What are the top animation school programs in Tennessee for 2022?

Top Animation School Programs in Tennessee - 2022 College Rankings
1East Tennessee State UniversityJohnson City
2Middle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboro
3Lipscomb UniversityNashville

Our 2022 ranking -our eleventh annual- of the top animation school programs in Tennessee. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.

1. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee
East Tennessee State University

The College of Business and Technology at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) houses the Digital Media Department. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the Department offers a Digital Media Minor and a Major leading to a BS in Digital Media.

The Digital Media Minor is a 24 credit hour program that requires Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, Visualization, and Digital Game Design courses. Students may choose up to eight elective credits to complete the program.

The Digital Media Major consists of 120 credit hours of study. A Digital Animation Concentration is available. Digital Media students will complete 35 credit hours of study in the Digital Media Core and 28 credit hours of study in the Digital Animation Concentration. The Department encourages students to select courses in additional areas such as scripting, digital film, or digital media production.

The following are just a few course titles for the program: Principles of Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Motion Graphics, and Digital Game Design, 3D Animation, Effects Animation, Character Animation, Technical Direction, High-Fidelity Modeling for Entertainment, Visual Effects Compositing, and Raster-Based Imaging. Digital Media students will also complete several projects and a professional portfolio of their work through the final course in the program—Portfolio Development for Digital Media.

Graduates of the ETSU BS Digital Media/Digital Animation Concentration are well-positioned for careers in 2D or 3D animation, technical direction, motion graphics, or character animation, among others. Graduates are also prepared to pursue an advanced degree at ETSU or other university.

East Tennessee State University offers an MFA in Digital Media. While the program does not have an official focus in animation, students may complete 12 credit hours of study in any area, to create a specialization. The culminating experience for the MFA program is the development of a final body of work in digital media.

East Tennessee State University was established in 1911 as East Tennessee State Normal School. The school serves around 13,120 students enrolled in 140 academic programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. ETSU programs are housed in eleven colleges and schools.

2. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
 Middle Tennessee State University

The College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) houses the Department of Media Arts, which offers a BS in Animation. A 17 credit hour Minor in Animation is also available.  

The 120 credit hour Animation BS Program requires an Art or Interactive/Illustration Minor worth 18 credits. Major requirements consist of 58 credit hours of study including the College Core (nine hours) and the Major (49).  Courses such as Scripts for Media, Ethics and Law for Visual Communication, and Free Expression, Mass Media, and the American Public may count towards the required 41 General Education credits. 

In the Animation area, students can expect to take courses such as Animation and Performance, Basic Video Production, Motion Graphics, Professional Practices in Animation, Texturing, Lighting, and Rendering, and Digital Compositing. An Animation Capstone is also part of the program. This final student project will consist of an original animated short film that will be submitted to film and animation festivals locally, nationally, and around the world.

Graduates of the Animation BS Program at Middle Tennessee State University are prepared to seek careers in animated and feature films, documentary filmmaking, television, and education (productions).

Middle Tennessee State University was established in 1909 as Middle Tennessee State Normal School. The school opened with 125 students on September 11, 1911. Today, MTSU serves around 22,000 students enrolled in more than 300 degree programs in over a dozen colleges and schools. Middle Tennessee State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee
Lipscomb University

George Shinn College of Entertainment & The Arts at Lipscomb University offers BA, BFA, and MFA degrees in Animation. An Animation Minor consisting of 18 credit hours of study is also available. Students in all programs have opportunities to travel to places such as Los Angeles and Italy to attend animation events or complete an internship. In addition, each semester, George Shinn College welcomes industry experts to speaking events designed to help students get an idea of what it’s like to work in some of the world’s top animation studios.

Courses are led by instructors who have worked at major studios such as Disney Animation, among others. Course examples across all animation programs include 2D Character Animation, Character Design, New Media Studio, Storyboarding for Animation, CG Modeling and Lighting, and Computer Animation. BA students will complete 52 credit hours in the major, and BFA students will complete 64. Students in both programs must complete the Animation Capstone to graduate.

The MFA in Animation is a flexible hybrid program that allows students to complete the on-campus portion of the program at the Nashville campus or the Lipscomb University Austin Center (LUAC). Animation students will also attend classes with Film students, which provides multiple opportunities to train in many areas of film production.

Consisting of 62 credit hours, the Animation MFA also offers a range of advanced courses. Examples include Directing Animation, Advanced Film Business, Sound & Voice Performance, Digital Entertainment Law, Film Direction, 2D/CG Animation Pipeline, AD & Set Management, and CEA Studios Internship.

MFA students will complete a short film or TV pilot, to be screened at the end of the final semester before graduation.

Lipscomb University was founded in 1891 by ministers David Lipscomb and James A. Harding as Nashville Bible School. The school serves nearly 5,000 students enrolled in more than 240 undergraduate majors and minors, master’s degrees, and doctoral programs in 10 colleges. Lipscomb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).