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

Top 5 Animation School Programs in Washington - 2022 College Rankings
1DigiPen Institute of TechnologyRedmond
2University of WashingtonSeattle
3Cornish College of the ArtsSeattle
4Academy of Interactive EntertainmentSeattle
5Evergreen State CollegeOlympia

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

1. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
DigiPen Institute of Technology

DigiPen Institute of technology (DigiPen) offers a BFA in Digital Art and Animation and an MFA in Digital Arts. The BFA program is designed for professional artists looking to enhance their skills. Competitive and challenging, the program covers traditional media, 2D and 3D digital art, animation production, pipelines, and more. Students will work solo and in teams to create animated projects, games, and/or films.

Coursework for the BFA ranges from foundation courses such as Animation Basics and The Language of Drawing to advanced courses such as Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development, Cinematic Production, and Scripting and Programming. BFA students will complete a career preparation course and several projects.

The BFA in Digital Art and Animation is available at the main campus in Redmond and at the school’s international branch campuses—DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and DigiPen Singapore.

The MFA in Digital Arts at DigiPen Institute of Technology provides advanced training in animation, 3D modeling, drawing, and digital painting, among other areas. Free electives and independent study provide opportunities for students to customize their pathway. Course highlights include Organic and Hard Surface Modeling, Art Research Methodology, Art Production Process, Character Design, Digital Arts Survey and Analysis, and 3D Concepts and Production.

Digital Arts MFA students will complete the MFA Thesis, which begin with the Thesis Pre-Production course, which lasts a semester. For the final two semesters of the program, students will work with a faculty advisor to complete the Thesis project. Throughout the program, students will also work in teams to create several games, films, and more.

Graduates of the Digital Art programs at DigiPen are prepared to compete for positions such as Animator, Character Artist, 3D Modeler, Simulation and Effects Animator, Producer, Art Director, Environmental/Asset Artist, UI Designer, Concept Artist, and many others. To date, more than 600 companies worldwide have hired DigiPen Institute of Technology graduates.

DigiPen alumni have landed position at major studios and companies such as Apple, Amazon Game Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Activision, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Zynga, Meta (formerly Facebook), DreamWorks Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment, Riot Games, ArenaNet, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, and many others.

DigiPen Institute of Technology was established in 1988 as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company. The school serves 1,200 students enrolled in 10 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Engineering, Game Design and Development, and Music and Audio.

DigiPen has international campuses in Singapore and Spain, and educational partnerships with Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Keimyung University in South Korea, The One Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Thammasat University in Thailand. 

DigiPen Institute of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

2. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington

The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) offers BS degrees in Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CE), and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in CSE. Students in these highly interdisciplinary programs have the unique opportunity to study animation through a variety of elective options and three labs including the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and Animation Research Labs (ARL). Collectively, the Labs at UW engage in animation, graphics, visualization, computer game science, and vision.

Possible course options for the UW BS, PhD, and PMP programs include Computer Animation, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization.

Serving more than 1,500 students, the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering has an active study abroad program that provides the opportunity to study at four partner universities: ETH Zurich, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany; and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

Allen School students may also fulfill elective and general education requirements through hundreds of other study abroad options.

Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington are routinely hired by some of the world’s biggest companies. Top UW employers include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Amazon, to name a few.

Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves around 57,300 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options across in 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

3. Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington
Cornish College of the Arts

The Design Department at Cornish College of the Arts (Cornish) offers a BFA in Design with an Animation Major. This 120 credit hour program is project-based and requires at least 15 credit hours of Design Studio topics, included within the required 72 credit hours in the Animation major. Just a few course titles include Animation History: Parallel Narratives, Observation + Visualization, Motion Systems, Animation Tools, Time + Motion, Digital Tools for Motion, and Collaborative Studio.

The Cornish BFA in Design/Animation requires six hours of Professional Practices coursework, a Capstone Project, and Animation BFA Exhibition. Eighteen credit hours of college and open electives allow students to take any courses offered in or outside of the Design, Animation, or Illustration Departments. This provides the opportunity for students to work in emerging areas such Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) and User Interface/User Experience Design (UI/UX), as well as other areas like Game Art and Design, Interaction Design, and Web Design.

Cornish College of the Arts alumni work in Film and Video, Animation and VFX, Game Design, Theater, Advertising and Graphic Design, Media, and more.

Founded in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts serves 635 students enrolled in Visual and Performing Arts programs leading to a BFA or Bachelor of Music. Cornish College of the Arts is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

4. Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Seattle, Washington
Academy of Interactive Entertainment

Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) offers an Advanced Diplomas in Screen and Media: 3D Animation and VFX for Film and Professional Game Development: Game Art and Animation.

Both programs are hands-on and industry focused, and they take two years to complete, full-time. Students benefit from classes taught in a collaborative, studio-environment by industry professionals, AIE’s close relationships with many animation and game design studios, and a high rate of graduate employment.

Courses for the programs are completed in two stages. Students in the 3D Animation and VFX for Film Diploma Program will explore subjects such as character animation, storyboards, production planning, modeling and texturing, and digital lighting and compositing during stage one. Stage two covers visual effects, story development, and a specialization. At this stage, students will have the skills needed to complete a short film and online portfolio of their work. 

AIE 3D Animation and VFX graduates work in industries such as animation, game design and development, and filmmaking. Job titles include Character Animator, Surfacing/Texture Painter, Environment Modeler, Digital/Matte Painter, Technical Director, Fur/Feathers or Water FX Artist, 3D Tracker/Match Mover, and Modeler.

Academy of Interactive Entertainment Game Art and Animation students will explore everything from 3D modeling to rendering and compositing in stage one of the program. They will also produce a short, animated film. In stage two, students will build a professional showreel of animation, 3D modeling, and a game level. As a team. Game Art and Animation students will produce a playable game.

AIE Game Art and Animation graduates go on to establish careers at major game studios, independent studios, and as entrepreneurs. They also work in defense, education, and health care (serious games and simulations), and for top mining companies.

Job titles include run the gamut and may include 3D Animator, Texture Artist, Level Designer, Rigger, Character Animator, Environment Modeler, 2D Artist, UI Designer, and Technical Artist.

Established in 1996, Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) is a non-profit institution that consists of four campuses in Australia, two in the United States (Seattle and Lafayette), and an Online campus. The school serves an estimated 150-200 students enrolled in four Diploma programs and a number of single courses.  

5. Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington
Evergreen State College

Students at Evergreen State College (Evergreen) can design their own program with coursework from more than 45 fields of study. There are no general education requirements for undergraduate degrees, so there are no specific course requirements to graduate. However, students must complete 180 credits to earn a BA or BS, and 225 to earn a BAS.

Animation students have access to two 2D animation labs, one 3D stop-motion lab, and the Multimedia Lab (MML). All programs are full-time, with optional internship opportunities that require a year-long commitment through the Fall and Spring semesters.

Established in 1967, Evergreen State College is Washington’s only four-year college founded in the 1900s. Serving around 2,100 graduates and undergraduates, Evergreen allows students to design their own degree program or select from 12 Pre-Planned Paths from Environmental Studies to Visual Arts. Programs lead to a BA, BS, or BAS. Evergreen State College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).