Top Animation Degree Programs - Chicago, IL

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

School and Ranking Information

There are nearly two dozen schools that offer animation degrees in the Chicago area, including both private and public, 2-year and 4-year, and non-profit and for-profit schools. The top three schools for animation based on their degree offerings, graduation rates, and relevant facilities are DePaul University, Columbia College - Chicago, and Elmhurst College.

  • Winner: DePaul University offers the most degree options, with both bachelor's and master's degree programs. It has been ranked among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Runner-Up #1: Columbia College - Chicago is ranked second, given its two undergraduate animation programs and a state-of-the-art Media Production Center. Its graduate fine arts program has been ranked in the top 60.
  • Runner-Up #2: Elmhurst College, a regionally ranked school, has the highest graduation rate among these three institutions. It offers a related program in computer game and entertainment technology.

School Comparison Chart

Category DePaul University Columbia College - Chicago Elmhurst College
Ranking(s) 134th among national universities in 2013* 53rd among fine arts graduate programs in 2012, nationwide* 11th among regional universities in the Midwest in 2013*
Location Chicago Chicago Elmhurst (18.2 miles from Chicago)
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $32,295 (undergraduate), $5,878 (graduate)** $21,730 (undergraduate)** $31,650 (undergraduate)**
Animation Degree Levels Offered Bachelor's and master's degrees Bachelor's degrees Bachelor's degrees
Animation Degrees Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 20** 37** 9**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2006 Entering Class 68%** 41%** 74%**
Noteworthy The school offers multiple computer labs Ranked number one in the Midwest for its animation and game design programs by Animation Career Review*** Students have access to several digital computer studios

Sources: *U.S. News and World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Columbia College - Chicago.

Winner: DePaul University

  • Offers internships at Disney, WMS Gaming, Richter Studios, Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett, and Daily Planet Ltd.
  • Main campus has five computer labs with over 200 computers
  • The NCES reported an 85% retention rate for first-time bachelor's-degree students from 2011-2012

DePaul University's College of Computing and Digital Media offers a BA in Animation program with a curriculum based around hand-drawn animation, motion graphics, stop-motion animation, and TV and interactive media. Students can complete a BFA in Animation program as well, which focuses on 3D animation and offers concentrations in cinema and game art. The MA in Animation program with an animator concentration focuses on 3D character animation and visual effects, while the technical art concentration merges art and computer programming. An MFA in Animation is available as well.

Runner-Up #1: Columbia College - Chicago

  • Media Production Center includes a motion capture studio, digital labs, and animating suites
  • Offers a semester in LA program
  • The Portfolio Center helps student develop portfolios, resumes, and interviewing skills

Columbia College - Chicago offers a BA in Animation program, as well as a BFA in Computer Animation program. Students in the BA program take courses in stop-motion animation, moving image production, and drawing for animation. Electives include computer animation, acting for animators, motion capture, and character design. Students in the BA and BFA programs take similar courses, but the BA major requires 45 core credit hours, while the BFA requires 84. Seniors participate in the Animation Production Studio, where they create and present an animated short.

Runner-Up #2: Elmhurst College

  • Ranked 13th for best value schools among regional universities in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report for 2014
  • Offers internships at IBM, Motorola, the CBOE, and gaming companies
  • Has multiple LANs, leading-edge computer graphics systems, game-controller labs, a digital cinema lab, and a data communications lab

Elmhurst College's computer science and information systems (CSIS) department offers a bachelor's degree in computer game and entertainment technology. It uses the curriculum recommended by the Association of Computer Machinery, and students take courses in computer science, web design and programming, computer animation, and computer game design. Alumni of Elmhurst College's CSIS Department have gone on to work as graphic/web designers and animators at companies like Pixar.

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