Our 2015 rankings of the top 25 animation school programs on the West Coast.
We define the West Coast as California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.
For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Valencia, California
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) was established in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney. It is the nation’s first postsecondary institution to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in both the visual and performing arts. This visual and performing arts school is home to 1,489 students enrolled in more than 70 programs across six schools and one center. Around 26.9 percent of CalArt’s students are enrolled in the School of Film/Video. The School offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include a BFA degrees in Character Animation and Experimental Animation. The School also offers an MFA in Experimental Animation.
2. University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California (USC) was established in 1880 and it is home to 43,000 students enrolled in more than 500 undergraduate and graduate programs across 20+ colleges, schools and divisions. USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) offers several programs for aspiring animators. Program offerings include a BA, MFA and a Minor in Animation and Digital Arts, and a BFA in Film and Television Production.
The BA, MFA, and Minor in Animation and Digital Arts are offered through SCA’s John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts. The BFA in Film and Television Production, which features heavy Animation and Interactive Media coursework, is offered through SCA’s Division of Film and Television Production. Other options for aspiring animators include an MFA in Interactive Media and a Minor in Game Animation. Both programs feature heavy Animation coursework and they are offered through the Interactive Media and Games Division of the School of Cinematic Arts.
3. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, California
Founded in 1919, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is home to 43,239 students enrolled in more than 220 programs across five schools and more than 100 academic departments. The School of Theater, Film and Television is home to the Animation Workshop. Founded in 1948 by Disney Animator William Shull, the Animation Workshop is a three-year MFA program that accepts just 12 new students each year.
Before applying to the Workshop, students typically earn a BA in Film and Television. The BA program includes one full year of Animation studies and future Animation Workshop students will also have the opportunity to study all areas of Digital Media, Film, and Television. An internship is part of the program as well.
4. Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) was established in 1961 as the “Laguna Beach School of Art.” It is home to nearly 500 students enrolled in five undergraduate majors and three graduate programs in the areas of art and design. LCAD offers one program for aspiring animators—the BFA in Animation. As part of the program, students will have the opportunity to participate in master class workshops during the summer where they learn from accomplished leaders in the field.
5. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California
Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is home to more than 18,000 students enrolled in dozens of art and design programs through several departments. The Department of Animation and Visual Effects offers several programs for aspiring animators. Offerings include BFA and MFA degrees in Animation and Visual Effects. BFA Emphasis Areas include Storyboarding, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Traditional Animation, and Visual Effects. The Department also offers an Online Award of Completion (OAC) and a Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects.
6. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997. It is home to more than 100 students enrolled in variety of computer graphics classes and programs. Offerings for aspiring animators include Entertainment Design (One-Year Track), Digital Production for Entertainment (Two-Year Program), and Entertainment Design and Digital Production (Three-Year Program). Gnomon also offers Maya Fast Track (10-Week Program) and a variety of online courses ranging from Character Animation to Games Tools and Techniques.
7. Woodbury University, Burbank, California
Founded in 1884, Woodbury University is home to 1,552 students enrolled in more than 20 programs through the School of Architecture, the School of Business, and the School of Media, Culture and Design. The School of Media, Culture and Design offers one program for aspiring animators—a BFA in Animation. The BFA program includes Core Animation Studios, Traditional Animation/Art Studios, and Stop Motion Studio.
8. San Jose State University, San Jose, California
San Jose State University (SJSU) was founded in 1857. It is home to 31,906 students enrolled in 144 degree programs across seven colleges. The College of Humanities and the Arts houses the Department of Design. The Department offers a variety of programs for aspiring artists and designers. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA in Animation/Illustration.
9. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington
Digipen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988 as a computer simulation and animation company. The school offers 10 programs across 11 departments in the areas of Animation, Computer Science, Engineering, Game Design, game design, and Music and Sound Design. The Department of Animation and Production is home to the Animation Program. The program leads to a BFA in Digital Art and Animation.
10. Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) was established in 1911. It is home to 9,395 students enrolled in more than 160 programs across seven colleges and schools. The School of Film and Television is home to the Animation Program. The BA in Animation features coursework in 2D and 3D, Experimental Animation, Game Design, Stop-Motion, and Visual Effects.