What are the top animation school programs in Arizona for 2024?

Top Arizona Animation School Programs - 2024 College Rankings
1Arizona State UniversityTempe
2University of Advancing TechnologyTempe
3Grand Canyon UniversityPhoenix
4Embry-Riddle Aeronautical UniversityPrescott

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth 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 several institutes, departments, and schools. The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts houses the School of Art; the School of Arts, Media and Engineering; the Design School; The Sidney Poitier New American Film School; ASU FIDM; the School of Music, Dance and Theater; and the ASU Art Museum.

The Herberger School of Art provides 13 undergraduate programs and five graduate programs. Minors are provided in Art History and Studio Art. Pathways for animators include the 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 is available, as well as an 18 credit hour Digital Culture certificate. 

The Art BFA with a concentration in Animation consists of 120 credit hours of study. Course examples include The Art Experience; 3D Computer Imaging and Animation; Illustration; Animation Motion Studies; Storyboarding and Narrative Sequencing; and Junior Animation Projects I-II. Elective options for this program allow students to gain experience in other areas such as visual effects (VFX), game art and graphics, stop motion animation, screenwriting, prototyping, and experimental video art.

Other BFA program benefits include internship opportunities and the Animation Capstone completed across two courses. This culminating experience for the program consists of an independent short film or a full-length film produced as a team.

Art MFA students at ASU Herberger have the opportunity to complete projects in a discipline of their choice. Examples include animation, drawing and painting, intermedia, printmaking, and photography. All MFA students have access to private, state-of-the-art studio space at Grant Street Studios. Located in downtown Phoenix, the facility is also home to several galleries and resources such as a computer lab and 3D print lab, printmaking presses, and a photography darkroom. Other program highlights include workshops, visiting artist lectures; and teaching opportunities.

The Art MFA program at Arizona State University culminates in a solo thesis exhibition in Step Gallery, Northlight Gallery, or Harry Wood Gallery. All galleries are part of the School of Art.

Graduates of the Art BFA/Animation and MFA programs at Arizona State University are professionals in a range of creative, technical, and scientific industries. Examples include animation and film, robotics, medical illustration, scientific and data visualization, games and game development, cinema and television, AR/VR, illustration, and fine arts. ASU alumni hold titles such as Animators, Creative Director, VFX Artist, Multimedia Designer, Art Director, and Graphic Artist.

The Digital Culture BA in the Herberger School of Arts, Media and Engineering features many courses that allow students to focus in animation. Examples include Introduction to Computer Animation, Motion Graphics & Animation, Animating Virtual Worlds, 2D Digital Animation, Stop Motion Animation, 3D Computer Imaging and Animation, Experimental Video Art, Introduction to Animation for Film, and 3D Tools.

Graduates of the Digital Culture BA at Arizona State University have opportunities to work in areas such as animation and film, media arts, gaming and entertainment, computing, and communications.

Arizona State University opened on Feb. 8, 1886 as Territorial Normal School (TNS)—the state’s first higher education institution. On the first day of class, TNS welcomed 33 students to a four-classroom building in Tempe, Arizona. Today, ASU serves 145,655 students from across the U.S. and nearly 160 other countries. More than 800 degree programs are provided across four campuses, 16 colleges and schools, and ASU Online. Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Engineering at ASU is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

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 provides the opportunity to work in real game production environments alongside designers and programmers. Consisting of 120 credit hours, the program features immersive courses that teach students how to create 2D and 3D art and animation for PC, VR/AR, console, mobile, and online games.

Course examples for the program include Environmental and FX Animation; Digital Video and Animation, UI Design and Animation; Character and Vehicle Animation; Game Art and Animation; Visual Effects Compositing; Virtual Reality World Build; Storyboarding; VR/AR User Experience Design; and Production Studio. Featuring five-week modules taken one at a time, a Synchronic Learning model, and mentored education, the UAT GAA program also requires completion of a three credit hour 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 program at University of Advancing Technology are prepared to pursue roles in all areas of animation and game design. Examples include Senior Animator, Art Director, Character Animator, Texture Artist, Environment Animator, Game Artist, and Storyboard Artist.

University of Advancing Technology is a private, family-owned, 100% STEM-based University that provides more than 20 technology degree programs. Founded in 1983 as the CAD Institute, UAT serves more than 1,000 students from the U.S. and overseas. University of Advancing Technology 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) houses the Digital Design BA with an Animation emphasis. Provided online and on campus, this 120 credit hour program explores animation techniques, storytelling, and the design process in a hands-on learning environment. Most of the required courses for the program are in the major.

Course examples include Production Methods; Effective Communication; 2D Motion Design; Designing with Type; Raster and Vector Technologies; Creative Processes; 3D Motion Design; Design Thinking; Advanced Motion Design 1-3; Interface Design: User Experience; Layout and Composition; History of Design; and Motion Technologies.

GCU Digital Design students will also complete 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. In addition, Digital Design students will complete two portfolio courses designed to help them secure an internship. The final portfolio course is also designed to prepare students for employment in the industry or to pursue a graduate degree.

Other program features include professional critiques; the opportunity to partake in Design United; travel to Phoenix Design Week; and participation Grand Canyon University Senior Showcase. The Showcase is the required Capstone for all GCU Digital Design majors.

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

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 25,800 students enrolled in approximately 320 academic programs across nine colleges. An additional 92,000 students are enrolled online, with access to 260+ online programs. Roughly half of GCU’s online students study at the graduate level. Grand Canyon University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1968.

4. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Embry-Riddle) is home to the Department of Simulation Science, Games, and Animation (SSGA). Within the SSGA Department is a BS program with a specialization in 3D Animation & Programming. With access to the state-of-the-art SSGA Lab, the BS provides STEM- and project-based production courses that allow students to work in teams to design animations, virtual worlds, user experiences, simulations, and more.

Course examples for the program include 3D Animation; Games Systems; World Building; Artificial Intelligence; Interactive Media; Game Engine Architecture; Mixed Reality; and Systems Simulation. Students in this 125 credit hour program will also complete a final project across two Capstone courses during their senior year.

Graduates of the Embry-Riddle SSGA BS program are prepared to pursue positions in gaming, animation, virtual training, software development, military and intelligence, education, healthcare, aviation, and high-tech manufacturing.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University alumni have been hired at places such as Blizzard Entertainment, Boeing, Microsoft, the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, ForgeFX Simulations, Mass Virtual, Win Reality Training Platform (baseball and softball), Police Training Simulations, Super League Gaming, and Iridium Satellite Communications.

Founded in 1925 as the Embry-Riddle Company, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University enrolled more than 31,300 students in the 2022-23 academic year. With campuses in Prescott, Arizona and Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Embry-Riddle Online Worldwide Campus, the school provides 100+ degrees at all levels in aviation; applied science; business; computers and technology; engineering; security, intelligence and safety; and space. EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).