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Best Animation Bachelor’s Degree Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

Mehnaz Meem - May 12, 2022


If you’re artistically inclined and tech-savvy, a career in animation might be the best of both worlds. Before joining a major studio and becoming Walt Disney Animation’s latest artist, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in animation. With the overwhelming number of academic programs and schools available, it can be difficult to nail down your dream school.

That’s why in this article, we’ve outlined the top schools offering the best animation bachelor’s degrees. After discussing our list of the best bachelor’s degrees in animation, we’ll also go over the highest-paying animation bachelor’s degree jobs you can expect to land after graduation.

Where Can I Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

You can get a bachelor’s degree in animation from Arizona State University, Drexel University, Regent University, or Savannah College of Art and Design. These schools are nationally accredited and often place high on university rankings like those in the US News & World Reports . These are just a handful of the institutions you can pursue your animation degree at.

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What Schools Offer the Best Animation Bachelor’s Degrees?

  • Pratt Institute
  • Arizona State University
  • University of the Arts
  • Regent University
  • California Institute of the Arts

What Are the Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree In Animation?

The admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in animation vary between schools. However, nearly all schools require the completion of high school or a GED, high school or college transcripts, and sometimes SAT or ACT scores. You may also be required to write a short academic essay, statement of purpose, or artist’s statement. Some schools might also require students to submit letters of recommendation from their teachers or employers.

It’s important to note that the admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree in animation depend entirely on the university you pursue your undergraduate degree at. For example, some schools require applicants to submit artistic portfolios, which may be weighed more heavily than GPAs and standardized test scores.

Animation Bachelor’s Degree Admission Requirements:

  • Complete high school or GED
  • Meet the school’s minimum GPA requirement
  • Send official transcripts to the university
  • Get recommendation letters from your teachers or employers
  • Compile an artistic portfolio of your previous work
  • Send SAT or ACT scores

How to Get an Animation Bachelor’s Degree

You get an animation bachelor’s degree once you fulfill all of your graduation requirements. Obviously, before setting foot on campus, you’ll need to have met all of the school’s admission requirements and been accepted.

Once you’re admitted as an undergraduate student, you’ll work towards meeting your graduation requirements for the next four years. This entails completing roughly 120 credits over eight semesters, typically taking 15 credits per semester. As a culmination of your studies, you’ll also likely need to complete a professional animation portfolio, make a final short film, or do a different senior capstone project.

How Many Credits Do You Need for a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

You will need at least 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree in animation. Usually, these credits are completed over four years, which amounts to 15 credits per semester. Among these credits are core credits, general education credits, and elective credits. The type of bachelor’s degree you pursue will further determine exactly how those credits are divided, as a bachelor of science and a bachelor of art slightly differ in terms of concentration.

Animation Degree Requirements

  • 40 to 60 credits from general education courses
  • 60 to 80 credits from core courses
  • 6 to 15 credits from elective courses
  • Maintain the school’s minimum undergraduate GPA requirement
  • A senior capstone project

Best Animation Bachelor’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Alfred State College of Technology BS in Digital Media and Animation Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Arizona State University Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
California Institute of the Arts BFA in Character Animation or Experimental Animation Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Drexel University Animation & Visual Effects Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Pratt Institute Digital Arts BFA or Game Arts BFA New York State Department of Education (NYSED)
Regent University BA in Animation Degree Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Sam Houston University Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
Savannah College of Art and Design BFA in Animation Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Bachelor of Science Degree in Animation Technology Higher Learning Commission
University of the Arts Animation (BFA) Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Best Schools for Animation: Top Animation Bachelor’s Degree Programs

In this section, we’ve detailed the best schools and programs for a bachelor’s degree in animation. This information covers the cost of tuition, graduation rate, admission requirements, application process, and descriptions of each program.

1

Alfred State College of Technology

Alfred, NY

Though this circa-1908 State University of New York (SUNY) has a small enrollment of only 3,667, it still boasts 80 different degree programs. This school is consistently highly rated on US News & World Report ’s ranked lists , being number-one among regional colleges for best value school, the best school for veterans, and least debt for graduates.

BS Degree in Digital Media and Animation

Those looking to one day become a fine artist, media designer, character artist, or animator would do well with this 123-credit bachelor's degree program. In it, you’ll take classes on digital animation techniques such as 3D animation, film, 2D animation, art history, and motion graphics. At the end of your studies, you’ll produce a senior studio project and craft a portfolio.

BS Degree in Digital Media and Animation Overview:

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Tuition: $7,070/year (in state); $16,980/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 123
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15-16 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 58%

BS Degree in Digital Media and Animation Admission Requirement:

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT (required for scholarship consideration and athletic programs)
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Copy of your passport, one letter of recommendation, financial support evidence

Applying to Alfred State College of Technology:

  1. Complete the application online
  2. Send in official transcripts
  3. Submit SAT or ACT for consideration of certain scholarships or athletic programs
  4. Get a letter of recommendation
  5. Send evidence of being financially supported

2

Arizona State University (Polytechnic Campus)

Mesa, AZ

Public research university Arizona State University has an enormous student body and number of course offerings, with 74,795 students across more than 800 different programs. Not only sizable, but ASU is also consistently highly ranked by the US News & World Report , sitting in first place for innovation ahead of prestigious universities such as Stanford and MIT.

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology:

This interdisciplinary program will not only prepare you for a career in animation through classes in motion graphics and visual effects but also teaches you artistic skills in other visual design programs. These classes include web design, digital and print publishing, photography, video production, and more, ensuring you’ll have the flexibility to work in a plethora of animation-related careers.

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Within the animation department’s program, you can also take a specific course list, either Digital Design, Print, and Publishing; Front-End Web Development, Commercial Photography and Video; or Motion Graphics and Visual Effect. As a culmination of your studies, you’ll complete a senior project and a presentation on your professional portfolio during your last semester.

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology Overview:

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Tuition: $9,882/year (in state); $25,920/year (out of state)
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 66%

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology Admission Requirements:

  • GPA: 3.0 (exceptions made with a minimum ACT score of 22 or minimum SAT score of 1120)
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT (optional but recommended if your GPA is below 3.0)
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: Associate of Applied Science degree
  • Other Requirements: Either be in the top 25 percent of you graduating class or have a 3.0 GPA, ACT score of 22 (24 for non-residents), or SAT score of 1120 (1180 for non-residents)

Applying to Arizona State University

  1. Speak with the admission counselor to walk you through the process
  2. Transfer your AP or other college credits to the university
  3. Complete and submit the application form
  4. Send transcripts and SAT/ACT scores (SAT/ACT scores optional)
  5. File your FAFSA (if applicable)

3

California Institute of the Arts

Valencia, CA

This circa-1961 school, also known as CalArts , is a private university known for its effective curricula that produce equally-successful alumni. Notable mentions include the Disney Pixar animator and storyboard artist Andrew Stanton, actress Alison Brie, and writer and director Tim Burton. Being that it produces some of the best artists in major studio networks across the country, CalArts is extremely exclusive with an enrollment of only 1,166 across its 70 degree programs.

BFA Program in Character Animation or BFA Program in Experimental Animation

CalArts offers two different degrees in animation, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Character Animation or a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation. Choose the former study program if you’re interested in storytelling and character design, and the latter if you want to be on the cutting-edge of technological developments in animation.

Classes in the character design degree include drawing, design and color, storytelling, CG computer animation, illustration, and more. Courses in the experimental animation program include hybrid imaging, animation history, concept development, and more. For the character animation degree, each year you’ll need to craft one individually-made short film, whereas for the experimental animation degree, you’ll complete a final senior project.

BFA Program in Character Animation or BFA Program in Experimental Animation

  • Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  • Tuition: $27,220/semester
  • Required Credits: 120 or more
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 13-21 credits
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 66%

BFA Program in Character Animation or BFA Program in Experimental Animation Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $70
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Creative portfolio, two letters of recommendation, artist’s statement

Applying to California Institute of the Arts

  1. Complete your application form
  2. Submit a creative portfolio
  3. Write an artist’s statement
  4. Send in high school transcripts
  5. Get two letters of recommendation

4

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

With an enrollment of approximately 23,000, 80 undergrad majors, and 120 graduate programs, this circa-1891 school is an R1-level research university. Graduates of Drexel work in the best jobs within their respective industries. For example, alumni of Drexel’s animation program have worked on shows and movies such as How to Train Your Dragon 2 , Ready Player One , Avengers: Infinity War , and The Mandalorian .

Animation & Visual Effects

This program, hosted in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, gives undergraduate students both the creative skills to effectively tell their stories and the technical skills to create the best-looking productions. After taking your required classes in digital compositing, imaging, character creation, and scripting, you’ll take courses in one of the multiple disciplines.

These include either computer science, humanities, media, or visual studies through classes such as studio art, drawing, lighting and sound, computer programming, or modern design history. You can also take co-op credits, gaining working experience in prodigious studios such as Cartoon Network or Sony Studios, as previous students have.

Animation & Visual Effects Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $50
  • Required Credits: 187
  • Program Length: 12 quarters at 15-16 credits
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 71%

Animation & Visual Effects Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT (optional and only to fall applicants)
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Portfolio of 8-12 pieces, 500-word supplemental essay, 2 letters of recommendation

Applying to Drexel University

  1. Complete your undergraduate application form either through the Common or Coalition Application
  2. Compile and submit a creative portfolio of eight to 12 pieces
  3. Write a supplemental 500-word essay
  4. Send your transcripts, and optionally, standard test scores
  5. Get two letters of recommendation

5

Pratt Institute

Brooklyn NY

Pratt Institute was revolutionary even in its founding, being one of the first institutions to admit students regardless of race or gender back in 1887. Though it is a small, exclusive school of just 4,353 students and 25 undergraduate majors, it is highly ranked in many of its fields of study, including animation, interior design, user experience (UX), and fashion.

Digital Arts BFA or Game Arts BFA

There are two different majors that you can choose for animation, which include a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Digital Arts or a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Game Animation. In the animation and digital arts major, the program is further subdivided into concentrations in either 2- or 3-D animation or interactive arts.

In the 3D concentration, you’ll take classes on 3D modeling and animation, lighting, rendering, and motion graphics, to name a few. In the 2D animation concentration, you’ll take classes covering stop-motion animation, drawing for animation, traditional animation, experimental animation, and more. The interactive arts concentration isn’t as animation-focused as it focuses on coding for digital media and interactive sculptures, virtual reality, and physical computing.

Digital Arts BFA Overview

  • Accreditation: New York State Department of Education
  • Tuition: $1,728/credit
  • Required Credits: 126 credits
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15-18 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 71%

Digital Arts BFA Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Creative portfolio

Applying to Pratt Institute

  1. Apply to the school through the Common App
  2. Submit your portfolio
  3. Process the online application form
  4. Send in your academic transcript
  5. File your FAFSA (if applicable)

6

Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA

Founded in 1978, Regent University has been ranked in the top fifth percentile of affordability for private Christian universities, according to the CCCU Tuition Survey of 2018 . Regent University offers more than 150 areas of study for its 10,00 students.

B.A. in Animation

Aspiring illustrators, concept artists, character designers, modelers, or traditional cel or motion animators would do well taking this cutting-edge program. Within this well-rounded program, you’ll take classes on the fundamentals of 3D and 2D animation design, computer-based animation, digital art, rigging and character design, writing for animation, motion graphics, and sound design, to name a few.

B.A. in Animation Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $603/credit
  • Required Credits: 120 or more
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15 or more credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 61%

B.A. in Animation Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT
  • Application Fee: $50
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Other Requirements: Submit government identification, complete admissions questionnaire

Applying to Regent University

  1. Complete online application
  2. Send supporting documents
  3. Submit admissions questionnaire
  4. Send in transcripts
  5. File your FAFSA (if applicable)

7

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX

The public university was established in 1879 and now encompasses 90 bachelor’s degree programs, 55 master’s degree programs, and 10 doctorate programs for its 21,912 students. This college is known for its affordable, accessible education, with 45 percent of students being the first in their families to attend college and 60 percent of students being classified as “at-risk”.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation

Sam Houston is a great, affordable option that will prepare you for a career in the animation field in jobs such as publishing, advertising, game development, and film. You’ll take classes pertaining to 2- and 3-D animation, the history of animation, character design, modeling, and more. Once you are admitted to the school, you’ll need to complete the Workshop in Art Studio and History course. After your sophomore year, you’ll need to pass an animation BFA portfolio review.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation Overview:

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $367/credit
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 58%

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation Admission Requirement:

  • GPA: 2.25
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT (optional)
  • Application Fee: $45
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: None

Applying to Sam Houston State University:

  1. Submit your application
  2. Pay the $45 application fee
  3. Send in your high school transcript
  4. Send official SAT or ACT scores (optional)
  5. File your FAFSA (if applicable)

8

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, GA

This private, non-profit university was founded in 1979 to fix a lack of arts degrees available in Georgia’s southeast region. Since then, the school has grown to incorporate more than 100 different arts programs for its 14,265 students, frequently ranking among the top institutions for each of its respective majors.

BFA in Animation

This program aimed at future animators, modelers, and concept artists involves taking general education, foundational studies, major, and concentration classes. Your 55 credits in general education include digital communications, business design, and media literacy. Your 34 foundational studies credits include classes on drawing, color, and storyboarding.

Your 80 major credits consist of animation classes and a capstone film and animation. Additionally, you’ll choose a concentration of seven classes in either 2D or 3D character animation, concept development and storytelling, or technical animation.

BFA in Animation Overview

  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: $12,780/quarterly
  • Required Credits: 180
  • Program Length: 12 quarters at 15 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 73%

BFA in Animation Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement (preference given to students with a 3.0 or higher)
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT (optional)
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Creative portfolio (optional but required for scholarship consideration)

Savannah College of Art and Design

  1. Submit an online application
  2. Send in ACT and SAT scores (optional)
  3. File your FAFSA (if applicable)
  4. Send in a portfolio for scholarship consideration
  5. Pay the $100 application fee

9

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Fort Smith, AR

As an extension of University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith was founded in 1928 and has since maintained a small, personable community with an 18-to-one student-to-teacher ratio for its 5,887 students. If you are seeking an affordable undergraduate degree program, consider this university, which has a tuition of just $3,500 per semester with 97-percent of students receiving scholarships or grants.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Animation Technology

If you have already completed an associate of applied technology (AAT) in computer technology or associate of applied science (AAS), this would be a great program for you. With 37 credits in computer graphics technology (CGT) and 37 general education and humanities credits completed prior to admission, you’ll be free to focus on your other 45 credits in lighting and rendering, color applications, advanced 3D concepts, digital production, and more.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Animation Technology Overview

  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $171/credit (in-state); $474/credit (out-of-state)
  • Required Credits: 120 (75 transferred credits through AAT or AAS degree)
  • Program Length: 4 semesters at 8-13 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 31%

Bachelor of Science Degree in Animation Technology Admission Requirements

  • GPA: 3.0
  • Standardized Tests: ACT score of 19 or equivalent in SAT and ACCUPLACER exams (not required for GPA of 3.0 or higher)
  • Application Fee: $30
  • Minimum Education: Associate of applied technology (AAT), an associate of applied science (AAS), 45 hours relevant to the degree, or permission from the dean
  • Other Requirements: None

Applying to University of Arkansas

  1. Send in your high school transcript (if have permission from the dean to attend) or transcript from your previous college
  2. Complete the application
  3. Wait for further guidance from the admission counselor
  4. Send in ACT or SAT scores (if GPA is below 3.0)
  5. Send in proof of immunization for rubella, mumps, and measles

10

University of the Arts

Philadelphia, PA

The student body of University of the Arts (UArts) is small but diverse, with a collective enrollment of 1,530 students throughout 43 programs. This circa 1876 university prides itself on artistic collaboration and interdisciplinary education, allowing students in any major to pick from any of the 20 minors available.

Animation (BFA)

Animation students will collaborate with other artists such as actors, musicians, dancers, and actors throughout this program. Within the program, you can choose between either the traditional 2D drawn and 2D digital animation, 3D computer animation, or experimental and stop-motion animation.

You’ll need to make an animated film your junior year and complete an animated thesis your senior year. With this degree, you’ll be ready to work in a vast number of roles, such as layout artist, forensic animator, character rigger, clay or puppet animator, art director, or storyboard artist. You might even join other successful alumni who work for channels and major studio networks like HBO, Netflix, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, and Cartoon Network.

Animation (BFA) Overview

  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Tuition: $24,175/semester
  • Required Credits: 120
  • Program Length: 8 semesters at 15 credits per semester
  • Learning Format: In person
  • NCES School Graduation Rate: 57%

Animation (BFA) Admission Requirements

  • GPA: No minimum requirement
  • Standardized Tests: Not required
  • Application Fee: $60
  • Minimum Education: High school diploma
  • Other Requirements: Creative portfolio, letters of recommendation (optional)

Applying to Huntington University

  1. Complete the online application
  2. Compile a creative portfolio
  3. Send in your high school transcript
  4. Pay the application fee
  5. File your FAFSA (if applicable)

What Is an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

An animation bachelor’s degree is a post-secondary education program that will prepare you for the professional world, teaching you about the industry, as well as the tools needed to succeed in it. In a four-year degree program, you’ll likely specialize in either 2D or 3D animation, and more broadly learn about character design, storytelling, storyboarding, modeling, and other related topics.

How Important Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

A bachelor’s degree in animation is incredibly important if you wish to work in animation-related careers in the future. The degree program will help you learn hard, technical skills, such as proficiency in computer literacy, animation programming, front end development, and video game creation.

What Types of Bachelor’s Degrees Can You Get in Animation?

You can get a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in animation. In general, bachelor’s of science degrees in animation will focus on the computing, programming, and software-end of animation.

A Bachelor of Applied Science in Animation is usually for those who already have real-world experience working in the animation industry and want to upskill. A bachelor’s degree in animation differs from a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in that a BA is more focused on liberal arts and humanities education, whereas the BFA involves more art-specific classes.

Is It Better to Get a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation?

Usually, it is better to get a BFA degree if you are more interested in the artistic aspects of animation, whereas it is better to get a BS in animation if you are more interested in computer science and animation technology. The better option ultimately depends on your professional and educational goals.

What Is the Difference Between an Animation Bachelor’s Degree and an Animation Certificate?

The difference between an animation bachelor’s degree and an animation certificate lies in the program’s intensity, courses, length, and level of education. Usually, animation certificate classes or online animation courses only take a few weeks to months to complete, whereas animation bachelor’s degrees take four years to earn. There are many different institutions that can help you get started in learning animation .

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

The cost of a bachelor’s degree in animation varies based on the university. As a result, the cost ranges from $6,000 to $60,000. In general, the National Center for Education Statistics reports the cost of getting a bachelor’s degree from a public university as an in-state student is, on average, $14,920. It costs $24,746 from a private, for-profit university and $42,163 from a private, non-profit university.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

It typically takes four years to complete a full-time bachelor’s degree in animation. Most degree programs require the completion of 120 credits over eight semesters of 15 credits. However, the number of credits varies between schools. Some colleges and universities require the completion of 180 credits or more.

How Hard Is it to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

It can be hard to get a bachelor’s degree in animation if you are not tech-savvy, as even 2D animation is primarily done on various computer software these days. Experimental and 3D animation are even more technologically-complicated and ever-evolving in their programming.

Another thing that makes getting a bachelor’s degree in animation hard is the fact that it is a time-intensive, four-year program. Many adults who are working professionals don’t have time to attend a university full-time and for such an extended period.

Why Should You Get an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

You should get an animation bachelor’s degree if you want to learn the skills needed to thrive in a high-demand, ever-evolving, creativity-driven industry with a great employment rate. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for special effects artists and animators is incredibly promising, with a 16 percent increase in employment between 2020 and 2030. This is much faster than the national average of eight percent.

Most employers gravitate towards applicants with accredited bachelor’s degrees because they know they can trust the applicant to have succeeded in a rigorous course of study. They want the best special effects artists and animators. The BLS reports that they make roughly $80,000 per year, on average, making the sacrifice of completing a bachelor’s degree one that pays off.

What Courses Do You Need to Take in a Bachelor’s Degree Program in Animation Subject?

The courses you need to take in a bachelor’s program in animation include 3D Character Animation, Character Design, Lighting and Color Theory, Storyboarding, and Gaming Animation, among others. Below are descriptions of these courses in detail.

3D Character Animation

As one of the foundational courses for those aspiring to work in 3D animation, this class focuses on characters, common animation software, human body mechanics, and the movement of characters. You’ll learn how to “rig” a character, which involves mapping out joints and points of movement to capture fluid animated films and shorts.

Character Design

It is important before jumping into animation programs like Maya that animators have compelling characters, as they are the foundation for any story. In this drawing-heavy class, you’ll learn how to craft unique characters in minute detail, both in looks and personality, from the types of shoes they wear to the way they smile.

Lighting and Color Theory

As impressive as it is to be able to effectively sketch outlines of characters, they will not read well in animated films if they are not properly colored and lit. Through this class, you’ll learn how to identify different color phenomena both physical and digital, and how to apply theory and lighting techniques to make your characters look natural in your digital video.

Storyboarding

Storyboarding is the essential art form of breaking down how your story will progress and is used both in animation and live-action films. It involves creating a detailed blueprint for how each scene in your film will look, making a drawing for each individual shot, and diagramming how the “camera” and characters will move in the space. You’ll learn how to translate your artistic vision and scripts into visual images, mapping out a narrative story into a physical space.

Gaming animation

Gaming animation classes use foundations taught in 3D animation classes to create playable characters and render their interactive environments. You’ll also learn the patterns of video game programming so that you can eventually create your own game design.

Continuing Education Paths For Animation Bachelor’s Degree Graduates

Once you’ve completed your animation bachelor’s degree, you can continue your education through a variety of programs, including a master degree, doctorate degree , or professional certificate. While you can certainly get a job with a bachelor’s degree alone, you might want to consider continuing your education to specialize in a specific aspect of animation.

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What to Look For in the Best Animation Bachelor’s Degree Programs

While a bachelor’s degree in animation will set you up for many careers in animation, it’s important to ensure that you pick a program that has a good reputation and has a specialization you might want to study. Below are our tips for finding your dream school.

Reputation

After looking up an undergraduate degree in animation, you’ll get some good results, but also some schools that do not have a premier academic reputation or strong program in animation. You should research each prospective school’s accreditations, and delve further, seeing where they rank on sites such as US News & World Report .

Curriculum

Once you find a school that is in good-standing, take a look at the specific classes that are offered within its animation program. Make sure foundational classes such as 3D modeling, character design, and storyboarding are present, as well as diverse and exciting elective courses. Additionally, if you know which animation field you want to work in, make sure that the schools you are considering have a specialization in that discipline.

Admission Requirements

Before having your heart set on attending a specific university, make sure that you would be able to meet all of the admission requirements. These vary between each school, but many have a minimum GPA requirement and require specific SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, animation BFA programs usually require a creative portfolio of your work.

Cost of Tuition

Universities differ greatly from one another in their tuition price points, so it is important to look into how much various undergraduate programs cost. If a particular school seems out-of-reach with regard to price, see if you can apply for university scholarships and file your FAFSA for financial assistance. Based on your circumstances, you can usually have your application fees waived if you request it.

Job Placement

A tangible way of seeing where your career path might lead you after graduation is to see where previous alumni tread. Are they often employed at notable television or entertainment networks or work in prolific production companies? If the answer is yes, then you will also have a good chance at success at their alma maters.

What Is the Most Affordable Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

The most affordable animation bachelor’s degrees are Alfred State College of Technology’s BS Degree in Digital Media and Animation and Arizona State University’s Bachelor of Science in Graphic Information Technology. Alfred State College’s tuition is just $7,000 for in-state students and $17,000 for out-of-state students. Arizona State University’s tuition is just $10,000 per semester for in-state students and $25,920 per semester for out-of-state students.

Salary and Job Outlook for Animation Bachelor’s Degree Graduates

An animator is drawing through animation software on their graphics tablet.
With your degree in animation and digital arts, you can work in professional studios like DreamWorks Animation and Disney Animation.

After graduating with your undergraduate degree, you’ll be ready to enter the field of animation and choose from a wide variety of careers within it. Below, we’ll discuss the job outlook and employment rate of animation graduates and tell you about the highest-paying animation bachelor’s degree jobs.

How Hard Is it to Get a Job With an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

It is not hard to get a job with an animation bachelor’s degree, as careers in animation and digital arts are in high demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that special effects artists and animators will see a 16 percent growth in employment between 2020 and 2022, which is a much higher rate than most occupations in the country.

What Is the Average Salary for an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

Holders of an animation bachelor’s degree earn an average salary of $61,000 , according to PayScale. This salary will only increase with experience, as animators and special effect artists make $78,790 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This amount will increase over time, as the field will be growing by 16 percent over the next decade.

What Types of Jobs Can You Get With an Animation Bachelor’s Degree?

You can get a wide variety of jobs with an animation bachelor’s degree, from technical careers like being a coder in the gaming industry or a visual effects artist to more traditional art careers like being a character artist or 2D animation artist. Other jobs include working in digital media design, 3D modeling, motion graphics, motion capture, art direction, and video game animation.

Animation Degree Jobs

  • Art Director
  • Animator
  • Character and Background Designer
  • Special Effects Artist
  • Game Designer

Potential Careers With an Animation Degree

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How Much Money You Can Make With a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation?

With a bachelor’s degree in animation, you can make over $100,000 right out of animation school. Even professionals in this field at the lower end of the earning potential make between $50,000 to $60,000, which is quite impressive as a new graduate. Let’s take a look at some of the best-paying animation bachelor’s degree jobs below.

Highest-Paying Animation Bachelor’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Animation Bachelor Degree Jobs Average Salary
Software Developer $110,140
Art Director $100,890
Special Effects Artist and Animator $78,790
Film and Video Editor $62,680
Graphic Designer $50,710

Best Jobs for Animation Bachelor’s Degree Grads

The best jobs for animation with a bachelor’s degree include art director, mathematical modeling engineer, special effects artist and animator, film and video editor, and graphic designer. Now, we’ll discuss what those careers entail and their respective job outlooks.

1

Software Developer

Average Salary: $110,140

With your animation degree, especially with a concentration in video game design, you’ll be able to jump into the field of gaming software development. You could be either a first-, second-, or third-party developer. First-party developers work for a gaming platform company, making software programs exclusively for just that one console.

Second-party developers are independent studios that are contracted by specific gaming platforms to make games exclusive to their consoles. Third-party developers work independently from specific platforms and buy licenses to develop software programs for the consoles.

2

Art Director

Average Salary: $100,890

As the art director for animations, you will work on films, television, video games, and more, overseeing the visual aspects of productions. By working with the main director and the script, you would determine the style of the project you are working on, such as backgrounds, color palettes, and more, making either 2D or 3D designs that animators will eventually use as a reference.

3

Special Effect Artist and Animator

Average Salary: $78,790

Also called SFX artists, special effect artists and animators use animation software to model imaginary characters and spaces to fit the fictional universe of the project. Special effect artists on live sets work with practical tools in real-time to create their illusions, such as using a rain machine and for animation in video games. They also use motion capture, making computer-generated images (CGI), and more.

4

Film and Video Editor

Average Salary: $62,680

Working for network entertainment companies as a film and video editor on live-action television and films is quite different from working on animated films. Live-action film editors look over all the different takes of each shot and splice the best bits together for a cohesive story. Editing in animation works the opposite way because they combine storyboards, sound effects, music, and dialogue before the final animation is actually completed.

5

Graphic Designer

Average Salary: $50,710

If you choose to work in graphic design, you can create 2D or 3D images for various companies, in industries such as publishing or advertising. In graphic design, you’ll work on still images or animated designs with motion graphics. These are often seen in graphic design advertising on websites as GIF animations of infographics, animated company logos, webpage backdrops, and more.

Best Jobs According to Your Major

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Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Animation Worth It?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree in animation is very much worth it. Since film and animation technology is growing in complexity, there is a high demand for new animators that can stay on top of the new media developments, which is something that your bachelor’s degree will help you with.

If you have a love for visual art and technology, a bachelor’s in animation is worth considering as a way to combine your two passions into one livelihood. These academic programs give you the skills to work in a visual medium in pretty much every industry, from advertising and film to gaming and medicine, qualifying you for a plethora of exciting careers.

Additional Reading About Animation

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Animation Bachelor’s Degree FAQ

Do you need a bachelor’s degree to be an animator?

No, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to be an animator. However, many well-known companies will prefer candidates who have bachelor’s degrees in relevant fields. While it is not essential for every job posting, a bachelor’s degree makes it much easier to land a job as an animator.

Are animators high in demand?

Yes, animators are high in demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between 2020 and 2030, the special effects artists and animators industry will see a 16 percent increase in employment. Since animators with bachelor’s degrees took a wide variety of classes, they can find jobs in numerous industries.

Do animators get paid well?

Yes, animators are paid well. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary of an entry-level animator is $78,790 . This amount varies based on location, level of experience, level of education, and company.

Is animation an art career?

Yes, animation is an art career. It combines drawing characters and their settings, by hand or digitally, with computer software technology to combine these images to bring them to life. In this artistic career, you could be a multimedia artist in other types of animation, which include animating with vector graphics, motion graphics, and even physical stop-motion.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Mehnaz Meem

About the author: Mehnaz is a content writer and social media manager. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Dhaka International University. She also completed a writing and editing course from the University of Michigan and Coursera.

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