What are the top animation school programs in New Jersey for 2021?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in New Jersey - 2021 College Rankings
1Rutgers UniversityCamden
2New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewark
3Montclair State UniversityMontclair
4Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadison
5William Paterson UniversityWayne

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

1. Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey
Rutgers University

Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the eighth oldest university in the nation. Serving more than 71,000 students from all 50 states and more than 125 countries, Rutgers is also the largest university in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.

The school has campuses in Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick. The Camden campus offers 38 undergraduate majors and 29 graduate programs in five colleges and schools.

Camden College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts (VMPA), which offers a BA with a Concentration in Animation.

Students in the program “learn to prepare two and three-dimensional art for animation films, gaming, video, advertising, architecture, medical research, and web design in the most comprehensive and advanced courses available in this region,” says the school. Course highlights include Advanced Computer Studio, Animation Production, Character Animation, Classical Animation, Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Computer Multimedia, Design for the World Wide Web, Environmental Design, Kinetic Sculpture, New Media Art, and Video and Film Production. 

Students in the program will complete Special Studio Projects, which allows them to work closely with a studio faculty adviser to develop and execute a specified series of art works. An internship is also part of the program and all students have access to three on-campus laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art networked computers and post-production units, as well as 2D/3D editing software.

Graduates of the Animation Program at Rutgers have worked in the 3D animation industry as art directors and technical directors for various companies and studios, such as BBC Earth, Blue Sky Studios, Digital Domain, Psyop, Ubisoft, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and more. In addition, they have participated making a variety of award-winning movies and games, such as Assassin’s Creed Unity, Frozen, Happy Feet, Ice Age, Sesame Street 3D, and Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.

2. New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Founded in 1881, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is the state’s public polytechnic university. The school opened its doors as The Newark Technical School in 1885 with just 88 students. Today, NJIT serves more than 11,400 students enrolled in more than 120 undergradaute and gradaute degree programs, and 19 doctoral programs, in eight colleges and schools. The Hiller College of Architecture and Design (HCAD) houses the School of Art + Design, which offers a BA in Digital Design with two Tracks: Entertainment and Interactive Media.

Course highlights for the four-year program include 2D and 3D Character Design and Modeling, Acting for Animators, Digital Audio, Environment Design in Motion Pictures, Game Level Design, Game Modification, History of Games, Imaginary Worlds, SFX/VFX in Movies, and Video & Animation.

Students in the program have opportunities to showcase their work through competitions and curated exhibits. A number of them have had work exhibited at the annual conference of ACM/SIGGRAPH, the international organization focusing on computer graphics and interactive techniques. “Additional career and networking opportunities arise through participation in various SIGGRAPH programs,” says the school.

Graduates of NJIT’s Digital Design Program have landed positions in animation, game design, graphic design, architectural and environment visualization, web design, storyboard art, and more. Among the studios where NJIT students have interned or worked full-time are 1st Avenue Machine, CSALAS & Co Labs, KWD – Kim Wendell Design LLC, Miskowski Design LLC, NTropic, SUSPECT vfx+design, SWDTech Games, and Tripwire Interactive.

3. Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey
Montclair State University

Founded in 1908 as New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair, Montclair State University serves 21,005 students enrolled in more than 300 majors, minors, concentrations and certificate programs through 11 colleges and schools. The College of the Arts houses the Department of Art and Design, which offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. This pre-professional program consists of courses in both traditional and digital drawing techniques that provide a foundation for advanced animation coursework.

In addition to fine arts courses, students will take illustration and animation courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Animation Production, Cartooning, Character Design, Digital Illustration, Screenwriting for Animation, and Texture Mapping. All students will complete a number of initial and advanced project assignments as well. Initial assignments include Advertising Illustration, Book Cover Art, Comic Book and Graphic Novel Art, and Editorial illustration.

Advanced projects include Animated Shorts, Animated Storyboards, and Character Development for 2D and 3D Animation. Through advanced projects such as Senior Year Portfolio and courses such as Portfolio & Professional Business Practices and Portfolio Development, students will create a polished portfolio of their best work.

Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue titles such as Art Director, Effects Animator, Flash Animator, Concept Artist, Editorial Illustrator, Environments Designer, Layout Artist/Supervisor, Multimedia Designer, Storyboard Artist, Technical Director/Support Engineer, Technical Illustrator, Visual Development Artist, and many others.

4. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey
Fairleigh Dickinson University

Established in 1942, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) was the first American university to own and operate an overseas campus (Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, UK) and the first comprehensive university in the world to require distance learning of its undergraduates. Serving more than 12,000 students, FDU is also New Jersey’s largest private university.

More than 100 degrees and disciplines are offered across two New Jersey campuses (Madison and Teaneck), the UK campus, and a campus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The school also has extension sites throughout New Jersey, along with partner institutions and study abroad opportunities around the world.

Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the School of Art, which is part of FDU’s Becton College. Options include a BA in Film and Animation, MA and MFA degrees in Animation, BA-MA and BA-MFA combined degrees, and Minors in 3D Video Game Animation, Animation, Film Production, Studio Arts, and Cinema Studies. The BA offers three concentrations including 3D Animation, 2D Animation, and Video Game Animation. Common course titles for the undergraduate programs include Character Animation using CAT, History of Animation & Special Effects, Logo and Product Animation, Motion Capture, Storytelling, 3D Computer Animation, and Vector Animation.

FDU’s MA and MFA degrees in Animation offer concentrations in 3D Character Animation, Visual Effects, and Video Games. The MA requires 36 credit hours of study and the MFA requires 60 credit hours. Both programs require completion of a thesis.  

The combined BA-MA in Animation “offers FDU students the option to complete both the Bachelor and Master degrees in Animation,” says the school and it is “designed for animation students seeking additional training at the graduate level that goes beyond their undergraduate education.” The BA-MFA is designed for “talented, highly motivated students seeking specialized training at the terminal degree level in addition to their undergraduate education in animation.”

The curriculum for the terminal degree “culminates in a major Thesis work, incorporates motion capture and virtual reality technology, gives students experience in working on group projects, and also promotes career readiness.” The graduate and undergraduate programs offer access to FDU’s internship program, “which allows students to gain real world experience by completing industry internships for clients such as MTV, ABC, Nickelodeon, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, NBC Universal at CNBC, NJ Jets, World Wresting Entertainment, and Viacom among others.”

Alumni have landed positions at ABC, Animated Storyboards, Blindhack Software, Blue Sky Studios, CCG Metamedia, Curious Pictures, DreamWorks, Entertainment at Fox Interactive, High Five Games, Marvel Comics, Pixel Light Digital Media, Skyline Entertainment, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Tribe Pictures, Viacom, Verizon, Whisper Productions, and many others.

5. William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey
William Paterson University

William Patterson University was founded in 1855 as Paterson City Normal School in response to the growing demand for professional preparation of teachers-in-service in the emerging free public schools of Paterson. Today, the school is a leading public University with more than 10,000 students enrolled in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five academic colleges: Arts and Communication, Cotsakos College of Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science and Health.

The College of Arts and Communication houses the Art Department, which offers BFA and BA degrees in a wide variety of areas, including Animation and Multimedia. Students in the program will complete studio requirements such as 2D and 3D Design, Digital Methods, and Life Drawing. Animation and Multimedia courses include 3D Character Animation, Advanced Cell Animation, Advanced Projects 2D Computer Art, Computer Paint and Digital Drawing, Illustration, Interactive Multimedia, and Storyboarding and Production Design, to name a few.

The program also requires six credit hours in BFA Studio Senior Seminar and Senior Thesis Project, and nine credit hours of electives such as Acting, Filmmaking, Scenery Construction and Design, and Screenwriting.

The thesis “is intended to provide a culminating experience for the art or design major.” Emphasis is placed on “personal philosophy in the development of visual imagery.” A complete portfolio presentation in the studio area of specialization is required for successful completion of this course.