Bachelor’s in Animation Program Guide

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

By Michelle R. Kelley

Published on June 17, 2021

Share on Social

As colleges and universities navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we're continuing our efforts to provide you with useful student resources and the latest online program information. Check our coronavirus resources page to learn more.

Animation is among the most popular techniques used in filmmaking, and animated films consistently perform well at the box office. Nevertheless, the industry encompasses more than animated features. Animators also work on video games, advertisements, and television series. They may work on live action films incorporating computer-generated imagery. In 2019, the animation, visual effects (VFX), and video game industry was valued at $264 billion globally.

If you are an aspiring animator, earning your bachelor's in animation can be a good first step for your career. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in animation can work as game designers, VFX artists, and 3D modelers. Animators also work outside the entertainment industry. Medical animators create animations to show the inner workings of cells, and forensic animators use their skills to replicate crime scenes to aid investigations.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Animation?

Animators work across various media sources, contributing to video games, film and TV shows, commercials, and websites. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the animation and special effects (SFX) industry could grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029.

Most students need four years to earn a bachelor's degree in animation. Many programs require students to complete 57-78 credits within the major, in addition to core courses. Although some graduates of bachelor's in animation programs pursue MFAs, many graduates begin their careers without earning an additional degree.

Animators work across media, contributing to video games, film and TV shows, commercials, and websites.

While the animation industry continues to grow, the field remains competitive, resulting in some animators struggling to find work after graduation. Also, animation jobs are more plentiful in some cities than in others. As a result, it can be harder for individuals who live outside cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Vancouver to secure positions.

However, by earning their bachelor's degrees in animation, students committed to a career in animation, SFX, or a related field can develop the knowledge, skills, and professional networks needed to succeed.

What Will I Learn in an Animation Bachelor's Program?

Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in animation take courses, such as 3D modeling and character design, introduction to the art of movement, writing for animation, and advanced life drawing. Some curricula also cover the history and analysis of animation.

Some schools offer a bachelor of arts (BA) in animation, while others offer a bachelor of fine arts (BFA). BA programs often include more liberal arts courses outside the major. Learners in these programs study animation while also taking classes in history, sociology, and the life sciences. In contrast, BFA programs place greater emphasis on artistic and technical training.

Both BA and BFA in animation programs teach students to create animated works. Most programs provide training in different types of animation, such as 2D and 3D animation, stop motion, and motion graphics. Students also develop proficiency in using animation software, such as Maya and Adobe Suite.

Concentrations

3D Computer Animation

3D animation is a form of computer-generated animation that appears to occupy three-dimensional space. Students concentrating in 3D animation learn how to model characters and objects, add textures, and use computer software for rendering.

Motion Graphics

Students concentrating in motion graphics learn how to add movement to graphic and textual elements. Motion graphics are commonly used in advertising, instructional videos, and film and TV titles.

Game Art

Students who concentrate in game art develop their skills in animating for video games. Courses focus on motion capture, the creation of backgrounds and layouts, and digital sculpting.

Storyboarding and Character Design

Storyboard artists create series of still images that serve as blueprints for animated projects. Character designers develop the unique look of fictional characters across media. Students concentrating in storyboarding and character design focus on developing their drawing skills.

Science Visualization

Science visualization is the use of animation to render scientific data visible. Students concentrating in science visualization take courses in documentary animation and organic modeling. They also study science subjects, such as microbiology, geobiology, and astrobiology.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs.

Bachelor's in Film Program Guide Bachelor's in Art and Art History Program Guide Bachelor's in Graphic Design Program Guide

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Animation?

Students who earn their bachelor's in animation can pursue several different career paths. Graduates can hold many different job titles, including art director, video game animator, 3D modeler, forensic animator, and compositing artist.

Many animation and SFX professionals work in the motion picture and video game industries. Others work for tech companies and advertisers. Some animators work in science as medical animators or work for law enforcement agencies and attorneys as forensic animators. According to the BLS, a slight majority of animation and SFX professionals (56%) are self-employed.

Popular Career Paths

Art Director

Art directors in the animation field lead teams of creatives working on animated projects. Graduates with a bachelor's in animation typically need several years of experience before they can advance to the role of art director.

Video Game Animator

Working from design briefs, storyboards, and concept art, video game animators use software and coding to create 2D and 3D animations. Many video game artists specialize in one or two visual elements, such as characters, environments, or props.

3D Modeler

3D modelers use software like Maya, 3DS Max, and Blender to render 3D objects and environments. Animators specializing in 3D modeling work in many different industries. Some work in the film and video game industries, while others work in engineering, manufacturing, and architecture.

Forensic Animator

Law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and attorneys sometimes employ forensic animators. Forensic animators aid investigations by using their skills to create animated reproductions of crime scenes.

Compositing Artist

Compositing artists take digital elements and assemble them into a coherent shot or sequence. They are responsible for the final look of an animated work.

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Animation?

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for animators and SFX artists in 2020 was $77,700. This is substantially higher than the median wage for all workers, which in May 2020 was $41,950.

PayScale reports that individuals with a bachelor's degree in animation earn an average annual salary of $59,520. 2D animators earn an average salary of $50,120 per year, while 3D animators earn an average annual salary of $54,880. Video game artists earn $57,390 per year, according to PayScale.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Animation Programs

What is animation?

Animation is the technique of photographing a series of drawings or models to create the illusion of movement. There are five types of animation: traditional or cel animation, 2D animation, 3D animation, motion graphics, and stop motion animation.

Is a bachelor's in animation worth it?

Working toward a degree can be time consuming and expensive. However, by earning your bachelor's in animation, you can develop the knowledge, skills, and connections that may help you establish a career in the field.

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in animation?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of undergraduate tuition, room and board, and fees during the 2017-2018 academic year was $17,797 at public institutions and $46,014 at private nonprofit institutions.

How long does it take to get a bachelor's degree in animation?

It usually takes students four years to earn their bachelor's in animation. Students must usually complete around 120-132 credits to earn a bachelor's degree.

Are animators in high demand?

The BLS projects that the number of jobs in SFX and animation could increase by 2,800 between 2019 and 2029. The projected job growth rate in this industry is on par with the average job growth rate across all industries.

Many students experience food and housing insecurity. Learn how these insecurities affect students. Get tips for overcoming common barriers. Learn about the financial challenges of AAPI students and find scholarships for Asian American and Pacific Islander college students. Learn how to use personal pronouns to increase inclusivity and create welcoming spaces for trans, nonbinary, and LGBQ+ communities.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.