Best Animation Schools

Best Animation Schools

I present to you my curated list of the best animation schools. If you are thinking about getting into the world of animation and visual effects I hope you’ll find this resource useful. The schools are not listed in any particular order and will cover all the basic information such as tuition, notable alumni and some impressive student work. Each school was carefully selected and was not placed in the list lightly.

However, this matter could be very objective and that’s why I have the following IMPORTANT NOTICE:

This list was constructed from 3 different sources: (a) my own personal experience and knowledge (b) conversation with colleagues, peers and students, and (c) internet research.

It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to personally experience each and every school, and so some of the information might not be a 100% accurate, despite my best efforts to make it so.

If you feel that some of the best animation schools are missing from the list, or that some should not be there – please stay calm and write your opinion in the comments section below. Thank you.

For more information on becoming an animator – read our ebook Animation For Beginners.

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Best Animation Schools

School of Visual Arts (SVA)

SVASchool information: Founded in 1947 by Silas H. Rhodes and Burne Hogarth as the Cartoonist and Illustrators School, and then renamed in 1956. Part of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design as one of 36 leading art colleges in the United States.

The school offered its first degree in 1972, and it’s first master’s degree in 1983 in Fine Arts for painting, drawing and sculpture.

  • Location: New York, NY. USA
  • Courses: Animation, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
  • Tuition cost: $16,780 per semester + Department fees (Animation: $900, Computer Animation and visual effects:$1,340)
  • Notable alumni: Bill Plympton (Academy nominated animator), John.R.Dilworth (creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog), Pres Antonio Romanillos (supervising animator at Disney and Dreamworks animation)
  • Start of Academic year: September
  • BFA Animation: 270 students
  • BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation & Visual Effects: 325 students
  • Notable graduate film: Kiwi! (Dony Permedi, 2006)

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Ringling College of Art and Design

Best Animation Schools - RinglingSchool information: Founded in Sarasota, Florida, by Dr. Ludd M. Spivey as an art school in 1931, and as a branch of the Southern College in Orlando. Became an independent college in 1933.

Qualified as a full degree-granting institution in 1971. Ringling College is named after John Ringling, a circus magnate, who was interested in funding an art college, but wasn’t interested in Southern College as he wanted to establish his own at his wife’s museum.

However, he lost his museum and residence in bankruptcy, and it was all given to the state just before he died. Ringling’s nephew made a deal with Southern College to open an art college in Sarasota, and it was named School of Fine and Applied Art of the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum.

  • Location: Sarasota, Florida. USA
  • Courses: Computer Animation
  • Tuition cost: $18,400 per semester
  • Notable alumni: Aaron Blaise (Director of Disney’s Brother Bear)
  • Start of Academic year: August
  • Notable graduate film: Dia De Los Muertos (Ashley Graham, Kate Reynolds, and Lindsey St. Pierre, 2013) Won Student Academy Award, 2013

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Vancouver Film School

Best Animation Schools - VFSSchool information: Founded in 1987 with a single class of six students. Hosts the annual Game Design Expo since 2007.

3D animation & VFX and Classical Animation are only one year study. Character Animation is 6 months.

  • Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Courses: 3D Animation and VFX, Classical Animation, Character Animation
  • Tuition cost: $35,250 (Canadian Dollars) per semester
  • Notable alumni: Chad Moffitt (Academy-award winning animator on Lord of the Rings), Andrew Overtoom (Animation director on Spongebob Squarepants)
  • Start of Academic year: October
  • Notable graduate film: The Story Tree (Stephanie Sim, 2006) Won best Classical or Stop Motion Animation, CAEAA awards 2006

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Sheridan College

Best Animation Schools - SheridanSchool information: Sheridan College was founded in 1967 as The School of Graphic Design at a converted public school until it was eventually moved.

The Canadian animation industry was virtually non-existent during the 60’s and 70’s, but President Porter decided to start a course in Classical Animation at the college in 1968 in hopes of getting trained animators. It is considered one of the best animation schools for 2D traditional animation.

  • Location: Toronto. Canada
  • Courses: Animation, Computer Animation, Digital Creature Animation, Visual Effects
  • Tuition cost: $9,356.05 (Canadian dollars) per semester
  • Notable alumni: Dean DeBlois (Disney animator), Dan Lee (Pixar animator), John Kricfalusi (Creator of Ren and Stimpy show), Dan Antonucci (Creator of Ed, Edd ‘n, Eddy)
  • Start of Academic year: September
  • Notable graduate film: Night Light (Qing Han, 2014)

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Best Animation Schools - CalArtsSchool information: CalArts was founded in 1961 by Walt Disney, when Chouinard Art Institute and the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music merged together due to financial difficulties.

Nelbert Chouinard, founder of the Chouinard Art Institute, started a professional relationship with Walt Disney in 1929, and agreed to train animators for him on a pay-later basis as Disney was struggling financially.

  • Location: Valencia, California. USA
  • Courses: Film/Video (Includes animation)
  • Tuition cost: $41,700 Full-time enrolment
  • Notable alumni: Tim Burton (Disney animator and Director), Brad Bird (Director, Disney and Pixar), John Lasseter (Pixar), Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck (Directors of Frozen)
  • Start of Academic year: September
  • Notable graduate film: Trust & Estates (Jeanette Bonds, 2013) Official Selection, Melbourne International Animation Festival 2013

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Best Animation Schools - GobelinsSchool information: Founded by the Parisian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1964, but is best known for the Cinema Department of Animation, which was founded by Pierre Ayma in 1974 when the first Asterix and Obelix feature film was being produced by Studio Idefix.

The studio didn’t have enough animators for the project, so they asked Gobelins to start an animator training program. It is now one of the best animation schools in the world.

  • Location: Paris. France
  • Courses: Character Animation and Animated Film Making, 3D Character Animation
  • Tuition cost: €6,350 First year, €6,450 Second year, €6,550 Third year
    Notable alumni: Pierre Coffin (Director of Despicable Me), Bibo Bergeron (Director of A Monster in Paris)
    Start of Academic year: Beginning of September

Gobelins is opening a Masters program for BA students next year.

  • BA Animated Film Making: 80 students
  • Notable graduate film: Oktapodi (Julien Bocabeille, Francois-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier, Emud Mokhberi, 2007)
    Nominated for Academy Award, 2009

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University of California (UCLA)

Best Animation Schools - UCLASchool information: UCLA is a public University that was founded in 1919 as part of the University of California system, comprised of three universities in the state.

The animation program was established in 1948 by William Shull, a Disney animator, as just a group of various animation classes. When Dan MacLaughlin became head of the department in 1971, he started the MFA program for animation where he worked as the sole faculty member for years.

  • Location: Los Angeles, California. USA
  • Courses: Animation
  • Tuition cost: $33,193 per academic year
  • Notable alumni: David Silverman (Animator, Producer on The Simpsons), Hoyt Yeatman (VFX supervisor, won Academy Award for The Abyss)
  • Start of Academic year: February
  • MFA Animation Notable graduate film: Her Lion’s Jump (Régis Camargo, 2013)

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Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Best Animation Schools - RISDSchool information: RISD was founded by the group The Centennial Women in 1877. The Centennial Women was a group formed to exhibit creations made by women from design schools, patents from female entrepreneurs, and books written exclusively by women, at the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

The group raised $10,000, and by the end of the expo had over $1,675 left, which they decided to invest into founding Rhode Island School of Design.

  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island. USA
  • Courses: Film/Animation/Video
  • Tuition cost: $44,284 per academic year
  • Notable alumni: Seth MacFarlane (Creator of Family Guy) Bryan Konietzko & Michael Dante DiMartino (Creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender), Lance Wilder (Animator, The Simpsons)
  • Start of Academic year: Second week of September
  • Film/Animation/Video: 50 students per year
  • Notable graduate film: Inner Tubes (Tim Beckhardt, 2009) Screened at Ottawa International Animation Festival and Boston Underground Festival

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Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Best Animation Schools - SCADSchool information: Founded in 1978 by Paula S. Wallace with her husband and parents, taking out a $200,000 loan to build the first educational building, by renovating the Savannah Volunteer Guard Armory.

Theuniversity first opened in 1979 with only 71 students. Currently the University has over 11,000 students.

  • Location: Savannah, Georgia, USA. Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Hong Kong, Guangdong, China. Lacoste, Vaucluse, France.
  • Courses: Animation, Visual Effects
  • Tuition cost: (In order of locations) $33,795 (American dollars), $261,911 (Hong Kong dollars), $10,983 (American dollars)
  • Notable alumni: Mir Zafar Ali (Visual effects specialist, The Day After Tomorrow)
  • Start of Academic year: September
  • Notable graduate film: Legacy (Adam Floeck, 2013)

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University of Southern California (USC)

Best Animation Schools - USCSchool information: USC was founded in 1880 by judge Robert M. Widney, who managed to acquire donations from Ozro Childs, John Gately Downey, and Isaias W. Hellman; three very influential figures at the time.

Originally operated in affiliation with the Methodist Church, but became officially secular in 1952. It has the largest amount of international students in the United States, and enrolls over 18,000 domestic/international students each year.

Has its own IMAX theater and research lab, which opened this year.

  • Location: Los Angeles, California. USA
  • Courses: Animation and Digital Arts
  • Tuition cost: $48,347 for two semesters
  • Notable alumni: George Lucas (Creator of Lucas Arts, Industrial Light and Magic, Star Wars), Eric Hanson (Digital Designer/Lead VFX artist, The Fifth Element), Ray Harryhausen (Stop-motion and Special Effects animator, Jason and the Argonauts)
  • Start of Academic year: Last week of August
  • BA Animation and Digital Arts: 75 students
  • MFA Animation and Digital Arts: 45 students
  • Notable graduate film: Ladies Knight (Joe Rothenberg, 2012) Nominated Best Animated Student Short at Annie Awards.

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Online Schools

Best animation schools available online

Animation Mentor

Best Animation Schools - Animation MentorSchool information: Founded in 2005 by Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly, and Carlos Baena, the last two employed as animators at Industrial Light and Magic.

  • Location: Emeryville, California. USA
  • Courses: Classic animation, Character animation, Creature animation
  • Tuition cost: $18,928 for Full 18 Month Program.
  • Notable alumni: Siggurdur Orri Thorhannesson (Animator, Guardians of the Galaxy), Jude Brownbill (Animator, Pixar)
  • Start of Academic year: Every Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter
  • Animation Mentor courses: 5,000 students (Total)
  • Notable graduate film: Greed (Alli Sadegiani, 2011)

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Full Sail University

Best Animation Schools - FullsailSchool information: Founded in 1979 by Jon Phelps in Ohio, before the University was moved to Orlando in 1980, under the name of Full Sail Recording Workshop. Focused on video and film production, but added in animation when the University moved to Orange County in 1989.

The University started offering online degree programs in 2007.

  • Location: Orange County, Florida. USA
  • Courses: Computer animation
  • Tuition cost: $14,762 per semester
  • Notable alumni: Culley Bunker (Lead visual effects artist), Chance Glasco (Senior animator)
  • Start of Academic year: Second week of November

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Digital Tutors

Best Animation Schools - DigitaltutorsSchool information: Founded in 2000 as a online tutoring program, focusing on giving lessons via streaming. Currently has 18 tutors from around the world.

  • Location: Oklahoma. USA
  • Courses: 3D animation, Visual Effects
  • Tuition cost: $499 (American dollars) for a 12 month subscription

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