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

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Pennsylvania - 2022 College Rankings
1Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh
2University of the ArtsPhiladelphia
3University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
4Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia
5Edinboro UniversityEdinboro

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

1. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) College of Fine Art (CFA) houses the School of Art. Serving around 200 students, the School offers a BFA in Electronic & Time-Based Media. This interdisciplinary program explores animation, bioArt, game arts, computer and interactive arts, video, and more. One program highlight is the Animation, Art & Technology course, Animation, Art & Technology taught by professors in the School of Art and the School of Computer Science.

The course is designed to help students learn how to group behaviors, and master motion capture and processes for animating materials, hair, and fragments. Students will use these skills to work on collaborative projects.

CMU also houses the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) which, in collaboration with the School of Computer Sciences’ Robotics Institute (est. 1979), manages eight undergraduate areas that can be taken as minors. This includes Animation & Special Effects.

IDeATe Animation & Special Effects classes are led by faculty with expertise in Art and Robotics. Course examples include Animation, Art, and Technology, Art of Robotic Special Effects, Computational Photography, Advanced ETB: Video: Experimental Science Fiction, Technical Character Animation, and IDeATe: Introduction to 3D Animation Pipeline.

CMU graduates have been hired at Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Comedy Central, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, MTV, Paramount, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Interactive, Zynga Games, and more.

Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University has more than 14,500 students and more than 400 start-ups under its belt. With more than a dozen degree-granting locations, and more than 20 research partnerships in Silicon Valley, Australia, Africa, and Qatar, CMU offers more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools. Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

2. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of the Arts

The School of Film at University of the Arts (UArts) encourages collaboration between schools, so animation students may also study acting, design, photography, and other disciplines. Program options for animators include BFA degrees in Animation and Film & Animation, and a Minor in Animation. The BFA program has three emphasis areas: Traditional 2-D Drawn/Digital Animation, 3-D Computer Animation, and Stop-Motion or Experimental Animation.

Students in all emphasis areas have opportunities to work with professionals and faculty associated with major studios and networks such as Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, HBO, Cartoon Network, and Netflix. The curriculum for the programs combines a collaborative, hands-on teaching environment with internships at studios such as Augenblick, and study away experiences in places such as France and South Korea. Students will also participate in lectures, screenings, and formal critiquing sessions designed to evaluate their progress and work.

A major component of the Animation programs at University of the Arts is the Professional Practices class. This multifaceted course, which takes place in the final year of the program, includes guest speakers, personal branding development, mock interviews, social media strategies, design, and resume building. At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to display their final portfolio reels online.

The Animation Program at UArts also provides access to a 5,600-square-foot space known as the Center for Immersive Media (CIM), which allows students to explore other areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI), VR/AR, and performance motion-capture. In addition to CIM, animation students have unlimited access to computer labs and state-of-the-art animation, film, and stop-motion studios.

University of the Arts Animation graduates work in a wide range of positions. Examples include Character Animator, Effects Animator, Computer Animator, Scientific Animator, Forensics Animator, Clay/Puppet Animator, Director, Background Artist, Storyboard Artist, and Art Director.

Local companies that have hired UArts graduates include unPOP, Alkemy X, and Center City Film & Video. UArts alumni Also work at major studios and networks such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Netflix, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Google, and HBO. 

Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves nearly 1,500 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs in fine arts, design, media arts, dance, music, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. UArts programs are offered in the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies. University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

3. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has several animation programs offered in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Department of Fine Arts (DFA) and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The School of Design-DFA offers a BA in Fine Arts. Studio course for the program emphasize animation, 3D modeling, video, and drawing among other disciplines. Course examples include Mixed Media Animation, Video, and Art, Design & Culture.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Digital Media Design Program. The School’s Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD) is one of the most popular options for animators. Launched in 1998, this interdisciplinary program allows for study in animation, games, interactive technologies, computer graphics, and the design of virtual reality design. Course examples include Computer Animation, Drawing Investigations, Interactive Computer Graphics, Advanced Rendering, and 3D Computer Modeling.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT). Established in 2004, the CGGT MS program offers the opportunity to specialize in Animation or Animation and Simulation Technology. The MS program prepares students for careers and entrepreneurship in Animation, Design, Directing, and Game Programming, among others.

UPenn CGGT and DMD graduates are routinely hired at Activision, Microsoft, Pixar, Zynga Games, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Walt Disney Animation, Sony, and DreamWorks Animation.

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. Established in 1740, UPenn houses 189 research centers and institutes, 16 colleges and schools, and more than 400 programs. The school serves more than 28,000 students from across the U.S. and just about every continent. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

4. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Drexel University

Drexel University is home to Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which houses the Digital Media Department (DMD). Programs for animators include the DMD BS, accelerated BS/MS, and 24 credit hour Minor in Animation & Visual Effects (VFX). MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media are also offered.

Thanks to Drexel’s elaborate cooperative (co-op) education program, students have opportunities to gain valuable hands-on experience prior to graduation. During the junior year of undergraduate programs, students will spend six months working full-time in the industry. Positions may be paid or unpaid. Accelerated BS/MS students will participate in three co-op experiences in the second, third, and fourth years of study.

The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) Program provides instruction and hands-on training in 3D modeling, character design, scripting and storytelling, motion capture, compositing, and rigging. Students apply the skills they have learned to co-op positions in animation, VFX, technical direction, and 3D at Cartoon Network, Pixar, Sony Studios, FuseFX, and MediaKraft TV, among others.

The MS in Digital Media at Drexel University is a two-year program that focuses on research and medias applications. Ares explored include animation, gaming and digital media history, 3D modeling, and interactivity. Students in the program will complete several projects that may be independent, industry-sponsored, student-created or faculty-approved. Past projects have focused on advanced animation production techniques, narrative comics, animation design, video games, and more.

The PhD is a research-driven degree program that operates in an experiential learning environment. Besides entertainment, PhD students may conduct research in business, engineering, health, education, or other areas. Drexel University programs are offered online, on campus or in hybrid format.

Graduates of the Westphal Animation/VFX and Digital Media programs at Drexel University have landed positions at leading companies such as Disney, DreamWorks, Microsoft, XBOX, NCSoft Corp., Pixar, and many others.

Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry. The school serves close to 23,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 degree programs in 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) and Digital Media Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD).

5. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Edinboro University

Edinboro University’s (EU) Department of Art is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Housed in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department offers a BFA in Animation. Program highlights include the CTNX Animation Expo, which allows students to explore studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal, internship opportunities with regional and national studios, industry guest speakers, and participation in the EU Art Department’s Animation Club.

Another component of the Animation BFA Program at Edinboro University is the study abroad program. Department of Art student have the opportunity to spend one or two weeks exploring art and design in places such as Amsterdam, Paris, Athens, and London.

Graduates of the Edinboro University Animation BFA Program have been hired at South Park Studios, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, WetaFX, Disney, and Pixar Animation Studios, among others.

EU Alumni film credits include Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Night at the Museum, Zootopia, and Frozen, to name a few. Edinboro University was founded in 1857 a private training school for teachers known as Edinboro Academy. Today, EU serves around 4,300 students enrolled in more than 100 different areas of study in five colleges and schools. Edinboro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).