Top School in Santa Monica for Animation Courses

Santa Monica has many schools with programs in computer animation. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' rankings, program offerings, and tuition info.

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School and Ranking Information

Within 25 miles of Santa Monica, students can find several schools that offer training in animation. The following schools are considered the top three based on rankings, degree levels offered and graduation rates:

  • Winner: University of California in Los Angeles is the winner due to its numerous national rankings received in 2012 and 2013 from U.S. News & World Report, tuition rates and undergraduate graduation rate, which is over 90%.
  • Runner Up #1: University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, secured second place for its multiple animation degree levels and unique internship experience in Tokyo.
  • Runner Up #2: Art Center College of Design in Pasadena took the second runner up spot for its low student-to-faulty ratio and the school's extensive amount of labs and training equipment.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of California - Los Angeles University of Southern California Art Center College of Design
Ranking(s) 24th among national universities (2013),
2nd among top public schools, nationally (2013),
4th among graduate fine arts programs, nationally (2012),
5th among multimedia/visual communications programs, nationally (2012)*
24th among national universities (2013),
38th among best value schools, nationally (2013),
5th among up-and-coming schools, nationally (2013)
36th among graduate fine arts programs, nationally (2012),
8th among multimedia/ visual communications graduate programs, nationally (2012)*
18th among graduate fine arts programs, nationally (2012)*
Location Los Angeles, CA (5.5 miles from Santa Monica) Los Angeles, CA (13.4 miles from Santa Monica) Pasadena, CA (26.9 miles from Santa Monica)
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Estimated Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $12,692 in-state,
$35,570 out-of-state (undergraduate),
$12,566 in-state,
$27,668 out-of-state (graduate)**
$44,463 (undergraduate),
$37,500 (graduate),**
$35,552 (undergraduate)**
Animation Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees** Bachelor's and master's degrees** Bachelor's degrees**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 92%** 90%** 70%**
Noteworthy In 2013, Animation Career Review website ranked the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television's (TFT) animation program #2 on its list of the top 100 schools of animation and game design in America*** Animation majors at USC are eligible to apply for an exclusive internship opportunity with Tokyo Broadcasting System, in which interns collaborate on high-profile projects while studying in Tokyo Several technology labs and equipment are available for use by animation students at ACCD, including a design-based learning lab, digital imaging lab, color, materials and trends exploration lab, film equipment, and computer labs

Sources: *US News and World Report (2013 data), **NCES College Navigator, ***UCLA website.

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Winner: University of California - Los Angeles

  • UCLA's animation program houses the Walter Lantz Digital Animation Studio, which is a state-of-the-art resource for students and faculty seeking training, research, and instruction in the field of animation
  • UCLA's digital media lab is equipped with industry-standard hardware and software, including Avid, Final Cut Studio 2, and ProTools LE
  • Teri Schwartz, TFT Dean, was named 2012 Media Mentor of the Year by Variety, according to UCLA
  • Internships are available for upper-division TFT students in several local media outlets

The School of Theater, Film, and Television at UCLA offers a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Animation. The undergraduate digital media arts program offers students a foundation in design, color, and technical skill while they explore a broad range of digital media applications, including animation. The senior project, a capstone element of the BA program, allows students to focus in a specific area like visual communication and image, digital animation, or interactivity and games. For students seeking advanced study, there is the MFA program, which requires a minimum of 72 units. MFA program requirements can be completed over the course of six quarters and may include courses like animation design, European film history, and visual perception.

Runner-Up #1: University of Southern California

  • USC offers its animation programs in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts (DADA), which has several research and development partnerships with scientific, medical, and educational institutions
  • According to USC, there are several opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to exhibit work created during enrollment in animation and digital arts classes
  • DADA facilities include two computer labs equipped with industry-standard software, a visual effects lab, and several smart classrooms
  • 9:1 student-faculty ratio, according to NCES

USC's DADA offers an undergraduate major, two minors, and the Master of Fine Arts in Animation. The Bachelor of Arts in Animation and the minors in animation and digital arts or science visualization programs include undergraduate coursework that offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of animation. The MFA in animation program requires a minimum of 50 units, and it takes about three years, or six quarters, to complete. The program includes coursework in animation storytelling, expanded animation, design and production, and animation business. Students also complete an animation seminar and master's thesis.

Runner-Up #2: Art Center College of Design

  • This school collaborates with several companies, including Boeing, Walt Disney Imagineering, BMW, and NASA
  • ACCD offers exchange and study away opportunities both domestically and abroad
  • 9:1 student-faculty ratio, according to NCES

The Bachelor of Science in Entertainment Design program aims to prepare degree-seekers with employment in a variety of fields, including theme park attraction design, animation for film and television, and video game design. There are 144 units required to earn the BS degree, and this program can be completed in eight terms. In addition to a senior project, students complete coursework in 3-D fundamentals, character design, color theory, narrative strategies, and visual development. The Bachelor in Fine Arts in Illustration also offers a concentration in illustration in motion, which includes storyboarding and motion design. While there is not an MFA program available in animation, the Master of Fine Arts in Media Design Practices program may allow for the advanced study of animation.

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