What are the top animation school programs in Michigan for 2020?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Michigan - 2020 College Rankings
1College for Creative StudiesDetroit
2Ferris State University (KCAD)Grand Rapids
3Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti
4Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant
5Grand Valley State UniversityAllendale

Our 2020 ranking of the top 5 animation school programs in Michigan. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
College for Creative Studies

Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department. Here, students can earn a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation that allows students to “develop character performance within a variety of 2D and 3D applications,” says the school.

Students will hone their skills in “traditional and computer-generated (CG) animation and design and gain experience in stop motion, motion graphics, and experimental media.” Course highlights for the program include 3D Techniques, Drawing: Visualization, Gesture Drawing, Computer Character Animation, Lighting and Rendering, Visual Narration, Experimental Animation, Sound Design, Digital filmmaking, and Advanced Story Concepts.

All Entertainment Art students will have the opportunity to customize their curriculum by taking coursework in other concentrations such as Digital Film or Game Design. Students will also complete a Writing Workshop, Senior Production Studio, and an optional internship.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program work throughout the industry as animators, designers, fabricators, storyboard artists and visual development artists. Graduates have been hired at major studios across the U.S. including Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks Animation, and Disney ABC Television Group, to name a few.  

2. Ferris State University (KCAD), Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University (KCAD)

Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) is a college within Ferris State University. The school serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. KCAD offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design that allows students to work in one of two focus areas including Entertainment Art (animation, digital 3D, visual development for games and animation, and sequential arts like comics and storyboards) and Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation). 

The school says, “with substantial flexibility in the degree of specialization/ generalization built into the curriculum, students will be able to develop portfolios in one or more of these professional media markets: Visual Development, 2D Animation, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, and Interaction Design.” Course highlights for the Entertainment Art Focus include Animation & Motion Graphics, 3D Character Design, Imaging for Game, Animation & Film, Comic Media Design, Applied Music and Sound, Video, 3D Game Art, Interactive Multimedia Design, Storyboard Art, and 2D Character Animation. Students will also take Professional Studio I & II, and Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.

Multimedia Design students will take most of the same courses and studios as students in the Entertainment Art Focus, including Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.

Students in both programs will also gain knowledge and hands-on experience via high-end equipment and on-campus facilities such as Cintiq Studios and a wide range of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, and via access to The Dow Center FlexLab, and KCAD Library.

Graduates of the programs will have the skills and experience needed to pursue careers such as 2D animation, 3D game art, concept and production art for games and animation, visual development, interaction design, and motion design.

3. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University (EMU) offers more than 200 undergraduate majors, minors and certificates, plus more than 150 graduate programs to 21,105 students. Programs are offered through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health and Human Services, and Engineering & Technology, along with the Graduate School and Honors College. The College of Engineering & Technology, which serves nearly 7,000 students, houses the School of Visual & Built Environments. Here, students can earn a BS with a Focus in Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) or they can take a Minor in SAG. 

The school says the SAG degree is a multidisciplinary area of study, combining traditional art mediums, programming, creative writing and story development with coursework focusing on modeling, rigging, animation, lighting, and camera work in 3D. The program gives students a wide variety of experiences in their course of study, which includes courses such as Environment Design, Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Animation, Introduction to Simulation, Animation and Gaming, Principles of Animation, SAG Rigging, Story Development, and Simulation and Animation Dynamics, to name a few.

Graduates of the program go on to become Game Designers, Character Designer, Effects Artists, Modeler and Storyboard Assistants, Graphic Designers, Computer Animators, Concept Artists, and more.

4. Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Central Michigan University

Central opened its doors in 1892 as the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute. On June 1, 1959, with 40 buildings standing on a 235-acre campus and an enrollment of 4,500 students, Central was renamed Central Michigan University (CMU). Today, the school serves 21,705 campus students and more than 8,000 online students around the world. Programs are offered through seven colleges, including the College of the Arts and Media, home of the Department of Art and Design. Here, students can earn a BFA in Animation.

The animation program at CMU “provides students with a broad exposure to animation as an industry and as an internationally celebrated artform,” says the school. Students can choose to work in a variety of media from hand drawn animation, to traditional stop motion techniques, to 3D computer animation.  Topics covered include character design, storyboarding, modeling, character and effects animation, and more. “As student’s progress they are encouraged to focus on specific areas of interest while contributing to a variety of advanced production opportunities.”

Other program highlights include involvement in the department’s animation student organization (Animation Super Station), which meets on a regular basis to screen films, host speakers, and support individual projects. Students also have access to a dedicated animation lab outfitted with fully loaded workstations with industry grade software to support a variety of animation workflows including 2D motion graphics, 3D animation and tradigital animation (a combination of traditional drawing and digital production tools).

Traditional media animation labs are “designed for playful exploration in a variety of analogue media such as clay, paper cut-out and even sand animation.” Here, students have access to workstations outfitted with a professional DSLR camera, Imac computer and industry grade software for capturing and processing frame-by-frame animation.

Students that graduate with a BFA in Animation will leave CMU with a broad set of skills and will be able to work in a variety of areas including the entertainment industry, illustration and advertising, prototyping and design for manufacturing, and the medical media industry.

5. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan
Grand Valley State University

Established in 1960, Grand Valley State University serves more than 25,000 students from the U.S. and more than 80 different countries. The school offers 130 degrees across eight colleges. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is home to the School of Communications. Housed within the School of Communications is the Department of Visual & Media Arts, which offers a BA and BS in Film and Video Production.

Students can expect high-impact learning opportunities outside the classroom through internships and local production projects, opportunities to present work through regularly scheduled public screenings, and a peer-reviewed academic journal, and hands-on experience by producing projects for real clients in and outside of the classroom. Courses of study include Animation, Documentary, Fiction, Film Studies, New Media, Nonfiction, Scriptwriting, and Sound Design.