What are the top animation school programs in New Jersey for 2024?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in New Jersey - 2024 College Rankings
1Rutgers University CamdenCamden
2New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewark
3Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadison
4Montclair State UniversityMontclair
5Ramapo College of New JerseyMahwah

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

1. Rutgers University Camden, Camden, New Jersey
Rutgers University Camden

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University Camden (Rutgers-Camden) is the school’s largest academic unit. With three schools and 16 departments, Arts and Sciences provides more than 30 undergraduate majors, and over 15 graduate programs. The Department of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts here provides two paths to study animation—the Art BA and the new Visual Art BFA. Both programs allow students to specialize in Animation.

Digital Arts and Animation minors are available to students in the Arts. Both options require 18 credit hours of study. Common courses across programs include Computer Animation; Storyboard and Character Design; Classical Animation; and Drawing.

The BA, BFA, and minor programs provide access to the electronic arts studios at Rutgers-Camden, which house two newly renovated graphic design studios, two animation labs, and a post-production lab. These state-of-the art facilities are outfitted with networked computers, post-production units, 2D/3D and editing software, and more. Students also have access to separate studios for painting, drawing, sculpture, and ceramics; a photography lab; and a digital photography studio.

The Art BA consists of a 27 credit hour core. The Animation concentration for this program is 21 credit hours. The BFA has a 30 credit core, with 33 credit hours required for the Animation concentration. Examples of common Animation courses include Computer Animation I-II; Animation Storyboard; Character Rigging; and Character Animation.

BA students will also take Classical Animation, with access to electives such as 3D Modeling and Printing; Video Game Design (in collaboration with the Digital Studies Center); and Independent Study. BFA students will take other courses such as 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality; Digital Effects; and 2D Character Design. BA and BFA students are required to complete Animation Production and Animation Capstone I and II to graduate.

Graduates of the Art BA and Visual Art BFA programs at Rutgers University Camden are prepared to pursue leadership roles (and others) in industries such as entertainment, game design, and advertising. Rutgers-Camden alumni have worked in the 3D animation industry as Art Directors and Technical Directors for studios such as Walt Disney, Digital Domain, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., and Psyop.

Animation graduates have participated in film productions and games such as Frozen, Ice Age, Sesame Street 3D, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Happy Feet, and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Animation alumni have also been hired for salaried positions at places such as Disney, Warner Bros., Digital Domain, Psyop, Ubisoft, and BBC Earth.

Rutgers University Camden is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Rutgers). Founded in 1766, Rutgers is the 8th oldest university in the U.S. and New Jersey’s land-grant university. The school has locations in all 21 New Jersey counties.

Rutgers-Camden was founded in 1926 as South Jersey Law School and the College of South Jersey, which joined Rutgers in 1926. Serving approximately 6,075 students today, Rutgers University Camden provides nearly 70 degree programs across four colleges and schools. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

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

The J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier College of Architecture and Design (HCAD) at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is home to the School of Art + Design. Within the school are several paths to study animation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

For undergraduates the school has a Digital Design BA with two tracks: Entertainment and Interactive Media. At the graduate level, students can earn a Digital Design MFA (MFADD) and Digital Design MS (MSDD). Students can also earn an Animation Essentials Certificate—delivered entirely online.

Consisting of 12 credit hours, the stand-alone certificate program requires the following two courses: Visual Storytelling and Storyboarding and Acting for Animators. For the remaining courses, students can select two from the following three: Character and Facial Modeling for Animators; Environment Design; and Digital Audio. Upon completion of the certificate program, students are prepared to pursue positions in the Digital Animation industry.

The Digital Design BA (both tracks) begins with the foundation year, which provides 24/7 access to the Animation Lab; Cintiq-equipped Art Teaching Lab; Physical Computing Lab (used for robotic and sensor-based product design); and Digital and traditional fabrication facilities. After the foundation year, students will select a track. The curriculum for both tracks consists of a three-year studio sequence and opportunities for students to take courses such as Video and Animation; History of Games; 2D and 3D Character Design and Modeling; SFX/VFX in Movies; Internet Marketing; Game Level Design; Digital Audio; and Management.

The Digital Design MFA and Digital Design MS programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology are low-residency programs that require 60-75 credits, and 30-45 credits, respectively. The MFA is a terminal degree. Both programs provide opportunities to focus in animation through elective coursework and/or the Animation Essentials certificate. Course examples across programs include Animation; Game Design and Interactivity; UI/UX; Visual Storytelling; Digital Audio; Acting for Animators; Environment Design; Character Modeling; History of Games; and Customer Discovery.

Across all NJIT Digital Design programs, students have opportunities to display their work through curated exhibits and competitions, and the annual ACM/SIGGRAPH Conference. Students can also participate in the internship program.

Graduates of the Digital Design programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology are prepared to pursue a variety of roles in Animation, Game Art and Design, Special Effects, Digital Media Design, Visualization, Digital Special Effects, Film Production, Technical Illustration, Scientific Visualization, Advertising, Web Design, and Interactive Art Installation,

Program alumni have interned with or been hired at places such as NBCUniversal, ETS, High 5 Games, NTropic, Method Studios, SWDTech Games, Tripwire Interactive, SUSPECT vfx+design, 1st Avenue Machine, and Grafx Co.

Established in 1881 as Newark Technical School, New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public, polytechnic university that serves approximately 12,300 students. More than 125 degree programs are available across six specialized schools. New Jersey Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). Across NJIT programs, accreditations include: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB); and National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).

3. Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey

Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) houses the School of Art, home to the Animation Program. Available pathways include the Film and Animation BA, the Animation MA and MFA, the combined Film and Animation/Animation BA/MA and BA/MFA, and minors in Animation and 3D Video Game Animation.

All undergraduate degree options provide opportunities to concentrate in 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Video Game Animation. Across concentrations, course examples include 3D Computer Animation; Advanced After Effects; Vector Animation; Game Design; Creative Imagery with Photoshop; Character Animation using CAT; Custom 3D Character Rigging & Animation; Logo and Product Animation; Motion Graphics with After Effects; ZBrush Digital Sculpting; Storyboarding; Tradigital Animation; Art of the Graphic Novel; and 2D Animation with OpenToonz.

MA and MFA students may concentrate in Visual Effects, 3D Character Animation or Video Games. Across concentrations, course examples include Advanced 3D Character Animation; Digital Sculpting; Dynamic Effects and Particle Systems in After Effects; Storytelling; Advanced Game Creation; Animation in Houdini; 3D Animation for Games; 3D Character Animation – Weight, Overlap and Follow through; Virtual Reality; Digital Sculpting; and 3D Particle Systems and Effects; Motion Tracking; History of Video Games; Video Game Team Project; 3D Layers in After Effects; and Animation Career Preparation.

All Animation students may participate in the Fairleigh Dickinson University internship program, which provides the opportunity to gain valuable experience at major studios and networks such as DreamWorks, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, ABC, Viacom, and MTV. Graduate students may also take the Faculty/Student Research I and II courses, which may result in professional publication or presentation.

Graduates of the Animation programs at Fairleigh Dickinson University are prepared to pursue positions in the entertainment industry, games, advertising, and many others. Program alumni are often hired by many of the studios mentioned earlier, as well as others such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Verizon, Marvel Comics, Skyline Entertainment, High Five Games, Tribe Pictures, Pixel Light Digital Media, and Whisper Productions.  

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

FDU provides more than 100 degrees and disciplines 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 programs around the world. Fairleigh Dickinson University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

4. Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey
Montclair State University

The College of the Arts (CART) at Montclair State University (Montclair State) has been designated as Center of Excellence—twice. The college houses the School of Communication and Media (SCM), which provides a solid path to study animation—the Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) BFA.

This program allows students to take anywhere from 20-30 free elective credits, enroll in a minor, or add a certificate. This provides the opportunity to enhance the degree by developing professional skills in other areas. The program also provides immersive courses; access to internship and study abroad opportunities; collaborative projects; and access to state-of-the-art production facilities and studios.

Course examples for the program include Drawing Anatomy for Animation; 3D Animation & Rigging; Immersive Storytelling; VFX for Film; Collaborative Production; 2D Animation & VFX I-II; History of Animation & VFX; Experimental Animation; Game Development I-II; Animated Development & Pitch Bible; and Visual Effects Compositing I-II.

The Animation and VFX program culminates with the Industry Prep course and the Thesis, completed across two courses. Graduates of the Animation and VFX BFA Program at Montclair State University are prepared to produce professional animations for the film, television, games, interactive media, and advertising industries, among others.

Graduates can pursue titles such as Animator, Motion Graphics Designer, Game Developer, Special Effects Artist, Art Director, Illustrator, Storyboard Artist, and Multimedia Designer.

Montclair State University alumni work or teach at places such as Saatchi & Saatchi, MSNBC, Instagram, MLB Network, CBS Local, Fanbrandz, VSA Partners, CDGNYC, and School of Visual Arts.

Montclair State University was founded in 1908 as New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair. Today, Montclair State serves approximately 21,785 students across the New Jersey communities of Montclair, Little Falls, and Clifton. On July 1, 2023 Bloomfield College officially became Bloomfield College of Montclair State University, adding an additional campus and 1,100+ students to the school.

Montclair students have access to more than 300 majors, minors, concentrations, and certificate programs across 10 academic colleges and schools. Montclair State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Ramapo College of New Jersey, Mahwah, New Jersey
Ramapo College of New Jersey

The School of Contemporary Arts (CA) at Ramapo College of New Jersey (Ramapo College) provides five majors leading to a BA. These include Communication Arts, Music, Visual Arts, Theater, and Contemporary Arts. The Visual Arts major has concentrations in areas such as Electronic Art and Animation, Art History, and Drawing and Painting.

Across all options, students have access to state-of-the-art editing and multimedia labs, production equipment, and the latest industry software. Students also have opportunities to participate in visual arts productions, exhibitions, study abroad experiences, the internship/co-op program.

Ramapo School of Contemporary Art students have interned at places such as Viacom, At the Movies, Wiley Publishing, Kenneth Cole, Prestige BMW, the Diabetes Foundation, New Jersey Devils/Prudential, and Fox News. Visual Arts students have interned at places such as One on One Ads, Harvestworks, Brand Candy Media, and Gallery Aferro.

Coursework for the Visual Arts major is interdisciplinary, so BA students will explore areas such as 3-D modeling and animation, drawing, video, art and technology, photography, art history, painting and sculpture. Course examples include Intermediate 3D Animation; Physical Computing; Video Art; 3D Animation; Basic Art and Technology; Digital Drawing and Painting; and Graphic Design.

The culminating experience for the Visual Art BA program is the Senior Thesis Exhibition (show). Capstone projects will be professional quality art and technology, drawings, paintings, or other works that are ready to show in professional settings such as the Ramapo College Art Galleries. All projects will also include an artist’s statement, catalogue, and poster for viewing before the show.

Graduates of the Visual Art BA program at Ramapo College of New Jersey are prepared to pursue careers in animation, motion graphics, video production, advertising, and other creative fields. Ramapo graduates have been hired at places such as High5 Games, Round Table Media, Freshwater DMP, and One on One Ads. Program alumni have also freelanced with places such as Method Studios, Company 3, and Brushfire Marketing.

Founded in 1969, Ramapo College of New Jersey is a state-supported four-year liberal arts, sciences, and professional studies institution. The school serves 5,185 students enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate majors, minors, concentrations, and graduate programs across five schools. In Spring 2023, Ramapo graduated its inaugural Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) class. This was the university’s very first doctoral program. Ramapo College of New Jersey is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).