Online 3D Animation Degree Programs and Training

Dec 10, 2019

Essential Information

In comparison to other fields of study, 3-D animation is relatively popular in an online format. Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available, although bachelor's degree programs are more common than an associate's or master's degree program.

All or the majority of the coursework can be completed online, and online chat and video conferencing technology may be used to connect with peers and professors. Also, bachelor's and master's degree students may have the opportunity to complete an internship to get practical experience and expand their portfolios. Some schools have on-site networking events for students who are nearing graduation. Animation students should know that they typically need to purchase several software programs, including the Adobe Creative Suites.

Associate of Arts in Animation

In an online associate's degree in animation program, students examine computer graphics and animation concepts used in films, special effects and games. They learn to create characters, develop story lines, and add animation. They incorporate lighting and background to make designs seem more lifelike. These programs are intensive to the arts, typically beginning with introductory drawing and photography courses. To be eligible for an online animation program on the associate's level, students must have a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. There are only a few of these programs available online.

Program Information and Requirements

On all educational levels, 3D animation programs are available completely online or through a combination of online and other distance learning formats, such as video conferencing. Using Web-based educational servers, online students participate in class discussions, turn in assignments, critique other students' work and watch lectures and demonstrations. They also can chat online with students and professors and share their work through virtual art displays.

Online 3D animation programs on the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels also have similar technical requirements. Students must have access to a computer with reliable Internet access. They typically need sound and video cards and a variety of software programs, such as Microsoft Office, QuickTime, and Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Reader and Flash Player.

List of Common Online Associate-Level Animation Courses

Students completing an online associate's degree program in animation take courses in arts, computer science and graphic design. These programs typically take two years to complete.

Animation History

Students examine the history of animation, from its beginnings to today. This includes the use of animation in film and video game design.


This course examines the basics of using animation and photography to create a story outline. Students use video and digital animation techniques to turn 2D outlines into lifelike characters.

Effects Animation

Students learn to animate their drawings using principles of visual effects. They study real-world motion of objects and learn to emulate it in their work.

Bachelor of Art in 3D Animation

Through an online Bachelor of Art in 3D Animation program, students explore concepts in video technology, motion and business. They learn to edit images, create Web pages, and incorporate digital effects into animated films. These programs require that students have at least a high school diploma; students who have previously completed an associate's degree should be able to transfer many of their credits. Of all online degree programs in animation, those at the bachelor's level are most common.

List of Common Online Bachelor-Level Animation Courses

Students in an online bachelor's degree program in animation take general education courses while completing classes for their major. Elective courses allow them to shape their degree programs to meet their career expectations and desires. Bachelor's programs usually last four years and might require an internship.

Foundations of Digital Animation

Through this introductory course, students explore methods for turning 2D designs into 3D creations. They gain practical experience using digital software to create a character, give it personality and create a background story for it. They also learn skills for Web design.

Character Rigging

Students finish their character, then follow practical steps to create it online. They use advanced procedures to add three dimensions to their character and make it move based on human movement.

Digital Animation Techniques

This course trains individuals to use animation techniques in film or on the Web. They learn to use effects like smoke, fire and explosions to make a piece stand out.

Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects

Master's students explore concepts relevant to modern 3D animation and design. They learn about the art of digital design and animation by applying video and photography principles. There are few online master's degree programs in 3D animation, but programs in media design often cover similar concepts. Admission to a master's program in this field requires a bachelor's degree in animation or a related discipline.

List of Common Master-Level Courses in Animation

Master's degree programs in 3D animation, which generally take three years to finish, cover concepts in art, design and animation. Students might be required to complete an internship.

Creating Texture and Lighting

Students learn to make 3D animated objects appear real with the use of lighting techniques and texture. Some courses of this nature focus specifically on texture and lighting for video games.

Visual Effects Imaging

This course trains individuals to use Adobe Photoshop and other imaging software. Students use these programs to create and edit 3D images.

Character Animation

Through this course, students learn to develop characters for video games. They explore ways to make characters move using traditional and modern animation techniques.

Career Information

With an associate's degree in animation, students might pursue a career in graphic design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for graphic designers was $50,370 in May 2018 (

With a bachelor's degree in 3D animation, students can find careers as animators, multimedia artists and illustrators. The median annual salary for animators and multimedia artists was $72,520 in May 2018, while illustrators earned $49,380, according to the BLS.

A Master of Fine Arts in Animation can lead to advanced careers in graphic and Web design, animation, multimedia art and illustration. The BLS predicted that, between 2018 and 2028, job opportunities for graphic designers would increase by three percent, while those for multimedia artists and animators would climb four percent. Jobs for illustrators were expected to rise by one percent.

Online associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in 3-D animation are available to students interested in studying digital animation, storyboarding and visual effects imaging. Graduates of these programs will be qualified to work as animators, illustrators or graphic designers.

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