100. School of the Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, MA
Let's start this list off with a bang by beginning with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. This design school made our list because it is a tight-knit school that offers a fully customizable course load—but unlike some of their competitors they do it without school-defined majors. They definitely win the prize for being the most flexible program (or lackthereof) on this list. Only problem is: if you don't like the education you get then you have only yourself to blame (and I suppose the mentor who helps you craft your personalized program). No worries though, their wide-selection of Film, Animation, Illustration and Graphic Design courses certainly won't let you down.
99. Southwest University of Visual Arts – Tucson, AZ & Albuquerque, NM
The University of Visual Arts in Tucson has a small faculty (with an excellent teacher-to-student ratio) and a small-art school vibe. But don't let the size fool you, this highly-advanced visual arts school packs a wallop with their Graphic Design, Animation and Illustration programs. They also offer BFA degrees in Studio Art and Photography, an MFA degree in Studio Arts with three areas of emphasis, one of which is Motion Arts. Their animation and design courses are highly practical as they focus heavily on industry-dominating Flash software and character development.
98. The Animation Workshop – Denmark
When your entire focus is animation, you get pretty good at it; when all you teach is animation, you get pretty good at that too. The Animation Workshop's sole focus on animation has paid off as they have become the top Scandinavian animation school, and one of the best in Europe. The school has five departments, each focusing on a different element of animation; each department enrolls a limited number of students annually—so that they maintain their great teacher-to-student ratio. Despite their northerly location the school and faculty have fostered tight relationships with the European animation community and have landed positions for their graduates at DreamWorks in the U.S, Brown Bag Films in Ireland, Aardman in the U.K., Cartoon-Film in Germany, Folimage in France, BRB in Spain and more.
97. The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) – Prague, Czech Republic
The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) takes a unique approach to preparing their students to work in the animation industry, they require at least one (most students complete two) short film(s) before graduation. These short films are made in conjunction with the production, editing, sound and photography departments so the animation grads leave school with a professional-looking film; films that regularly score the school's graduates entry level jobs at prominent studios across Europe. FAMU has two animation programs, a three-year bachelor’s program and a five-year master's. Their master's program in animation is extremely tough to get into though as they accept just five students annually.
96. 9Zeros – Spain
9Zeros in Spain hosts three four-year animation programs: Cartooning, 3D Animation and Stop Motion. The stop-motion program steals the show at this school though as the 400-hour program is good—and the only one on the continent. This boutique program accepts just 120 students a year. Included in the program is an internship with European-based studios that the school maintains close ties with and an end-of-the-program final project to add to their portfolio. The Spanish animation scene absorbs most of 9Zeros' graduates.
95. La Poudrière – France
La Poudrière is an animation school created over a decade ago by France's most-prominent animation studio, Folimage. The directors at Folimage designed La Poudrière's program in an interesting way...there is no faculty. Instead the students are taught by the 60 to 80 guest lecturers that rotate through the campus annually. The school's two-year animation program focuses heavily on animated film directing, has a max of 10 students per class and is taught primarily via supervised projects to ensure that students get the most hands-on experience possible and leave school with a hefty portfolio. Another interesting, and highly realistic, part of the program is that students are forced to create their work within given budgets and time schedules.
94. Art Center College of Design – Pasadena, CA
The Art Center College of Design (often referred to simply as the 'Art Center') has been regularly listed as a top art/design school by BusinessWeek, U.S. News, DesignIntelligence, and U.S. News & World Report. Their degree programs in Entertainment Design, Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration and Interaction Design all offer tempting elements to aspiring animators, designers and game designers. Their courses are heavily influenced by pop culture, hand and life drawing and a mixture of emerging media.
93. California State University Long Beach – Long Beach, CA
If living in Long Beach, California wasn't enough to sell prospective design students on going to California State University Long Beach, then the program the school created would do it. Their BA and BFA degree programs in Graphic Design, Illustration and Studio Art offer interesting tracks in illustration and/or animation; meaning they train artists first, then turn them into animators. This strategy is working well because California's top animation studios recruit from CSU Long Beach. They also offer interesting media courses in their Journalism and Mass Communications department.
92. California State University Northridge – Northridge, CA
This little beauty was a favorite amongst the employers surveyed in our Interview Series, and was mentioned by many as a school they regularly recruit from. Can't blame 'em really, because their BA degrees in Animation, Video/Digital art, Graphic Design and Illustration when combined with electives from their Studio Art, Video/Digital Art, Visual Communication and Graphic Design concentrations create superhero-like graduates (think: unstoppable).
91. National Institute of Design – Ahmedabad, India
The National Institute of Design is India's foremost institution teaching design and animation, and considering how good the animation talent is coming out of India these days, that says a lot. The school's mingling courses in Graphic Design, Animation Film Design, Film & Video Communication and Exhibition (Spatial) Design are turning out incredibly artsy animators that are providing steady competition for American animation studios. While nobody in animation and gaming likes to talk about outsourcing, NID is the school training the animation masters behind the trend, training artists as well as software experts. They're good, real good.
90. Emily Carr University of Art and Design – Vancouver, BC, Canada
You will notice a massive amount of Vancouver animation schools making the list, but this should come as no surprise given their massively successful animation scene and ability to usurp a large amount of animation graduates. The Emily Carr University of Art and Design is another Vancouver-based art and design school to proudly make our list. But we couldn't pick just one program from Emily Carr to add to this list because the strength of the school is mutually reinforcing the artistic education of its students via multidisciplinary groups, electives and through major/minor combos. The mix of courses between the school's well-known Animation major, Interactive + Social Media Arts major, Communication Design major, Industrial Design major, Interaction Design major, Film, Video + Integrated Media major, Illustration major and Visual Arts major have created a symbiotic place to learn an amazingly-broad spectrum of visual and computer-aided arts. Students enjoy their university experience at Emily Carr due to the incredibly talented student body, students with whom they get to network and work on a daily basis. This talented student body provides regular doses of inspiration and artistic creativity.
89. Animation Portfolio Workshop – Toronto, Canada
The Animation Portfolio Workshop may seem like an unlikely candidate for this list, but if you're applying to any schools on this list with tough portfolio requirements (which is the majority of them) they could help save your academic career. For years the school has been a well-kept Canadian secret that helps aspiring students get into Canada's toughest animation schools, like Sheridan College, VFS, Capilano and Ryerson, by teaching ancillary courses in Life Drawing for Animation and other portfolio-building techniques. The rest of the world would do well to recognize the importance of this school and smart aspiring American animators use it to get a competitive advantage when applying to schools like CalArts, RISD and MICA.
88. Redhouse College of Animation – Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Saskatoon isn't exactly an animation hub, but since Canada does so well educating animators we gave Saskatoon's Redhouse College of Animation a shot. And we're glad we did. This extremely small school has only two programs: Computer Animation and Classical Animation; but really, what more do you need? This small school is making a name for themselves though, especially with their Classical Animation program. On the Redhouse website they write a quote from Pixar about animation education, “avoid just learning packages of software. Today’s packages will be replaced several times during your school career, and many studios use proprietary software that you cannot learn in school anyway”, so that is what Redhouse did with their Classical Animation program. They took out the burdensome software training and instead focus on artistic fundamentals like Storyboarding, Animation History, Life Drawing (pervasive throughout all three years of the course), Character & Environmental Design and Effects Animation. So instead of creating graduates with a well-rounded education that includes electives in Psych 101 and Sociology, they train classic animators—trained in the way of old. A smart idea that has made them an up-and-coming school to watch.
87. Ohio Wesleyan University – Delaware, Ohio
Ohio Wesleyan University's School of Fine Arts has long been regarded as a top art school in the country but its animation-related programs have remained a well-kept secret. Their BA and BFA degree programs in Computer Imaging and Graphic Design offer a combination of software-driven, modern digital art with classic drawing and illustration skills that produce computer-aided designers that can actually DRAW. A rare thing these days it seems. The course is aimed more at graphic design than animation or game design (although there is an optional focus in animation) but their graduates are scoring jobs that software-trained graduates alone don't qualify for. Their teaching of color and design principles combined with their up-to-date Adobe software creates industry-ready grads that the industry loves.
86. Hampshire College – Amherst, MA
Hampshire College is another boutique school to make the list for their unique approach to education. At Hampshire you can pick your own courses, and I'm not just talking electives. Students at Hampshire select their own major then pick the courses that appeal to them; a fully customizable form of education. The only problem with this method is choosing from their wide-selection of unique courses like Ordering the World: From Gutenberg to Google, Pixelbending, Women in Animation, New Media: Innovation, Adoption, Future, Cinema, and New Media and Digital Art: Multimedia and Malleability and Interactivity. And of course they have all the animation fundamentals crammed in there too. Hampshire’s Animation and Digital Art program gets an A+ for creativity. The program also includes plenty of portfolio-producing work, group projects and networking opportunities. The program's alumni work at high-profile studios like Pixar, Rhythm & Hues, South Park, The Cartoon Network and more.
85. Denison University – Granville, OH
Denison University in Granville, Ohio is one of those small little boutique wonder colleges, and with only 2,100 students annually the school is built for the personal approach. To put the personal touch in perspective: their lecture halls only have the capacity for 30 people. But class size alone isn't why their Studio Art program caught our eye. The school's small and tight-knit faculty has put together an art program worthy of the name studio art; the program teaches students about all types of studio art, both electronic and web-based, and classical art and art history. Students are required to take both 2 and 3D animation classes and are given elective choices within photography, video, performance art, additional animation classes (in case you hadn't gotten enough already) or web-based studio work. They also have a fantastic Cinema program that lends many courses to the Studio Art students, so much so that many students take Cinema/Studio Art as a double major.
84. LaSalle College International Vancouver – Vancouver, BC, Canada
LaSalle College International in Vancouver is another one of the West Coast's best kept secrets. In the heart of downtown Vancouver’s business district, this design school has an inspiring location to train not only the technical skills but also the business side of the industry. They offer two cool courses: 2D & 3D Animation and Graphic Design. Their Graphic Design course is their show-stealer though, and appeals a wide-range of aspiring design professionals because it encompasses pretty much everything. This includes video & audio editing, 2D animation, typography, photography, print and illustration, and more. Despite being a Graphic Design course, it provides an all-encompassing education that its graduates can use to enter a multitude of industries, including animation, due to their full understanding of the production process. It almost renders their animation program obsolete for self-taught software geeks.
83. ANOMALIA – Czech Republic
I think it is important to recognize that animation education never stops. And it certainly doesn't end after a 4-year degree. Working in the animation industry means constantly learning; learning new tools, new plugins, new techniques. ANOMALIA, a professional training and 3D animation network, caters to exactly this style of learning. It may be a little strange to add unaccredited ANOMALIA to this list but their summer courses and video teaching sessions are beyond reproach. This isn't a rinky-dink set of courses though, their guest lecturers and teachers are veterans in the industry who work for institutions and studios like Animation Mentor, Pixar (multiple teachers) and Les Gobelins. Their courses include subjects like Pantomime for Animators, Studio Pipeline and Character Design for 3D.
82. University of West-England – Bristol, England
The University of West-England's Bristol School of Animation is another UK school to make the list (side note: the UK seems to be doing a great job turning out internationally qualified animators). The creatively structured curriculum allows students in the final years of the program to choose their own direction (which often focus on either hand-drawn or stop-motion animation), and a self-directed final project that makes a good addition to their graduating portfolios. Note though that you have to have a portfolio of creative works just to get into the program initially. UWE is a good choice for students who don't mind group work (or need experience in it) because most of their projects and courses focus on working as a team and on group filmmaking and narrative. Music aficionados will enjoy the school's relationship with the Royal Academy of Music, and many animation students choose to work with RAM students who score their animation projects. International guest lecturers are also commonplace, as are field studies. UWE is a popular pick amongst working students as the three-year curriculum can be spread over six years on a part-time basis for students who can't commit the monstrous amount of hours due to other commitments (read: financial)
Don't worry, you don't have to be able to pronounce Supinfocum's name to go there. The French seem to be doing a fantastic job producing graduates who excel in narrative film and animation, and Supinfocum is no different. The school's animation program spends the first two years teaching artistic fundamentals like Design, Art, History, Perspective, etc., before building on that base with advanced technical skills like 3D Study, Compositing, Production, Scripting and Storyboarding. In the fifth and final year of the program students dedicate an entire year to producing a group-project based CG film. If you're thinking that Supinfocum might be right for you, be fully prepared to spend your first couple years learning about art first, before finally ever touching on animation. Perhaps this is the way all animation educations should progress.
80. Camera Obscura School of Art – Israel
The Camera Obscura School of Art in Israel is another fantastically kept little secret to make this list. Perhaps they intend to be obscure given their name. The school's four animation design specializations each offer different paths to the school's small body of students: Interactive and Internet, Animation, Design for Media, and Media-Art. Their eclectic programs all spill over into one another so their students get a well-rounded education that focuses on technical skills, technological innovation and professional business skills. The intriguing cultural setting of Israel seems to be creating some interesting animators indeed.
79. Florida International University – Miami, FL
Future animators with solid software skills who want to fine-tune their artistic side head to Florida International University's Studio Art program. The combination of Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Photography and Digital Art seems to breed a unique generation of artistic young animators. They are highly sought-after by studios looking for artists versed in software, not software jockeys with a high school art class under their belt.
78. Pratt Institute– New York, NY
The Pratt Institute in New York's Computer Animation and Video program covers all the basics, like 2D animation, 3D animation, digital video titling sequences and editing. While they may be a little too technical, their pragmatic approach to animation turns out some highly technical and industry-ready graduates. Oh and its located in happening New York City, not Bummsville Idaho, which can't hurt.
77. Nanyang Technological University – Singapore
Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design and Media offers a few different degree programs: Digital Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Interactive Media, Photography & Digital Imaging, Product Design and Visual Communication. Each one has its merits but the gold value is being able to mix courses through elective structures. Their high-profile faculty of Asian animation professionals has created a unique form of technology-infused experimental animation techniques—which puts graduates on the cutting-edge of the industry. Many North American students head to Nanyang for their unique brand of education, then head back to the American mainland to be head-hunted by forward-thinking studios. The creativity infusion created by living in happening Singapore doesn't seem to hurt either. Another coup for the school is that they actively promote their business modules in order to give their students an edge in the business side of the animation industry.
Not everyone looking for an animation/gaming education is willing to take it to the master's level (although I would imagine the name alone is appealing: 'master's' makes their students sound like digital samurai), but many who do head to Southern Methodist University's Guildhall. Guildhall's Master's program in Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development is widely considered the premiere post-grad gaming program in the country (and there is a long list of programs), and for good reason: the 400 graduates and alumni that have graduated in the last eight years now hold prominent positions at over 140 of the world's top gaming studios. I guess they didn't want to get an entry-level position with a BA and spend a decade working their way up. Smart move considering the Master's course is just two years long (albeit an intense two years).
75. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) - Manchester, NH
Get your game-on at Southern New Hampshire University's Game Design and Development program. This bad-ass little program made the list because it’s a jam-packed program that is surprisingly affordable. You can do it online but their facilities are pretty impressive so many students opt for the on-campus experience. Their Game Design and Dev program can be taken either as a bachelor's or master's course, although the thing I dig the most about this program is that their bachelor's level program offers many courses that you generally only see at a master's level, like Artificial Intelligence for eBusiness, World Mythology, Object Oriented Analysis and Design, Journalism Practicum, Promotional Research & Media Management, Cognitive Psychology, Consumer Behavior and Principles of Integrated Marketing Communications. There really isn't another program in the country that offers these advanced-level courses in bachelor's degree program. To boot the price tag is cheaper than many game design-specific schools because it is offered through a state-funded university.
74. Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University had a stroke of genius when they combined their Media Arts & Technology and Media and Communication Technology programs to create their Media and Information program. This is another gem for entrepreneurial types as it offers courses on game development, new media AND management. The sky is the limit when it comes to how well educated you want to be as they offer the program in bachelor's, master's AND PhD degree formats.
73. Digital Hollywood University -- Japan
Surprise! The Digital Hollywood University isn't in Hollywood, it is in Japan. This high-profile Japanese animation school has been catering to the Asian animation community since its founding in 2004. With 6 branches in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Sapporo and Fukuoka, students have the option to choose their location (in case they can't afford expensive Tokyo). The school is able to maintain a relatively high acceptance rate despite their coveted reputation, making them a solid alternative to the near-impossible to get into Tokyo Design Academy. Their 4-year program in the Digital Arts is mixed with unique working relationships with corporations like Hitachi, so their grads create industry connections while still in school and likely have job offers upon graduation.
72. Rochester Institute of Technology – Rochester, NY
The Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Film and Animation is kickin' it old school with their Animation undergrad program—its focus is 2D. RIT's Animation, Motion Picture Science, Production and Film & Animation programs have great pedigrees—they were created jointly by the faculty, students and working alumni. No wonder their programs cater realistically to the animation and film industry. They also offer a couple neat little side certificate programs in Apple Training and Certifications and Filmmaking Abroad.
71. Northeastern University – Boston, MA
Future animation professionals looking to really explore the explosive new media genres are flocking in spades to Northeastern University's Game Design an Interactive Media programs. Students in either program can opt to combine curriculum with a partner program, like Computer Science, Graphic Design, Digital Art, Music Technology, Architecture, Business, Physics or what have you. The senior-year Capstone project is the most interesting final-year project on this list, with options to work with other majors and choose random mediums, including (but certainly not limited to) games, interactive stories, short animated films, educational web sites, Web 2.0 social networking, etc. Creative students looking to be masters of their own destiny do VERY well at Northeastern. Side note: they also have a great journalism program (think: electives) that is popular amongst the entrepreneurial gaming and media students.
60. College of Architecture and the Arts at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) – Chicago, IL
The College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois's School of Art & Design offers three unique animation-related programs that are a little non-traditional. Their BFA programs in Moving Image, New Media Arts and Graphic Design focus on fusing traditional elements of art and design with new forms of media. The students that graduate from the program have an eye for the avant-garde and are able to produce original creations for the moving image, visual effects and animation industry.
Mount Ida College's BS degree in Computer Animation is a good technical program for those interested in the computer side of animation as it offers software-focused programs like Computer Animation, Character Setup, Internet Site Design, Animation Pre/Post-production, History of Computer Animation and Concept Development. Its graduates find careers in non-film fields like video game design, event design, 3D modeling, character animation and visual effects. Their on-campus Kawaii Mustang Anime Club is a favorite among the computer animation students who want to fully involve themselves in the art form, even outside of class.
58. Hongik University – South Korea
Hongik University in South Korea has long had a solid reputation for its animation program, but its quasi-recent addition (2002) of the street-cred sounding 'School of Game' has made it a real treasure for prospective animation students. Their School of Game (and yes, I DO just love saying that) has two different yet major streams, one on Game Software and the other Game Graphics. Both are leading the Asian video game design market. As a bonus, students get to choose electives from their other entertainment-focused courses like animation and multimedia design. They also have some great engineering and business management courses that are ideal for students hoping to become animation entrepreneurs.
Students looking for a truly rounded, multidisciplinary education often head to the École Nationale Superieure Des Arts Decoratifs (ENSAD). ENSAD's use of shared classes and teamwork on multidisciplinary projects ensure that their animation students network with other film and design students. They focus on drawing as a visual art form so students graduate not only with a portfolio of short animations but also hand-drawn sketches and illustrations.
56. University of South Florida - Tampa, Florida
The University of South Florida's Digital Video and Electronic Arts program is another course load that incorporates a multidisciplinary education into one rock star program. The school's studio's cutting-edge approach to technology-infused digital arts ensures that their students are technically trained on state-of-the-art equipment, including a 16-person Apple-hardware, Adobe-software studio (to which the students have 24-hour access) and a 'media cage' with borrowable top-end cameras, mics, tripods, etc. While the program isn't solely dedicated to animation, it provides a broad-spectrum education that focuses on all the film art skills—both pre- and post-production, like Video and Sound Installation, Distance Collaborations, Narrative Video, Abstract Video, Web Art and more. Future animators looking to be more than just software jockeys are attending USF.
55. Academy of Media Arts – Cologne, Germany
A German visual arts school? It turns out they can do a lot more than design high-performance vehicles—they're pretty good at teaching animation too. The Academy of Media Arts hosts a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in the entertainment arts. Their programs focus on artistic excellence through repetitive practice and technical knowledge usurped through theoretical lectures and guest-lecturer seminars. As you can imagine the school's equipment is state-of-the-art. The school specializes in animation, video and light art, media design, scenography, directing, experimental film, experimental computer sciences and sound—making for an extremely interesting selection of electives.
54. National Film and Television School - London, England
While most professionals working in the animation and gaming industry today are doing so with an undergraduate degree—the people LEADING the business have learned the critical thinking skills only learned through a post-graduate course. That seems to be the story coming out of the National Film and Television School in London. Their industry-leading graduate students leverage the in-depth industry knowledge gained from the school's Digital Post Production, Directing Animation, Games Design and Development and Production Design post-graduate courses to re-envision today's film, animation and gaming industries. If living in dreary old London doesn't tickle your fancy, know that many of their graduates move on to join or create top production houses across Europe and North America.
53. The Los Angeles Film School – LA, California
The LA Film School earned a prominent place on this list largely based on their location. While this seems unfair, their currently-working-in-the-industry faculty has connections to the LA film industry that teachers in Bummsville, Idaho just won't have. And this pays off in spades for their students. Adding the LA Film School to this list for their location and faculty isn't meant to detract anything from their programs because they do offer two well-regarded Associate of Science degrees programs: in Computer Animation and Game Production.
52. Tokyo Design Academy – Tokyo, Japan
Out of respect to Anime and the other Japanese animation arts we certainly had to include Japan's most-respected animation school, the Tokyo Design Academy. If you have a deep appreciation for Asian animation—and can afford to live in Tokyo—then the Design Academy might just be in the cards for you. It isn't for the weak of heart though because it is probably the most strenuous and soul-consuming program on this list. Oh, and it ain't cheap and you better know how to draw because it focuses heavily on illustration and hand-drawn pieces. The school focuses heavily on the Anime, Manga and Comic art forms.
51. Art Institute (Ai) of Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Art Institute (Ai) of Minnesota isn't the only Art Institute campus to make the list, but it does seem to stand-out within the industry. Perhaps this is because of the breadth of programs (and electives!) they offer, which include: AA and BS degrees in Web Design & Interactive Media, a BS in Audio Production, a BS in Digital Film & Video Production, a BS in Media Arts & Animation, a BS in Visual Effects & Motion Graphics and diploma programs in Digital Image Management, Web Design & Development and Web Design & Interactive Communications. Despite the cross over in electives the school does focus on very specific training, which is likely why their graduates have success finding entry-level jobs in specific aspects of the animation industry.
50. The Vizlab at Texas A&M – College Station, Texas
The Vizlab at Texas A&M offers a Visualization program (Bachelors, Masters, and MFA) that we felt screamed to be on this list. The program blends all aspects of visualization together, including: design, art history, life drawing, and more. It trains computer-based graphic designers to explore a variety of computer and life sciences to incorporate into their future work. The program is incredibly original, and visionary with graduates heavily populating the technical directing roles at major visual effects and animation house
49. University of Texas – Austin and Dallas, Texas
The University of Texas offers a traditional animation program through their UT Dallas campus and have some great industry-leading work coming out of their Computer Graphics & Animation Lab. Courses offered at UT Dallas include: Business and the Digital Arts, Virtual Environments, Story-Telling for New Media, Motion Capture Animation, Computer Game Development, and many more.
48. Full Sail University in Florida – Winterpark, Florida
Full Sail University offers Bachelor's degrees in Digital Arts and Design, Game Art, Game Development, Computer Animation and a Master's in Game Design. It’s no wonder they were named as one of Electronic Gaming Monthly's Top 5 Game Design Schools in the World. Their specialization in the realm of gaming education means that their students graduate with specific and marketable skills. Their regarded faculty carefully move the students through the entire game production cycle with courses on: Rules of the Game, Structure of Game Design, Operating Systems, Game Networking, Game Pre-Production, Game Planning and Architecture, and Programming. They also have a high job-placement rate, which is good because you will need a solid job to pay back the annual $30,000+ in student debt.
47. The University of Nebraska's Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film – Lincoln, NE
The University if Nebraska's Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film offers a well-regarded undergrad program, a BFA in Film & New Media Production. For those interested in design, theatrics or technical production they have amazing theater electives that can broaden your horizons in the entertainment field. Their Film and New Media Production course offers a wide range of courses that focus on film and digital video production and post-production, screen writing, new media design, digital media content, film special effects, virtual reality, web site design, computer animation. Their not-so-narrow focus on a variety of entertainment mediums means their students have a variety of career options upon graduation.
46. Cleveland State University – Cleveland, OH
Cleveland State University's Film & Digital Media degree is a solid choice for anyone extremely interested in the entire film-making process—not just the animation side (although they teach that in spades too). Their program combines traditional animation training with visual effects and filmmaking to create graduates that understand the entire film cycle and are ready for a career in a multitude of jobs. Their graduates go on to find jobs primarily in film production so this isn't a school for aspiring experimental or niche animators. Once students have finished the foundations courses they choose a 'special track' concentrations out of three options: digital media, film, or media studies.
45. Kent State University – Kent and Tuscarawas Campuses – Kent and New Philadelphia, OH
Many of the schools on our list offer specialized programs in animation, video game design or design; Kent State University offers a 3-in-1 program that tidily bundles all three. For aspiring designers interested in all forms of computer-aided design Kent State's Associate of Applied Science in Computer Design, Animation and Game Design degree will give you just that. Their highly technical degree prepares graduates to work as technical illustrators and drafters/design technicians in the computer animation and game design industries.
44. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh's various Media Arts programs are excellent. They offer a few different degree programs that helped them make the list, including: Digital Filmmaking & Video Production Associate of Science, Web Design & Interactive Media Associate of Science, Game & Art Design Bachelor of Science, Media Arts & Animation Bachelor of Science, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics Bachelor of Science and their 2D Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling and Character Animation for Games certificates. Many grads have successfully combined a degree with certificate specializations to make themselves uber-marketable, although AI’s degree programs are certainly specific enough. They have a state-of-the-art facility but this is only a bonus to their students because tuition is extremely reasonable for the quality of the program and facility.
43. Santa Monica College California – Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica College California's Associate in Arts Degree in Entertainment Technology is possibly the most aptly named course I have seen yet. Their grasp on the wide-array of career options available to today's animators is reflected in their curriculum, with concentrations in 2D Animation, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, 3D Rendering, Digital Effects and 3D Game Design. They also have a great Film program. Santa Monica College California is a great choice for aspiring animators who know exactly what they want out of an animation education. The program is rigorous though—as are all animation programs worth their weight in tuition.
41. Art Institute (Ai) of Vancouver – Vancouver, BC, Canada
Another one of the Art Institute campuses to make the list, Vancouver is a solid choice for anyone looking to get into the animation, video game design and visual effects industry as Vancouver is leading North America in available animation industry jobs. The faculty at Ai Vancouver have deep ties to the Vancouver film industry which seems to have given the program's job placement rate a giant boost. The school's Media Arts department offers a variety of career focuses and degrees with their BS of Game Programming and Bachelor of Applied Design in Web Design degree programs. For those interested in getting into a specific career choice quickly they also offer 3D Modeling for Animation & Games, Animation Art & Design, Digital Film & Video, Game Art & Design, VFX for Film & Television, Visual & Game Programming and Web Design & Interactive Media diploma programs. The Ai Vancouver campus was ranked #6 on the Princeton Review.
40. Algonquin College - Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa's Algonquin College is a school for pragmatic artists, as it is designed specifically around getting a job in animation. They teach useful, specific skills that gear students toward specific animation careers like posers (real career title by the way), clean-up artists, layout artists, background artists, as well as more general animators and 3D animators. Their students have a great track record getting their foot in the door of the industry by being able to fill niche positions. Another claim to fame is their choosing to be a performance-based animation school that emphasizes acting and body mechanics, giving their students hands-on, real-world character lessons.
39. Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) – Columbus, OH
For students looking to become a 'real' animator, not a button-pusher or software jockey, the Columbus College of Art and Design could be a good choice. They focus primarily on story and narrative, and make 18 art electives mandatory (to fill in the artistic blanks between technique/fundamental training and narrative). They have a large, full-time, long-term faculty that leads to program continuity unseen in many other colleges. Their faculty has been rated as some of the most attentive in the country, making them a solid choice for students looking for more one-on-one teacher time.
Ohio State University's Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design has been turning out some of the industry's most visionary graduates for some time. This is no surprise of course, given their originality-driven curriculum with classes like Experimental & Independent Animation, Video Game Prototyping and Experimental Scripting for Animation in Maya. No other schools works so hard to quickly pass animation basics and get to the industry-revolutionizing techniques.
37. Emerson College – Boston, MA
Through their Visual & Media Arts department, Emerson College hosts two animation programs: a BA (44 course credits) and a BFA (60 credits). Their focus seems to be on producing critical-minded animators that will pull the animation industry away from its rather derivative course, with mandatory courses like “Media Criticism and Theory” and “Alternative Production Techniques for Motion Pictures”. Their elective choices are vast, allowing their students to wander off into other genres like Producing and Cinematography.
36. The Art Institute of Boston/Lesley College – Boston, USA
Lesley College's Art Institute of Boston offers a 4-year Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a 2-year Advanced Professional Certificate course in animation. Their BFA is their bread-and-butter program though, which focuses first on the basic foundational courses before moving on to more advanced techniques like storytelling. Their fundamental-based courses focus, separately, on experimental cell, stop motion, and 2D and 3D computer animation. Wisely, they let the electives take care of the artistic-centric sides of the business—so that no class time is wasted. Noted graduates work at prominent studios like Film Roman, Klasky Csupo, Nickelodeon, HBO, Rock Star, and Blue Sky.
35. University of the Arts (UArts) – Philadelphia, PA
The University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia has worked hard to create a mix of commercial animation skills and fine art backgrounds—and they've succeeded. Their animation BA program employs faculty across a broad range of experience, from creative arts to stop-motion to hand-drawn animation. While that might sound like a lot of other schools on this list, the school does do some things uniquely—not just well—like their international approach to creating industry connections. UArts has a summer workshop for its students at the École Européene Supérieure de l’Image in France and offers their students the chance to attend the Annecy International Festival of Animation in the French Alps and the Ottawa International Animation Festival in Canada. For the last few years the school has even helped their students successfully get their work showcased at the reknowned Ottawa International Film Festival. The school has rich contacts in the New York animation industry and have hooked their students up with pre-graduation internships at top New York animation studios. The school's graduates have gone on to win awards at the Underground Film Festival, New York Emerging Filmmakers Series, Anima Mundi Brazil, the Red Bank Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival, and have secured jobs at Disney, the NFL, UNICEF, Sony, Nickelodeon and more.
Parsons The New School for Design is at the top of their game in most of the education realms in which they teach. This is certainly true in graphic design, animation, game design and motion graphics. Their BFA program in Design and Technology, like most of their programs, specializes in the experimental side of animation and game design after recognizing the shift in the industry to highly-creative production with lower production costs. Parsons is the choice for entrepreneurial-minded aspiring animators as they focus on entrepreneurial skills in addition to traditional skills and techniques. Their studios are state-of-the-art, running industry-favored software like Flash, Maya, Softimage, After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
33. Academy of Art University – San Francisco, CA
If you can stand living in one of the greatest cities in the country while being cooped up in a studio for endless years on end, then head to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Their School of Animation & Visual Effects offers some extremely wearing yet top-notch courses in Illustration, Maya Character Animation, Stop Motion Animation and Storyboarding. Be warned though that this program will take you 5 or 6 years if you stick to the recommended 4 course per semester load (the workload demands of each course may have you overworked with more than 4 courses) and there is a significant dropout rate due to the rigor of the courses. On the bright side—if you haven't been scared away yet—it’s one of the most economical high-end programs on the western seaboard. Their dedicated and extremely talented student body means that only the best make it and all compete against each other for the attention of recruiters from Blue Sky, Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks, Pixar and Rhythm & Hues among others.
32. Filmakademie Baden – Wuerttemburg, Germany
The Filmakademie Baden in Germany is one of the world's most renowned film schools, and most of that sought-after reputation is from its Institute for Animation and Visual Effects. Their project-oriented curriculum in animation is complimented with a host of other film-related electives like scriptwriting, directing, cinematography, film production and production design. Their 300+ faculty are esteemed members from the European filmmaking community and assist in the production of over 250 student films annually—many of which take top ranking spots in international film festivals around the world. Their animation program is known throughout the world as one that produces the highest-quality graduates. Now for the bad news/good news scenario: the only downside being that it takes a year of practical experience in the business to even be accepted to the school, however; they do have an International Guest Student Programme that allows students from other film schools to do short exchange programs at the Filmakademie.
31. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) – Los Angeles, CA
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising is another quirkily-named school to make our list (this is an animation/design/gaming list after all) but their graphic design programs are just too good to pass up. FIDM has a solid reputation for training the country's top designers, and their Graphic Design courses are just that—but on technological steroids. Students in the Graphic Design program get to choose either a Branding or Entertainment track (one guess which one helped FIDM make this list), giving them an artistic electronic arts pedigree. With the best teachers in the game and a beautiful (and state-of-the-art) campus it isn't hard to see why it attracts students, but what attracts employers to those students is the incredible portfolios, artistic ability and master Flash software abilities.
30. Beijing Film Academy (BFA) – Beijing, China
The Bejing Film Academy (BFA) has the distinction of being THE largest institution specializing in film studies anywhere in the world. In addition to being the biggest they are also one of the best, being recognized annually for their student and faculty's achievements in film production. When the school began in 1950 it started with just two departments: The School of Photography and the Animation School. Since then those two programs have grown incredibly and solidified their teaching experience. The school has since branched out to include 5 different schools with over 7 individual film-themed departments. Now not only are the school's animation students receiving the best education in Asia but they also have a plethora of film-related arts to study as electives. They also have tons of facilities that encourage student participation, like the Youth Film Studio, the Film and Television Experimental Laboratory, the Television Program Production Center, the Digital Art and Technology Research Center, the Theoretical Studies Center and their Audiovisual Publications Publishing House. If Asian animation has always tickled your fancy then BFA would be a good choice; but be warned, it has one of the lowest acceptance rates on the continent, choosing just 400-500 students from over 100,000 applicants.
29. Ontario College of Art and Design – Toronto, Canada
OCAD is considered by many to be Canada's TOP art school and as such has arguably the top teaching talent in the country. The school's artistic pedigree in combination with it’s creative course options won them a place on this list despite not focusing on traditional animation or gaming. Their courses include: Guerrilla Entrepreneurism, Exploration, Insight and Foresight in Design, Illustrative Activism, Motion Graphics, Sequential Narrative, Virtual Communities, Play Behaviour and Game Design, Interactive Communication: Clever Devices, Media, Messages and the Cultural Landscape and Illustration and the Rise of Popular Culture. Be warned though: Admission to OCAD is highyl selective so you better know how to draw and have a super-creative portfolio.
28. La Fémis – Paris, France
Fondation Européenne pour les Métiers de l’Image et du Son (La Fémis) is part of the La École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l'Image et du Son, and is formerly known as the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC). Confusing names and acronyms aside, students and alumni have time and time again won prestigious awards, including the Cannes Film Festival's Golden Palm, Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion and the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear. The school has a distinguished reputation aside from the awards too, having graduated 1,500 film industry professionals, like Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, Theo Angelopoulos, Arnaud Desplechin and Pascale Ferran. The four-year programs at La Femis are producing well-rounded and highly trained individuals thanks to their curriculum formula of doing one year of general film studies (including a rotating schedule of practicing every different technical position), then breaking off into specific departments for the second and third years, then finishing with a year end-of-studies project where they create their own final projects and assist other classmates in producing their "travail de fin d'études".
27. Tisch School of the Arts at NYU – New York, NY
NYU's Tisch School of the Arts teaches interesting film, animation and production courses via the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film, Television, & New Media (sometimes reffered to as the NYU film school). If you haven't heard of the institute itself, you've likely heard of some of its graduates, like Oliver Stone, M. Night Shyamalan, Joel Coen, Martin Scorsese andSpike Lee. Their animation courses are taught within the broader spectrum of Film and TV studies yet offer a broad animation-specific education with classes like 2D animation, 3D animation, storyboarding, titles, optical and digital effects, life drawing and history and criticism classes. In addition to having known names on the faculty they also host special guests, guest lecturers and visiting artists, including Chuck Jones, Nick Park, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis and Faith Hubley. Disney, DeamWorks, Warner Bros, LucasArts, R/GA, Blue Sky, MTV and Nickelodeon all recruit from Tisch.
26. Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) – Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Minneapolis College of Art and Design's (MCAD) animation program has been creating animation generalists for quite some time. Their wide-reaching approach to animation education includes all major aspects of the industry, from stop-motion to rotoscoping and rigging to hand-drawn character animations. They do focus heavily on hand drawing and life-drawing so some natural artistic ability is required (and screened for in admissions) in their prospective students. The school seems to have a special knack for training for the video game industry (despite it being a general animation course) as many of their graduates have gone on to work for the big gaming producers.
25. Royal College of Art – London, England
You may have noticed that many of the schools on this list are within North America, not our fault that we've got so many kick-ass animation and design schools though. There is one international selection however, that can't be touched by American counterparts (actually I'm not sure there are any), the Royal College of Art in London. This post-graduate school is widening the mental concepts of its students by delving deeper into Animation, Information Experience Design and Visual Communications than any undergrad could dream of. Their comprehensive Masters and PhD programs are educating animation and design professionals to not only look outside the box—but to redesign it. Their critical thinking approach to animation is shaping the leaders of tomorrow's animation powerhouses to discontinue the derivative approach to the field. The courses are taught by teachers exploring (with the help of their students) subjects like the representation of water and cloth in 3D animation, the creative slip between film and digital methods of production, devising a creative editing toolkit, exploring the relationship between painting and writing, and animation and psychoanalysis. The school of Communication's close ties to the Drawing Studio encourages students to explore things like mark-making and drawing and abstraction and creative narrative. While you need an undergraduate degree and portfolio (amongst other things) just to get in, the school will expand your knowledge base and teach you how to think for yourself and lead the animation industry in bold new directions.
24. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA
Drexel University's Animation & Visual Effects major is a well-regarded program thanks to its focus on story-telling as a digital art form—BUT, it is well overshadowed by the University's Replay gaming department. Replay is a division of Drexel that focuses entirely on game design, art, production, programming and development. The school offers three highly acclaimed programs: a BS in Game Art & Production and an MS in Digital Media (both through Drexel's Westphal College of Media Arts and Design) and a BS in Game Programming and Development (via their College of Engineering). As the different programs are offered via different departments, one through the Arts and Design college and the other via their Engineering college, they focus on very different elements of the video game design field. All three programs are highly acclaimed and have placed it within the Top 10 in the Princeton Review and the Top 10 list by Gamepro Media. The Replay Lab uses state-of-the-art technology to teach technical skills in game creation. You can see Replay alumni in the credits of many hit video games for Xbox, Nintendo Wii and Microsoft.
23. Becker College – Worcester, MA
Gamers—start your engines. Then drive over to Becker College and get an application because the Princeton Review rated their Computer Game Design program in the top 10 gaming schools in the nation. This isn't a surprise as the school has highly-regarded classes like Literary Development of Virtual Worlds, Computer Illustration for Game Design, Game Production and Prototyping and Techniques of Vector and Raster Imaging. They have an internship and students complete two full games in their senior year. Their location in Massachusetts is a good choice for an aspiring game designer because the state has 76 video game design companies—many for which the faculty have worked or currently are working.
22. The Gnomon Institute of Visual Effects – Hollywood, CA
The Gnomon Institute of Visual Effects was created by a former Alias Wavefront Applications Engineer who wasn't happy with the current animation and gaming educations out there, and the rinky-dink graduates coming out of them. So instead of sitting on his laurels he designed this one-of-a-kind school that focuses on the tools and techniques that are necessary to produce high-end digital content. Gnomon's constantly evolving curriculum currently focuses on courses in the Film, Gaming and Broadcast industries and offers a wide-array of courses in Entertainment Design and Digital Production for Entertainment. While they offer online courses in addition to on-campus classes, don't let the flexible facade fool you, this is one tough school. Their Maya Fast Track Course has become super popular with aspiring animators and game designers as it teaches the Maya tool and needed techniques to succeed in the industry, at an accelerated pace. Throughout their variety of programs they teach skills in 2D & 3D animation, drawing, design, effects, filmmaking, cinematography, color, compositing, character design and animation, history, modeling, scripting, match moving, lighting and rendering and much more. Their sole focus on design for the entertainment arts has allowed their students to fast track a solid education without requiring unrelated electives, as is the case with many 4-year university programs.
21. Champlain College – Burlington, VT
Some schools on this list have rock star animation programs, others superstar gaming programs; Champlain College combines them both with their Game Art & Animation degree program (voted by Game Pro Magazine at one of the top 10 institutions in the country at which to study game design). They focus on teaching their students the detail and high-end techniques needed to produce the look, feel and textures of a professional-grade video game or animation production. Students get to work in the school's state-of-the-art Game Studio, where they produce, amongst others things, a final game project and have access to Champlain's Emergent Media Center. Champlain Game Art & Animation graduates regularly gain meaningful employment in the industry after showcasing their end-of-the-course games at the Annual Game Development Senior Show. Another selling feature of the school is its network connections and guest lecturers (in the past these have included key figures from Electronic Arts, Artificial Mind and Movement, Cryptic Studios and America's Army). Aspiring industry professionals looking for a more general education can opt for (or change over to) the school's Creative Media or Graphic Design & Digital Media BFA programs; or for a more-focused education, they can choose the Game Design program. Champlain College's visual arts programs aren't for willy-nilly applicants as they require an entrance portfolio with at least 3-5 animation or creative works examples.
20. Animation Mentor - Emeryville, CA
There aren't many online schools making this list but Animation Mentor is too legit to quit. Their skill? Teaching animation without all the time-consuming frills by focusing purely on character animation. Their 18-month Character Animation program integrates fundamental software and techniques into their character animation classes so that they still provide a rather well-rounded education. Via their industry-working faculty and Career Services and Student Care centers they get their graduates feet in the door of the industry with entry-level jobs as Character Animators—and let's face it, the whole point of an animation education is to get your foot in the door. They also offer a quick 6-month course on Animals and Creatures...you know, the kind of important thing to know if you're hoping to work for Pixar, Disney or DreamWorks.
19. Bournemouth University – Dorset, England
Bournemouth University is home to The National Centre for Computer Animation, and a solid Computer Animation Arts BA program (and a 3D Computer Animation MA program). While the program has fairly industry-standard courses, the strength of the program and institution come by doing what they do very well. They also have near-constant guest lecturers from companies like Industrial Light & Magic, DreamWorks, Moving Picture Company, Glassworks, Lionhead, Alias, Electronic Arts and the USC IST Graphics Lab. As another selling point, the school's 4-year BA program can be cut down to 3 years by cutting out the final-year internship—which many students do after being recruited by top studios. The school is ranked #1 in the UK by 3D World Magazine (chosen by a team of advisors from the top major studios on the planet) who called Bournemouth “the National Centre for Computer Animation… one of the most famous and dependable sources for animation talent in the UK. Graduates can be found working at major studios worldwide.” The school seems to have a good working relationship with IL&M, where many of their students find work after graduation. In the past couple year’s alone Bournemouth graduates have earned spots in 20 international film fest screenings, 27 international TV screenings and have won 6 coveted international animation prizes.
18. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Cambridge, MA
The school that needs no introduction. And yes, MIT has an animation program. Well, sort of. It’s part and parcel of its Comparative Media Studies program (formerly Film and Media Studies), and features courses designed for an interdisciplinary study of a broad range of mediums, including film, TV, game design, virtual worlds, digital artworks, civic media, interactive writing and media communications. If you're wondering why the program earned such a prestigious spot on our list, firstly, THEY'RE MIT, and second the most successful and highly-sought after animators have a broad range of talents and need to understand the medium they are animating for. They also have a tangent in Singapore, with their highly regarded MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. MIT media grads, like almost all MIT grads are in demand--especially in video game design jobs. Only catch to this program: you have to get accepted to MIT first.
17. Vancouver Film School (VFS) – Vancouver, Canada
The Vancouver Film School (VFS) claims that they can cram the knowledge of a 4-year Animation BA course into just one year. Whether they can or not, their students do graduate with strong portfolios and jobs at companies like ILM, Pixar, Paramount, EMI, Dreamworks and EA. Their training includes courses in filmmaking, character animation and video game design. Despite being located in Canada, the LA Times ranked VFS one of the Top 10 schools favored by video game industry recruiters.
16. Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts – Boston, MA
The Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts offers three programs that would appeal to aspiring animators reading this list: 3D Animation, Digital Filmmaking and Graphic + Web Design. They also offer a few fun courses in audio production via their Audio Production program. The star of their roster in terms of this list is their Digital Filmmaking program (not to detract anything from their 3D Animation program—which is in fact highly rated and highly technical). Their Digital Filmmaking course claimed a spot on our list because, unlike most animation programs, it focuses on the film-making process, instead of on technical animation skills--which for some people have already been picked up on their home computers by playing around with today's intuitive software. Their focus on the entire film production cycle—pre-production, production and post-production, teachers their students to understand the entire artistic, digital process (an understanding that many employers in our Interview Series said that they are looking for). The course still focuses on the technology of film-making but includes non-animation elements like lighting, sound recording, editing, visual effects, cinematography, and more. This short program is perfect for those with some animation skills under their belt but are looking to further their artistic vision with an understanding of the entire digital entertainment process.
15. University of Southern California (USC) – California, USA
The University of Southern California's (USC) Cinematic Arts department offers a rather unique four-year Bachelor of Arts in Animation and Digital Arts program that includes a broad arts background along with specialized training in animation. This means that USC turns out graduates that the industry is looking for: real artists with animation tools and technique training under their belt. Their program focuses on marketable skills like science visualization and experimental visualization, and classical techniques via visual effects, drawing and 3-D computer animation courses. They also offer a minor in video game design, with courses like level design, game-play control, user interface, game mechanics and storytelling. At the end of the minor students produce a working demo game. The Princeton Review has ranked USC as the #1 video design school in the country.
14. Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) – Massachusetts, USA
Students at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) choose it because of the strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills they learn, that will carry them throughout their career—most notably the ability to constructively critique animation work and accept and incorporate critiques of their own work. Teachers work with the students on a course-culminating film and reel highlights that create diverse portfolios.
13. Capilano University – Vancouver, BC
Capilano University's 3D animation program has earned it honors in its field, as have its students. Former Capilano alumni are now working at 20th Century Fox, Aardman Animation (UK), Big Sandwich Games and Electronic Arts (Vancouver). Capilano's ability to offer niche training to its students helps their employability in fields like character and environment modeling, texturing and lighting, character rigging and technical direction, and concept art. To get their graduates ready for the industry, the school hosts online portfolios for its students in addition to open houses and portfolio reviews. The school offers a fantastic curriculum, for those who can get in. Capilano however believes that “computer animation training is a waste of your money if you are coming into this field "cold"”, so a portfolio, computer skills and an understanding of traditional animation and principles is required for entry.
12. Seneca College – Toronto, Canada
Seneca College's Animation Arts Centre (that's how they spell it in Canada, but if you're going to Seneca then get used to Canadian idiosyncrasies) offers a wide-range of courses befitted for any aspiring animator or video game designer: including Animation Arts, Digital Animation, Gaming and Visual Effects for Film and TV. The students that come out of Seneca are well trained in the artistic application of the theories of motion, timing and storytelling. They are industry-ready graduates. In addition to its 3-year Animation program the school also offers post-diploma programs in 3D Animation and Visual Effects for Film and Television.
11. Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) – Vancouver, Canada
Aspiring animators will love every single program offered by the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts). In alphabetical order, here they are: 2D Character Animation, 3D Character Animation, Acting for Film and TV, Broadcasting for Radio and TV, Digital Photography, Game Art and Design, Visual Effects for Film and Television, Web Development and Interactive Design. OK—so a couple of those weren't animation based, but any animator worth their salt explores other mediums and art forms to improve their own art. VanArts is the place to do that since their entire student body and faculty are focused essentially on the same thing. Talk about inspiration (and networking!).
10. School of Visual Arts (SVA) – New York, NY
The School of Visual Arts' (SVA) graduates are currently working at Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studio and Nickelodeon. Their success rate is no surprise given that they have well connected and highly experienced faculty like Yvette Kaplan (Beavis and Butthead Do America, Ice Age).
9. Carnegie Mellon University's Graphics Lab – Pittsburgh, PA
Carnegie Mellon University's Graphic Lab in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers another unique program: a graphics program with an animation focus—with a twist. Their list of incredibly fine-tuned training courses offer their students specific training that will make them experts in niche fields. Courses include oddballs like Physically Based Character Animation, Pixels to Percepts: Visual Perception for Computer Vision and Games, Physically Based Modeling and Interactive Simulation, Generating Natural Human Motion and Data-Driven Character Animation. CMU is a solid choice for aspiring video game designers looking for a well-rounded education, with courses like Digital Narratives, Building Virtual Worlds and Dramatic Structures of Interactive Games. If you aren't convinced to its success, hear this: Disney is. So much so that they located their Research Lab on the CMU campus. As such the school has a rich working relationship, and Disney evens holds a few spots open in their internship program every year for CMU students.
8. Ringling College of Art and Design – Sarasota, Florida
When we asked industry execs in our Interview Series where they most often picked up new recruits from, an overwhelming response used the Ringling College of Art and Design as a recruitment ground. Their four-year bachelor's degree in computer animation covers all the basics, and then some, with courses like Traditional Animation, Computer Animation, Drawing for Animators, Concept Development and Animation Pre-Production. Their elective choices give their students a well-rounded education and their mandatory animation thesis project ensures their students graduate with a usable portfolio.
7. The Maryland Institute College and Art (MICA) – Maryland
The Maryland Institute College and Art (MICA) was named the best college in the North East by the Princeton Review, one of the top two studio art programs in the country by Parade magazine and is listed by ID Magazine as one of the best design schools in the U.S.. MICA is also the oldest continuously degree-granting school of art in the country—so they've gotten fairly good at it. Their animation degree program combines innovative concepts and techniques with classes in animation history to create industry innovators with a sense of animation history. Their final-year thesis film ensures that their portfolios have plenty of real-world clips and elements. MICA alumni work at studios like DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studio, Yahoo!, Laika, MTV and others, and freelance successfully.
6. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) – Rhode Island
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) offers two highly-sought after animation programs, a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Graphic Design degree. The school is widely considered to be one of, if not THE, top school when it comes to graphic design, in addition to animation—so their students' education is well rounded. They also have some of the top animation teachers in the country and over 200 prominent visiting artists annually.
5. Digital Animation and Visual Effects School (DAVE) – Orlando, Florida
The Digital Animation and Visual Effects School (DAVE), in Orlando, Florida, has an interesting program—one that they have broken down into easily understandable 'blocks' or terms: Digital Modeling and Texturing, Fundamentals of Computer Animation, Film Magic—The Art of Visual Effects, and Stereoscopic 3D Production. The DAVE school has turned animation education into a pragmatic art form—one that can be fairly easily learned. The school has a respectable graduation rate of 87% (low enough you have a good chance of graduating but high enough to know its a reasonably tough program) and a job placement rate of 68%.
4. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) –Atlanta, Savannah and Hong Kong
We've already talked about a number of schools on this list that are well-kept industry secrets. Another school to NOT fall in that category is the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Literally, everyone in the industry knows about it. And for good reason: they employ top-notch faculty members, offer animation BFA, MA, MFA and a 40-hour minor degrees on two continents and over 500 national and international companies actively recruit from SCAD. 8 out of 10 of their graduates are employed within just 6 months of graduation. Their alumni work at Disney, Pixar, Rhythm and Hues, Sony, the Cartoon Network, DreamWorks and EA. It was also voted to be in the top 3 animation schools in North America by 3D World Magazine. If you can get through their rigorous selection process, get your degree there.
3. Gobelins – France
Goeblins is widely considered as the top animation school on the planet, and for good reason. With the world's toughest animation entrance exam (a 3-hour animation test and story board test) it selects only the top talent. They are then taught by top working professionals in Europe and a long series of superb guest lecturers. They take unique approaches to student learning, like having a 1-2 minute maximum time length on student films to maximize the range of techniques learned. Goeblins students regularly win top prizes at Europe's revered Annecy Festival and America's Annie and VES awards. Noted graduates include Pierre Coffin, director of Despicable Me and Eric Bergeron, director of A Monster in Paris and DreamWorks' Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. For a detailed description of the school's elite animation program click here to watch Eric Riewer's detailed explanation of the programs talent.
It was Pixar’s Brad Bird who said if he heard one more person call animation a genre (not an art form) he would punch them, and CalArts seems to have taken this to heart because unlike many animation schools they focus on teaching animation as an art form. Through courses on dramatic narrative, documentary, experimental live-action, character-based animation, experimental animation, life drawing, storytelling and multimedia and installation, the school is able to focus on producing artists, not button-pushing technical animators. Their faculty members are full-time, experienced members of the animation community. Faculty and alumni of CalArts animation include prominent members in the industry like Henry Sellick and Eric Darnell. The school offers four intense animation programs, each focusing on different elements of the industry so their graduates are able to specialize, while picking a career path that excites them the most. Their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Character Animation, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation and Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation are all highly-sought after degrees so if you hope to attend this animation 'ivy leaguer' you better prepare one hell of an application.
1. Sheridan - Oakville, Canada
When we surveyed the top animation employers who participated in our Interview Series to see what the most-sought after graduates are, ALL of them said they would love to get their hands on a Sheridan College animation graduate. No surprise there though; Sheridan has been called the Harvard of animation. If you are considering attending Sheridan, you better be one committed individual because by the end of their uber-intensive 4-year program you might have to be committed. All that hard work pays off though; the school's award-winning graduates have gone on in high numbers to companies like Pixar, Disney, Lucasfilms and most other prominent studios. In fact most grads have their choice of destination. They offer a 4-year Bachelor of Applied Arts (Animation) degree, a 1-year certificate program in Computer Animation, and two one-year post grad degrees in Game Level Design, and Game Development - Advanced Programming. If you are hoping to earn the opportunity to endure the torturous workload at Sheridan, first you better prepare one rockstar portfolio because their portfolio requirements for entrance are unreal.