Special Effects Schools and Degrees

Read on to learn which degree programs are available in the field of special effects. See what you'll study and what to look for when deciding on a program. Schools offering Animation degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Special effects deal with the animation and software used to manipulate images. Prospective special effects professionals have many options for programs, including online availability. You can find special effects degree programs offered at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. Most of these programs are titled animation and special effects. In fact, many animation degree programs offer courses in special effects.

Degree Options Associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees in animation and special effects. Online programs are also available.
Courses 2D and 3D animation, drawing, audio and video editing, computer-generated programming, and software applications. Thesis and research required for master's degree.
Schools Look for schools that allow you to specialize in a concentration, and have state-of-the-art software for classes and projects. Programs should also allow you to build a portfolio for prospective employers.

What Are Associate's Degree Programs Like?

Associate's degree programs will provide you with basic training, so at that level, you might take introductory classes in 2D design, 3D animation and drawing. Other topics might include software applications, interactive media and editing. Depending on the program, you might take some advanced classes in your final two years in areas such as animation and digital video.

Associate's degrees in animation and special effects usually focus on the basics, such as developing fundamental drawing skills, learning how to use image manipulation software and becoming proficient in basic computer software and hardware operations.

What About Bachelor's and Master's Degrees?

Courses at the bachelor's and master's levels can include advanced 2D and 3D animation, audio and video editing, computer-generated programming, compositing and storyboarding. You'll take some studio courses as well. Moreover, the master's degree programs might require you to research and write a thesis.

Bachelor's and master's degree programs provide you with advanced skills. Master's programs can also help you enhance the special effects skills you already possess. These courses may also be covered in a master's degree program:

  • 2D animation and stop motion
  • Characters, layouts and storyboards
  • Animation principles
  • Presentation skills
  • Visual effects

Can I Earn it Online?

Online special effects programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Generally, you can attend class whenever and wherever you like, as long as you can access the Internet. You'll study pretty much the same topics you would in a traditional setting, but they'll be in a different format. This may include live chat and video presentations.

Since you'll be working from a remote location, you'll probably be responsible for purchasing the software you need for your classes, such as Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk 3ds Max. You might also need to purchase an inkjet printer, CD burner, DVD-ROM drive and a digital camera.

What Should I Look for in a School?

If you're interested in specializing, look for a school that lets you choose a concentration, such as video, character animation or whatever your area of interest may be. Make sure the school has state-of-the-art software for you to practice your special effects. It's important that you get hands-on experience with industry standard software. Finally, be sure to choose a program that offers you the chance to build a portfolio for use in your job search. Being able to demonstrate your skills to employers is one of the most important factors when looking for a job in this field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

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    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Ferris State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Big Rapids
  • Southwestern College

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Chula Vista
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Rochester