Animation Degree Programs in California with School Options

California has roughly 70 colleges that offer animation programs. Learn about the courses, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Aspiring animators in California can commonly choose from studies at the undergraduate certificate and associate degree levels. Certificate programs range from 16-32 credit hours, and students may be able to focus on 2- or 3-D animation. At the associate degree level, majors include animation, new media or interactive media design; these programs also integrate courses covering general education topics. Students in an animation program may be required to demonstrate their skills by completing a final project or compiling a portfolio of their work. Below are overviews of ten of the largest colleges in California that offer animation programs.

American River College

American River College in Sacramento offers a 3-dimensional animation certificate and an Associate of Arts in Art New Media. The certificate program, which takes approximately 40 credits to complete, includes courses in drawing and composition, filmmaking, facial expression and anatomy, painting and photo imaging, 3-dimensional modeling and rigging, character animation, texturing and short production. The associate degree program builds on these courses with training in color theory, modern art, illustration and 2-dimensional animation. Students in both programs are required to compile a portfolio. In addition, the school has an animation lab that houses Mac and PC computers loaded with creative software.

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco, located in San Francisco, has a certificate program that covers Flash, 3D Studio Max and Adobe software programs. Students learn about digital skills, drawing, storytelling and multimedia production. Elective courses in computer science, cinema, game design and photography are recommended. The certificate program comprises 39-41 credits and culminates in a portfolio development course.

East Los Angeles College

Monterey Park's East Los Angeles College has several options for prospective animators. The level one animation certificate focuses on character animation and design, storyboards, layout and background art, digital imaging and interactive animation. The level two certificate includes animation production, 3-dimensional animation, animal drawing, design in nature and audio/video post-production. Both certificate programs require 32 credits. Students in the associate degree program learn about character development, background painting, life drawing and computer-aided art. Computer animation labs with the latest hardware and software are available to undergraduates.

Mt. San Antonio College

Students at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut can choose from three certificates and a degree program in order to study animation. Each program includes courses in gesture and figure drawing, principles of animation, storyboarding, life drawing, script and character development and computer graphics. From there, undergraduates pursue traditional, 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional animation specializations. The associate degree program combines a general education course load with training in background animation, modeling and texturing, lighting, web animation, motion and digital environments. All students are required to create a portfolio.

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa has multimedia certificate and associate degree programs that cover 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional animation as well as color and design, drawing, computer graphics, motion graphics and video compositing. Students can also choose from a number of electives in areas such as image processing, cinematic history, photo aesthetics, illustration, story development and recording techniques. In addition to the same art and animation classes that make up the certificate curriculum, the associate degree contains general education courses.

Palomar College

San Marcos' Palomar College has three programs in animation. The 16-credit digital animation, compositing and music certificate program teaches 3-dimensional design and modeling, motion graphics production and computer music. The 28-credit interactive media design certificate and the associate degree program both require courses in

illustration, 3D Studio Max modeling, digital imaging and technical/game animation.

San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College, based in San Diego, offers a 3-dimensional animation and modeling certificate with courses in multimedia, image editing, digital video, color theory and drawing. The program also focuses on character development, realism and animation production. This certificate program requires 32 credit hours.

Santa Ana College

Undergraduates at Santa Ana College in Santa Ana can participate in the 3-dimensional animation certificate program, which has specializations in art, video game and interactive media art, TV/video and pre-visualization. These certificates, which typically require 31 credits, include courses such as Photoshop, storyboarding and cartooning, 3-dimensional modeling, texturing and lighting, character animation, television graphics and video game production. This curriculum was approved by the department's advisory committee, which is composed of working artists from major animation companies.

Santa Monica College

Santa Monica College in Santa Monica has 16-credit 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional animation certificates and a 60-credit associate degree. Courses include character animation, digital production and web animation. Students in the associate degree program can also choose between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional design specialties. This program encompasses training in storytelling, project management, visual development, color theory and digital imaging and audio. All students must complete an animation project.

Santa Rosa Junior College

This junior college, located in Santa Rosa, offers a 3-d computer modeling and animation certificate with classes in modeling and rigging, visual effects, compositing, character animation and post-production techniques. Other aspects such as screen design, drawing and color are also addressed in Santa Rosa's curriculum. Undergraduates will create a professional portfolio.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Animation Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)*
American River College 2-year; public; suburban Certificate in 3-Dimensional Animation,
Associate of Arts in Art New Media
$1,104 (in-state),
$8,712 (out-of-state)
City College of San Francisco 2-year; public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Multimedia Studies: Animation $1,696 (in-state),
$10,372 (out-of-state)
East Los Angeles College 2-year; public; small city Certificate in Animation (Level 1),
Certificate in Animation (Level 2),
Associate of Arts in Animation
$1,220 (in-state),
$7,746 (out-of-state)
Mt. San Antonio College 2-year; public; suburban Certificate in Animation - Tradigital Level I,
Certificate in Animation - Tradigital Level II,
Certificate in Animation - 3D and CG Gaming,
Associate of Science in Animation
$1,350 (in-state),
$9,414 (out-of-state)*
Orange Coast College 2-year; public; midsize city Certificate in Multimedia,
Associate of Arts in Multimedia
$1,186 (in-state),
$7,978 (out-of-state)
Palomar College 2-year; public; large suburb Certificate in Digital Animation, Compositing and Music,
Certificate in Interactive Media Design with an emphasis in 3-Dimensional Modeling and Animation ,
Associate of Arts in Interactive Media Design with an emphasis in 3-Dimensional Modeling and Animation
$1,338 (in-state),
$8,702 (out-of-state)
San Diego Mesa College 2-year; public; large city Certificate in 3-Dimensional Animation and Modeling $1,144 (in-state),
$7,024 (out-of-state)
Santa Ana College 2-year; public; large city 3-Dimensional Modeling & Animation Certificate $1,160 (in-state),
$8,960 (out-of-state)
Santa Monica College 2-year; public; small city Certificate in 2-Dimensional Animation,
Certificate in 3-Dimensional Animation,
Associate degree in Animation
$1,142 (in-state),
$8,918 (out-of-state)
Santa Rosa Junior College 2-year; public; midsize city Certificate in 3-D Computer Modeling and Animation $1,328 (in-state),
$8,174 (out-of-state)

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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