|1||California Institute of the Arts||Top 1%|
|2||University of Southern California||Top 1%|
|3||Ringling College of Art and Design||Top 1%|
|4||University of California Los Angeles||Top 2%|
|5||School of Visual Arts||Top 2%|
|6||Rhode Island School of Design||Top 3%|
|7||Savannah College of Art and Design||Top 3%|
|8||Pratt Institute||Top 4%|
|9||Carnegie Mellon University||Top 4%|
|10||New York University||Top 5%|
|11||Brigham Young University||Top 5%|
|12||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Top 10%|
|13||Rochester Institute of Technology||Top 10%|
|14||The Ohio State University||Top 10%|
|15||ArtCenter College of Design||Top 10%|
|16||Texas A&M University||Top 10%|
|17||University of Washington||Top 10%|
|18||Columbia College Chicago||Top 10%|
|19||California College of the Arts||Top 10%|
|20||University of Central Florida||Top 10%|
|21||The New School/Parsons||Top 10%|
|22||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||Top 15%|
|23||Otis College of Art and Design||Top 15%|
|24||DePaul University||Top 15%|
|25||Chapman University||Top 15%|
|26||Maryland Institute College of Art||Top 15%|
|27||Academy of Art University||Top 15%|
|28||Digipen Institute of Technology||Top 15%|
|29||Full Sail University||Top 15%|
|30||Animation Mentor||Top 15%|
|31||San Jose State University||Top 15%|
|32||Loyola Marymount University||Top 20%|
|33||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Top 20%|
|34||University of Pennsylvania||Top 20%|
|35||California State University, Long Beach||Top 20%|
|36||The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School)||Top 20%|
|37||California State University, Fullerton||Top 20%|
|38||Laguna College of Art and Design||Top 20%|
|39||Woodbury University||Top 20%|
|40||University of Texas at Dallas||Top 20%|
|41||Columbus College of Art and Design||Top 20%|
|42||California State University, Northridge||Top 25%|
|43||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Top 25%|
|44||Drexel University||Top 25%|
|45||Purdue University||Top 25%|
|46||Clemson University||Top 25%|
|47||Kansas City Art Institute||Top 25%|
|48||Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute||Top 25%|
|49||Florida State University||Top 25%|
|50||Bowling Green State University||Top 25%|
Our 2017 list of the Top 50 Animation School Programs in the US. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California (top 1% of schools considered)
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is the nation's first postsecondary institution to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. Established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney, the school is home to 1,449 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. Programs offered include a BFA in Character Animation and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation.
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. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (top 1% of schools considered)
University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880 and it is home to 44,000 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 offered through The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts (Hench DADA) of the School of Cinematic Arts (USC Cinematic Arts), and a BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production with Animation and Interactive Media electives offered through the Division of Film and Television Production, USC Cinematic Arts.
Graduate offerings include MFA degrees in Animation and Digital Arts and Interactive Media with heavy Animation electives. Minors in Animation & Digital Arts and Game Animation are also on the menu. Graduates of both the undergraduate and graduate 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.
3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (top 1% of schools considered)
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 is home to 1,300 students and it offers BFA degrees in eleven disciplines and BA degrees in two. Just a few majors include Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Motion Design, and Visual Studies.
The Computer Animation program is one of the most popular programs at RCAD, accounting for around 20% of the student population. The program was established in 1990 and it leads to a BFA. Graduates of the program have 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.
4. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (top 2% of schools considered)
Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to nearly 45,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. The school offers 125+ undergraduate majors across 109 academic departments, and more than 40 graduate programs including the Animation Workshop of the School of Theater, Film and Television.
Founded in 1948 by Disney animator William Shull, the Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program that accepts just 12 new students each year. Before applying to the program, students typically earn a BA in Film and Television or a BFA with a Concentration in Animation at UCLA. The BA program gives future MFA students the opportunity to study all facets of digital media, film, and television, as well as a full year of animation studies, followed by an internship.
Once in the program, students have access to the exclusive Summer Institute Symposium, which provides the opportunity to “meet and listen to some of Hollywood’s most accomplished professionals.” Past guests have included Simon Kinberg (writer-producer, X-Men: First Class, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Meg LeFauve (writer, Inside Out), Zak Penn (writer, The Incredible Hulk), Chris Gorak (director, The Darkest Hour), John Hegeman (chief marketing officer, New Regency Productions), and many others.
Graduates of UCLA’s animation programs have landed positions at Pixar, they have worked with directors such as Tim Burton, and on films such as The Simpsons Movie and Monster House.
5. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (top 2% of schools considered)
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) was founded in 1947 as “Cartoonists and Illustrators School.” The school is home to more than 6,000 students enrolled in more than 30 programs. Offerings for aspiring animators include BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects. An MFA in Computer Art is also on the menu as well as a BFA in Cartooning and Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses. Animation students have opportunities to intern or work part-time at alumni-owned studios such as Titmouse, Augenblick Studios, and Plympton, as well as with numerous independent animation studios in 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.
6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (top 3% of schools considered)
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is home to nearly 2,500 students from across the U.S. and 57 other countries. This private art school offers 16 undergraduate and 16 graduate art and design programs, with Film/Animation/Video, Illustration, Graphic Design, Painting, and Industrial Design leading the pack. The school’s popular Film/Animation/Video Department (FAV) offers a BFA in Film/Animation/Video (BFA FAV). Famous RISD alumni include Seth Macfarlane, creator of Family Guy, Daniel Sousa, animator and director of the Oscar-nominated film Feral, and Lance Wilder, animator for The Simpsons.
7. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (top 3% of schools considered)
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, which was one of the top five majors in Fall 2014. Offered through the School of Digital Media, four options are available for aspiring animators including a BFA in Animation (Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah), an MA in Animation (Savannah, eLearning), an MFA in Animation (Atlanta, Savannah, eLearning) Animation, and a Minor in Animation.
Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Digital Domain, and Bento Box Entertainment.
8. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (top 4% of schools considered)
Founded in 1887, Pratt institute is home to 4,659 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, 3-D, and Interactive Arts. The School also offers an MFA in Digital Arts with Concentrations in Digital Animation and Motion Arts Animation and Interactive Arts.
School of Art alumni can be found working at major studios such as Digital Domain, Cartoon Network Studios, DreamWorks Studios, Rhythm and Hues, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Curious Pictures, Sony Imageworks, and many others.
9. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (top 4% of schools considered)
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is home to 13,650 students enrolled in 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 Bachelor’s in Integrative Design, Arts & Technology (IDeATe) with a Concentration in Animation & Special Effects. According to CMU, “the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network connects students and faculty from across the university through coursework and collaborative studio experiences.” It allows students from every college to take minors or concentrations in Animation, Special Effects, Game Design, and more.
In addition to the programs listed, the School of Art 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. The school’s interdisciplinary programs combine art school and computer science.
10. New York University (NYU), New York, New York (top 5% of schools considered)
Founded in 1965, Tisch School of the Arts is part of New York University (NYU) and it is home to the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. The Institute offers a BA in Film and Television with an Animation Core in Production. An MFA in Animation and Digital Arts is also on the menu, and it is offered at Tisch Asia.
The animation program, which was established in 1979, began with 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, and the current Animation curriculum consists of nearly twenty different classes. Graduates of the Animation program at Tisch have landed jobs at Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios and many others.
11. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 5% of schools considered)
Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) is home to 33,363 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 and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.
Students in both programs have access 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.
12. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866, making it one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Home to 3,590 students enrolled in more than 25 programs, SAIC offers several programs for aspiring animators through its Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA). Options include a BFA and MFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation. A Certificate in Studio is also available.
Students in the FVNMA Department have access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.
13. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 10% of schools considered)
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 18,632 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 BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.
Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Industrial Light and Magic, and Rhythm and Hues Studios.
14. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (top 10% of schools considered)
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 BFA and MFA degrees 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.
The Department of Design offers an MFA degree in Design focusing on Digital Animation and Interactive Media. This program emphasizes the production of creative research-based projects in the user-centered context of design.
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) offers BS, MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science with a specialization in Computer Graphics and Game Design.
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 our many special labs, including the world class Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
15. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design is home to 2,133 students enrolled in 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs in a variety of Industrial Design, Visual, and Applied Arts Disciplines. The school, which also offers a joint MS/MBA program with the Drucker-Ito School of Management, has two campuses in Pasadena and satellite studios in Los Angeles (at the Peterson Automotive Museum), and Berlin. Programs for aspiring animators include Entertainment Design with a Track in Character Animation or Concept Design. Both programs lead to a BS in Entertainment Design.
According to the school, Entertainment Design graduates are “prepared for career opportunities as performance and action animators with companies such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, ILM, Sony, Blur, 343 and Riot.”
16. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)
Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school is home to more than 60,000 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture offers programs for animators at all degree levels and broadly defines animation within “Visualization.” Options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. These interdisciplinary programs prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and other areas.
17. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1861, University of Washington (UW) is home to 58,819 students across three campuses located in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The school offers more than 579 degree options across 306 programs and 16 colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Computer Science & Engineering Department (UW CSE) including BS degrees in Computer Science or Engineering, and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). All programs offer heavy animation coursework and access to the department’s three main labs dedicated to research in the areas of Animation, Computer Graphics, Game Science, Vision, and Visualization.
Labs include the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs. According to the Department, “The GRAIL group is known for ground-breaking research in computational photography, games for science and education, 3-D reconstruction, Internet photo collections, object recognition, human shape and motion analysis, information visualization, and animation, while researchers at the “Center for Game Science use gaming to solve grand challenges, crowdsource human problem-solving to aid scientific discovery, and improve student interest and achievement in mathematics.”
The Animation Research Labs “is a multi-disciplinary effort that brings together faculty and students from UW CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, DXARTS, Drama, and Music. The ARL is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in animation through teaching, research, and computer-animated production in collaboration with experts from Disney Animation Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar, and many others.”
18. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
Columbia College was established in 1890, and it is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in over 100 academic majors or programs across three schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of 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 Cinema Art + Science Department, which offers a large number of programs for aspiring animators.
The school lists the following options: BA in Animation, BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation, BA in Game Art, and Minors in Animation and Game Art. Besides animation, the programs at Columbia College prepare students to work in video game production, television production, cinema visual effects, toy design, product design, and illustration and digital advertising, to name a few.
19. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to more than 1,500 undergraduates and 456 graduate students enrolled more than 30 degree programs. The Animation Department is home to the fourth largest major at CCA—the BFA in Animation. According to the school, students will receive guidance from “the best animators in the industry” from Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Tippett Studio, among others. Students in the program “receive feedback and visual storytelling advice from actual industry animators and directors of such animated films as Toy Story, Star Wars, and Brave.”
Graduates of CCA’s Animation program have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, as well as award-winning studios such as Bento Box Entertainment.
20. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1963 and home to more than 64,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. 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 number of degree programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. Programs for graduate students include an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media, and an MFA in Emerging Media with a Digital Media, Entrepreneurial Digital Cinema, or “Studio Art and the Computer” Track.
21. The New School/Parsons, New York, New York (top 10% of schools considered)
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, The New School/Parsons (named after the famous Parsons Table) is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in 138 degree programs, diploma programs and majors, and more than 50 minors across five colleges. New School colleges include the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, College of Performing Arts, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School for Social Research, and Parsons School of Design.
Program offerings for animators are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) of Parsons School of Design. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and BFA degrees in Communication Design and Illustration. A Minor in Communication Design is also available. All programs allow students to study 2D and 3D Animation and Motion Graphics.
22. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997 and it has an estimated 350+ students enrolled in a variety of programs and courses. Offerings for aspiring animators include a three-year Certificate in Entertainment Design & Digital Production with Specialized Tracks in Visual Effects Animation and Character & Creature Animation; a two-year Certificate in Digital Production for Entertainment with Specialized Tracks in Visual Effects Animation and Character & Creature Animation, and a BFA in Digital Production with heavy animation coursework,
Gnomon also offers a variety of individual animation courses that may be “mixed and matched” to suit students’ career goals. Courses levels include Foundational, Intermediate, High Intermediate, Advanced, and High Advanced. Just a few options include Animation and Visual Effects, Animation for Games, Character Animation, Character Development, Character Texturing and Shading, Creature Animation, Environment and Design, History and Principles of Animation, Houdini Effects, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding, and Visual Structure.
Gnomon graduates have landed positions at some of the world’s top studios. A few include 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.
23. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by the founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times—General Harrison Gray Otis. Home to approximately 1,070 full-time students, OTIS offers 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, and a variety of minors and certificate programs. Specific programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Media with an Animation Major, a Digital Media Minor, and a Digital Media Arts Certificate with a Specialization Track in Animation.
Just a few recent employers include Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, Sony Online Entertainment, and Blizzard Entertainment.
24. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 15% of schools considered)
DePaul University (est. 1898) offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and two campuses in Chicago. The DePaul Animation Program in the School of Cinematic Arts, part of the College of Computing and Digital Media, offers BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation, with the following concentrations: Game Art, Traditional Animation (hand-drawn and stop motion), 3D Animation, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist, and Motion Graphics, and a VFX concentration is available within the Film and Television BFA. With thirteen full-time Animation professors, DePaul has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the US.
DePaul Animation students can apply to participate in the Animation Summer LA Quarter, a ten-week immersion program structured around living in student housing, taking classes on a historic studio lot, and interning at high profile animation studios. The experience teaches students how to navigate the studio system and helps them build a network of professional contacts. Past participants have interned at Warner Brothers, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Disney, Nickelodeon, The Mill, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, and others. DePaul University also offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for high school students interested in animation, with tracks in hand-drawn, stop motion, and 3D animation for games.
25. Chapman University, Orange, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded as Hesperian College in 1861, Chapman University is home to approximately 8,305 students from 49 states and more than 60 different countries. Chapman offers more than 100 programs across nine colleges and schools, including the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Dodge College offers a BFA and a Minor in Digital Arts that allows students to develop, design, and produce their own projects and contribute animation or visual effects to fellow students. Students also have the opportunity to intern at some of the world’s top studios including Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Imageworks, and many others.
26. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. The school, which is home to nearly 3,500 students, offers more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA Studio Concentration – Animation with three paths including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The school 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.
27. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. It had a 2016 Fall enrollment of 7,959 students and it offers 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 AA, BFA, MA and MFA degrees in Animation and Visual Effects. These programs are available on campus and online. BFA emphasis areas include 2D Animation and Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Storyboarding, and Visual Effects. The School also offers an Online Award of Completion (OAC) and a Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects.
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.
28. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (top 15% of schools considered)
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 976 undergraduates and 78 graduate 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. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Art and Animation.
According to the school, the 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 include Animation, Human Anatomy, Art and Technology, Storytelling, Storyboards, 2D and 3D Animation, Cinematography, and Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development.
In addition to the Redmond campus, the BFA in Digital Art is available at the school’s international branch campuses including Digipen Europe-Bilbao and Digipen Singapore.
Graduates of Digipen have been hired at companies such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft.
29. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 15% of schools considered)
Full Sail University was established in 1979 and it is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees and Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Options for aspiring animators include a BS in Computer Animation that takes 20 months to complete on-campus, and 32 months to complete online. Students can expect to take courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, Character Animation, Animation Production, Shading and Lighting, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.
A total of seven Project and Portfolio courses must be completed as well. These courses “combine hands-on learning experiences with summative and formative portfolio assessments.” Courses cover 3D Arts and Computer Animation.
30. Animation Mentor, Emeryville, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 2005, Animation Mentor is a community of more than 5,500 students and alumni in more than 105 countries around the world. The school offers a variety of immersive animation programs and workshops including Character Animation, which consists of six 12-week classes leading to a Certificate of Completion, three 12-week workshops including Creature Animation: Locomotion; Creature Animation: Fight or Flight, and Maya Workshop: Animation Basics, and the six-week Storyboarding Fundamentals or Cartoony Animation for 3D Animators programs.
Graduates of Animation Mentor have worked on award-winning features such as Frozen, Inside Out, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and many others. They are also routinely hired by major studios such as DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Pixar.
31. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (top 15% of schools considered)
San Jose State University (SJSU) was founded in 1857 and it is home to more than 32,000 students enrolled in 145 areas of study, with an additional 108 concentrations, across eight colleges. The College of Humanities and the Arts, Department of Design offers a BFA in Animation/Illustration. Graduates of this program have worked on films from A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo to Monsters, Inc. and Shrek. Graduates have also 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.
32. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was established in 1911 and it is home to 9,295 students enrolled in roughly 170 major, minor, master’s, and doctoral programs across seven colleges and schools. The School of Film and Television is home to LMUs Animation Program. The cross-disciplinary BA in Animation includes 3D Filmmaking, Advanced Storytelling and Production Techniques, Interactive Design, and Visual Effects. An internship during the Spring semester, senior year, is also part of the program. The School of Film and Television also offers an Animation Minor that is available to all students, regardless of major.
33. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (top 20% of schools considered)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) was founded in 1873 as a training institution for aspiring drawing teachers, architects, artists, and designers. Today, MassArt offers more than 20 undergraduate art programs, nearly a dozen graduate programs, and around seven certificate programs to a population of nearly 2,000 students. 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. Students will study Documentary Animation, Digitally Generated Animation, Character Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental Video, and Emerging Technologies.
Other highlights include “Squealing Pegs,” which is an annual screening of recent animated short films, the Animation Senior Showcase, and visiting artists and lectures.
34. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 20% of schools considered)
Founded in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is home to nearly 25,000 students enrolled in more than 400 programs across 16 schools. The School of Engineering and Applied Science is home to the Digital Media Design Program, which leads to a Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD). Created in 1998, this interdisciplinary program was “designed for students who have an interest in computer graphics, animation, games, and the design of virtual reality environments and interactive technologies.” A Digital Media Design (DMD) Minor, and a PhD in Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS PhD) are also on the menu.
BSE DMD students go on the work at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Pixar, and Zynga Games. These are the largest employers of UPenn DMD graduates.
35. California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, California (top 20% of schools considered)
California State University Long Beach (CSULB) was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB is home to 37,430 students enrolled in more than 300 programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts, School of Art 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.
An MFA/MA degree is also on the menu. This advanced degree is "designed with a dual emphasis on tailoring programs of study to individual students while fostering shared experience among a community of students.” Also part of the College of the Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA in Film and Electronic Arts. The program highlights heavy animation coursework including 3D Computer Animation, History of Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), and others.
36. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida (top 20% of schools considered)
Founded in 2000, The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (Dave School) is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, 3D Visual Effects, and Game Production. Programs for aspiring animators include a Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics, and Certificates in Visual Effects Production and Game Production.
The Bachelor’s in Motion Graphics introduces students to 3D Modeling and Animation for Motion Graphics. Students in the program will learn and practice the principles of Animation, Compositing, Composition, and Design. The 15-month Game Production Program covers Animation Fundamentals and Digital Modeling and Sculpting, while the 12-month 3D Visual Effects Program covers Modeling & Sculpting, Visual Effects, Studio Production, and Animation Fundamentals as well.
DAVE school graduates have worked on major productions such as Terminator Genisys, Jurassic World, Captain America, The Hobbit, and Godzilla.
37. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Established in 1957, California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) is home to more than 40,000 students enrolled in more than 100 degree programs across eight colleges. The College of the Arts, Department of Visual Arts offers more than a dozen graduate and undergraduate programs for artists. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Entertainment Art/Animation.
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 been hired at Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, and Sony Pictures Imageworks, to name a few. Students have also worked on productions such as Avatar, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 3, SpongeBob Squarepants, Superman Returns, The Simpsons, and many others
38. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) was established in 1961 as the Laguna Beach School of Art. The school is home to more than 600 students and it offers twelve undergraduate majors and four graduate degrees. Options for aspiring animators include a BFA in Animation and a BFA in Illustration with an Emphasis in Entertainment. 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 that “showcases the best work from all levels of (the schools) animation artists.”
LCAD Animation graduates have worked for a number of major studios including Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Nickelodeon, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, Renegade Animation, Sony, South Park Studios, Titmouse, and Zynga.
39. Woodbury University, Burbank, California (top 20% of schools considered)
Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Southern California. The school, which has campuses in Los Angeles/Burbank and San Diego and a Gallery (WUHO Gallery) in Hollywood, is home to approximately 1,283 students enrolled in 18 undergraduate majors and eight gradate majors across four colleges and schools. They include 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 Program. Woodbury promotes “cross-disciplinarity,” which means Animation students may study in other areas such as Game Art & Design, Media Technology, Filmmaking and others. In addition to the opportunity to study other disciplines, animation students may 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.
40. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (top 20% of schools considered)
The University of Texas-Dallas (UT Dallas) was established as a member of the University of Texas System in 1969. The school is home to approximately 26,797 students enrolled in 130 academic programs across seven schools. The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs for aspiring animators including a BA in Arts and Technology (BA ATEC), an MA in Arts and Technology (MA ATEC), an MFA in Arts and Technology (MFA ATEC), and a PhD in Arts and Technology (PhD ATEC).
ATEC students have the opportunity to take a total of 15 credit hours/five courses in Animation, Design, Storytelling, and Games, to name a few. Topics courses such as Topics in Animation, Topics in ATEC, and Topics in Game Development are also available.
41. Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, Ohio (top 20% of schools considered)
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 is home to more than 1,300 students enrolled in 14 degree programs. Programs for aspiring animators include an Animation BFA with Concentrations in Animation/Game and Animation/Experimental. Minor options include Animation 2D and Animation 3D. An MFA program is also available. Students in this program have executed individual projects from animation and video to interactive design and illustration.
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, Time Warner, Twentieth Century Fox, and many others.
42. California State University-Northridge, Northridge, California (top 25% of schools considered)
California State University Northridge (CSUN) was founded in 1958. It is home to 40,131 students enrolled in more than 140 programs across nine colleges. The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication houses the Department of Art, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Program offerings include a BA Visual Arts with a Concentration in Animation and MA and MFA degrees in Visual Arts with a Concentration in Video/Digital Art.
Curb College Department of Art students have the opportunity to participate in industry events and internships with Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Film Roman, and many others.
43. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (top 25% of schools considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) was established in 1886. It is home to 800 students enrolled in more than 20 programs across several departments. The Animation Department offers a BFA in Animation and an MFA in Visual Studies. The BFA Program highlights courses such as 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.
Housed in an all-MFA studio and gallery space, the MFA Program allows students to pursue creative work in areas such as Animation, Comic Arts, Filmmaking, Illustration, Installation Art, and Interactive Media.
44. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (top 25% of schools considered)
Drexel University was established in 1891 and it is home to approximately 25,595 students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is home to the Digital Media Department, which offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BS and a Minor in Animation & Visual Effects and an MS in Digital Media. The Animation & Visual Effects program features a six-month co-op, where students will “learn the underlying principles of animation along with industry-standard software technology. The entire creative pipeline from storyboarding through modeling and animation is covered in-depth, allowing students to experience all aspects of production.”
The two-year MS in Digital Media program offers comprehensive studies in Advanced Digital Design including 3D Modeling, Animation, Interactivity, Gaming and Digital Media History, and Theory and Methods.
45. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (top 25% of schools considered)
Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University College of Technology ad it is part of Purdue University. Established in 1869, Purdue University is home to 40,450 students from all 50 states and nearly 130 countries. Purdue Polytechnic houses eight departments and schools that offer 68 academic options in six subject areas. The Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) offers animation programs at all degree levels beginning with a BS in Animation. This program focuses on six areas of animation including 3-D Modeling, Texturing, Lighting, Rendering, Character Rigging (creating a digital skeleton) and Motion. Graduates of the BS program have found employment at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues and eight of the school’s alumni were part of the creative teams behind 2014 Oscar winner Big Hero 6 and 2014 Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2.
The CGT Department also offers a BS in Visual Effects Compositing that combines Animation, Visual Effects, and Video “to create highly graphical videos for episodic television and films. A BS in Effects Technical Direction is also available and it highlights supplemental coursework in Animation. Graduates of the program have also landed positions at DreamWorks, Walt Disney Company, and Rhythm & Hues.
Graduate offerings include an MS in Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) and a PhD in Technology offered through the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT).
The MS offers several focus areas for aspiring animators including Computer Animation, Video Production and Visual Effects, Computational Art, and Virtual and Augmented Reality. The PhD Program offers a CGT Specialization that covers Animation, Game Studies, Human Centered Design and Development, Virtual Product Integration, and Web Programming and Design. Students may also earn a BS CGT/MS Technology with a Specialization in CGT, which may be completed in just five years instead of six years or more if pursued separately.
46. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (top 25% of schools considered)
Established in 1889 as Clemson Agricultural College, Clemson University is home to nearly 22,000 students enrolled in 80+ majors, 75+ minors, and 110+ graduate degree programs across seven colleges. The College of Engineering and Science offers several programs for aspiring animators including an MFA in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA) and a Minor in DPA. The DPA MFA Program has 31 students and highlights Computer Animation, 3D Modeling, Compositing, Computer Games, FX, Lighting, Rigging, Simulation, and Visual Effects, to name a few.
Graduates of the program have worked on films such as Frozen, Hobbit, Rio, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Croods. Many have been hired by major studios such as Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, EA, ReelFX, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
47. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (top 25% of schools considered)
Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) was established in 1885, and boasts such names as Walt Disney (who took Saturday Classes as a child), and multimedia artist Robert Rauschenberg. The school is to more than 700 students enrolled in around 15 programs, including a BFA in Animation. The program allows students to spend a full year of “structured studio time producing a significant personal work.” Students also have access to internship and employment opportunities at studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Hallmark, Bazillion Pictures, and Titmouse Inc.
48. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York (top 25% of schools considered)
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is home to 7,113 students enrolled in more than 145 programs across five schools. The School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) is home to five academic departments including Arts, Cognitive Science, Communication and Media, Economics, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). The Department of Communication and Media (C&M), in collaboration with the Department of Arts, offers a BS in Electronic Media, Arts, & Communication (EMAC). The EMAC program offers a Concentration in Digital Storytelling (Animation, Video, and Game Design).
The Department of the Arts offers a BS in Electronic Arts (BS EART) with a Concentration in Visual Arts & Animation, as well as MFA and PhD degrees in EART. Both advanced degree programs allow students to explore areas of interest ranging from Animation and Communication Technologies to Gaming.
49. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (top 25% of schools considered)
Founded in 1851 and home to more than 41,000 students, 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 across 16 colleges. The College of Motion Picture Arts offers several programs for aspiring animators including 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. 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 program offers coursework in key areas such as Distribution, Marketing, and Motion Picture Financing.
50. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio (top 25% of schools considered)
Founded in 1910, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is home 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 and a BA in Art with a Digital Arts Specialization with three Focus Areas—Computer Animation & Video, Imaging, and Interactive Multimedia. An MFA in Art with a Major in Digital Arts (Computer Animation, Digital Imaging, and Interactive Media) is also on the menu, as well as a Minor in Digital Art.
According to the School of Art, the MFA program is an “intensive, 60-credit studio degree designed to prepare students to become both professional artists in industry and university-level instructors while developing their own studio practice.” Both programs offer internship opportunities and study abroad experiences in more than 40 countries worldwide.