Top Schools for Animation, Video Graphics, and Special Effects

Students who are interested in creating moving images and graphics for movies, television commercials and websites can find training in animation and closely related areas. Colleges, universities and art institutes award fine arts degrees in this field at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

School Overviews

Notable schools in this field include the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the California Institute of the Arts. Each of these schools received top 50 rankings from U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their graduate fine arts programs for 2017, and one was ranked in the top 5 for its graphic design program.

School of Visual Arts in New York, NY

School Highlight: The school offers undergraduate and/or graduate programs in animation and computer art.

The School of Visual Arts is a private, for-profit art and design school that ranked twentieth for its graduate fine arts program in 2017, as designated by U.S. News & World Report. Undergraduate programs include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Animation, as well as a BFA in Computer Art, Computer Animation and Special Effects; graduate students can earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Computer Art. In a studio-based environment, students learn how to develop 2-D and 3-D images for films and other forms of media, while also utilizing computer programs to add special effects to their moving images. Aspiring animation, graphic and video game artists can also pursue internships and networking opportunities.

Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY

School Highlight: This school offers an undergraduate concentration in 2-D and 3-D animation.

The Pratt Institute is a private institution that U.S. News & World Report placed tied for 15th among graduate fine arts programs for 2017. At Pratt, students can pursue a BFA in Digital Arts with a concentration in 2-D animation, 3-D animation or interactive arts. Once enrolled, students have access to cutting-edge 2-D and 2-D production and animation facilities, digital studios and the Digital Arts Resource Center, where they can acquire advanced techniques in storytelling, production and alternate forms of animation. Graduate students can earn an MFA in Digital Arts while concentrating on digital animation and motion arts, digital imaging or interactive arts.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design in MN

School Highlight: The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in animation.

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design ranked 48th on U.S. News & World Report's list of best graduate fine arts programs for 2017. Undergraduates in the BFA program can major in animation; graduate students pursuing an MFA can study animation, graphic design and interactive media. Instructional topics include hand-drawing techniques and the basics of stop-motion animation; students also use cutting-edge technology to create traditional 2-D and 3-D images for video games or films. Undergraduate degree requirements include a senior internship, professional practice and project.

California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA

School Highlight: The school offers degrees in animation.

Through the School of Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts, students can pursue a BFA or MFA in Experimental Animation, or a BFA in Character Animation. The school also offers broader BFA and MFA programs in Film and Video. Through the School of Art, students can earn a BFA or MFA in Graphic Design or Photography and Media, as well as an MFA in Art and Technology. Students at Cal Arts can take advantage of opportunities to work closely with expert faculty; the average class size is only 8 students. For 2017, the graduate fine arts program at Cal Arts was tied for #9, and its graduate graphic design program was tied for #5.

Top Animation, Video Graphics and Special Effects Programs

Here are some more schools at which students can find excellent educational offerings in this field:

  • Yale University in New Haven, CT, offers interdisciplinary film and video courses offered alongside other art majors.
  • Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI, has an undergraduate program in film, animation and video.
  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL, offers a master's degree program in visual and critical studies.
  • At Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, a 2-D graphic design program is available.
  • The University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH, awards a bachelor's degree in graphic communication design.

At top art institutes and other postsecondary schools, students interested in learning about animation, video graphics and special effects can enroll in specific programs in these fields, or they can study these topics within broader programs.

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