Top Animation & Video Graphics School in Schaumburg, IL

School and Ranking Information

Students interested in learning animation and video graphics skills can select from about 15 colleges and universities close to Schaumburg, IL. This includes 3 schools, all located within 25 miles of this Chicago suburb, that were nationally or regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2013:

  • Winner: The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program that was ranked in the top 50 nationally, as well as a bachelor's degree program in media arts.
  • Runner Up #1: DePaul University is the only nationally ranked school in the area that has bachelor's and master's degree programs focusing fully on animation.
  • Runner Up #2: Elmhurst College is a top school in the Midwest with a bachelor's degree program in gaming with coursework in animation.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Illinois at Chicago DePaul University Elmhurst College
Rankings Fine arts graduate program ranked 45th in the country in 2013*
Named the nation's 77th best public school in 2013*
Ranked 134th among national universities in 2013* 11th among regional universities in the Midwest in 2013*
Location Chicago, IL (around 24 miles from Schaumburg) Chicago, IL (roughly 25 miles from Schaumburg) Elmhurst, IL (about 12 miles from Schaumburg)
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,122, in-state, $25,512, out-of-state (undergrad); $15,467, in-state, $25,763, out-of-state (graduate)** $32,295 (undergrad); $5,878 (graduate)** $31,650 (undergrad)**
Animation and Video Graphics Degrees Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees in new media arts Bachelor's and master's degrees in animation Bachelor's degree in computer game and entertainment technology
Animation and Video Graphics Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in (2011-2012) 24 in fine arts (animation programs - N/A)** 20** 9 in computer game technology (animation programs - N/A)**
Most Popular Animation and Video Graphics Degree Levels (2011-2012) Bachelor's (15 fine arts degrees awarded)** N/A N/A
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2005 Entering Class 54%** 66%** 70%**
Noteworthy Program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design Facilities include green screen studios and stop motion, 3-D stop motion and motion capture technologies
All animation programs offer a 10-week internship in Los Angeles
State-of-the-art lab facilities include a digital cinema and game-control lab and computer graphics systems technology

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, **NCES College Navigator.

Winner: University of Illinois at Chicago

  • U.S. News & World Report listed UIC 147th among national universities in 2013
  • High school counselors ranked UIC 100th (tied with other schools) in 2012, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Senior project participants can work with business and engineering students on interdisciplinary media projects

The new media arts program at UIC prepares students for careers in fields such as animation, special effects, 3-D modeling and gaming. The university's 134-credit Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program in new media arts was formerly called electronic visualization. This studio-based program has classes in 3-D modeling and animation, computer graphics and virtual reality. Students may be admitted to the new media arts BFA concentration after a first-year portfolio review.

The highly ranked MFA program at UIC offers a concentration in new media arts. To receive admission to this 64-credit program, applicants must supply a solid portfolio in an area of new media work, such as animation. During the program, students are required to take 4 seminars in contemporary theory, as well as classes with animation and video graphics studies, including advanced moving image and critique.

Runner-Up #1: DePaul University

  • Tied for 100th-place ranking by high school counselors in 2012, according to U.S. News & World Report
  • Animation BFA program includes concentrations in cinema animation and game art
  • Students may be able to participate in Project Bluelight, DePaul's own motion picture production company

The College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) at DePaul University has fine arts and liberal arts degree programs in animation at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Students participating in one of DePaul's CDM animation programs may have opportunities to get experience with animation and gaming studios in Chicago, as well as with Project Bluelight.

Students in the BFA in Animation program, with its concentration options, may be able to further customize the program by selecting a focus area, such as traditional animation, 3-D characterization, commercial animation, 3-D modeling and CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation. Those studying game art through the BFA program can participate in the school's game development program to work on projects with game programming and design students. The B.A. in Animation program highlights liberal arts studies alongside animation production, while stressing self-directed learning.

Those with an undergrad degree in visual arts who are planning careers in animated film may be interested in the MFA in Animation program, while the Master of Arts (M.A.) program in animation is designed for those preparing to work in 3-D character animation, game art and visual effects. The M.A. program has concentrations for animators and technical artists, and students studying game animation might also be interested in participating in the CDM game development program.

Runner-Up #2: Elmhurst College

  • Ranked 15th for best educational value in the Midwest in 2013 by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the list of top Midwestern schools by The Princeton Review in 2013
  • School reports it has small class sizes with a 13:1 student-faculty ratio

While Elmhurst College doesn't offer an animation degree program, the Computer Science and Information Systems department at the school has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program in computer game and entertainment technology with studies in animation. Curricula used in the department adheres to recommendations set forth by the Association of Computer Machinery.

The B.S. degree program prepares graduates for careers in video game design, entertainment technologies and interactive multimedia. Some of the classes include training in animation, simulation and advanced graphic arts, as well as 3-D game design, digital cinema and Web-based entertainment. In addition to coursework, students can assist with faculty research, participate in professional associations and perform internships. Past students have participated in internships with various local gaming companies, as well as at IBM, Motorola and McDonald's.

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