What are the top animation school programs in Ohio for 2022?

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Ohio - 2022 College Rankings
1The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
2Columbus College of Art & DesignColumbus
3Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
4Bowling Green State UniversityBowling Green
5Ohio UniversityAthens

Our 2022 ranking -our eleventh annual- of the top animation school programs in Ohio. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Both offer several programs for animators.

Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production (MIP) is a collaboration between departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wexner Center for the Arts. MIP majors can take production courses in the Departments of Art, Dance, and Theatre, and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Coursework covers live-action and animated filmmaking.

Animation students can expect to take nine credit hours of pre-major coursework, 24 credits in-production studios, two in cinema, six in MIP electives, and six for the senior project. A 15-credit hour Film Studies Minor is also part of the program. OSU MIP students will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses, complete an internship, or participate in the school’s study abroad program.

The Department of Art in OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. 3D modeling and animation, art games, sound, digital imaging, moving images, and emerging forms are just a few areas students will explore. Course highlights include Computer Animation, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, Moving Image Art, and 3D Modeling.

Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design. Established in 1968, the Department offers an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of study in design, the thesis project, and open electives.

Graduates of the Animation programs at OSU have gone on to become Animators, Human-Computer Interaction Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers. User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX) Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Freelance Artists, College Professors, and many others.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 61,000 students at campuses across Ohio in Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

2. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art & Design

Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) has an Animation program that has been existence since 1987. Leading to a BFA in Animation or a Minor, the program provides unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer, and teaching labs as well as flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.

Animation students may add a concentration or minor to the program. Concentration options include Experimental or Game Animation, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Drawing, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Modeling, or Illustration/Illustrative Design. Minor options include Animation 2D or 3D, Comics & Narrative Practice, Film & Video, Illustration, Advertising & Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Photography, Fine Art, and more. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework and minors require 15 credit hours.

Because Columbus College of Art & Design offers so many concentration and minor options, students interested in becoming animators/live action filmmakers or animators/visual effects artists can enroll in the BFA in Film & Video Program and add a concentration or minor in animation. 

Consisting of 120 total credit hours of study, the CCAD BFA in Animation is divided into 60 credit hours of program requirements, 40 in core liberal arts, and 18 in core studio. Visual Literacy, Historical Art & Design, Writing & the Arts, Visual & Narrative Storyboard, 3D Animation Modeling & Surfacing, Café Sketch, Animation Lab Pipeline, 3D Character Animation Simulation, and Animation Lab Production are a just a few course titles for the program.

Animation BFA alumni hold positions such as Animator, Character Animator, AR/VR Designer, Motion Designer, Game Artist, and Motion Designer. Many CCAD BFA program graduates go on to enroll in some of the nation’s top MFA programs. Recent employers include Electronic Arts, Cartoon Network, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Laika, Proctor & Gamble, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

BFA graduates who would like to pursue an MFA at CCAD typically choose the MFA in Visual Arts. This 60-credit hour program operates within a 13,700-square-foot graduate facility that houses individual private studios for MFA students, a lounge, exhibition space, and faculty offices. In the facility, students may work on individual projects and the thesis in any area of interest. Examples include animation, interactive design, illustration, film, game art, and television. Students may focus in any of these areas through six hours of required art and design electives or even through CCAD’s many minor and concentration options.

Other Visual Arts MFA highlights include small class sizes (the program accepts nine to 15 students per year), internship opportunities with nonprofits and businesses located in places such as New York, Honduras, Chicago, Seattle, Ireland, and Oregon, and the visiting artist series, which welcomes designers and guest artists who teach workshops and seminars, present lectures, and mentor students.

Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving more than 1,000 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, one MFA degree, and one MPS.

Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).

3. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) offers a BFA in Animation that allows students to declare a focus area during their junior year. Also during the third year of the program, CIA BFA Animation students will work on a number of projects—in teams and solo. Courses for the program are taught by experienced instructors who have worked for DreamWorks, Walt Disney Feature and Sony Animation, Illumination, and Warner Bros., among others.

Just a few required courses include Experimental Animation, Advanced 3D Animation, Narrative Production, Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts, 3D Modeling for Concept Vehicles, and Community Projects: Animation Production (EP). In this course, students will work together to animate and produce works for both individual clients and businesses.

In the senior year of the CIA BFA in Animation, students will work on a thesis project. Through the Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts course, students will develop and present a portfolio and demo reel in their chosen focus area. Both pieces are expected to be industry-ready.

Graduates of the Animation BFA Program at Cleveland Institute of Art have worked on feature films, television series, and games. Some go on to work in the medical, sports, and communications industries, among others. Job titles range from Animator and 3D Character Animator to Game Designer and Independent Filmmaker.

Cleveland Institute of Art was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women in 1882. This independent, not-for-profit college serves around 600 students enrolled in 13 entertainment arts, design, fine arts, and craft majors. Cleveland Institute of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

4. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Bowling Green State University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) houses the School of Art, which is one of the largest and oldest state art schools in Ohio. Divisions housed in the 75 year-old School of Art include Graphic Design, Digital Arts, Art History, Studio, and Art Education. School of Art highlights include study abroad opportunities and internship opportunities with local studios and national studios such as Pixar and Disney Animation.

The Division of Digital Arts in the BGSU School of Art offers BA, BFA, and Minor programs in Digital Arts. At the graduate level, the Division offers an MFA in Art. The BGSU Minor in Digital Arts does not require a thesis or portfolio review. Students in the undergraduate degree programs may specialize in one or more focus areas. Options include Animation, Gaming & Virtual Environments, or Interdisciplinary.

The Division offers courses such as Interactive Media, 3D Modeling and Animation, Imaging, and Video Art. Courses are also offered in the areas of special effects, rigging, simulations, and more. BA students can choose any minor. Examples include Film, Media & Communications or Computer Science. BFA students will complete a thesis project. Options for the project include an animated short, art installation or computer game, to name a few. The Digital Arts faculty will select projects to be screened or displayed at the BGSU BFA Exhibition and Film Festival.

Students in the two-year MFA in Art at Bowling Green State University may specialize in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Media, and Interactive Media). The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of study, with 21 semester hours within the studio specialization and 12 semester hours of studio electives.

MFA students will complete a body of work and accompanying brochure to be entered into the BGSU MFA Exhibition held each spring in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center.

Graduates of the Bowling Green State University Digital Arts Programs are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, and Blizzard.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910. The school serves around 19,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 programs in six colleges and BGSU Firelands (Huron, Ohio). Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The School of Art at BGSU has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1984.

5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Ohio University

The E.W. Scripps College of Communications at Ohio University (OU) houses the School of Media Arts & Studies. Programs options for animators include a BS in Communication with an Emphasis in Games & Animation (G&A) and an MFA in Communication Media Arts.

Students in the Games & Animation Emphasis may choose from the Games or Animation Core. Both cores are offered in partnership with the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies, also housed in Scripps College.

BS Animation students may pursue Animation for Games, Film/Television, and VR/AR. Students in both areas can expect to take courses such as Media & Creative Process, Technology, Communication, and Culture, Media & Development, and Global Media Systems. The Animation Core consists of Animation Foundation, and Animation I, II (3D), and III. Students in the Games Core will take Animation Foundation as well, along with Digital Game Design, and Game Development II-II.

Electives allow for further exploration of animation. Course examples include Special Topics in Games & Animation, Motion Graphics, Visual Storytelling, and History of Computer Graphics.

To graduate, all BS students must complete a Capstone. Options include Storytelling, Technology and Digital Media in Theme parks (Disney) or Digital Games.

The MFA in Communication Media Arts at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary program offered in partnership with Scripps College’s Schools of Media Arts and Studies, Visual Communication, and the McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies. This three-year, 90 credit hour program provides the opportunity to study in two or more areas such as Animation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Digital Games and Animation, Interactive Web Design, and Data Visualization and Infographics, to name a few.

Ohio University MFA students will receive hands-on training through collaborative and experiential projects. A required component of OU MFA program, projects may include practicum projects through Scripps College or the College of Fine Arts, projects in the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab, grant-funded faculty initiatives, or projects through WOUB Public Media—a broadcasting service licensed to Ohio University.

Other program highlights include opportunities to teach, professional internships and externships, and study abroad experiences. Students in the MFA in Communication Media Arts Program at Ohio University will spend the final year of the program in two immersive Thesis Production courses.

Established in 1804, Ohio University is the oldest college in the state. The school opened in with one building, three students and one professor. Today Ohio University’s more than 1,700 faculty members serve 28,000 students across more than 10 campuses and centers across the state, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), Ohio University offers more than 250 academic programs in 11 colleges.