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

Top Colorado Animation School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1University of Colorado DenverDenver
2Rocky Mountain College of Art + DesignDenver
3Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand Junction

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

1. University of Colorado-Denver, Denver, Colorado
University of Colorado Denver

The College of Arts & Media (CAM) at University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) houses the Department of Visual Arts (VA) and the Digital Animation Center (DAC). Together, the VA Department and DAC manage the Visual Arts BFA Program. Student who would like to study animation can enroll in the 3D Graphics and Animation Emphasis Area.

This 120 credit hour program includes courses such as Animation Foundations, Digital Cinematography, 2D Design, Advanced Character Animation, 3D, Advanced Character FX, Production I-II, Lighting & Rendering, Surface Modeling, and Reproduction Look Development. In the junior year of the program, VA BFA 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 program.

Graduates of the CU Denver VA BFA with 3D Graphics and Animation have produced films that have been screened at more than 300 film festivals in 22 countries. Program graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories.

University of Colorado Denver animation alumni are employed in a variety of positions at major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts.

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 15,000 students enrolled in more than 110 academic degrees. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Denver, Colorado
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

The Animation Program at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) has two options: 2D Animation and 3D Animation. Leading to a BFA, both programs require courses in the areas of 2D and 3D drawing, modeling, character design, line of action, storyboarding, and stop motion. However, the 2D Animation BFA is designed for students interested in traditional animation, while the 3D BFA emphasizes computer animation.

While both the 2D and 3D Animation Programs 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 best work. Program alumni have been hired at major networks and studios such as Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Pixar, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. Alumni are Animators, Story Artists, 3D Modelers, Texture Artists, Lighting Artists, and 3D Artists, among others. 

Rocky Mountain College of Art and 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 and Design 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).

3. Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado Mesa University

The Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design (AFP&MD) Program at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is part of the school’s Department of Art & Design. This cross-disciplinary BFA Program features hands-on practice, collaborative projects, membership in the Photography Club (AMP), travel opportunities, and field trips. Students have participated in local and national experiences, as well as international trips to places such as Peru.

Students in the AFP&MD BFA Program will complete studio courses such as Advanced Motion Studio, and AFP&MD Studio, along with other courses such as Principles of Animation, Lights! Camera! Action!, 3D Digital Modeling, Animation Production, Character Design and Story Concepts, 2D Animation and Motion Design, Image and Motion, Animation, Film, and Photography Studio, Advanced Motion Studio, Advanced Filmmaking, and Sound Design and Post-Production.  

All CMU Department of Art & Design students have unlimited access to several labs, two stop-motion studios, and a photography studio.

In the final year of the AFP&MD BFA at CMU, students will produce a demo reel, portfolio, resume, and promotional materials. Before graduation, students will present their best work at an exhibition for students and faculty.   

Founded as Grand Junction Junior College in 1925, Colorado Mesa University opened with just 39 students. Today, CMU serves 10,835 students, enrolled in more than 100 undergraduate programs leading to a certificate, associate, bachelor's, or master’s degree. Colorado Mesa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).