What are the top animation schools in the U.S.?
|1||California Institute of the Arts||California||Top 1%|
|2||Savannah College of Art and Design||Georgia||Top 1%|
|3||Ringling College of Art and Design||Florida||Top 2%|
|4||School of Visual Arts||New York||Top 3%|
|5||University of Southern California||California||Top 3%|
|6||Rhode Island School of Design||Rhode Island||Top 4%|
|7||Pratt Institute||New York||Top 4%|
|8||University of California, Los Angeles||California||Top 5%|
|9||Gnomon School of Visual Effects||California||Top 5%|
|10||New York University||New York||Top 6%|
|11||Full Sail University||Florida||Top 6%|
|12||Rochester Institute of Technology||New York||Top 7%|
|13||ArtCenter College of Design||California||Top 7%|
|14||Academy of Art University||California||Top 8%|
|15||Brigham Young University||Utah||Top 8%|
|16||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||Top 9%|
|17||School of the Art Institute of Chicago||Illinois||Top 9%|
|18||DePaul University||Illinois||Top 10%|
|19||California College of the Arts||California||Top 10%|
|20||Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Massachusetts||Top 15%|
|21||University of Central Florida||Florida||Top 15%|
|22||Otis College of Art and Design||California||Top 15%|
|23||The Ohio State University||Ohio||Top 15%|
|24||San Jose State University||California||Top 15%|
|25||Maryland Institute College of Art||Maryland||Top 15%|
|26||Texas A&M University||Texas||Top 15%|
|27||Columbia College Chicago||Illinois||Top 15%|
|28||California State University, Long Beach||California||Top 15%|
|29||University of Texas at Dallas||Texas||Top 15%|
|30||DigiPen Institute of Technology||Washington||Top 20%|
|31||California State University, Fullerton||California||Top 20%|
|32||Laguna College of Art and Design||California||Top 20%|
|33||Columbus College of Art & Design||Ohio||Top 20%|
|34||Minneapolis College of Art and Design||Minnesota||Top 20%|
|35||College for Creative Studies||Michigan||Top 20%|
|36||Florida State University||Florida||Top 20%|
|37||Loyola Marymount University||California||Top 20%|
|38||Purdue University||Indiana||Top 20%|
|39||The New School/Parsons||New York||Top 20%|
|40||Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design||Colorado||Top 25%|
|41||University of the Arts||Pennsylvania||Top 25%|
|42||Clemson University||South Carolina||Top 25%|
|43||University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania||Top 25%|
|44||University of Colorado, Denver||Colorado||Top 25%|
|45||Drexel University||Pennsylvania||Top 25%|
|46||The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School||Florida||Top 25%|
|47||Kansas City Art Institute||Missouri||Top 25%|
|48||Arizona State University||Arizona||Top 25%|
|49||University of Florida||Florida||Top 25%|
|50||University of Washington||Washington||Top 25%|
Our 2022 list -our eleventh annual- 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 colleges considered)
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) offers a BFA in Character Animation, and BFA and MFA degrees in Experimental Animation. Programs are housed in the School of Film/Video, which claims famous alumni such as Chris Buck (Frozen), John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), and Tim Burton (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood).
The largest school at CalArts, the School of Film/Video focuses on intensive programs that emphasize technical and comprehensive artistic training. The programs are taught by experienced professionals working in CG, traditional, and independent animation.
The California Institute of the Arts BFA in Character Animation is a four-year program that prepares students to work in both traditional and computer graphic (CG) animation environments. In addition to required courses such as Acting for Animators and Perspective, Character Animation students may take courses such as Digital Methods, Life Drawing, and Storyboarding. Character Animation I-IV, Film Workshop I-IV, and Professional Preparation are also part of the program, which concludes with the creation of a professional portfolio and several short films.
Students in CalArts Experimental Animation BFA and MFA programs collaborate closely with mentors to master a range of animation approaches, processes, and techniques. Examples include 2D animation, digital production, installation, motion capture, multipane, performance animation, programming, stop motion, and more. Students can expect to participate in independent study, internships, lecture courses, seminars, workshops, and visiting artist lectures.
BFA course examples include Animation Production, Hybrid Imaging, and Motion and Meaning. MFA course examples include First Year Shorts, Sound for Experimental Animation, and The Digital Path for Animation. Students in both the BFA and MFA programs will produce a professional portfolio and final project to graduate.
Many California Institute of the Arts graduates go on to successful careers in advertising, animation, film/video, and marketing, while others have launched their own studios.
California Institute of the Arts traces its roots back to 1961, when Walt and Roy Disney formed the school through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute. Today, CalArts serves nearly 1,200 students enrolled in more than 70 degree 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, and the School of Theater.
California Institute of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also an accredited institution member of the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD).
2. Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia (Top 1% of colleges considered)
Students in the Animation Program at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) have access to more than 800 networked computers and a 60,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art digital media center consisting of a green screen lab, in-house theater, and studio environment. At all degree levels, SCAD animation students receive instruction from celebrated professors who have worked at major studios and on award-winning productions such as The Lion King, Ice Age, and Pocahontas.
SCAD animation programs are housed in the School of Animation and Motion. Three degree pathways are available including a BFA, MA and MFA. Two 25 credit hour minors are offered, including Animation and Concept Design for Animation and Games.
Incoming BFA students have the opportunity to enroll in [email protected]. This program provides students with the chance to earn their BFA and MA or MFA at an accelerated pace. The BFA/MA may take less than four years to complete, and the BFA/MFA can be completed in five years or less.
The 180 credit hour BFA in Animation is offered at SCAD’s Atlanta and Savannah campuses. The program includes 80 hours in the major, which consists of concentrations in 2D Animation, 3D Character Animation, Storytelling and Concept Development, or Technical Animation. Students may also choose 10 hours of free electives. Course examples for the program include Collaborative Experiences in Animation, 3D Character Animation: Creatures and Quadrupeds, and Story and Concept: Seeding the Narrative.
Each student in the SCAD Animation BFA Program will complete three Film Capstone courses including Preproduction, Production, and Postproduction. An optional internship is also part of the program.
Savannah College of Art and Design’s MA and MFA in Animation programs are 45 and 90 credit hours, respectively. The MA is offered in Savannah and through the schools online learning platform SCADnow. The MFA is offered in Atlanta, Savannah, and via SCADnow. MA students will complete courses such as Animation Aesthetics and Practice, Environment Look Development, and Computer-Generated Modeling and Design. Students will also complete a collaborative project and a final project. The graduate internship is optional.
The SCAD MFA in Animation requires a graduate internship and completion of three thesis courses. Students in the program can expect to take other courses such as Drawing in Motion, Media Theory and Application, and Storyboarding and Previsualization. Completion of at least seven 500- to 700-level electives are also part of the program.
From Stop-Motion Animator to Creature Technical Director, SCAD Animation graduates have been recruited by major studios such as 20th Century Fox, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Lucasfilm Animation, Pixar, Disney, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and many others.
Savannah College of Art and Design opened its doors to 71 students in September 1979. Housed in the renovated Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory, the school began with just one classroom and an administration building. Today, SCAD serves more than 15,000 students across campuses in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Lacoste, France. Offering more than 100 degree programs and over 75 minors and certificate programs, Savannah College of Art and Design has more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college in the U.S.
Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Additional accreditation includes the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB).
3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida (Top 2% of colleges considered)
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) offers a Computer Animation BFA consisting of 120 credit hours of study. Established in 1990, the program offers courses such as 2D Design, Traditional Animation, and Visual Development for Computer Animation taught by accomplished professionals in the field. Coursework is complemented by communications with visiting artists and industry guest speakers from major studios such as DreamWorks.
Students in RCAD’s Computer Animation Program also have the opportunity to complete a concentrated internship and work with area businesses on practical projects. All RCAD students participate in the school’s initiative known as INDEX (Industry Experience). Developed by developed by Ringling College of Art and Design in partnership with The Patterson Family Foundation, the initiative provides experiential learning opportunities through everything from internships to competitions sponsored by major brands and clients. INDEX also helps students build their portfolios and resumes.
Another degree option for aspiring animators is the BFA in Motion Design. This program covers animation, stop motion, design, and sound. Motion Design students will have the opportunity to collaborate on projects in teams and attend the week-long FutureProof conference. The event consists of presentations, workshops, and keynote speakers.
Ringling College of Art and Design graduates have gone on to win Academy Awards, found companies such as Moonbot Studios, and launch successful careers at studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, and Disney Animation Studios.
Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit college. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), RCAD has been around since 1931, when it was co-founded by circus baron, John Ringling. Serving nearly 1,700 students from 54 countries, 45 states, and four territories, Ringling College of Art and Design offers eleven majors leading to a BFA degree, two majors leading to BA, and minor options in 10 areas.
4. School of Visual Arts, New York, New York (Top 3% of colleges considered)
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) offers BFA degrees in Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects. At the graduate level, the school offers an MFA in Computer Arts. The School of Visual Arts is also known for its Continuing Education (CE) Animation courses, which are designed to help students improve their skills through hands-in exercise and workshops. Should they choose to, CE Animation students may create their own shorts.
In the BFA programs at SVA, students learn by doing. Whether their focus is stop motion, traditional, or computer animation, students will have the opportunity to develop their skills by working with alumni-owned studios such as Augenblick, Plymptoons, and Titmouse studios. In addition, students will train on the latest industry software including Maya, Adobe Animate, Storyboard Pro, After Effects, and Toon Boom Harmony. Four years of study in the BFA programs culminates in a showcase of the students work to industry professionals and prominent figures at the School of Visual Arts Thesis Celebration.
Graduates of the Animation, Computer Art, and Computer Animation and Visual Effects BFA programs at SVA have gone on to win awards at major festivals and from the Academy of Motion Pictures. Program alumni can be found at independent animation studios worldwide and at Lucasfilm Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney Animation Studios, Warner Bros. Animation, Nickelodeon, and DreamWorks Animation.
The School of Visual Arts MFA Computer Arts Department was the first MFA program in the U.S. to focus on computer art. Established in 1986, the program highlights workshops, guest lectures, visiting artists, and internship experiences. During the final year of the program, MFA students will complete academic research and a creative work accompanied by an artist’s statement.
Graduates of the SVA MFA in Computer Arts Program have landed positions at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), MTV, Pixar, Google, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Electronic Arts, and Disney, DreamWorks. Some alumni have gone on to open their own studios or win Academy, Emmy Award, and Grammy awards.
The School of Visual Arts (SVA) dates back to 1947, when it was known as the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. When it opened, the school had just three teachers and 35 students. Today, the School of Visual Arts serves more than 4,000 students enrolled in dozens of BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS programs. The degree offerings at SVA are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and/or the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).
5. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California (Top 3% of colleges considered)
University of California (USC) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the John C. Hench Division of Animation + Digital Arts (Hench DADA), which offers BA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Animation + Digital Arts. Minor options include 3D Animation, Animation + Digital Arts, and Game Animation. The 3D Animation Minor allows students to focus in a specific area such as Character Animation, Motion Capture, Modeling, Virtual Reality, or Visual Effects. The Animation + Digital Arts Minor covers animation theory and practice. The program ends with a required final project. The Game Animation Minor covers systems, animation, and the games industry.
The USC Hench DADA BA and BFA programs may offer concentration options such as Character Animation, Immersive Media, 3D Computer Animation, Experimental Animation, Motion Graphics, Interactive Animation, Visualizing Science, Documentary Animation, and Visual Effects. Students will take courses in the major, concentration area, and other areas such as dance, dramatic arts, and physical education.
During the final year of the programs, BA and BFA students will complete a Senior Project, to include production and post-production of a fully rendered, animated piece—with soundtrack. Projects are presented to a committee upon completion.
The University of Southern MFA Program provides mini studios for all students. The spaces are provided for animation production and thesis work. Students in the program can expect to master techniques and approaches, from hand-drawn character animation to interactive digital animation. Course examples include Expanded Animation, Animation Production, and Storytelling for Animation. Elective units are an important part of the program, and include titles such as Survey of Interactive Media, Seminar: Avant-Garde Film/Video, and World Cinema Before 1945.
Graduates of the Animation programs at the University of Southern California work for studios such as Digital Domain, Digital Idea, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination Entertainment, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Pixar, and Sony Pictures. Many USC alumni have founded their own independent studios.
The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university established in 1880. The largest private sector employer in the city of Los Angeles, USC houses 23 schools and divisions, and serves a population of 49,500 students. More than 600 graduate and professional programs are offered. The University of Southern California is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
6. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island (Top 4% of colleges considered)
Rhode Island School of Design, better known as RISD (pronounced RIZ-dee), offers a BFA in Flim/Animation/Video (BFA FAV). Students in the program may focus in Animation, Live Action or Open Media. Techniques covered in the program include everything from hand-drawn to CGI to stop motion and many others.
RISD BFA FAV students can expect to take courses such as Computer Generated Imagery 3-D, Digital Effects and Compositing for the Screen, Editing, Directing, and Experimental Film techniques. Collaborate study, workshops, a professional internship and several senior studios are also part of the program.
All RISD FAV students have access to animation and live action studios, studios for green screen and blackout shooting, and Apple workstations equipped with Avid, Final Cut, Pro Tools, Autodesk Maya, the Adobe Production Suite, and a variety of animation software.
Rhode Island School of Design graduates have gone on to create, direct and/or produce a number of animated films and series such as the Oscar-nominated animated short Feral (Daniel Sousa, Animator and Director), The Simpsons (Lance Wilder, Animator) and Family Guy (Seth Macfarlane, Creator). Other RISD graduates have launched their own studios or production companies, or landed positions at DreamWorks, HBO, Pixar, Fox, and PBS, to name a few.
Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design is one of the first art and design schools in the U.S. This private, nonprofit college serves more than 2,000 undergraduates and nearly 550 graduate students enrolled in dozens of majors and programs. RISD is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). The Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and MA in Teaching programs have special accreditation by the National Architecture Accrediting Board, Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, and the RI Department of Education, respectively.
7. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (Top 4% of colleges considered)
The School of Art at Pratt Institute (Pratt) houses the Department of Digital Arts, which offers a BFA in Digital Arts. Also housed in the School of Art is the Graduate School of Art, which offers an MFA in Digital Arts with concentrations in Digital Animation and Motion Arts, Interactive Arts, And Digital Imaging. The BFA program has emphasis options including 3-D Animation and Motion Arts, 2-D Animation, and Interactive Arts.
Department highlights include small class sizes, a collaborative environment, state-of-the art studios and classrooms, and courses taught by experienced artists in the field. BFA students can expect to take courses such as 3D Modeling, Coding for Animation, Compositing and Special FX, and Lighting and Rendering. Senior Project Development and Senior Projects courses are also part of the program.
Pratt MFA students can expect to take courses such as Digital Animation Studio, Traditional Animation, and Advanced Digital Animation. Graduate Seminar I-II and Thesis I-II are also part of the program.
Pratt Institute graduates have secured positions at Digital Domain, Gameloft, Walt Disney Animation Studios, NBCUniversal, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Sony Pictures Imageworks, and other top studios. Many Pratt alumni have gone on establish academic careers at institutions such as New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), New York University (NYU), Rochester Institute of technology (RIT), Howard University, and American Academy in Rome, to name a few.
Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute was one of the nation’s first colleges to welcome students without regard to color, gender or class. The school serves 4,875 students across campuses in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Utica, New York. More than 50 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs are offered in six schools. Pratt Institute is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
8. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to the UCLA Animation Workshop. Leading to an MFA, the three-year Workshop guides students through the filmmaking process from beginning to end. Sample required courses include Animation Design, Interactive Animation, Advanced Computer Animation Maya, Writing for Animation, and Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation.
Students in this graduate program will complete one interactive project and several films including a thesis film, traditional film, and computer film.
At the undergraduate level, UCLA offers a BA in Film and Television with a Concentration in Animation. The concentration consists of 20 units of study to be completed during the student’s senior year. All students are required to complete coursework in three areas: film and television craft (writing, editing, directing, sound recording, and photography; cinema and media studies (aesthetics, theory, and history); and production (animation, digital, television, film, and experimental). An internship is also part of the program.
Students in the BA and MFA programs at UCLA have access to the state-of-the-art Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio. Both degree pathways are offered in the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media (FTVDM), which is part of the School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT).
Graduates of the animation and film programs at the University of California Los Angeles work for Walt Disney Imagineering, Nickelodeon, Pixar, DreamWorks, and many other major studios.
Established in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles has played a pivotal role in the formation of nearly 200 startup companies. The school serves 45,900 students enrolled more than 250 programs across 12 professional schools and UCLA College. The University of California Los Angeles is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
9. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (Top 5% of colleges considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects offers a BFA or Certificate in Digital Production. A preparatory program, Foundation in Art & Design, is also available. The BFA in Digital Production is a full-time program that may be completed in three to four years. The Certificate in Digital Production is a full-time, two-year program, and the preparatory program may be completed in just one year.
Gnomon BFA students will receive training in industry software such as After Effects, Nuke, V-Ray, Photoshop, ZBrush, and Maya. Students will graduate from the BFA program with a professional demo reel that showcases their best work.
The Certificate in Digital Production has five areas of emphasized study. Options include Visual Effects Animation, Character & Creature Animation, 3D Generalist, Games, and Modeling & Texturing. Students in the program may also focus on Film, Games, or Visual Effects Production.
Gnomon’s preparatory program Foundation in Art & Design requires a full year of continuous study, including four courses per quarter. The goal of the program is to help students enhance existing skills, pursue a degree in a related field, or polish their portfolios.
With a nearly 100% employment rate, Gnomon School of Visual Effects has alumni working at studios such as Marvel Entertainment, Nickelodeon Animation, Blizzard Entertainment, Reel FX, Digital Domain, DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. Located in Hollywood, California, the school sits on a 35,000 square foot lot within the Television Center Studio lot. Gnomon offers degree programs, vocational certificate programs, and more than 100 individual 10-week courses. Gnomon School of Visual Effects is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
10. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts, New York, New York (Top 6% of colleges considered)
Founded in 1956, Tisch School of Arts at New York University (NYU) houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, which produces more than 5,000 films per year. The Institute also houses the Department of Animation and Digital Arts, which offers a BFA in Film and Television with an Animation Area.
Launched in 1979 with just three classes and 80 students, the program currently serves more than 500 students from nearly every state and dozens of countries.
The Animation Area at NYU Tisch provides instruction in 2D Animation, 3D Animation, and Traditional Animation. The program begins with animation fundamentals and progresses to intermediate animation, then advanced. Course examples include Life Drawing: Anatomy, Storyboarding, Action Analysis, Experimental Animation, Drawing and Design for Animation, Motion Design & Titles, Visual Effects and Compositing, and Writing for Animation.
The Animation Area also highlights guest speakers such as Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Polonski, and Chris Butler. Students in the program may study abroad and/or complete an internship.
NYU Tisch Animation Area graduates work as freelancers, they have started their own studios, and they work at places such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and many others.
New York University was founded in 1831. Serving nearly 55,000 students, NYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities. In addition to the New York campus, NYU has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, along with 11 global academic centers in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. With an estimated 400+ programs, New York University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
11. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (Top 6% of colleges considered)
Full Sail University (Full Sail) offers a BS in Computer Animation with online and on-campus options. The distance learning option takes 29 months to complete, while the campus option takes just 20 months to complete. For both programs, students will learn how to navigate the production pipeline used in today’s major studios. Course highlights include 3D Animation I-II, Technical Animation, Industry Production, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.
All Full Sail animation students are required to take two professional development seminar courses and seven project and portfolio courses covering 3D arts and computer animation.
Professional development courses provide the opportunity for students to explore the computer animation industry, while learning to build their personal brand. Professional development courses are enhanced by industry guest speakers. Project and portfolio courses highlight hands-on, project-based learning, independent study, and portfolio development
Full Sail University graduates have worked on Oscar-nominated films, earning credits on at least 24 projects across 20 categories.
Full Sail University offers graduate certificates and programs at all degree levels in the Arts, Entertainment, Media, and Technology. The school, which opened in 1979 in Dayton, Ohio, is located just 35 minutes from downtown Orlando and Universal Studios. Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), Full Sail serves approximately 21,000 students.
12. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (Top 7% of colleges considered)
The College of Art and Design at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) houses the School of Film and Animation. Several animation degree options are available here including BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation, BFA degrees in Film and Animation with either an Animation Option or a Production Option, and a BS in Motion Picture Science.
The MFA has four options: 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Production, and Screenwriting. The BS program requires coursework in film, television, and animation production. In the Film BFA Animation Option, the focus is 2D and 3D Animation, production, screenwriting, and stop-motion animation. Three tracks are available including 2D, 3D and Stop Motion Animation. Students learn to animate for AR/VR, films, games, and digital and visual effects.
Production Option BFA students will learn to produce documentary, fiction, experimental, and live-action films. Students can expect to gain hands-on experience working with cameras and editing and sound equipment.
All programs offer internship opportunities, cooperative education, and experiential learning opportunities. RIT animation students also have access to the 52,000 square foot MAGIC Spell Studios, along with labs and classrooms outfitted with industry standard technology and software. At all levels, RIT animation students will have the opportunity to participate in the RIT’s Creative Industry Day, where they get to mingle with representatives of studios, design firms, and other creative companies.
Graduates of Rochester Institute of Technology can be found in a variety of positions at Lucasfilm, Electronic Arts, Dolby, Nickelodeon, Sony, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Disney, and many others.
Rochester Institute of Technology dates back to 1829. With campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo, RIT serves more than 19,000 students, making it one of the largest private universities in the U.S. Across 11 colleges and institutes, the school offers more than 200 academic programs. Rochester Institute of Technology is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
13. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (Top 7% of colleges considered)
ArtCenter College of Design (ArtCenter) offers a BS in Entertainment Design with an Animation Track. Students in the program will develop skills in lighting, character animation, modeling, storyboarding, and art direction across 132 units and eight terms. 2D Fundamentals, 2D Mechanics, Concept Art, Design History of Comic Animation, and Shorts are just a few of the courses ArtCenter Animation students can expect to take. All students will complete three Capstone Production courses, 5th Term Portfolio Review, and Business & Professional Practice.
ArtCenter College of Design graduates are prepared for positions within the entertainment industry such as Animator, Modeler, Digital Artist, Production Designer, and Storyboard Artist. Animation program alumni work at Marvel, Paramount, and other major studios.
ArtCenter College of Design serves more than 2,000 students across campuses in Pasadena and Los Angeles, California. ArtCenter also has satellite studios in Petersen Automotive Museum (Miracle Mile, Los Angeles) and Berlin, Germany. Founded in 1930, the school offers 11 undergraduate programs, seven graduate degree program leading to an MFA or MS, a joint MS/MBA program, and undergraduate minors for Business, Creative Writing, and Social Innovation students.
ArtCenter College of Design is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
14. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Academy of Art University (Academy of Art) houses the School of Animation & Visual Effects (VFX), which offers four programs leading to an animation degree and one leading to a certificate. Options include AA, BFA, MA, and MFAs in Animation & Visual Effects. Although the certificate program does not lead to a degree, this four-year program skips the liberal arts coursework, allowing artists to dive right into animating.
All programs are taught in a studio production environment known as StudioX. The School of Animation & VFX is the only school of its kind to teach in this type of environment. Because StudioX mimics most real-world studios, students gain hands-on experience with industry standard equipment, collaborating with other artists and on teams, and managing a production from start to finish.
In addition to several collaborative projects, students will complete an internship and create a professional portfolio.
Academy of Art Animation alumni work at major studios and companies such as Google, Laika, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel, Sony Pictures Animation, CASA VFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Riot Games, Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and many others.
Academy of Art University is a family-owned private university located in one of the world’s top cities for animation careers—San Francisco. Serving more than 7,000 students, Academy of Art is one of the nation’s largest private art and design schools. Divided into 22 schools, Academy of Art University offers more than 129 degree programs in 40+ areas of study. Programs lead to the AA, BA, BFA, BS, B. Arch, MAT, MA, MFA and M. Arch degrees.
The art and design programs at Academy of Art University are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). The Academy is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
15. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (Top 8% of colleges considered)
Brigham Young University (BYU) houses the BYU Center for Animation. Established in 2010, the Center is managed by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology and the Colleges of Fine Arts and Communications and Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
Accepting just 20-25 students each year, the BYU Center for Animation is open to artists from the BYU Animation BFA Program, offered in the College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design, and the BS in Computer Science: Animation and Games, offered in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science.
The program provides extensive hands-on training in animation, games, live-action, and special effects. All BFA, BS, and BYU Center for Animation students will have opportunities to work on personal and group projects, and major films. They will also complete an internship and develop a portfolio of their best work.
BYU Animation graduates go on to establish successful careers at studios such as Blizzard, DreamWorks, Disney, Sony, Digital Domain, Pixar, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Nickelodeon, Riot Games, and many others.
Brigham Young University was founded as Brigham Young Academy (BYA) in 1875 by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Brigham Young. With nearly 35,000 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs and minors, BYU is the one of the largest private universities in the U.S. Brigham Young University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
16. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Top 9% of colleges considered)
Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) College of Fine Art (CFA) houses the School of Art. Serving around 200 students, the School offers a BFA in Electronic & Time-Based Media. This interdisciplinary program explores animation, bioArt, game arts, computer and interactive arts, video, and more. One program highlight is the Animation, Art & Technology course, Animation, Art & Technology taught by professors in the School of Art and the School of Computer Science.
The course is designed to help students learn how to group behaviors, and master motion capture and processes for animating materials, hair, and fragments. Students will use these skills to work on collaborative projects.
CMU also houses the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) which, in collaboration with the School of Computer Sciences’ Robotics Institute (est. 1979), manages eight undergraduate areas that can be taken as minors. This includes Animation & Special Effects.
IDeATe Animation & Special Effects classes are led by faculty with expertise in Art and Robotics. Course examples include Animation, Art, and Technology, Art of Robotic Special Effects, Computational Photography, Advanced ETB: Video: Experimental Science Fiction, Technical Character Animation, and IDeATe: Introduction to 3D Animation Pipeline.
CMU graduates have been hired at Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Comedy Central, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, MTV, Paramount, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Interactive, Zynga Games, and more.
Founded in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University serves 14,500+ students and it has more than 400 start-ups under its belt. With over a dozen degree-granting locations, and more than 20 research partnerships in Silicon Valley, Australia, Africa, and Qatar, CMU offers more than 200 programs across seven colleges and schools. Carnegie Mellon University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
17. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 9% of colleges considered)
The Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has a Studio Program that offers a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and BFA and MFA degrees Studio. The degree programs offer extensive coursework in animation with course titles such as 3D Character Animation, Advanced Drawing for Animation, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Puppet Animation, Writing and Art Direction for Animation, Type and Image in Motion, and Intermediate Animation: Experimental Methods.
Other Department highlights include interaction with visiting artists, access to state-of-the-art production studios, the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, and on-campus galleries, and graduate seminars, screenings, and performances. In addition, FVNMA MFA students will participate in Critique Week. This week-long event takes place each semester. The entire faculty, along with invited visiting artists and designers, form panels designed to critique students work. All classes are suspended during this time.
Graduates of SAIC’s FVNMA Department are prepared to seek careers in animation, film, games, digital media, and more.
Founded in 1866 by a group of 35 artists, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the nation’s oldest accredited independent schools of art and design. Serving more than 3,500 students, SAIC offers over 50 areas of study in 24 academic departments. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Since 1948, the school has been accredited as a charter member by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
18. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (Top 10% of colleges considered)
The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) at DePaul University (DePaul) houses the School of Cinematic Arts, home to the Animation Program. Degree options include a BA, BFA, MA, or MFA in Animation. An Animation (BFA), combined Bachelor’s/Master’s is also available.
Courses for the animation programs at DePaul are taught by one of the largest full-time animation faculties in the nation. More than a dozen animation professors teach courses such as 3D Animation, Design, Screenwriting, Motion Graphics, Stop-Motion Animation, Narrative Development, Drawing, Animation Production, History of Animation, and more.
The BFA program has concentrations in 3D Animation, Visual Effects Animation, Cinema, Game Art, Motion Graphics, and Storyboarding and Character Design. While the BA does not offer a concentration, animation students may enhance their skills in a focused area through major and open electives.
The MA allows students to focus in 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding and Character Design, Technical Artist or Traditional Animation. Course highlights for the program include Advanced Topics in Visual Effects, Animation Figure Study, Topics in 3D Animation, Game Art Pipeline, and 3D Animation Production.
The Animation MFA follows the project model. Students will spend their time creating a single project with the assistance of an MFA co-chair and MFA faculty mentors. The program is designed for animators who have earned an undergraduate degree in the visual arts. Animation, Art, Illustration, Graphic Design, and Film are just a few examples.
All animation students may participate in the Los Angeles Quarter Program. This 10-week immersion program allows students to intern at major Hollywood studios such Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Nickelodeon, The Jim Henson Company, Titmouse Animation, Bix Pix Animation, Warner Brothers, and many others.
Other program highlights include the visiting artist series, where past guests have included artists from Disney and Pixar, access to the Animation Lodge, and participation in Project Bluelight. Students at The Lodge collaborate on group projects, network, and build their portfolios. Bluelight provides hands-on experience in motion picture production to all interested students.
Graduates of the animation programs at DePaul University have been hired by industry giants such as Electronic Arts, Google, Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Laika Studios, Wargaming, and many others.
With 21,670 students, more than 300 programs, two campuses, and 10 academic colleges, DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. Founded in 1898, DePaul is also America’s 13th-largest private, not-for-profit university, and the largest private, not-for-profit college in the Midwest. DePaul University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
19. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (Top 10% of colleges considered)
The BFA in Animation at California College of the Arts (CCA) is the school’s largest major. Housed in the Animation Department, the program provides hands-on learning in state-of-the art studios and labs such as the Foley Room, Hybrid Lab, Sound Studio, and Founder 309. Students will learn to create 2D and 3D animation, stop-motion animation, sound effects, animation for games, and more.
Courses for the BFA program are taught by instructors who are working in the industry with studios such as DreamWorks, Tippett, and Pixar. Course examples include 2D, 3D, and 4D, Animation 1 and 2, Visual Storytelling, Sound for Animation, Acting for Animation, and Writing 1 and 2. During the third year of study, CCA animation students will complete Junior Project 1 and 2. In the final year of the program, students will complete Senior Project 1: Pre-production and Senior Project 2: Production. This means graduates will leave the program with a polished piece.
Graduates of the California College of Art Animation BFA in Animation program have gone on to establish successful freelance careers and their own studios. CCA graduates have also been hired by studios such as Electronic Arts, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Bento Box Entertainment, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks Animation, Phosphor Games, and many others.
California College of the Arts (CCA) began in 1907 as the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. When it opened, CCA had just three teachers and 43 students. Today, 420 faculty members serve just over 1,600 students enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, minors, and dual degree options. California College of the Arts is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).
20. Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The Animation Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) offers a BFA in Animation. The program begins with the foundation year, which consists of courses such as Time, Form Study, Drawing Projects, Studio for Drawing, and Visual Language. Students are introduced to Animation Basics, Experimental Animation, and Digital 2D Animation during the second year of the program. Color & media, figure, liberal arts, and history of art courses are also explored during the second year.
In the third and fourth years of the Animation BFA, students will continue studying liberal arts and history of art. However, students will focus primarily on advanced animation coursework, the animation portfolio, and the final animation project.
MassArt Animation graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of positions in the film and animation industries, design, digital art, advertising and marketing, and more.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design serves 1,635 undergraduate students, 115 graduate students, and nearly 150 continuing education students. Founded in 1873 as Massachusetts Normal School, MassArt offers more than 40 degree, minor, and certificate programs, along with 100 classes and workshops in all areas of art and design.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The school is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
21. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) offers animation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Housed in the College of Arts and Humanities, SVAD animation pathways include BFA and MFA degrees in Emerging Media. The BFA program has two track options for animators: Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The MFA has Animation & Visual Effects, and Studio Art & Design Tracks.
Character Animation is a portfolio-based track that takes two years to complete, full-time. Program highlights include courses taught by industry professionals, access to state-of-the-art labs, and internship opportunities.
In the Experimental Animation Track, students will complete courses such as Digital Effects & Compositing, Stop Motion Animation, and Modeling for Visual Language. Specific experimental animation courses include Advanced Experimental Animation, Experimental Animation Professional Practice, Experimental Animation Workshop, and Experimental Animation Portfolio. Students in this Track will also complete the BFA thesis project and exhibition/screening.
Graduates of the UCF SVAD animation programs are employed with major studios such as Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney, Electronic Arts, and many others.
The University of Central Florida College of Sciences houses the Nichols School of Communication & Media—home to Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). Established in partnership with the City of Orlando, the State of Florida, and UCF, FIEA enrolls more than 130 students annually.
The Academy offers an MS in Interactive Entertainment that covers areas such as 3D animation and modeling, motion capture, technical and level design, technical art, and preproduction. The program requires 30 credits including 12 credit hours of core courses, nine credit hours in a specialization, a practicum, and a capstone experience. An internship is also part of the program.
University of Central Florida FIEA graduates have been hired at studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Marvel, Sony, Gameloft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Walt Disney Imagineering, DreamWorks, Universal, Google, Microsoft Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Zynga, and many others.
Also housed in the College of Sciences’ Nichols School of Communication & Media is the Digital Media MA Program. This option prepares animation students for entry into a PhD program or employment in the animation, games, AR/VR, or special effects industries.
Founded in 1963, University of Central Florida opened in 1968 as Florida Technological University. When it began, the school had less than 2,000 students. Today, UCF serves more than 70,000 students, making it the largest university by enrollment in the State of Florida, and one of the nation’s largest universities. Program offerings include 106 bachelor’s degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 31 research doctorates, three professional doctorates, and three specialist degrees.
University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
22. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
Otis College of Art and Design’s (OTIS) Digital Media Department offers an Animation Emphasis as part of the Digital Media BFA Program. Students will begin the program with foundations. By the third year of the program, students can expect to advance into major and 300 level courses such as 3D Animation I-II, Creative Action Studio, Advanced Concept Development, and Practicum in Animation I-II. OTIS BFA students can also expect to complete a capstone and the senior project.
Otis College of Art and Design offers students the opportunity to sharpen their skills in an additional area through electives such as Virtual Reality, Sketching & World Building, Storyboarding & Pitching, or Producing & Production Management. An optional internship is also offered.
Graduates of OTIS Digital Media BFA Program have gone on to establish successful careers at Disney, Pixar Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, and many others.
Founded in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is Los Angeles’ oldest professional school of the arts. Serving more than 1,200 students, OTIS offers 11 BFA degree programs and MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing. A variety of minors and certificate programs are also available. Programs and courses at OTIS are led by more than 430 professors—all active professionals in their respective fields.
Otis College of Art and Design is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The school is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
23. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The Ohio State University (OSU) houses the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Both offer several programs for animators.
Established in 2017, OSU’s interdisciplinary BA program in Moving Image Production (MIP) is a collaboration between departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wexner Center for the Arts. MIP majors can take production courses in the Departments of Art, Dance, and Theatre, and the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD). Coursework covers live-action and animated filmmaking.
Animation students can expect to take nine credit hours of pre-major coursework, 24 credits in-production studios, two in cinema, six in MIP electives, and six for the senior project. A 15-credit hour Film Studies Minor is also part of the program. OSU MIP students will have opportunities to take additional production and screenwriting courses, complete an internship, or participate in the school’s study abroad program.
The Department of Art in OSU’s College of Arts and Sciences offers BFA and MFA degrees in Art with an emphasis in Art and Technology. 3D modeling and animation, art games, sound, digital imaging, moving images, and emerging forms are just a few areas students will explore. Course highlights include Computer Animation, New Media Robotics, Internet Art, Moving Image Art, and 3D Modeling.
Also housed in the College of Arts and Sciences is the Department of Design. Established in 1968, the Department offers an MFA with a Digital Animation and Interactive Media Track. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours of study in design, the thesis project, and open electives.
Graduates of the Animation programs at OSU have gone on to become Animators, Human-Computer Interaction Designers, Game Designers, Motion Graphics Designers, Mixed Reality Designers. User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX) Designers, Virtual Reality Designers, Multimedia Designers, Art Directors, Interaction Designers, Freelance Artists, College Professors, and many others.
The Ohio State University was established in 1870 as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 61,000 students at campuses across Ohio in Columbus (main), Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. More than 200 majors, minors, and specializations are offered in 18 colleges and schools. The Ohio State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
24. San Jose State University, San Jose, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
San Jose State University (SJSU) houses the College of Humanities and the Arts, home to the Department of Design and the Department of Art and Art History. Both offer programs for animators.
Two degrees are offered in the Department of Design: a BFA in A/I and a BA in Design Studies, specializing in A/I. The Department of Art and Art History and the SJSU CADRE Institute offer an MFA in Art with a Concentration in Digital Media Art. CADRE (Computers in Art, Design, Research, and Education) became SJSU’s formal fine arts program in 1985.
The 60-credit hour MFA is a three-year program that includes studio courses, independent study, art history, and seminars. Students in the program will explore animation, sound, computer visualization, multimedia, virtual reality, and other areas. The culminating experience for the program is the MFA Project, worth three credit hours.
San Jose State University’s BFA in A/I is a professional degree that covers 3D and traditional animation. Students in this program may specialize in Animation or Visual Development through upper-division coursework. Specializations are 21 credit hours. Students in both areas must pass a milestone portfolio review and complete a six-unit capstone—Senior Seminar Animation/Illustration.
The SJSU BA in Design Studies with A/I is a liberal arts degree that allows students to explore photography, design, and theater arts, in addition to animation and film. Both the BA and BFA programs offer professional internship opportunities.
Graduates of the Animation programs at SJSU have been hired at more than 135 studios and colleges. Just a few include Animation Mentor, Cogswell Institute, Sony/Columbia, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Interactive, Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm Animation, NBCUniversal Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Zynga, and 20th Century Fox.
San Jose State University was established in 1857. The school, which serves around 36,000 regular and special session students, offers 250 areas of study at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Programs at SJSU are offered through nine colleges housing dozens of departments and schools. San Jose State University is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
25. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The Animation Department at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) offers a BFA and a Minor in Animation. The BFA program requires 24 credit hours of study in the major. Course highlights include Drawing: Tradition & Innovation, Art Matters, Advanced Stop-Motion, 2D Character, and 3D Character Animation, and Professional Practice for Animators. Students in the program must complete a project course and Animation Senior Thesis I and II.
The Minor in Animation at MICA requires 18 studio credits, including Introduction to 2D Animation and Electronic Media and Culture. Students in the program can focus on 3D, Stop-Motion Animation, or Traditional Narrative/2D Animation. Additional course examples include Digital Tools for Animation, Animation Pre-Production, and Storyboarding for Animators.
The programs at Maryland Institute College of Art have helped launch the careers of thousands of students. MICA alumni are Google Animators, Mobile App Developers, Comic Artists, Filmmakers, and more. They have been hired by MTV, DreamWorks, Laika, Disney, and other major networks and studios. Many MICA graduates have also entered graduate programs or established successful careers as independent artists in the animation industry.
Maryland Institute College of Art is the nation’s oldest independent, continuously degree-granting college of art and design. Founded in 1826, the school serves 2,090 students from 45 states and 53 foreign countries. Forty percent of MICA students are fine arts majors and 60% are design & media arts majors. Programs at MICA lead to a BFA, MA, MFA, or MPS degree. Maryland Institute College of Art is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
26. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (TAMU) houses the Department of Visualization, which offers BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. The MFA degree is just one of a few programs of its kind in the U.S. and possibly the only one in the State of Texas.
Established in 1989 the TAMU Visualization Program is cross-disciplinary, allowing students to explore interaction, art, design, visualization, and computer graphics. Students at all levels may focus in an area of specialization through electives. Students also have opportunities to participate in the annual career fair and the semester away program in Italy, Germany, and other countries.
Internship opportunities are also available at all levels. This supervised undergraduate course spans 15 weeks and 600 hours and students earn six credit hours. Graduate internships are worth eight credits. TAMU Visualization students have interned at animation, game, and graphic design companies.
Texas A&M University Visualization graduates are often hired for positions at major studios. Examples include Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel FX, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
With more than 73,000 students, Texas A&M University is one of the nation’s largest universities by enrollment. Established in 1876, TAMU is also the state’s first public institution of higher learning. More than 400 degree programs are offered at all levels across 17 colleges and schools. Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
27. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The School of Media Arts at Columbia College Chicago (Columbia College or Columbia) houses the Interactive Arts and Media Department, which offers several programs for animators. Options include BA and BFA degrees in Animation, a BFA in Computer Animation, and a Minor in Animation. A major component of all programs is the opportunity to begin animating in the very first year.
Columbia College Animation students may take courses such as Advanced Topics in Animation, Cinematics for Games, Alternative Strategies in Animation, Animation Layout, CVFX: Compositing, Stop-Motion Animation, Cartooning, Character Design and Modeling, The Business of Animated Content, and Animation Studios in LA, to name a few.
Animation Studios in LA is a one credit course that provides the opportunity for students to explore career opportunities at major Hollywood animation studios. Events include tours, portfolio reviews, and employment screenings. Past participating studios include Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., and Disney. During the final year of the program, Columbia BA students will have the option to work with a team or individually to create a film. BA students will also fine tune their demo reels.
As a senior, BFA students will produce an animated film as a solo project, serving as producer, editor, and director. Films will be presented at Manifest—Columbia Colleges annual art festival showcasing graduating students work.
Many graduates of the Animation programs at Columbia College Chicago run their own studios, while others have gone on to win Oscars and Emmy Awards. Columbia College Animation alumni have worked on films and series such as The Lion King, Robot Chicken, Brave, Frozen, Pocahontas, UP, The Lego Batman Movie, Coco, Finding Dory, and many others.
Columbia graduates can be found at networks and studios such as Cartoon Network, Disney, DreamWorks Studios, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Warner Bros. Animation, Weta Digital, and many others.
Founded in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago serves 7,000 students enrolled in more than 150 majors, minors, and graduate programs. In addition to offering programs in creative areas such as communication and writing, media and digital, and music and sound, Columbia offers business management programs. Columbia College Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
28. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California (Top 15% of colleges considered)
California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) houses the College of the Arts—one of the universities largest and most popular colleges. Made up of six separate academic units, the College is home to the School of Art, which offers a BFA in Art and an MA or MFA in Studio Art. All options offer an Animation Track.
Also housed in the College of Arts is the Department of Film & Electronic Arts, which offers a BA and a Minor in Film and Electronic Arts. Students may customize their own focus area (unofficially) by taking courses such as 3D Computer Animation, Digital Arts Production (Visual Effects, Computer Animation, Interactive Media), History of Animation, and others. The Minor, which consists of 18 units, offers the option to create a specialized track from approved animation and other courses.
The BFA, MA, and MFA options in the School of Art include workshops and presentations led by industry professionals, courses taught by experienced animators and illustrators, access to a range of study abroad experiences, and internship opportunities. Graduate students will have the opportunity to customize the program AND choose a track. Graduates will leave the CSULB Animation programs with a focused body of work.
California State University, Long Beach was established in 1949. One of the 23 campuses of the California State University System, CSULB serves nearly 39,300 students enrolled in more than 300 programs in eight colleges. California State University, Long Beach is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
29. University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Texas (Top 15% of colleges considered)
The School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) offers BA, MA, MFA, and PhD degrees in ATEC. BA students may select a concentration in Animation and Games. Coursework explores games, motion graphics, UX/UI, computer animation, and more.
MFA ATEC students may specialize in Animation, while MA and PhD students may focus their studies and research in animation, science and technology, games, and other areas. All graduate level programs provide advanced study in computer-based arts, interactive media, digital media, technology, professional practices, and more.
Other ATEC program highlights include guest speakers from Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and others, seminars and lectures presented by industry professionals, portfolio and project-based exercises, and applied and experimental research in collaboration with instructors in varying areas of expertise.
Graduates of the ATEC programs at UT Dallas are prepared to seek careers in animation, games, film, and television, as well as emerging fields such as medical and scientific visualization.
The University of Texas at Dallas began in the 1960s as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, established by the owners of Texas Instruments. Today, UT Dallas is an official member of the University of Texas System, serving nearly 29,700 students. More than 140 degree programs are offered in eight schools. University of Texas at Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
30. DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (Top 20% of colleges considered)
DigiPen Institute of technology (DigiPen) offers a BFA in Digital Art and Animation and an MFA in Digital Arts. The BFA program is designed for professional artists looking to enhance their skills. Competitive and challenging, the program covers traditional media, 2D and 3D digital art, animation production, pipelines, and more. Students will work solo and in teams to create animated projects, games, and/or films.
Coursework for the BFA ranges from foundation courses such as Animation Basics and The Language of Drawing to advanced courses such as Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development, Cinematic Production, and Scripting and Programming. BFA students will complete a career preparation course and several projects.
The BFA in Digital Art and Animation is available at the main campus in Redmond and at the school’s international branch campuses—DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and DigiPen Singapore.
The MFA in Digital Arts at DigiPen Institute of Technology provides advanced training in animation, 3D modeling, drawing, and digital painting, among other areas. Free electives and independent study provide opportunities for students to customize their pathway. Course highlights include Organic and Hard Surface Modeling, Art Research Methodology, Art Production Process, Character Design, Digital Arts Survey and Analysis, and 3D Concepts and Production.
Digital Arts MFA students will complete the MFA Thesis, which begin with the Thesis Pre-Production course, which lasts a semester. For the final two semesters of the program, students will work with a faculty advisor to complete the Thesis project. Throughout the program, students will also work in teams to create several games, films, and more.
Graduates of the Digital Art programs at DigiPen are prepared to compete for positions such as Animator, Character Artist, 3D Modeler, Simulation and Effects Animator, Producer, Art Director, Environmental/Asset Artist, UI Designer, Concept Artist, and many others. To date, more than 600 companies worldwide have hired DigiPen Institute of Technology graduates.
DigiPen alumni have landed position at major studios and companies such as Apple, Amazon Game Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering, Google, Blizzard Entertainment, Activision, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Zynga, Meta (formerly Facebook), DreamWorks Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment, Riot Games, ArenaNet, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, and many others.
DigiPen Institute of Technology was established in 1988 as a Vancouver, British Columbia-based computer simulation and animation company. The school serves 1,200 students enrolled in 10 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Computer Science, Digital Art and Animation, Engineering, Game Design and Development, and Music and Audio.
DigiPen has international campuses in Singapore and Spain, and educational partnerships with Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Keimyung University in South Korea, The One Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Thammasat University in Thailand.
DigiPen Institute of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
31. California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts at California State University, Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton) houses the Visual Arts Department, which offers a BFA in Art with an Entertainment Art/Animation Concentration. Students in this 132-unit program may select an option (A, B or C), which allows them to take a set of specific courses based on their interests.
Course highlights include Cartooning and Caricature, Visual Development and Background Painting, Special Studies in Entertainment Art/Animation, 3D Animation, and Elements of Sequential Art. Other courses include Animation Preproduction, Animation Production, Animal and Wildlife Drawing, and Writing in the Visual Arts.
BFA program highlights include a partnership with Nickelodeon Studios, Group Projects, Independent Research, internship opportunities at major studios, and the BFA Capstone.
Cal State Fullerton alumni have worked on The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Superman Returns, Avatar, Ice Age 2, Spiderman 3, and many other productions. BFA program graduates also work in positions at Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm, Sony Games, Cartoon Network, Disney Feature Animation, Disney TV Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Electronic Arts, to name a few.
Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton is part of the 23 campus California State University (CSU) system. Serving more than 41,000 students. Cal State Fullerton offers 55 undergraduate and 55 graduate degree programs in eight academic colleges. California State University, Fullerton is Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
32. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) offers BFA degrees in Animation and Experimental Animation. LCAD also offers an Animation Minor that provides instruction in the principles of both traditional and CG animation. The program consists of five courses including Animation 1, Character Design for Animators 1, Storyboarding 1, CG Animation 1, and Animation 2.
The largest program at LCAD, the Animation BFA provides instruction and hands-on training in creating animated characters, filmmaking (editing, directing, screenwriting, sound design), pitching stories, and working in teams. The program consists of a combination of liberal arts and studio courses. Examples of liberal arts courses include Age of Michelangelo, Illuminating Women: Female Artists, Scientists, Poets, and Philosophers of the Renaissance, Worldly + Otherworldly Creatures, Traditional Arts of West Africa, and the Science of Sight.
Studio requirements include Digital Skills, CG Modeling, Directing for Animators, Visual Development, and Figure Drawing for Animators, to name a few. BFA students will also complete the Animation Practicum, Senior Capstone, and three Thesis Film courses.
The Experimental Animation BFA at Laguna College of Art and Design is led by experienced instructors who are active in the television, film, games, and internet animation industries. With class sizes limited to 18 students, the program emphasizes learning by doing. This means, students will complete several projects throughout the program. During the final years of the BFA in Experimental Animation program, students may specialize in one or more areas such as Storyboarding, Internet Series Projects, and Show Design.
Graduates of the LCAD BFA in Animation and Experimental Animation programs are often hired by major players in the television, film, games, and animation industries. Examples include Warner Brothers Feature Animation, Obsidian Entertainment, Pixar, The Jim Henson Company, Sony, South Park Studios, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Laika, DreamWorks, Fox, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Titmouse.
Founded in 1961, Laguna College of Art and Design began as Laguna Beach School of Art (LBSA). In addition to the main campus in Laguna Beach, LCAD has educational affiliates locally and around the world including Florence Academy of Arts in Florence, Italy, Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences (NHTV), Netherlands.
Laguna College of Art and Design serves nearly 750 students enrolled in dozens of degree and minor programs. The school is regionally and nationally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
33. Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus, Ohio (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Recognized as a Center of Excellence by Toon Boom, Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) has an Animation program that has been existence since 1987. Leading to a BFA in Animation or a Minor, the program provides unlimited access to CCAD’s Cloyd Family Animation Center, which houses state-of-the-art stop-motion, virtual reality drawing, computer, and teaching labs as well as flex spaces, a student lounge, and the Animation Student Collective.
Animation students may add a concentration or minor to the program. Concentration options include Experimental or Game Animation, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Drawing, Illustration/Entertainment, Design/Modeling or Illustration/Illustrative Design. Minor options include Animation 2D or 3D, Comics & Narrative Practice, Film & Video, Illustration, Advertising & Graphic Design, Creative Writing, Photography, Fine Art, and more. Concentrations require nine hours of credit hours of coursework and minors require 15 credit hours.
Because Columbus College of Art & Design offers so many concentration and minor options, students interested in becoming animators/live action filmmakers or animators/visual effects artists can enroll in the BFA in Film & Video Program and add a concentration or minor in animation.
Consisting of 120 total credit hours of study, the CCAD BFA in Animation is divided into 60 credit hours of program requirements, 40 in core liberal arts, and 18 in core studio. Visual Literacy, Historical Art & Design, Writing & the Arts, Visual & Narrative Storyboard, 3D Animation Modeling & Surfacing, Café Sketch, Animation Lab Pipeline, 3D Character Animation Simulation, and Animation Lab Production are a just a few course titles for the program.
Animation BFA alumni hold positions such as Animator, Character Animator, AR/VR Designer, Motion Designer, Game Artist, and Motion Designer. Many CCAD BFA program graduates go on to enroll in some of the nation’s top MFA programs. Recent employers include Electronic Arts, Cartoon Network, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Laika, Proctor & Gamble, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Phosphor Games, Pixar, Riot Games, Sony Pictures Animation, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
BFA graduates who would like to pursue an MFA at CCAD typically choose the MFA in Visual Arts. This 60-credit hour program operates within a 13,700-square-foot graduate facility that houses individual private studios for MFA students, a lounge, exhibition space, and faculty offices. In the facility, students may work on individual projects and the thesis in any area of interest. Examples include animation, interactive design, illustration, film, game art, and television. Students may focus in any of these areas through six hours of required art and design electives or even through CCAD’s many minor and concentration options.
Other Visual Arts MFA highlights include small class sizes (the program accepts nine to 15 students per year), internship opportunities with nonprofits and businesses located in places such as New York, Honduras, Chicago, Seattle, Ireland, and Oregon, and the visiting artist series, which welcomes designers and guest artists who teach workshops and seminars, present lectures, and mentor students.
Columbus College of Art & Design was established in 1879, making it one of the nation’s oldest private, nonprofit art and design schools. Serving more than 1,000 students, CCAD offers 11 BFA programs, one MFA degree, and one MPS.
Columbus College of Art & Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). CCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
34. Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) offers a BFA and a Minor in Animation and an MFA in Visual Studies. The MFA is an interdisciplinary and experimental program, which allows students to focus in one or more areas of interest. Examples include animation, experimental film and video, illustration, drawing and painting, comic arts, and web and multimedia, to name a few.
Other program highlights include some 50 private studios, smart classrooms, access to state-of-the-art production facilities, and a large gallery space. MCAD MFA students may also participate in the Master’s Trip to NYC, featuring visits to art and design venues, creative agencies, artist studios, and more.
The MCAD Minor in Animation covers traditional animation techniques, storytelling, compositing, and pre-production. Students will also learn how to use the latest industry software to create animations. Four classes are required to complete the program: Character Design, Drawing for Animators, Experimental Animation, and Storyboarding.
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design BFA in Animation has two tracks: 2D and 3D Animation. Both tracks require 12 credit hours of study within the 120 credit hours required to graduate. Students may focus in other areas through the programs 26 required studio electives. Course examples include 3D Rendering, Experimental Animation, Introduction to Filmmaking, Stop-Motion Animation, and Professional Practice.
Both BFA and MFA students may complete an internship and/or study abroad in places such as Italy, the UK, Germany, and Japan. Students have interned at Nickelodeon, MTV, Walker Art Center, Massachusetts Museum of Art, and more.
Potential careers for MCAD Animation and Visual Studies graduates include Background Animator, Character Developer, 3D Modeler/Animator, Pixel Artist, Special-Effects Animator, Storyboard Artist Inker/Opaquer/Checker, Producer, Project Manager, Film Editor, Stop-Motion Animator, and Writer, among others.
Established in 1886, Minneapolis College of Art and Design serves more than 800 students. The school offers 14 undergraduate majors leading to a BFA or BS, three MA programs, including the new MA in Creative Leadership (launching summer 2022), one MFA program, and five professional development certificate programs.
Minneapolis College of Art and Design is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). MCAD is also affiliated with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
35. College for Creative Studies, Detroit, Michigan (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The Entertainment Arts Program at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) offers an Animation Concentration within the BFA in Entertainment Art Program. One of the largest offerings at CCS, Entertainment Arts also offers concentrations in Digital Film, Concept Design, and Game Design. All concentration areas are STEM-designated.
Entertainment Art/Animation students may customize the curriculum by taking coursework from all concentration areas. Internships are strongly encouraged, and students are required to complete Writing Workshop and Senior Production Studio courses. Other course highlights include 3D Computer Graphics, Advanced Rendering Techniques, 2D Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Gesture Drawing, Computer Character Animation, Experimental Animation, and Stop Motion.
Graduates of the CCS Animation Program hold positions from Animator and Director to Rigger and VFX Artist. Companies that have hired College for Creative Studies graduates include ABC Television Group, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Disney, to name a few.
The College for Creative Studies was founded in 1906 as the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts. Serving more than 1,400 students, CCS offers more than 30 art and design programs at all degree levels. The College for Creative Studies is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and it is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
36. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University (FSU) offers a BFA in Animation and Digital Arts. Students spend their first year of the program completing general education requirements. For the remaining years of the program, students will immerse in 91 credit hours of study in the major.
Course highlights include Reality & Illusion in World Cinema, Motion Picture Editing, Story Development and Screenwriting, History & Practice of Visual Effects and Animation, Filmmaking, Lighting, Texturing and Rendering, and Professional Development. The FSU College of Motion Picture offers nearly 30 electives for the BFA program, allowing students to pursue a variety or interests. Examples include Documentary Filmmaking, Visual Effects, Screenwriting, Marketing and Exhibition, and Film Business.
Other program highlights include the opportunity to complete four major films, including the thesis film, small class sizes of no more than 15 student, and the chance to complete a professional internship. All FSU College of Motion Picture students may participate in the Torchlight Program, which provides instruction in the financing, marketing, and distribution of films.
Florida State University BFA graduates are prepared to seek positions in the film, television, and animation industries. Potential job titles include Animator, Effects Animator, Visual Effects Artist, CG Lighter, Animation Supervisor, Modeler, Animatics Supervisor, Rigger, and Storyboard Artist, to name a few.
Founded in 1851, Florida State University serves nearly 44,000 students enrolled in around 276 degree programs at all levels. One of the largest and oldest universities in Florida, FSU houses 16 colleges and schools at campuses across the state. Florida State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
37. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California (Top 20% of colleges considered)
The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) houses the Walter and Grace Lantz Undergraduate Animation Program, which offers a BA and a Minor in Animation. The BA is a four year program that requires 45 semester hours of study in upper division coursework. The Minor consists of 18 semester hours of study and is open to all LMU students, regardless of major.
The BA program requires a significant number of electives, allowing students to focus their studies in an area of interest. All students will learn about and complete projects in 3D filmmaking, visual effects, motion-capture, stop motion, and more. During the final year of the program, students will complete Animation Practicum and the Senior Thesis Project.
Graduates of the program are prepared for positions in animation, film, games, design, television, and more. Animation program alumni have worked on The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie, Wonder Woman, Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, and many others.
Loyola Marymount University was established in 1911. The school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled in 55 major and 59 minor undergraduate degrees and programs, 47 master's degree programs, one education doctorate, one doctorate in juridical science, one juris doctorate, and 13 credential programs. LMU programs are offered in seven colleges and schools.
Loyola Marymount University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
38. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Purdue University (Purdue) houses Purdue Polytechnic Institute—one of the 10 academic colleges at the university. Within the Institute is the Department of Computer Graphics Technology (CGT) which offers a BS in CGT with a Major in Animation or Animation and Visual Effects, an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, and a 5-Year BS/MS in Computer Graphics Technology. The CGT MS program participates in Purdue’s Computational Interdisciplinary Graduate Program.
The CGT BS in Animation program focuses on Character Rigging, Motion, Lighting, 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Texturing. Using the same software used in the animation industry, such as Maya and Autodesk, BS students will create animations, games, films, and more.
The CGT BS in Animation and Visual Effects covers Animation, Computer Rendering, Audio, Special Effects, Video, Digital Lighting, and more. Because Visual Effects at Purdue is a STEM-based discipline, students will take courses such as Physics, Calculus, and Trigonometry. The business side of the industry is also covered. This includes coursework in marketing, management, business writing, and entrepreneurship.
Graduates of Purdue University’s CGT BS in Animation and Animation and Visual Effects programs are routinely hired at studios such as Disney Animation and DreamWorks. Some graduates go on to teach at schools such as Animation Mentor.
The Purdue University MS in CGT provides study and training in Animation, Games, Information Visualization, and UX Design. A large number of course options allow students to concentrate in a specific area. Because CGT MS program is interdisciplinary, students have opportunities to take coursework across other Purdue graduate programs.
MS students wishing to focus in Animation may choose the Thesis or Non-Thesis option. Those in the Non-Thesis option will complete a Senior Capstone. Course samples for both options include The Art of Technology of Computer Animation, Visual Intelligence and Perception, The Development of Graphics in Technology, and Seminar in Computer Graphics Technology. Elective requirements also allow for the exploration of other areas.
Purdue University CGT MS alumni are Animators, Technical Directors, Digital Lighting Specialists, Simulation and Visualization Specialists, Riggers, Technical Artists, and more.
Students with a graduate degree from Purdue University or other schools are eligible to apply to the PhD in Technology Program. Also offered in Purdue Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology, the PhD program supports study and research in CGT, including Computer Animation, Game Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, User Experience (UX) Design, and other related areas.
Graduates of the CGT PhD Program at Purdue University go on to pursue careers in entertainment, academics, technology, government, and more.
Purdue University was established in 1869. The school serves nearly 50,000 students, with around 6,000 enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Purdue University offers more than 400 programs in 10 colleges and schools. Purdue Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1964 as Purdue University’s School of Technology. The Institute houses seven departments and schools offering dozens of technology-centered programs.
Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
39. The New School's Parsons School of Design, New York, New York (Top 20% of colleges considered)
Parsons School of Design is one of the seven colleges and schools of The New School Parsons (The New School). Program options for animators here include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology. The MFA is a STEM-designated, studio-based degree that requires on-campus study. Also a STEM-designated program, the BFA in Design and Technology focuses on interaction, storytelling, and emerging art and design practices. Specializations include Creative Technology or Game Design.
The New School also houses the School of Continuing & Professional Education, which offers a Certificate in Motion Design and Animation. This program can be taken alone or in combination with the BFA or MFA programs. Students in all programs have the opportunity to interact with and work on projects with professionals at places such as Nickelodeon, gameLab, Apple, Samsung, Atari, MTV, and many others.
Graduates of the BFA, MFA, and Certificate programs at The New School Parsons are prepared for success in a wide variety of roles in 2D and 3D animation, film and television/digital filmmaking, media art, advertising, game design, VR/AR, UI/UX, graphic arts, interaction design, software design, mobile and application design, web design, and more.
The New School Parsons was founded in 1896 as The Chase School. The school serves more than 10,000 students enrolled 100+ degree and diploma programs. The New School is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
40. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Denver, Colorado (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) has an animation program that enrolls more than 100 students. Degree options include BFAs in 2D and 3D Animation. The 2D Animation BFA is for students interested in traditional animation, while the 3D BFA emphasizes computer animation.
Students in both programs will take courses in the areas of 2D and 3D drawing, modeling, character design, storyboarding, and stop motion. While the RMCAD Animation BFAs are offered on-campus and online, campus-based students are required to take part in online education to experience learning in a virtual environment.
RMCAD Animation graduates will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their work. Alumni can be found at major studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Pixar.
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design began in 1963 as Rocky Mountain School of Art. Serving more than 1,000 students, RMCAD offers 16 degree and certificate programs offered in campus/hybrid and online formats. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). RMCAD is also an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
41. University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The School of Film at University of the Arts (UArts) encourages collaboration between schools, so animation students may also study acting, design, photography, and other disciplines. Program options for animators include BFA degrees in Animation and Film & Animation, and a Minor in Animation. The BFA program has three emphasis areas: Traditional 2-D Drawn/Digital Animation, 3-D Computer Animation, and Stop-Motion or Experimental Animation.
Students in all emphasis areas have opportunities to work with professionals and faculty associated with major studios and networks such as Disney Animation Studios, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, HBO, Cartoon Network, and Netflix. The curriculum for the programs combines a collaborative, hands-on teaching environment with internships at studios such as Augenblick, and study away experiences in places such as France and South Korea. Students will also participate in lectures, screenings, and formal critiquing sessions designed to evaluate their progress and work.
A major component of the Animation programs at University of the Arts is the Professional Practices class. This multifaceted course, which takes place in the final year of the program, includes guest speakers, personal branding development, mock interviews, social media strategies, design, and resume building. At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to display their final portfolio reels online.
The Animation Program at UArts also provides access to a 5,600-square-foot space known as the Center for Immersive Media (CIM), which allows students to explore other areas such as human-computer interaction (HCI), VR/AR, and performance motion-capture. In addition to CIM, animation students have unlimited access to computer labs and state-of-the-art animation, film, and stop-motion studios.
University of the Arts Animation graduates work in a wide range of positions. Examples include Character Animator, Effects Animator, Computer Animator, Scientific Animator, Forensics Animator, Clay/Puppet Animator, Director, Background Artist, Storyboard Artist, and Art Director.
Local companies that have hired UArts graduates include unPOP, Alkemy X, and Center City Film & Video. UArts alumni Also work at major studios and networks such as Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks, Netflix, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Google, and HBO.
Founded in 1876 as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of the Arts serves nearly 1,500 students enrolled in more than 40 degree programs in fine arts, design, media arts, dance, music, theater, and crafts. More than 20 minors are available and open to all students. UArts programs are offered in the Schools of Art, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Theater Arts, and Graduate and Professional Studies. University of the Arts is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
42. Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson University (Clemson) is home to School of Computing, which houses the Division of Visual Computing’s Digital Production Arts (DPA) Program. Pathways for animators include MFA and MS degrees in Digital Production Arts (MFA DPA, MS DPA).
A Digital Production Arts Minor is jointly offered by the Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, and the School of Computing. Launched in 2011 the Minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours of study.
Digital Production Arts at Clemson University encompasses dozens of disciplines. However, each DPA program pathway has its own learning objectives. The curriculum for the MFA DPA pathway blends computer science and engineering, psychology, graphic communications, art, philosophy, and performing arts. Course examples include Technical Character Animation, Physically Based Animation, Visual Foundations of Digital Production, 3D Modeling and Animation, and Special Effects compositing.
The 60 credit hour MFA DPA program at Clemson is the terminal degree in the field. Graduates are prepared for a range of roles in the film and animation, video, electronic gaming, and visual effects industries. Graduates have gone on to land positions at DreamWorks, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), ReelFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The MS DPA was established in 2017. The program focuses on the technical and visual effects aspects of film production, games, and commercial video. The program includes many of the same animation courses offered in the MFA program, which provides many opportunities for students to develop their animation skills. Other course highlights include Software Construction, Advanced Computer Graphics, Human and Computer Interaction (HCI), 2D Game Engine Design, and Virtual Reality. Six required electives allow students to explore areas such as improvisation, scene painting, audio engineering, visual narrative, photography, and drawing, to name a few.
In addition to technical roles in the animation industry, graduates of the Clemson University MS DPA Program can pursue positions such as Technical Director, 3D Graphics Programmer, Tool Builder, and Software Engineer, and VR Developer in the broad entertainment industry.
Clemson University began as Clemson Agricultural College in 1893. The school serves 27,350 students enrolled in more than 200 degree programs. An additional 90+ minors are available. Clemson University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
43. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has several animation programs offered in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, Department of Fine Arts (DFA) and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The School of Design-DFA offers a BA in Fine Arts. Studio course for the program emphasize animation, 3D modeling, video, and drawing among other disciplines. Course examples include Mixed Media Animation, Video, and Art, Design & Culture.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science houses the Digital Media Design Program. The School’s Bachelor’s in Engineering and Science (BSE) with a Digital Media Design Major (DMD) is one of the most popular options for animators. Launched in 1998, this interdisciplinary program allows for study in animation, games, interactive technologies, computer graphics, and the design of virtual reality design. Course examples include Computer Animation, Drawing Investigations, Interactive Computer Graphics, Advanced Rendering, and 3D Computer Modeling.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania also houses the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation (HMS), which offers an MS in Computer Graphics and Game Technology Program (CGGT). Established in 2004, the CGGT MS program offers the opportunity to specialize in Animation or Animation and Simulation Technology. The MS program prepares students for careers and entrepreneurship in Animation, Design, Directing, and Game Programming, among others.
UPenn CGGT and DMD graduates are routinely hired at Activision, Microsoft, Pixar, Zynga Games, Electronic Arts, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Walt Disney Animation, Sony, and DreamWorks Animation.
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is one of the nation’s oldest universities. Established in 1740, UPenn houses 189 research centers and institutes, 16 colleges and schools, and more than 400 programs. The school serves more than 28,000 students from across the U.S. and just about every continent. The University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
44. University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The College of Arts & Media (CAM) at University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the school’s Film and Television, Media Forensics, Music and Visual Arts programs. Within CAM is the Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC). Together, the VA and DAC offer a BFA in Visual Arts with an Emphasis in 3D Graphics and Animation.
This 120 credit hour program provides coursework and training that prepares students to work in film and animation, as well as science and medicine. Course examples include Dynamic Simulation, Environment Production, Surface Modeling, Character FX, Intro to Film, Character Creation, and Reproduction Look Development.
In the junior year of the program, students will begin an 18-month Capstone experience—the Senior Film. In collaboration with departments across CAM, animation students will work in all areas to create this final project. They will create sound, effects, storylines, soundtracks, motion graphics, and more. Students may also participate in the internship program during the final years of the BFA program.
Graduates of the CU Denver BFA in Visual Arts-3D Graphics and Animation, have produced films that have been screened in more than 300 film festivals in 22 countries. Graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.
University of Colorado Denver animation alumni are employed by major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts, to name a few.
University of Colorado Denver began in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school became CU Denver in 1973 making it an independent campus. Organized into eight colleges and schools, CU Denver serves a population of 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 academic degrees.
University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
45. Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Drexel University is home to Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, which houses the Digital Media Department (DMD). Programs for animators include the DMD BS, accelerated BS/MS, and 24 credit hour Minor in Animation & Visual Effects (VFX). MS and PhD degrees in Digital Media are also offered.
Thanks to Drexel’s elaborate cooperative (co-op) education program, students have opportunities to gain valuable hands-on experience prior to graduation. During the junior year of undergraduate programs, students will spend six months working full-time in the industry. Positions may be paid or unpaid. Accelerated BS/MS students will participate in three co-op experiences in the second, third, and fourth years of study.
The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) Program provides instruction and hands-on training in 3D modeling, character design, scripting and storytelling, motion capture, compositing, and rigging. Students apply the skills they have learned to co-op positions in animation, VFX, technical direction, and 3D at Cartoon Network, Pixar, Sony Studios, FuseFX, and MediaKraft TV, among others.
The MS in Digital Media at Drexel University is a two-year program that focuses on research and medias applications. Ares explored include animation, gaming and digital media history, 3D modeling, and interactivity. Students in the program will complete several projects that may be independent, industry-sponsored, student-created or faculty-approved. Past projects have focused on advanced animation production techniques, narrative comics, animation design, video games, and more.
The PhD is a research-driven degree program that operates in an experiential learning environment. Besides entertainment, PhD students may conduct research in business, engineering, health, education, or other areas. Drexel University programs are offered online, on campus or in hybrid format.
Graduates of the Westphal Animation/VFX and Digital Media programs at Drexel University have landed positions at leading companies such as Disney, DreamWorks, Microsoft, XBOX, NCSoft Corp., Pixar, and many others.
Drexel University was established in 1891 as Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry. The school serves close to 23,600 students, enrolled in more than 200 degree programs in 15 colleges and schools. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The Animation & Visual Effects (VFX) and Digital Media Programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Arts & Design (NASAD).
46. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School), Orlando, Florida (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) has several programs for animators looking to enter the entertainment industry. Options include Visual Effects Production (VFX), Motion Graphics, Game Production, and Virtual Production. Programs lead to a Diploma or a bachelor’s degree.
DAVE School Diploma programs take 12 or 18 months to complete, and bachelor’s degree programs may be completed in 32 or 36 months. Through electives, students in all programs have the opportunity to learn and work in animation. Students will master industry software such as After Effects, Maya, and Unreal Engine, while immersing in the production process from start to finish.
Course examples across all programs include 3D Animation, 3D Animation for Motion Graphics, Level Design, Dynamics and Visual Effects for Motion Graphics, Digital Compositing, Character, Prop and Environment Modeling, and Rotoscoping. Students will also learn the basics of creating a start-up.
Student in all DAVE School programs will build a demo reel and create a portfolio. Programs are offered in a hybrid format where student will complete the program virtually and via studio residencies at the Orlando campus. Residencies take place in a collaborative studio environment.
Graduates of the Digital Animation & Visual Effects School go on to establish freelance careers, start their own studios, or work with major studios.
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School was founded in 2000. Located on the backlot of Universal Studios, Florida, The DAVE School is an academic unit of NUC University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MCSHE).
47. Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri (Top 25% of colleges considered)
The BFA in Animation program at Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) is housed in the newly renovated Tony Jones Studios for Animation and Illustration and is one of the fasted growing majors at the college. Animation students may also declare a double major or minor in Art History or Creative Writing or minor in Entrepreneurial Studies, Social Practice, or Sound.
Animation BFA course highlights include Digital Methods, Explorations in Animation, Contemporary Animation History, and Ideas in Motion. Elective options for the KCAI Animation BFA run the gamut from Documentary and Narrative Storytelling to The Art of Stop Motion Puppetry and Filmmaking and Animation. The Professional Practice course, taken during students’ senior year at KCAI, allows them to interact and network with industry professionals, visiting artists, and scholars.
During the final year of the program, students will engage in two six-credit studios, where they will have the opportunity to conceptualize and produce an animated work. Students may also complete an internship at a local or national studio.
Many graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute BFA in Animation program go on to pursue advanced degrees at top institutions such as the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts), School of Visual Art New York (SVA NY), and University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). Others have secured positions at major studios and networks such as Bazillion Pictures, Digital Domain, Disney, Hallmark, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Plympton Studios, Titmouse, and Warner Brothers, among others.
Kansas City Art Institute was established in 1885. The school serves more than 700 students and offers 13 different majors. Kansas City Art Institute is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). KCAI is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and is a member institution of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
48. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Top 25% of colleges considered)
Arizona State University (ASU) offers several programs for animators across several institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the School of Art, and the Schools of Arts, Media and Engineering, and Music, Dance and Theatre. The Design School, The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, and the ASU Art Museum are also housed in the Institute.
The ASU Herberger Institute School of Art offers 18 major degrees including 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs. Minors are offered in Studio Art and Art History. Programs for animators include a BFA in Art with a Concentration in Animation and an Art MFA. The ASU Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering offers a BA in Digital Culture. An interdisciplinary, 21 credit hour undergraduate Minor, and an 18 credit hour Certificate in Digital Culture are also available.
The BFA in Art with a Concentration in Animation consists of 120 credit hours of study. Elective options allow students to gain experience in other areas such as game engine development, photography, or visual effects. Other program highlights include internship opportunities and the Animation Capstone, which leads to an independent short film, or a full-length film produced as a team.
Art MFA students have the opportunity to complete projects in a discipline of their choice in their own private studios. Other program highlights include visiting artist lectures, workshops, and teaching opportunities.
Graduates of the Arizona State University Herberger Art programs work in animation and film, games and game development, cinema and television, AR/VR, illustration, robotics, medical illustration, scientific and data visualization, fine arts and many other areas. ASU alumni are Animators, Creative Directors, Graphic Artists, Multimedia Designers, and Art Directors, among others.
The BA in Digital Culture offered in the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering provides animation coursework that allows students to create a focus. Course options include, but are not limited to, Animating Virtual Worlds, Introduction to Computer Animation, 2D Digital Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Stop Motion Animation, Experimental Video Art, 3D Tools, Introduction to Animation for Film, and Motion Graphics & Animation.
Graduates of the ASU BA in Digital Culture have opportunities to work in animation and film, gaming and entertainment, media arts, computing, and communications, among others.
In early 2021, Arizona State University announced that enrollment at the school would be more than 134,500 undergraduate and graduate students for the fall semester. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses and 800 degree programs in 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
49. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The University of Florida (UF) houses the College of the Arts, home to the Digital Worlds Institute. Founded in 2001, the Institute is a partnership between seven UF colleges that focuses on advanced media systems by combining engineering, science, communications, and art.
The Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida offers two programs for animators—a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS) and a DAS Minor.
BADAS students benefit from the project-based learning environment which allows them to gain hands-on experience and team-building skills. Electives are offered in three areas: Animation, Game Design, and Experience Design & Production. Students may choose coursework in one or more of these areas based on their interests and goals. They may also take electives outside of the BADAS Program. The remaining courses for the program are in the BADAS cores and general education (30%).
BADAS core courses cover areas such as 2D and 3D animation, mobile games, design and production, digital visualization, game content creation, digital storytelling, writing for interactive media, and digital technologies. All students must complete the senior project and a portfolio. Independent study, an internship, and production practicum are optional.
Graduates of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida have been hired at major studios and companies such as DreamWorks Animation and Microsoft. Many UF alumni have also gone on to launch their own start-ups.
University of Florida was founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy. When it opened, the Academy has just a few students. Today, UF serves nearly 58,000 students enrolled in more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs in 14 colleges and schools. The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
50. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Top 30% of colleges considered)
The Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) offers BS degrees in Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CE), and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in CSE. Students in these highly interdisciplinary programs have the unique opportunity to study animation through a variety of elective options and three labs including the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and Animation Research Labs (ARL). Collectively, the Labs at UW engage in animation, graphics, visualization, computer game science, and vision.
Possible course options for the UW BS, PhD, and PMP programs include Computer Animation, Advanced Digital Design, Digital Sound, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Graphics, and Data Visualization.
Serving more than 1,500 students, the University of Washington Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering has an active study abroad program that provides the opportunity to study at four partner universities: ETH Zurich, and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland; Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany; and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
Allen School students may also fulfill elective and general education requirements through hundreds of other study abroad options.
Graduates of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington are routinely hired by some of the world’s biggest companies. Top UW employers include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Amazon, to name a few.
Established in 1861, the University of Washington serves around 57,300 students across campuses in Seattle (main), Bothell, and Tacoma, Washington. The school offers more than 300 programs and 570+ degree options in 18 colleges and schools. The University of Washington is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). Engineering at the University is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).