Top Computer Animation School - Sacramento, CA

Students interested in studying computer animation in Sacramento, CA, have only a few schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs and tuition info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are only about six schools with programs in computer animation in the Sacramento, CA, area. Aspiring animators have choices that include several medium and large community colleges and several smaller 4-year private, for-profit schools. The three top not-for-profit options, based on program relevance, specialized facilities and instructors, are:

  • Winner: Sacramento City College (SCC) offers 3D animation certificate and associate's degree programs and boasts state-of-the-art computer labs. SCC ranks first because its animation instructors have significant industry experience.
  • Runner-Up #1: American River College (ARC) offers certificate and associate's degree programs with concentrations in animation. ARC offers students internship opportunities and up-to-date lab facilities.
  • Runner-Up #2: Sierra College places third because it is farthest from Sacramento. Sierra College offers associate degree and certificate programs that include computer animation classes, and has the highest graduation rate and confers the most associate's diplomas in animation-related programs of the three schools profiled here.

School Comparison Chart

Category Sacramento City College American River College Sierra College
Location Sacramento, CA Sacramento, CA Rocklin, CA (27.2 miles from Sacramento)
School Type2-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $1,104 (in-state); $7,200 (out-of-state)* $1,104 (in-state); $7,200 (out-of-state)* $1,150 (in-state); $6,190 (out-of-state)*
Computer Animation Award Levels Offered Certificate; associate degree Certificate; associate degree Certificate; associate degree
Computer Animation Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 1 (associate degrees not reported)* 1 (associate degrees not reported)*17*
Most Popular Computer Animation Program (2011-2012) Certificate in Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design (1 awarded)* Certificate in Web/Multimedia Management and Webmaster (6 awarded)* Associate in Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects (14 awarded)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2009 Entering Class 19%* 20%* 27%*
Noteworthy Coursework is developed in collaboration with industry leaders Internship opportunities available Top school in Northern California for transfers to 4-year higher education institutions**

Sources: *NCES, **Sierra College.

Winner: Sacramento City College

  • Industry experienced animation instructors
  • Cutting-edge design lab
  • Award-winning graphic design instructors

The graphic communications department at SCC offers a certificate program in 3D animation that includes courses in 3D modeling, production techniques, camera tracking, rendering, and compositing. SCC's animation classes are developed with guidance from industry representatives to guarantee the skills and practices taught are current. Certificate programs in game design and graphic communications are also available. The game design program covers various non-programming aspects of creating computer games, including design principles, delivery systems, game theory, and 3D art. The graphic communications program covers animation and 3D modeling, along with color theory, principles of design, layout, typography, game design, and user interface. An associate degree in graphic communications can be earned with the addition of general education courses.

Runner-Up #1: American River College

  • Dedicated animation lab and up-to-date Macintosh lab
  • Classes are also offered through a center in Natomas
  • Select courses are offered online

ARC students can pursue a certificate in art new media with a concentration in 3D animation through the art new media (ANM) department. Classes include 3D modeling, character design, texturing, and rigging. Students can also choose the Associate of Arts (AA) in ANM program, which explores graphic design, 3D animation, digital art, and web design. AA program students can specialize in animation through elective courses. Both the certificate and AA programs offer the opportunity for work experience. In addition to two specialized computer labs, ARC's Learning Resource Center features several computers with current new media software.

Runner-Up #2: Sierra College

  • Day and evening courses offered
  • Internships available
  • Student work showcased at an annual open-house screening

SC offers Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and certificate programs in applied art and design (AAD). The AAD programs cover theory and practical applications of design, animation, fine art, digital graphics, and photography. AAD students can specialize in multimedia, which includes topics such as interface design and animation. The AAD program is intended to qualify students for entry-level work in fields including animation, graphic design, digital illustration, and multimedia.

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