What are the top animation BFA programs in the U.S. for 2020?
|1||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida|
|2||California Institute of the Arts||California|
|3||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia|
|4||University of Southern California||California|
|5||School of Visual Arts||New York|
|6||New York University||New York|
|7||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island|
|8||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||California|
|9||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois|
|10||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York|
|11||Pratt Institute||New York|
|12||Otis College of Art and Design||California|
|13||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania|
|14||Academy of Art University||California|
|15||California College of the Arts||California|
|16||San Jose State University||California|
|17||Brigham Young University||Utah|
|18||Laguna College of Art and Design||California|
|20||University of Central Florida||Florida|
|21||Columbus College of Art and Design||Ohio|
|22||The Ohio State University||Ohio|
|23||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois|
|24||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts|
|25||California State University-Fullerton||California|
|26||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Washington|
|27||University of the Arts||Pennsylvania|
|28||California State University-Long Beach||California|
|29||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota|
|32||College for Creative Studies||Michigan|
|33||Florida State University||Florida|
|34||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland|
|35||Bowling Green State University||Ohio|
|36||Ball State University||Indiana|
|37||Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design||Colorado|
|38||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri|
|39||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University||Virginia|
|40||University of Colorado - Denver||Colorado|
|41||The New School’s Parsons School of Design||New York|
|43||Cleveland Institute of Art||Ohio|
|44||Ferris State University (KCAD)||Michigan|
|45||University of North Carolina School of the Arts||North Carolina|
|46||Syracuse University||New York|
|47||Sam Houston State University||Texas|
|48||University of Iowa||Iowa|
|49||University of South Florida||Florida|
|50||Maine College of Art||Maine|
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 2020.
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. A member of the only global association to serve art and design education research (Cumulus), RCAD opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in 13 BA and BFA degree programs and nine minors. Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Illustration, and Virtual Reality Development are just a few degree options.
RCAD programs offer a rigorous curriculum, which combines studio and liberal arts, with client projects, substantive internships, and national competitions. The Computer Animation program is one of the most popular programs at the school, 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. Students can expect to intern at major studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, to name a few.
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. Alumni have also worked on 49 of the 50 top grossing animated feature films of all time, including recent films such as Frozen, Ferdinand, Coco, and The Boss Baby, and Big Hero 6. Graduates have also gone on to work at Blue Sky Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Blizzard Entertainment, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and many others.
Walt and Roy Disney formed California Institute of the Arts in 1961 through the merger of two existing Los Angeles schools for art and music. The school became the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Just shy of a decade later, the new college, CalArts, opened its doors to offer programs in art, design, film, music, theater and dance.
Today, the school serves around 1,500 students enrolled in more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral 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. BFA options include Character Animation and Experimental Animation. 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 both 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 offered.
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.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was founded in 1978. With campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France, the school serves more than 14,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Offering more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university, SCAD houses the School of Digital Media, which offers a BFA in Animation. Programs are offered at the Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Savannah campuses.
The BFA in Animation teaches students to master 2D, 3D, Stop Motion, Digital Modeling, Rigging, Lighting, Look Development, and more. The school says 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.
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. The Division of Film and Television Production, USC Cinematic Arts offers a BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production with Animation and Interactive Media electives.
Course highlights 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 2D/3D Animation, Fundamentals of Animation, Storytelling for Animation, The Digital Actor, and 3D Character Performance Animation.
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.
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as Cartoonists and Illustrators School. The school serves more than 3,700 students enrolled in over 30 programs. With nearly 400 students, 50 faculty and 40 courses Animation is the largest program at SVA. Students have a range of degree options to choose from including BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, and Cartooning.
The school says 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 studied and worked at studios such as Titmouse, Augenblick Studios, and Plympton, as well as numerous independent animation studios across New York. SVA animation graduates have gone on to work at major studios such as Blue Sky Studios, Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and independent animation studios across the globe.
Founded in 1831 and serving more than 60,500 students, New York University (NYU) is the largest private university in the U.S. With the highest number of international students in America, 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 New York’s largest employers.
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of NYU. The school houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, home of the Department of Animation and Digital Arts. The Institute 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.
The school says that 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.
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. Serving approximately 2,500 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries, the school has 19 studio majors and leading to bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the Fine Arts, Architecture, Design or Art Education. The school’s 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.
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,” says the school.
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.
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,” says the school. Gnomon, 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.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) is one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Founded in 1866 and serving nearly 3,700 students from 78 countries, SAIC offers more than 50 areas of study from Animation and Costume Design to Visual Communication Design and Writing. The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) offers a BFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation.
The school says that 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.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was born of an unlikely institutional marriage of an influential cultural association, the Rochester Athenaeum (est. 1829), and a technical training school, the Mechanics Institute (est. 1885). The Institute adopted the name Rochester Institute of Technology in 1944 and awarded its first bachelor of science degree in 1955.
Today, RIT serves more than 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, which is one of the most selective majors at RIT. “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,” says the school. “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 BFA and MFA Film and Animation programs have landed positions at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Industrial Light and Magic, Paramount, HBO, Rhythm and Hues Studios, and many others.
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute serves more than 4,800 students enrolled in more than 25 undergraduate degree programs and concentrations and more than 26 graduate degree programs in its Schools of Art, Design, Architecture, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Information. 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 2D Animation, 3D Animation and Motion Arts, and Interactive Arts.
The school says 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, 2D/3D 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.
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, General Harrison Gray Otis. The school serves approximately 1,100 full-time students enrolled in 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing, as well as a variety of minors and certificate programs.
The BFA in Digital Media is through the Digital Media Department. The school says OTIS Digital Media students will “acquire real-world skills in industry-standard technology, as well as concept development, from leading designers, artists, and entrepreneurs.” The program begin with training in “fundamentals of digital tools and their creative applications.” Along the way, students will have the opportunity to find their own visual style. Animation students “bring characters and stories to life through the magic of computer animation.
Using a wide variety of techniques, from traditional 2D animation to 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI), students learn to develop narratives that evoke emotion and create the illusion of movement. Special emphasis is placed on storytelling, character design, and acting, as well as traditional drawing skills and business acumen.”
Course highlights include Storytelling for Digital Artists, 3D Animation, The Visual Language of Film, Games and Design, Creative Action Studio, and Animation Explorations.
“By graduation,” says the school, 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.
Just a few recent employers of OTIS graduates include Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, ILM, Sony Online Entertainment, and Blizzard Entertainment.
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) serves more than 14,500 students representing over 100 countries. The school offers more than 100 programs across seven colleges, including the College of Fine Art, home of the School of Art. The CFA SA 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.
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. The school serves more than 7,200 students from 112 countries 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.
Undergraduate students 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. During the final years of the program, students will also complete courses including: 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.
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) serves around 1,900 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.
In 2019, the BFA in Animation program began offering a Games Track. The emphasis area is 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 Making and Maya for Game and Anima. 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 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.
Founded in 1857, San Jose State University (SJSU) serves approximately 36,000 students enrolled in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study across eight colleges. The College of Humanities and the Arts houses the Department of Design, which offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. The core curriculum for the 120 credit hour program “combines both traditional and innovative educational strategies, says the school. “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 3D 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.
For BFA graduates seeking an advanced degree, the Department of Design at SJSU offers an MFA in Digital Media Art. The program is offered at the CADRE Institute, which “reflects the innovative atmosphere in Silicon Valley.” Academic programs emphasize artistic experimentation within a context of historical, cultural, and theoretical study. The program is intended for students with interest in contemporary research. CADRE's diverse community of faculty and graduate students produce artworks involving visualization, simulation, hypertextuality, information, mapping, telepresence, networks, and interactive systems.
Technical facilities include a wide range of computing resources. Students work across the boundaries of computer visualization, animation, digital video, multimedia, electronic sculpture, sound and virtual reality. CADRE supports its own networking environment and offers excellent opportunities to produce internet-based artworks.
Brigham Young University (BYU) was founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The school serves around 33,500 students enrolled in 187 undergraduate majors, 110 undergraduate minors, 88 master's programs, and 32 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 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.
Established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) serves 670 students enrolled in five BFA and two MFA programs. With 177 students enrolled, Animation is the largest program at LCAD. Game Art is the second largest with 168 students.
The school says 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 school also says that it is dedicated to ensuring that students become exceptional storytellers who understand 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.
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 more than a dozen full-time animation professors, the school has one of the largest full-time animation faculties in the U.S.
The BFA in Animation has several concentration options including Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics. A VFX Concentration is also available within the Film and Television BFA and the school 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.
DePaul BFA Animation students can 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 a few.
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. Also one of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers more than 220 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities houses the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers a number of degree programs for aspiring animators.
Options include a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. The school says 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.
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 BFA programs and MFA and MDes programs covering a broad range of subjects and practice areas. Programs for aspiring animators include an Animation BFA with 2D and 3D Tracks or a Concentration in Animation/Experimental or Animation/Game.
All students 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.
Established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, The Ohio State University offers over 200 majors, minors and specializations from which more than 68,000 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. Students in the program 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).
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 a BFA in Computer Animation or Traditional Animation.
The BFA allows students specialize within their area of animation interest and complete two animated films by the final year of the program. Sample courses for the program 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.
BFA students will have the opportunity to collaborate on a team project and develop their own solo short film.
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 departments such as the Animation Department. Here, aspiring animators can earn a BFA in Animation that provides the opportunity to engage in a variety of conventional and experimental techniques. 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.
The school says, “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.
California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton or CSUF) serves more than 39,000 students enrolled in 110 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.
Founded in 1988, DigiPen Institute of Technology was the first school in the world to offer a bachelor’s degree in Video Game Development. More than 550 companies have hired DigiPen graduates and the school is located near more than 400 interactive media companies, making the region one of the largest video game centers in the world. The school, which serves around 1,100 students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries, has international campuses in Singapore and Spain along with educational partnerships with Keimyung University in South Korea and Thammasat University in Thailand.
DigiPen offers ten graduate and undergraduate program options in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Among these options is 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. 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.
Founded in 1876, University of the Arts (UArts) is one of the nation’s only comprehensive arts university. The school serves 1,900 students enrolled in 47 undergraduate and graduate programs on the University's campus at the center of Philadelphia's vibrant Avenue of the Arts. Programs, including more than 30 minors, are offered through the Colleges of Art, Media & Design and Performing Arts, and the Divisions of Liberal Art and Continuing Studies.
The College of Art, Media & Design houses the School of Film, which offers a BFA in Animation or Film + Animation. The school says that 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, 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 will also open a 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media by 2020, with studios dedicated to motion-capture and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality.
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.
California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves around 36,850 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts houses the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Art with an Illustration/Animation Option. 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.
The school says 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.”
In addition to the BFA, CSULB has a graduate program (MFA/MA) that it says is “individualized and dependent on the student’s preparation, interests and talents.” The program “centers on each student developing a strong personal and independent creative vision.” Students will “create a focused body of work in the form of an exhibition as the culminating experience of the degree.”
Also part of the College of the Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA in Film and Electronic Arts. Although the program does not have a formal animation specialization, the program highlights heavy animation coursework including 3D Computer Animation, History of Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), and others.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. The school, which shares a block with the Minneapolis Institute of Art, serves more than 800 students from 45 states and 15 countries. Of these, 50% are enrolled in Design, 38% in Media Arts, 10% in Fine Arts, and the remaining 2% in MCAD's new Arts Entrepreneurship Department.
MCAD offers more than 20 programs across several departments including Animation. The school says that the BFA in Animation consists of rigorous foundation studies and collaborative projects that 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.
Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The school, which serves nearly 1,200 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 houses 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.
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 110 areas of study across nine colleges and schools, including Dodge College of Film & Media Arts. The College 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 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.
Founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts, the College for Creative Studies (CCS) serves 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. Here, students can earn a BFA in Entertainment Art with a Concentration in Animation that allows students to “develop character performance within a variety of 2D and 3D applications,” says the school.
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 include 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.
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. 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.
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.
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the U.S. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and open studies students from 49 states and 52 countries. Around 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees are available in the areas of fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also offered.
Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Animation Department and include a BFA in Studio with a Concentration in Animation. Three pathways are available 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 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.
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 with three Focus Areas: Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia.
The school says that 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.
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.
The school says in the programs 3D 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.
In 1963, well-known illustrator and educator Philip J. Steele founded Rocky Mountain School of Art, which later became Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD). The school serves 760 students enrolled in 16 degree and certificate programs offered in campus/hybrid and online formats. More than 100 students are enrolled in the schools Animation Program. Options include a BFA in Animation with an Emphasis in 2D or 3D 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 of RMCAD’s Animation BFA Program 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.
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 15 program areas 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.
The school says, “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 as well as The Senior Graduation Animation Project, which prepares them to enter the field with practical experience and a competitive portfolio.
In addition to the Senior Project, 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.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) welcomed its first class in 1872 under the name Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, with a 2,600-acre main campus, educational and research facilities across the state, a study-abroad site in Switzerland, and a 1,800-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus, the school serves more 34,950 students enrolled in around 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 BFA and MFA degrees 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 visiting artist workshops, the opportunity to participate in events, exhibitions, and competitions, and study abroad experiences in Europe.
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.
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 BFA in Design & Technology is offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) and a BFA in Art, Media, and Technology is offered at the Parsons Paris Campus. The Design & Technology program has Creative Technology and Game Design pathways.
Parson’s says 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.” 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.
Students in the program will visit industry leaders like the Rockwell Interaction Lab, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Curious Pictures. Other industry partners include Apple, Atari, Human Rights Watch, MTV, Siemens, and UNESCO. Students also have access to the university’s extensive libraries, galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities that help students engage their creativity and enable them to 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.
Edinboro University was founded in 1857 as a private training school for teachers under the name Edinboro Academy. The school serves nearly 5,000 students and offers more than 100 areas of academic study across five colleges and schools. The College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences is home to the Art Department, which offers a BFA in Animation.
The school says that the program 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 workstations” Animation, film and video production internships are available locally, regionally, and nationally.
Graduates Edinboro’s Animation BFA program find success in every facet of animation. They work at small independent firms like Animal, and large high-profile studios like Disney, Pixar, Blizzard and Nickelodeon. They are modelers and character designers, animation generalists and visual effect specialists, directors and editors. 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.
Established in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) is an independent college of art and design that serves 645 students from 32 states and nine countries around the world. The school offers 15 majors in the Fine Arts, Design, Craft, and Interactive Media. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in animation that has 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.
Founded in 1928, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) is a college within Ferris State University. The school serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in around 24 BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and Certificate programs. KCAD offers a BFA in Digital Art and Design that allows students to work in one of two focus areas including Entertainment Art (animation, digital 3D, visual development for games and animation, and sequential arts like comics and storyboards) and Multimedia Design (interaction design for the web, apps, virtual reality, the internet of things, and video and motion design animation).
The school says, “with substantial flexibility in the degree of specialization/ generalization built into the curriculum, students will be able to develop portfolios in one or more of these professional media markets: Visual Development, 2D Animation, 3D Game Art, Motion Design, and Interaction Design.” Course highlights for the Entertainment Art Focus include Animation & Motion Graphics, 3D Character Design, Imaging for Game, Animation & Film, Comic Media Design, Applied Music and Sound, Video, 3D Game Art, Interactive Multimedia Design, Storyboard Art, and 2D Character Animation. Students will also take Professional Studio I & II, and Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.
Multimedia Design students will take most of the same courses and studios as students in the Entertainment Art Focus, including Digital Art and Design Thesis I & II.
Students in both programs will also gain knowledge and hands-on experience via high-end equipment and on-campus facilities such as Cintiq Studios and a wide range of cameras, microphones, and lighting equipment, and via access to The Dow Center FlexLab, and KCAD Library.
Graduates of the programs will have the skills and experience needed to pursue careers such as 2D animation, 3D game art, concept and production art for games and animation, visual development, interaction design, and motion design.
Established in 1963 by the N.C. General Assembly, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) opened in Winston-Salem in 1965 as America’s first public arts conservatory. The school became part of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system in 1972. Today, UNCSA serves nearly 1,300 students enrolled in dozens of programs through five schools—Dance, Design & Production (includes a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking and Music.
The Filmmaking School offers a BFA in Animation that consists of 121 credit hours of study.
Students in the program will 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. Third year of the program 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 may choose independent study or a professional internship.
Graduates of the Animation Program at UNCSA have landed internships at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Stargate Studios and established careers with companies such as Cartoon Network and Prologue Pictures. A recent Animation graduate was honored with a 2015 Emmy Award Nomination for his work on the title sequence for American Horror Story.
Syracuse University (SU) was founded in 1870. The school serves nearly 22,500 students from across the U.S. and 126 countries. The school offers more 200 majors, 100 minors, and 200 advanced degree programs across 13 schools and colleges. The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), Department of Transmedia offers a BFA in Computer Art and Animation.
The 120 credit hour BFA “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.
All VPA 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 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.
Established in 1879 as Sam Houston Normal Institute or School, Sam Houston State University (SHSU) serves 21,115 students, making it the twelfth largest university in Texas. The school offers more than 80 bachelor's degree programs, more than 50 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication is home to the Department of Art, which offers a BFA in Computer Animation.
One of the most popular programs in the Department of Art, the Computer Animation program offers a highly collaborative experience in 2D and 3D animated storytelling to a diverse student body. Students in the program take courses such as 2D Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Character Animation, 3D Animation for Interactive Games, 3D Modeling, the History of Animation, and Pre-Visualization.
In addition, all art majors will spend a semester in the W.A.S.H. (Workshop in Art Studio and History) program, which emphasizes contemporary and collaborative art practices. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue careers in animation and film, game production, fine art, video production, and advertising.
Founded in 1847, the University of Iowa serves approximately 33,564 students from 114 countries and all 50 states, enrolled in majors, minors, and certificates in more than 200 areas of study. Programs are provided through 13 colleges and academic units, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which offers 68 majors to 17,900 students. The College houses the School of Art and Art History (est. 1936), which offers a BFA with a Major in Media, Social Practice & Design (MSPD). The program has an Animation Area where the school says, “wide varieties of skills are explored to animate images into motion graphics, produce digital video to create imaginative stories and adding voice and sound through the post-production process.”
“Combining art and technology, students will use powerful computer hardware and industry level animation software to perform tasks in the entire animation pipeline from preproduction to post production. Concept art, storyboarding, character design, computer modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, animation, rendering, compositing and sound design are all areas students will have the opportunity to conceptualize.”
Other program highlights include studio laboratories that are updated annually with “cutting edge digital imaging equipment,” high-definition video production facilities to provide students in MSPD up-to-date learning environments, and a “rich visiting artist series” that introduces students to national and international leaders in the field. In the media theater, students will also have the opportunity to showcase their animated projects on a 40-foot screen.
University of Iowa's art and art history graduates enjoy success as commercial designers, practicing professional artists, art administrators, professors of art history, teachers, museum directors and curators, theater designers, and more.
Founded in 1956, University of South Florida (USF) serves more than 50,000 students across 14 colleges offering over 180 undergraduate majors and 150+ degree programs at the graduate, specialist and doctoral levels. The College of Arts houses the School of Art & Art History, which a BFA in Studio Art - Animation and Digital Modeling.
The program blends art and design courses that explore a range of topics in motion, composition, acting, visual storytelling, 3D modeling, lighting, concept design, and 3D printing. Also, students can selectively combine the study of Animation and Digital Modeling with other disciplines within the department in order to fully explore their creative interests. Graduate students also enjoy in-depth projects and engagement with theoretical and cultural issues, private studio space, and individual attention from professionally active research and teaching faculty.
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.
Maine College of Art (MECA) was founded in 1882 as part of the Portland Society of Art. The school serves around 550 degree-seeking students and 1,500 continuing studies students. The school offers BFA, MFA, MA, and Certificate programs, including 11 majors in the BFA program. Among the BFA programs is the Animation & Game Art (AG) Major.
Launched in 2018, the school says that the AG Major is “designed on the premise that in order to effectively tell a story, animators must understand screenwriting, character development, cinematic structure, narrative and composition, and be able to effectively convey the emotions and motivations of a character by mastering skills in drawing, modeling, timing, and gesture.” To develop these skills students will work in studio-like settings to create works and take courses such as Cinematic Storytelling, Character Design for Games & Animation, and Intro to 3D Modeling & Animation.
Students will also take Special Topics: Stop Motion Product and complete the Major Capstone Production. “The program’s dual emphasis on developing both individual exploration and collaborative practices prepares graduates for lifelong personal and professional creative practice. Internships and Professional Studio Courses prepare students to competitively enter the professional marketplace.”