Studying animation in college is a terrific approach to develop technical abilities while pursuing creative interests.
Graduates who hold a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Fine Arts in animation stand out from the crowd in this fiercely competitive industry, boost their earning potential, and demonstrate their aesthetic and technical proficiency. Creating children’s television programs, making video games, building immersive virtual reality experiences, and many more professions are all part of the animation industry.
The median annual wage for animators and special effects artists, according to the BLS, is $77,000, more than double the national average.
The job forecast for professions in animation is far better than that of all other occupations, which is estimated to expand by an average of only 8% from 2020 to 2030.
Aspiring animators should enroll in a school that provides comprehensive, cutting-edge technical facilities, a wide range of internship possibilities, and links to a network of highly-skilled industry specialists in order to get ready to enter the professional animation sector.
This ranking list was created by compiling data from existing rankings of the top animation programs. In essence, we look at the positions each program holds in various publications, then compute each school’s average position across all lists.
At the end of this article, you can find links to all of the source articles we utilized to compile this rating.
The top ten animation colleges in the US are listed below.
The 10 Best Animation Schools in the US
Table of Contents
10. University of California – Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
According to Animation Careers Review, UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television has the best animation program among all public universities in the US.
One of the top programs of its kind in the world is the university’s MFA Animation Program, also known as the UCLA Animation Workshop.
The Workshop admits just about 12 students a year, making it a very competitive program.
The Workshop was established by William Shull, a former Disney animator, and upholds his fundamental “one person, one film” tenet, which gives the individual creator complete control over every facet of the animated picture they produce.
The program’s faculty includes accomplished animators like Doug Ward, a former character layout designer and animation timer for King of the Hill, and Chuck Sheetz, the Emmy-winning animation director for The Simpsons.
9. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
The Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network at Carnegie Mellon, usually known by the abbreviation IDeATe, combines technical know-how and the creative arts to promote research, instruction, and practical initiatives pertaining to the two associated sectors.
Game Design, Animation and Special Effects, Media Design, Sonic Arts, Design for Learning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Intelligent Environments, and Physical Computing are the eight disciplines in which IDeATe offers undergraduate minor programs.
Students can study animation through both technology and art at the Robotics Institute’s Animation and Special Effects program, creating connections between the technical expertise and the artistic component required in this area.
Modern resources are available to students for a variety of courses and group projects. Students may develop realistic computer animations and use this knowledge in a variety of scenarios thanks to IDeATe’s multidisciplinary approach to animation studies.
8. Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)
According to the ranking published by Animation Career Review in 2021, Academy of Art University is the second-best animation masters program in the US.
The university asserts to be the only institution that offers courses in actual studio production settings for animation and visual effects. More than 200 individual workstations, a cutting-edge virtual lab, access to a green screen, and other amenities are available at their facility.
The School of Animation and Visual Effects’ Remote Lab, or “rLAB,” gives students unlimited chances to complete their coursework without having to buy pricey, high-tech computers by allowing them to access visual effects software from their own devices.
The school’s animation studio, Studio X, has produced significant movies including Fruitvale Station and Beasts of the Southern Wild with the help of its students.
Alyce Tzue, a graduate of the Academy of Art, won the Gold Medal Student Academy Award in 2015 for her animated short film “Soar,” among other honors.
7. Pratt Institute (New York, NY)
According to Animation Career Review’s ranking of the top US animation schools for 2021, The Pratt Institute came in at number eight.
The Digital Arts BFA and the Game Arts BFA are two distinct degree programs offered by Pratt’s Department of Digital Arts.
The Department places a strong emphasis on the value of fostering small class sizes, one-on-one faculty mentoring, and a learning atmosphere that is compassionate, inquisitive, and socially responsible. Students pursuing a degree in digital arts have the option of concentrating in interactive arts, 3-D animation and motion arts, or 2-D animation.
Myrtle Hall, the location of Pratt’s Digital Arts program, provides students with access to nine cutting-edge digital studios, an audio recording studio, many 2-D and 3-D printers, studios allocated for graduate students, a dedicated green screen facility, and more.
6. School of Visual Arts (New York, NY)
Through its four-year Animation BFA program, the School of Visual Arts pledges to give its animation students a comprehensive, practical educational experience. Students in this program have the option of using digital, stop-motion, or traditional animation techniques.
UNESCO, UNICEF, and Ted-ED are just a few of the well-known non-profit organizations and public service organizations on whose animation projects former SVA students have worked.
The school’s accessibility to numerous prestigious universities, potential employers, and a network of accomplished alumni is made possible by its location in Manhattan.
As well as many independent animators who live and work in the city, the school has significant professional ties to alumni-owned Plymptoons, Titmouse, and Augenblick studios.
These connections give students access to internship and part-time job options.
5. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
Animation students have a wide range of options to choose from at the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at the University of Southern California.
Animation in two and three dimensions, stop-motion, animated documentaries, projection mapping, interactive installations, and motion graphics are a few examples.
In addition to minors in 3-D animation, animation and digital arts, and science visualization, degree programs in the fine arts provide both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters in Fine Arts.
Additionally, USC encourages its animation students to take advantage of chances to collaborate on multidisciplinary projects with peers from the school’s many other disciplines, including the School of Cinematic Arts, the Thornton School of Music, the Kaufman School of Dance, and others.
The college provides animation BFA and MFA programs. Character design, computer animation, experimental animation, interactive animation, and visualizing science are just a few of the many options available to students for their area of emphasis.
4. Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
One of the first art schools in the US was founded in 1877 and is called the Rhode Island School of Design.
Students can choose to focus on animation, live action, or both when pursuing the school’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film/Animation/Video degree.
Students in the Film/Animation/Video program at RISD have access to cutting-edge resources like digital editing and sound mixing rooms, CGI workstations with a variety of industry-standard production and editing software, and production studio spaces ready for projects involving video, film, and puppet animation.
The school aims to equip its students with the analytical, practical, and aesthetic knowledge and awareness that new animators need in order to solve any issues that may arise in the production studio environment, in addition to the technical skills they need to produce successful animated works.
The popular annual Graduate Thesis Exhibition offers senior RISD students the chance to screen thesis project films.
3. California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)
A selection of degree programs in animation are available to prospective students at the California Institute of the Arts. Walt Disney, his brother Roy, and a number of others helped found the Institute.
Character animation and experimental animation BFA programs are offered at the School of Film/Video, along with a three-year MFA experimental animation program.
In the now-famous classroom A113, the character animation program—then known as the Disney animation program—was first developed. Since then, CalArts graduates have subtly inserted references to this classroom into a variety of movies, including Disney and Pixar productions.
Tim Burton, the filmmaker of Edward Scissorhands and numerous other well-known movies, and Chris Buck, the Academy Award-winning writer-director of the Frozen animated movie, are both CalArts graduates.
The Bijou Festival is held each spring by the School of Film/Video, and it features public screenings of chosen student works. Professional producers, animators, directors, and others in the industry frequently visit the Festival.
2. Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, GA)
The BFA, MA, and MFA programs in animation are available at the Savannah College of Art & Design. On the list of the top animation schools in the nation for 2021 published by Animation Career Review, the school ranked in third.
Big names in the animation business like Pixar, Dreamworks, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Lucasfilm Animation routinely seek out or hire alumni from SCAD.
John Webber, a member of the program’s faculty, helped to animate well-known figures including Lilo from Lilo and Stitch and Mushu from Mulan.
Students studying animation at SCAD have access to a variety of cutting-edge tools in addition to their faculty’s and alumni’s extensive networks of connections.
The 60,000 square foot SCAD Digital Media Center in Atlanta houses a green screen lab, a true, professional studio setting, and an internal theater.
Students can access comparable cutting-edge tools and technology at SCAD’s facilities in Savannah and Lacoste.
1. Ringling College of Art and Design (Sarasota, FL)
There are two BA degrees and eleven BFA programs available at the Ringling College of Art & Design. These encompass virtual reality development, game art, computer animation, and illustration, as well as motion design.
Animation Career Review named the school’s Computer Animation program the finest animation program in the US.
16 Academy Awards have been awarded by Ringling students, the majority of them most recently in 2020 for the animated short film Mime Your Manners.
The school invites well-known visiting artists to speak to students during Industry Critiques to share their professional perspectives and encourage them to think outside the box.
In association with the Center for Career Services, Ringling also provides students with a variety of internship opportunities. All Ringling students are required to take part in real-world projects with business experts as part of its INDEX experiential education program.
Here are the source articles that we used to determine our aggregate ranking: