What are the top animation school programs in North Carolina for 2024?
|University of North Carolina School of the Arts
|North Carolina State University
|East Carolina University
|University of North Carolina-Charlotte
|University of North Carolina-Wilmington
Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth annual- of the top animation school programs in North Carolina. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) is home to the School of Design & Production and the School of Filmmaking. The School of Design & Production is a stand-alone design and production conservatory that houses the Animatronics MFA. The School of Filmmaking houses the Animation BFA.
Launched in the Fall of 2021, the Animatronics MFA is a hybrid, three-year program that blends electronics and animation. The curriculum for the program consists of hands-on, immersive courses that explore the engineering and infrastructure of animatronic figures; 3D printing; animatronic programming and design; sculpting, and project management.
Courses examples include Animatronic Design; 3D Design, Sculpting ad Animatics; Prototypical Project Management; Figure Design and Engineering; Animatronic Programming; and Production. Courses for the program are supplemented by seminars, workshops, and screenings led by professionals in the industry.
The Animatronics MFA program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts culminates with a final project (Thesis) conducted in collaboration with an advisor. Depending on the students focus area, they will complete a Production, Research, or Portfolio Thesis. Students who choose to produce a physical production will present their finished work to the public. Research projects will be completed under the direction of a Thesis Supervisor.
Portfolio Gallery Presentations will showcase the student’s entire body of work. Portfolios will be fully documented, and include a Final Thesis Gallery Review. All Thesis and other MFA projects take place in a 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production space.
Graduates of the Animatronics MFA program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts go on to establish careers at major studios such as Nickelodeon, ABC, Walt Disney Imagineering, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios.
The Animation BFA at University of North Carolina School of the Arts requires 121 credit hours of study. The first year consists of liberal arts and foundations courses in filmmaking. At the end of the first year, students will complete a portfolio for entry into the Animation Program. Once admitted, students will begin exploring character design, drawing, storytelling, props, and lighting techniques. Third year students will complete a three-minute animation project and begin working on the final fourth-year project. This culminating experience results in a five minute film that will serve as the BFA Thesis.
During the junior or senior years, students may complete also complete an internship or independent study as well as upper-level elective courses to enhance the degree. UNCSA Animation BFA students have interned at major studios such as Sony Pictures Imageworks and Stargate Studios.
Graduates have worked with studios such as Cartoon Network and Prologue Pictures. A recent Animation BFA graduate also received an Emmy Nomination for his work on American Horror Story.
North Carolina School of the Arts was established in 1963 by the N.C. General Assembly. The school opened in 1965, becoming the nation’s first public arts conservatory. North Carolina School of the Arts became part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System in 1972, and renamed University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Today, UNCSA serves more than 1,300 students enrolled in 40 degree programs across five schools. University of North Carolina School of the Arts is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
The College of Design at North Carolina State University (NC State) launched in 1946 as the School of Architecture and Landscape Design. It was renamed the School of Design in 1948, and the College of Design in 2000. Today, the College of Design at NC State provides programs across six areas at all degree levels. This includes the doctorate.
In addition to a variety of programs, the NC State College of Design provides an interdisciplinary first-year experience; workshops; swing studios in other majors; internship opportunities; and study abroad experiences in places such as Prague, Chile, and Greece.
The College of Design at NC State also has several paths to study animation. Housed in the College’s Department of Media Arts, Design and Technology are the Bachelor of Art + Design (BAD); Masters of Art + Design (MAD); and the Art + Design minor. This 15 credit hour program consists of courses such as Three-Dimensional Design; Animation; Sequential Imaging; Animation; and Color and Light.
Programs in the Department of Media Arts, Design and Technology are highly multidisciplinary, allowing students to study both traditional disciplines and emerging techniques. Examples include animation, VR/AR, visual effects, interactive and computational media, and visual composition. Electives provide additional opportunities to focus the BAD. Examples of required courses and elective options include Creative Technology Studio I-III; Digital Modeling; Animation I; Art + Design Laboratory I-II; Digital Representation; Visualization I-II; Advanced Digital Techniques; Drawing I-II; Writing About Film; Digital Motion; Sequential Imaging; Digital Modeling, Color and Light; and Digital Representation.
Students in the NC State BAD program will progress from foundation courses in their first and second years to intermediate and advanced courses in the final two years of the program. Students will leave the BAD program with a final project and a professional portfolio of their work.
The Masters of Art + Design program at North Carolina State University emphasizes experimental media arts. The program provides the same opportunities to study animation as the BAD program, including a variety of elective options to enhance the degree. Examples include 3D Animation; Creative Coding; Sequential Imaging; Special Effects; Digital Motion; Seminar in Animation; Visualizing Narrative; Digital Modeling; and Business of Design.
Depending on their background, MAD students also have opportunities to select from three tracks: Track 1 (30 credit hours); Track 2: 48 credit hours; and Track 3: 72 credit hours. Track 1 is designed for students with a strong background in interactive and experimental arts. Track 2 is ideal for students with an undergraduate degree in interactive and experimental media. These students are likely seeking initial studios to explore new theories and concepts for their final projects. Track 3 is for students who do not have a strong background in interactive and experimental media arts. Though these students may have a degree in another area, they will need to spend the first year taking advanced undergraduate courses.
For all MAD tracks, the final year provides the opportunity to produce a project in animation, interactive media, or other area of the students choosing. Students who choose not to complete a project may, instead, produce a research-based study or paper.
Graduates of the Art + Design programs at North Carolina State University are prepared for leadership positions and others in fields such as animation, digital special effects, multimedia, illustration, filmmaking, and software design. Some graduates go on to launch their own studios and freelance businesses, while others become art and design educators at major colleges and universities.
North Carolina State University employs 9,000 faculty and staff members that serve more than 36,000 students, making it the largest university in the University of North Carolina System and one of the largest employers in the state. Established in 1887 as a land-grant institution focusing in agriculture and engineering, NC State provides more than 300 degree programs across 11 colleges, 68 departments, and The Graduate School. North Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
The College of Fine Arts and Communication at East Carolina University (ECU) is home to the School of Art and Design (SoAD). Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and housed in the Jenkins Fine Arts Center, the SoAD provides an interdisciplinary Art BFA program that allows students to focus in one of 11 different areas. This includes Animation/Interactive Design.
Concentration areas require 30 credit hours. Coursework for Animation/Interactive Design explores animation, video art, game design, and interactive design. All SoAD concentrations require common foundation courses and first year studios. Programs are also supported by a guild that provides activities to enhance the curriculum. Guild activities include support on creative projects; visiting artists and designers for talks and workshops; research opportunities; and student travel to conferences. Other program benefits include hands-on learning; partnerships with local arts organizations; internships and study abroad experiences; and access to career development services.
Animation/Interactive Design students at East Carolina University will complete a final project and portfolio, and participate in the Senior Exhibition. This culminating experience prepares students to pursue a variety of professional roles in animation, games, TV/film, advertising, architecture, science and medicine, healthcare, marketing, and web design.
Chartered as East Carolina Teachers Training School in 1907, East Carolina University is the only public university in the state with a dental school, medical school, and college of engineering. Part of the University of North Carolina System of 17 institutions, ECU serves nearly 29,000 students, making it one of the top five largest universities in North Carolina. Programs include more than 170 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree options across 12 colleges and schools. East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
4. University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
The College of Arts + Architecture (COA+A) at University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in 33 degree programs and concentrations. Within the COA+A is the Department of Art & Art History, which provides 11 undergraduate major, one minor, and the Art History Honors Program. For students interested in studying animation, the department has an Art BFA with a Digital Media concentration. As part of the COA+A, Digital Media students benefit from real-world, immersive experiences through internships, research, community programs, and more than 100 events each year.
The BFA requires 120 credit hours, with 79 in the major and 30 in the concentration. Students will have access to advanced studio courses such as 3D Modeling and Animation; Video Art; Advanced 3D Modeling and Digital Fabrication; Animation Production; Interactive Art and Design; Digital Compositing; Game Design and Graphic; and UX/UI Design Strategies.
All Art BFA students will complete the Senior Experience, which consists of Senior Seminar; Senior Thesis I: Creative Research; and Senior Thesis II: Advanced Creative Projects or Illustration Projects.
The Art BFA program at UNC Charlottee is a professional degree program that takes four years to complete. Graduates will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared to pursue careers in areas such as animation, film and video, television, advertising, multimedia design, and web design.
University of North Carolina Charlotte serves approximately 30,300 students making it the third largest school in the 16-campus UNC System. Founded in 1946, this public research university provides more than 240 majors and degree programs across 10 colleges and schools. University of North Carolina Charlotte is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
5. University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina
The College of Arts and Sciences at University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has several paths to study animation. Within the Department of Art and Art History is an interdisciplinary Digital Arts program with two paths—the Digital Arts BA with a concentration in Interactive Graphics and the 24 credit hour minor. The Computer Science (CS) Department has a BS in CS program with the option to add a Digital Arts concentration.
The Digital Arts minor can also be added to any program with approval. Students in this program will take core courses such as 3D Modeling and Animation; Two-Dimensional Design; 3D Computer Graphics Tools and Literacy; and Introduction to Computer Programming. Students may choose at least three electives from more than 60 options to develop skills in multiple areas. Elective examples include Computer Animation; Game Development; Screenwriting; Digital Visual Effects; Modes of Animation Production; and Three-Dimensional Computer Modeling.
The interdisciplinary Digital Arts BA explores the design of 3D graphics and interactive user experiences for film animation, games, VR/AR, 3D animation applications, and digital art. Course examples include Computer Animation; Digital Visual Effects; Computer Gaming; Visual Design for Multimedia; Computer Graphics Programming; and Life Drawing. A Digital Arts Capstone (Portfolio Project) is also part of the program. Students will complete the Capstone during the last year in the major and present it at a campus venue.
The UNCW BS in CS with Digital Arts requires 55 credit hours in the CS Core and 24 credit hours of study in the concentration. Course examples for the program include Programming Languages; Design and Analysis of Algorithms; Software Engineering; and Computer Networks. In the concentration, students may take courses such as Computer Animation; Multimedia Systems; Tools & Literacy; Film Production, 3D Computer Graphics; Digital Video Production; and Graphic Design.
The Computer Science BS at University of North Carolina Wilmington is Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Graduates of the Digital Arts and CS programs at University of North Carolina Wilmington are prepared to pursue positions at animation, VFX, and game design studios; graphic design firms; companies that specialize in using VR/AR for entertainment, training, and education; video production companies; and places that utilize HCI such as theaters, galleries, and museums, architectural firms, and engineering companies.
Established in 1946, University of North Carolina Wilmington is part of the part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System. The school serves approximately 17,845 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across five colleges and schools. The University of North Carolina Wilmington is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSCOC).