Visual Effects Career Training in Chicago, IL with School Options

Feb 14, 2019

Chicago Schools with Degree Programs in Visual Effects

Individuals interested in careers in visual effects can find training at one public and two private institutions. Information about the programs and schools, as well as a brief paragraph about some other education options in the extended area, can be found below.

  • City Colleges of Chicago - Harold Washington College offers an 18-credit-hour basic certificate and a 30-credit-hour advanced certificate in digital multimedia design, both of which include studies in visual effects. This college is located one mile from downtown.
  • At Columbia College - Chicago, located 0.7 miles from the downtown, students can pursue a bachelor's degree program in computer animation, game design, cinema art and science, or television.
  • DePaul University offers an undergraduate program in film and television and a graduate degree program in animation that emphasize current technology, including methods for incorporating visual effects. At 0.5 miles, the university is the closest to downtown Chicago.

Comparison of Schools

Through the table below, students can compare public and private tuition rates, as well as their prospects for receiving some form of financial aid. Note that one of the three featured schools has an open-admissions policy.

City Colleges of Chicago - Harold Washington College Columbia College - Chicago DePaul University
School Type 2-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 8,869* 7,312* 22,769*
Campus Setting Large City Large City Large City
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2017-18) $3,506 in-district, $8,126 in-state, $11,906 out-of-state* $26,474* $39,010*
% of First-Year Undergraduate Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2017-18) 77%* 88%* 96%*
Acceptance Rate (Undergraduate, 2016-17) N/A - Open Admissions 92%* 72%*
Retention Rate (Undergraduate, 2017) 60% for full-time students* 66% for full-time students* 84% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate (Undergraduate) 18% (19% transfer-out rate)* 44% (38% transfer-out rate)* 71% (19% transfer-out rate)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

City Colleges of Chicago - Harold Washington College

Located in downtown Chicago, this community college provides accessible education that can prepare individuals for future careers and enrich their current skills.

Advanced Certificate in Digital Multimedia Design

This 30-credit-hour certificate program consists of a 27-credit-hour core that addresses basic design skills, including 2-D and 3-D design, 3-D graphics and drawing. Students learn to create a story, develop a soundtrack that includes sound effects and create visual effects for films.

Associate in Applied Science in Digital Multimedia Design

Through this 2-year degree program, students prepare for careers in interactive and multimedia design. They learn how to combine their artistic skills with technology to create innovative characters, effects and stories for films. They learn to create videos, design web pages and put together soundtracks.

Columbia College - Chicago

Columbia College - Chicago provides education in the arts and media. Students can learn about visual effects via several programs in three separate departments: Interactive Arts and Media, Film and Video, and Television. The college has several facilities dedicated to helping students develop and showcase their abilities, including a media art and film facility and a media production center. In addition, students have the opportunity to have their portfolios evaluated by working professionals during the spring and fall at the college's Portfolio Center.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation

This program requires the completion of 70 credits in areas like the fundamentals of animation, storyboarding concepts, stop-motion techniques, character modeling, and the history of animation. Electives can be taken in topics such as drawing for animation, motion capture, acting procedures for animators, and advanced techniques in animation.

Bachelor of Arts in Game Design

This bachelor's program requires the completion of 48-57 credits. Students will study topics like the culture of gaming, programming, techniques for creating interactive media, and the design of digital images. Game projects and a game studio will also be completed. Concentrations are available in game development and sound design. Coursework for these areas include simulation in games, the development of stories in interactive media, 3D modeling, and game engine scripting.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema Art and Science

This 70-81-credit program offers various concentrations in areas like cinema visual effects, and editing and post-production. In these concentrations, students will take courses in areas like cinematography, motion graphics, visual effects through computer animation, editing techniques, digital workflow methods, digital mastering, and cinema color.

Bachelor of Arts in Television

Students in the television department can focus their studies in several areas that incorporate visual effects. The post-production and effects concentration offers coursework in narrative, documentary and experimental editing and production, motion graphics and advanced post-production. The internet and mobile media concentration offers similar coursework along with classes in writing and video for mobile TV and internet. Students can also minor in game art to gain experience in visual effects.

Juniors and seniors may apply for the semester in Los Angeles program, where coursework will explore areas like creativity, the entertainment industry, diversity in media, professionalism, and sketch comedy.

DePaul University

At DePaul University's College of Computing and Digital Media, students can pursue degree programs that include instruction in visual effects that incorporate the latest technology. The interdisciplinary programs overlap and incorporate skills from many related fields. Facilities such as the animation lab, game development lab, digital cinema studio and console gaming lab can enhance students' skills and help them acquire practical experience.

Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television

The BA program requires the completion of 192 credit hours in topics like editing, digital cinema studies, animation, cinematography, and film aesthetics. The BFA program, however, is more suited to visual effects studies with a concentration in the subject. Coursework includes motion graphics, visual design, modeling and design, color correction techniques, lighting, 3D dynamics, and virtual cinema.

Master of Arts in Animation

This master's degree program offers four concentrations: motion graphics, technical artist, traditional animation, and 3D animation. In the motion graphics track, students can study topics like vistual storytelling, 3D motion graphics, and advanced studies in visual effects. The 3D animation focus will cover areas like 3D textures and lighting, visual design for video games, the design of characters, 3D scripting, and motion capture techniques.

Other Schools

Individuals interested in acquiring visual effects training in the Chicago area can also attend Elmhurst College, Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills or Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, all of which are around 16 miles from Chicago. Students may also consider the College of DuPage, which is about 22.5 miles from Chicago in Glen Ellyn, IL.

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