What non-traditional animation and game design programs exist in the South?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the South Atlantic encompasses areas across eight states and in D.C., making it the largest division in the south. This means there is no shortage of colleges and universities in the area that cater to all career goals.
This includes animation and game design. Some of the top art and design schools in the division include Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Ringling College of Art and Design, Delaware College of Art and Design, and the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University. Many of these schools offer art and design programs that are on par with most top programs across the U.S., while others offer a variety of unique components that appeal to students with distinct interests.
So without further delay, it’s time to wrap up our coverage of the South Regions and Divisions with the most unique bachelor’s and master’s programs for animation and game design in the South Atlantic. Due to the sheer size of the area, we’ll have to begin our wrap up with several standouts in D.C. and the first two states listed by the Census Bureau—Delaware and Florida.
Here you go.
American University – Washington, D.C.
American University (AU) is home to the Game Lab, which offers a unique opportunity to get real-world experience by working on projects with clients such as Smithsonian American Art Museum, Educational Testing Service, the National Institute of Mental Health, and WAMU 88.5. Students also work with the Game Studio, which is part of the Game Lab. The Studio provides “a broad range of services to companies, non-profits, and government agencies,” says the school and it “applies agile design and production methods to produce projects on tight deadlines and budgets.”
Degree offerings include a Master of Arts in Game Design (MA Game Design) and a Graduate Certificate in Game Design. Offered jointly by the School of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, the MA in Game Design is “the only program of its kind in the United States.” This “unique, multi-disciplinary 36-credit hour program” focuses on “game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges.” Sample courses include Games and Society, Game Design & Art Pipeline Production, Game Research Methods, Games and Rhetoric, 3D Animation, 3D Static Modeling, Advanced Game Development, and Digital Art Tools and Techniques.
The Graduate Certificate in Game Design “is focused on understanding how to leverage the power of games.” The required courses for the program are Games and Society, Game Research Methods, Game Development, and Games and Rhetoric. “Beyond that, students are able to augment their certificate with three credit hours of electives that can come from game or non-game courses.” The Graduate Certificate in Game Design is also offered jointly by the School of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences.
American University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and recognized by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church. The School of Communication is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at The George Washington University – Washington, D.C.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Digital Media Design at Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University (GW) is a unique program that focuses on developing skills in motion design, including digital 2D and 3D animation, motion graphics, digital video and live-action production. Per the school, “professional animation faculty teach students skills in designing and producing kinetic sequences for TV and film,” which include 3D modeling and animation, character design, network-identity packages, live-action production sequences, movie and TV title credits, commercial motion graphics, and sound design.
Students in the program also learn digital animation, storyboarding, style frames, narrative structure, concept ideation, rendering, and production workflow. Another unique component of the program is animation students work side-by-side with graphic design students in the Design Lab, where they participate in real-world projects. Students who enrolled beginning Fall 2015 had the opportunity to work with museum professionals to brand and design NEXT, the annual senior thesis exhibition. In addition, students in the program have traveled nationally and internationally to work at companies in places such as California, New York, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Dubai, Japan, London, and Saudi Arabia.
As part of The George Washington University, Corcoran is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the prestigious National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Delaware College of Art and Design – Wilmington, Delaware
What makes the programs at Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) unique is the school’s rare Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) to BFA opportunity. Qualified DCAD graduates may complete their BFA at a “multitude of art and design colleges across the globe,” says the school. “Due to DCAD's unique foundation and commitment to maintaining a rigorous course of study, a growing list of articulation agreements with art and design colleges guarantees successful DCAD graduates transfer as juniors. DCAD's curriculum follows a similar outline to other art school curricula, thus DCAD's credits and classes transfer easily.” Even better is, many DCAD graduates receive transfer scholarships to complete their BFA degrees.
For aspiring animators, the school offers an AFA with a 2D or 3D Animation Track. The 2D Track covers traditional techniques and digital tools used for character performance and narrative in moving images. The 3D Track covers computer graphics and rendering techniques used to produce animations with sound, image, and movement. Sample courses include Digital Technologies for Animation, Character Animations, Storyboarding and Storytelling, Experimental Animation, Digital Video, and Drawing for Animation.
Students in both Tracks will need 65-66 credits to graduate. This includes 41-42 studio credits and 24 academic credits. Graduates will have the skills needed to produce both independent and commercial projects in mediums such as traditional character animation, clay animation, stop-motion and computer generated animation.
Delaware College of Art and Design was developed through a partnership between two of the nation’s oldest and “most distinguished” visual arts colleges—Pratt Institute and the Corcoran College of Art and Design. The school now operates as an independent institution and it is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Wilmington University – New Castle, Delaware
The College of Technology at Wilmington University (WilmU) offers a variety of degrees leading to careers in a wide range of informational technology fields and the media arts and design industries. The school has two unique game programs leading to a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Certificate. The BS in Game Design & Development goes beyond technical and creative areas such as 2D and 3D design, video and audio skills, game engine, and programming skills. Students in the program acquire presentation and team development skills, concept development skills, and even understanding the software design life cycle.
Wilmington’s College of Technology also offers a Game-Based Learning Graduate Certificate. Offered in-person or online, the program helps students “develop the skills to integrate instructional gaming” into curriculums “using the latest professional software to create customized educational gaming solutions.” This graduate option “is ideal for educators, corporate trainers, and others who are familiar with technology-based learning, but have no prior game development experience.”
Courses for the 15 credit hour program include Game Literacy, Game Design and Analysis, Game Audience Analysis, Assessment and Evaluation, Instructional Design, and Psychology of Learning. Another unique component of the program is it allows students earn a certificate and get credit for a degree at the same time. Per the school, the “WilmU Dual–Credit Certificates work double time–like you,” without adding extra time or cost.
Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Florida Polytechnic University – Lakeland, Florida
Florida Polytechnic University offers a rare BS in Computer Science and Information Technology with a Concentration in Cyber Gaming. Per the school, “Cyber Gaming is an interdisciplinary concentration that applies the rigor of computer science to the creative challenges of game development. With a core curriculum in computing, mathematics, and science, students will combine advanced technical skills with training in the visual arts to develop innovations in digital gaming.” The program not only prepares students for the career in the professional gaming industry, but also for related in-demand fields such as healthcare simulation, scientific visualization, and other computing professions.
Students in the 120 credit hour program will take CS core courses such as Introduction to STEM, Computer Programming, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Logic Design, Data Structures, Computer Programming and Algorithm Design & Analysis. The Cyber Gaming Concentration includes Computer Graphics, Computer Animation, and Game Design and Development 1 &2. To enhance their degree, students also have access to a unique selection of electives such as Mobile Device Applications, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Software Security Testing, Autonomous Robotic Systems, Human Computer Interaction, Wireless and Mobile Networking, and Compilers and Interpreters.
The BS in Computer Science and Information Technology-Cyber Gaming is offered through the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology Department.
Florida Polytechnic University was granted initial regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelors and master’s degrees.
University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida
The Digital Worlds Institute at the University of Florida (UF), College of the Arts, offers several programs that prepare students for a career in both game design and animation. Per the school, the BA in Digital Arts and Sciences (BADAS) allows students to “explore the digital edge of storytelling, animation, and game design.” The program “crosses traditional college boundaries between arts, communications and technology” so students will “immerse themselves in every aspect of the new and developing digital landscape — from computer illustration to 3D animation, from digital storytelling to video-game design.” Students also develop applicable technical and critical-thinking skills, and they have access to high-tech learning environments such as the Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater (PICT)—a theater space with panoramic screens.
Other program highlights include the unique opportunity to be a part of a cohort experience, where students join a community of learners to take a set sequence of courses together, and the option to complete the degree on campus or online. Sample courses for the program include Game Design Practices, 2D and 3D Digital Animation Techniques, Digital Storytelling, Design & Production Studio, Game Development, Advanced Digital Animation Techniques, Wearable & Mobile Apps, Writing for Interactive Media, Applied Digital Media Protocols, Entrepreneurship in New Media, Creating Mobile Games, and Music and Sound for Digital Media.
Graduates of the BADAS program are routinely hired by companies such as DreamWorks and Microsoft, and many start their own successful startups.
The University of Florida’s accreditation is reaffirmed every ten years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The school is also accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
University of South Florida – Tampa, Florida
University of South Florida (USF) offers a creative new certificate program that prepares students for careers in animation, interactive game design, robotics, product design, high tech manufacturing, and package design. The 12 credit hour program is an interdisciplinary Undergraduate Certificate in Electrical Engineering, Digital Design and The Arts (EE-Arts). The program is a collaboration between the USF School of Art & Art History and the Department of Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering.
Per the school, the goal of the EE-Arts Certificate is to “provide a path of increasing exposure to and understanding of the powerful combination of” electrical engineering, digital design, and the arts, “with intensive hands-on experience.” Courses for the program “proceed through the phases of idea conceptualization, digital representation of artistic form, digital representation in an engineering form with the introduction of electronically-controlled movement, and developing an introductory understanding of electrical and mechanical functions.” Courses include Concepts and Practices I, Digital Modeling, Art: Leonardo in the New Millennium, and Mechatronics for Innovation.
The program is open to all undergraduate students who are interested in “exploring the overlapping areas of electrical engineering technology and visual arts-design. Students interested in being introduced to modern electrical engineering concepts and state-of-the-art digital design techniques are strongly encouraged to enroll.”
The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist and doctorate degrees. The School of Art & Art History is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
University of Central Florida, School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) – Orlando, Florida
The School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD) at University of Central Florida (UCF) is home to a top animation program that focuses on individuality and innovation. The program has three unique options for aspiring animators leading to a BFA or Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Undergraduate programs include a BFA in Art - Emerging Media Track with Specializations in Experimental Animation or Character Animation. Per SVAD, students in the Emerging Media Track “integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology.”
The program provides a “solid foundation in techniques and theory in one focused area of competence, as well as a broad understanding of related disciplines including arts, humanities, and technology.” Experience in working in “multidisciplinary teams on realistic problems” is also part of the program. Sample courses include Advanced Animation, Animation Workshop, Digital Effects and Compositing, Geometrical Modeling Workshop, Modeling for Realtime Systems, Digital Cultures and Narratives, Computer as a Medium, Digital Video, Computer Science, and Computer Art.
The Character Animation Specialization prepares students for careers in both the film and computer game industries. Sample courses Animation, Artificial Environments and Effects, Look Modeling Workshop, Interactive Design, Visual Storytelling and Visual Development, Digital Effects & Compositing, Geometrical Modeling Workshop, and Interactive Design. Graduates of the program go on to become animators, modelers, riggers, and texture artists, while others continue their studies by enrolling in the MFA program.
SVAD’s Emerging Media MFA offers an Animation and Visual Effects Track that “emulates the professional studio environment providing each student with an opportunity to assume an artistic leadership role. The principal emphasis is placed upon narrative film structure and the entrepreneurial aspect of animation as related to studio and job creation. Courses are designed to also give students the ability to understand the collaborative function of a commercial studio, which is necessary in order to prepare students for careers in animation.”
Students will develop visual storytelling skills by using a variety of animation and visual effects techniques, including traditional 2D and 3D computer animation, hand-drawn, and stop motion animation. Sample courses for the 60 credit hour program include Animation and Visual Effects Production, Script and Story Development for Animation and Visual Effects, Directing for Animation and Visual Effects, Visual Development and Design for Animation and Visual Effects, Guerilla Marketing and Models of Distribution, Technical Problem Solving for Animation and Visual Effects, and Research Methods in Film and Digital Media.
Graduates of the UCF SVAD MFA program have been hired by the US Navy, NASA, DISTI, Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Reel EFX, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and Blizzard Entertainment.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels.
Other Schools to Consider:
"Accredited Institutions Search." NASAD. National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), 2017. Web. 30 July 2017.
Census Regions and Divisions of the United States. Suitland: U.S. Census Bureau, 2016. PDF.
Goldberg, Barbara. "South Rises Again, Leading U.S. in Population Growth." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 24 Mar. 2011. Web. 09 July 2017.
Kotkin, Joel. "How The South Will Rise To Power Again." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 July 2017.
Levin, Tim. "Top 25 Southern Schools 2016." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 07 July 2016. Web. 09 July 2017.
"South Atlantic Summary." NOAA. NOAA Office of Science and Technology National Marine Fisheries Service, 2007. Web. 30 July 2017.
"Top Public Schools Regional Universities (South)." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report, 2017. Web. 09 July 2017.
"U.S. Census Bureau Population Growth by Region." U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Census Bureau, 2016. Web. 09 July 2017.
Note: Program information has been obtained from each school’s official website. All information was accurate at the time of publication.