What are the top ranked animation school programs in Virginia for 2023?

Top Virginia Animation School Programs - 2023 College Rankings
1Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond
2Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg
3Regent UniversityVirginia Beach

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

1. Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of the Arts (VCUArts) houses the Department of Kinetic Imaging (KI), which has two pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, students can earn a Kinetic Imaging BFA. At the graduate level, students can earn an MFA in Fine Arts with a Kinetic Imaging Concentration. Both programs are multidisciplinary and explore areas such as animation, video, virtual reality, emerging art, and sound.

BFA students will complete the studio-based Art Foundation Program (AFO) in the first year. This is a requirement for all undergraduate students in all art and design departments. After completing the AFO, students will advance to courses such as Animation I-IV, Virtual Interactive Worlds, 3D Computer Animation, and Sound Communication. The VCU Kinetic Imaging BFA takes four years to complete, full-time. Graduates of the program are 2D and 3D Animators, Directors, Sound Designers, Motion Graphics Artists, and UI/UX Designers, among others.

The Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging MFA is a 60 credit hour, studio-based program designed to support six-eight students. Graduate students have 24/7 access to personal studios, and access to animation, video, and sound production spaces. MFA students also have opportunities to teach in the undergraduate KI program. The Virginia Commonwealth University Fine Arts/Kinetic Imaging MFA Program takes two years to complete, full-time.

Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University is a top 100 research university that serves more than 28,900 students. The largest employer in Richmond, Virginia, VCU offers more than 200 programs across 15+ colleges, schools, and centers. Virginia Commonwealth University accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) houses the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which has two pathways to study animation. At the undergraduate level, the Virginia Tech Creative Technologies (CT) BFA explores digital media topics, production methods, and theories that prepare students for a variety of digital pipelines and production processes. Students will develop professional skills in animation, video art, contemporary fine arts, 3D modeling, gaming, and virtual reality.

Course examples for the CT BFA include Topics in Computer Animation (Character Animation, Character Modeling, Video Game Design, and Processing), 3D Computer Animation, Topics in New Media Art (2D Motion Graphics, Digital Illustration, and Digital Video), Computer Animation Studio, and Topics in Digital Art + Design (Multimedia Studio Max/MSP). BFA students will complete a final project and portfolio to graduate.

At the graduate level, the Virginia Tech CT MFA is a cross-disciplinary, terminal degree that explores digital and new media technologies. Potential research subjects for the program include (but are not  limited to) animation, emerging media, video art, games, simulations, virtual environments, 3D modeling, interaction design, installation, visualization, coding, and projection mapping. MFA students will complete a minimum of 60 graduate-level credit hours and present an MFA Thesis Project to  graduate.

Students in both the BFA and MFA CT Programs may participate in the SOVA Study Abroad Program (three weeks in Europe), visiting artist workshops, exhibitions, and the Virginia Tech Internship Program.

Graduates of the Virginia Tech Creative Technology Program go on to establish successful careers in the animation, film, and visual effects industries; motion graphics; game art, design, and development; virtual reality (AR/VR); UI/UX; production; and education, among others.  

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University opened on October 1, 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. The school serves more than 37,000 students enrolled in 110+ undergraduate programs and 170+ master’s and doctoral programs across nine colleges and schools. Virginia Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Regent University

The Media and Visual Arts Department at Regent provides nearly a dozen BA, BFA, MFA, MA, and Minor programs in areas such as Animation, Film, Television, and Graphic Arts. Housed in the School of Communication & the Arts (SCA), the Media and Visual Arts Department also provides state-of-the-art facilities and design studios outfitted with the latest computer animation software, internship opportunities with local and national studios, and immersive courses led by award-winning professionals in the field.

The SCA has two program options for Animators—the Animation BA and a Minor. The BA requires 120 credit hours of study, including 57 credit hours in the core. Course examples for the program include Animation in 3D, Advanced 2D Computer Animation, Digital Special Effects for Film and Television, The Art of the Storyboard, Motion Graphics for Film and Television, Advanced 3D Animation Techniques, Sound and Motion Graphics, Writing for Animation, 3D Design Methods, and Animation Workshop. A Production Practicum is also part of the program.

The Animation Minor requires 15 credit hours. Students will take 3D Animation or Fundamentals of 2D Computer Based Animation, and History of Animation, Intro to Sound & Motion Graphics, Business Planning for Media, and Introduction to Digital Art.

Graduates of the Animation Programs at Regent University are prepared to pursue positions at animation studios and all industries that utilize animation.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Founded in 1978 by Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, Regent University serves 13,000 students enrolled in more than 150 areas of study leading to the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Programs at this Christian University are administered across seven schools and two colleges.