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

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Missouri - 2024 College Rankings
1Kansas City Art InstituteKansas City
2Webster UniversityWebster Groves
3Missouri State UniversitySpringfield
4Hollywood Animation AcademyKansas City
5Missouri Western State UniversitySt. Joseph

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth annual- of the top animation school programs in Missouri. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) houses a state-of-the-art digital studio outfitted with the latest tools and equipment such as 3-D printers, CNC routers, and a digital loom. The KCAI campus also houses two art galleries—an encyclopedic museum and contemporary art museum—where students can explore contemporary art, collections of Impressionist paintings, and ancient Chinese sculptures. Students in all KCAI programs have access to these resources and more.

For students seeking an animation degree, Kansas City Art Institute has an Animation BFA that allows students to create their own path through the school’s mentor-based studio-instruction model. All students begin the program by exploring analog, classical, and experimental techniques. In the second year, students will take courses such as Sophomore Studio: Principles of Animation; History of Animation: Origins; and Sophomore Studio: Animators Toolbox.

The third year consists of Junior Studio: Explorations in Animation; History of Animation Since 1960; and Sophomore Studio: Ideas in Motion.

Throughout the 126 credit hour Animation BFA program, students will have the opportunity to select 15 credit hours from electives. Examples include Live Action for Animation; The Art of Stop Motion Puppetry; Real-Time Animation; Intro to Toon Boom Harmony; and Motion Graphics: History & Practice.

In the final year of the KCAI Animation BFA program, students will complete the Professional Practice course and Senior Studio: Graduation Animation 1 and 2. The Professional Practice course allows students to interact and network with visiting artists, scholars, and industry professionals. The two six-credit Senior Studios provide the opportunity to conceptualize and produce an animated work. Students may also complete an internship at a local or national studio. 

Graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute Animation BFA program are prepared to pursue roles in the entertainment industry, advertising, and many others. Program alumni have been hired at major networks and studios such as Nickelodeon, Digital Domain, Warner Bros., Disney, Netflix, Hallmark, and Titmouse. Some KCAI BFA graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees at top institutions such as University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), School of Visual Art New York (SVA NY), and University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). Others have

Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885 as a Sketch Club. Situated just steps from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art within Kansas City’s arts corridor, this four-year art and design college serves more than 700 students enrolled in 13 majors across 15 program areas. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

2. Webster University, Webster Groves, Missouri
Webster University

Webster University (Webster) is home to the School of Communications (SOC). Housed in a 66,000-square foot state-of-the-art media production and education facility known as the Sverdrup Complex, the SOC (as part of Webster) has been designated a Toon Boom Centre of Excellence by Toon Boom Animation. The school provides access to sound stages; animation, game design, and video post-production labs; workshop and teaching spaces; audio and video production suites; the Kooyumjian Gallery and Media Center; a recording suite and photography studio; Winnifred Moore Auditorium.

The Complex is also home to the Webster Film Series and Kinemafest, which hosts more than 100 film screenings, special series and outside sponsors, filmmaking workshops, over 20 visiting performers and speakers, and 6,800+ viewers.

The School of Communications at Webster University houses three departments including Media Arts; Audio Aesthetics and Technology; and Communications and Journalism. The Media Arts Department, has a STEM-designated Animation program with two options: the BA and Animation Production minor. Students in both programs benefit from small classes; collaboration across SOC disciplines and the University; and hands-on experience through experiential learning experiences.

The Animation BA at Webster University explores animation, storytelling, production, and performance. The major consists of 57 credit hours, with required courses such as Animation I-II; Character Design; 3D Modeling; Graphics and Effects; Storyboarding; Voicing Your Creation; Writing the Short Script; and Professional Development for Media Careers. Students can develop additional skills in a specific area through required electives. Examples include Game Art; Writing Screenplays for Film; Cartooning; Visual Effects; and Comic Book Creation.

The 18 credit hour Animation Production minor explores the theory, principles, and practice of animation. Courses include Animation I-II and Writing Screenplays for Film. Students will also complete nine hours of animation electives. Examples include 3D Animated Short Film; Special Topics in Animation; Character Design; Photorealistic 3D Animation; Experimental Animation; Storyboarding; Animation Production; Cartooning; and Visual Storytelling.

Students in all Webster SOC programs may add the Entrepreneurship Certificate to enhance the degree and participate in Careers Week. This department-focused event highlights industry professional-led career panels; interactive career videos; and the annual Internship Expo where students can network, meet with a variety of professionals, and secure an internship.

SOC students have interned at companies and studios in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Orlando, and New York City. Examples include MTV Networks, Plymptoons, Titmouse, ESPN, Genius Games, Bad Dog Pictures, and Vidzu Media.

Housed in the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology/Management Department, the Entrepreneurship Certificate is an 18 credit hour program that explores small business management, marketing, and financial management for Animation, Media Arts, Film/Television and Video Production, Music, and Graphic Design.

Graduates of the Animation programs at Webster University are prepared to pursue positions in the entertainment industry and many others. Program alumni have been hired at major studios such as DreamWorks, Disney, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Digital Domain. Alumni credits include Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003), and King Kong.

Webster University was founded in 1915 as Loretto College by the Sisters of Loretto. When it opened, the school became the first senior Catholic college for women in Missouri, and one of the first Catholic women’s colleges west of the Mississippi River. Today, Webster serves a diverse population of approximately 13,450 students enrolled in more than 160 programs across five colleges and schools. Webster University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

3. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University

The Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters at Missouri State University (MSU) is home to the Department of Art and Design and the Art BFA program with a Computer Animation Studies Track. In partnership with the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film, the Department of Art and Design also has an Electronic Arts BS with an optional Computer Animation Studies Track.

The Art BFA/Computer Animation program explores 2D and 3D animation techniques. Courses examples include Computer Animation II-V and Professional Practices in Computer Animation. Students may complete three to six credit hours in any studio area. An Art Internship, Public Affairs Capstone, and BFA Art Senior Exhibition are also part of the program.

Electronic Arts students will complete 69 credits in the major, including 18 in Computer Animation Studies. Students will take many Art BFA/Computer Animation courses along with others such as Animation I; Professional Practices in Computer Animation; Principles of Cinematography; and Editing for Film and Television. Junior Portfolio Review, the Public Affairs Capstone, and Senior Project in Electronic Arts are also part of the BS Program.

Graduates of the Missouri State University Animation Programs are prepared to pursue roles in areas such as Animation, Computer Animation, Visual Effects (VFX), Game Art, Television/Film, Game Design, Advertising, Marketing, and Education.

Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. This public university system comprises four campuses: Springfield, West Plains, and Mountain Grove, Missouri, and Dalian, China. MSU serves approximately 24,225 students enrolled more than 260 undergraduate majors and graduate options across eight colleges. Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

4. Hollywood Animation Academy, Kansas City, Missouri
Hollywood Animation Academy

Hollywood Animation Academy is solely dedicated to teaching animation for film, games, and television. The school is the only freestanding 100% animation college in the country taught by accomplished animators from major Hollywood studios. Courses and programs at Hollywood Animation Academy take place in an entirely on-ground environment housed in the Centriq Training Building. Students have access to a state-of-the-art computer lab and classrooms that encourage collaboration.

Single courses include Introduction to Animation and Introduction to Story. The two-year program consists of 19 courses; Portfolio Preparation and the Art of “Working the Business”; and Career Assistance and Referrals (four weeks). Course examples for the program include 2D and 3D Animation Fundamentals; Storyboarding Animation; Game Animation; The Art of Cartoons; Advanced CG Animation - “Quadrapeds and Creatures Oh My!”; Film Study: Blockbuster; Feature and Television Storyboarding; and Game Cinematics.

Upon completion of the program, students will have a professional portfolio of their best work. With guidance and referrals from instructors with connections in Hollywood, graduates will be prepared to pursue positions with top studios such as Disney, Blizzard, Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts (EA), Cartoon Network, Fox Animation, Insomniac Games, and Rough Draft.

Founded in 2022 by Hollywood Director and Animator Gavin Dell, Hollywood Animation Academy provides courses and a two-year Animation program to students from across the state. Classes began on January 9, 2023. Students at Hollywood Animation Academy have the opportunity to begin animating on the very first day.

5. Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Missouri
Missouri Western State University

The School of Fine Arts at Missouri Western State University (MWSU) is home to the Department of Art. Within the department is a Digital Animation program with BFA and minor options. The BFA requires 42-47 credits in the major and the minor requires 21 credit hours. Course examples across programs include Digital Animation; Character Animation; Motion Graphics; Design Software Applications; Digital 3D Lighting; Two-Dimensional Design; and Digital Animation Production.

BFA students can enhance the degree through a required six additional credit hours of electives. Examples include CGI Integration; Audio Production; Computer Programming; Motion Capture; Greenscreen & Rotoscoping; Matchmoving; Independent Research/Project; and the Internship in Art.

The Digital Animation BFA program at Missouri Western State University culminates with an Online Digital Animation Portfolio of the students’ best work. The Portfolio will be in the form of a demo reel or interactive medium. In addition to the portfolio, students will craft a resume and design marketing materials such as business cards.

Graduates of the Digital Animation programs at Missouri Western State University are prepared to pursue positions at animation studios, design firms, game studios, advertising agencies, and more. Examples of potential job titles include Animator, Character Animator, Art Director, Motion Graphic Designer, Visual Effects (VFX) Artist, Game Artist, Medical Animator, Scientific Visualization Animator, Background Painter, Level Designer, and Illustrator.

Founded in 1915 as St. Joseph Junior College, Missouri Western State University is a four-year university and a full member of the Missouri State University System. MWSU serves 4,395 students enrolled in more than 100 degree, minor, and certificate programs across seven colleges and schools. Missouri Western State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).