What Are the Best Animation Graduate Schools?

Jan 03, 2020

Discover three of the top graduate schools for studying animation in the United States. Learn about the programs, courses, and requirements that make these schools great for studying animation.

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Students can find multiple graduate-level options in animation. Different schools offer Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, and graduate certificate programs in the field.

Three of the best schools that offer graduate animation programs are the University of Southern California (USC), the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and Northeastern University. USC and Northeastern University stand out for their national rankings and small classes, while SCAD offers unique art-focused programs and multiple degree options.

1. University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

USC is ranked tied to #22 among all universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report in 2020. The university offers a Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Digital Arts that admits 14 students per class. The program takes approximately three years to complete, during which students are exposed to a range of animation production techniques, including hand-drawn character animation and cutting-edge digital animation. Additionally, all MFA students must complete a thesis.

The Animation and Digital Arts Division is an international program that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and imagination.

2. Savannah College of Art and Design in Savanna, GA

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Animation, which requires 45 credit hours of coursework and is also available online. Students study in a work-intensive environment and they gain most of their knowledge by way of individual projects.

The college also offers an MFA in Animation, which requires 90 credit hours. The MFA allows students to specialize in one or more areas of animation and requires either a 2-D or 3-D collaborative project with fellow graduate students.

Interdisciplinary majors are available in motion media, visual effects, interactive design, sound design, and game development.

3. Northeastern University in Boston, MA

Grad students at Northeastern University study in cohorts, working with the same community of students until graduation. The College of Professional Studies offers a graduate certificate in 3-D animation. This part-time certificate program can be completed in 1-2 years. Coursework focuses on the application of scientific and artistic animation concepts to the gaming industry.

Northeastern is ranked tied for #40 of top universities according to U.S. News and World Report in 2020. The student:faculty ratio is 14:1, and 65% of the courses have fewer than 20 students.

Top Graduate Animation Programs

Let's look at three more schools with graduate-level animation programs:

School Name Distinction Location
Rochester Institute of Technology Paid co-op education opportunities allow students to get hands-on experience Rochester, NY
San Jose State University Located in Silicon Valley, close to opportunities for internships and employment San Jose, CA
University of Pennsylvania New SIG Center for Computer Graphics includes an animation studio with a motion capture facility Philadelphia, PA

Prospective graduate students who want to study animation can find excellent programs at top ranked national universities or dedicated art institutions.

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