Animators are needed to help create digital games and applications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of multimedia art and animation is projected to grow by 6%, and the median salary for an animator is $65,300 per year — almost double the national average. Earning your animation degree online is an investment in your future. The program prepares you for a dynamic career that allows you to use your creative and digital arts skills. Below is a list of online animation programs and their specifications, which includes coursework, program length, and future careers.

What are the best animation programs of 2020? Here are our top 4:

Rank School Location
1 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
2 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
3 Baker College Flint, MI
4 National University La Jolla, CA

Choosing a Program

Online animation degree programs can vary by curriculum and program length, but many have common courses that focus on digital media design. Students enrolled in online computer animation degree programs can expect to engage in courses that cover web design, graphic imaging, and 3D modeling. Graduates are prepared for careers as multimedia artists, web designers, and art directors.

Many online digital art programs offer a bachelor's degree in digital media design with concentrations in animation, 3D modeling, and media technology. This allows students to follow career or personal interests. These concentrations all have specific curriculum and software training requirements.

Online digital art degrees also differ between capstone requirements, which may include a portfolio or field work. A portfolio requires student to compile the work they've completed throughout the program and present it to a faculty panel. Field requirements are similar to internships and require students to apply their learned skills in a real-world setting. Students need to consider which is more valuable to their careers. It's important to find a program that will help you reach your goals and that will fit your schedule.

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Animation Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 70%

Located in Fairfax, Virginia, Mason enrolls more than 37,000 students annually. The school's BA in art and visual technology features seven concentration options, including new media art. Students can complete many of their classes online.

Participants take courses like two-dimensional design and color, new media in the creative arts, figure drawing, and digital design studio. Learners also complete a senior design project and visit galleries and museums.

Applicants need to submit standardized test scores. Mason accepts up to 90 total transfer credits, but no more than 75 transfer credits from community colleges. Virginia residents receive a discounted tuition rate. Mason holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2

Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Located in Manchester, SNHU enrolls over 135,000 online students. The university's online bachelor's in graphic design offers two concentrations: 3D modeling/animation and web design. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in animation learn about color theory and typography, designing wireframe 3D models, rendering photorealistic, and animating character functions.

Online classes follow an asynchronous schedule. Students may transfer up to 90 credits into this program. Graduates can find careers as production artists, marketing specialists, logo designers, and multimedia designers.

SNHU accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. The university charges in-state and out-of-state students the same tuition rate. SNHU holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

3

Baker College

Flint, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 19%

Tracing its roots back to 1888, Baker was formed by the union of Muskegon College and Baker Business University. Baker's main campus is located in Flint, Michigan. The school offers a bachelor's in game software development that can be completed online.

The curriculum of this program includes courses in advanced Java programming, legal and ethical issues in information technology, principles of computer science, and game design and analysis. Students must also complete a supervised work experience. Baker utilizes Canvas as its online learning platform. Online classes follow an asynchronous schedule.

Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. In-state and out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate. Baker holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

4

National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

Located in La Jolla, California, NU educates about 17,000 learners and offers over 75 degree programs on campus and online.

Distance learners at NU can earn a 180-quarter-credit bachelor of arts in digital media design. This program features classes in 3D modeling for game art, digital project management, graphic design and artistry, and applied web design. Students also complete a capstone course in multimedia arts and create a portfolio of their work. NU utilizes Blackboard as its online learning platform.

Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA, and students who have not completed college-level math and English courses must take a placement test. The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. NU holds regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Animation Program?

Many online animation degree programs offer curriculum and program timelines that are designed to work around your current commitments and future career goals. Programs often have courses that focus on strengthening digital design and software skills, but specific program components may vary depending on the school and program chosen.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN ANIMATION

Each online digital art degree has different course offerings, requirements, and concentrations, but most programs will cover similar content that's relevant to careers in animation. Below is a sampling of common courses found in animation curriculums.

Web Design: Students look at the elements of website architecture and effective website design. Learners apply their knowledge of graphic design to the world of digital media. This class provides preparation for future careers as web producers and content strategists.

3D Design and Modeling: This course is relevant to students who want to pursue a career as a video game designer. It has students produce 3D elements in digital, animated sequence, video, and print media formats. Students in 3D design and modeling classes learn to create 3D designs that are still and in motion.

Desktop Publishing: Many online digital art degree programs have courses that introduce software applications such as Adobe InDesign. Desktop publishing teaches foundational software and design skills that are relevant to many animation careers.

Graphic Imaging: This course teaches students how to take and transform photographs for web and print mediums. Students learn how to adjust, repair, and retouch images. The content in graphic imaging courses is relevant to students looking to pursue careers as digital media artists and website designers.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN ANIMATION?

The length of an online bachelor's degree in animation depends on several factors: whether students take courses synchronously or asynchronously, in-person requirements, whether certain degree concentrations require more credits than others, and how many credits are needed to graduate. On-campus requirements will vary by program. It takes about 180 credits, or four years, to graduate with an online computer animation degree.

Another factor that may influence program length is whether it's taught in an independent or cohort format. Independent formats are taught asynchronously, and you can usually choose to take heavier or lighter course loads. Cohort programs require students to take courses at the same pace as their peers and usually take longer to complete. This format provides a more traditional, on-campus feel.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Animation Programs

It's important to make sure that any college program is accredited. Accreditation shows that schools have met educational standards set by a board, organization, or government. Regional accreditation is most common. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Higher Learning Commission are a few of the regional organizations that use specific standards set by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to grant accreditation.

Students looking into earning their digital art degree online should also make sure that their program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). NASAD is composed of 360 accredited institutions that uphold national standards for art and design programs. The association also provides a database of accredited schools that meet their educational standards. The schools with the best animation degree online programs should appear in this database.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also provide databases which provide lists of accredited school. Both of these groups recognize legitimate agencies that accredit institutions and programs. Using the databases provided by NASAD, the ED, and CHEA is a reliable way to make sure online learning programs meet educational standards.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Animation Graduates

JOB PLACEMENT

An online degree in animation prepares students for a range of careers. Earning your undergraduate degree in the digital arts makes you more valuable to potential employers. The degree proves that you have the necessary technical and artistic skills and a portfolio of work. Below is a table of common jobs in animation along with the median salary for each job. The majority of the higher paying jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

Job Title Median Salary Entry-level Education
Storyboard Artist $86,000 Bachelor's or Master's degree
Art Director $89,820 Bachelor's degree
Video Game Designer $80,000 Bachelor's degree
Multimedia Artist and Animator $65,300 Bachelor's degree
Digital Painter $44,850 Associate degree
Crafts and Fine Artists $48,780 No formal education required

BACHELOR'S IN ANIMATION SALARY

While job placement in the field of digital arts increases by earning a bachelor's degree, it is also important to note that job opportunities and salary trends vary greatly depending on location. The highest paying animation jobs are located on the east and west coast. The next table features data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding the top-five paying U.S. states for multimedia artists and animators.

Location Median Salary
California $82,680
Connecticut $78,870
Massachusetts $77,370
District of Columbia $76,530
Washington $76,130

BACHELOR'S IN ANIMATION CAREERS

Most jobs in the digital arts field involve the use of technology, so it's important that staring at a computer screen everyday is not an issue. Having a strong knowledge of software applications, such as the Adobe Creative Cloud, is also an essential prerequisite for most jobs in the field. An animation degree online program will prepare you to thrive in the careers listed below and others.

Art Directors

This career is for decision-makers with creative outlooks. Art directors are responsible for the visual appearance of online and print materials such as magazines, product packaging, and movies. A bachelor's degree and several years of graphic design work experience are usually the minimum requirements for most art director positions.

Median Annual Salary - $89,820
Projected Growth Rate - 2%

Computer Programmers

This technical occupation uses various programming languages to write and test code which allow computer applications and software programs to function properly. A bachelor's degree is required for most computer programming jobs, but some employers hire associate degree holders.

Median Annual Salary - $79,840
Projected Growth Rate - -8%

Crafts and Fine Artists

A formal education is typically not needed for craft and fine artists. Those who do earn a bachelor's or master's degree often do so to improve their skills and job prospects.

Median Annual Salary - $48,780
Projected Growth Rate - 2%

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create the layout and design for various print and digital materials such as advertisements, packaging, and websites. A bachelor's degree and a portfolio of work is typically required to find work in this position.

Median Annual Salary - $47,640
Projected Growth Rate - 1%

Web Developers

Web developers are responsible for the creation and design of websites. Their job responsibilities often include improving and maintaining a website's content, appearance, and performance. The minimum education level needed to become a web developer is an associate degree, but web developers with a bachelor's degree will have more job opportunities and higher salaries.

Median Annual Salary - $66,130
Projected Growth Rate - 27%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Current students and graduates of animation degree online programs can tap into tap into a wealth of resources through professional organizations. The face-to-face interactions with industry professionals at networking events and conferences are a gateway to future jobs. These organizations also often list career opportunities related to the field of digital media, providing invaluable connections to help you jumpstart your career.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Animation Program

To cut down on the costs of higher education, students should utilize numerous financial resources such as scholarships, loans, grants, and fellowships. The FAFSA helps students understand what resources are available to fund their online digital arts degree. Depending on the school, online students can also take advantage of discounted tuition rates for remote learning. Most arts-related scholarships are offered through a university's arts department to students who demonstrate need and/or academic excellence, so check with your academic adviser for funding opportunities within your major's department.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.