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

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Ohio - 2024 College Rankings
1The Ohio State UniversityColumbus
2Columbus College of Art & DesignColumbus
3Cleveland Institute of ArtCleveland
4Bowling Green State UniversityBowling Green
5Ohio UniversityAthens

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth 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 College of Arts and Sciences at The Ohio State University (OSU) houses more than 20 centers and institutes, 38 departments and schools, and over 2,000 faculty and staff members. The College provides more than 250 majors, minors, certificates, and graduate programs to approximately 19,310 students.

Among the many programs in College of Arts and Sciences are several paths to study animation. These include the Moving Image Production (MIP) BA; BFA and MFA degrees in Art and Technology; and an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track.

Established in 2017, the MIP BA is an interdisciplinary program and a collaboration between The Departments of Art; Theatre, Film, and Media Arts; Design; and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). The program, which combines live-action and animated filmmaking, features studio practice in Animation, Experimental, Narrative, and Documentary.

Course examples include Motion I & II Group Studies in Digital Animation and Interactive Media; Concept Development for Time-Based Media; Motion Studies Through Hand-Drawn Animation; Animation Techniques and Practices; Computer Animation: Form, Light and Motion; Procedural Animation; Designing Immersive Virtual Environments; and Motion Capture Production and Experimentation.

OSU MIP students are also required to take a 15 credit hour Flim Studies Minor as part of the program. Students will also have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses through electives; complete an internship; and participate in the school’s study abroad program. Possible locations include London, Prague, Rome, Germany, Dublin, and Copenhagen.

The Department of Art in the College of Arts and Sciences at OSU houses the Art and Technology Emphasis. BFA students in this interdisciplinary area will explore everything from 3D modeling and animation to electronics/robotics/animatronics. Course examples include Computer Animation; Graphic Novel – Web Comic Production; Moving Image Art; Art & Technology Studio Practice; Digital Imaging; New Media Robotics; Video Art; and Internet Art.

Art and Technology MFA students will engage in project-based learning, while creating 3D animations, virtual reality, sound, interactive installations, and more.

Student in both options have access to dedicated labs, state-of-the-art facilities, and collaborative spaces for producing animations, moving image art, interactive and robotic art, game art, internet art, and more.

The Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track within the MFA program is part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Design. Students in this program will complete 60 credit hours of study in design over three years. Course and elective examples include Graduate Studio; Exploration in Graduate Design Studies; Virtual Modeling; Aspects of Art and Technology; and Computer Game Art and Design.

In the final year of the Digital Animation and Interactive Media program at OSU, students will complete two Thesis Writing courses, and two Thesis Project Development courses to graduate. These courses culminate with the Project Exhibition and Oral Defense.

Graduates of the MIP, Art and Technology, and Digital Animation Programs at The Ohio State University are prepared to pursue roles across industries such as entertainment, advertising, education, architecture, medical, and legal. Program alumni are Animators, CG Generalists, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers, Art Directors, Design Educators, Interaction Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Freelance Artists, Multimedia Designers, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Designers, User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Designers, Game Designers, and Visual Communication Designers.

The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves 65,795 students across six regional campuses including Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are provided across 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

The Animation program at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) is recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom. Established in 1987, the program has BFA, minor, and concentration options. All provide unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art labs such as stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer, and teaching. The Center also houses flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.

CCAD Animation BFA students may add a concentration or one of 20 minors to the program. Just a few concentrations include Animation/Experimental; Animation/Game Design; Illustration/Entertainment; Design/Drawing; Illustration/Illustrative Design; and Design/Modeling. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework.

Minors that complement the program include Animation 2D or 3D; Illustration; Comics & Narrative Practice; Fine Art; Film & Video; Creative Writing; Advertising & Graphic Design; and Photography. Minors require 15 credit hours.

Film and Video BFA students who would like to study animation, live action, and visual effects (VFX) can add a concentration or minor in animation. 

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

Some graduates of the Animation BFA program at Columbus College of Art & Design go on to pursue graduate study. For graduates who would like to pursue an MFA at CCAD, the Amelita Mirolo MFA in Visual Arts program is an ideal choice. This 60-credit hour terminal degree 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 CCAD MFA highlights include small class sizes (the program accepts just nine to 15 students per year); the visiting artist series, which welcomes designers and guest artists who teach workshops and seminars, present lectures, and mentor students; and internship opportunities with nonprofits and businesses located in places such as Chicago, New York, Seattle, Oregon, Ireland, and Honduras.

Graduates of the Animation and Visual Arts Programs at Columbus College of Art & Design work in a variety of fields in positions such as Character Animator, Motion Designer, Television Animator, Storyboard Artist, VFX Animator, Game Artist, and Architectural Visualization Producer.

Recent employers include Sony Pictures Animation, Electronic Arts (EA), Cartoon Network, Pixar, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Riot Games, LAIKA Studios, and Phosphor Games, and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.

Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879 by five women. The school serves approximately 1,010 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states and 14 countries. CCAD provides 11 undergraduate majors, 18 minors, and three graduate programs across 10+ departments.

Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). 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

The Animation Program at Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) prepares students for careers in animation through independent and collaborative project; internships; and work experiences with real clients and community partners. Animation students also benefit from field trips the zoo and museums for inspiration, as well as mentorships with veteran industry professionals with a combined 600+ feature film, television, and digital production credits. CIA faculty have worked with major studios and companies such as DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Feature Animation, Hasbro, Sony Animation, Illumination, American Greetings.

Leading to a BFA, the CIA Animation program consists of courses such as Storyboarding & Sequential Art; 2D and 3D Animation; Experimental Animation; Motion Graphics; Body Mechanics for Animation; 3D Texture, Mapping, Digital Lighting; Narrative Production; 3D Modeling for Concept Vehicles; Advanced 3D Animation; Community Projects: Animation Production (EP); and Animation Portfolio Reel + Shorts. Open electives allow students to declare a customized focus area in their junior year; study outside the program; and collaborate with other CIA departments.

In the senior year of the Animation BFA program at Cleveland Institute of Art, students will complete a thesis project. Students may do this individually or through collaboration in their chosen area of animated media. Through the Animation Portfolio Reel & Shorts course, students will develop and present an industry-ready portfolio and demo reel of their best work.

Graduates of the Animation BFA program at Cleveland Institute of Art have worked on feature films, games, and television series. Program alumni also work in the medical, sports, and communications industries. Program alumni are Animators, Storyboard Artists, 3D Character Animators, Game Designers, and Independent Filmmakers.

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).

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

The School of Art at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is one of the largest state art schools in Ohio. In existence for more than 75 years and housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the School houses five divisions: Digital Arts, Studio, Graphic Design, Art History, and Art Education. Students in all divisions benefit from a student-faculty ratio of 15:1; National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accreditation; study abroad opportunities at BGSU’s partner school in Florence, Italy; hands-on experience through internships with major studios and organizations such as Pixar, Disney Animation, and the Museum of Modern Art; and access to a variety of minors and programs at all degree levels.

Across all School of Art programs, students also have access to Graduate Assistantships; opportunities to work BGSU’s professional large-format printing studio; and the newly built Wolfe Center for the Arts. Within the Center are three state-of-the-art digital studio classrooms; a 20-seat Mac Pro OSX lab; a 20-seat HP (Windows 7) lab; and an editing lab with 20 Mac Pro video editing workstations.

The School of Art also houses The Media Center, which features high-dynamic range wide format printers; high-end digital A/V equipment for student checkout; 3D printing capabilities; and high-resolution scanners.

For individuals seeking an Animation degree, the Division of Digital Arts within the School of Art provides BA, BFA, MFA, and minor options. The Digital Arts minor allows students to focus in any area at BGSU. However, the Digital Arts minor is an ideal complement to BGSU’s Computer Science and other STEM-designated programs, Business, and Music, among others.

Students in the Digital Arts BA and BFA programs may specialize in Animation. 2D and 3D Animation tracks are available within this specialization. An optional interdisciplinary track allows students to incorporate classes from other areas such as Graphic Design, Photography, and Drawing.

The Animation track culminates in a semester-long senior capstone project that is screened at The Wolfe Center for the Arts during the School of Art's annual BFA exhibition and Film Festival.

The Studio Art MFA at Bowling Green State University is a two-year, full-time program that allows students to specialize in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Media, and Interactive Media). The program requires a minimum of 60 credit hours, with 21 credits in the studio specialization, and 12 credits of studio electives. MFA students will complete a body of work and accompanying brochure to be entered into the BGSU MFA Exhibition. This event is held each spring in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center.

Graduates of the Digital Arts and Studio MFA programs at Bowling Green State University are prepared to pursue roles such as 2D or 3D Animator, Motion Graphics Artist, Video Game Animator, Special Effects Artist, and Web Design Animator. BGSU alumni are routinely hired by major animation and game studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Epic Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.

Bowling Green State University was established in 1910 as a teacher-training institution. The school held its first classes in 1941. Today, BGSU provides more than 200 programs to approximately 18,965 students across six colleges and BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The BGSU School of Art 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 and Studies (MDIA). Options for animators here include the Animation Bachelor of Science in Communication (BSC) and the Communication Media Arts MFA. The Animation BSC takes the place of the Games and Animation emphasis area, and it provides access to the new Advanced Animation Lab and more than a dozen other state-of-the-art facilities, studios, and labs.

The new curriculum for the Animation BSC includes digital techniques for 2D and 3D animation; animation for film/TV, video games, and VR/AR; hybrid animation techniques; narrative storytelling in animation; motion graphics for video; preproduction and postproduction for animation; animation for visual effects; and sound design for animation. Coursework for the program is complemented by participation in student organizations; industry internships and other experiences; study abroad opportunities; and capstone projects.

Examples of industry internships and experiences include OHIO-in-LA, where students will live and work in Hollywood; Animation and Culture in Tokyo, where students will explore Tokyo’s animation scene and culture; the 48-Hour Shoot-Out where students have just two days to write, direct, and shoot polished 5-minute film; Storytelling in Theme Parks, which includes all access tickets, workshops, speakers, and behind-the-scene tours at Walt Disney World; and attendance at South by Southwest.

Graduates of Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies are Animators, Motion Graphics Designers, 3D Artists, Visual Effects (VFX) Artists, Animation Production Assistants, Cinematic Artists, Video Editors, Multimedia Artists, Technical Artists, Art Directors, and Environmental Artists.

The Communication Media Arts MFA at Ohio University is a multidisciplinary, three-year program provided in partnership with the School of MDIA; the J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies; and the School of Visual Communication. This 90 credit hour program provides the opportunity to study in two or more areas. Examples include Animation, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Video Game Design, Interactive Web Design, Music Production, and Data Visualization and Infographics.

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 Communication Media Arts MFA 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 with one building, three students, and one professor. Today Ohio University employs more than 1,700 faculty members that serve approximately 28,325 students across 10+ campuses and centers in Ohio, and OHIO Online. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Ohio University provides more than 250 academic programs across 11 colleges, 16 schools, and dozens of departments.