The best schools for animation prepare students for careers in the ever-growing field of art and technology. Animation and motion arts education courses from the best animation universities provide an opportunity for students to study interactive entertainment, visual arts, art direction, and game animation. Upon graduation, students can create animated projects and work with popular global animation companies.
Choosing a program from the range of best animation colleges can be daunting. To help you choose the best program for you, this article covers the best animation schools, sample courses, and admission requirements. We also outline prospective jobs you can get with a degree in animation.
Best Animation College and University Rankings: Top 10 Animation Schools at a Glance
|US News Ranking
|George Mason University
|Ohio State University
|Rochester Institute of Technology
|University of California, Los Angeles
|University of Florida
|University of Pennsylvania
|University of Southern California
|Online, in-person, hybrid
|299 – 391
Animation School Rankings: Best Animation Colleges and Universities
The schools listed below are the best animation colleges in the US. These animation schools have experienced faculty members and thorough curricula to prepare students for a fulfilling career as an animator.
The Best Schools for Animation: Types of College Degrees and University Programs Offered
There are many types of animation degrees offered by animation schools and colleges. Depending on your experience, skill level, and career goals, you can get a community college certificate or an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degree from a top-rated animation school. Whether you are looking for animation BFAs, graduate degree programs, or a minor in animation, the top digital art and animation schools will have a program for you.
Comparing Popular Degree Options
Best Animation Schools: Other Animation University Rankings
Below, we rank the best animation schools for different degree types. The schools listed in our animation university rankings are among the leading schools and design colleges for animation degrees in that category.
Best Online Animation Schools
- Arizona State University. Arizona State University is a public, research-focused university founded in 1885. It provides top-notch, fully online programs for aspiring animators.
- Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is a private school located in Denver, Colorado. It provides fully online bachelor’s degree programs taught by leading industry professionals with practical experience.
- Southern New Hampshire University. Southern New Hampshire University was founded in 1932. Its 100-percent-online animation bachelor’s degree program provides students with the technical knowledge required to work in the best global animation studios.
Best Community Colleges for Animation
- Bergen Community College. Bergen Community College was founded in New Jersey in 1965. It offers an associate degree program in animation and assists students in transferring to a four-year bachelor’s degree.
- Glendale Community College. Glendale Community College was established in 1927 in California. It delivers high-quality animation programs covering art history, design principles, and 2D and 3D animation.
- Borough of Manhattan Community College. The Borough of Manhattan Community College is located in New York. Its associate degree program in animation and motion graphics teaches students the basics of motion graphics and VFX animation.
Best Undergraduate Schools for Animation
- Savannah College of Art and Design. Savannah College of Art and Design is a private art college located in Atlanta, Georgia. Students enrolled in Savannah College of Art and Design’s BFA in Animation program will go through 180 credit hours of intensive study.
- Rhode Island School of Design. This private school in Rhode Island is one of the oldest art colleges in the US. Its BFA in Film/Animation/Video program trains undergraduate students in the technical skills required to develop an excellent motion picture project.
- Academy of Art University. Academy of Art University is located in San Francisco. Its BFA in Animation and Visual Effects degree ensures that students become proficient in computer software for 3D animation and VFX. Graduates from this program can work with popular companies such as Dreamworks Animation, Electronic Arts, and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Best Graduate Schools for Animation
- University of Florida. University of Florida has over 18,000 graduate students. Its Master in Digital Arts and Sciences program is designed for students who want to improve their technical skills and secure better-paying animation jobs.
- University of California, Los Angeles. This public research-focused university has more than 12,000 graduate students. It offers an MFA in Design Media Arts program which merges modern-day design concepts with animation and other forms of digital media.
- University of Southern California. University of Southern California, with over 26,000 students, is one of the most popular destinations for graduate studies. Its MFA in Animation and Digital Arts graduate program is well known for its thorough training of future animation professionals.
Best Animation Schools With Dual Degree Programs
- DePaul University | BFA in Animation/ MS Animation. DePaul University is located in Illinois. It allows students pursuing their undergraduate degree in animation to pursue a master’s simultaneously.
- Florida State University | BA in Studio Art / MA Art Education. Florida State University provides advanced-level education to more than 11,000 students. This public institution offers animation students the opportunity to broaden their career options by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Art Education
- George Mason University | BFA in Art and Visual Technology/MA Art Management. George Mason University is a highly ranked public university located in Fairfax, Virginia. The university permits undergraduate art and visual technology students to also obtain a Master’s of Arts in Art Management.
Best Schools With Accelerated Animation Programs
- Full Sail University | BS in Computer Animation. Full Sail University is a highly-ranked art college located in Winter Park, Florida. Its accelerated BS in Animation program lets students obtain their bachelor’s degree in 20 months on-campus or in 29 months online.
- Rochester Institute of Technology | MS in Game Design and Development. Rochester Institute of Technology is a New York-based, private research college. It offers a dual accelerated degree for its BS and MS Game Design and Development programs, where individuals can obtain both degrees in just five years.
- Wilmington University | BS in Animation and 3D. Wilmington University is located in New Castle. It provides an accelerated dual-credit advantage option where students enrolled in the BS in Animation and 3D program can take master’s level courses during their undergraduate program and complete their master’s program in a shorter period.
Easy Colleges to Get Into
Is Graduate School for Animation Worth It?
Yes, graduate school for animation is worth it. Graduate degree programs expose you to a broad range of opportunities in the animation industry. Animation companies generally prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree for senior roles and graduate school is a great place to refine your personal style as an animator.
What Jobs Can You Do With an Animation Degree?
With an animation degree, you can work as an art director, multimedia producer, or 3D animator. Visual effects artists, electronic arts specialists, and other digital artists also often have a background in animation. By obtaining a bachelor’s degree from a top animation school, you become eligible to work as a full-time employee at a leading animation company.
How Much Can I Earn With a Degree in Animation?
How much you earn with an animation degree primarily depends on your degree type. According to PayScale, associate degree holders in animation earn an average of $56,000 per year, bachelor’s degree holders receive $61,000, and those with a master’s degree receive $75,000, annually.
Highest-Paying Animation Careers
|Special Effects Artist
Best Jobs With an Animation Degree
The best jobs for someone with an animation degree are art director, animation lecturer, multimedia producer, and animation director. Your eligibility for an animation industry job largely depends on your level of education.
How Can I Pay for Animation School?
You can pay for animation school by taking on graduate assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, or student loans. These options enable interested students to pursue and obtain an animation college degree with less financial strain. Some of the best financing options for your animation program are listed below.
- Graduate assistantships. This financing option is available to students pursuing a graduate degree in animation. Graduate assistantships typically offer you a tuition waiver in exchange for working as a graduate assistant.
- Fellowships. Fellowships are grants given to graduate students to enable them to carry out groundbreaking research. Fellowship awards can be applied to cover tuition costs and living expenses.
- Scholarships. Most schools offer scholarships to prospective students who may need assistance in paying their tuition or other fees. You can check your prospective college’s website or catalog for its list of available scholarship opportunities.
- Student loans. The US government allows students to take out a loan to cover their tuition and academic expenses. Student loans are expected to be repaid with a specified amount of interest.
How to Pay for Your Chosen School Education Path
Choosing the Best Animation School for You
When choosing the best animation school for you, you should consider how flexible the school’s animation program is, the availability of accelerated degree options, its overall reputation, and its curriculum.
When choosing an animation school, you must consider how flexible the program is. Some schools offer hybrid programs where you can take both online and in-person classes, and others offer fully online programs. Depending on your schedule, you may need to choose a school that provides flexible learning options to accommodate other commitments.
Many colleges provide accelerated degree options to enable students to complete their undergraduate or graduate degrees in a shorter period. If you want to enter the industry faster, you should check whether your desired program offers an accelerated program option.
Reputation of the School
The reputation of your school plays a significant role in determining your chances of landing a job at reputable companies like Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Sony Pictures, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Before enrolling in a program, you must find out how employers and recruiters perceive your school.
Before you apply, you should look into the school’s curriculum. Certain animation schools and colleges may specialize in electronic arts, graphic design, experimental animation, character animation, or motion capture for video game design. Depending on your interests, you may want to choose a broader, foundational program, or one that specializes in a specific area of animation.
How to Get Into the Right School for Your Profession
Does It Matter What College I Go to for Animation?
Yes, it matters what college you go to for animation. Attending an accredited animation program will prepare you to land the best animation industry jobs. Your animation college plays a large role in how you are seen by potential recruiters and employers, and the specializations and courses offered by your program will determine your skillset for your future career.
Animation University Ranking Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Schools for Animation
We ranked the best animation schools by consulting the university rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education. To further refine our animation university ranking methodology, we gave special consideration to things like reputation, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and breadth and depth of animation degree program offerings.
Additional Reading About Animation
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Best Animation Schools FAQ
Yes, you will need to work with software tools in animation school. Most animation degrees expect students to learn 3D animation by using modeling tools such as Maya, Blender, and Cinema 4D.
Yes, you can learn animation with online resources and courses. Sites like Udemy and Skillshare provide courses that are helpful for students looking to improve their animation skills. Although you may still need a degree to increase your chances of getting a job, these resources can help you build foundational skills and develop your competence as an animator.
The best way to determine the best animation career path for you is through internship opportunities and working with an animation mentor. Taking on different internship positions at an animation studio is an excellent way to get a feel for various industry roles to know what is most suitable for you. Working as an intern with major studios will also help you network and set you up for success in the job market.
No, you don’t need a degree to become an animator. You can build technical skills and land a job in animation by taking animation courses and building a stunning portfolio. However, getting a job without a degree is extremely difficult. A degree from a school of visual arts will keep you competitive in the job market and significantly enhance your chances of landing a high-paying job in an animation department.
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.