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Computer Animation Degree Programs and Schools

A degree in computer animation can prepare you for a career as an animator, special effects technician or game designer. Read on to learn more about computer animation degree programs and the schools that offer them, including what you'll learn.

What You Need to Know

Computer animation programs are available from the associate's to the master's degree level, and you can also complete certificate programs in the field. Schools that offer these programs may allow you to choose a specialization or select elective coursework to tailor your studies toward a specific type of animation.

Degrees Many options; a few include an Associate of Arts in Computer Arts Animation, Associate of Science in Animation and Graphic Game Programming; Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects, Bachelor of Arts in Animation; and a Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects
Schools 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities, art and design schools
Classes Character design and rigging, pre- and post-production, motion dynamics, shading and lighting techniques, animation layout and production design, 2D/3D animation

What Undergraduate Degree Programs Are Available?

You can find undergraduate computer animation programs at many universities, art schools and community colleges. It's most common to find these programs as stand-alone majors within art, design or computing departments, but you can also study computer animation in other programs, such as those for interactive design, video game design and motion technology.

At the undergraduate level, you might find computer animation courses available through a wide variety of degree programs. A few examples include an Associate of Arts in Studio Production for Advertising and Design, an Associate in Arts in Computer Arts Animation or an Associate in Science with a major in animation and graphic game programming. At the bachelor's level, program options include a Bachelor of Arts in Animation or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects.

What Will I Learn?

You will learn how to use computer animation software to create animations, special effects or video game graphics. Most undergraduate programs teach you the fundamentals of art and design. Some of these course topics might be covered in your degree program:

  • Drawing
  • Basic animation software
  • Computer programming
  • Digital rendering techniques
  • 3D modeling
  • Audio production methods

What Graduate Degree Programs Are Available?

If you're looking to study computer animation at the graduate level, you'll likely pursue either a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. Your choices may include an MFA in Animation and Visual Effects and an MA in Animation, among others. Graduate programs typically culminate in an animated final project or a thesis.

Can I Earn a Degree Online?

Online undergraduate and graduate degree programs may be available through for-profit art schools and colleges. These can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Some classroom-based degree programs may also have courses that can be completed online, such as those in computer programming or software fundamentals.

How Should I Choose the Right School for Me?

You may want to base your decision on which school offers a program of study that is most applicable to your career ambitions. For example, if you want to pursue a career in medical data visualization, you may want to choose a program in computer graphics or interactive design. Such programs will offer more relevant courses like digital imaging, instead of one with an emphasis on video game design or animation effects for motion pictures. You may also want to consider schools that offer internship programs and have access to up-to-date animation, design and video software and equipment, including computer labs, sound-editing rooms and green-screen studios. These schools, among many others, offer computer animation degree programs:

  • Academy of Art University (San Francisco, CA)
  • Miami Dade College (FL)
  • Concord's Community College (NH)
  • Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design (GA)