What are the top animation school programs in Michigan for 2024?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Michigan - 2024 College Rankings
1College for Creative StudiesDetroit
2Ferris State University Multiple
3Grand Valley State UniversityAllendale
4Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant
5Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth 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

Entertainment Arts at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) consists of Animation, Game Design, Digital Film, and Concept Design pathways. All options are STEM-Designated and taught by Hollywood insiders, using the latest equipment and software. A Toon Boom Center for Excellence, Entertainment Arts at CCS houses state-of-the-art PC and MAC equipment, editing suites, gaming labs, and full VR capabilities with Vive goggles and sensors.

In addition to declaring a major, all College for Creative Studies undergraduate students will choose from seven liberal arts minors or 20 studio minors. Required credits include 42 to 43 in liberal arts and 84 in studio. Students are also encouraged to take classes outside of their major, to enhance their skill set. Like all CCS departments, Entertainment Arts emphasizes technical skill, aesthetic and conceptual ability, and practical experience.

The Entertainment Arts program with a concentration in Animation requires a total of 126-127 credit hours. Leading to a BFA, the program begins with the First Year Experience (FYE), which focuses on academic preparedness. During the first year, students will also complete courses such as Drawing I: Rapid Concept; Drawing II: Style & Skill; Animation I; Digital Techniques; Process & Making; and 2D Design Principles.

Animation II-III; Experimental Animation; Animation Nuts & Bolts; and Storyboarding for Film/Animation are just a few 2nd year courses. Upper division courses include Advanced Story Concepts; Animation Projects I-II; and Business Practices. In the final year of the program, students will complete several required general education electives; Entertainment Arts electives; and Senior Production Studio I-II. CCS Animation students also have the opportunity to complete an internship.

Graduates of the Animation program at College for Creative Studies are prepared to pursue careers across the entertainment, advertising, games, and other industries. Program alumni are Animators, Directors, Storyboard Artists, Riggers, and VFX Artists. College for Creative Studies alumni have been hired at major studios and networks such as Disney, Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks Animation, and ABC Television Group.

Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, College for Creative Studies is a private, nonprofit institution that serves more than 1,400 students enrolled in 23 Art and Design programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. CCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The school is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

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

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) 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 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).

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

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is home to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). Within CLAS is the Department of Visual & Media Arts (VMA). An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the VMA Department serves nearly 700 students enrolled in five programs leading to ten different degrees.

Students in all programs may participate in campus exhibitions; independent study programs; and experiential learning such as internships, study abroad, and field trips. Organizations that have offered internships to VMA students include Flix Premiere, Externa CGI, TruVision Studios; Mosaic Film Experience, Coastline Studios, Paris Films, Michael Lynn Animation Studio, Green Sky, and Voyage Pictures. Students have also interned or studied abroad places such as the UK, Australia, France, and Spain.

All VMA students also benefit from access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed for work in traditional and new media; interactions with regular visiting artists; participation in several student organizations; and the opportunity to present off-campus screening events.

The Department of Visual & Media Arts at GVSU also has two paths to study animation: BA and BS degrees in Film and Video Production. Both options explore animation, film studies, new media, scriptwriting, fiction, sound design, documentary, and nonfiction. The BA requires proficiency in a foreign language, while the BS requires three courses in Computer Information Systems, History, or Statistics.

Across programs, courses and projects are led by working professionals in the field, with opportunities to work on productions for clients outside of the classroom. Course examples for the program include Animation I and II; Film and Video Art; Digital Post Production; History of Animation; Experimental Film and Video; Media Production I and II; 3D Computer Animation; Lighting for Film and Video Production; and Survey of Media Production Modes.

At the advanced level, students will complete the Advanced Film Practicum – Summer Film Project; Post-Production Practicum; Producing for Clients; and the Senior Thesis Project.

The Film and Video Production program at Grand Valley State University is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Graduates are prepared for careers in all areas of film, television, and video; advertising; illustration; game design; architecture; publishing; and many other areas. GVSU Film and Video Production alumni have worked with studios and production houses such as DreamWorks Animation, Detroit Public Television, Voyage Pictures, Match Frame Creative, M-1 Studios, Contact Light Films, 52 Watt Studios, A2 Creative, Coastline Studios, Allied Productions, and D-Squared Creative.

Grand Valley State University was established in 1960. With eight regional campuses and centers, GVSU serves approximately 22,270 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs across seven schools and eight locations in Michigan. Grand Valley State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

The College of the Arts and Media (CAM) at Central Michigan University (CMU) is home to the Department of Art and Design. Within the department is an Art program that provides opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain valuable work experience through industry internships. The program also features exhibitions; participation in networking events; and access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a dedicated Animation Lab and Traditional Media Animation Labs.

Leading to a BFA, the Art program at CMU has an Animation concentration that allows students to focus in 2D or 3D Animation. Students in both areas will study character design, effects animation, 3D modeling and lighting, storyboarding, and character performance, while working with hand-drawn animation, 3D computer animation, and traditional stop-motion technique, among others.

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; 3D Computer Animation III: Environments; Storyboarding for Digital Media; Concept Development: Characters and Environments; Animation Drawing; , Digital Sculpting for Animation; Alternative Strategies in Animation; and Stop-Motion Animation. Students will also take four studio courses in the concentration including Animation Studio I-II; Advanced Production Studio; and Independent Animation Studio.

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.

During the last year of the Art BFA program, 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 program with a specialization in 2D Animation are prepared for careers in 2D character animation, concept and character design, motion graphics, 2D animated effects for film, storyboarding, video games, and comics. 3D Animation graduates can work in areas such as 3D production for character animation, 3D prototyping, and even toy design.

Program alumni work in the animation and film industries; game design and development; advertising, marketing, and public relations; medical, forensic, or scientific animation/illustration; retail; design and production; and art education.

Founded in 1892, Central Michigan University opened as Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute with just 31 students. Today, CMU serves approximately 14,410 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs and 70+ graduate programs across seven colleges. CMU also provides 65 fully online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Additional programs are available at 25 satellite locations across North America. Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

5. Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Eastern Michigan University

Derving approximately 4,770 students, the College of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic College at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). The college is also home to the School of Art and Design, which provides five undergraduate majors, three minors, and three graduate programs. As part of the School of Art and Design, all programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

For animators, the EMU School of Art and Design school has a Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) BS program, and a 20 credit hour SAG minor. Course examples for the minor program include Graphics for Simulation I-II; Environment Design; and Introduction to Game Design.

The multidisciplinary SAG BS serves approximately 140 students. The curriculum for the program combines traditional art disciplines, story development, and writing with coursework in animation, rigging, graphics for simulation, illustration, lighting and camera techniques, graphics for simulation, and game development tools such as Unity. Students will also work with other software such as Adobe Animate, Illustrator, Maya, and 3DS Max to create several projects throughout the program.

Course examples for the program include Simulation and Animation Dynamics; Historical and Contemporary Approaches to Animation; Advanced Principles of Animation; Simulation and Animation Dynamics; Vector Illustration for SAG; Organic Rigging; and SAG Movement. EMU SAG students will complete several studios and Senior Projects in SAG to graduate from the program.

Graduates of the SAG BS program at Eastern Michigan University are prepared to pursue positions in computer animation, special and visual effects (VFX), game art for video games, storyboarding, 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 approximately 11,130 students from 49 states and 83 countries. Programs at EMU are housed across five colleges, the Graduate School, and the Honors College. Eastern Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).