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College Counseling: Great Schools for Animation Programs

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Some kids come to my office with doodles on everything, their notebooks, folders, scraps of paper jammed in backpacks and pockets. Some have digital cartoons, designs and images saved in files and YouTube channels. Some of these students are looking for a college where they can develop their love of drawing into a career.

Students who love the art of video games, anime, cartoons and interactive graphics are perfect candidates for schools – many of them are colleges of art and design – where they can immediately begin to learn their craft and collaborate with artists working in a variety of media.

If you are seeking high energy and creative inspiration in the arts, all you have to do is visit an art school or the art studios of any college to find inspiration. Here are five schools with undergraduate degrees in animation:

California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA 

  • CalArts offers two animation degrees: Experimental Animation that encourages innovation and personal expression and Character Animation that emphasizes character development and storytelling.
  • CalArts offers students the opportunity to study their craft at the Valencia campus, to exhibit their work at Redcat, CalArts’ LA venue for contemporary art, and teach at the Community Arts Project that offers free after-school and school-based art classes for youth.
  • Watch some of the student showcase films from 2014 Character Animation students and 2014 Experimental Animation students – too many to list here!  


Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA  

  • The Evergreen Animation Labs provide proficiency training, then access, to students in two, 2D labs for cut-out, drawn, sand, paint on glass, collage and rotoscoping animation techniques; and one 3D lab for Claymation, stop-motion, puppet animation and strati-cut techniques.
  • Evergreen’s animation curriculum is taught in interdisciplinary programs in conjunction with dance, music, performance, religious and ritual studies, visual art, math, physics, literature, social studies, history and natural history.
  • Student work by Evergreen animation students is showcased frequently on campus and beyond.


Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD  


Ringling College of Art & Design, Sarasota, FL 


Savannah College of Art & Design, Savannah and Atlanta, GA  

  • SCAD offers animation student the opportunity to study at one of three campuses that offer the BFA in animation – Atlanta, Savannah, or in Hong Kong – and can choose a study abroad in Lacoste, France at SCAD’s campus there.
  • Animation students at SCAD study 2-D, 3-D, stop-motion, lighting, and digital modeling, and combine their animation talents with students in other disciplines such as motion media, interactive design and game development.
  • Examples of student work: Illuminate by Lauren Duda, Ollie the Day Owl by Allie Rotenburg, I Declare War by Kyle Miller, Rain Dance by Nate Swinehart. 


Animation Career Review offers a description of 100 colleges that offer animation programs. A few of those are California College of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University (PA), Champlain College (VT), Cleveland Institute of Art (OH), DePaul University (IL), Drexel University (PA), Eastern New Mexico University, Laguna College of Art & Design (CA), Mount Ida College (MA), Rhode Island School of Design, Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design (CO), University of Central Florida, University of Southern California, Woodbury University (CA). The National Association of Schools of Art and Design lists all accredited members. 

Emily Standish is a partner in Portland, Oregon-based College Admission Coach LLC which helps students identify and gain admission to right-fit schools where they will thrive academically and personally. Contact me at [email protected].


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