View Full Version : 4-year Traditional Schools with good Computer Animation Courses/Majors?

03 March 2011, 06:36 PM

I'm currently a junior looking at colleges that I would like to apply to. My parents are not completely comfortable allowing me to go to a technical art school so I'm looking for good 4 year colleges that offer animation courses and or majors. So far, I've been hearing good reviews on Carnegie Mellon, UPenn, USC, and UCLA but I was wondering if there were any other schools that may be good at computer animation? I've heard about the Brown/RISD joint program but I'm not sure if that offers computer animation. I've also heard about U of Michigan, U of Rochester, U of Washington, Dartmouth, and Duke having animation courses, but I'm not sure about how much animation they offer and how good the quality of their courses are. Any thoughts?

Thanks so much in advance!

03 March 2011, 11:10 PM
My list of the best 4 year Computer Animation Schools in the USA would be.


And thats pretty much it.

03 March 2011, 12:29 AM
USC has a pretty good undergrad animation major. It's kind of new, though...but they have some great professors. USC and UCLA both have a graduate animation program and they've been around for awhile I believe. If you want a traditional 4 year college experience plus some CG opposed to an art school like SCAD, Ringling, etc. It should also be noted that these art schools's programs are often much more specialized.

Not to mention the resources you'd have at USC/UCLA film school and in Los Angeles vs. Florida or Georgia or New York...

Just my two cents.

03 March 2011, 02:27 AM
Go check out SJSU since you're in Santa Cruz. They have a good animation program and companies seem to be involved with them. They also had an animation short nominated for an Annie Award though I think Pixar's short won that category, but I think it's still a pretty good accomplishment. Seriously, email the advisors and take a trip down there to talk to them. It's not that far away for you. Tell them your goals and what other schools you're considering and why, I'm sure they'll be pretty straight forward with you.

03 March 2011, 07:03 PM
Thanks so much for your feedback! I'll be sure to check out those schools. (:
And good point on the location, smalone. I'll take that into account when I'm looking around.

I was sort of looking at the more traditional 4-year schools that don't centrally focus around art, KrzysztofFus, but I'll look at those schools too perhaps for grad school. Thanks!

03 March 2011, 12:17 AM
Ringling without a doubt

03 March 2011, 12:40 AM
Ringling without a doubt

I respect the school but I have no idea why everyone swears by it. I 100% believe that SVA has a better CG program. Ringling might be a better animation school tho.

03 March 2011, 03:00 AM
I respect the school but I have no idea why everyone swears by it. I 100% believe that SVA has a better CG program. Ringling might be a better animation school tho.

Ringling's animation major sucks as far as cg goes. But that is because they focus only on animation. They are only taught enough of the other aspects to produce their reel. But as far as animation goes, I don't think anyone can top them atm.

But now that I re-read what the OP said. OP be sure you understand what animation is exactly. Unfortunately "animation" has been linked to a whole crap load of stuff that it really has nothing to do with. The majority of the population seems to replace "cg" with animation. Also I suggest trying animation before you go and study it. A lot of people go in thinking they like it and either completely change their mind or find out they like a different part of cg.


03 March 2011, 04:19 AM
Avarinne. Do you know what you want to pursue in terms of animation? Do you want to study traditional animation? Computer Animation? Do you want to be an animator? Do you want to be a modeler?

I dont understand what you meant by "I was sort of looking at the more traditional 4-year schools"

04 April 2011, 12:53 AM
I've also heard about U of Michigan, U of Rochester, U of Washington, Dartmouth, and Duke having animation courses, but I'm not sure about how much animation they offer and how good the quality of their courses are. Any thoughts?

I think you mean Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), not University of Rochester. I graduated from U of R in 2009 and they basically had nothing for computer graphics and animation. The one or two courses that they do have are not taught by anyone with experience in the field. RIT has a degree program and multiple courses for computer animation. I do not know how it compares to other programs, but at least they have a lot of options and faculty with relevant experience.

04 April 2011, 01:52 AM
Actually, if you ask the graphics houses in New York about the top programs for motion and digital effects/animation, they will probably say SVA and Pratt. Pratt's program is pretty good, and you should check it out.

04 April 2011, 04:39 AM
Don't even look at Pratt. They don't even compare to SVA's Computer Animation program.

04 April 2011, 12:50 PM
Krzysztofus, I can't say you are wrong, but I was wondering why you are so anti-Pratt? Did you ever check them out? They have a brand new digital arts building and all new facilities. They also have some strong course offerings, not to mention was one of two NY schools mentioned by graphics' houses. Thus, what are you basing your opinion on?

04 April 2011, 06:19 PM
I've checked Pratt out and in the end I found that it really couldn't compare with SVA. The teachers at SVA are much better. The facilities are better. I'm not anti Pratt but I am pro SVA Computer Art.Although I think SVA's financial aid dept and student housing are complete bullshit. I think SVA's computer animation Dept is an amazing Deptand probably the best in the country. I even think it's better than Ringling and SCAD.

04 April 2011, 06:15 AM
My list of the best 4 year Computer Animation Schools in the USA would be.


And thats pretty much it.


and also look at
Academy of Art

Keep in mind many of these are pricey, and that may become an issue.
It sounds like you are looking for Animation in particular.. in that case I have to agree Ringling is the one that puts most focus on animation. The academy has a balance of animation and CG. SCAD is mostly for CG. SJSU and SVA probably leans towards art a little more, plus a balance on cg and animation?

I don't have personal experience at these schools. I am just basing this from people I have met in the industry - their current job vs. where they went to school, etc.

05 May 2011, 04:36 PM
I know this is about a month old, and hopefully you've begun to narrow down where you want to attended. If not, here's a few things I've learned in looking for good schools in the US for this type of education.

First is, research faculty and teachers. Many instructors at 4 year schools are full time teachers that are not always working professionals. Use google, to track down and find the teachers/instructors websites and see what they have worked on. Also use google to find out about the school your thinking of attending and include the word "scam" in your keyword search. This will help you find out if there are any negative feelings about that school. If you find page after page of complaints then it's something to consider... if you only find one or two links, then it's probably not warranted.

I really can't stress enough how important it is to research the teachers at where every you are thinking of attending. If a teacher is teaching 3d, cg or animation and they do not have a website or reel up somewhere on the internet then be wary. This industry is fast passed with many changes in software and technology, so instructors/teacher that are working have the edge and will teach you more that is relevant and current.

Also understand that a 4 year school may give you a degree and will require you to take the basic/standard English, Math, etc. courses. Also, many people looking to get into this industry end up at a technical school after graduation anyways. Not always, but it's something to consider from a time and money stand point. Job placement after graduation and completion numbers are also important to consider.

Currently I'm attending Gnomon, in Hollywood after dropping out of a 4 year school I will not mention. Many of the students at Gnomon already have degrees from 4 year schools, some are full time working professionals that just want to learn more.

Hopefully this will help you and others better figure out which schools will be best for your situation and ambitions.

05 May 2011, 04:18 PM
Ringling is the best Character Animation school in the USA if not the world. Im actually a student there in Motion Design and CA is always the top of everything. the CA floor has over 300 posters of movies that CA graduates have had a hand in making. If animation is what you want, Ringling is the place. There is no traditional animation degree here though only a couple of classes.

Motion design is the next step down from CA since we focus on other types of animation and dont really delve into character animation.

as far as other types of cg work go. Ringling is not the place to be. Real CG work is better done elsewhere. the computer animation here goes for the cutesy, story driven animation with simple characters that are sytlized instead of realistic.

05 May 2011, 01:04 AM
Texas A&M has a very good visualization program, it is a graduate program. some of the benefits of going to a 4 year university is you can get a degree in anything else to serve as a back up plan in the event that CG does not pan out.

06 June 2011, 12:37 AM
The information presented here is not completely bad or wrong up to this point, but I have found it to be a little scued. It seems like allot of people are very fond of the schools they attended, and donít get me wrong, thatís great!! However, it leaves allot to be desired as far as information for a potential new student.

Here is a list of several of the more prominent Visual Arts schools in the continental US, and some pros and cons for each. I will also add a couple of schools from other countries at the end. Please note, it is very important for a young student interested in this field to understand what each of these terms means specifically. LOOK THEM UP AND UNDERSTAND THEM!!!

Is a very strong school when it comes to animation. Subsequently, story design is big there as well. I have seen very good things on the traditional art side. Concept art, drawing, sculpting, painting are all very, very strong. However, like many schools, Ringling has not integrated students into a full working pipeline. Student coming out of this school tend to be very specified making it hard to become a part of smaller studios where employees are required to take on many different roles in the production pipeline.

Rochester Institute of Technology / Pratt / etc...
There are a number of art schools in the North East. Most of them tend to focus on traditional art over other things and have proven to be relatively strong in these areas. They also seem to focus allot on technical training, like software. If you wish to animate or design, I suggest you take a closer look at these schools before committing. There is a chance you are not offered everything you wanted.

SVA (School of Visual Arts)
I would say that SVA is an exception to the rule previously stated about North Eastern Schools. They have a wonderful Traditional Animation Program. I have not, however, seen their Computer animation. I would think that if it exists, it would likely be strong.

Gnomon School of Visual Effects:
This is one of the very few schools that I have found to offer training in a full production pipeline. I donít think that they are fantastic at everything yet. Character modeling, Zbrush Sculpting, and character concept art coming from the students at this school are phenomenal. They do train everything, the school just needs to grow a little more.

Cal Arts:
Another top-notch school. Between Ringling, and Cal Arts I cannot think of any school in the US that can top them. The school offers everything, and their animation is off the charts. However, they are VERY selective. If you can get in, you will graduate from a top school in the heart of Hollywood. Need I say more?

Full Sail University:
This school tends to be less known than most due to its obscure scheduling system. A bachelors Degree is completed in 21 months. 1 Month is a semester. Each class is 8 hours a day, and only 1 or 2 classes are taken per semester. Classes can begin at 1,5, or 9 AM and PM. Scared yet? Well donít be. Full Sail is another up and coming school that has allot of potential. They are one of the few that offers training on a FULL studio pipeline, and train students to work at production speed and efficiency. I cannot think of another school that can match Full Sail in this aspect. They also are one of the few schools to separate game production from film production. Their downfall is that they are not yet truly great at anything.

SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design):
At SCAD a student is offered excellent resources on design, concept, traditional art, and technical knowledge. However, their actual production of work is a bit lacking. The students coming from SCAD can do allot, but the thing to be said about the school comes down to this: Where other schools produce filmmakers, SCAD produces people who work on films.

The number of schools that offer a computer animation degree in the continental US alone is almost 100. This is just a handful of the better and/or more known schools. Also if youíre interested, here are a few top schools outside of the US.

Seneca in Toronto Canada
Vancouver Film School
Gobelins in Paris France

In my opinion, the best animation school in the world is either Gobelins or Vancouver.

06 June 2011, 02:41 AM
CCA is worth considering (full disclosure, yes, I'm a student there). It's a pretty new program, and has some rough edges because of that, but no other school has a faculty list this impressive:

We have Mark Andrews teaching, for one. "As in One Man Band" and "Brave" director Mark Andrews.

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