What are the top animation school programs in Arizona for 2023?

Top Arizona Animation School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Arizona State UniversityTempe
2University of Advancing TechnologyTempe
3Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix

Our 2023 ranking -our twelfth annual- of the top animation school programs in Arizona. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) provides several paths to study animation across a number of institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the Schools of Art; Arts, Media and Engineering; and Music, Dance and Theatre; The Design School; The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; and the ASU Art Museum.

The School of Art provides 13 undergraduate and five graduate programs. Minors are offered in Studio Art and Art History. Pathways for animators include am Art BFA with a Concentration in Animation and an Art MFA. The ASU Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering houses the Digital Culture BA Program. An interdisciplinary, 21 credit hour undergraduate Minor, and an 18 credit hour Certificate in Digital Culture are also available.  

The Art BFA 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, visual effects (VFX), or photography. Other program benefits 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.

ASU Herberger graduates 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, VFX Artists, Graphic Artists, Multimedia Designers, and Art Directors, among others.

The Digital Culture BA in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering features a number of courses that allow students to focus in animation. Examples include 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.

Arizona State University serves approximately 140,760 students, making it one of the largest universities in the U.S. Founded in 1885 as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, ASU has four campuses that provide 800 fully accredited degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, Arizona
University of Advancing Technology

University of Advancing Technology (UAT) has a Game Art and Animation (GAA) Program that features five-week modules taken one at a time, a Synchronic Learning model, and mentored education. Students in this 120 credit hour program will learn how to create 2D and 3D art and animation for VR/AR and online, console, PC and mobile games.

Course examples for the program include Digital Video and Animation, Game Art and Animation, Character and Vehicle Animation, Visual Effects Compositing, Environmental and FX Animation, UI Design and Animation, Storyboarding, VR/AR User Experience Design, Virtual Reality World Build, and Production Studio.

As part of the University Core, UAT Game Art and Animation students must complete at least three credit hours in an internship and Student Innovation Project courses I-III. Though not required, courses such as Digital Asset Creation, Java Programming, and Introduction to AI and Analytics are highly recommended. Students can complete the UAT Game Art and Animation BA in eight semesters.

Graduates of the Game Art and Animation BA at University of Advancing Technology work in a variety of roles in all areas of game design and animation. Examples include Character Animator, Texture Artist, Art Director, Storyboard Artist, Environment Animator, and Game Artist.

University of Advancing Technology is a 100% STEM-based, private, family-owned University that serves more than 1,000 students enrolled in over 20 technology degree programs. Founded in 1983 as the CAD Institute, UAT is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

3. Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Arizona
Grand Canyon University

The College of Arts and Media at Grand Canyon University (GCU) has a Digital Design Program with an Animation Emphasis Area. Offered online and on campus, the program  guides students through the design process, storytelling, and animation techniques in a hands-on learning environment. The bulk of the 120 required credit hours are in the major. Course examples include 2D Motion Design, Designing with Type, Motion Technologies, Layout and Composition, Interface Design, Creative Processes, and 3D Motion Design.

The curriculum also requires the completion Design Professionalism—a four credit hour course that delves into personal branding and marketing, ethical and legal issues, project management, teamwork, networking, the industry landscape, and more. Digital Design students will also complete two portfolio courses designed to help them secure an internship. The final portfolio course is designed to prepare students for employment in the industry or to pursue a graduate degree.

Other program benefits include professional critiques and opportunities to participate in Design United, Phoenix Design Week, and the Senior Showcase. The Showcase is the required Capstone for all Design majors.

Graduates of the Digital Design BA: Animation at Grand Canyon University go on to establish careers in animation, film, television, advertising, game design, and multimedia art. The Digital Design Program also prepares students to pursue careers in art and design education, animation for architecture, scientific animation, forensic animation, and medical animation, among others.

Grand Canyon University was chartered in 1949 as Grand Canyon College. This private, Christian university opened with just 100 students and 16 faculty members. Today, GCU serves 25,000 students enrolled in more than 275 programs in nine colleges. An additional 90,000 student are enrolled online, with roughly half of those studying at the graduate level. Grand Canyon University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1968.