Common questions about animation schools asked by our readers:
Some of the most affordable animation programs are typically housed within community colleges and public colleges and universities. And if you live in state, you will often pay thousands less than what someone would pay from out of state. Some of the most affordable schools that offer animation programs are Brigham Young University, California State University – Los Angeles, University of South Florida, Brooklyn College, California State University – Fullerton, University of Central Florida, and University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Some of the most affordable independent animation schools are Animation Mentor ($14,994 for the entire certificate program) and The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) ($33,500 for the entire digital production diploma program as of 2015).
Most schools, even “animation” schools, offer other programs such as game design, game art, and other related areas. Schools that offer mostly, or a large number of, animation programs include Animation Mentor, The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School), Gnomon School of Visual Effects, and DigiPen Institute of Technology.
The U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion a year in grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans to more than 13 million students. Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and dependent care. Colleges may also offer their own loans, known as “institutional aid,” which may be funded by the college's resources, alumni, corporations, foundations, donors, and other sources. Scholarships are also available through the school, companies, organizations, studios, and more.
According to Animation Career Review’s 2019 Animation Rankings, the following are the top 10 schools for animation: California Institute of the Arts, Ringling College of Art and Design, University of Southern California, University of California Los Angeles, Rhode Island School of Design, School of Visual Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Scholarship opportunities for animators are plentiful, but competitive. Several types are available such as scholarships specifically for animators and scholarships for the broader group—artists. Scholarships are often awarded through companies, organizations, studios, and colleges and universities. Some examples include The Women in Animation (WIA) Scholarship, the Nickelodeon Animation Scholarship, The Savannah College of Art and Design’s Animation Pegbar Endowed Scholarship, Warner Bros. Animation Reach Honorship Program, Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Sande Scoredos Memorial Scholarship, and Walt Disney Company Scholarships.
Most employers prefer to hire animators with a degree from an accredited school. However, graduates of schools such as Animation Mentor, which is not federally accredited, have gone on to land positions at DreamWorks Animation, Digital Domain, Blue Sky Studios, and Moving Picture Company.
If you would like to learn filmmaking and animation, some film schools, such as The Los Angeles Film School, offer the opportunity. However, many programs at art schools, colleges, and universities combine the two disciplines into one program or they make it easy for students to do it on their own through minors, certificates, double majors and electives. Schools that offer film/animation programs include Rhode Island School of Design, University of California Los Angeles, School of Visual Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Utah, California Institute of the Arts, University of North Carolina, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and George Fox University, to name a few.
Some of the top film schools for animators are The Los Angeles Film School, New York Film Academy, USC School of Cinematic Arts – John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (home of the famed UCLA Animation Workshop), and the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts.
Some of the best art schools for animators are California Institute of the Arts, Ringling College of Art and Design, Rhode Island School of Design, School of Visual Arts, Savannah College of Art and Design, ArtCenter College of Design, California College of Arts, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, The University of the Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, Columbus College of Art and Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, Laguna College of Art and Design, College for Creative Studies, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Kansas City Art Institute, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
While there will always be exceptions, most employers prefer to hire animators with a degree or other formal training. Experienced animators can expect to earn, on average, $72,520 annually (as of 2018). High performers can expect to earn $97,100 to $124,310 or more annually. Besides salaries that are well above the national average, today’s animators enjoy job stability. Employment of animators is projected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2016, which is as fast as average for all occupations.