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

Top Wisconsin Animation School Programs - 2024 College Rankings
1Milwaukee Institute of Art and DesignMilwaukee
2University of Wisconsin – StoutMenomonie

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

1. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) is the only four-year nonprofit private college of visual art and design in the state of Wisconsin. The school provides a range of programs that allow students to gain real-world experience through internships and the MIAD Lubar Innovation Center. Examples of past clients include the Milwaukee Business Journal, Ninewise Publishing, Carmex, the Milwaukee Ballet, Kohler, Imagine MKE, Gallery at The Ave, The Marcus Corporation, and 3rd St. Market Hall.

For students seeking an animation degree, the Illustration program at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design recently launched an Animation track. All Illustration students will take courses that explore 2D, 3D, and interactive animation, video games, and virtual reality. Animation track students can focus their studies further through required studio electives.

Course examples for the program include 3D Modeling & Animation; Visual Development & Storytelling; 2D Motion Fundamentals; Interactive & New Media; Illustration Seminar I and II; Digital 2D; Systems of Drawing; Visual Language; Digital 4D; and Animation Professional Practices.

For the culminating experience, MIAD Animation students will produce industry-ready animation projects individually or in teams across two thesis courses including Animation Thesis: Preproduction and Animation Thesis: Production. Final projects will be presented at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design Thesis Exhibition.

Graduates of the Illustration BFA/Animation program are prepared to pursue careers in animation for entertainment, games, and advertising; medical, education, architecture, and legal; news media; graphic design; computer systems design and software publishing; and data visualization. Illustration program alumni have worked with HBO, The New Yorker, Amazon Studios, Nike, and Variety. They are Animators, 3D Modelers, Game Artists, Keyframe Animators, Advertising Animators, Art Directors, Special Effects Artists, Online News Media Animators, Concept Artists, Illustrators, Multimedia Specialists Television/Film/Video Editors, and E-Learning Designers.

Founded in 1974, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design serves 900 degree-seeking students, 600 pre-college students, and 250 outreach/special programs students. For degree-seeking students, MIAD provides seven degree programs, five studio minors, and nine liberal studies minors. The school’s affiliation with Marquette University provides access to additional courses in Humanities and Sciences, and other resources.

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD)—a consortium of 39 leading art schools in the United States and Canada. The school is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

2. University of Wisconsin – Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin – Stout

The College of Arts & Humanities (CAHS) at University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) is home to the School of Art & Design. Consisting of more than 1,000 students and 65 faculty, the School of Art & Design is the largest art and design school in the upper Midwest. Programs within the school emphasize hands-on, polytechnic-infused curriculums supplemented by local, national, and international internships; study abroad experiences; and Cooperative Education and Field Experiences.

The School of Art & Design houses the Design Department, which has a collaborative cross-disciplinary Animation & Digital Media BFA, and a Design MFA. Across programs, students benefit from learning that takes place in studio classrooms; access to state-of-the-art labs and studios, such as the Animation and Game Design & Development Studio Lab; and active faculty with extensive professional experience in the field.

The UW-Stout Animation & Digital Media BFA consists of 120 credit hours of study. The program explores traditional two-dimensional animation, three-dimensional modeling and animation, real-time production, character and environment design, motion capture, and principles of visual storytelling. Students in this program will develop creative and critical thinking skills, while taking courses that cover specific animation and design software.

Course examples for the program (including electives) include 3D Modeling and Animation; Design Drawing and Concept Visualization; Commercial Motion Graphics; Digital Illustration; Virtual and Augmented Reality Video Applications; Visual Effects and Compositing; 3D Character Animation; Digital Sound; Video Production; Typography in Motion; Comics; Animation Production; and Professional Practices in Design.

The Animation & Digital Media BFA program at University of Wisconsin - Stout ends with a two-semester sequence Animation Capstone. This culminating experience for the BFA includes the development of a professional level project from concept to published digital media, modeling the approach used in the animation industry.

The Design MFA at University of Wisconsin – Stout takes place in a cross-disciplinary environment where graduate students may focus in areas such as Animation & Digital Media; Cinema, Video, & Photography; Game Design & Development; User Experience Design; Graphic Design & Interactive Media; and Experience Design. Design MFA students will complete several design studios and seminar courses, independent study, and at least nine credits of focused electives.

This flexible program utilizes the hybrid model of delivery, consisting of evening core classes combined with on-campus and online meetings. Students have the option to select full-time, on-campus studio courses or customize a part-time plan with hybrid classes and independent projects.

The culminating experience for the Design MFA program at University of Wisconsin – Stout is the Creative Thesis in Design, which consists of an independent design research project produced and implemented under direction of a primary research adviser and committee. MFA students will present their final projects to a thesis committee, to include a public exhibition or lecture. 

Graduates of the Animation and Design programs at University of Wisconsin – Stout are prepared to pursue leadership roles and others across industries. As part of UW-Stout, program alumni enjoy a near perfect 99.4% employment rate.

School of Art & Design are Animators (2D or 3D), Stop-Motion Animators, Concept Artists, Game Designers, Art Directors, and 3D Modelers at places such as Disney, Apple, DreamWorks Animation, Shutterfly, Raven Software, Larsen Design, PUNY Entertainment, The Nerdery, and Fantasy Flight Games. Some Design MFA alumni have gone on to become educators at UW-Stout, and other schools such as UW-River Falls and Vancouver College of Art and Design.

University of Wisconsin – Stout (UW-Stout) was established in 1891 as The Stout Manual Training School. Today, the school one of just 125 polytechnic universities in the U.S. and the only one in the State Wisconsin. Serving approximately 6,940 students, University of Wisconsin-Stout provides more than 145 programs, many of which are unique to UW-Stout or are not offered anywhere else in the Midwest. Programs are organized into two colleges, with five schools and a graduate school.

University of Wisconsin – Stout is accredited the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Graphic Design and Interactive Media program is accredited by the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).