35+ Years of Shaping Entertainment and Pop Culture - From Oscar and GRAMMY-winners, to animators, to creative directors and entrepreneurs, our graduates make significant contributions to their industries. Learn More.
|1||California Institute of the Arts||California|
|2||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida|
|3||University of Southern California||California|
|4||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island|
|5||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|6||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|7||New York University||New York|
|8||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|9||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|10||Pratt Institute||New York|
|11||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||California|
|12||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|13||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|14||Brigham Young University||Utah|
|15||California State University-Long Beach||California|
|17||San Jose State University||California|
|18||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|19||Academy of Art University||California|
|20||Digipen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|21||California College of the Arts||California|
|22||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts|
|23||The University of the Arts||Pennsylvania|
|24||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|25||Columbus College of Art and Design||Ohio|
|26||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|27||California State University-Fullerton||California|
|28||Laguna College of Art and Design||California|
|29||College for Creative Studies||Michigan|
|31||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota|
|32||Florida State University||Florida|
|33||Bowling Green State University||Ohio|
|34||Ball State University||Indiana|
|35||Syracuse University||New York|
|36||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri|
|37||Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Colorado|
|38||University of Wisconsin – Stout||Wisconsin|
|39||The New School’s Parsons School of Design||New York|
|40||Virginia Commonwealth University||Virginia|
|43||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio|
|44||University of Colorado - Denver||Colorado|
|46||Missouri State University||Missouri|
|47||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia|
|48||Louisiana State University||Louisiana|
|49||Point Park University||Pennsylvania|
|50||Rutgers University||New Jersey|
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 Schools and Colleges with BFA Programs for 2019.
1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
In 1961, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) became the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Established by Walt and Roy Disney, the school serves around 1,500 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools including the School of Critical Studies, The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance, the School of Art, the School of Film/Video, The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, and the School of Theater.
The School of Film/Video is the largest school at CalArts, accounting for nearly 30% of the student population. The school offers a BFA in Character Animation or Experimental Animation. The BFA in Character Animation is a four-year program that the school says is “designed for students who seek an understanding of the art of character performance and storytelling in animation.” Courses for the program are taught by “experienced professionals who work at the forefront of traditional, CG and independent animation.”
Course highlights include Advanced Life Drawing, Animation Layout, CG Foundation I-II, Character Animation I-IV, Digital Methods I and Digital Methods II: Sound, Film Workshop I-IV, Story I and Story II: Storyboarding, and 2D Character Animation I-II. In addition, all Character Animation students are required to take Acting for Animators once during their BFA degree.
The Experimental Animation program emphasizes “the creative development of a personal aesthetic in an artist-centered environment. A broad range of animation approaches, processes, and techniques are covered in lecture courses, seminars, workshops, visiting artist lectures, internships, and independent studies.”
Students in the programs will also “work closely with a mentor in developing skills, course schedules, and projects, and also benefit from working among artistic peers in a studio environment.” Sample BFA courses include Animation Production, Cinematic Voices: In Person, Concept Development, Hybrid Imaging, Motion and Meaning, and Sound Image. A Senior Project is also part of the program.
In addition, all students are required to take production courses in other Schools at CalArts (Art, Dance, Theater, Music), in order to develop interdisciplinary approaches. Study abroad opportunities are also available. Crowned the “Harvard Business School of Animation” by the Los Angeles Times, CalArts has produced hundreds of successful alumni who have generated billions at the box office worldwide. The school lists Tim Burton, Mark Andrews (director and screenwriter of Pixar’s Oscar winning animated feature Brave), Eric Darnell (co-director of Antz, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, and Mark Osborne (director of Kung Fu Panda) among its most famous alumni.
2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. The school opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, RCAD serves 1,400 students enrolled in BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Motion Design, and Visual Studies are just a few majors.
The Computer Animation program is one of the most popular programs at RCAD, accounting for around 20% of the student population. Established in 1990, the BFA in Computer Animation allows students to do it all. Students learn to create characters and tell their stories, as well as design, paint, model, texture, animate, light, composite, and edit original films. The program also focuses on teaching students how to combine essential technical skills with conceptually original ideas that affect an audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually.
Course highlights include Computer Animation I-VI, Development of Art & Ideas, Drawing I-II, Figure Drawing I-II, Film & Narrative, Story Development I-III, Traditional Animation I-II, Visual Development for Computer Animation I-II, and Writing Studio.
A BFA in Motion Design is also available. Students in the program study animation, concept design, storyboard art, videography, composition, sound design, and art direction. Course highlights include Animation, Animation Techniques, Contemporary Design Culture, Development of Art and Ideas, Drawing and 2D Design, Drawing and 3D Design, 4D Design, Motion Design, Professional Writing for Designers, and Writing Studio.
Students in the program will have the opportunity to work across many different fields with students of other majors and with actual, professional clients.
RCAD graduates have worked on every Oscar-winning animated feature since 2003, with 14 alumni working on 2016 Oscar winner, Inside Out and 21 working on 2017 Oscar winner Zootopia. Graduates have also gone on to work at Blue Sky Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Walt Disney Animation, and many others.
3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Established in 1880, University of Southern California (USC) serves 47,500 students enrolled in more than 200 undergraduate programs, 300-plus graduate programs, and more than 150 minors. Undergraduate offerings for aspiring animators include a BA in Animation and Digital Arts and a BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production with Animation and Interactive Media electives.
Course highlights for the programs include Animation Design and Production, Basic Animation Production Technologies, Contemporary Topics in Animation and Digital Arts, Digital Narrative Design, Directed Studies in Animation, Expanded Animation, Expanded Concepts in 2-D/3-D Animation, Fundamentals of Animation, Storytelling for Animation, The Digital Actor, and 3-D Character Performance Animation.
Animation and Digital Arts programs are offered through The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts (Hench DADA) of the School of Cinematic Arts (USC Cinematic Arts). The BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production with Animation and Interactive Media electives is offered through the Division of Film and Television Production, USC Cinematic Arts.
Graduates of the animation programs at USC Cinematic Arts have landed positions at DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Idea, Illumination Entertainment, Digital Domain and many others.
4. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) serves approximately 2,480 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. Students choose from 19 studio majors and earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the Fine Arts, Architecture, Design or Art Education. Among the schools most popular programs are Film/Animation/Video (FAV), Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Industrial Design.
The Film/Animation/Video Department offers a BFA in in FAV. Course highlights for the program include Animation Integration/Installation, Computer Animation: Integrated Techniques, Computer Generated Imagery 3d, Digital Effects and Compositing for the Screen, Directing, Film and Video Installation, Film Explorations, Game Development & Programming, Lighting for the Moving Image, Sound for the Screen, Stop-Motion Animation, Time, Light and Sound, and Writing for the Screen.
Students in the program can expect to take a range of studio courses such as Animation, Live Action, and Open Media, as well as several Collaborative Study courses and a Professional Internship.
Per the school, RISD alumni can be found working as “entrepreneurs or through studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks or Harmonix, or for networks like Fox, HBO and PBS, where they write, direct, produce, serve as animators, cinematographers, character designers, game designers, lighting specialists, sound artists and much more.”
Famous RISD alumni include Gus Van Sant, director of films such as Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, and Milk; Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons.
5. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York
School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The College now serves more than 4,300 students enrolled in over 30 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. Programs for aspiring animators include BFA Animation, and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects. An MFA in Computer Arts (with concentrations in animation, motion graphics and fine art) is also available as well as a BFA Cartooning and Continuing Education (CE) animation courses.
Per the College, all animation students “learn the fundamentals of drawing, storytelling, character development, and professional animation software, as well as the history of animation, all for the purpose of bringing their creations to life.” The curriculum “covers the entire spectrum of animation professions, from traditional animation to stop-motion to digital; and access to faculty- and alumni-operated studios provides numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, internships and employment.”
Students have learned and worked at companies around New York including Titmouse, Framestore, MPC, The Mill, Method, Molecule, and Plymptoons Studio. SVA graduates have also gone on to work at Blue Sky Studios, Disney Feature Animation, Pixar, ILM, DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and independent animation studios across the globe.
6. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, SCAD is home to nearly 13,000 students from nearly 50 states and 115 countries. The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including animation, one of the school’s top majors. The program is offered through the School of Digital Media.
Available at the Atlanta, Hong Kong and Savannah campuses, the BFA in Animation teaches students to master 2-D, 3-D, Stop-motion, Digital Modeling, Rigging, Lighting, Look Development, and more. Per the school, students in the program will “collaborate with and take electives in other majors, such as visual effects, motion media, interactive design and game development, sound design, film and television, and sequential art.” Students will graduate from the program as “dynamic, multifaceted” animators, who are “extremely marketable and ready to take the industry by storm.”
Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.
7. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU). Founded in 1831 and serving more than 60,500 students, NYU is the largest private university in the U.S. The school has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai and operates 11 global academic centers and research programs in more than 25 countries. With more than 19,000 employees, NYU is also one of the largest employer’s in New York.
Tisch School of the Arts houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. The Institute’s Department of Animation and Digital Arts offers a BFA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production.
The Animation Area of the Kanbar Institute of Undergraduate Film & Television at NYU Tisch School of the Arts began in 1979. The program had just three classes: Art & Design, Animation I, and Animation II. For the 1980-1981 academic year, the program was home to 80 students enrolled in five classes. In 2013, the program enrolled 461 students. Today, the program serves hundreds of students from 48 states and 39 countries.
Per the school, the Animation Area at NYU Tisch “serves the needs of all Film and TV students for both animation and live-action projects.” 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.”
Nearly 20 courses are offered as part of the program. Highlights include Action Analysis, 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 Frank Thomas, Chuck Jones, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney, George Griffin, David Polonski, Ed Catmull, Amid Amidi, and Willis Pyle, among others.
Graduates of the Animation program at Tisch have landed jobs at Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios and many others.
8. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) serves 14,000 students representing 109 countries. The school has more than 100 programs across seven colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Electronic and Time-Based Media with a Focus in Animation and a BFA in 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.”
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 this program will also 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.
9. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. When it opened, the school offered mechanical drawing, which eventually attracted more than 400 students. Today, RIT is home to nearly 19,000 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) is home to the nation’s first PhD in Imaging Science and the School of Film and Animation (SOFA). SOFA offers a BFA in Film and Animation.
The BFA in Film and Animation is one of the most selective majors at RIT. Per the school, “all undergraduates share the same first semester, where they immediately begin production in both film and animation, ensuring each student is exposed to each form. “This also gives BFA students time to explore before deciding which to pursue.” Three options are available: 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Stop-Motion.
The 2D Animation Option “begins with character design and progresses through dynamics and sequences. Hand drawing on paper or acetate, using a traditional layering technique, or creating elements originally in 2D software applications are the common options. Then shooting on a crane, bulk scanning the drawings into a computer or animating directly in a software application are the usual production techniques.”
The 3D Animation Option covers all aspects of computer animation. “Modeling in Polygons, NURBs and Subdivision surfaces is taught with an emphasis placed on the need to strike a balance between heavy detail and economy of animation. Other areas covered include, character rigging, set construction, dynamics, character animation, particles, and compositing.
Stop Motion “takes student through all aspects involved in creating stop motion films. Students are taught animating technique, wire armature construction and set construction.”
Graduates of RIT’s Film and Animation programs have landed positions at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Lucas Films, Industrial Light and Magic, Paramount, HBO, Rhythm and Hues Studios, and many others.
10. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to 4,600 students enrolled in 22 undergraduate degree programs, 26 graduate degree programs, and a variety of Certificate and Minor programs across five schools and The Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. The Pratt Institute School of Art offers a BFA in Digital Arts and Animation with an Emphasis in Digital Animation and Motion Arts or Interactive Arts. Concentrations include 2-D Animation, 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts.
Per the school, students in the BFA programs will “develop aesthetic finesse, technological skill, conceptual sophistication related to digital media, and thorough comprehension of the potential of art and technology.” Students also learn to create professional documentation and presentation. Graduates of the program “demonstrate an expertise in their discipline, a unique voice in their medium and knowledge of historical works in art and technology.”
Students will create animated films at Myrtle Hall, a LEED Certified Green Building that includes nine state of the art digital studio/classrooms, the Digital Arts Resource Center and Digital Commons flex-space, a High Speed Fibre Channel Network, and Traditional Animation Facilities. An Audio Recording Studio, a Dedicated Green Screen facility, Graduate Studio spaces, 2-D/3-D Printers and production facility, and the Mediated Digital Arts Gallery are also housed in the building.
Pratt School of Art alumni have landed positions at major studios such as Augenblick, Blue Sky, Digital Domain, Cartoon Network Studios, DreamWorks Studios, Curious Pictures, Industrial Light & Magic, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Rhythm and Hues Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Curious Pictures, Gameloft, Sony Imageworks, NBC Universal, Titmouse, and many others.
11. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. Called “the MIT of visual effects” by Fast Company, “Gnomon offers a variety of educational options to help students reach their goals in the entertainment industry, with both degree and vocational certificate programs, specialized courses for high school students and over 100 individual courses for professional enrichment.” The school, which has 600 graduates to date, offers a BFA in Digital Production.
Individual animation courses are available and may be “mixed and matched” to suit students’ career goals. Options include Acting for Animators, Introduction to 3D with Maya, Character Sculpture, Color Theory and Light, History and Principles of Animation, History of Visual Effects, Animation and Visual Effects, Character Animation, Modeling, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding, Texturing and Shading, Timing for Animation, Animation for Games, Character Design, Character Modeling and Sculpting, Previsualization and Animatics, Stylized Character Creation, and Creature Animation.
Gnomon graduates have landed positions at some of the world’s top studios. Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Blizzard Entertainment, Reel FX, Electronic Arts, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Nickelodeon Animation, Rhythm & Hues, and Marvel Entertainment are just a few.
12. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations from which more than 66,000 students can choose multiple paths to focus on animation in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering.
Paths in animation encourage students to explore courses in 3D modeling, 2D/3D animation, video game production, augmented and virtual reality, digital imaging, digital video, interactive visualization, interactive art, game art and design, Art Games, motion capture, procedural content generation for games, real-time rendering, photogrammetry and more at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in all programs can work on individually defined or team-based projects.
The Department of Art offers a BFA in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. It emphasizes the creation of animation, interactive art and experimental forms in the context of art making. Ohio State introduced an interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production in Autumn, 2017.
Students utilize state of the art facilities, equipment, and interdisciplinary expertise in the school’s many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
13. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Founded in 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Serving 3,640 students from 67 countries, SAIC offers more than 50 areas of study from Animation and Costume Design to Visual Communication Design and Writing, through 18 departments. The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) offers a BFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation.
Per the school, the FVNMA Department at SAIC “endorses and encourages experimentation with radical form and content.” The Department says that it is “open to many approaches to and understandings of experimental media art” and it 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.” The Department also says that it supports “individual and collaborative forms of making media art in these expanded contexts.”
SAIC FVNMA instructors are “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 will 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, access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.
Famous SAIC alumni include David Sedaris, Georgia O’Keeffe, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Michelle Grabner, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.
14. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) is home to around 33,500 students enrolled in 178 undergraduate majors, 109 undergraduate minors, 68 master's programs, and 26 doctorate programs across dozens of colleges and departments. The College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design offers a BFA in Animation.
Students in the program 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 school’s 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.
The program attracts faculty members from major studios such as Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Warner Bros.
15. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves 37,500 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts houses the School of Art, which offers a BFA with an Option in Illustration/Animation. Students may choose the Animation or Illustration Track, but 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.
Per the school, 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.”
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.”
16. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1898, DePaul University serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and about 70 countries. The school offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home of the animation program. With thirteen full-time animation professors, the School has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.
A BFA in Animation with concentrations in Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics is offered. A VFX Concentration is also available within the Film and Television BFA and the school also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students interested in animation, with tracks in Hand-Drawn, Stop Motion, and 3D Animation for Games.
Per the school, 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.” In addition, students have the opportunity to apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter. This ten-week immersion program is structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios. The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts.
Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. Back at home, students will also benefit from CDMs relationship with Chicago’s largest game development and animation studios.
Graduates of the Animation programs at DePaul have been hired in animation roles at companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Laika Studios, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Phosphor Studios, Wargaming, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, and Synapse Games, to name just a few.
17. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
Founded in 1857, San Jose State University (SJSU) serves nearly 33,000 students enrolled in 145 areas of study, with an additional 108 concentrations, across eight colleges. The College of Humanities and the Arts houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. Per the school, the core curriculum for the 120 credit hour program “combines both traditional and innovative educational strategies.”
“Rigorous drawing classes and intensive study of color theory, design, perspective, and conventional and digital painting are required, as well as the study of the principles of both traditional and 3-D animation, physics of motion, modeling, storyboarding, character design, and visual development.” The program’s upper-division courses “further define these disciplines offering students an opportunity to specialize in their area of choice.”
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 Interactive, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony/Columbia, The Art Institute of Las Vegas, Disney Animation, and Zynga.
18. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Established in 1963 and serving approximately 68,571 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university and Florida’s largest by enrollment. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. Per the school, Character Animation “allows students to integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology.” The program is “designed to provide a solid foundation in techniques and theory in one focused area of competence, as well as a broad understanding of related disciplines including arts, humanities, and technology.” The program also offers, “extended experience in working in multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems.”
Graduates of the program are prepared to seek careers as animators, modelers, riggers, or texture artists in the film or computer game industries.
The Experimental Animation Specialization “offers students the opportunity to explore expression through innovative and hybrid analog and digital methodology.” Students in the program will “engage in classic, current, and widely varied techniques and mediums making moving images, which may be narrative or non-narrative.” Students will have the opportunity to “develop a unique creative vision which culminates in the completion of a BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.”
All animation students will use industry-leading software on Mac and PC-based platforms to create projects, works and portfolios.
Graduates of SVAD’s Emerging Media Program work in creating simulations for the U.S. Navy, NASA, DISTI, Lockheed Martin and other local and regional companies. In addition, SVAD alumni are currently working nationally and internationally for major animation and gaming companies such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel EFX, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.
19. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students enrolled in dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online. The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects that allows students to take classes specializing 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 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Rigging, Animation Generalist, Animation Producing, Storyboarding, 2D Animation, Puppet Fabrication, Stop Motion Animation, Compositing, Dynamics, Lighting, and Matte Painting. Course highlights include Cinematics for Animation & VFX, Computer Animation Production, Producing for Animation & Visual Effects, Sketching for Communication, and 3D Animation.
Students will also complete Senior Portfolio for Animation & VFX, Collaborative Project, and Internship in Animation. Graduates of the animation programs at Academy of Art University have landed positions at Blizzard Entertainment, CBS Interactive, Disney Interactive, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, NBCUniversal, Pixar, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.
20. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
Founded in 1988, DigiPen Institute of Technology serves around 1,100 students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Undergraduate offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Art and Animation.
The BFA program is 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. Sample courses for the program include Animation, Human Anatomy, Art and Technology, Storytelling, Storyboards, 2D & 3D Animation, Cinematography, and Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development.
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 Programs at Digipen have been hired at companies such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and more.
21. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to more than 1,500 undergraduates and 455 graduate students enrolled more than 30 degree programs. The Animation Department is home to the third largest major at CCA—the BFA in Animation. Students in the program receive guidance from “the best animators in the industry” from Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Tippett Studio, among others. Students in the program also receive feedback and visual storytelling advice from actual industry animators and directors of such animated films as Toy Story, Star Wars, and Brave.
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. Course highlights for the program include Animation, Animation: Visual Storytelling, and Drawing for Animation as well as Character Modeling, Character Rigging, Experimental Animation, Intro to Virtual Reality, and Maya for Game and Anima Workshops. Students will also take advanced courses such as Advanced Animation 3D Tips & Tricks, Advanced Rigging, Advanced Sculpture for Animation, and Advanced Visual Storytelling. Junior and Senior projects are also part of the program.
Graduates of CCA’s Animation programs have landed positions at major animation studios such as Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Pixar, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, and Cartoon Network. They can also be found at game studios such as Electronic Arts, Phosphor Games, Vigil Games, and many others.
22. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, the school offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs to a population of nearly 2,100 students. Programs are offered through dozens of departments.
The Animation Department at MassArt offers a BFA in Animation that gives students the opportunity to engage in a variety of conventional and experimental techniques. With access to students in the program study Documentary Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Character Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental Video, and Emerging Technologies. In addition, students will complete an Independent Study course, a course assistantship, and an internship.
Per the school, “coursework for the program culminates in a degree project consisting of a sustained film as well as a portfolio and reel highlighting students' professional and creative objectives.”
Other program highlights include “classrooms, labs, and studios that facilitate and enhance the work of animation majors,” the Animation Senior Showcase, visiting artists and lectures, and “Squealing Pegs”—an annual screening of recent animated short films.
23. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of the Arts (UArts) is the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. Founded in 1876, the school is home to 1,900 students enrolled in 47 undergraduate and graduate programs, and more than 30 minors, through the College of Art, Media & Design, the College of Performing Arts, the Division of Liberal Art, and the Division of Continuing Studies (Grad Programs).
The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Film, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Undergraduate offerings include BFA degrees in Animation and Film + Animation. Per the school, the BFA in Animation “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 Drawn Character Animation, Screenwriting, Special Effects Compositing, Storyboarding, and 2D Computer Character Animation, Animation BFA students will create a Junior and Senior Animation Piece, an Animation Thesis, and an Internship.
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,” production workshops, lectures, screenings and critiques, and internship and study abroad opportunities. In addition to study abroad, international opportunities include festivals and workshops in countries such as Canada, France, and South Korea.
UArts animation alumni work on blockbuster special effects films, animated television series, commercials, and video games in a variety of roles–from director to animator to storyboard artist to editor to many other positions.
24. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Established in 1890, Columbia College serves more than 7,300 students from nearly every state and more than 60 countries. The school has over 100 academic majors or programs across several schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School of Media Arts is home to the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation.
Computer Animation students have the option to focus in Visual Effects or Computer Animation. Traditional Animation students may focus in either Hand-Drawn or Stop-Motion Animation. Sample courses for the programs include Acting for Animators, Alternative Strategies in Animation, Animation for Comics, Animation Layout, Animation Maquettes, Animation Portfolio Development, Animation Production Studio, Cartooning, Cinematics for Games, Character Design and Modeling, Computer Animation: Visual Effects, Digital Animation Techniques, Drawing for Animation, Environmental Design & Modeling, Figure Drawing, Storyboarding for Animation, and The Business of Animated Content.
Students in the Traditional Animation program have the opportunity to either work collaboratively with peers to create a six-minute animated film over two semesters or take any three Animation electives of their choosing. Computer Animation BFA students will collaborate on a team project and develop their own solo short film.
25. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio
Established in 1879, Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) is one of the oldest private art and design colleges in the United States. The school serves more than 1,300 students enrolled in 12 bachelor’s degree and two master’s degree programs covering a broad range of subjects and practice areas.
Undergraduate programs for aspiring animators include an Animation BFA with 2D and 3D Tracks or a Concentration in Animation/Experimental or Animation/Game. Students in these 120 credit hour programs may 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 CCAD Animation BFA Program have landed positions at Animal Logic, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network, Electronic Arts, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, BET, Time Warner, Twentieth Century Fox, and many others.
26. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The school serves nearly 3,500 students from 49 states and 65 countries enrolled in more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available and programs are offered in the areas of fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies.
Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Animation with three pathways including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. Students begin with a fundamental understanding of the art of movement. They work in 2D hand-drawn animation, 3D computer imaging, stop-motion, and history of animation and innovative combinations of these processes, culminating in a thesis film in their final year.
MICA also offers and a BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies. In addition to animation studies, students in this degree program will study philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history. Sample courses for the program include Character Animation, Elements of Visual Thinking, Digital Tools For Animation, Stop Motion, Electronic Media & Culture, Art Matters, and Drawing.
Graduates of MICA animation programs work for companies like Blue Sky Studio, Disney, DreamWorks, Yahoo, Laika, and MTV. Many graduates have continued their education in graduate programs or have successful careers as freelance artists in the field.
27. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California
California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton or CSUF) serves around 39,750 students enrolled in more 109 undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs. Established in 1957, the school consists of eight colleges, including the College of the Arts (Department of Visual Arts), which offers more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate programs for artists. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation.
The 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 Animal and Wildlife Drawing, Animation Preproduction, Animation Production, Cartooning and Caricature, Elements of Sequential Art, Illustration, Life Studies – Drawing, Motion Graphics Design, Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Visual Development and Background Painting, and Writing in the Visual Arts. Independent Research (ART 499) and Internship in Art (ART 495) 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 program have landed positions at Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Graduates have worked on productions such as Superman Returns, Avatar, Spiderman 3, SpongeBob Squarepants, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Ice Age 2, and The Simpsons.
28. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California
Established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) serves 670 students enrolled in five undergraduate BFA programs and two MFA degrees. Options for aspiring animators include a BFA in Animation.
Per the school, animation students “will become skilled at shaping compelling frame-by-frame performances that inspire viewers to accept that the characters on screen are alive with genuine thoughts and sincere emotions.” The program, says the school is dedicated to ensuring that students become exceptional storytellers who understands the entire process of filmmaking from script to screen.
Students will develop their “abilities in traditional animation with classic artistic skills and then enhance that knowledge with fluency in the latest digital tools.” Taught by “experienced industry professionals,” courses for the program include Animal Drawing, Background Painting, CG Animation, CG Modeling, Character Design, Directing for Animators, Figure Drawing, Layout, Perspective, Professional Studies and Visual Development for Animators. Students will also complete a Thesis.
The Animation BFA provides the opportunity for students to participate in master class workshops each summer where they learn from leaders in the field. Each year, LCAD also hosts the LCAD Animation Film Festival known as LAFF, which showcases the best work from all levels of (the schools) animation artists.
LCAD Animation graduates have landed positions at Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Industrial Light & Magic, Laika, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, Renegade Animation, Sony, South Park Studios, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse, and Warner Bros.
29. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan
Founded in 1906, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) is home to more than 1,400 students enrolled in over a dozen degree programs across 14 academic departments. Serving 285 students, Entertainment Arts is the school’s largest department, and it offers a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation. Per the school, the Animation Concentration prepares students to “develop character performance within a variety of 2D and 3D applications.”
Students will hone their 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 3D Techniques, Drawing: Visualization, Gesture Drawing, Computer Character Animation, Lighting and Rendering, Visual Narration, Experimental Animation, Sound Design, Digital filmmaking, and Advanced Story Concepts.
All Entertainment Art students will have the opportunity to customize their curriculum by taking coursework in other concentrations such as Digital Film or Game Design. Students will also complete a Writing Workshop, Senior Production Studio, and an optional internship.
Graduates of the CCS Animation Program work throughout the industry as animators, designers, fabricators, storyboard artists and visual development artists. Graduates have been hired at major studios across the U.S. including Sony Pictures Imageworks, DreamWorks Animation, and Disney ABC Television Group, to name a few.
30. Chapman University, Orange, California
Founded as Hesperian College in 1861, Chapman University is home to more than 8,500 students from 49 states, two territories, and 82 different countries. Chapman offers more than 100 programs across nine colleges and schools, including the Dodge College of Film & Media Arts. The College offers a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects that offers students the opportunity to pursue studies in 2D or 3D Animation or Visual Effects.
Per the school, 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 the junior and senior years, students will focus on their chosen area of specialization and the development and production of the senior thesis project.
Other program highlights include access to the state-of-the-art Digital Media Arts Center (DMAC), which provides “24/7 access to an art studio, an animation lab with both traditional animation pegged drawing discs and digital Cintique tablets, a VFX lab with dual monitors and a 4K workflow, individual digital suites with specialized 3D and sound gear.” 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 gaming, VFX, and animation studios, students in the program will stay connected with the industry. Students have explored or interned with Pixar, DreamWorks, Blizzard, and Blur. 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.
31. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. It is home to more than 800 students from 45 states and 15 countries. The school offers more than 20 programs across several departments. The Animation Department offers a BFA in Animation that consists of rigorous foundation studies and collaborative projects that the school says allow students to “expand their work” and “move into the world beyond with visual communication skills and up-to-date technical proficiencies.”
Course highlights include Stop-Motion Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Filmmaking, Storyboard, Sound, and Drawing. A required internship is also part of the program as well as optional study abroad experiences in Japan, Germany, England, Italy, and other places. MCAD students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
32. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida
Founded in 1851 and serving 41,900 students from every Florida County and 132 countries, Florida State University (FSU) is one of the largest and oldest of the 11 institutions of higher learning in the State University System of Florida. The school offers more than 275 degree programs through 16 colleges. The College of Motion Picture Arts houses FSU Film School, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Options include a BFA in Motion Picture Arts – Animation and Digital Arts, and The Torchlight Program.
BFA students will begin with Film History, Screenwriting, Directing, Cinematography, CG and Live Action Production, Editing and Sound. Students will then learn the craft of digital filmmaking through 3D Animation, Character Development, Compositing, Modeling, Stop Motion, Texturing, Rendering, and Visual Effects Cinematography. Other program highlights include the opportunity to collaborate in small cohorts and work alongside industry professionals, and the opportunity to create four major films before graduation, one of which is an area-specific thesis film.
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.” The 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.” The program offers coursework in key areas such as Distribution, Marketing, and Motion Picture Financing.
The program is located at the Torchlight Center in the studio facilities at FSU’s Critchfield Hall, which includes production offices, conference rooms, post-production facilities, and a sound stage.
33. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) serves 19,000 students, including 2,500 at BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio. The school offers more than 200 undergraduate majors and programs on the main campus and 22 at BGSU Firelands. The school houses nine colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences, home of the School of Art. The School houses the BGSU Digital Arts program, which offers a BFA in Digital Arts.
The program offers three Focus Areas including Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia. Per the school, the Digital Arts program at BGSU is “one of the leading programs in the nation for studying digital arts and animation, focusing on creative expression using digital technology. Students are encouraged to investigate aesthetic and perceptual possibilities as they engage in alternative art discourses. Digital Arts courses investigate the theoretical, aesthetic, and technical aspects of the digital arts while providing hands-on experiences with state-of-the-art equipment.”
Students in the program focus on 3D animation, digital imaging, interactive art, video art, virtual environments and gaming, mobile web app development, digital painting, and hybrid forms of digital art. Other program highlights include diverse study abroad opportunities in more than 40 countries worldwide as well as facilities and faculty that “position students for successful internships and careers with organizations such as Disney Animation, Pixar and the Museum of Modern Art.”
In recent years, BGSU Digital Arts graduates have been hired by companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Volition, DNA Productions, Rhythm & Hues Studios, Blizzard, Friendly Software (Microsoft games), American Greetings, Epic Games, Apple, Designing Digitally, Root Learning (interactive training), LogicJunction (interactive web) and many more digital art companies.
34. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana
Established in 1918, Ball State University enrolls around 22,000 students from every state, two U.S. territories, about 55 countries, and every Indiana county. The school has more than 300 programs across 10 colleges. The College of Fine Art, School of Art offers a BFA in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Animation that explores 3D animation, stop-motion, and traditional 2D animation.
Per the school, in the programs 3-D classes, students “will get into modeling, texturing, lighting, character animation, and visual effects.” They will also have opportunities to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects with faculty and students in other courses of study. Course highlights include Character Design, Drawing for Animation, Animation Production, 3D Modeling and Rendering, Animation Specialty, Character Design, 3D Animation, Narrative Painting, and Storyboarding. A Senior Capstone Experience (Senior Project in Animation) is also part of the program.
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 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 to seek positions in industries such as film, television, video games, medical animation, architectural rendering, advertising, product visualization, and many others.
35. Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University (SU) was founded in 1870. The school serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and 118 countries. The school offers more 200 majors, 100 minors, and 200 advanced degree programs through 13 colleges and schools and a graduate school. The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Department of Transmedia offers a BFA in Computer Art and Animation.
The 120 credit hour BFA 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. Students also 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 Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Industrial Light and Magic, LucasArts, Blizzard Entertainment, Tippett Studios, Moving Picture Company, and Sony Pictures Imageworks. Graduates have also presented their work at galleries and media art festivals around the world.
36. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
Established in 1885, Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) trained students such as Walt Disney (who took Saturday Classes as a child), and multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg. Today, the school serves more than 700 students, enrolled in 14 studio majors through several departments. The Department of Converging Media houses the school’s animation program, which leads to a BFA. 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.
Per the school, “sequential classes emphasize the creative process by combining aspects of animation principles, concept modeling, production methods, history, theory and technique into each project.” Course highlights include Creating the Environment, Digital Methods, Drawing for Animators, Explorations in Animation, Ideas in Motion, Intermediate 3D, Principles of Animation, Sound for Screen and Space, and Visual Communication. Students will also complete Professional Practice and Studio I & II.
BFA students will gain experience through internship opportunities at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Bazillion Pictures, Titmouse Inc., and many others.
37. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, Colorado
Founded in 1936, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) offers 16 degree and certificate programs to a population of 760 students. The school offers both campus/hybrid and online programs. More than 100 students are enrolled in the schools Animation Program. Degree options for undergraduates include a BFA in Animation with an Emphasis in 2D or 3D Animation.
Animation program highlights include Drawing (2D) or Advanced Software (3D) Concentrations; Stop Motion, Anatomy and Figure studies; Modeling, Character Design, Virtual Environments, and Storyboarding, and Line of Action. The BFA program takes four years to complete.
Graduates are prepared to seek positions such as Flash Developer/Designer, New Media Designer, Digital Videographer, 3D Artist, Character Developer, and many others. RMCAD graduates have landed positions at Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, Lola VFX, and Industrial Light & Magic, to name a few.
38. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
Established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School, University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is a Polytechnic University that serves 8,725 students from the U.S. and 47 countries. The school offers 45+ undergraduate majors and 20+ graduate programs across three colleges and six schools. The School of Art And Design offers a BFA in Entertainment Design with Concentrations in Animation, Comics and Sequential Art, and Digital Cinema.
Per the school, the BFA curriculum includes “collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects and a comprehensive program that combines art and technology, and a strong foundation in art and design.” The program is one of a few art schools in the country offering a degree in Comics and Sequential Art, as well as a focus on both storytelling and technique, domestic and international travel opportunities, energetic, engaged and innovative faculty, rigorous program with a strong professional advisory board, and green screen studios, labs and modern technology.
Sample courses for the BFA program include Animation Studio, 3D Modeling and Animation, 3D Game Art and Engines, Digital Cinema Studio, Typography in Motion, Comics and Sequential Art, Video Production, and Graphic Design. Students in the program benefit from the two galleries housed in the School of Art and Design: student gallery and the John Furlong Gallery. These, along with other spaces on and off campus, provide student, faculty and outside exhibition opportunities throughout the academic year.
The BFA in Entertainment Design at UW-Stout prepares students to enter the entertainment industry upon graduation or to enroll in an MFA program.
39. The New School’s Parsons School of Design, New York, New York
The New School was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Back then, the school was known as The Chase School, and later as New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today, known as The New School/Parsons, this art and design college serves nearly 6,000 students enrolled in 130 degree and diploma programs across five schools including the School of Art and Design History and Theory, School of Art Media and Technology, School of Constructed Environments, School of Design Strategies, and the School of Fashion.
The School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) offers a BFA in Design & Technology. Concentrations include Creative Technology and Game Design. Minors in Immersive Storytelling and Comics and Graphic Nature are also available, as well as a related program—the BFA in Art, Media, and Technology, offered at the Parsons Paris Campus.
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.
40. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was established in 1838. The school serves more than 31,000 students enrolled in 225 academic programs across 13 schools and one college. The School of the Arts, Department of Kinetic Imaging offers a BFA in Kinetic Imaging that the school says is dedicated to Animation Art, Emerging Media, Sound and Video.
The BFA program has 100 to 110 students, and accepts just 28 to 35 new incoming sophomores each year. Students in the program will take courses such as Principles of Experimental Animation, 3D Computer Graphics and Animation, Theory and Production of Media-Based Sound, and Video Editing Techniques. Students can also explore Motion Graphics, Web Technologies, Projection Mapping, Virtual Reality, Programming, Interactivity, and Multichannel Sound.
Per the school, work students create may appear as “a single-channel video or animation, a sound piece, an installation, performance, or interactive environment.” The program is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of opportunities within and outside of the animation industry.
41. Edinboro University, Edinboro, Pennsylvania
Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as the Edinboro Academy. The school serves more than 6,000 students enrolled 135 degree programs across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Art Department which houses Edinboro’s second largest program by enrollment—the BFA in Applied Media Arts with 15 majors and programs. The Applied Media Arts – Cinema program allows students to focus on Traditional Animation, Computer Animation, or Film and Video.
Per the school, Applied Media Arts - Cinema offers “direct, hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology, including professional studio/field film and video cameras, lights and sound recording equipment, non-linear video editing systems, animation rostrum stands, a large green screen area, Screendigital scanners, animation line testers, and both 2D and 3D computer animation work stations” Animation, film and video production internships are available locally, regionally, and nationally.
Graduates of the animation program at Edinboro have landed careers with Walt Disney Animation, Discovery Channel Pixar, and A&E Network as animators, writers, filmmakers, directors and producers. Names of alumni can be spotted in the credits for such films as Zootopia, Frozen, Night at the Museum, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
42. Woodbury University, Burbank, California
Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The school, which serves approximately 1,177 students, has campuses in Los Angeles/Burbank and San Diego. The school also has a Gallery called WUHO Gallery in Hollywood.
Woodbury offers 26 practice-based, fully-accredited professional and liberal arts undergraduate and graduate majors through four colleges and schools including the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Architecture, the School of Business, and the School of Media, Culture & Design. The School of Media, Culture & Design is home to the Animation BFA Program. Because Woodbury promotes “cross-disciplinarity,” animation students may study in other areas such as Game Art & Design, Media Technology, and Filmmaking.
Students may also participate in Woodbury’s internship program and the Animation Club, which hosts events, speakers, and exhibitions. Internship opportunities include positions at Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Chiodo Bros., Bix Pix Entertainment, Blur Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Animation, Renegade Animation, Hasbro Studios, and others.
43. Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio
Established in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is an independent college of art and design that serves 615 students from around the globe. The school offers 15 majors in Art, Craft, Design, and Interactive Media. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in animation that features an integrated curriculum focusing on sequential narrative storytelling, methods of animation, conceptual development, framing and staging, storyboarding, animatics, layers, and motion and figure studies. Students can expect to take courses such as Advanced 3D Animation, Mapping, Digital Lighting, 2D/3D Compositing for Animation, 3D Texture, and Concept Development.
The CIA Animation Program prepares graduates for positions such as Animator, 3D Character Animator, Storyboard Artist, Independent Filmmaker, Concept Artist, and Game Designer.
44. University of Colorado - Denver, Denver, Colorado
Established in 1912, the University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) serves around 19,560 students enrolled in more than 140 degree programs in 13 colleges and schools. The College of Arts & Media is home to the 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.
Per the school, the 3D Graphics and Animation Emphasis “is a competitive and rigorous four-year curriculum focused 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.” Each year between 28 and 34 students are selected for the program, which consists of courses such as Character Creation, Environment Production, Surface Modeling, VFX Rigging and Animation, and Digital 3D Methods: Motion Graphics for Animators.
To fine-tune the emphasis, students are also required to take at least twelve semester hours of Visual Arts electives.
To date, DAC student senior short films have been seen in over 230 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 50 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.
45. Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founded in 1909, Lesley University serves around 2,400 undergraduates and close to 4,500 graduate students enrolled in more than 160 programs through four colleges and schools. The College of Art & Design offers a BFA in Animation & Motion Media and a Dual BFA in Animation/Illustration.
Per the school, Animation & Motion Media students “will explore media and tools that give life to visual stories, characters, and environments,” they will experiment with traditional and emerging techniques, from stop-motion to digital CGI, “master new concepts, like storyboarding, character design, and motion art, and build toward creating impactful animated shorts, special effects, advertising spots, and more.”
Courses for the 123 credit hour program are taught by “expert faculty who’ve won Emmys and international awards, run successful studios, and worked for innovators like Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and White Snake Projects.” Course highlights include Animation Seminar, Audio Production Design, Business of Animation, Character Design, Digital Animation 2D and 3D, Drawing Intensive, Editing Intensive, Game Production, Image in Context, Stop Motion Animation, Toys, Props & Products, and Visual Culture Seminar.
Students will also take two Senior Studio courses, they will create productions in the school’s “new state-of-the-art visual effects (VFX) facilities, including a 3D fabrication studio, a rendering farm, and a 130-seat screening room,” and they will complete a required internship that will take them to “real-life studios in Greater Boston.”
The internship helps students “develop critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.” Through the internship, students can expect to “gain professional experiences that lead to careers in film, TV, game design, and more.”
The Dual BFA is a 156 credit hour program that consists of 12 credits of required foundation courses, 72 credits in the Animation/Illustration core, and more. In addition to animation courses such as Digital Animation and Drawing for Animation, students in the program will take courses such as Design for Illustration, Principles of Illustration, Sequential Projects, The Working Illustrator and Typography. Students in the program will also complete Senior Studio, Illustration Internship Seminar, and an Animation Internship.
46. Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State University was founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School. With a student population of nearly 25,000 students, Missouri State is the state's second largest university campus by enrollment. The school offers hundreds of programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College. The College of Arts and Letters houses the Art and Design Department, which offers a BFA in Art with a Computer Animation Track.
Course highlights for the program include 2D Design, 3D Design, Drawing, Computer Animation I-V, Introduction to Digital Arts, and Digital Film and Media Production. Students in the program will complete a Senior Exhibition and an internship opportunity is also part of the program.
Missouri State University also lists computer animation as part of its Electronic Arts (EA) program. Students in this program will take many of the same classes as students in the BFA in Art program. In addition to these courses, student will complete a Senior Project in Electronic Arts.
47. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) welcomed its first class in 1872 under the name Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, the school serves more than 34,000 students enrolled in about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across nine colleges and a graduate school. The College of Architecture and Urban Studies houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which offers a BFA in Creative Technologies.
Students in this 120 credit hour BFA program will take courses in areas such as 3D Animation and Modeling, Digital Video and Visual Effects, and Digital Painting. Course highlights include 3D Computer Animation, Computer Animation Studio, New Media Art, Drawing, and Digital Photography. Students may also choose a Plan of Study from the following: Immersive Virtual Environments, Code and Form, and Moving Image. All Plans offer animation coursework.
Immersive Virtual Environments students will take Topics in Computer Animation (Character Modeling), Topics in Computer Animation (Character Animation), Topics in Computer Animation (Video Game Design), and one other 3500 or 3600-level art course.
Code and Form consists of Topics in Computer Animation (Processing), Topics in Digital Art + Design (Multimedia Studio Max/MSP), Intermediate Sculpture, and one other 3500- or 3600-level art course.
Moving Image consists of Topics in New Media Art (Digital Video), Topics in New Media Art (2D Motion Graphics), Topics in New Media Art (Digital Illustration), and one other 3500, 3600 or 3700-level art course.
Other program highlights include experiential learning experiences such as an internship and study abroad opportunities.
48. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Louisiana State University (LSU) welcomed its first class on January 2, 1860. The school offers 200 programs across 11 colleges and schools to 29,292 students (spring 2017). The College of Art + Design, School of Art 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, video, web, interactive systems, photo-based media, and digital printmaking.
With around 500 students, the Digital Art Program provides 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.”
49. Point Park University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1933, Point Park University began as a small business training college. By 1960, the school had grown to 800 students. Today, the school serves more than 4,000 students from 49 states and 33 countries, enrolled in 77 undergraduate programs, 17 master's programs and three doctoral programs. Programs are offered through the School of Arts and Sciences, Rowland School of Business, School of Education, School of Communication, and the Conservatory of Performing Arts and Community Engagement (COPA).
The COPA offers a BFA degree in Animation & Visual Effects with Concentrations in Animation or Visual Effects. The BFA is a 126 credit hour program that culminates in a Senior Project. “Upon completion of the program” says the school, “graduates possess the necessary balance of narrative and technical skills and aesthetic development to find their path in the expanding animation and visual effects industry.”
Students in the program will “combine artistic vision and technical skills to transform their wildest imaginations into moving images on the screen.” Students will study 2-D, 3-D and stop-motion animation, as well as visual effects for movies and motion graphics. In the Animation Concentration, students will develop skills for storyboarding, character development, modeling, compositing, and game design. In the Visual Effects Concentration, students will use “cutting-edge technology,” to create effects for movies, online, and broadcast content.
Course highlights for the program include Classical Animation, Classical Animation, Designing for Commercial Media Platforms, Illustrating for Electronic Media, Intermediate and Advanced Animation, Intermediate and Advanced Visual Effects, Intro to Digital Tools and Techniques, Sound for Digital, Stop Motion Workshop, Theory of Game Design, and Web Media Development, to name a few.
50. Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey
Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is the largest and most comprehensive higher education institution in the state. The school nearly 70,900 students from 50 states and more than 125 countries enrolled in more than 550 programs through 29 schools and colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences houses the Department of Fine Arts, which offers a BA with an area of Specialization in Art: Concentration Animation.
Per the school, students in the program “learn to prepare two and three-dimensional art for animation films, gaming, video, advertising, architecture, medical research, and web design in the most comprehensive and advanced courses available in this region.” Sample courses include Animation Production, Advanced Computer Studio, Visual Fundamentals, Character Animation, Computer Animation, Computer Graphics, Kinetic Sculpture, New Media Art, Color Theory, Classical Animation, Computer Multimedia, Environmental Design, Design for the World Wide Web and Video and Film Production.
Students in the program will also complete Special Studio Projects, which allows them to work closely with a studio faculty adviser to develop and execute a specified series of art works. An internship is also part of the program and all students have access to on-campus laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art networked computers and post-production units, as well as 2D/3D editing software.
Graduates of the program have worked in the 3D animation industry as art directors and technical directors for various companies, such as Blue Sky, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Digital Domain, Ubisoft, BBC Earth, Quiet Man, Psyop, The Mill, Smoke & Mirrors, etc. In addition, they have participated making a variety of award-winning movies and games, such as Ice Age, Happy Feet, Frozen, Sesame Street 3D, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and more.