What are the top animation school programs in Michigan for 2023?

Top 5 Michigan Animation School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1College for Creative StudiesDetroit
2Ferris State UniversityMultiple
3Grand Valley State UniversityAllendale
4Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti
5Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant

Our 2023 ranking -our twelfth annual- of the top 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

College for Creative Studies (CCS) has an Entertainment Arts Program with a variety of STEM-designated concentrations. This includes animation. Students in this concentration have the opportunity to customize a specific track. Examples include Traditional Animation, Storyboarding, CG, Visual Development, and Stop Motion. Other program benefits include an optional internship; coursework and mentorships that help students build an understanding of the production pipeline for animation, games, television, and advertising; and a Writing Workshop.  

All students at CCS are required to complete 42 to 43 credits in liberal arts and 84 credits in studio. Course examples for the program include 2D Design Principles, Creative Visualization, 2D Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Storyboarding for Film/Animation, Animation Projects I-II, Lighting & Rendering, Computer Character Animation, Advanced Story Concepts, Stop Motion, Environments & Characters, Sound Design, Animation Nuts & Bolts, and Senior Production Studio I-II.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program are Animators, Directors, Storyboard Artists, Riggers, and VFX Artists, among others. College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at studios and networks such as DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Disney, and ABC Television Group.

College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. This private, nonprofit college serves more than 1,400 students enrolled 12 majors leading to a BFA, four programs leading to an MFA, and one program lading to an MA. College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

2. Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD), Big Rapids & Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ferris State University

Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) of Ferris State University (Ferris or Ferris State) has Digital Art and Design BFA that provides opportunities to develop a portfolio in 2D Animation, Interaction Design, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, or Visual Development. A Digital Art and Design Minor consisting of five courses is also available.

The Digital Art and Design BFA combines imaging, animation, sound, and interactivity. The program, which has focus options in Multimedia Design and Entertainment Art, requires 120 credit hours of study. Multimedia Design students will take courses that explore interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, video and motion design animation. Entertainment Art students will take courses that explore 2D animation, 3D game art, and concept and production art for animation and games.

Graduates of the Digital Art and Design Programs at Kendall College of Art and Design are prepared to pursue careers in a wide variety of industries. Possible job titles include 2D Character Animator or Designer, Storyboard Artist, 2D/3D Motion Graphics Animator, 2D/3D Character Concept Artist, Character Animator, Background Designer, and 2D/3D Prop & Environment Concept Artist.

KCAD alumni hold positions at places such as Disney Television Animation, Epic Games, YouTube, and R/GA New York. KCAD alumni have also been accepted into graduate programs at the School of Visual Arts, New York (SVA NY), Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA), Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, Canada), and Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing (Indianapolis, IN).

Ferris State University was established in 1884. Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in more than 190 programs in seven degree-granting colleges. Ferris State university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design is one of the seven colleges within Ferris State University. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, KCAD serves 565 students enrolled in dozens of specialized undergraduate degree programs and several graduate and certificate programs. As part of Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design is accredited by the HLC. KCAD of Ferris State University is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) houses the Department of Visual & Media Arts. An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department serves nearly 700 students enrolled in five programs leading to ten different degrees. Students in all programs have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed for work in traditional and new media; experiential learning opportunities such as internships, study abroad, and field trips; visiting artists; and campus exhibition and independent study programs.

The Department of Visual & Media Arts at GVSU also has two pathways to study animation including the BA and BS in Film and Video Production. Both programs explore animation, scriptwriting, film studies, sound design, new media, nonfiction, documentary, and fiction.

While both the BA and BS pathways prepare students for careers in the industry, the BA requires proficiency in a foreign language and the BS requires three courses in Computer Information Systems, History or Statistics. All courses are taught by working professionals in the field. Other program benefits include membership in several student organizations, the opportunity to present work at local screening events, and the opportunity to complete production projects for clients outside of the classroom.

GVSU Film and Video Production students have worked with or interned at DreamWorks Animation, Voyage Pictures, Contact Light Films, 52 Watt Studios, Match Frame Creative, A2 Creative, D-Squared Creative, Coastline Studios, M-1 Studios, Detroit Public Television, and Allied Productions, among others. Grand Valley State University alumni are often hired by many of these studios and firms.

Grand Valley State University was established in 1960. The school serves approximately 21,650 students enrolled in 145 degree programs across seven schools and eight locations in Michigan. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic College at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and home to the School of Art & Design. Five undergraduate majors, three minors, and three graduate programs are available. For animators, the School of Art & Design has a Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) BS Program, and a 20 credit hour SAG Minor.

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the multidisciplinary SAG BS serves 138 students. The program combines traditional art disciplines, writing, and story development with coursework in animation, illustration, rigging, lighting and camera techniques, graphics for simulation, and game development tools such as Unity.

Specific animation courses include Simulation and Animation Dynamics, Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Animation, Advanced Principles of Animation, Simulation, Animation and Gaming, 2D Animation, Vector Illustration for SAG, and SAG Movement. EMU SAG students will complete several studios and Senior Projects in SAG to graduate from the program.

Graduates of the Eastern Michigan University SAG BS Program are prepared to pursue positions in computer animation, special effects, storyboard art and design, games, concept art, character design and development, and graphic design, among others.

Founded in 1849, Eastern Michigan University is the state’s second oldest public university. The school provides around 200 undergraduate majors and 150 graduate programs to more than 14,000 students (Fall 2022). Programs at EMU are offered across five colleges, the Graduate School, and the Honors College. Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Central Michigan University

The College of the Arts and Media (CAM) at Central Michigan University (CMU) houses the Department of Art and Design, home to the Art Program. Leading to a BFA, the Art Program has an Animation Concentration that allows students to focus in 2D or 3D Animation. Other program highlights include access to a state-of-the-art Animation Computer Lab, several Traditional-Animation Media Labs, organizations such as Animation Super Station, and internship and study abroad opportunities.

The Art BFA requires 78 credit hours outside of general education requirements, including 33 credit hours in the Animation Concentration. Course examples include 2D Digital Animation, Storyboarding for Digital Media, Animation Drawing, 3D Computer Animation III: Environments, Stop-Motion Animation, Digital Sculpting for Animation, Alternative Strategies in Animation, and Concept Development: Characters and Environments. Students will also take four studio courses in the concentration including Animation Studio I-II, Independent Animation Studio, and Advanced Production studio.

During the senior year, CMU Animation students will complete Animation Sr. Project I: Development and Pre-Production, Animation Sr. Project II: Production and Post, and Animation Portfolio and Professional Practices.

Graduates of the Central Michigan University Art BFA/Animation Program are prepared to pursue positions in the animation and film industries, game design, advertising, medical, forensic, or scientific illustration, and art education, among others. 

Founded in 1892, Central Michigan University opened as Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute with just 31 students. Today, CMU serves 15,465 students enrolled in 300 programs across seven colleges. CMU also offers 65 fully online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, and additional programs taught at 25 satellite locations across North America. Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).