What are the top animation school programs in Maryland for 2021?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Maryland - 2021 College Rankings
1Maryland Institute College of ArtBaltimore
2University of Maryland Baltimore CountyBaltimore
3Towson UniversityTowson
4Bowie State UniversityBowie
5Morgan State UniversityBaltimore

Our 2021 ranking -our tenth annual- of the top animation school programs in Maryland. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Maryland Institute College of Art

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the nation’s oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 students from 49 states and 52 countries and it attracts more than 175 visiting artists, critics, designers, poets , writers, and art historians from across the U.S. and around the world each year.

MICA offers around 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, or MPS degree. Study areas include art education, design, electronic media, fine arts, liberal arts, and professional studies. A number of post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also offered.

Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Animation Department. Options include a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Animation, a BFA in Studio + Humanistic Studies, and a Minor in Animation.

Three pathways are available for the BFA including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The program begins with a fundamental understanding of the art of movement then progresses through areas such as 2D hand-drawn animation, 3D computer imaging, animation history, stop-motion, and innovative combinations of these processes.

Unique course highlights for the program include 3D Character Animation: Performance, 3D Modeling Landscape, Animated Music Video, Animation in Unique Spaces, Astro-Animation, 3D Modeling Landscape, Virtual Reality for Artists, Virtual to Real: Rapid Prototype, and Stop-Motion Open Studio. The program culminates in a thesis film in students’ final year.

The BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies covers animation studies along with philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history. Course highlights for the program include Art Matters, Character Animation, Drawing, Digital Tools For Animation, Electronic Media & Culture Elements of Visual Thinking, and Stop-Motion.

The Minor in Animation requires 15 credit hours of study. Required courses include The Principles of Animation and Digital Tools for Animation, Animation Pre-Preproduction OR Storyboarding for Animators, and Introduction to 3D Animation OR Stop-Motion Animation.

MICA animation graduates have been hired by Blue Sky Studios, Disney, DreamWorks, Laika, MTV, and other major companies and studios. Many MICA graduates have continued their education in graduate programs or have successful careers as freelance artists in the animation industry.

2. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Founded in 1966, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) serves around 13,500 students enrolled in more than 200 majors, minors, certificate, master’s and doctoral programs in seven colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) houses the Department of Visual Arts, which offers BA and BFA degrees in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation.

Students in both programs will study animation as “makers,” says the school, “taking a sequence of hands-on production courses through traditional media and digital tools, investigating the history of animation, and screening of contemporary animation artists.” Students “are encouraged and expected to develop their own artistic voice through exploration of the media and critical review of their work. In-class critiques of personal work are emphasized for the development of a framework from which students can begin their path as artists in the animation field.”

Advanced level courses in the animation programs incorporate technically intensive experiences in 2D and 3D digital, hand-crafted, hybrid, and interactive processes, and the “exploration of emerging practices within the animation field.”

The BFA program also includes intensive lecture, studio, and lab investigation of techniques, methods, and concepts. An optional internship is offered for both programs.

Students completing the Animation Concentration have the opportunity to produce a fully developed work at the culmination of the program, either individually or as part of a team.

Graduates of the animation programs at UMBC have become successful freelance artists or have found jobs at major animation studios, game companies, and government agencies. Additionally, many students continue their studies in graduate programs.

3. Towson University, Towson, Maryland
Towson University

Towson University (TU) opened its doors on January 15, 1866 as the Maryland State Normal School. By 1875, the school had enough space to accommodate 300 students. Today, the school sits on a 329-acre campus that accommodates close to 23,000 students, making it the largest university in the Baltimore area and the second-largest university in the University System of Maryland. Students at TU pursue 64 undergraduate majors, 46 master’s programs, and four doctoral degree programs in seven colleges.

The College of Fine Arts & Communication (COFAC), Department of Art, offers a BFA in Art + Design with a Digital Art and Design Concentration and an MFA in Studio Art. The BFA program has a 12-unit specialization in Animation. Required courses include Animation 2D, Animation 3D, Animation Studio, and Photo Imaging – Motion.

Students in the program gain practical expertise, as well as creative insight, while problem solving in a variety of digital contexts. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in animation, broadcast design, digital illustration, digital imaging, interactive design, multimedia design, or web design.

The MFA is designed for students who wish to pursue art as a career or become a college-level instructor. The program consists of professional study in animation, digital media, graphic design, illustration, interactive media design, interrelated media, jewelry, metalsmithing, painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. Students will develop research and writing skills and they will have the opportunity to focus on a specific area of study “while also being able to choose from a wide variety of learning experiences.”

Graduate seminars and weekly critiques are part of the program as well as assigned studio spaces for full-time students.

4. Bowie State University, Bowie, Maryland
Bowie State University

Founded in 1865, Bowie State University (BSU) is Maryland’s oldest Historically Black College/University (HBCU) and one of the ten oldest in the country. A member institution of the University System of Maryland, Bowie State serves 6,250 students enrolled in 23 undergraduate majors, 20 master’s degrees, 14 post-bachelor’s certificates, and two doctoral programs. Programs are offered through the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, and Professional Studies. The College of Arts & Sciences houses the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, which offers a BS in Visual Communication and Digital Media Arts with a concentration in Animation and Motion Graphics. The program provides “an overview of animation and motion graphics design,” per the school. Students in the program will “focus primarily on sequential and time-based art and the integration of video and film production.” They will also merge skills in illustration and new media. 

Coursework covers 2D, 3D, and stop-motion, animation, motion graphics, visual communications, and digital media arts (television/video production) and English (film studies) cinema, media studies, business, marketing, and screenwriting. Highlights include 2D Design, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Animation & Modeling, History of Animation, Digital Cinematography, Electronic Music, Expository Writing, Multimedia Workshop, Screenwriting, Self-Promotion & Marketing in the Arts, Advanced Topics in Animation and Film and African American Cinema as well as a minor and courses in Hip-Hop and Visual Culture. Students will also complete an internship and Senior Thesis & Portfolio Development (animated short film). 

Animation and Motion Graphics students will have the opportunity to participate in Laika Stop Motion Animation Studio @ Bowie State University located in the Fine and Performing Arts Center (FPAC) to also explore areas related to game design, experimental animation, motion capture, and more. Graduates of the Animation and Motion Graphics Program at Bowie State are prepared to seek careers in animation (2D/3D), compositing, motion graphics, new media, film, special effects, and more. 

5. Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland
Morgan State University

Founded in 1867, Morgan State University is a Carnegie-classified, coeducational doctoral research institution that serves 7,700 students enrolled in more than 100 academic programs in 10 colleges and schools. The College of Liberal Arts houses the Department of English & Language Arts, which offers BA and BFA degrees in Screenwriting & Animation (SWAN), and a Minor in Film & Digital Storytelling.

The BA and BFA programs offer Concentrations in Computer Animation, Film and Television Writing, and Integrated Media Writing (Screenwriting & Animation). Students in all concentrations will complete gateway courses such as Cinematic Storytelling and Computer Science, and core courses such as Art in Motion and World Cinema. Although students may take animation course is all concentrations, the Computer Animation Concentration is the most popular for aspiring animators.

Course highlights for the concentration include Animation Workshop, Game Art and Design, Practicum in the Graphic Comic, Pre-Visualization and Storyboard Design, and Special Topics in Web Design. A Film and Digital Storytelling Internship is part of the concentration as well as Senior Studio Project I & II.

The Minor in Film & Digital Storytelling is offered in conjunction with the Screenwriting and Animation major. The Minor has three tracks: Cinematic Studies, Film and Digital Storytelling, and Screenwriting (Film and Television Writing). All areas offer the opportunity to learn animation through core requirements, seminars, hands-on production, and the internship.

Graduates of the Morgan State University’s Animation Program are prepared to seek positions in animation, advertising, film, games, television, and more.