that takes place in high-tech classrooms.

Students may also take electives outside of the UF BADAS Program. The remaining courses for the program are in 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 2D Digital Animation Techniques; Writing for Interactive Media; 3D Character Animation; Principles of Interaction & Usability; Advanced Digital Animation Techniques; Design Production Studio; Advanced 2D Digital Animation Techniques; 3D Modeling and Texturing, and Digital Storytelling.

Elective examples include Blockchain Innovation in Digital Arts and Sciences; Digital Tools for Arts and Humanities; and Undergraduate Research in DAS. All UF BADAS students must complete the senior project and a portfolio. Independent study, an internship, and the production practicum are optional.

Graduates of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida are prepared to pursue positions in 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 or freelance businesses.

University of Florida traces its founding to 1853, when the East Florida Seminary opened as the state’s first state-supported institution of higher learning. Today, University of Florida is a top 10 public, comprehensive, land-grant research university with professional campuses in Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Orlando, Florida. UF serves 60,795 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across 16 colleges and schools. University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

16. California State University, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
California State University, Los Angeles

The Department of Art at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) has an Animation Option that combines the study of traditional, contemporary, and experimental animation techniques with hands-on learning in digital classrooms, labs, and other facilities. Part of the College of Arts & Letters, the Department of Art provides access to a Design Library, the Tool Crib, and a stop-motion animation lab. Art Department students also have opportunities to exhibit in the Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery and the student-run COMA Gallery.

The Animation Option is a 98-unit path within the Art BA program. Students will complete 48 units in the Option and select electives from art and film course offerings. Examples include World Animation History; Video for Artists; Color Theory and Perception; Three-Dimensional Animation; Story and Visualization; Digital Design Tools; Advanced Animation; Art and Motion; Experimental Animation, Digital Modeling; and Advanced Illustration. The Animation Project Capstone, worth up to six credits, is required to graduate.

Also within the Cal State LA Art Department is the Art MA and MFA Programs. Both graduate pathways 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. Examples include Experimental Animation; Problems in Advanced Design; Two-Dimensional Animation; Advanced Illustration; Graduate Interactive Design; and Advanced Animation.

Each semester, students in the Cal State LA Art Department join professional artists and faculty for several events that provide the opportunity to present their work to 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.

Examples of Cal State LA recruiting companies Disney, Lionsgate Entertainment, DreamWorks, Yahoo!, NASA, KTLA, and Boeing.  

Established in 1947, California State University, Los Angeles serves approximately 24,675 students (Fall 2023) enrolled in more than 150 degree, certificate, and minor programs. Part of the 23 campus, California State University System, Cal State LA is comprised of nine colleges and the University Library. California State University, Los Angeles is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Department of Art Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

17. New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico (Top 20% of colleges considered)
New Mexico State University

The Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI) is a department in the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University (NMSU). The CMI houses state-of-the-art animation and post-production labs, production spaces, and a digital projection screening room. Also housed in the CMI at NMSU is a Bachelor of Creative Media program with an emphasis in Animation & Visual Effects (BCM-ANVE); an 18 credit hour Animation and Visual Effects minor; and a Digital Filmmaking BCM.

The BCM-ANVE is a 120 credit hour, cross-disciplinary program with two paths including 2D Production Studio and 3D & VFX Production Studio. Across paths, students will explore animation, digital filmmaking, and digital arts. In 2D Production Studio, students explore drawing for animation, 2D rigging, digital illustration, and writing for animation. 3D and VFX Production Studio emphasizes 3D rigging, modeling, and motion capture techniques. Both paths allow students to learn and practice storyboarding and character and environment design.

The Digital Filmmaking BCM requires 27 elective credits of study, allowing students to focus their studies in animation. Examples of elective course options include History of Animation; Visual Effects; 2D Animation; Storyboarding; Advanced Screenwriting; 3D Animation; Directing I-II; Business of Filmmaking/Animation; Editing I and II; Digital Video Production I and II; and Writing for Animation.

In the final year of the Digital Filmmaking program at New Mexico State University, students will complete FDMA 497: Portfolio Design and Development. This course entails refining marketing strategies, building portfolios and resumes, and developing individual promotion and demo packages.

In the last year of the BCM-ANVE program at NMSU, students will complete 3D Production I and II—the yearlong culminating experience for the degree. Activities for 3D Production I include pre-production (pitch, script, visual and sound references, storyboards, 3D previsualization, scheduling/project management). 3D Production II consists of production, post-production, and distribution of the work created during 3D Production Studio I. Students will graduate with a professional quality and industry-standard visual story that will help them enter their chosen field.

All BCM students are eligible to enter their films or animated productions into the Las Cruces International Film Festival. Entry is free for NMSU students.

Founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, New Mexico State University is a system of five colleges that serves approximately 21,830 students. Las Cruces serves approximately 14,795 students, making it the largest campus in the NMSU system. More than 100 programs are provided across seven colleges and the graduate school. New Mexico State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

18. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Ball State University

The College of Fine Arts at Ball State University (Ball State) houses the School of Art. Within the School is Visual Arts/Animation BFA program that provides hands-on training in industry tools such as Maya, Toon Boom, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. Students in this 85 credit hour major will explore traditional 2D animation, 3D animation, and stop motion. Courses for the program are collaborative and led by professors who have worked at Disney and other major studios.

The Visual Arts/Animation BFA at Ball State University requires 42 credit sin Animation, 18 form art studio electives, and 25 credit from art foundations. Course examples include 2D, 3D and 4D Foundations Studio; Animation: Experimental Techniques; Storyboarding; 3D Animation, Rigging, and Simulation; Character Design; Animation: Compositing and Motion Graphics; Drawing Studio; 3D Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, and Rendering; and Painting: Introduction.

Other Ball State BFA program highlights include collaborative projects; professional skills development including professional terminology and marketing; and internship opportunities.

The culminating experience for the Visual Arts/Animation BFA at Ball State includes three production courses leading to the Senior Project (Capstone), which will be presented as a student exhibition. Students will also enter the job market with a professional portfolio and demo reel of their best.

Graduates of the Visual Arts/Animation BFA at Ball State University are prepared to pursue roles such as 3D Animator (film), Animation Web Designer, 3D Animator or Modeler (video game industry), Storyboard Artist (film or advertising), 3D Modeler (entertainment, advertising, engineering, and medicine), and Multimedia Artist.

Ball State University was established in 1918. The school serves approximately 19,775 students enrolled in more than 200 programs across seven academic colleges. Ball State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Programs in the School of Art are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

19. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Bowling Green State University

The School of Art at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is one of the largest state art schools in Ohio. In existence for more than 75 years and housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School houses five divisions: Digital Arts, Studio, Graphic Design, Art History, and Art Education. Students in all divisions benefit from a student-faculty ratio of 15:1; National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation; study abroad opportunities at BGSU’s partner school in Florence, Italy; hands-on experience through internships with major studios and organizations such as Pixar, Disney Animation, and the Museum of Modern Art; and access to a variety of minors and programs at all degree levels.

Across all School of Art programs, students also have access to Graduate Assistantships; opportunities to work BGSU’s professional large-format printing studio; and the newly built Wolfe Center for the Arts. Within the Center are 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.

The School of Art also houses The Media Center, which features high-dynamic range wide format printers; high-end digital A/V equipment for student checkout; 3D printing capabilities; and high-resolution scanners.

For individuals seeking an Animation degree, the Division of Digital Arts within the School of Art provides BA, BFA, MFA, and minor options. The Digital Arts minor allows students to focus in any area at BGSU. However, the Digital Arts minor is an ideal complement to BGSU’s Computer Science and other STEM-designated programs, Business, and Music, among others.

Students in the Digital Arts BA and BFA programs may specialize in Animation. 2D and 3D Animation tracks are available within this specialization. An optional interdisciplinary track allows students to incorporate classes from other areas such as Graphic Design, Photography, and Drawing.

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 Studio MFA at Bowling Green State University is a two-year, full-time program that allows students to specialize in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Media, and Interactive Media). The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, with 21 credits in the studio specialization, and 12 credits of studio electives. MFA students will complete a body of work and accompanying brochure to be entered into the BGSU MFA Exhibition. This event is held each spring in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center.

Graduates of the Digital Arts and Studio MFA programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared to pursue roles such as 2D or 3D Animator, Motion Graphics Artist, Video Game Animator, Special Effects Artist, and Web Design Animator. BGSU alumni are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training institution. The school held its first classes in 1941. Today, BGSU provides more than 200 programs to approximately 18,965 students across six colleges and BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The BGSU School of Art has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.

20. California State University, Northridge, Northridge, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
California State University Northridge

California State University Northridge (CSUN) is home to the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication (AMC). Within the College is the Department of Art and Design, which has a Visual Arts BA with an Animation concentration. Students in this program can select one of three tracks. These include 2D Design, 3D Animation, and Game Development.

All tracks provide access to the Entertainment Industry Institute (EII) and the student-operated creative agency known as IntersectLA. Students in all tracks also may join the Animation Students League of Northridge and/or the CSUN Game Development Club. Both student-run organizations provide networking opportunities and opportunities to interact with industry guests through supplemental workshops and lectures.

Other program features include partnerships with Seoul Institute of the Arts and DreamWorks studios; interactions with industry professionals through workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and studio visits; participation in studio tours; and internship opportunities.

In the Visual Arts 2D Design track will take courses in 2D Animation (Toon Boom/Flash); Visual Development; and Pre-Production. Optional courses such as Compositing and 3D Animation are also part of the program. Potential careers for graduates of this track include Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Background Designer.

In the Visual Arts 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 Development students will explore Character Animation, Compositing, Animation Production, 3D Computer Animation, and Game Production. Graduates of this track are prepared for careers in character animation, modeling, texture painting & lighting, quality assurance, and level design, among others.

CSUN alumni work in a variety of roles across industries. Examples of companies and studios that hire CSUN graduates include Apple, Walt Disney Company, Microsoft, Universal Pictures, Google, NBC, Amazon, Netflix, Earner Bros., Paramount, Microsoft MGM Studios, and Fox Sports.

Serving more than 38,500 students, California State University Northridge is one of the largest universities within the 23 campus California State University System. Founded in 1958, this liberal arts institution comprises nine colleges, The Tseng College, and the University Library. More than 2,000 CSUN faculty members teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 71 disciplines, master’s degrees in 78 fields, three doctorates, and 17 teaching credentials. California State University Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

21. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Top 25% of colleges considered)
University of North Carolina School of the Arts

University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is home to the School of Design & Production and the School of Filmmaking. The School of Design & Production is a stand-alone design and production conservatory that houses the Animatronics MFA. The School of Filmmaking houses the Animation BFA.

Launched in the Fall of 2021, the Animatronics MFA is a hybrid, three-year program that blends electronics and animation. The curriculum for the program consists of hands-on, immersive courses that explore the engineering and infrastructure of animatronic figures; 3D printing; animatronic programming and design; sculpting, and project management.

Courses examples include Animatronic Design; 3D Design, Sculpting ad Animatics; Prototypical Project Management; Figure Design and Engineering; Animatronic Programming; and Production. Courses for the program are supplemented by seminars, workshops, and screenings led by professionals in the industry.

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. Depending on the students focus area, they will complete a Production, Research, or Portfolio Thesis. Students who choose to produce a physical production will present their finished work to the public. Research projects will be completed under the direction of a Thesis Supervisor.

Portfolio Gallery Presentations will showcase the student’s entire body of work. Portfolios will be fully documented, and include a Final Thesis Gallery Review. All Thesis and other MFA projects take place in a 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production space.

Graduates of the Animatronics MFA program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts go on to establish careers at major studios such as Nickelodeon, ABC, Walt Disney Imagineering, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios.

The Animation BFA at University of North Carolina School of the Arts 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, drawing, storytelling, props, and lighting techniques. Third year students will complete a three-minute animation project and begin working on the final fourth-year project. This culminating experience results in a five minute film that will serve as the BFA Thesis.

During the junior or senior years, students may also 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 have worked with studios such as Cartoon Network and Prologue Pictures. A recent Animation BFA graduate also received an Emmy Nomination for his work on American Horror Story.

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 17-campus University of North Carolina System in 1972, and renamed University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Today, UNCSA serves more than 1,300 students enrolled in 40 degree 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).

22. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) houses an Animation BS and an 18 credit hour Animation minor. Both options are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Part of the College of Media and Entertainment-Department of Media Arts, the program is designed for artists seeking careers in 2D or 3D animation, special visual effects, and motion graphics.

Beginning in the first semester, students will explore traditional animation techniques through hands-on project opportunities. Throughout this 120 credit program students will gradually advance into coursework that covers advanced digital tools and techniques. The major, which consists of 76 credit hours in animation, requires courses such as Image and Video Foundations; 2D Animation I-II; Texturing, Lighting and Rendering; Motion Graphics I-II; Animation Mechanics; Character Modeling and Rigging; Bodies in Motion; Visual Effects; Animation and Performance; and Professional Practices in Animation.

In addition to immersive animation coursework, MTSU provides the opportunity to complete an internship in the recently launched MT IMAGINE Animation Studio. Housed in the College of Media and Entertainment, the Studio produces high-end animated visuals for clients who do not have the financial means to hire a commercial studio. The Studio’s project-based, paid internships allow students, faculty, and recent graduates to create content for real clients. Projects include 2D and 3D Animation, Virtual Reality, and XR Virtual Production.

MTSU Animation BS students also have opportunities to volunteer at the annual SIGGRAPH conference. In 2023, 19 MTSU Animation students were accepted as volunteers and one was accepted as a team leader. These lucky individuals were among the nearly 300 students selected from over 100 universities worldwide for this coveted program.

To graduate from the MTSU Animation BS program, students will take a six-semester sequence of courses covering 3D animation. The final two semesters of the sequence culminate in a two-semester capstone experience consisting of an original animated short film that will be submitted to film and animation festivals locally, nationally, and around the world. This project will be centerpiece of the student’s final portfolio.

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).

23. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina (Top 25% of colleges considered)
North Carolina State University

The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State) launched in 1946 as the School of Architecture and Landscape Design. It was renamed the School of Design in 1948, and the College of Design in 2000. Today, the College of Design at NC State provides programs across six areas at all degree levels. This includes the doctorate.

In addition to a variety of programs, the NC State College of Design provides an interdisciplinary first-year experience; workshops; swing studios in other majors; internship opportunities; and study abroad experiences in places such as Prague, Chile, and Greece.

The College of Design at NC State also has several paths to study animation. Housed in the College’s Department of Media Arts, Design and Technology are the Bachelor of Art + Design (BAD); Masters of Art + Design (MAD); and the Art + Design minor. This 15 credit hour program consists of courses such as Three-Dimensional Design; Animation; Sequential Imaging; Animation; and Color and Light.

Programs in the Department of Media Arts, Design and Technology are highly multidisciplinary, allowing students to study both traditional disciplines and emerging techniques. Examples include animation, VR/AR, visual effects, interactive and computational media, and visual composition. Electives provide additional opportunities to focus the BAD. Examples of required courses and elective options include Creative Technology Studio I-III; Digital Modeling; Animation I; Art + Design Laboratory I-II; Digital Representation; Visualization I-II; Advanced Digital Techniques; Drawing I-II; Writing About Film; Digital Motion; Sequential Imaging; Digital Modeling, Color and Light; and Digital Representation.

Students in the NC State BAD program will progress from foundation courses in their first and second years to intermediate and advanced courses in the final two years of the program. Students will leave the BAD program with a final project and a professional portfolio of their work.

The Masters of Art + Design program at North Carolina State University emphasizes experimental media arts. The program provides the same opportunities to study animation as the BAD program, including a variety of elective options to enhance the degree. Examples include 3D Animation; Creative Coding; Sequential Imaging; Special Effects; Digital Motion; Seminar in Animation; Visualizing Narrative; Digital Modeling; and Business of Design.

Depending on their background, MAD students also have opportunities to select from three tracks: Track 1 (30 credit hours); Track 2: 48 credit hours; and Track 3: 72 credit hours. Track 1 is designed for students with a strong background in interactive and experimental arts. Track 2 is ideal for students with an undergraduate degree in interactive and experimental media. These students are likely seeking initial studios to explore new theories and concepts for their final projects. Track 3 is for students who do not have a strong background in interactive and experimental media arts. Though these students may have a degree in another area, they will need to spend the first year taking advanced undergraduate courses.

For all MAD tracks, the final year provides the opportunity to produce a project in animation, interactive media, or other area of the students choosing. Students who choose not to complete a project may, instead, produce a research-based study or paper.

Graduates of the Art + Design programs at North Carolina State University are prepared for leadership positions and others 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 become art and design educators at major colleges and universities.

North Carolina State University employs 9,000 faculty and staff members that serve more than 36,000 students, making it the largest university in the University of North Carolina System and one of the largest employers in the state. Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State provides 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).

24. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Ohio University

The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts and Studies (MDIA). Options for animators here include the Animation Bachelor of Science in Communication (BSC) and the Communication Media Arts MFA. The Animation BSC takes the place of the Games and Animation emphasis area, and it provides access to the new Advanced Animation Lab and more than a dozen other state-of-the-art facilities, studios, and labs.

The new curriculum for the Animation BSC 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 participation in student organizations; industry internships and other experiences; study abroad opportunities; and capstone projects.

Examples of industry internships and experiences include OHIO-in-LA, where students will live and work in Hollywood; Animation and Culture in Tokyo, where students will explore Tokyo’s animation scene and culture; the 48-Hour Shoot-Out where students have just two days to write, direct, and shoot polished 5-minute film; Storytelling in Theme Parks, which includes all access tickets, workshops, speakers, and behind-the-scene tours at Walt Disney World; and attendance at South by Southwest.

Graduates of Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and 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.

The Communication Media Arts MFA at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary, three-year program provided in partnership with the School of MDIA; the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies; and the School of Visual Communication. This 90 credit hour program provides the opportunity to study in two or more areas. Examples include Animation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Video Game Design, Interactive Web Design, Music Production, and Data Visualization and Infographics.

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 with one building, three students and one professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve approximately 28,325 students across 10+ campuses and centers in Ohio, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Ohio University provides more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges, 16 schools, and dozens of departments.

25. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 25% of colleges considered)
University of Washington

The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) began as an intercollege graduate program in 1967. Today, the Allen School serves 1,500 undergraduates in across two majors, and more than 300 graduate students across several options. Programs are housed across the six-story Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering.

Allen School programs 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, computer game science, visualization, graphics, and vision.

Undergraduate paths for animators 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; Artificial Intelligence; Digital Sound; Computer Graphics; Advanced Digital Design; and Data Visualization.

Students in all Allen School programs will work in interdisciplinary teams to complete several capstone and senior-level project courses. Students will have opportunities to gain experience through an internship, and study at one of UW’s four partner universities. These include ETH Zurich; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany; and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. 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 Microsoft, Google, Intel, Apple, Amazon, and Meta.

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington serves approximately 60,690 students, making it the largest university in the state. More than 300 separate programs and over 600 degree options are provided across three campuses (Seattle/main, Bothell, and Tacoma) that house 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and the school is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at UW is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

26. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) houses the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication, home to the DepExampl

artment of Art. Within the Department is an Animation program that explores storyboarding, 2D and 3D animation, character design, 3D modeling/rigging/texturing, lighting, and rendering. Students in this program also benefit from interactions with guest speakers, workshops, and portfolio reviews by active professionals in the industry.

Leading to BFA, the Animation program also provides access to SHSU SIGGRAPH—a self-governed student-run organization that highlights on-campus exhibitions, student-led workshops, and creating animations and other digital art.

Course examples for this 120 credit hour program include The History of Animation; Film Appreciation; Animation Concepts and Techniques; 2D Computer Animation; Experimental Animation; Drawing I and II; Character Animation; Photographic Concepts; Shading, Lighting, and Rendering; Advanced 3D Animation; Web Site Development; Visual Computing; and Animation Preproduction. Electives allow students to focus in additional areas in the arts.

All Department of Art students will also take several Workshop in Art Studio and History (W.A.S.H.) courses including W.A.S.H. 2D, W.A.S.H. 3D, and W.A.S.H. Lecture. The Animation program culminates with the Animation Portfolio course.

Graduates of the Animation BFA program at Sam Houston State University go on to pursue careers in areas such as animation, film, game design, advertising, marketing, and multimedia. Program alumni work at places such as Zynga, EA Mobile, Kiloo Games, Perkins+Will, Stoic Studio, and Jacobs Visual Media Group. Some Animation alumni have launched their own studios or freelance businesses, while others are educators in the Texas public school system.

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), University of Texas Dallas (UT Dallas), Florida State University (FSU), Texas A&M, and Southern Methodist University (SMU).

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).

27. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee (Top 30% of colleges considered)
East Tennessee State University

The College of Business and Technology at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) houses the ETSU Scott M. Niswonger Digital Media Center. Within the Center is the Digital Media (DIGM) Department, which has several paths to study animation. Options include the Digital Media BS, MFA, and minor. As part of ETSU, all programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

The DIGM BS has a Digital Animation concentration with 2D and 3D Pathways. This concentration also consists of 20 credit hours of guided electives. Course examples include Animation Fundamentals; Character Animation; Technical Direction; 2D Animation; Storyboarding; 2D Character Construction; 3D Animation; Procedural Modeling and Effects Simulation; and 3D Lighting & Rendering.

Throughout the ETSU DIGM BS program, students will complete several projects. The final course—Portfolio Development for Digital Media—leads to a professional portfolio of the student’s best work. Graduates are prepared for careers in areas such as 2D animation, 3D animation, technical direction, motion graphics, and character animation. Graduates are also prepared to pursue an advanced degree at ETSU or other major university.

The Digital Media MFA at East Tennessee State University is a terminal degree designed for artists who have already earned a bachelor’s degree. This program is best suited for Animators, Visual Effects Artists, Cinematographers, Coders, UI/UX Designers, 3D Designers, Creature Artists, Character Animators, and other related professionals.

Students in this non-thesis degree program may 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.

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.

Graduates of this program are prepared to pursue entry-level roles in all areas of digital animation, game design, VFX, visualization, and motion graphics.

East Tennessee State University was established in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. The school serves approximately 13,820 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. East Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

28. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia (Top 30% of colleges considered)
Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of the Arts (VCUArts) houses the Department of Kinetic Imaging (KI), which has programs for students who are interested in video, sound, and animation as they relate to filmmaking, experimental video, and art-making. Other KI Department highlights include lectures, workshops, and performances by visiting artists; access to state-of-the-are facilities, studios, and labs; and internship opportunities

For students seeking a career in animation, the KI Department at VCU has a Kinetic Imaging BFA program that requires a minimum of 120 credit hours. At the graduate level, students can earn a Fine Arts MFA with a concentration in Kinetic Imaging. Both programs are multidisciplinary and explore areas such as animation, video, virtual reality, emerging art, and sound.

BFA students will complete courses such as Space Research; Animation I-IV; Survey of Art; Video I-III; Time Studio; Animation Practices; 3D Computer Animation I-II; Creative Code and Electronics; 3D Computer Art; Virtual Interactive Worlds; Sound Communication I-II; Concept and Development Studio; Media Arts Survey; Video Practices; and Critical Issue in Media. The program culminates with the Research and Production I and II courses. Completed across the fall and spring semesters, the courses consist of the critical analysis and development of a culminating project with emphasis on implementation, execution, and presentation.

The Kinetic Imaging BFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University takes four years to complete, full-time. Graduates are prepared to pursue titles such as 2D Animator, 3D Animator, Director, Sound Designer, Motion Graphics Artist, and UI/UX Designer.  

The Fine Arts-Kinetic Imaging MFA at VCU is a 60 credit hour, studio-based program designed to support six-eight students. This flexible program explores animated arts, emerging media, coding, sound art, interactivity, installation, and mediated performance. Each semester, students will complete a graduate seminar and a graduate studio class consisting of vigorous studio production. Students will also can select an additional elective to help meet their individual studio and research goals.

Other KI MFA features include 24/7 access to personal studios and animation, video, and sound production spaces; opportunities to teach in the undergraduate KI program; and visiting artists that host talks and one-on-one studio visits with graduate students. The culminating experience for the KI MFA is the exhibition of the student’s best work at VCU’s Anderson Gallery.

The Virginia Commonwealth University Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging MFA program can be completed in two years, full-time. Graduates are prepared for leadership roles across creative industries and in the technology sector, science and medicine, architecture, and education, among others.

Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University is a top 100 research university that serves approximately 28,410 students. The largest employer in Richmond, Virginia, VCU provides more than 200 academic programs across 15+ colleges, schools, and centers. Virginia Commonwealth University accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

29. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (Top 30% of colleges considered)
University of South Florida

The College of the Arts University of South Florida (USF) is home to the School of Art & Art History. Within the School is a Studio Art program, which has BA, BFA, MFA, and minor options. All programs allow students to specialize in Animation and Digital Modeling. Students in all degree options (and the minor) will explore 3D modeling, visual storytelling, concept design, motion, composition, acting, 3D printing, and lighting.

Across programs, Animation and Digital Modeling students will take courses such as The Real World; Digital Modeling; Visual Storytelling; Motion Design; Character Animation; Advanced Animation; Computer Animation; Selected Topics in Film and Video; Digital Drawing; and Professional Practices.

USF BFA students will complete several self-directed projects, an internship and/or a study abroad experience, and the senior thesis.

The Studio Art BA is a broad degree with many options including Extended Studies; Artists Internships and Apprenticeships; The Paris or London Middlesex Program; Public Art; Museum Internships; and Community Art. Courses for this program are supplemented with studies in foreign languages, art history, and electives in the School of Art & Art History, and across the university.

In private studio spaces, Studio Art MFA students will complete projects, research, and other studio work while working closely with faculty as graduate assistants. MFA students also have opportunities to travel to Miami art fairs, and participate in the field trips to New York, Paris, London, and Venice through the Summer Art Program. To graduate, MFA students will complete an MFA research project.

Graduates of the Studio Art programs at University of South Florida are prepared to pursue roles in a wide range of industries and in just about any position that requires creativity, critical thinking, and the production of visual materials.

Program alumni are Animators, Storyboard Artists, Game Artists, Art Directors, Artists, Designers, Filmmakers, Media Specialists, Photographers, Videographers, Imagists, Educators, and Consultants.

Founded in 1956, University of South Florida serves more than 50,000 students across campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee. USF students have access to over 200 undergraduate programs and 150+ graduate, specialist, and doctoral programs. Options are housed across 13 colleges. The University of South Florida 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

University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) provides several paths to study animation across several colleges and schools. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts houses the minor in Moving Image Arts for undergraduate students. The College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts houses the School of Art & Art History, which an Art BFA program with options in New Media Arts and Moving Image. At the graduate level, the School of Art & Art History has a flexible Art MFA program.

The UIC New Media Arts BFA is interdisciplinary, allowing students to focus in areas such as animation. However, the curriculum for the program covers areas such as 3D Animation, Physical Computing, and Mobile Application Design. Course examples include 3D Space Animation; Topics in New Media Arts: Intermediate Game Play; Animation Cinematography; Creative Coding; and Information Aesthetics.

The Moving Image BFA program at University of Illinois at Chicago 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; Topics in Drawing; Introduction to Creative Coding in New Media Arts; Trends in International Contemporary Art Since 1960; Interactive 3D: Expanded Cinema and Virtual Performance; and Advanced Critique. The Moving Image BFA culminates with the BFA Thesis Project and Exhibition/Final Thesis Show.

The 18-20 credit hour Moving Image Arts minor at UIC is designed for students who wish to complement their current major with studies in film, television, video, and new media. Course examples for the program include Moving Image Arts; Film and Culture; and Communication Technologies.

The Art MFA at University of Illinois at Chicago is a highly interdisciplinary program that requires 64 credit hours. The curriculum combines collaborative projects, seminars, individual projects, research, advanced critique courses, and coursework from other Departments at UIC. Courses range from Drawing and Painting to New Media Arts and Moving Image.

All Art MFA students will work and learn in expansive private studio spaces. The program culminates with a thesis or final project leading to a formal presentation at a public exhibition.

Graduates of the BA, BFA, and MFA programs at University of Illinois at Chicago are prepared to pursue leadership roles and others across industries such as entertainment, game design and development, advertising, architecture, science and medicine, law, government, and education.

Serving approximately 35,520 students, University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest university in the Chicago area. The school formed in 1982 when two U of I campuses—the Medical Center campus, which dates back to the 19th century—and the Chicago Circle campus, which replaced the two-year undergraduate Navy Pier campus in 1965, merged. The Navy Pier campus dated back to 1946, when it opened as a school to educate returning veterans. Today, UIC provides 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. California State University, Chico, Chico, California (Top 35% of colleges considered)
California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico (Chico State) is home to one of the largest Computer Animation and Game Development (CAGD) programs in the nation. Out of hundreds of majors, the program is also one of the top 10 largest at Chico State.

Established in 1999 as the Applied Computer Graphics Program, CAGD is housed in the College of Engineering, Computer Science & Construction Management. Students in this 120-unit program may major in Animation OR Game Development. Leading to a BS, the program provides access to state-of-the-art labs, workshops, and studios—including an in-house motion capture studio; study abroad experiences in Germany and other countries; participation in the student-run Computer Graphics Club (CGC); and the opportunity to complete an internship at a local or national studio.

In addition to selecting an Animation or Game major, CAGD students will select five courses from an interdisciplinary program area. Options include Computer Science; Media Arts, Design, and Technology; and Art Studio. The Animation major combines coursework in Art Studio and Communication Design, with Graphics and Animation. Other areas of exploration include CGI, game scripting, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), media arts design, 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), WetaFX, Crystal Dynamics, Super Alloy Interactive, and 2K.

Students also work in other industries such as defense (simulation), advertising and marketing, television and media, web design, medical, architecture, construction, and business. 

The College of Humanities & Fine Arts at California State University, Chico houses the Department of Art & Art History, which has an additional option for animators—the Art Studio BFA with a 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 computer-assisted 2D animation, digital filmmaking, stop-motion animation, and hand-drawn animation.

Graduates of the Art Studio BFA at California State University, Chico State will leave the program with an industry-ready portfolio of their work. Program alumni are Animators, Fine Artists, Illustrators, Film Directors, Digital Artists, Graphic Designers, Editors, and Art Directors. Some program alumni go on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses. Others go on to pursue advanced studies at major universities across the U.S.   

Founded in 1887, California State University, Chico serves 13,840 students from 43 nations, 30 states, and one U.S. territory. Chico State provides 385 programs across seven colleges, five schools, and 22 centers and institutes. California State University, Chico is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

32. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin (Top 35% of colleges considered)
University of Wisconsin – Stout

The College of Arts & Humanities (CAHS) at University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is home to the School of Art & Design. Consisting of more than 1,000 students and 65 faculty, the School of Art & Design is the largest art and design school in the upper Midwest. Programs within the school emphasize hands-on, polytechnic-infused curriculums supplemented by local, national, and international internships; study abroad experiences; and Cooperative Education and Field Experiences.

The School of Art & Design houses the Design Department, which has a collaborative cross-disciplinary Animation & Digital Media BFA, and a Design MFA. Across programs, students benefit from learning that takes place in studio classrooms; access to state-of-the-art labs and studios, such as the Animation and Game Design & Development Studio Lab; and active faculty with extensive professional experience in the field.

The UW-Stout Animation & Digital Media BFA consists of 120 credit hours of study. The program explores traditional two-dimensional animation, three-dimensional modeling and animation, real-time production, character and environment design, motion capture, and principles of visual storytelling. Students in this program will develop creative and critical thinking skills, while taking courses that cover specific animation and design software.

Course examples for the program (including electives) include 3D Modeling and Animation; Design Drawing and Concept Visualization; Commercial Motion Graphics; Digital Illustration; Virtual and Augmented Reality Video Applications; Visual Effects and Compositing; 3D Character Animation; Digital Sound; Video Production; Typography in Motion; Comics; Animation Production; and Professional Practices in Design.

The Animation & Digital Media BFA program at University of Wisconsin - Stout ends with a two-semester sequence Animation Capstone. This culminating experience for the BFA includes the development of a professional level project from concept to published digital media, modeling the approach used in the animation industry.

The Design MFA at University of Wisconsin – Stout takes place in a cross-disciplinary environment where graduate students may focus in areas such as Animation & Digital Media; Cinema, Video, & Photography; Game Design & Development; User Experience Design; Graphic Design & Interactive Media; and Experience Design. Design MFA students will complete several design studios and seminar courses, independent study, and at least nine credits of focused electives.

This flexible program utilizes the hybrid model of delivery, consisting of evening core classes combined with on-campus and online meetings. Students have the option to select full-time, on-campus studio courses or customize a part-time plan with hybrid classes and independent projects.

The culminating experience for the Design MFA program at University of Wisconsin – Stout is the Creative Thesis in Design, which consists of an independent design research project produced and implemented under direction of a primary research adviser and committee. MFA students will present their final projects to a thesis committee, to include a public exhibition or lecture. 

Graduates of the Animation and Design programs at University of Wisconsin – Stout are prepared to pursue leadership roles and others across industries. As part of UW-Stout, program alumni enjoy a near perfect 99.4% employment rate.

School of Art & Design are Animators (2D or 3D), Stop-Motion Animators, Concept Artists, Game Designers, Art Directors, and 3D Modelers at places such as Disney, Apple, DreamWorks Animation, Shutterfly, Raven Software, Larsen Design, PUNY Entertainment, The Nerdery, and Fantasy Flight Games. Some Design MFA alumni have gone on to become educators at UW-Stout, and other schools such as UW-River Falls and Vancouver College of Art and Design.

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving approximately 6,940 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout provides more than 145 programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. Programs are organized into two colleges, with five schools and a graduate school.

University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Graphic Design and Interactive Media program is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

33. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Top 35% of colleges considered)
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) houses the College of Art and Design, home to the School of Art. Within the School are several paths to study animation. The Studio Art program has BFA and MFA options with a Digital Art concentration. A Master’s in Digital Media Arts & Engineering (DMAE), in collaboration with the College of Engineering and the College of Art and Design, is another graduate option. The School of Art also has a Digital Art BA, an arts-oriented Digital Media Art minor (DMART), and a technology-oriented Digital Media Arts and Engineering Technology (DMAET) minor.

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 minor options are interdisciplinary and require 21 credit hours, including 12 credit hours of electives. Course examples across programs include 3D Animation; Video Game Design; Moving Image;

Interactive Computer Graphics; 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 Creative Coding; Moving Image; Virtual Space and Motion; Digital Art; Two-Dimensional Design; and Three-Dimensional Design.

The Studio Art-Digital Art MFA at Louisiana State University is an experimental program that allows students to blend courses that explore computational artmaking with coursework in animation, film, electronic music, computer science, painting, and more. Graduate MFA students will complete 60 credit hours, with 12 general electives to be taken in any specialization. Students will take nine credits in a focus area, and six in Thesis Research.

The interdisciplinary DMAE Master’s is an intensive, two-year program that explores Animation, Video Games, and VFX. Course examples include Interactive Design; Digital Media Production & Project Management; Production Workshop; Innovation; Advanced Programming & Digital Art; Rapid Prototyping, and Interactive Production Team I-II.

Electives allow students to take additional animation courses or other courses of interest. A Digital Media Internship also part of the DMAE Master’s program, as well as a Capstone.

Across programs, student have access to LSU’s Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies, and Research (AVATAR) Initiative; opportunities to join the Digital Art and Design Association (DADA), which hosts an Annual Animation Jam; and the new Digital Media Center—a state-of-the-art, $29.3 million facility shared with Electronic Art’s North American Test Center.

The College of Art & Design at Louisiana State University also provides more domestic and study abroad programs than most other schools. For Studio Art, DMAE, DMART, and DMAET students, examples include ArtNYC; Art in Florence; Art in Ireland; Footsteps in Berlin; LSU in China; LSU in South Africa; College of Art + Design in Rome; and Design in Paris. Other study abroad destinations include Vietnam, the UK, Haiti, and the Netherlands.

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 approximately 32,490 students enrolled in more than 330 programs across 18 colleges, schools, and centers, and LSU Online. Louisiana State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

34. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 35% of colleges considered)
University of Maryland Baltimore County

The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) houses the Department of Visual Arts. Within the Department are two paths to study animation: the BA and BFA in Visual Arts. Both options allow students to select a concentration in Animation.

The BA program requires completion of a 24 credit hour Visual Arts core and a 24-27 credit hour Animation concentration. The BFA Visual Arts core is 27 credits, with a 45 credit hour Animation concentration. Visual Arts course examples across programs include Introduction to Art and Media Studies; Drawing I/Beginning Drawing; Studies in Visual Culture (Prehistory through the 1750s); and Visual Concepts I-IV. The Visual Concepts courses cover Two-Dimensional Design Principles; Camera Vision; Three-Dimensional Form, Space and Interaction; and Time-Based Media.

Course examples for the Animation concentration include Real Time Animation; Motion Graphics and Compositing; Animation in the Physical World; Advanced 3D Animation; Writing for Media Arts; History of Animation; and Sound Design. Visual Arts will alco complete nine credits of electives, including courses such as Topics in Animation and Interactive Art; Advanced 3D Animation; Installation Art; and Team-Based Game Development.

In addition to a variety of course options, the Visual Arts program at UMBC provides the opportunity to complete an internal or external internship related to the students focus. Visual Arts student have interned at places such as Smithsonian, Baltimore Orioles, Stanley Black & Decker, Baltimore Office of Promotion of the Arts, Maryland Public Television, Image Factory DC, Mindgrub Technologies, Renegade Productions, Maryland Art Place, and Creative Alliance. 

Students may also gain experience by enrolling in the elective course ART 496 – Imaging Research Center Internship (IRC). Students in this option will work on animation, graphics, and multimedia production in a professional work environment for real clients or research teams. Students will work in collaborative teams under the guidance of IRC directors.

In the final year of the Visual Arts BA and BFA programs, students will exhibit their best work at the Senior Exit Exhibition held at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture. Awards for Excellence are presented at the opening reception.

Graduates of the Visual Arts BA and BFA programs at University of Maryland Baltimore County are prepared to pursue roles in the entertainment industry, game design and development, advertising, web design, architecture, science and medicine, government, and education.

University of Maryland Baltimore County is part of the University System of Maryland. The school was established as a member in 1966. UMBC serves approximately 13,990 students enrolled in more than 200 degree, minor, and certificate programs across seven colleges and schools. The University of Maryland Baltimore County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

35. Ferris State University, Big Rapids & Grand Rapids, Michigan (Top 35% of colleges considered)

Ferris State University has several paths to study animation.  The school’s Digital Art and Design BFA has focus options in Multimedia Design and Entertainment Art. The Digital Art and Design minor provides the opportunity to customize the curriculum by selecting five major studio courses from the BFA program.

Consisting of 120 credit hours of study, the Digital Art and Design BFA combines imaging, animation, sound, and interactivity. The program allows students to develop a portfolio in 2D Animation, Interaction Design, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, or Visual Development.

Multimedia Design students will take courses that explore interaction design for the internet of things, virtual reality, web, motion design animation, video, and apps. Entertainment Art students will take courses that explore 2D animation, concept and production art for animation and games, and 3D game art.

Graduates of the Digital Art and Design BFA at Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) are prepared to pursue careers in fields such as entertainment, advertising, game art and design, information, retail, and education. Potential job titles include Character Animator, Background Designer, 2D/3D Motion Graphics Animator, Storyboard Artist, 2D/3D Character Concept Artist, and 2D/3D Prop & Environment Concept Artist.

KCAD alumni have been hired at places such as places such as Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, R/GA New York, and YouTube. KCAD alumni have also been accepted into graduate programs at School of Visual Arts in New York (SVA NY), Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada), among others.

Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University is one of the seven colleges within Ferris State. Established in 1884, Ferris State University serves more than 10,000 students enrolled 190+ programs. Located Big Rapids, Michigan, Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University serves 565 students enrolled in dozens of specialized undergraduate degree programs, and several graduate and certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, KCAD is accredited by HLC. KCAD is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

36. Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Pennsylvania Western University

The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Pennsylvania Western University, Edinboro (PennWest Edinboro) houses a Department of Art that provides Visual Arts programs at all degree levels. Other Department features include visiting artist and speakers; dedicated studio spaces; multiple galleries with frequent exhibitions; courses taught by accomplished specialists across creative industries; and National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation.

Among the Art Department’s academic programs is a Media Arts BFA that explores Animation, Digital Filmmaking, and Photography. BFA students may specialize in Animation. The concentration explores hand-drawn and computer-generated animation, character design, storyboarding, visual development, and stop-motion. Course examples include Digital Drawing and Painting; 2D Design; Graphic Novel Art and Design; 3D Modeling and Rigging; Stop Motion and Experimental Animation; 2D Digital Animation; Digital Visual Effects; Storyboard and Character Design; 3D Dynamics and Simulations; Digital Audio-Moving Image, and Animation Pipeline.

Students will also complete Animation Portfolio Prep. During this immersive course (worth three to six credits) students will work with 3D computer modeling, animation, sound, advanced nodal surfacing, and special effects through lectures and practical demonstrations. Students will also work on a group computer animation project, a detailed modeling project, complete their digital portfolio, and give a software demonstration.

Other Animation program highlights include access to state-of-the-art facilities such as the 2D Cintiq Lab; opportunities to engage with professional animators, storyboard artists, and directors during special on-campus events; participation in regular exhibitions of peer and faculty work; travel to animation conferences and festivals in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto; participation in the Animation Club; an internships with local, regional, and national production studios; and opportunities to tour major studios such as DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Sony, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.

The Media Arts BFA with an Animation concentration culminates with the Animation Production Capstone. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers across the entertainment, game design, and advertising industries, among others. Program alumni go on to become Animators, Character Designers, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Modelers, Storyboard Artists, and Directors.

Graduates of the PennWest Edinboro Animation program have been hired at major studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar, Blizzard Entertainment, and Nickelodeon.

Founded in 1857 as a private raining school for teachers, Pennsylvania Western University is western Pennsylvania’s second largest university. Composed of three sister institutions (Penn West Edinboro, PennWest Clarion, and PennWest California), the school serves a total of 11,305 students enrolled in hundreds of majors, minors, and graduate programs. PennWest Edinboro serves approximately 4,320 students enrolled in 100 majors and minors across 22 academic departments. Pennsylvania Western University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

37. Rutgers University Camden, Camden, New Jersey (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Rutgers University Camden

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University Camden (Rutgers-Camden) is the school’s largest academic unit. With three schools and 16 departments, Arts and Sciences provides more than 30 undergraduate majors, and over 15 graduate programs. The Department of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts here provides two paths to study animation—the Art BA and the new Visual Art BFA. Both programs allow students to specialize in Animation.

Digital Arts and Animation minors are available to students in the Arts. Both options require 18 credit hours of study. Common courses across programs include Computer Animation; Storyboard and Character Design; Classical Animation; and Drawing.

The BA, BFA, and minor programs provide access to the electronic arts studios at Rutgers-Camden, which house two newly renovated graphic design studios, two animation labs, and a post-production lab. These state-of-the art facilities are outfitted with networked computers, post-production units, 2D/3D and editing software, and more. Students also have access to separate studios for painting, drawing, sculpture, and ceramics; a photography lab; and a digital photography studio.

The Art BA consists of a 27 credit hour core. The Animation concentration for this program is 21 credit hours. The BFA has a 30 credit core, with 33 credit hours required for the Animation concentration. Examples of common Animation courses include Computer Animation I-II; Animation Storyboard; Character Rigging; and Character Animation.

BA students will also take Classical Animation, with access to electives such as 3D Modeling and Printing; Video Game Design (in collaboration with the Digital Studies Center); and Independent Study. BFA students will take other courses such as 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality; Digital Effects; and 2D Character Design. BA and BFA students are required to complete Animation Production and Animation Capstone I and II to graduate.

Graduates of the Art BA and Visual Art BFA programs at Rutgers University Camden are prepared to pursue leadership roles (and others) in industries such as entertainment, game design, and advertising. Rutgers-Camden alumni have worked in the 3D animation industry as Art Directors and Technical Directors for studios such as Walt Disney, Digital Domain, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., and Psyop.

Animation graduates have participated in film productions and games such as Frozen, Ice Age, Sesame Street 3D, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Happy Feet, and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Animation alumni have also been hired for salaried positions at places such as Disney, Warner Bros., Digital Domain, Psyop, Ubisoft, and BBC Earth.

Rutgers University Camden is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Rutgers). Founded in 1766, Rutgers is the 8th oldest university in the U.S. and New Jersey’s land-grant university. The school has locations in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Rutgers-Camden was founded in 1926 as South Jersey Law School and the College of South Jersey, which joined Rutgers in 1926. Serving approximately 6,075 students today, Rutgers University Camden provides nearly 70 degree programs across four colleges and schools. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

38. Indiana University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana (Top 40% of colleges considered)
Indiana University Indianapolis

The Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University Indianapolis (IU Indianapolis) has several paths to study animation. For students seeking a degree program, the Luddy School has a Media Arts and Science (MAS) BS with specializations in 3D Graphics and Animation, Digital Storytelling, and Game Design and Development.

For students seeking a shorter program, the school has minors in 3D Graphics and Animation, Game Design and Development, and Studio Art and Technology. A Virtual Production certificate is also available. Minors are 15 credit hours and the certificate is 18 credit hours.

All degree, minor, and certificate programs provide access to state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and other facilities, and courses that explore topics such as animation, special effects, augmented and virtual reality (VR/AR), 3D modeling, and production. Students also benefit from hands-on classroom projects.

Across BS specializations, students have access to many animation courses. For example, Digital Storytelling students can take 2D Animation; Stop Motion Animation; Advanced 2D Animation; Interactive Design; and Directing Visual Narratives. Examples of courses within 3D Graphics and Animation include 3D Animation; 3D Character Development; Advanced 3D Character Animation; Motion Graphics; and Compositing and Visual Effects.

Game Design and Development students may take courses such as 2D Animation; Storyboarding for Multimedia; Character Design and Animation; Digital Painting; and Virtual world Design and Development. Note that these specializations have overlapping courses and all allow students to participate in the study abroad experience in Greece.

The core for the MAS program with specializations in 3D Graphics and Animation, Digital Storytelling, and Game Design and Development, requires the Career Planning, Portfolio Development, and Multimedia Project Development courses. For the Capstone—the culminating experience for the program—students may choose one of three options: Capstone Project Internship; Mentorship; or Bridge to Industry.

Final projects result in a collective exhibition of all graduating students from the MAS program. Graduates of the MAS programs at Indiana University Indianapolis are prepared to pursue positions across industries from film/TV/animation and games to multimedia, advertising, and medicine.

Graduates of the Luddy School MAS program work in a variety of roles such as 2D and 3D Animator, Game Artist, Technical Animator, Motion Graphics Artist, Medical Animator, Game Artist, Creative Director, AR/VR Designer, and Film Production Artist. I

Program alumni have been hired at major studios and others such as Pixar, Electronic Arts (EA), Sony Pictures ImageWorks, Blizzard Entertainment, Rockstar Games, Digital Domain, Owlchemy Labs, HTC (Taipei, Taiwan), Gearbox Software, Vision3 Interactive, 4A Games, Piperworks Studios, and Half Full Nelsen.

Established in 1820, Indiana University was one of the first public universities west of the Allegheny Mountains. Classes began in 1825 with just 10 men. In 1967, IU became one of the first state universities to admit women. Today, Indiana University is a top public research university with more than 69,000 undergraduate students and 20,000+ graduate and professional students from all backgrounds and 164 countries. More than 930 academic programs are provided across seven campuses, including Indiana University Indianapolis. Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

39. Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah (Top 40% of colleges considered)v
Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University (UVU) is home to Scott M. Smith College of Engineering and Technology (CET). Serving more than 6,100 students, Smith CET provides over 90 technology programs across 11 departments. The CET Digital Media (DGM) Department has an Animation and Game Development program led by professional animators and game producers from places such as Electronic Arts (EA) and DreamWorks.

Leading to a BS, the program also provides opportunities for students to participate in associations and Animation and Game conferences to stay current with advancements in the industry. Examples include the Game Developers Conference, the Digital Animation and Games Association (DAGA), Immerse Global Summit, and The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.

The Animation and Game BS has two tracks: 2D Animation & Games, and 3D Animation & Games. Both options are cohort-based and require 120 credit hours of study. This includes 35 credits in general education, 40 credits in the discipline core, and 45 credits in the track.

Recognized as an Animation Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, the 2D track focuses on Animation, Character Rigging, and Compositing. Course examples include Animation Essentials Lab; Digital Storyboarding; Advanced Technical Direction I and II; Performance Animation; Compositing; and Studio Technology Essentials. 2D graduates are prepared to pursue careers in animation production.

The 3D track focuses on Modeling, Rigging, and Scripting. Students in this track will take many of the same courses as students in the 2D track, as well as Scripting for Animation and Games I and II; Game Development I, II, and III; and Fundamentals of Programming. 3D students will produce both group and individual titles throughout the program. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in animation and games production.

The culminating experience for the Animation and Game Development BS is the Senior Capstone. Students will develop real-world projects, individually and as part of a team, in consultation with a faculty advisor. This course may be repeated for a maximum of six credits towards graduation.

Graduates of the DGM program at UVU are prepared to pursue careers in all areas of animation and games, advertising, architecture, science and medicine, aerospace, legal, government, health, education, and more. Program alumni have been hired at places such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Amazon, Northrop Grumman, Gearbox Software, ArenaNet, and Tektonux.

Utah Valley University has an additional option for students who would like to pursue a career that values skills in animation, traditional illustration, and digital illustration. Housed in the School of Art—one of the largest art and design schools in the state—is the Art and Design BFA with an emphasis in Illustration. Also part of the Department of Art and Design, the program provides opportunities to intern with places such as Paramount Studios, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Utah MOCA). Students also have opportunities to compete for international internships in places such as Italy, Germany, the UK, and South Korea.

Consisting of 120 credit hours, the UVU Art and Design BFA/Illustration allows students to focus in an area of interest through electives. Course examples include 2D Animation for Illustration; Character Design; 3D Texturing and Rendering; Environment Design; Sequential Animation; Advanced Rendering of Forms and Surfaces; and Digital Illustration. Discipline Core and Emphasis requirements also include animation courses such as 2D and 3D Design; Conceptual Illustration; Computer Graphics; Narrative Illustration; 3D Modeling; and Advanced Illustration.

The Art and Design BFA culminates with the BFA Project, completed across two semesters. Final projects will be presented at the Student Art Show and Exhibition.  

Graduates of Art and Design BFA Program at Utah Valley University are prepared to pursue positions at film and animation studios, game design companies, advertising agencies, marketing firms, magazines, publishing companies, printing firms, graphic design studios, and in-house art and design departments. Some UVU Art and Design alumni also go on to launch their own studios or freelance businesses, while others continue to graduate school.

Utah Valley University was established in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School (CUVS). The school’s primary function was to provide war production training. Today, UVU serves a record 44,650+ students making it the largest public university in the state. The school provides more than 200 degree and certificate programs across eight colleges and schools. Utah Valley University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

40. University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (Top 40% of colleges considered)
University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina (USC) is home to the School of Visual Art and Design (SVAD), which provides four major areas of study—studio art, media arts, art education, and art history. Leading to both undergraduate and graduate degrees, SVAD programs are housed in McMaster College—an 85,000-square-foot facility designed specifically for visual arts learning and creation. Other SVAD highlights include visiting artists; access to exhibition galleries; assistantships for graduate students; internship opportunities with local and national studios; and study abroad experiences in places such as Kenya and Japan.

For students looking to pursue a career in animation, SVAD has BA and MA degrees in Media Arts, and a Media Arts minor. With an emphasis on modern media production and hands-on experience, the 18 credit hour minor requires Foundations of Media Arts Production (three credits) and Digital Media Arts Fundamentals (three credits). For the remaining 12 credit hours, students have the opportunity to create a focus in any area from electives.

Across all SVAD Media Arts Programs, students have access to courses such as Animation; Digital Compositing; Sound Art; Digital Media; The Moving Image; New Media Art; Manga and Anime; Video Game Design; and Media Culture. Led by industry professionals, Media Arts courses are hands-on and immersive, with many opportunities to work on animation projects individually or in a group.

Graduates of the Media Arts programs at University of South Carolina are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as entertainment, game design, advertising, fine art, science and medicine, architecture, and art education. Program alumni have been hired by major studios and companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Nickelodeon, ABC, Showtime, HBO Films, CBS Television, Netflix, Amazon Studios, IBM, Marvel, and NBC.

Established in 1801 as South Carolina College, University of South Carolina is one of the nation’s oldest public universities. The flagship campus of the eight-campus University of South Carolina System, USC serves approximately 34,700 students enrolled in more than 350 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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