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

Top Oregon Animation School Programs - 2024 College Rankings
1Willamette UniversitySalem
2Western Oregon UniversityMonmouth
3George Fox UniversityNewberg

Our 2024 ranking -our thirteenth annual- of the top animation school programs in Oregon. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
Willamette University

Willamette University (Willamette U) is home to the College of Arts and Sciences, and Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). Both provide paths to study animation. The College of Arts and Sciences has a multidisciplinary Arts, Technology and Multimedia minor that can be taken alone or with any major at Willamette U/PNCA. Consisting of 20 semester hours of study, the program draws coursework from the Departments of Art, Art History, Film Studies, Computer Science, Music, Theatre, Sociology, and Philosophy.

Course examples for the program include 3D Animation; Computer Graphics; Advanced 3D Animation; Introduction to 4D Art; Media, Technology, and Society; Video Art; Images and Imagination; and Digital Music Techniques. Throughout the program, students will engage in several collaborative projects. Depending on whether the minor is taken as a supplement to a degree program, students will have opportunities to complete an internship and study abroad experience.

Pacific Northwest College of Art has an Animated Arts BFA that requires 120 credit hours of study. During the first two years of the program, students will learn about the history of animated arts and take beginning and intermediate courses. Examples include Animation I-II; Basic Drawing; Theory & Practice; Perspectives on Society & Culture; Beginning Video; Visual Elements; Beginning Sound; Digital Tools; and 3D Design.

In the third and fourth years, students will take advanced courses such as Animated Installation; Social Service Seminar; Research for Creative Practice; Professional Practices; and Animated Short Film. A number of seminars and studio electives are part of the program, as well as internships and opportunities to work on projects for real clients. Animated Arts BFA students have gained experience through internships with (or working on projects for) LAIKA Studios, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), NW International Animation Festival, Oregon Jewish Museum, and Design Week Portland.

The Animated Arts BFA program at Pacific Northwest College of Art culminates with the Media Arts Thesis, produced in collaboration with faculty, classmates, and a mentor. Graduates go on to become Animators, Art Directors, Character Designers, Visual Development Artists, Effects Animators, Modelers, Compositors, and Storyboard Artists.

Willamette University was established in 1842, making it the oldest university in the West. This liberal arts college serves approximately 1,870 students enrolled in dozens of programs across the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Law, Pacific Northwest College of Art, and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Willamette University and PNCA merged in 2021.

PNCA, which remains an independent college within Willamette, was established in 1909. Serving around 650 students, the school provides 11 BFA degrees, eight minors, and eight MA and MFA degrees within the PNCA Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies.

Willamette University and Pacific Northwest College of Art are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). PNCA is also a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

2. Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon
Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University (WOU) has several paths to study animation. Options include the Creative Production BA; the Film Studies minor with a Production track; and BA and BFA degrees in Art and Design. The Creative Production BA is a multidisciplinary, collaborative program that provides access to facilities such as the Q-Loop and Video Production Learning Lab; Studio 230 and Recording Lab; and Art and Design Digital Labs and classrooms.

Consisting of 73 credits in the major, the Creative Production BA explores Digital Art and Design, Computer Science, Audio Production, Critical Thinking, and Information Science. Course examples for the program include Video and Animation I-II; Introduction to Film; Python Programming; Art and Design for the Internet; Scriptwriting; Perl Programming; Music Performance – Audio Production; Interactive Media: Applied; Art and Technology Workshop; Introduction to Multimedia Programming; Advertising and Society; Fundamentals of Web Design; JavaScript; and Integrating Writing and Design.

The Film Studies minor at Western Oregon University requires 27 credit hours, with a minimum of eight credits in the Production track. Students will take core courses such as Critical Media Analysis and Introduction to Film. Elective examples include Video and Animation I-II; Scriptwriting; Digital Art and Design; Digital Music Production; Interactive Media: Applied; and the Creative Production Capstone.

Across programs, students have opportunities to complete an internship and/or study abroad experience; participate in student clubs and organizations; and exhibit work at Western Oregon University’s Cannon Art Gallery.

The Art and Design programs at Western Oregon University allow students to focus in any area through electives. The BFA allows up to 52 credit hours of electives and the BA allows up to 36 elective credit hours. Art and Design BA students can also concentrate in Visual Communication Design, which allows 12 credit hours of electives. The concentration also consists of courses such as Video and Animation I; Art and Design for the Internet; Creativity and the Idea Generation; and Digital Images and Photography.

All Art and Design students have the opportunity to complete a Gallery Internship, participate in the study abroad program, and present work at WOU’s Cannon Art Gallery.

BA students will complete the Portfolio and Professional preparation course as the culminating experience for the program. BFA students have the option to complete the Professional Concerns course (which focuses on career preparation, business practices, and portfolio development for presentation), or the Portfolio and Professional preparation course as the culminating experience for the program.

Graduates of the Production, Film, and Art and Design programs at Western Oregon University are prepared to pursue careers in animation for film, television, and games; forensic, scientific, and medical animation; animation for advertising and marketing; architectural animation; animations for simulations; animation for education and job training; and animation for multimedia.

Founded in 1856 as Monmouth University, Western Oregon University is the state’s oldest public university. The school serves approximately 3,950 students enrolled in more than 100 programs across the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the College of Education. Western Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

3. George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon
George Fox University

Students at George Fox University have the unique opportunity to spend a semester in Hollywood through the LA Film Studies Center (LAFSC). Open to all upper-division students, the Hollywood Semester consists of seminars, courses, and internships in different areas of the film industry. Courses such as Narrative Storytelling, Faith and Artistic Development, and Professional Screenwriting are often held on working studio lots. Courses are also led by industry professionals from Apple TV+, NBCUniversal, and MarVista Entertainment (a FOX Entertainment company).

Past Hollywood Semester students have interned at The Geena Davis Institute, AbelCine, Hollywood Prayer Network, Butter, Anaheim Studios, and HollyShorts Film Festival.

While the Hollywood Semester is open to all George Fox students who qualify, it is ideal for students in the Cinematic Arts BA program. In addition to the Hollywood Semester, students in this program have opportunities to travel to Utah to screen films and learn about independent filmmaking at Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The trip also provides the opportunity to participate in the Windrider Forum organized by the Fuller Theological Seminary. The forum explores questions and themes of faith and film.

Other BA program benefits include small class sizes; hands-on projects and courses; access to state-of the-art production facilities, labs, and studios in the Cinematic Arts Building; and the chance to present works at the Annual Fox Film Festival in Newberg.

Cinematic Arts BA students can also concentrate in one of three areas including Animation, Film and Video Production, or Audio Production. Across concentrations, students will explore all areas of animation including storyboarding, concept design, stop-motion animation, 2D & 3D animation, and visual effects (VFX).

George Fox Cinematic Arts students will also learn about cinematic camera movement and filming techniques; create film sound effects; edit for television and film; write an original script for a television series, short, or feature film; direct actors; study film history and cinematographic theory; and design projects with virtual reality, augmented reality, and emerging technologies.

The culminating experience for the Cinematic Arts BA program at George Fox University is the final portfolio that can be used to enter competitions; the animation, film, and other industries; and/or graduate school. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue professions such as Animator, Game Artist, Special Effects Editor, Director, Motion Graphics Artist, Screenwriter, and UX/UI Designer. 

With approximately 4,100 students, George Fox University is the largest private university in the state. The school serves approximately 4,085 students enrolled in more than 80 degree programs. Founded in 1891, this nonprofit Christian institution operates across four campuses in Newberg (main), Portland, Salem, and Redmond, Oregon. George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).