Many people who get interested in animation remember watching their favorite Disney movie or cartoon as a child. As technology and industries have expanded over the past few decades, animators are not just needed for the film or television industries, but are also needed in the gaming industry, for advertising, or tech companies.
Animator students can expect to work on a variety of projects, learning the basic skills in storytelling, design, and special effects. Extensive use of professional software such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, and Lightwave will also be used. Depending on the program, students will be exposed to a variety of theories and hands-on experiences to help them decide which type of career and specialty to pursue in the future.
What kind of Animation degree should you get?
At the bachelor’s level, students will generally enroll in either a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation. While all of these programs teach the basics of the field, a BA’s curriculum will generally be more interdisciplinary and students will be required to take courses not specifically related to animation. A BS is more focused on technical and computer-related schools. Lastly, BFA programs may require more art-related courses.
An online program is ideal for students who are already working or whose schedule does not allow them to attend classes on campus during a typical schedule. Most online degrees are asynchronous, meaning that students can complete homework, tests, and quizzes on their own by the deadline. If students take the recommended number of classes each semester or quarter, they can finish in four years just as if they were to attend traditional classes.
If you’re looking for value, College Choice has also ranked the Most Affordable Online Animation Degrees.
How much money do people make with a degree in Animation?
Since May 2016, the median animator salary is $65,300, with the bottom 10 percent making under $38,520 and the top ten percent earning more than $115,960. Those who work for the motion picture and video industries tend to make more, with the average salary being $75,630. An animator’s salary greatly depends on his/her experience. As of March 2018, an entry-level position can earn anywhere from $30,306 to $72,394, while an experienced animator can earn from $40,695 to $107,025.
According to Payscale, location also greatly influences salary. Animators in San Francisco receive salaries 54 percent above the national average. Other high-paying cities for this career include Salt Lake City, San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York. Cities with below average salaries are Chicago, Dallas, and Minneapolis.
What can you do with a degree in Animation?
A Bachelor’s in Animation prepares students to work in jobs in 2D or 3D animation. These people do things such as create models, special effects, or character designs for a variety of businesses. For example, animators may work on television sets, video games, or in advertisements. Those in the animation industry can expect to work on several individual and group projects, utilizing both technical and creative skill.
Jobs in animation can expect to experience an employment growth of eight percent between 2016 and 2026. Examples of possible career titles include 3D modeler, art director, character rigger, or forensic animator. Those who wish to continue their study may even choose to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Animation.
What are the requirements for a degree in Animation?
Applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED, with many schools strongly suggesting that students possess at least a 3.0 GPA. Students will also submit letters of recommendation, SAT or ACT scores, and a portfolio outlining previous work. While knowledge and extensive experience is not required for Bachelor’s degrees, schools like to see students with interests and talents related to art and animation.
What are the best Online Bachelor’s in Animation?
College Choice has compiled a list of the five best Online Bachelor’s in Animation degrees. Schools were researched and chosen based on a variety of data points ranking institutional excellence and student success. Institutional excellence was based on endowment size, graduation rate, overall reputation, and student-to-faculty ratio. Student success was based on tuition costs, amount of financial aid given, average starting salary, and average indebtedness after graduation. Data was collected from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, Payscale, individual college websites, and the U.S. News & World Report.
See our rankings methodology page.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $10,935
Rasmussen College was founded in 1900 by Walter Rasmussen in order to meet the needs of the growing business class. Its first campus was located in St. Paul, Minnesota, starting as the Rasmussen Practical School of Business. Ever since its founding, the college has focused on providing higher education to prepare students to thrive in their future careers. With 117 years of history, Rasmussen continues this goal by also being a leader in online learning. Today, more than 14,000 students across the nation are enrolled in their online programs.
Rasmussen’s online Bachelor’s in Graphic Design with a specialization in Animation and Motion Graphics combines hands-on experience with technical industry knowledge to prepare students for the rapidly changing field.
- 36 months completion time
- Internship or final design project course as a capstone project
- Sample Courses: Digital Short Film Project, Advanced Color Theory, The Business of Digital Media
While this program can be taken fully online, students can also enroll in Rasmussen’s Flex Choice program, combining online and traditional courses. Students who qualify can also save money through their grant program.
Full Sail University
College Choice Score: 97.13
Average Net Price: $27,840
Full Sail University was established originally as an audio recording workshop in 1979. Today, its campus is located in Central Florida, providing project-based learning in the fields of entertainment, media, arts, and technology. Following its mission of giving students an innovative style of education, all programs, including its online degrees, are taught using the latest technology. Through Full Sail’s very own creative studio technology called Project LaunchBox, all students receive a MacBook Pro that contains professional programs.
Full Sail’s online BS in Computer Animation program utilizes technology and equipment that professionals in the field work with every day to give students an upper hand in the industry.
- 29 months completion time
- Emphasis on storytelling and communication
- Sample Courses: 3-D Foundations, Model Creation, History of Visual Communications
Full Sail offers numerous scholarships for those who qualify. For instance, the Momentum Scholarship offers $20,000 for students who are passionate about the entertainment and media industry.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 95.15
Average Net Price: $34,984
Southern New Hampshire University is a private institution that was established in 1932. At that time, SNHU only offered one-year business courses, but eventually expanded its curriculum during the 40s to accommodate servicemen during WWII. In the mid-1990s, the university began to offer its online program, which today has over 90,000 students. According to the United States Distance Learning Association, SNHU was awarded the 21st Century Distance Learning Award for Excellence in Online Technology. It was also ranked the most innovative university in 2017 by the U.S. News & World Report.
SNHU’s online BA in Graphic Design with a concentration in 3D Modeling & Animation degree focuses on developing marketable skills for fields such as game arts, interior design, or web development.
- Use of programs such as Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk’s Maya and Mudbox
- Sample Courses: Interactive Animation, Desktop Publishing, Typography
- Tuition rate among the lowest in the nation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers for designers with knowledge of computer systems design are expected to experience a growth of 20 percent until year 2026.
Art Institute of Pittsburgh
College Choice Score: 93.54
Average Net Price: $19,475
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh is part of The Art Institute system composed of 31 schools across the nation. With a focus on design programs, students can choose from a variety of degrees such as visual design, animation & effects, or gaming & technology. Founded in 1921, the college began as an independent art and illustration school but was later acquired by The Art Institute system in 1968. Its Online Division offers numerous programs for students who wish to have more flexibility in their schedule.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s online BS in Media Arts & Animation degree is based on art fundamentals and applied technology.
- 180-credit program
- Creation and presentation of a demo-reel and self-promotion package
- Sample Courses: Drawing & Anatomy, Storyboarding & Animatics, Pre-Production Team
Each online course is 5.5 weeks with coursework that can be completed on one’s own time. All classes and faculty are the same as traditional on-campus programs.
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
College Choice Score: 90.82
Average Net Price: $23,693
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design gives students a liberal arts education in various art and design disciplines. Students are always encouraged to pursue the highest creativity and create the best projects that they can. Founded in 1963 by Philip J. Steele, an artist and teacher, the college is currently located in Lakewood, Colorado. RMCAD offers both on-campus and online degrees.
RMCAD’s online BFA in 3D Animation master the technical skills needed in animation and narrative development while learning to develop their own creativity.
- 123-credit program
- Opportunity to participate in numerous on-campus and community animation events
- Sample Topics: Character Design, Storyboarding, Stop Motion
As the campus is near the busy city of Denver, students have the opportunity to engage with the arts community there as well. Alumni of this program currently are employed by top animation firms, such as Pixar, Lola VFX, and Blue Sky Studios.