Special Effects Certificate Programs in New York City

New York City has a number of colleges within approximately ten miles of the downtown that offer special effects programs. Learn about three of these programs, admission info and program requirements to make an informed education decision.

New York City Schools with Special Effects Certificate Programs

Students interested in studying special effects in New York City may choose to pursue programs in computer graphics, digital animation and cinematography or game design, such as those described in the paragraphs below. The featured programs are available at two private and one public school, which you can learn about through the accompanying comparison table. Information about two additional schools and programs can be found in the other school options section at the end of the resource.

  • New York University, located about 1.5 miles from downtown NYC, has three certificate programs with coursework related to special effects.
  • The Pratt Institute, located four miles from downtown NYC in Brooklyn, has a digital animation certificate program.
  • CUNY Hostos Community College in the Bronx is a little over ten miles from downtown NYC and offers an associate's degree program in game design, which can prepare students for visual and special effects careers. The only public institution on this list, the college is a member of the City University of New York (CUNY).

New York University

The School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York University (NYU) provides students with opportunities to focus on career-based study. NYU is located in New York City's East Village and offers certificate programs that might appeal to students interested in special effects. A master's degree program in advanced digital applications with a concentration in live action visual effects and 3-D integration is also available.

Certificate in Digital Cinematography

The digital cinematography certificate program is designed for students interested in working with lighting, HD cameras and in-camera special effects for motion picture and film. Students are able to take the program as a 4-week intensive course or as five individual classes. Some topics include green screen shooting and technologies, and students have the opportunity to create six projects for review.

Certificate in Digital Animation

This certificate program in digital animation involves six classes, including two that focus on using Adobe After Effects software. In these classes, students learn how to design motion graphics that can be used in film, video and the Web. In addition to these classes, a studio project is required. Those without experience in Photoshop software, drawing and design are encouraged to take basic skills courses in these areas before entering this certificate program.

Certificate in Post-Production Editing

A post-production editing certificate can be earned through a 6-week intensive course or over eight classes. During this program, students learn how to complete a story with sound effects, music, voiceover and graphics. Students also learn how to use Adobe After Effects in the post-production editing process.

Pratt Institute

Located in Brooklyn, Pratt Institute offers a certificate program in computer graphics with a concentration in computer animation and video. The program at Pratt's continuing and professional studies division is for individuals pursuing careers in special effects, film, game design, entertainment and broadcast design.

Certificate in Computer Graphics (Computer Animation and Video)

This certificate program in computer graphics has a career track in computer animation and video with specializations in 2-D and 3-D animation, broadcast design and digital video. Students complete a minimum of 12 courses during the program, including three foundation courses, seven core courses and at least two electives.

The program starts with basic animation skills before moving onto more advanced computer applications. Topics of study include modeling, rendering, animation, compositing and titling sequences. Students learn about computerized special effects through programs like After Affects and Maya. Individuals without drawing and design skills must take courses in drawing, animation and illustration prior to entering the certificate program.

CUNY Hostos Community College

Hostos Community College is part of the CUNY school system and is located in the Bronx. While the school does not offer a certificate program in special effects, it does have an associate's degree program in game design that can prepare students for work in the field, as well as a related associate's degree program in digital design and animation.

Associate of Applied Science in Game Design

This 60-credit associate's degree program in game design prepares students for careers in graphic and special effects design, texture arts and visual effects editing. Students must complete some major coursework in digital media design and 2-D design, and they can choose from electives in animation, sound design, motion graphics, game programming and Maya software. General education classes, such as math, psychology and sociology, are also required.

Comparison of Schools

The table below has been designed to provide you with an easy way to compare the chance of being admitted, cost of attendance and potential for financial assistance at the three schools highlighted above. You'll also find some key facts about enrollment and percentages of first-year students who return for a second year of study.

New York UniversityPratt InstituteCUNY Hostos Community College
School Type4-year; private not-for-profit4-year; private not-for-profit 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2011)43,911*4,724*7,078*
Campus SettingLarge cityLarge cityLarge city
Tuition and FeesIndividual course fees, $495-$1,495 (2012 tuition and fees)**Individual course fees, $159-$895 (2013 tuition and fees)***$165 per credit, in-state;
$260 per credit, out-of-state (2012 tuition)****
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2011) 60%*88%*90%*
Acceptance Rate (2011)32%*65%*N/A - open admissions policy
Retention Rate (2011) 92% for full-time students;
50% for part-time students*
83% for full-time students;
25% for part-time students*
64% for full-time students;
61% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (2011)87%* 62%*8% (14% transfer-out rate)*
Distance from Downtown (Driving Time)1.4 mi. (7 min.)4.0 mi. (13 min.)10.6 mi. (20 min.)

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **New York University, ***Pratt Institute, ****CUNY - Hostos Community College.

Other School Options

Another school in NYC with programs that train students in special effects design is the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) school system. FIT's Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in computer animation and interactive media includes studies in 3-D modeling, animation, scripting, compositing and special effects. Students interested in this program must have completed 60 credits prior to entry. The New School is a design college with a BFA degree program in motion graphics. The program places a strong emphasis on technology alongside design, with software such as Maya and After Effects.

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