Cartoon Art College Programs with Course Information

Although a few private for-profit schools offer degrees in cartoon art, most public and private, non-profit universities and colleges offer degrees in art with concentrations in illustration, sequential art, graphic design or animation. Degrees are offered at the associates, bachelor's and master's levels. Read on to learn more about these options.

Choosing an Animation School

Animation has changed substantially over the past several decades, with the majority of animated content being produced on computer. In most degree programs related to animation, artists learn both traditional illustration and computer animation with opportunities for combining techniques and media.


  • Prior experience and skills
  • Career goals and degree level
  • Faculty
  • Opportunities to show work

Prior Experience and Skills

The choice of school will depend upon the artist's background. Associate's degree programs are appropriate for those with no experience. Fine arts bachelor's and master's degree programs are highly competitive and usually require the submission of a portfolio for consideration.

Career Goals and Degree Level

Those who wish to become employed sooner may want to consider an Associate in Science degree in graphic arts or a similar area. These programs can get students ready for employment by teaching the basics. Those with a further trajectory should consider a Bachelor of Fine Arts or even a Master of Fine Arts degree.


Students will want to investigate the school's reputation and faculty experience. A program with faculty members who have worked in the industry may be more appealing, in that those instructors can provide guidance on real-world issues in the field.

Opportunities to Show Work

Many high-quality art schools offer students the opportunity to show work in galleries. Some programs promote their students' work, and all programs should assists students in developing a portfolio.

Program Overviews

Associate's Degree in Digital and Film Arts Animation

These programs are offered as Associate in Science programs for those who wish to start working right away, as well as Associate of Arts plans that can transfer to bachelor's degrees in the field. The program of study includes some general education requirements. Specific coursework includes rendering, computer graphics and color theory. Students also take:

  • Video editing
  • Storytelling
  • Photo editing
  • Cinematography
  • 3D animation

Associate's Degree in Graphic Storytelling

This program is focused on advertising or creating the graphic novel or comic books. Students learn design and traditional and digital illustration techniques. They take courses in art appreciation, drawing, figure drawing and design, as well as:

  • History of illustration
  • Commercial art business
  • Graphic storytelling
  • Marketing for visual artists
  • Portfolio development

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation

Intensive 4-year programs in animation and illustration tend to be competitive. Portfolios will most likely be required, with demonstrated skills in the art. BFA students take basic art courses, like life drawing, art history, sculpture and design. They then move on to courses like:

  • Traditional animation
  • 3D computer animation
  • Writing for animation
  • Caricature
  • Motion graphics

Master of Fine Arts in Animation

MFA programs tend to be even more highly competitive to enter. Master's candidates may also perform a teaching internship or other placement related to their field of study. Coursework will vary according to the school. Course topics may include:

  • Sequential art
  • Drawing strategies
  • Contemporary art
  • Theories and practices in sequential art
  • Writing for sequential art

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