The 10 Best Animation Schools & Colleges in the U.S. [College Rankings]

Which are the best animation schools in the US? Animation is one creative and innovative area of art. For its beauty and technical significance, the course has slowly and steadily grown to become one of the most known in the United States.

Many scholars of the current century have indicated an interest in the program and the surge in the number of applicants applying for animation in the country speaks volumes. 

Nonetheless, the course is available in Masters of Fine Arts in animation and Bachelor of Arts. Scholars who want to gain more technical and creative skills can earn either of the certifications to set themselves apart from their colleagues.

Scholars who decide to get a degree in Animation can learn anything ranging from Designing video games and developing virtual reality adventures to crafting cartoon network shows. Upon graduating, scholars can work and look forward to an earning potential of $80,000.

The program also has a good projected growth of 16% (2020-2030) which is, by and large, bigger than most other professions. However, to be successful in the field, the importance of a good school should never be underrated.

A good number of animation educational establishments in the United States are known to offer a quality education that incorporates practical-based learning, Internships, and better networking opportunities. At the end of their programs, students can either be employed by a wide range of prominent animation companies or further their education to become an authority.

Here are the 10 best animation schools in the United States.

  1. Ringling College of Art and Design
  2. Savannah College of Art & Design
  3. California Institute of the Arts
  4. Rhode Island School of Design
  5. University of Southern California
  6. School of Visual Arts
  7. Pratt Institute
  8. Academy of Art University
  9. Carnegie Mellon University
  10. University of California – Los Angeles

The 10 Best Animation Schools in the U.S

10. University of California – Los Angeles 

Location: Los Angeles, California 

Kicking off the list of best animation schools in the United States is the University of California – Los Angeles. The American academic institution is home to the School of Theater, Film, and Television which ranks among the country’s elites. 

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At this school, a mere 12 students are admitted – this is low hence the competition to book an admission seat is tough and robust. Even so, the school was established as a result of the contribution of William Shull, who is a former animator for Disney. 

Moreover, practical teaching is personalized; thanks to its small class population.

9. Carnegie Mellon University 

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Carnegie Mellon University offers one of the best animation programs in the United States. The education service provider is located in the rocking city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and offers an animation program that is called Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe).

This program is a complex one and utilizes intensive, rigorous, and comprehensive coursework. Students are trained to be technical in the profession and are also prepared for managerial positions.

The  program’s available undergraduate minors are:

  • Physical Computing
  • Intelligent Environments
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Design for Learning
  • Sonic Arts
  • Media Design
  • Animation and Special Effects 
  • Game Design

All of these programs are handled by lecturers and tutors with years of experience and some collaborate with other schools.

8. Academy of Art University

Location: San Francisco, California

Academy of Art University is the 8th best animation school in the United States. According to animation career reviews (2021), the prestigious American education service provider offers the second overall best Msc program in Animation.

Potential animation students at the school are taught in a studio production environment where they have the chance to do more practicals. With more than 200 workstations and other laboratories, graduates from this school are known to be leaders in the field.

Furthermore, the creation of the movie “Fruitvale Station and Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a strong indication of the school’s excellent practical prowess.

7. Pratt Institute

Location: New York, New York City

Located in the popular City of New York, Pratt Institute is one of the go-to educational establishments in the United States for potential animation professionals. The school offers an animation program that is ranked No. 8 in the country according to a recent publication by Animation Career Review.

Students interested in learning animation do so through the Department of Digital Arts which certifies one with either the Games arts BFA or Digital Arts BFA. One good thing about the program is its small classroom population. Through this, students have been given optimal attention and practical projects are done individually. 

Even so, scholars interested in a Digital Arts degree can afford to choose between Interactive Arts, Animation and Motion Arts, 2-D Animation, and 3-D Animation. 

6. School of Visual Arts

Location: New York, New York City

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Aside from being one of the best animation schools, it also features among the most promising in the United States. Set in booming New York City, the American educational establishment is home to the School of Visual Arts.

The coursework of the program is intensive, comprehensive, and rigorous hence scholars stand a chance to learn what they are supposed to before graduating. They are also taught about digital animation which is an area of specialization that is spreading like wildfire in the United States.

Even so, it’s common to see some of the school’s alumni in the top and established establishments like Ted-ED, UNESCO, and UNICEF. In short, the location of the school alone allows students to network better and get involved in lots of internship programs. 

A good number of successful animators live within the city hence students can utilize this opportunity and tap knowledge from them; given that some of these industry professionals are affiliated with the school.

5. University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California

The University of Southern California is one of the best animation schools in the United States. The prominent American higher education institution offers the animation program courtesy of the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts.

This program offers potential animators a wide range of specialization areas and allows them to explore them as well. Some of these areas are 

Motion Graphics, Interactive Installations, Projection Mapping, and Documentary Animation among others.

At the end of the program, scholars are offered a Masters in Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts as well as minor certifications in Science Visualization, Animation and Digital Arts, and 3-D animation.

4. Rhode Island School of Design 

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Located in the beautiful town of Providence, Rhode Island School of Design is among the top four (4) best animation education service providers in the United States. This institution’s school of design was founded in 1877 and is a long-running one. 

This school certifies animators with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film/Animation/Video. Through this program, students have access to the state-of-the-art facility and are trained in digital editing among others.

Potential animators also have access to plenty of CGI workstations as well as laboratories where they can do more of the practicals. Students are also introduced to professional editing and production software and through this, they stand to gain some technical skills in the field. 

3. California Institute of the Arts

Location: Valencia, California

The California Institute of the Arts is one of the best animation schools in the United States. Located in the beautiful town of Valencia, California, the school was established by the prominent and well-known Walt Disney.

Programs offered by the school include a 3-year MFA Experimental Animation Program, BFA Experimental Animation, and BFA Character Animation.

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More so, the school play hosts the Bijou Festival which is an event that happens during the Spring period. Here, the work of assigned scholars is exhibited during public screenings.

2. Savannah College of Art & Design 

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Missing the top spot, Savannah College of Art & Design is the second-best animation school in the United States. The school offers all of the trio – MFA, MA, and BFA and is home to a large number of successful animators. 

Even so, many of the school’s alumni are gainfully employed in many top art establishments including the likes of Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, Pixar, Cartoon Network, and Disney. The school has a faculty that is praised for competence, strength, and reputation; students also stand to get better work opportunities through them.

1. Ringling College of Art and Design

Location: Sarasota, Florida

Beating others in the list, the crown for the best animation school in the United States goes to Ringling College of Art and Design. This top school is home to an animation program with 11 areas of specialization including Virtual Reality Development, Motion Design, and Computer Animation.

Even so, the prominent American educational institution has also produced plenty of award-winning scholars, and strong Industry Critiques, and its faculty members are on top of the status quo.

Top 50 Animation Schools in the U.S.

RankingSchoolState%
RankingSchoolState%
1California Institute of the ArtsCaliforniaTop 1%
2Ringling College of Art and DesignFloridaTop 2%
3Savannah College of Art and DesignGeorgiaTop 2%
4University of Southern CaliforniaCaliforniaTop 3%
5School of Visual ArtsNew YorkTop 3%
6Rhode Island School of DesignRhode IslandTop 4%
7University of California Los AngelesCaliforniaTop 4%
8Pratt InstituteNew YorkTop 5%
9Gnomon School of Visual EffectsCaliforniaTop 5%
10New York UniversityNew YorkTop 6%
11Full Sail UniversityFloridaTop 6%
12Rochester Institute of TechnologyNew YorkTop 7%
13Brigham Young UniversityUtahTop 7%
14Academy of Art UniversityCaliforniaTop 8%
15ArtCenter College of DesignCaliforniaTop 8%
16California College of the ArtsCaliforniaTop 9%
17Carnegie Mellon UniversityPennsylvaniaTop 9%
18School of the Art Institute of ChicagoIllinoisTop 10%
19Otis College of Art and DesignCaliforniaTop 10%
20DigiPen Institute of TechnologyWashingtonTop 15%
21University of Central FloridaFloridaTop 15%
22Massachusetts College of Art and DesignMassachusettsTop 15%
23DePaul UniversityIllinoisTop 15%
24San Jose State UniversityCaliforniaTop 15%
25California State University-Long BeachCaliforniaTop 15%
26Maryland Institute College of ArtMarylandTop 15%
27Texas A&M UniversityTexasTop 15%
28The Ohio State UniversityOhioTop 15%
29University of Texas at DallasTexasTop 20%
30California State University-FullertonCaliforniaTop 20%
31Loyola Marymount UniversityCaliforniaTop 20%
32Columbia College ChicagoIllinoisTop 20%
33Florida State UniversityFloridaTop 20%
34University of PennsylvaniaPennsylvaniaTop 20%
35Laguna College of Art and DesignCaliforniaTop 20%
36Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignColoradoTop 20%
37Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinnesotaTop 20%
38Clemson UniversitySouth CarolinaTop 20%
39College for Creative StudiesMichiganTop 25%
40Columbus College of Art and DesignOhioTop 25%
41University of the ArtsPennsylvaniaTop 25%
42University of Colorado DenverColoradoTop 25%
43Purdue University – Purdue Polytechnic InstituteIndianaTop 25%
44The Digital Animation & Visual Effects SchoolFloridaTop 25%
45Drexel UniversityPennsylvaniaTop 25%
46The New School/ParsonsNew YorkTop 25%
47Chapman UniversityCaliforniaTop 25%
48University of WashingtonWashingtonTop 25%
49California State University-NorthridgeCaliforniaTop 30%
50Woodbury UniversityCaliforniaTop 30%

Conclusion

This article deals with the best animation schools in the United States.

If you are thinking about getting into the world of animation and visual effects I hope you’ll find this resource useful. The schools are not listed in any particular order and did cover all the basic information such as tuition, notable alumni and some impressive student work. Each school was carefully selected and was not placed in the list lightly.

Did you find it helpful? Let’s hear from you via the comments section.

FAQs

Do I need to attend one of these animation colleges to have a successful career?

No, definitely not. However, it’s likely the quickest and most effective way of accelerating your career.

What if I’m only curious about animation?

No problem. You can either check out various free online resources or enroll in a “Beginner’s Certificate Program” via online training from Post University.
All credits from that class are transferrable should you decide to continue your 3D animation degree.

What if I can’t afford college right now?

Check out some of the scholarship and grant opportunities available:

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