2021

What are the top animation BFA programs in the U.S. for 2021?

Top 50 Animation BFA Degree Programs – 2021 College Rankings
RankingSchoolState
1California Institute of the ArtsCalifornia
2Ringling College of Art and DesignFlorida
3Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgia
4University of Southern CaliforniaCalifornia
5School of Visual ArtsNew York
6Rhode Island School of DesignRhode Island
7Pratt InstituteNew York
8Gnomon School of Visual EffectsCalifornia
9New York University New York
10Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew York
11Brigham Young UniversityUtah
12Academy of Art UniversityCalifornia
13California College of the ArtsCalifornia
14Carnegie Mellon UniversityPennsylvania
15School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinois
16Otis College of Art and DesignCalifornia
17DigiPen Institute of TechnologyWashington
18University of Central FloridaFlorida
19Massachusetts College of Art and DesignMassachusetts
20DePaul UniversityIllinois
21San Jose State UniversityCalifornia
22California State University-Long BeachCalifornia
23Maryland Institute College of ArtMaryland
24The Ohio State UniversityOhio
25California State University-FullertonCalifornia
26Columbia College ChicagoIllinois
27Florida State UniversityFlorida
28Laguna College of Art and DesignCalifornia
29Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignColorado
30Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesota
31College for Creative StudiesMichigan
32Columbus College of Art and DesignOhio
33University of the ArtsPennsylvania
34University of Colorado DenverColorado
35The New School/ParsonsNew York
36Chapman UniversityCalifornia
37Woodbury UniversityCalifornia
38Kansas City Art InstituteMissouri
39Arizona State UniversityArizona
40University of South FloridaFlorida
41Cleveland Institute of ArtOhio
42University of North Carolina School of the ArtsNorth Carolina
43University of Maryland Baltimore CountyMaryland
44Pacific Northwest College of ArtOregon
45Edinboro UniversityPennsylvania
46Emerson CollegeMassachusetts
47Syracuse UniversityNew York
48Ball State UniversityIndiana
49Louisiana State UniversityLouisiana
50Northeastern UniversityMassachusetts

For our undergraduate degree rankings, we have evaluated animation schools and programs with the best Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and Bachelor of Science (BS) options. To determine which degree matches your career goals, it is important to understand how each qualification differs.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is the principal liberal arts degree. Most BA programs require 30-some or 40-some credits, which leaves plenty of flexibility in the form of free electives. BA students can use the free electives to sample widely from other course offerings or to earn an additional credential (a second major, a minor, or some combination of additional credentials).

The Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is offered in areas such as Computer Science, Mathematics, Psychology, Statistics, and each of the natural sciences. The BS is best suited to the student who wants to focus more on courses in the major and on 'collateral' courses (like chemistry or mathematics for a major in Geological Sciences) and is willing to give up some of the flexibility of the BA in return for the greater focus.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree is considered the most prestigious bachelor's degree that you can receive in the visual arts. This option is for students who wish to gain as much experience and skill in the arts as possible.

Below are the Top 50 Animation BFA Programs for 2021.

1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts

The School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts’ (CalArts) offers BFA degrees in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The BFA in Character Animation is an “intensive” four-year program, that “provides comprehensive artistic and technical training to help each student develop as a fully-fledged animation artist within both the traditional and computer graphic (CG) animation environments,” says the school.

Courses for the program are taught by “a faculty of experienced professionals who work at the forefront of traditional, CG and independent animation.”

Course highlights include 2D Character Animation, CG Foundation, Digital Methods, and Film Workshop. During the final year of the BFA program, students have the opportunity to customize their curriculum according to their own areas of specific interest. Graduates of the program will enter the job market with a professional-caliber portfolio and four short individually made films. 

The BFA Track in the Experimental Animation program “emphasizes the creative development of a personal aesthetic in an interdisciplinary, artist-centered environment.” Courses for the program “blend practical knowledge with creative practice and critique, allowing for a detailed examination of animation art.” Course highlights include Animation Production, BFA Workshop, Hybrid Imaging, and Motion and Meaning.

Throughout both BFA programs, students will work closely with a mentor to achieve their academic and professional goals.

CalArts has produced hundreds of successful alumni including Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), Chris Buck (Frozen), John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), Mark Andrews (Brave), Stephen Hillenburg (creator of SpongeBob SquarePants), and Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood), to name a few.

2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design

Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) offers BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Motion Design. Established in 1990, the BFA in Computer Animation teaches students to “create characters and tell their stories, as well as design, paint, model, texture, animate, light, composite, and edit original films.” Students will combine these technical skills with “conceptually original ideas that affect an audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually.”

Major courses account for 40% of the program curriculum and open electives account for 10%, allowing students to hone their skills in an additional area of interest. Course highlights include 3D Design for Computer Animation, Story Development, Traditional Animation, and Visual Development for Computer Animation.

RCAD graduates have won Emmys, ADDYs, Oscars, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and they have been hired at top creative companies such as Disney, DreamWorks, Google, LinkedIn, Pixar, and many others.

The Motion Design Department at Ringling is recognized as a Houdini Certified School. This 3D procedural animation software is used for motion design, visual effects, game development, and virtual reality. Students in the BFA in Motion Design will master Houdini as well as Cinema 4D, (3D computer animation software), NUKE (compositing and visual effects software), Adobe After Effects (2D computer animation software), Dragon Frame (stop-motion animation software), and the Adobe Creative Suite. They will also study 2D Design, Animation (levels I-IV), Concept Development, and Drawing. Students will complete a senior project, engage with guest speakers from companies such as Nickelodeon and NBC Universal, and have the opportunity to complete an internship at places such as Leo Burnett, Showtime, Spacejunk, Troika Studio, and Viacom.

Motion Design alumni have started their careers in companies and studios such as Apple, Digital Domain, Disney, Google, Marvel, Nickelodeon, SnapChat, and many others.

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

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a BFA in Animation that consists of 180 credit hours of study, including 80 in the major. Students may choose from four concentrations including 2D Animation, 3D Character Animation, Storytelling and Concept Development, and Technical Animation. Ten hours of additional electives allows students to create a focus in another area of interest.

Students will master 2D and 3D Animation, Character Animation, Digital Modeling, Drawing, Storyboarding, and more. Through [email protected], incoming BFA students will have the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in an accelerated and continuous program of study. The BFA/MA takes as few as four years to complete and the BFA/MFA can be completed in as few as five years.

Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

4. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
University of Southern California

University of Southern California (USC) houses the John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts, which offers a BFA that encourages collaborations across the School of Cinematic Arts and with students from Thornton School of Music, the Kaufman School of Dance, the School of Dramatic Arts, the Viterbi School of Engineering, and the School of Architecture, to name a few.

The BFA is a newly created program that focuses on “front-end creative foundation to build your filmmaking knowledge over four years,” says the school. Areas of study include Character Animation, Documentary Animation, Experimental Animation, Installation, Motion Capture, Motion Graphics, Projection Mapping, Science Visualization, Stop-Motion, Storyboarding, Visual Effects, and VR/Immersive Media.

Many graduates of the animation program at USC have gone on to become independent filmmakers while others go on to work for major feature and animation studios such as Digital Domain, Digital Idea, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Sony Pictures, and many others.

5. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) offers a BFA degree in Animation as well as a BFA degree in Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects. In each, the faculty includes some of the best artists in the industry, who bring knowledge and experience in multiple disciplines straight from the studio into the classroom. You will not only learn innovative drawing techniques and methods of storytelling, but also industry standard software.

BFA Animation students are immersed in hands-on experience, whether studying traditional, stop-motion or computer animation. Special working relationships with alumni-owned Plymptoons, Titmouse and Augenblick studios—as well as with other independent animation creators throughout New York—provide extraordinary opportunities for internships and part-time employment. BFA Animation students have produced pieces for non-profit organizations and public service organizations such as Ted-ED, UNICEF, and UNESCO.

Students in BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects navigate a unique curriculum that focuses on the integration of 2D and 3D computer graphics within computer animation, visual effects and motion graphics. Students receive comprehensive instruction in 3D computer animation with advanced classes in 3D modeling, lighting, texturing, dynamics, character animation, and motion capture. Visual effects courses feature advanced instruction in digital video, green screen studio production, compositing, rotoscoping, and VFX animation.

Graduates of the BFA animation and computer arts programs at SVA have gone on to open their own studios or land positions at some of the world’s top companies and digital studios including Blue Sky Studios, Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, ILM, MTV, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Warner Bros. Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and independent studios around the world. They have become Academy-Award winners, Emmy-Award winners, Grammy winners, MacArthur Fellows, and Guggenheim Fellows.

 

 

6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) Film/Animation/Video (FAV) Department offers a BFA in FAV. Home to 145 students, FAV allows students to “explore the art of the moving image, learning to master the tools needed to articulate a creative vision, whether using film, animation, installations, interactive media or a combination,” says the school. Majors specialize in animation, live action or open media with the option to produce films in genres such as experimental, narrative, and documentary.

Regardless of specialization, all students have the opportunity to work on “more ambitious projects involving cinematography, lighting, sound design, character design, digital editing, compositing, producing, storyboarding and interactive programming.”

During this four-year program, students will also be exposed to critical review, film festivals, and visiting artists. An internship is part of the program as well as the opportunity for students to present their finished films to the community.

RISD graduates go on to become entrepreneurs or many have been hired at studios such as DreamWorks and Pixar, or networks like Fox, HBO and PBS.

Famous RISD alumni include Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral; Gus Van Sant, director of films such as Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, and Milk; Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons, and Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy.

7. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute houses the School of Art, Department of Digital Art, which offers a Digital Arts BFA Program with two emphasis areas: 2D Animation and 3D Animation and Motion Arts. Both areas prepare students for positions in digital animation, experimental fine arts, and interactive media.

Students in the BFA program have many opportunities to intern at NYC production studios such as Cartoon Network, Curious Pictures, and Psyop Studios. Outside of NYC, options include Blue Sky Studios, Disney, and Sony Imageworks, to name a few.

After graduation, Pratt alumni can be found working at top studios such as Augenblick, Blue Sky Studios, Digital Domain, Disney Animation Studios, Gameloft, Industrial Light & Magic, NBCUniversal, Inc., Rhythm and Hues Studios, Sony Imageworks, and Titmouse.

8. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California
Gnomon School of Visual Effects

Gnomon School of Visual Effects offers a BFA in Digital Production. This full-time program may be completed in three or four years. The curriculum “covers all aspects of a 3D generalist skillset, providing an in-depth understanding of the 3D production pipeline, visual arts, and general education studies,” says the school. Through electives, students can enhance particular skills in specific areas of digital production.

The BFA program, which culminates in the creation of a professional demo reel, prepares students to work as digital artists within the animation, games, and VFX industries.

With a 97% employment rate, Gnomon has helped BFA graduates land positions at major studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Digital Domain, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic, Marvel Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation, Reel FX, Rhythm & Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

9. New York University, New York, New York
New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts

Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU) offers a BFA in Film and Television with an Animation Area that “serves the needs of all Film and TV students for both animation and live-action projects,” says the school. The current curriculum “is varied and integrated with both traditional animation and 2D and 3D animation courses at fundamentals, intermediate and advanced levels, as well as storyboarding, titles, optical and digital effects, life drawing and history and criticism classes.”

The program consists of nineteen courses. Highlights include Action Analysis I & II, Advanced 3D Animation Production, Animation: From Pitching to Pipeline to Production, Drawing and Design for Animation, Experimental Animation, Life Drawing: Anatomy, Motion Design & Titles, Special Topics in 3D Computer Animation, Stop-Motion Animation, Storyboarding, Visual Effects and Compositing, and Writing for Animation.

Other program highlights include internship opportunities, study abroad experiences, and guest speakers. Past guests have included Chuck Jones, David Polonski, Frank Thomas, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy E. Disney, among others.

Graduates of the Animation Program at Tisch have landed jobs at major studios such as DreamWorks, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and many others.

10. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is home to the College of Art and Design, which houses the School of Film and Animation. Here aspiring animators can earn BFA degrees in Film and Animation, Film and Animation: Animation Option, and Film and Animation: Production Option.

The BFA in Film and Animation focuses on production, screenwriting, 2D animation, 3D animation, and stop-motion animation, while the BFA in Film and Animation: Animation Option has three tracks: 2D, 3D, or Stop-Motion Animation. Each Track allows for exploration of animation for film, games, AR/VR, digital effects, compositing, sound design, and the integration of animation with live-action storytelling. In all tracks, students make films from day one, culminating in a thesis film their final year.

Students in the Film and Animation: Production Option BFA Program will explore fictional, documentary, and experimental live-action filmmaking. “This option requires many exercises and a minimum of three significant works, one of which is a year-long senior thesis.”

RIT graduates have gone on to hold research engineering roles at places like Sony and Dolby and have positions in filmmaking and animation at Lucasfilm and other major companies.

11. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University’s (BYU) College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design offers a BFA in Animation. In the BFA program, students study digital and traditional animation, illustration, figure drawing, and other topics. They also have opportunities to visit artist, film and gaming studios, study abroad, and complete an internship. All students will work on personal and group projects, and major films, and develop portfolios that will help them secure a position in the animation industry.

BFA candidates have the opportunity to gain entrance to the BYU Center for Animation (est. 2010), which operates under the direction of three colleges—the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Accepting just 20-25 students each year through the BFA (or BS) program, the BYU Center for Animation is a competitive, highly dynamic, hands-on program structured to provide students with the skill sets necessary for success in the animation, live-action, special effects, and game industries.

Graduates of the animation programs at BYU have landed positions at gaming and feature film companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Blue Sky Studios, Digital Domain, Disney, DreamWorks, Hasbro, ILM, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Riot Games, and Sony Pictures Animation.

12. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University’s School of Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) offers a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects that allows students to specialize in one main area of the industry. Emphasis is placed on creating a professional demo reel and/or portfolio in tune with the latest industry trends. Specialization areas include 2D Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Stop-Motion, and Storyboarding.

Course highlights for the program include Cinematics for Animation & VFX, Computer Animation Production, Lip Sync & Facial Performances, Preproduction Principles, Previs & Postvis, Producing for Animation & Visual Effects, and Sketching for Communication. Students will also complete a collaborative project, internship and senior portfolio.

Animation and Visual Effects graduates have gone on to land positions at top studios such as Blue Sky Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, Laika, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Weta Digital and many others.

13. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California
California College of the Arts

The Animation Department at California College of the Arts (CCA) houses the schools largest program—the BFA in Animation. Students in the program receive guidance from faculty, including visiting artists, who the school says are “part of animation teams for DreamWorks, Pixar, Tippett Studio, and other studios that have won prestigious awards for their animated films.”

With guidance from experienced faculty and industry professionals, students will learn how to make 2D animation, 3D animation, and visual effects for video games, as well as stop-motion animation, and more. “Courses hone technical expertise in timing and spacing, weight, and other key animation principles.” Students will “learn to combine the skills of both director and actor to create characters with authentic emotion and tell stories that make a real impact.”

Course highlights for the program include Advanced Animation 3D Tips & Tricks, Animation: Visual Storytelling, and Drawing for Animation as well as 3D Character Modeling, Acting for the Animator, Color & Design Visual Development, and Experimental Animation. Students will complete a number of workshops and projects, and internship opportunities are available.

In 2019, the BFA in Animation program began offering a Games Track. The option consists of a “series of courses that teach the discipline of Game Arts, the fundamentals of Game Design, the process of Games Development, and the nuances of Game Animation.” Course highlights include Game Design, Games Development, Game Making, and Worldbuilding. “Animators in the Games Track will produce collaborative and individual works of game art as their capstone projects.”

Graduates of CCA’s Animation programs have been hired at major animation studios and companies such as Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, and Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Graduates have also landed positions at game studios such as Electronic Arts, Phosphor Games, Vigil Games, and many others. 

14. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU or Carnegie Mellon) is home to the College of Fine Art (CFA), which houses the School of Art. Aspiring animators within the school may earn a BFA degree in Electronic and Time-Based Media with a Focus in Animation or a BFA Integrative Design, Arts & Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation & Special Effects.

The Electronic and Time-Based Media BFA “explores the creative potential of emerging technologies and the critical impact they have on contemporary culture,” says the school. The curriculum “implicitly encourages cross-disciplinary study.” As such, “many students merge fine art and computer science based interests either within the BFA program or through the unique BCSA degree program.” Besides Animation, students may focus in unique areas such as Bioart, Computational and Interactive Art, Tactical Media, and Tangible Media, as well as Game Arts and Video and Performance. “Students particularly interested in the intersection of art and technology can take advantage of expanded course offerings through the IDeATe Program.”

IDeATe “supports eight interrelated undergraduate areas, all of which can be taken as minors. The themes of these areas integrate knowledge in technology and arts: Game Design, Animation and Special Effects, Media Design, Sonic Arts, Design for Learning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Intelligent Environments, and Physical Computing.” The IDeATe curriculum consists of 30 new interdisciplinary technology-arts courses focused on “hands-on collaborative learning and are structured to combine students from many different disciplines.”

Students in the BFA in IDeATe with Animation & Special Effects “will study the interconnected components of performance capture, rendering, 3D and 2D animation, and special effects. They will merge arts and technology perspectives in all courses to explore each of these components and the area of digital animation as a whole. Through common repositories across courses and collaborative projects, students will explore how the different components and types of expertise come together to create a convincing computer animated experience.”

Students in the BFA in IDeATe will be able to “connect to other IDeATe courses to explore applications of digital animation in different contexts (games, interactive environments etc.) and to integrate other key areas of knowledge (narrative, sound) into digital animation projects.”

The School of Art at CMU also offers supportive courses that “serve to enrich the student experience in IDeATe.” Offerings include Advanced ETB: 2D Animation, Advanced ETB: Animation, Advanced ETB: Moving Image Magic: Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Animation, Art, and Technology.

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

15. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) houses the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) that offers a BFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation. The Department says the program “endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content,” and is “open to many approaches to and understandings of experimental media art.” The Department is “dedicated” to helping students develop their “art practice in a variety of forms and contexts including the use of high definition video, new media art, experimental 3D animation, hand-drawn animation, and filmmaking.”

Students in the FVNMA department are taught by “award-winning pioneers,”  “revolutionaries,” and working professionals in the fields of experimental film, video, animation, nonfiction, narrative, installation, glitch, interactivity, art games, curating, archiving, and web-based art projects. Students also learn from “internationally renowned artists, critics, historians, and curators who regularly visit through the department and SAIC's Visiting Artists Program.”

Other FVNMA Department highlights include graduate projects and fall and spring critique weeks for MFA students, as well as access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Examples include The Gene Siskel Film Center, The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media at the Modern Wing, and The Video Data Bank, which is considered the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists.

Famous SAIC alumni include Cynthia Rowley, David Sedaris, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elizabeth Murray, Jeff Koons, LeRoy Neiman, Michelle Grabner, Nick Cave, and Richard Hunt.

16. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California
Otis College of Art and Design

Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) offers a BFA in Digital Media with an Animation Major through the school’s Digital Media Department. Students in the animation program will “learn to tell compelling stories through digital media,” says the school. They have the option to concentrate in Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, or Motion Design.

Course highlights include Connections Through Color and Design, Animation Explorations, Basic 3D for Storytellers, Concept Development and Creativity, Form and Space, Storytelling for Digital Artists, The Visual Language of Film, Games and Design, and Writing in the Digital Age. Students will also complete a Business Seminar, Practicum in Animation, a Senior Project, and Capstone course.

The Practicum provides the opportunity for students to work with outside companies and designers who assign one or more advanced character animation assignments across the year. Students will learn how to run projects from start to finish.

“By graduation students will be able to meet the demands of a diverse and expanding job market in visual storytelling for film, television, video games, apps, and the web.” Graduates of the program “have thriving careers” at companies like Disney, DreamWorks, ILM, Nickelodeon, Pixar and many others.

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

DigiPen Institute of Technology offers a BFA in Digital Art and Animation designed to prepare students to create artwork at the professional level. In addition to excellent drawing skills, students will gain production experience, familiarity with modern studio processes, and storytelling abilities. As a student in the BFA program, aspiring animators can expect to “learn practice the many roles that make up the art production pipeline for games and animation,” says the school.

Course highlights for the program include 2D & 3D Animation, Art and Technology, Career Preparation, Cinematography for Visual Effects, Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development, Environment and Level Design, Production Pipeline, Storyboards, and Storytelling.

A core component of the BFA curriculum is Multidisciplinary Team Projects, which the school says provides the opportunity for students to “contribute on collaborative endeavors in student games, animated films, and more.” The semester- and year-long projects give students the opportunity to “see a project through from the concept stage to final, polished product.” Potential careers for graduates include Animator, Character Artist, Environmental/Asset Artist, Producer, Simulation and Effects Animator, UI Designer, and many others.

In addition to the Redmond campus, the BFA in Digital Art and Animation is available at the school’s international branch campuses including Digipen Europe-Bilbao and Digipen Singapore.

Graduates of the Digital Art Program at DigiPen have been hired at companies such as Activision, Amazon Game Studios, Animation Collective, Apple, ArenaNet, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Online, DreamWorks Interactive, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo, Riot Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Sucker Punch Productions, Walt Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Zynga, and many others.

18. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
University of Central Florida

University of Central Florida (UCF) houses the College of Arts and Humanities, home to the School of Visual Arts & Design’s (SVAD) BFA in Emerging Media Program, which has two tracks: Character Animation and Experimental Animation.

The undergraduate Character Animation Track is a two-year cohort that provides extended experience in working in multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems. Course highlights include 3D Textures, Artificial Environments and Effects, Digital Effects & Compositing, Look Modeling Workshop, and Visual Storytelling and Visual Development. Graduates of the program are prepared to seek careers in animation, modeling, rigging, and texture art in the computer game or film industries.

The undergraduate Experimental Animation Track “offers students the opportunity to explore expression through innovative, hybrid analog and digital practice,” says the school. “Students engage in classic, current, and widely varied techniques and mediums while making narrative or non-narrative creative works.” Course highlights for the program include Advanced Computer Graphic Design, Experimental Animation Workshop, Fundamentals of Interactive Design, Modeling for Realtime Systems, and Narrative Sculpture.

Students in the Experimental Animation Track “develop a unique creative vision, which culminates in the completion of a BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.”

Students in both Animation Tracks will use industry-leading software on Mac and PC-based platforms to create projects, works, and portfolios.

Graduates of UCF’s Emerging Media Program have been hired at major animation and gaming studios such as Blizzard Entertainment Electronic Arts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Riot Games, Reel EFX, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Some SVAD alumni have been hired at companies, government agencies, and other organizations outside of entertainment. Examples include DISTI, Lockheed Martin, NASA, and the U.S. Navy.

19. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) offers a BFA in Animation that begins “with assignments that build skills while also encouraging inventive and experimental work across a variety of media,” says the school. The program covers technology and workflow, the creative process, and research and context with “classrooms, labs, and studios that facilitate and enhance the work of animation majors.”

Students will study Character Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Documentary Animation, Emerging Technologies, Experimental Video, and Stop-Motion. Course highlights include Advanced Digital Animation, Design for Animators, Motion Graphics, Puppet Animation & Fabrication, Toolbox, and VFX Alchemy: Pixels & Grain. An Independent Study course, Course Assistantship, and Internship are also part of the program.

BFA coursework “culminates in a degree project consisting of a sustained film as well as a portfolio and reel highlighting students' professional and creative objectives.” Graduates of the program have gone on to land positions such as Animator, Freelance Animator, Junior Animation Artist, Medical Animator, and Medical Illustrator.

20. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
DePaul University

DePaul University offers a BFA in Animation with Concentrations in 3D Animation, Cinema Animation, Game Art, Motion Graphics, and Storyboarding and Character Design. The program “emphasizes the art of animation, creativity, and critical thinking,” says the school. This “extremely” flexible and interdisciplinary degree allows students to experiment with the latest in animation software, technologies, and tools including 3D, green screen studios, hand-drawn, motion capture, motion control, and stop-motion.

The BFA in Animation provides a “thorough foundation in the art of animation and its history, combined with intense practice in traditional animation (hand-drawn, stop-motion, and hybrid), and 3D computer animation and modeling.” Students in the program have the opportunity to work with game development teams, participate in the school’s annual Premiere Film Festival, which showcases the best of student work in animation and cinema, and study and intern in Los Angeles for three months through the school’s innovative LA Quarter Program.

Past participants in the LA Quarter program have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. Back at home, students will also benefit from CDMs relationship with Chicago’s largest game development and animation studios.

Animation students also benefit from the visiting artist series, which brings “innovative practitioners and industry leaders to the DePaul campus for film screenings, on-stage conversations, and professional panels.” Past artists have visited from Disney and Pixar. The student organization Animation Lodge and Project Bluelight are other program highlights.

The Lodge is a place where students can network, build their portfolios, work on group projects, and discuss animation trends and techniques. Project Bluelight is a professional, educational, and community outreach program where students receive hands-on experience in motion picture production.

Graduates of the Animation program at DePaul have been hired in animation roles at Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Google, Laika Studios, Nickelodeon, Phosphor Studios, Synapse Games and Wargaming, to name a few.

21. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
San Jose State University

San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the College of Humanities and the Arts. The Department of Design here houses the Animation/Illustration (A/I) Program, which leads to a BFA. This professional degree “prepares students for careers in feature film animation, games, television, and any other media that uses animation and storytelling as a core communication tool,” says the school. The curriculum for the program covers color theory, conventional and digital painting, design, and perspective. Students will also study the principles of traditional and 3D animation, character design, modeling, physics of motion, storyboarding, and visual development.

Once students complete lower division courses, they will have the opportunity to specialize in their area of choice and complete an internship.

Graduates of the BFA in Animation/Illustration program have worked on films such as A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Shrek and they have been hired at more than 135 animation studios, game design companies, film studios, and academic institutions. Just a few include 20th Century Fox, Animation Mentor, Blue Sky Studios, Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Cogswell Institute, Disney Animation, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony/Columbia, and Zynga.

22. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University-Long Beach

California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of Arts’ School of Art, which offers a BFA in Art with an Illustration/Animation Option.

While students in the BFA program have the option to choose the Animation or Illustration Track, they may take courses in both tracks and work with students in both tracks in the digital lab. Other program highlights include internship and study abroad opportunities, as well as visiting artists that present workshops and presentations in collaboration with faculty.

Graduates of the program “work in a variety of fields such as film and entertainment (gaming, animation and live action film), advertising, textiles, biomedical illustration, the gift market, educational illustration, architectural illustration, print publications (newspapers, magazines, graphic novels and books) and more,” says the school.

Many alumni have also “distinguished themselves in visual journalism, in storyboarding for film and television, and in all aspects of editorial art as well as gallery exhibition.”

23. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) offers a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Animation and a BFA in Studio + Humanistic Studies through the school’s Animation Department.

Three pathways are available for the BFA including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The program begins with a fundamental understanding of the art of movement then progresses through areas such as 2D hand-drawn animation, 3D computer imaging, animation history, stop-motion, and innovative combinations of these processes.

Unique course highlights for the program include 3D Character Animation: Performance, 3D Modeling Landscape, Animated Music Video, Animation in Unique Spaces, Astro-Animation, 3D Modeling Landscape, Virtual Reality for Artists, Virtual to Real: Rapid Prototype, and Stop-Motion Open Studio. The program culminates in a thesis film in students’ final year.

The BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies covers animation studies along with philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history. Course highlights for the program include Art Matters, Character Animation, Drawing, Digital Tools For Animation, Electronic Media & Culture Elements of Visual Thinking, and Stop-Motion.

MICA animation graduates have been hired by Blue Sky Studios, Disney, DreamWorks, Laika, MTV, and other major companies and studios. Many MICA graduates have continued their education in graduate programs or have successful careers as freelance artists in the animation industry.

24. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. The program emphasizes the creation of animation, interactive art and experimental forms in the context of art making. Students have the opportunity to work on individually defined or team-based projects in state of the art facilities. They will work with the latest equipment and benefit from interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world-class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).

25. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California
California State University-Fullerton

California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton or CSU Fullerton) houses the College of the Arts, which houses the Visual Arts Department. Through the Department, aspiring animators can earn a BFA in Art with an Entertainment Art/Animation Concentration. 

This 132-unit program requires a minimum of 81 units in art: The 12 units of studio art “Admission Requirements” plus 12 units of Art History and 57 units of art. The major is divided into 21 units of lower-division preparation and 48 upper-division units. In addition to the minimum 69-unit requirement for the BFA degree, students must meet the other university requirements for a bachelor’s degree.

Course highlights for the program include 3D Character Modeling, 3D Environment Modeling, and 3D Rigging & Animation, Cartooning and Caricature, Design for Interactive Art, Digital Narrative Illustration, Elements of Sequential Art, Lighting and Compositing, Motion Graphics Design, Video Art and Moving Image, Visual Development and Background Painting, and Writing in the Visual Arts.

Group Projects, Independent Research, a BFA Capstone and Internship in Art are also part of the program.

Through a partnership with Nickelodeon Studios, the Entertainment Art/Animation area has “developed educational opportunities to further the career goals of its students.” In addition to Nickelodeon, graduates of the BFA program have landed positions at Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, and Sony Pictures Imageworks, to name a few.

Graduates have also worked on productions such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, Avatar, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 3, SpongeBob Squarepants, Superman Returns, and The Simpsons.

26. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago (Columbia) houses the School of Media Arts, home to the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation.

BFA students are required to take Animation Production Studio and produce their own animated thesis film as a solo project. The Animation Production Studio is an intensive, two-semester capstone course that introduces students to the animated film process. Studio students will have the opportunity to, “supervise and be supervised in roles ranging from director to editor,” says the school. Finished films will be presented at Columbia College’s annual urban arts festival known as “Manifest,” which “celebrates the amazing work” of the school’s graduating students. Students will have three full semesters to complete the Production Studio.

All students will have the opportunity to take the one-credit course—Animation Studios in LA—where they will spend time learning professional standards and industry preparation as well as touring local animation studios such as Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, and Warner Bros.

Graduates of the Animation program at Columbia College Chicago have won Oscars and Emmys and they have worked on popular animated films and series such as Brave, Coco, Finding Dory, Frozen, Pocahontas, Robot Chicken, The Lego Batman Movie, The Lion King, and UP. Alumni work at networks and studios such as Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Warner Bros. Animation, Weta Digital, and many others.

27. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State University

Florida State University’s (FSU) BFA in Animation and Digital Arts and the BFA in Motion Picture Arts programs are offered in the College of Motion Picture Arts, home of the FSU Film School.

The Motion Picture Arts programs allow students to learn both filmmaking and animation skills through core requirements and electives. Course highlights include 3D Computer Animation, 3D Computer Graphics, Character Animation, Compositing, History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation, Lighting, Texturing and Rendering, Stop-Motion Animation, and Visual Effects.

The Animation and Digital Arts degree is a three-year program within a four-year degree that provides the opportunity for students to “explore the evolution of filmmaking and master the tools and practices of today’s industry,” says the school. During the first year of the programs, students will work in collaboration with other Film School students on foundational coursework. For animation students, following is a “deep dive into the tools and techniques of 3D animation.”

Course highlights include Character Animation, Character Art, Lighting, Texturing, and Rendering, Motion Picture Editing, Reality and Illusion in World Cinema, Story Development & Screenwriting, and of course, 3D Animation.

Other program highlights include the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals, the chance to make create four major films before graduation, one of which is an area-specific thesis film, and participation in the Torchlight Program.

The Torchlight Program gives FSU animation students who would like to freelance or start their own studios the opportunity to learn about current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry. This non-degree-granting academic program “functions as a gateway between school and career by providing instruction in current and emerging business practices of the motion picture industry,” says the school. The program offers coursework in key areas such as Distribution, Marketing, and Motion Picture Financing.

FSU Torchlight students “have had the opportunity to present, market, publicize, promote and otherwise theatrically distribute a stunning array of independent motion pictures in a variety of markets throughout the United States and Canada.”

FSU College of Motion Picture Arts graduates are prepared to seek positions such as Animatics Supervisor, Animation Supervisor, Animator, CG Lighter, Effects Animator, Modeler, Rigger, Storyboard Artist, Visual Effects Coordinator, and many others.

28. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
Laguna College of Art and Design

The Animation Program at Laguna Beach College of Art and Design (LCAD) is the school’s largest program. Degree options include BFA degrees in Animation and Experimental Animation.

The BFA in Animation covers traditional animation techniques and classic art. Course highlights include CG Modeling, Character Design for Animators, Digital Skills, Directing for Animators, Layout, and Storyboarding. Students in the program will become skilled at storytelling, creating “compelling frame-by-frame performances,” says the school, and the “entire process of filmmaking from script to screen.”

Graduates of the BFA in Animation program have landed positions at major studios and networks such as Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Industrial Light & Magic, Laika, Nickelodeon, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, Sony, South Park Studios, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse, Warner Brothers Feature Animation, and more.

The BFA in Experimental Animation exposes students to “all of the digital tools, skillsets, and techniques that are the new standard in television and internet animation,” says the school. The first year of the program covers traditional animation. Students will then “branch out into purely digital approaches to narrative character animation,” along with alternate approaches to stop-motion and CG techniques. During the junior and senior years of the program, students will have the opportunity to specialize in an area of interest. The program culminates in a thesis project.

Graduates of the program will demonstrate advanced skills in 2D digital puppetry & 2D, 3D modeling and animation, character design & storyboarding for limited animation, new media authorship, paperless animation, show design & series design, and stop-motion.

29. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) offers an Animation Program with 2D and 3D Animation Emphases.

Animation program highlights include 2D and 3D Drawing, Character Design, Line of Action, Modeling, Stop-Motion, and Storyboarding. With small class sizes, students will explore these areas and every level of animation through hands-on training led by experienced artists in the field.

The animation programs at RMCAD may be completed in four years and they lead to the BFA degree. Students will leave the programs with a polished portfolio of their work.

RMCAD animation graduates are prepared to seek positions such as 3D Artist, Animator, Character Developer, Digital Videographer, Flash Developer/Designer, New Media Designer, and many others. Alumni have landed positions at Blue Sky Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, Lola VFX, and Pixar, to name a few.

30. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) offers a BFA in Animation with two Tracks: 2D and 3D Animation. Both tracks require 12 credit hours of study and an internship. MCAD students have interned at the Massachusetts Museum of Art, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Walker Art Center.

An optional study abroad experience is also part of the program. Students have studied in places such as Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK, to name a few.

Students in the BFA program will explore illustrated, stop-motion, and computer-generated approaches to animation and gain foundational skills in a variety of creative media. They will also experiment with the different roles of animator such as background animation, character development, and storyboarding. The BFA program requires 120 credit hours to graduate.

31. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
College for Creative Studies

The College for Creative Studies (CCS) offers a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation that helps students develop character performance within a variety of 2D and 3D applications. The school says students will “hone skills in traditional and computer-generated (CG) animation and design and gain experience in stop-motion, motion graphics, and experimental media.”

Course highlights for the program include 2D Design, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Computer Graphics, Anatomical Figure Illustration, Animation 1, II & III, Business Practices, Computer Character Animation, Creative Visualization, Digital Techniques, Environments and Characters, Maquette Sculpture, Modeling and Texturing, Playing the Self, and Visual Culture.

All Entertainment Art students will have the opportunity to customize their curriculum by taking coursework in other concentrations including Concept Design, Digital Film and Game Design. Students will also complete a Writing Workshop and a Senior Production Studio. The optional internship is strongly encouraged.

Graduates of the CCS Animation Program work throughout the industry as 3D character artists, 3D production artists, animators, character animators, concept artists, directors, motion graphics artists, riggers, stop-motion artists, storyboard artists, VFX artists, Visualization artists, weapons artists, and many others.  

CCS Graduates have been hired at major studios across the U.S. Disney ABC Television Group, DreamWorks Animation, and Sony Pictures Imageworks, to name a few.

32. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Columbus College of Art and Design

Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) offers a BFA in Animation that was established in 1987. Consisting of 120 credit hours of study, the program has the option to add a 15-credit hour minor such as Animation 2D, Animation 3D, Film & Video, or Illustration.

Per the school, students in the program will “dive right into cutting-edge animation techniques and learn 2D, 3D, and experimental styles, as well as game art, motion graphics, digital modeling, virtual reality, and more.” Program highlights include access to industry-standard facilities such as the Cloyd Family Animation Center, support of peers through the Animation Student Collective, and guidance from creative faculty who are experts in the field.

Students may also participate in CCAD’s International Exchange Program, which highlights study at China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China; Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile; Xi’an Fine Arts Academy, Xi’an, China, and Northumbria, Newcastle, England. Students may also study at CCAD-approved programs at Studio Art Centers, Florence, Italy, and University of Arts London, London.

Graduates of the BFA in Animation Program at CCAD work in a variety of positions and fields. Just a few include augmented reality designer, character animator for feature films, game artist, motion designer, and television animator. Recent employers include Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Laika, Nickelodeon Animation Studio, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

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

University of the Arts (UArts) houses the School of Film, which enrolls 240 students. The School offers BFAs in Animation and Film + Animation. The BFA program “supports traditional hand-drawn, 3D computer, stop-motion and any animation techniques that can be imagined or explored.” Students in the program will explore the variety of techniques available to the current animator, hone traditional skills, and learn how to tell engaging stories as well as create memorable characters, and bring their concepts to life.

Besides taking courses such as 2D Computer Character Animation, Drawn Character Animation, Screenwriting, Special Effects Compositing, and Storyboarding, BFA students will create Junior and Senior Animation Pieces, an Animation Thesis, and an Internship. Organizations that have hosted interns include Augenblick Studios, Sesame Workshop, and Stretch Films Inc., to name a few.

To create animation pieces, students will have access to UArts’ production and technology spaces, such as the 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media (CIM), animation and film studios, computer labs, and two stop-motion studios, among other “cutting-edge” spaces.

The BFA in Film + Animation “allows students to explore the possibilities of both film and animation.” Students in the program will study “film and animation techniques, explore various genres and styles, and create a capstone project that combines film and animation in innovative way.” Other program highlights include hands-on instruction by “award-winning, professional filmmakers and animators” whose work has aired on Cartoon Network, HBO, Netflix, Nickelodeon, and many others, production workshops, lectures, screenings and critiques, and internship and study abroad opportunities.

In addition to study abroad experiences, international opportunities include festivals and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea.

UArts animation alumni have worked on animated television series, commercials, major special effects films, and video games in a variety of roles from director and animator to storyboard artist and editor, and many other positions. Graduates have landed both salaried and freelance positions at places such as DreamWorks, Google, HBO, Netflix, SNL, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

34. University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado
University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the College of Arts & Media, Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC), which offer a BFA in Visual Arts with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation.

The DAC “provides the labs and technological core of the academic program, while creating a community of student collaboration. Most professional digital content creators work with as many as 500 other artists; the DAC is one of the only college level programs preparing students for this environment, focusing on individual artistry while simultaneously fulfilling the broader vision of a final production.”

The 3D Graphics and Animation Emphasis “is a competitive and rigorous four-year curriculum,” says the school, consisting of 120 credit hours, total. The program focuses on “preparing students to work in a wide variety of fields that use animated digital computer graphics (CG), including entertainment, film and television, gaming, medicine, and science.” Course highlights include Advanced Character Animation, Character FX, Dynamic Simulation, Environment Production, Preproduction for Look Development, Surface Modeling, and Texturing and Shading.

To fine-tune the emphasis, students are also required to take at least twelve semester hours of Visual Arts electives such as Digital Cinematography, Digital 3D Methods: Motion Graphics for Animators and Storyboarding for Cinema and Game Previsualization. An 18-month Capstone experience, which begins development in the junior year, is also part of the program.

To date, DAC student senior short films have been seen in over 300 national and international film festivals in 22 countries. The school says its student films have been seen by hundreds of thousands across the globe, winning more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.

35. The New School/Parsons, New York, New York
The New School/Parsons

The New School/Parsons houses the School of Art, Media, and Technology, which offers a BFA in Design & Technology. Pathways include Creative Technology and Game Design. A BFA in Art, Media, and Technology is offered at Parsons Paris, established in 1921.

The BFA in Design & Technology is a 120 credit hour STEM-designated program that takes four years to complete, full-time. The BFA Creative Technology pathway “focuses on methods of combining physical computing, creative coding, user experience, responsive environment, and immersion technology for innovative design solutions,” says the school.

The Game Design pathway “emphasizes the aesthetic aspects of designing games.” It provides a set of tools that grows along with students’ skills and provides them with an understanding of the game design process, from brainstorming to game publication.

Course highlights for the pathways include Core Lab Environments, Core Studio Environments, Design Studies, Drawing/Imaging, Sustainable Systems, Space/Materiality, and Time. Students in both pathways will have the opportunity to visit and engage in projects with industry leaders and organizations such as Apple, Atari, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, MTV, Nickelodeon, Rockwell Interaction Lab, Siemens, and UNESCO. Students also have access to the university’s extensive libraries, galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities, which allows them to engage their creativity and showcase their work.

Graduates leave the program prepared for careers in advertising, animation, film, game design, graphic arts, hardware engineering, motion graphics, software design, and virtual reality and immersion experience design.

36. Chapman University, Orange, California
Chapman University

Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film & Media Arts offers a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects with a focus in 2D or 3D Animation or Visual Effects. This hands-on program is divided into two parts. The first two years are devoted to the fundamental artistic and technical skills that provide the foundation for the student’s development as an animation or VFX artist. During their junior and senior years, students will focus on their chosen area of specialization and the development and production of the senior thesis project.

Students at Dodge College will also connect with the industry via guest lectures, special events, career panels, resident filmmakers, and Chapman Filmed Entertainment—the school’s in-house production company. Dodge students also have access to the state-of-the-art Digital Media Arts Center (DMAC), which was inspired by the creative spaces at Disney, Google, Microsoft, and Pixar.

The DMAC provides “24/7 access to an art studio, an animation lab with both traditional animation pegged drawing discs and digital Cintiq tablets, a VFX lab with dual monitors and a 4K workflow, individual digital suites with specialized 3D and sound gear,” says the school. The spaces feature the “latest industry standard software such as Adobe Creative Suites, Maya, 3DS Max, and an Xsens motion capture suit and software.”

Through field trips to, and internships with major animation, gaming, and VFX studios, students in the program will stay connected with the industry. Students have explored or interned with studios such as Blizzard, Blur, DreamWorks and Pixar. In addition, “major industry players and professionals such as Joyce Cox (The Jungle Book), Chris Buck (Frozen), Don Hahn (Lion King, Beauty and the Beast), Randy Cook (Lord of the Rings), Pete Docter (Inside Out), Rob Liefeld (Deadpool), and many more frequently visit campus.”

Another benefit of the Animation program at Chapman’s Dodge College is the International Program. In the past academic year, Dodge College students traveled abroad to 10 countries, including Laos, Malawi, Ireland, and South Korea. In recent years, students have traveled to more than six continents and 20 countries including Asia: India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan; Europe: England, France, Iceland, Italy; Africa: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania; South America: Peru; Australia, New Zealand and Cuba, as well as several cities in North America.

37. Woodbury University, Burbank, California
Woodbury University

Woodbury University’s School of Media, Culture & Design houses the Animation BFA Program. The goal of the program is to “help students develop their creative voices and prepare them for a successful career in professional animation production,” says the school. Coursework covers 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Stop-Motion.

2D animation production courses emphasize the traditional Principles of Animation and acting in animation, production design, storyboarding, and both paperless and puppet pipelines, “required in the professional animation industry.” The programs 3D animation production courses “emphasize the art of combining sculpted models, surfacing for color and texture, lighting for storytelling, rigging for posing, animation as acting and rendering, and compositing to create believable visual stories.”

Stop-motion production coursework emphasizes animating with a variety of stop-motion approaches such as cut-out and rapid prototyping of facial expressions with 3D printing. It also emphasizes set building and puppet making with armatures. Students will also learn visual and cinematic language through the production of personal projects.

Because Woodbury is highly interdisciplinary, animation students have the opportunity to study in other areas such as Filmmaking, Game Art & Design or Media. Students will have access to the Animation Club, which hosts events, speakers, and exhibitions, and they will gain experience through a mandatory internship.

Past internship’s include positions at Acme Filmworks, Bix Pix Entertainment, Blur Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Hasbro Studios, Nickelodeon, Renegade Animation, Walt Disney Animation, Walt Disney Imagineering, Titmouse Studios, and Warner Bros., to name a few.

38. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Art Institute

Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) houses the Department of Converging Media, which Double Majors in Art History and Animation and Creative Writing and Animation are also available.

The Animation BFA highlights intensive instruction in classical, experimental and computer animation. Students in the program work in technologically integrated classrooms and studios to produce a significant personal work. The Department of Converging Media houses Filmmaking, Interactive Arts, and Photography, so animation students also work in an environment that facilitates creativity and cross-disciplinary approaches to image making.

The BFA curriculum include a suite of classes that emphasizes different aspects of the creative process including animation principles, concept modeling, history, production methods, and theory & technique. Course highlights include Contemporary Animation History, Digital Methods, Explorations in Animation, Ideas in Motion, Principals of Animation, Professional Practice (where students interact with renowned visiting artists, scholars, and professionals), and Visual Communication.

Senior animation students are offered a six-credit studio each semester where they will design, manage, and fully produce an animated work. “This year-long project prepares students to confidently enter the field with experience, professional practice, and a representative portfolio/body of work,” says the school. Experience is also gained through internship opportunities at major studios across the country.

Graduates of the program have gone on to work in studios and production houses such as Bazillion Pictures, Digital Domain, Disney, Hallmark, Nickelodeon, Plympton Studios, ShadowMachine, Stoopid Buddies, Titmouse, Warner Brothers, and many others. Additionally, many graduates have gone on to pursue advanced degrees at top colleges like Cal Arts, SVA, UCLA, and UMKC.

39. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State University

Arizona State University’s (ASU) Herberger Institute for Design, School of Art, offers a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Animation. The program consists of 120 credit hours of study, including 45 upper division requirements. Dozens of electives are offered for students wishing to enhance the degree with experience in other areas such as game design. Course highlights include 2D Digital Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Animation Motion Studies, Encounters with Contemporary Art, Professional Practices for Design and the Arts, Storyboarding and Narrative Sequencing, and The Art Experience.

Elective highlights include 3D Computer Graphics Modeling and Representation, Animating Virtual Worlds, Animation for Film, Computer Animation and Video, Digital-Physical Systems, Experimental Video Art, Fantasy Figure Foam Carving, Game Development, Game Engine Development, Graphics for Games, Guerilla VFX, Moving and Interactive Systems in Sculpture, Prototyping Dreams, Video Game Art, and Visual Effects.

Students in the program will complete an Animation Capstone that allows them to produce a “substantial animation project of their own devising,” says the school. Students may complete an individually produced short film in any medium or full-length film produced in collaboration with other students. An internship is offered as well.

Graduates of the Animation Program at ASU are prepared for a wide range of careers in animation, game art, illustration, modeling, motion graphics, multimedia art, special effects, video game design, visual media, and many others.

40. University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
University of South Florida

University of South Florida (USF) houses the School of Art & Art History, which offers a BFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Animation and Digital Modeling.

The curriculum “engages students in the development of both 2D and 3D animation as well as the production of virtual 3D objects for fine art, film, games, and visualization,” says the school. “Combining cutting-edge technology with a foundation of the design process, craft, and studio art practices, students gain an invaluable skill set as they progress through their courses.”

Initial courses allow students to gain a foundation in the tools and principles involved in animation, digital imaging, and video. Intermediate coursework covers production workflows and experimental approaches and advanced courses help students develop “their personal creative voices as they produce self-directed projects.”

Course highlights include 3D Animation, Beginning and Advanced VADA, Baroque and Rococo Art, Computer Animation, Concepts & Practices, Digital Modeling, History of Visual Arts, Intermediate Drawing, and Tech Essentials. Students will complete “Extended Studies” as well.

Options within this two-credit requirement include the Paris Program, Public Art, Museum Internships, Community Art, Artists Internships/Apprenticeships, and the London Middlesex Program.

A thesis is required to complete the BFA Program.

Graduates are able to use their experiences from the programs in a broad range of disciplines.

Animation, Visual Effects, Game Design, and Filmmaking are just a few.

41. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Institute of Art

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) offers a BFA in Animation that “teaches students how to produce professional content to support their vision, with an emphasis on storytelling,” says the school.

Students will work their way through courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, Acting, Human and Animal Anatomy, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding & Sequential Art, and many others. Students also have the option to focus on an area of expertise and use open electives to study outside of the program and collaborate with other departments based on specific interests.

Coursework for the program is supported by field trips to the zoo and natural history museum for research and inspiration as well as working on independent and collaborative projects. Through CIA’s Engaged Practice, students also have opportunities to learn through experience by working on real-world projects with external partners or clients, or in the public sphere—all before graduation.

An additional benefit of the program is mentoring by instructors who have worked for companies such as American Greetings, DreamWorks, Hasbro, Illumination, Sony Animation, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Warner Bros., and many others. Combined, the department professors have over 20 feature film credits, 200 TV episodes, 100 TV series, 300 digital productions, and expertise in nearly every aspect of animated production.

Graduates of the CIA program are prepared to seek positions such as 3D Character Animator, Animator, Concept Artist, Game Designer, Independent Filmmaker, and Storyboard Artist. Alumni work on feature films, TV series and games, and for the automotive, communications, medical, music, and sports industries.

Modeling students will take courses such as Character Rigging and Introduction to 3D Modeling, and, while course highlights for Entertainment Design include Perspective & Rendering and Texturing. Entertainment Design students will also take a portfolio course that will prepare them to create a finished portfolio that demonstrates their abilities in Entertainment Design.

Graduates of the Cogswell Digital Art & Animation Program have landed positions at major studios and companies such as Activision Blizzard, Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, and Pixar. Alumni have developed characters for blockbuster animated films like Big Hero 6, Deadpool and Frozen.

42. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
University of North Carolina School of the Arts

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) houses the Filmmaking School, which offers a BFA in Animation that consists of 121 credit hours of study. Students take 85 credit hours in Filmmaking, 30 in General Education, and six in Liberal Arts or Designated Arts Course.

Course highlights include Fundamentals of Screenwriting, Fundamentals of Sound Design, Introduction to Animation I & II, Intensive Arts, Animations Foundations I & II, Storyboarding I & II, The History of Experimental & Stop-Motion Animation, International Animation, Advanced Computer Animation I & II, and Computer Graphics I & II.

Classes consist of lectures, workshops, and individual projects, allowing students to add to their portfolios as they progress through the program. The third year consists of the development, pre-production, production, and post-production stages of a three-minute animation project. Students will also begin the development and pre-production phases of the fourth-year animation project.

During the fourth year, students will complete a five-minute thesis animation project and they will have the opportunity choose an independent study or professional internship. Students have interned at major studios such as Sony Pictures Imageworks and Stargate Studios.

Graduates of the BFA Animation Program at UNCSA have established careers with Cartoon Network, Prologue Pictures, and many others top companies.

43. University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland
University of Maryland Baltimore County

University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) houses the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences’ (CAHSS) Department of Visual Arts, which offers a BFA degree in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation.

Students in the program will study animation as “makers,” says the school, “taking a sequence of hands-on production courses through traditional media and digital tools, investigating the history of animation, and screening of contemporary animation artists.” Students “are encouraged and expected to develop their own artistic voice through exploration of the media and critical review of their work. In-class critiques of personal work are emphasized for the development of a framework from which students can begin their path as artists in the animation field.”

Advanced level courses in the animation programs incorporate technically intensive experiences in 2D and 3D digital, hand-crafted, hybrid, and interactive processes, and the “exploration of emerging practices within the animation field.”

The BFA program also includes intensive lecture, studio, and lab investigation of techniques, methods, and concepts. An optional internship is offered for both programs.

Students completing the Animation Concentration have the opportunity to produce a fully developed work at the culmination of the program, either individually or as part of a team.

Graduates of the Animation Program at UMBC have become successful freelance artists or have found jobs at major animation studios, game companies, and government agencies. Additionally, many students continue their studies in graduate programs.

44. Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon
Pacific Northwest College of Art

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) offers an Animated Arts Program that combines fine art practices and digital technologies. Leading to the BFA, the program covers principles of animation, experimentation with a wide variety of media, production methods, and narrative strategies.

Course highlights for the program include 3D Design, Animated Installation, Animated Short Film, Animation I: Materials, Methods & Motion, Animation II: Hybrid Moving Image, Beginning Sound, Beginning Video, Narrative Strategies, Time Arts, Visual Elements Digital Tool, and Writing in Context.

Students have the opportunity to select a number of studio electives to develop skills in a range of areas, and all students will complete Professional Practices and the Media Arts Thesis. Other program highlights include opportunities to produce professional work for education purposes, festivals, festivals, and screening and performance.

Graduates of PNCA’s Animated Arts Program have gone on to work for top animation studios, attend prestigious graduate schools, and have their work featured in international film festivals.

45. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Edinboro University

Edinboro University houses the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, home to the Art Department, which offers a BFA in Animation.

Students in the program have access to state-of-the-art facilities and academic opportunities including 3D software Maya (Industry Standard Software) and 2D Cintiq Lab. They will also benefit from on-campus visits from alumni and professional animators, directors and storyboard artists as well as participation in the programs’ Animation Club.

All students will have the opportunity to complete an internship with a local, regional or national production studio as well as visits to CTNX Animation expo in Burbank, California, where they will tour high-profile studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Sony, Warner Bros., and Universal.

Graduates of Edinboro’s Animation BFA program have found success in every area of animation. They have been hired at studios and companies such as Blizzard, Disney, Nickelodeon, Pixar, South Park Studios and Weta. Edinboro Animation Alumni have been credited on films such as Frozen, Night at the Museum, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Zootopia.

46. Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts
Emerson College

Emerson College’s School of the Arts, Department of Visual & Media Arts (VMA) offers a BFA degree in Media Arts Production. The VMA faculty has created possible plans of study specifically designed to develop expertise in areas such as Animation and Motion Media, Filmmaking, Interactive Media and Games, Post-Production, Writing for Film and Television, and a number of other areas.

Course highlights for animators include Computer Animation, Drawing for Character Design, Film Production, Foundations in Visual and Media Arts Production, Game Design, Narrative Drama, and Writing for Short Subject.

Graduates of Emerson’s Department of VMA have found employment at places such as Bunim-Murray Productions, Digital Domain, Fox Searchlight, Hallmark Channel, MAD TV, MGM Studios, SCG Productions, Soup2Nuts, World Wide Pants, and many others.

47. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University

The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) at Syracuse University (SU) houses the Department of Transmedia, which offers a BFA in Computer Art and Animation.

This 120 credit hour program “explores the possibilities of digital media within a fine art, exploratory, and culturally aware setting,” says the school. The degree program provides instruction in multiple art media where the computer plays the primary role. These media include computer-generated images, 3D computer animation, physical computing, creative computer programming, computer gaming, computer music, and sonic art. Students are mentored to become highly skilled critical thinkers producing art in individual and collaborative contexts.

Program highlights include travel to Los Angeles to visit studios such as Filmworks FX and Method Studios, the opportunity to explore other areas through 18 academic and nine free studio elective credits, and internship experiences with local and other studios.

All Department of Transmedia students have access to study abroad programs in 60 countries throughout the world, enabling them “to gain a global perspective as they pursue their studies.”

VPA animation graduates have found employment at major studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Filmworks/FX, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Moving Picture Company, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Tippett Studios, and many others. Graduates have also presented their work at galleries and media art festivals around the world.

48. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
Ball State University

Ball State University (BSU or Ball State) houses the College of Fine Arts, home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Visual Arts/Animation.

The program explores 2D, 3D, stop-motion, and traditional animation as well as character design, lighting, modeling, storyboarding, texturing visual effects, and a wide range of other topics. Students will learn “up-to-date animation techniques,” says the school, “and how to use industry-standard animation software,” such as Adobe Illustrator, Maya, Photoshop, Toon Boom, and Toon Boom Harmony.

In every animation course, students “will gain valuable experience with leading animation industry software.” Toon Boom, Toon Boom Harmony, Maya, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator are just a few. Students will also have opportunities to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects with students and faculty in other courses of study.

During the final years of the program, students will create a demo reel or portfolio, and they will “learn how to market” themselves “in relation to today’s jobs.”

Graduates of the program are prepared for opportunities such as 3D animation for the film industry, 3D animator or modeler for the video game industry, 3D modeler for advertising, engineering or entertainment, animation web design, architectural rendering, medical animation, multimedia art, product visualization, and storyboard artist for the film industry.

49. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University’s (LSU) College of Art + Design houses the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Digital Art. The program allows students to refine their skills in classes that provide a broad, integrated understanding of creative practice across 3D modeling, animation, digital printmaking, interactive systems, photo-based media, video, and the web.

The school says it teaches “the expressive potential of hybridized technologies and democratized tools to engage with diverse audiences.” Emergent forms are emphasized, and “student work may manifest through integrated media including animation, games, visual effects, networked art, robotics, physical computing, printed matter, performance, public intervention, audio composition, installation, and digital fabrication, among limitless combinations.”

Students in the program have access to the Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research (AVATAR) Initiative and The Digital Art and Design Association (DADA). Both provide support to Digital Art students as they pursue “opportunities throughout the university and the broader community.”

50. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University

Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) houses the Media Arts Program, which offers a BFA in Media Arts with a Concentration in Animation and a BFA in Game Art and Animation.

The Media Arts-Animation BFA is an intensive studio program that consists of courses in imaginative and narrative arts, which are required for professional work in documentary films, game art and promotion, visualization, motion graphics, interactive art, illustration and short animated film. Students in the program have “ample opportunities to explore and collaborate with related creative disciplines,” says the school, such as game design, interactive, video, VR/AR/XR and more.

Course highlights include 4D Fundamentals: Sequence and Drawing, American Animation, Animation for Games, Animation Tools, Character Design for Animation, Digital Sculpture and Model Making, Interaction Design, and Interactive Narrative. Students will also work to develop a professional level portfolio throughout the program, “the centerpiece of which will be a one-year capstone project, demonstrating mastery in their specific area of focus.”

The BFA program also offers frequent co-op and experiential learning opportunities as well as global experiences. Co-op employers include Adobe, Amazon, Apple, CBS, Facebook, Microsoft Studios, MIT Design Lab, National Geographic Learning, NBC Universal Television, SAIC, Sony, Viacom, Walt Disney Company, Zynga, and many others.

The Game Art and Animation BFA takes a collaborative approach to learning, which allows students to join forces with their peers and work with students in other majors, culminating in a two-semester senior capstone. Students in the program will have a home college in the College of Arts, Media and Design but will have a minimum of four interdisciplinary courses where students interact and work together with students in the other degrees.

Graduates of the animation programs at Northeastern University are prepared to seek positions in all areas of animation, digital art, film, game art and design, and many others.

Locations