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Best Universities & Colleges for Animation 2024

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Animation is a fast-growing and exciting industry with ever-growing career opportunities. Whether you're interested in 2D, 3D, stop-motion, or special effects, plenty of great animation programs are available for you to choose from.

However, knowing which program is right for you can be tough with so many options. That's why we've done the research and created this comprehensive guide to the best animation colleges in 2023.

In this article, you'll learn what to look for in an animation program and find a list of the top animation colleges in the country. So if you're just starting to explore your options or you're ready to narrow down your list, we've got the information you need to make a smart choice. 

Should I major in animation? 

Animation is largely about storytelling. It's as much about emotionally or intellectually moving an audience as it is about artistic talent. The long con results in everyone whooping when Anna punches Hans in his stupid, lying face. {Frozen reference there- hope you got it!}

It's designing costumes, studying body movement, and toiling day in and day out to get the hair movement just right. If all of that sounds enticing, then Animation might be the right major for you.

If you're not totally sure, though, you can take our Careers & Majors quiz to help you out! 

Animation degree programs

Thanks to the large growth in the industry, there are a ton of colleges and universities offering animation programs. In general, they’ll all cover animation skills, as well as any software and tools needed in the field. 

Are you questioning whether you need to gain a bachelor’s degree in this field? In that case, it is worth knowing that most studios won’t hire animators who don’t have a degree and subsequent portfolio. 

A BFA in animation or a BA in animation?

Different colleges and universities will provide two distinct degree options, a BFA and BA. While on paper, it’s just a single-letter difference, it is a little bit bigger in real life. 

If you just looked at us how Anna looks at frozen Kristoff, it’s okay — we can help. The simplest way to explain the difference between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts is by weighing how much time is spent in general liberal arts courses versus major courses. 

In a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, your time will be split 60/40, with 60% of your time on liberal arts courses and 40% of your time in animation classes. The BFA inverses that students spend 60% of their time in major-related (in this case, Animation) courses and 40% in general liberal arts courses. Both have their merits and are worth investigating! 

What if the program isn’t called “animation?”

Yeah, that feels concerning. In this field, sometimes institutions like to get fancy with naming, and some of the most highly-ranked programs in the field aren’t called Animation. 

Take Ohio State University, for instance. In 2015, Animation Career Review named OHU’s program the number 1 place in the Midwest for Animation majors. Its “animation” program is technically a BFA in Art with an emphasis on Art and Technology.

The same can be said for Texas A&M, whose BS in Visualization was ranked #1 in Texas, #2 in the South, and #1 among public schools for animation by the Animation Career Review as recently as 2018. 

Basically, if you see an institution you're interested in, don’t write them off immediately because the program's title isn’t “animation”—make a call. Email the admissions office. Ask questions. 

What to look for in an animation degree program

When evaluating animation programs, here are some things you should look out for:

  1. Curriculum: The program should cover a range of animation techniques, including 2D, 3D, and stop-motion animation. It should also provide instruction in the use of industry-standard software.

  2. Faculty: The program should be taught by experienced and talented animators with professional experience in the field.

  3. Facilities: The school should have state-of-the-art facilities, such as computer labs and animation studios, to provide you with the tools to gain hands-on experience.

  4. Industry Connections: Look for a program with connections in the industry and a good alumni network. Both will be helpful when you're ready to look for an internship or job after graduating. 

  5. Cost and Financial Aid: Consider the cost of tuition and the availability of financial aid, scholarships, or grants. If you're torn between a couple of great programs, it's always smart to go with the one that will give you the biggest financial aid package.

It's also smart to speak to current students or alumni to find out what it's like to be in the program. You can normally do these things when you visit or tour the school before applying. 

Best universities & colleges for animation 

We’ve shared the basics upfront to get you thinking. Without further ado, here’s the list of the best universities and colleges for animation in 2023. 

Brigham Young University

Degree: BFA in Animation

Brigham Young University’s BFA in Animation has a limited enrollment. Students are accepted into the pre-major, must fulfill the requirements, and apply at the end of 1st term Fall or Winter semesters. Once accepted, students have access to everything the BYU Center of Animation offers, both artistically and technologically, for the animation, live-action, special effects, and game industries. 

California College of the Arts

Degree: BA in Animation 

Designed to educate students on how to animate for both TV and film, the Animation program at the California College of the Arts teaches 2D animation, 3D animation, animation for video games, stop-motion animation, and more. CCA offers an open-lab environment where students can work on state-of-the-art equipment, including 24-inch Cintiq monitors, a Foley room, a sound studio, and more. 

California Institute of the Arts

Degree BFA in Character Animation; BFA in Experimental Animation

The California Institute of the Arts offers two Animation BFAs, one in Character Animation and one in Experimental Animation. The first one, Character Animation, focuses on the art of storytelling and character performance. Working in both traditional and computer graphic (CG) animation environments, students in this intensive four-year program will develop a professional-caliber portfolio. The program in Experimental Animation is designed for innovative artists and will ask its students to develop aesthetically progressive concepts. 

Cleveland Institute of Art 

Degree: BFA in Animation

The Cleveland Institute of Art’s Animation Department is driven by the goal of producing professional content and puts an emphasis on storytelling. Students will take courses in 2D Animation and 3D Animation, as well as in Acting, Human and Animal Anatomy, and many more. All animation students work with a client, community partner, or intern before graduation. 

Columbia College of Chicago

Degree: BFA and BA in both Traditional and Computer Animation; BA in Animation

Offering programs in both Traditional and Computer Animation, Columbia College of Chicago also offers both BA and BFA degree options. Whether you want to work in stop-motion and hand-drawn animation, 3D animation, or some combination of the two, Columbia has a program you’ll be interested in. Students can access several Animation Production Spaces, including a Cintiq Lab, Stop-Motion Labs, Camera Labs, and more. 

DePaul University

Degree: BFA and BA in Animation

The College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University offers both a BA and a BFA in Animation. The BA program emphasizes the art of animation, creativity, and critical thinking within a broad liberal arts curriculum. The BFA gets more in-depth, providing a thorough foundation in the art of animation along with its history. Students will work in traditional as well as 3D computer animation and modeling. Students can opt to concentrate on Cinema Animation, Game Art, Storyboarding and Character Design, Motion Graphics, or 3D Animation. 

Florida State University

Degree: BFA in Motion Picture Arts with an Animation and Digital Arts Concentration

Home to the College of Motion Picture Arts, Florida State University has a 3-year program and a 4-year degree focused on Animation and Digital Arts. Students learn the development and production of 3D Animation and visual effects in live-action filmmaking. 

Laguna College of Art and Design, California

Degree: Animation dedicated to training exceptional storytellers

The BFA Program at Laguna College of Art and Design in California is designed to prepare students to become storytellers who understand the process of animation from start to finish. The college hosts the LCAD Animation Film Festival every year, showcasing the best student work from all levels. 

Loyola Marymount University

Degree: BFA in Animation

Loyola Marymount University’s Animation program aims to help each student develop their own unique, personal artistic vision. LMU was the first school to build a motion-capture lab and teach methods used in James Cameron’s Avatar. In small classes, students will use state-of-the-art networked computer workstations to learn visual effects, stop-motion, experimental animation, 2D and 3D, game design, and more. 

Maryland Institute College of Art

Degree: BFA in Animation

The Animation Department at the Maryland Institute College of Art offers a BFA in Animation, using the surrounding Baltimore community as a way for students to gain real hands-on experience. Students will graduate with knowledge in 2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D animation. 

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Degree: Animation Program

The BFA in Animation at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design is for artistic students who are looking for a challenge. Students will come out of the program with a firm grasp of Technology and Workflow, the Creative Process, Critique and Assessment, and Research and context. MassArt gives students access to 6 individual animation studios, Multi-Modal labs, an Editing and sound Studio, and more. 

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Degree: BFA in Animation

Offering education in illustrated, stop-motion, and computer-generated approaches to animation, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s BFA in Animation gives a broad historical perspective on animation as both an applied and fine art. Students are required to gain real-world experience through an internship and are encouraged to study abroad during their third year before delving deep into senior-year projects.

Montclair State University

Degree: BFA in Animation/Illustration

Montclair State University’s BFA in Animation/Illustration is considered a pre-professional degree where students will study digital illustration, 2D and 3D animation, cartooning, character design, screenwriting for animation, texture mapping, and much much more. Students have access to various studios, including a Product/Design Studio and Drawing Studio. 

New York University

Degree: BS and BFA in Film & Television, Concentration in Animation

The Animation Area at the New York University Tisch School of Arts is designed to fulfill the needs of all Film and TV students for both animation and live-action. The curriculum covers 2D and 3D animation, storyboarding, optical and digital effects, as well as titles, life drawing, history, and criticism classes. 

Ohio State University

Degree: BFA in Art, Emphasis on Art & Technology

It may not specifically say “Animation,” but the BFA in Art with an Emphasis in Art and technology major at Ohio State University has some animation accolades under its belt. The curriculum is primarily filled with project-based learning, and students will create interactive installations, produce moving images and 3D animations, work in virtual reality, 3D modeling, art games, holography, and more. 

Purdue University

Degree: BA in Animation

The Animation major at Purdue University focuses on six areas of animation: 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, character rigging, and motion. Housed in the Polytechnic Institute, students learn by doing in teams and with professionals. 

Pratt Institute

Degree: BFA in Digital Arts and Animation

Students in the BFA in Digital Arts and Animation program at Pratt Institute learn through the theory, practice, and history of new media. They can choose between one of three Digital Arts Concentrations: 3D Animation and Motion Arts, 2D Animation, and Interactive Arts. Myrtle Hall, home to the Animation program, features digital studio/classrooms, 2D and 3D printers, a dedicated green screen facility, a high-speed Fibre Channel network, traditional animation facilities, and more. 

Rhode Island School of Design

Degree: BFA in Film, Animation, and Video

The Rhode Island School of Design offers a BFA in Film, Animation, and Video, affectionately called FAV, which educates students in both live-action and animation, as well as hybrids of the two. Students have access to Animation stand studios, stop-action animation studios, and various equipment and programs. 

Ringling College of Art and Design

Degree: BFA in Computer Animation

The Ringling College of Art and Design offers a BFA in Computer Animation, focusing on producing original work that affects the audience emotionally, visually, and intellectually. RCAD brings in visiting artists from big names in the industry and provides eight state-of-the-art computer labs for students to work in, along with a render farm. 

Rochester Institute of Technology

Degree: BFA in Film and Animation

The School of Film and Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology offers a BFA option in animation that gives students three tracks to choose from 2D, 3D, and stop-motion animation. Students have access to various facilities to start making movies from day one, including a Mixdown Room, SOFA Cage, and Animation Crane Rooms. 

Savannah College of Art and Design

Degree: BFA in Animation

Savannah College of Art and Design offers a BFA, MA, and MFA in Animation and maintains the offers in Atlanta, Hong Kong, Savannah, and online via e-Learning. SCAD provides the education and resources to work in film, TV, video games, AR/VR, and more. Students can access high-performance digital workstations, state-of-the-art motion capture systems, and more. 

Syracuse University

Degree: BFA in Computer Art & Animation

Syracuse University is home to the Department of Transmedia, which offers a BFA in Computer Art & Animation. The curriculum begins with a focus on creating a strong foundation and provides the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles for an immersive experience in animation and film. 

Texas A&M University

Degree: BS in Visualization

Another program without the word “Animation” in it, but graduates from Texas A&M University’s BS in Visualization program have gone on to contribute to big-name Animation flicks such as Toy Story 4 and Zootopia. Visualization Aggies are trained to engage and develop both scientifically and aesthetically in all areas of visual communication—including animation. In junior year, students are required to study away for a semester before delving deep into studio time, and capstone projects in their senior year. 

University of Pennsylvania

Degree: Digital Media Design Program

Designed for students interested in computer graphics, animation, games, and more, the  Digital Media Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania is a Bachelor of Engineering and Science (BSE) degree. Created in 1998, this program was created to combine fine arts with computer science — while students will be using their artistic skills and be expected to work on the programming, mathematics, and technologies that make computer graphics. 

University of Southern California

Degree: BA in Animation and Digital Arts

The John C. Hench Division of Animation at the University of Southern California curriculum includes classic character animation, 2D and 3D storytelling, performance capture, visual effects, motion graphics, stop-motion, and more. USC Animation students can study abroad at Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy. 

Woodbury University

Degree: BFA in Animation

Taught in a studio environment, Woodbury University’s BFA in Animation program is hands-on from the start. Woodbury’s animation program has students developing characters and worlds to star in their own films, whether the mode of art is hand-drawn, stop-motion, or computer graphics. Students are required to fulfill an internship before graduating, but with Woodbury’s primo location within 20 minutes of 15 different animation studios, there are plenty of choices. 

Getting into the right school for your animation degree

Now that you know the top colleges for animation programs, you will want to know your chances of getting accepted. With Appily's college acceptance calculator, you'll be able to see where you stand for any school on your list. 

To get started, simply click the button below and create a free Appily account. 

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