Our 2017 rankings of the top 5 animation school programs in Illinois. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers several programs for aspiring animators through its Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA). Options include a BFA and MFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation. A Certificate in Studio is also available.
Students in the FVNMA Department have access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.
About SAIC: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866, making it one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. The school is home to 3,590 students enrolled in more than 25 programs across 18 departments.
2. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago is home to the Cinema Art + Science Department, which offers a number of programs for aspiring animators. The school lists the following options: BA in Animation, BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation, BA in Game Art, and Minors in Animation and Game Art. In addition to animation, the programs at Columbia College prepare students to work in video game production, television production, cinema visual effects, toy design, product design, and illustration and digital advertising, to name a few.
About Columbia College: Columbia College was established in 1890. It is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in over 100 academic majors or programs across three schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Fine and Performing Arts, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Media Arts.
3. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The DePaul Animation Program in the School of Cinematic Arts, part of the College of Computing and Digital Media, offers BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation, with the following concentrations: Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics, and a VFX concentration is available within the Film and Television BFA. With thirteen full-time Animation professors, DePaul has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.
DePaul Animation students can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter, a ten-week immersion program structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios. The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts. Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students interested in animation, with tracks in hand-drawn, stop motion, and 3D animation for games.
4. Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois
Bradley University is home to Slane College of Communications & Fine Arts. Slane’s Department of Interactive Media offers BFA degrees in Animation and Animation & Game Design. Program highlights include guest speakers, internship opportunities, access to the Interactive Media, Animation Research, and Game Design Research Labs, access to the InterMedia Center, and the opportunity to present a project at the department’s annual show, FUSE.
About Bradley: Bradley University was founded in 1897. The school is home to 5,400 students enrolled in more than 185 undergraduate programs and 30-plus graduate programs across eight colleges and schools.
5. University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is home to the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA), which houses the School of Art & Art History. The School offers a BFA and MFA in New Media Arts and Moving Image. Both programs feature animation coursework and an Art Minor is also available.
The College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences (BHIS) offer another option for students that might be interested in a career that combines animation, science, and medicine. The MS in Biomedical Visualization features heavy animation electives such as 3D Space: Animation, Animation I, II, III, & IV, Modeling, Illustration, Advanced Illustration, Interactive 3D, Visualization, and Virtual Reality. The program also highlights Advanced Graphic Design and Video Game Design and Development courses.
About UIC: University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was formed in 1982 “by the consolidation of two U. of I. campuses: the Medical Center campus, which dates back to the 19th century and the comprehensive Chicago Circle campus which replaced, in 1965, the two-year undergraduate Navy Pier campus that opened in 1946 to educate returning veterans.” Today, with 15 colleges, and more than 29,000 students enrolled in 240 degree programs and 53 certificate programs, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area.