What are the top visual effects schools in the South for 2022?

Top 5 Visual Effects (VFX) Schools in the South - 2022 College Rankings
1Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
2The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School Florida
3Florida State UniversityFlorida
4University of Central FloridaFlorida
5Georgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgia

Our 2022 rankings of the Top 5 visual effect schools in the South, our first annual rankings for VFX. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.

1. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design

Visual Effects (VFX) students at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) have access to more than 800 networked computers and a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art digital media center consisting of a green screen lab, 75-seat in-house theater, and studio environment. Students will create visual effects and animations with premium software such as Pixar's RenderMan and Arnold, Nuke compositing, Autodesk Maya, Resolve, and Substance Painter, and Houdini 3D animation.

At all degree levels, SCAD VFX students receive instruction from award-winning professors who have worked at major studios and on award-winning productions such as Ice Age, The Lion King, and Pocahontas.

The VFX Programs at SCAD are housed in the School of Animation and Motion. Three degree pathways are available: the BFA, MA and MFA. The BFA and MFA are available at the Atlanta and Savannah campuses. The MA is available at the Savannah campus only. The 180 credit hour VFX BFA consists of 75 hours in the major. Students may also choose 10 hours of free electives. An optional internship is also part of the program.

Course examples for the VFX BFA include Visual Effects Studio, Concept Development for Visual Effects, Visual Effects-Based Cinematography, Digital Visual Effects, Survey of Visual Effects, Visual Effects Programming, and Professional Development for Visual Effects.

The SCAD VFX MA and MFA programs are 45 and 90 credit hours, respectively. Students in both programs will take many of the same courses. Examples include Modeling for Visual Effects, Programming Concepts for Visual Effects, and Visual Effects Theory and Application. MA Students will complete the Visual Effects MA Studio, and Visual Effects Portfolio. The MA Graduate Internship is optional. SCAD VFX MFA students will complete Visual Effects Studio I and II: Preproduction & Production,  the Visual Effects MFA Thesis, and the MFA Graduate Internship.

Graduates of the VFX Programs at Savannah College of Art and Design are Visual Effects Artists, Technical Directors, VFX Producers, 3D Environment Artists, Lighting Technical Directors, and Digital Compositors, among others.

Around 86 SCAD VFX alumni contributed to 16 Academy Award nominated films in 2020 alone. They have shared Academy Awards for their work on films such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Frozen 2, Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Graduates have been recruited by major film and VFX studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Disney, Pixar, Blur Studio, DreamWorks Animation, Shade VFX, Pixomondo, Microsoft, and Blur Studio.

Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school opened in September 1979 with just 71 students, one classroom, and an administration building. Today, SCAD serves more than 15,000 students across campuses in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Lacoste, France. Offering more than 100 degree programs and over 75 minors and certificate programs, Savannah College of Art and Design has more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college in the U.S.

2. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida

The Visual Effects Production (VFX) Program at the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) has two options: a 12 month Diploma consisting of 60 credits and the 32 month Bachelor’s degree, consisting of 120 credits. Students in both programs will master industry software such as After Effects, Maya, and Unreal Engine, while immersing in the production process from start to finish.

Course examples across programs include Dynamics and Visual Effects for Motion Graphics, VFX & Compositing, Emerging VFX Tech & Pipelines, Digital Compositing, Character, Prop and Environment Modeling, Rotoscoping, 3D Animation for Motion Graphics, and Level Design. Students will also learn the basics of creating a start-up.

Student in all DAVE School programs will build a demo reel and create a portfolio. Programs are offered in a hybrid format where student will complete the program virtually and via studio residencies at the Orlando campus. Residencies take place in a collaborative studio environment.

Graduates of the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School go on to establish freelance careers, start their own studios, or work with major studios.

The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School is an academic unit of NUC University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MCSHE). Founded in 2000, The DAVE School is located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, and consists an 18,000 square foot facility featuring learning and interactive labs, a dedicated Virtual and Real-Time production stage, a Vicon motion capture system, 3D printing, VR/AR labs, and secure student access 24/7.

3. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State University

The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University (FSU) has several programs that can prepare students for careers in visual effects (VFX). Options include a BFA in Motion Picture Arts with Concentrations in Production and Animation and Digital Arts, and an MFA in Production. Students in all programs can pursue a variety of specialization areas through more than 30 electives. Examples of specialization areas include Visual Effects, Screenwriting, Documentary Filmmaking, and Film Business.

Available VFX-related course examples include History and Practice of Visual Effects and Animation, Visual Effects Cinematography, Compositing I-II, Visual Effects, Motion Picture Sound, Digital Studio Department Leadership, Motion Picture Editing, Production Design Workshop, Lighting, Texturing, and Rendering, and Advanced Workshop in Area of Specialization.

Other program features include the opportunity to complete several major films, including the thesis film, small class sizes of no more than 15 students, and a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture students may participate in the Torchlight Program, which provides instruction in the financing, marketing, and distribution of films.

Graduates of the Motion Picture Arts Program at Florida State University are prepared to pursue positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Visual Effects Artist, Visual Effects Coordinator/Producer, Effects Animator, CG Lighter, Rigger, Animator, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, and Storyboard Artist, among others.

Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1851, FSU serves nearly 44,000 students enrolled in around 276 degree programs at all levels. One of the largest and oldest universities in Florida, FSU houses 16 colleges and schools at campuses across the state.

4. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

The College of Arts and Humanities at University of Central Florida (UCF) houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which has an MFA Program with an Animation & Visual Effects Tracks. Students in this three-year program have the opportunity to create their own visual effects thesis. The thesis project for the MFA-Animation & Visual Effects Track involves creating innovative applications of Animation & Visual Effects to serve artistic, entertainment, commercial, and/or educational needs.

Course examples for the program include Script and Story Development for Animation and Visual Effects, Visual Development for Animation and Visual Effects, Editing for Animation and Visual Effects, Visual Effects for Animation and Live Action, Directing for Animation and Visual Effects, Technical Problem Solving for Animation and Visual Effects, Media and Music for Animation and Visual Effects, Animation and Visual Effects Production I-IV, and The History of Animation and Visual Effects.

Graduates of the UCF SVAD Animation & Visual Effects MFA Program work at major studios and organizations such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, NASA, PIXAR, Weta Digital, Framestore, Lightbox, Titmouse, Lockheed Martin, Netflix, Reel FX, the U.S. Navy, Nickelodeon Animation, Blur, Epic Games, Electronic Arts (EA), Riot Games, DISTI, and Blizzard Entertainment.

University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1963, UCF opened its doors in 1968 as Florida Technological University. When it began, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves more than 70,000 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the State of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. Program offerings include 106 bachelor’s degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 31 research doctorates, three professional doctorates, and three specialist degrees.

5. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech) has several pathways to study visual and special effects. The College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) in GeorgiaTech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts offer a BS in Computational Media (BSCM), MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media, and a Minor in Computing & Media.

The Computational Media Program at GeorgiaTech launched in 2004 with just one student. Today, the program serves more than 300 students, making it one of the school’s fastest growing programs. The Computing & Media Minor requires 19 credit hours of study, with elective course options such as Digital Video Special Effects, Video Game Design and Programming, and Information Visualization. Examples of required courses include Computer Graphics, Objects and Design, and Computer Organization and Programming.

Students have the option to add a Film Studies Minor (offered in the School of LMC), which allows students to take production courses as part of elective requirements. Minor course options include Video Production, Experimental Film, Film and/as Technology, Advanced Video Production, and Cinema and Digital Culture.

GeorgiaTech School of LMC students have access to post-production labs outfitted with Adobe Creative Cloud Suite and DaVinci Resolve software. The School of LMC is also home to LMCFilms, a film and video equipment rental house that provides a range of industry-standard equipment for students and researchers working in the entertainment industry.

Georgia Institute of Technology graduates go on to establish successful careers in Visual and Special Effects, Film Production, Interactive Design and Game Simulation, 3D Modeling, and Animation, among others.

Georgia Institute of Technology is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1885, the school opened with just 129 students and one degree program—a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Today, GeorgiaTech serves nearly 40,000 students enrolled in more than 180 degree programs and minors in six distinct colleges and 28 schools.