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

Top Colorado Animation School Programs - 2024 College Rankings
1University of Colorado DenverDenver
2Rocky Mountain College of Art + DesignDenver
3Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand Junction

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth 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 (DAV), home to the 3D Graphics and Animation emphasis. Offered within the Visual Arts BFA, the emphasis consists of 75 credit hours.  Course examples include Dynamic Simulation; Creating Visual Story – Narrative Techniques and Visual Design; Digital Cinematography; International Perspectives through Animation; and Production I-III.

Students in this program will learn and create in the DAC, with access to other CAM centers such as the Comcast Media and Technology Center (CMTC). The DAC is a state-of-the-art facility that focuses on collaboration. Students here have access to over 100 workstations; a large volume Vicon motion capture system; and a dedicated tender farm with more than 4,300 cores. Industry standard 3D software includes Houdini, Maya, and Zbrush.

The CMTC is a transdisciplinary center for innovation that focuses on research and development. The CMTC is a partnership between CAM and the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). Other 3D Graphics and Animation program benefits include internship opportunities at major studios and study abroad experiences in places such as France, Italy, Greece, Sout Korea, and the UK.

CU Denver CAM students have interned with studios, productions, and organizations such as Pixar Animation Studios, NBC Universal, Walt Disney Animation Studios; AMC's The Walking Dead, The Denver Art Museum, and High Noon Entertainment.

In the third year of the 3D Graphics and Animation program at CU Denver, 3D Graphics and Animation students will begin their 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.

To date, graduates have produced films that have been screened at more than 300 film festivals across 22 countries. Program graduates have also won more than 75 Best Animated Short awards in non-student categories. CU Denver Animation alumni work in a variety of roles at major studios such as Pixar, Sony, and LucasArts.

University of Colorado Denver opened in 1912 as an extension of the University of Colorado Boulder. The school became the University of Colorado Denver Center in 1965, and CU Denver in 1973, making it an independent campus. Organized into seven colleges and schools, University of Colorado Denver serves more than 15,000 students enrolled in approximately 115 degree programs. University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) has a collaborative Animation program that requires all on-campus students to participate in online learning. Consisting of 123 credit hours completed over four years, this BFA program has options in both 2D and 3D Animation. Each option requires 27 credit hours.

Designed for students interested in traditional animation, the 2D option also requires 21 credits in Animation and six Studio elective credits. With a focus on computer animation, the 3D option requires 18 credits in Animation and nine in Studio electives.

All students must complete the Liberal Arts Curriculum which emphasizes global consciousness, information literacy, and critical awareness. Across options, students will explore Storyboarding; Observational Drawing; Character Design; Animation; Texture Mapping; Modeling; and Line of Action.

Graduates of the Animation programs at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design will leave the program with a professional portfolio of their best work. Program alumni are prepared for roles such as Animator, Story Artist, 3D Modeler, Texture Artist, 3D Artist, and Lighting Artist. Graduates have been hired at major networks and studios such as Pixar, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

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

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) is home to the Department of Art & Design. Within the department is an interdisciplinary Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design (AFP&MD) program that leads to a BFA. Major components of this professional degree program include studio-based, hands-on courses; collaborative projects; and field trips to local and national companies and studios.

Other program benefits include unlimited access to several labs, two stop-motion studios, and a photography studio); membership in the Photography Club (AMP); and study abroad in places such as Peru.

Course examples for the CMU AFP&MD BFA program include Animation Production; Character Design and Story Concepts; Advanced Filmmaking; Lights! Camera! Action!; Sound Design and Post-Production; Advanced Motion Studio; and Animation, Film, and Photography Studio I-II. The required 20 elective credit hours for the program provide the opportunity to enhance the degree.

The AFP&MD BFA program at Colorado Mesa University culminates with the production of a demo reel, portfolio, resume, and promotional materials that can be used to enter the animation and film industries. Before graduation, students will present their best work to faculty and peers.     

Founded in 1925, Colorado Mesa University began as a junior college with just 39 students. Today, CMU serves approximately 10,140 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).