11. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (top 5% of schools considered)
Founded in 1875 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Brigham Young University (BYU) is home to 33,363 students enrolled in 178 undergraduate majors, 109 undergraduate minors, 68 master's programs, and 26 doctorate programs across dozens of colleges and departments. The College of Fine Arts and Communications, Department of Design offers a BFA in Animation and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Department of Computer Science offers a BS in Computer Science with an Animation Emphasis.
Students in both programs have access to the BYU Center for Animation (est. 2010), which operates under the direction of three colleges—the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
12. School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) was founded in 1866, making it one of the oldest accredited independent schools of art and design in the country. Home to 3,590 students enrolled in more than 25 programs, SAIC offers several programs for aspiring animators through its Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department (FVNMA). Options include a BFA and MFA in Studio with a Concentration Animation. A Certificate in Studio is also available.
Students in the FVNMA Department have access to world-class resources such as the Art Institute of Chicago Museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. Specifics include The Video Data Bank—the leading resource in the United States for videos by and about contemporary artists, The Gene Siskel Film Center—one of the country's premiere screening venues dedicated to promoting alumni, student, and faculty work, and The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media in the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing.
13. Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York (top 10% of schools considered)
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) was founded in 1885 as Mechanics Institute. When it opened, the school offered mechanical drawing, which eventually attracted more than 400 students. Today, RIT is home to 18,632 students majoring in everything from Art and Design to Urban Community Studies. RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences (CIAS) is home to the nation’s first PhD in Imaging Science and the School of Film and Animation (SOFA). SOFA offers BFA and MFA degrees in Film and Animation.
Graduates of RIT’s animation programs have found employment at top studios such as Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Industrial Light and Magic, and Rhythm and Hues Studios.
14. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (top 10% of schools considered)
The Ohio State University (OSU) was established in 1870. It is home to more than 66,000 students enrolled in over 200 majors, specializations and minors across more than a dozen colleges and schools. The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art offers interdisciplinary three-year MFA and four-year BFA programs in Art with an Emphasis Art and Technology. The Art and Technology emphasis allows students to study 3D Modeling and Animation, Art Games, Digital Imaging, Internet Art, and more.
Because courses are interdisciplinary in nature, students come from a wide range of areas from Art, Film Studies and Design to Computer Information Sciences, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Biosciences.
15. ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1930, ArtCenter College of Design is home to 2,133 students enrolled in 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs in a variety of Industrial Design, Visual, and Applied Arts Disciplines. The school, which also offers a joint MS/MBA program with the Drucker-Ito School of Management, has two campuses in Pasadena and satellite studios in Los Angeles (at the Peterson Automotive Museum), and Berlin. Programs for aspiring animators include Entertainment Design with a Track in Character Animation or Concept Design. Both programs lead to a BS in Entertainment Design.
According to the school, Entertainment Design graduates are “prepared for career opportunities as performance and action animators with companies such as Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, ILM, Sony, Blur, 343 and Riot.”
16. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (top 10% of schools considered)
Texas A&M University is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school is home to more than 60,000 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Architecture offers programs for animators at all degree levels and broadly defines animation within “Visualization.” Options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. These interdisciplinary programs prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and other areas.
17. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1861, University of Washington (UW) is home to 58,819 students across three campuses located in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The school offers more than 579 degree options across 306 programs and 16 colleges and schools. Programs for aspiring animators are offered through the Computer Science & Engineering Department (UW CSE) including BS degrees in Computer Science or Engineering, and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). All programs offer heavy animation coursework and access to the department’s three main labs dedicated to research in the areas of Animation, Computer Graphics, Game Science, Vision, and Visualization.
Labs include the Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs. According to the Department, “The GRAIL group is known for ground-breaking research in computational photography, games for science and education, 3-D reconstruction, Internet photo collections, object recognition, human shape and motion analysis, information visualization, and animation, while researchers at the “Center for Game Science use gaming to solve grand challenges, crowdsource human problem-solving to aid scientific discovery, and improve student interest and achievement in mathematics.”
The Animation Research Labs “is a multi-disciplinary effort that brings together faculty and students from UW CSE, the Department of Architecture, and the Schools of Art, DXARTS, Drama, and Music. The ARL is focused on advancing the state-of-the-art in animation through teaching, research, and computer-animated production in collaboration with experts from Disney Animation Studios, Bungie, Industrial Light & Magic, Microsoft Game Studios, Pixar, and many others.”
18. Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (top 10% of schools considered)
Columbia College was established in 1890, and it is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in over 100 academic majors or programs across three schools and more than 20 departments. Schools include the School of Media Arts, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The School of Media Arts is home to the Cinema Art + Science Department, which offers a large number of programs for aspiring animators.
The school lists the following options: BA in Animation, BFA degrees in Computer Animation and Traditional Animation, BA in Game Art, and Minors in Animation and Game Art. Besides animation, the programs at Columbia College prepare students to work in video game production, television production, cinema visual effects, toy design, product design, and illustration and digital advertising, to name a few.
19. California College of the Arts, San Francisco and Oakland, California (top 10% of schools considered)
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is home to more than 1,500 undergraduates and 456 graduate students enrolled more than 30 degree programs. The Animation Department is home to the fourth largest major at CCA—the BFA in Animation. According to the school, students will receive guidance from “the best animators in the industry” from Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, and Tippett Studio, among others. Students in the program “receive feedback and visual storytelling advice from actual industry animators and directors of such animated films as Toy Story, Star Wars, and Brave.”
Graduates of CCA’s Animation program have landed positions at major studios such as Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, as well as award-winning studios such as Bento Box Entertainment.
20. University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (top 10% of schools considered)
Established in 1963 and home to more than 64,000 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university. One of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers around 230 degree programs across 13 colleges. The College of Arts and Humanities is home to the School of Visual Arts & Design (SVAD), which offers a number of degree programs for aspiring animators including a BFA in Art with an Emerging Media Track/Character Animation Specialization and an Emerging Media Track/Experimental Animation Specialization. Programs for graduate students include an MA in Visual Language and Interactive Media, and an MFA in Emerging Media with a Digital Media, Entrepreneurial Digital Cinema, or “Studio Art and the Computer” Track.
21. The New School/Parsons, New York, New York (top 10% of schools considered)
The New School was founded in 1896 by American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Back then, the school was known as The Chase School, and later as New York School of Fine and Applied Art. Today, The New School/Parsons (named after the famous Parsons Table) is home to more than 10,000 students enrolled in 138 degree programs, diploma programs and majors, and more than 50 minors across five colleges. New School colleges include the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, College of Performing Arts, Schools of Public Engagement, The New School for Social Research, and Parsons School of Design.
Program offerings for animators are offered through the School of Art, Media, and Technology (AMT) of Parsons School of Design. Options include BFA and MFA degrees in Design and Technology, and BFA degrees in Communication Design and Illustration. A Minor in Communication Design is also available. All programs allow students to study 2D and 3D Animation and Motion Graphics.
22. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Hollywood, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Gnomon School of Visual Effects was established in 1997 and it has an estimated 350+ students enrolled in a variety of programs and courses. Offerings for aspiring animators include a three-year Certificate in Entertainment Design & Digital Production with Specialized Tracks in Visual Effects Animation and Character & Creature Animation; a two-year Certificate in Digital Production for Entertainment with Specialized Tracks in Visual Effects Animation and Character & Creature Animation, and a BFA in Digital Production with heavy animation coursework,
Gnomon also offers a variety of individual animation courses that may be “mixed and matched” to suit students’ career goals. Courses levels include Foundational, Intermediate, High Intermediate, Advanced, and High Advanced. Just a few options include Animation and Visual Effects, Animation for Games, Character Animation, Character Development, Character Texturing and Shading, Creature Animation, Environment and Design, History and Principles of Animation, Houdini Effects, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding, and Visual Structure.
Gnomon graduates have landed positions at some of the world’s top studios. A few include Walt Disney Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks, Digital Domain, Blizzard Entertainment, Reel FX, Electronic Arts, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Nickelodeon Animation, Rhythm & Hues, and Marvel Entertainment.
23. Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Otis College of Art and Design (OTIS) was established in 1918 by the founder and publisher of the Los Angeles Times—General Harrison Gray Otis. Home to approximately 1,070 full-time students, OTIS offers 11 BFA degree programs ranging from Digital Media (Animation, Game and Entertainment Design, and Motion Design) to Toy Design. The school also offers MFA degrees in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing, and a variety of minors and certificate programs. Specific programs for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Media with an Animation Major, a Digital Media Minor, and a Digital Media Arts Certificate with a Specialization Track in Animation.
Just a few recent employers include Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Sony Imageworks, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, Sony Online Entertainment, and Blizzard Entertainment.
24. DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois (top 15% of schools considered)
With a student population of 23,110, DePaul University (est. 1898) is the nation’s largest Catholic University. The school offers 300 programs of study across 10 colleges and schools and four campuses. The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) offers BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees in Animation. A Minor is also available, as well as the opportunity to enroll in a double major or combined degree program.
In addition to animation programs at all degree levels, DePaul University offers a Game, Cinema and Animation Summer Academy for future animation students. According to the Academy, the weeklong program features “hands-on instruction using the latest equipment and technology.” Academy participants have the opportunity to focus on 3D Computer Modeling and Animation for Games and Cinema, Computer Game Development, and Digital Cinema Production. Animation students also have the opportunity to gain experience through the school’s internship program. Students have worked with Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Richter Studios, and WMS Gaming.
25. Chapman University, Orange, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded as Hesperian College in 1861, Chapman University is home to approximately 8,305 students from 49 states and more than 60 different countries. Chapman offers more than 100 programs across nine colleges and schools, including the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Dodge College offers a BFA and a Minor in Digital Arts that allows students to develop, design, and produce their own projects and contribute animation or visual effects to fellow students. Students also have the opportunity to intern at some of the world’s top studios including Blizzard Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Digital Domain, Nickelodeon, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Imageworks, and many others.
26. Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest degree-granting college of art in the nation. The school, which is home to nearly 3,500 students, offers more than 80 programs leading to the BFA, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. Post-baccalaureate certificate programs are also available. Programs for aspiring animators include a BFA Studio Concentration – Animation with three paths including Traditional Narrative/2D, Stop-Motion, and 3D Animation. The school also offers and a BFA in Animation + Humanistic Studies.
In addition to animation studies, students in this degree program will study philosophy and ethics, social and natural sciences, and social and political history.
27. Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Academy of Art University was established in 1929. It had a 2016 Fall enrollment of 7,959 students and it offers dozens of Art, Design, Fashion, and Architecture programs. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and many programs are available entirely online. The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers AA, BFA, MA and MFA degrees in Animation and Visual Effects. These programs are available on campus and online. BFA emphasis areas include 2D Animation and Stop Motion, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Storyboarding, and Visual Effects. The School also offers an Online Award of Completion (OAC) and a Certificate in Animation and Visual Effects.
Graduates of the animation programs at Academy of Art University have landed positions at Blizzard Entertainment, CBS Interactive, Disney Interactive, DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm, NBCUniversal, Pixar, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.
28. Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington (top 15% of schools considered)
DigiPen Institute of Technology was founded in 1988. It is home to approximately 976 undergraduates and 78 graduate students from all 50 states and close to 50 countries. Ten graduate and undergraduate program options are available in the areas of Art, Design, and Computer Science. Offerings for aspiring animators include a BFA in Digital Art and Animation.
According to the school, the program is designed to “prepare students to create artwork at the professional level.” In addition to “excellent” drawing skills, students will gain production experience, familiarity with modern studio processes, and storytelling abilities. Sample courses include Animation, Human Anatomy, Art and Technology, Storytelling, Storyboards, 2D and 3D Animation, Cinematography, and Conceptual Illustration and Visual Development.
In addition to the Redmond campus, the BFA in Digital Art is available at the school’s international branch campuses including Digipen Europe-Bilbao and Digipen Singapore.
Graduates of Digipen have been hired at companies such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Disney Online, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft.
29. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida (top 15% of schools considered)
Full Sail University was established in 1979 and it is home to approximately 15,000 students. The school offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees and Graduate Certificates in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Options for aspiring animators include a BS in Computer Animation that takes 20 months to complete on-campus, and 32 months to complete online. Students can expect to take courses such as 2D and 3D Animation, Character Animation, Animation Production, Shading and Lighting, Character Rigging, and Visual Development.
A total of seven Project and Portfolio courses must be completed as well. These courses “combine hands-on learning experiences with summative and formative portfolio assessments.” Courses cover 3D Arts and Computer Animation.
30. Animation Mentor, Emeryville, California (top 15% of schools considered)
Founded in 2005, Animation Mentor is a community of more than 5,500 students and alumni in more than 105 countries around the world. The school offers a variety of immersive animation programs and workshops including Character Animation, which consists of six 12-week classes leading to a Certificate of Completion, three 12-week workshops including Creature Animation: Locomotion; Creature Animation: Fight or Flight, and Maya Workshop: Animation Basics, and the six-week Storyboarding Fundamentals or Cartoony Animation for 3D Animators programs.
Graduates of Animation Mentor have worked on award-winning features such as Frozen, Inside Out, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and many others. They are also routinely hired by major studios such as DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Pixar.