The best online Animation schools offer flexible programs that prepare students for careers in animation and digital design. Animators are storytellers.
A Studio Animator is tasked with designing storyboards that will be developed into animated film and TV content. A Special Effect Animator or Gaming Animator generates the visual effects and characters in movies, Television shows, or video games.
Some Animators may choose to work with background design, the technical side of Animation, or even prop creation. Animators utilize hand-drawing techniques, electronic applications, as well 3D modeling programs to help bring their characters and stories to life. An on-campus or online animation degree provides students with the academic backdrop for them to develop their creative skills.
So, if you are interested in becoming an Animator, now is a great time to think about earning a degree in Animation. Below is our list of Top 10 Online Degrees in Animation.
How We Ranked The Top Online Animation Degrees
The Online Schools Guide editors found schools offering online or hybrid Animation Degrees.
Then we then ranked the college degree programs based on cost, reputation, and future salary.
|Animation Schools Online
|#1. New Mexico State University
|A.S. in Creative Media
|#2. University of Florida
|B.A. in Digital Arts and Sciences (BADAS)
|#3. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
|B.F.A. in 2D – 3D Animation
|#4. Academy of Art University (AAU)
|A.A. in Animation & Visual Effect
|#5. Savannah College of Art and Design
|B.F.A. in Animation
|#6. Miami International University of Art & Design
|B.F.A. in Media Arts and Animation
|#7. University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
|B.A. in Game Art & Animation
|#8. Rasmussen’s University
|B.A. in Graphic Design with Animation special.
|#9. The Los Angeles Film School
|B.S. in Animation
|#10. University of Hawaii West O’ahu
|B.A. in Creative Media
1. New Mexico State University
The New Mexico State University online Associate of Applied Science in Creative Media degree prepares students for entry-level work in the media industry.
During the two-year degree, students will build communication skills, project management, and computer skills to transfer to other media-related jobs. These include Digital Design, Graphic Design, Animation, and Gaming. Students can work at their own pace in most of the online animation courses.
New Mexico State University Online offers over sixty fully online associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees for students who need flexibility in an online program. NMSU also offers over 500 courses and certificates.
Students can attend at one of the five campuses in Carlsbad, Alamogordo, Grants, Grants, and also Las Cruces. Additionally, NMSU online classes and programs offer the same curriculum as the campus-based programs and meet the same institutional requirements.
All online programs are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Individual programs often hold additional program accreditation from a professional accrediting
2. University of Florida
The University of Florida Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences (BADAS) online degree program prepares students for careers in Animation.
This online bachelor’s in animation degree teaches students the technical and critical thinking skills coveted by employers in the entertainment, communications, and technology sectors. Students learn design basics, production, game design, programming, and Animation.
They also gain real world experience working in project-based classes on teams. The FSU Digital Arts degree is for students who want to work as 2D/3DAnimators, Motion Graphics Animators, or also Video Game Designers.
The University of Florida has accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
|Degree: Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in 2D Animation, 3D Animation
The Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMcaD) Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in 2D Animation and 3D Animation is entirely online.
This online bachelor’s in animation emphasizes 2D or 3D Animation and helps students develop their artistic voices. Students learn essential animation tools and techniques and collaborate with other animators and students.
RMCAD is an art and design school started in 1963 by Philip Steele. The for-profit school’s 23-acre campus is located in Lakewood, Colorado, and has a National Historic District designation.
The student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1 for on-campus classes and 14:1 for an online animation course. The school is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). It is a North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) member. RMCAD is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
4. Academy of Art University (AAU)
The Academy of Art University’s online Associate of Arts (AA) Degree in Animation & Visual Effects is one of the best animation programs offered online.
The program offers students a strong introduction to the core principles of animation production. Course offerings include visual effects, 3D animation, 3D modeling, 2D animation and stop motion, and storyboarding.
Located in San Francisco, California, the Academy of Art University (AAU) is a private for-profit art school. It was founded in 1929 as the Academy of Advertising Art and presently claims to be the largest privately-owned art and design school in the United States.
The Academy of Art University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), one of the seven regional associations that accredit public and private colleges and schools in the United States.
5. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
|Degree: Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Animation degree
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) online Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Animation is offered through SCAD’ s School of Digital Media. Minors in Animation are also offered to students and require twenty-five credits.
The Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (BFA) in Animation teaches students to master 2-D, 3-D, Stop-motion, Digital Modeling, Rigging, Lighting, and also Look Development. Students in this computer animation program will collaborate with students in other majors and can take electives classes from different majors.
The same faculty teach online bachelor’s in animation courses as SCAD’s on-campus classes. Courses are offered on a ten-week schedule and fully enrolled eLearning students have access to various free tools and software to use.
SCAD was founded in 1978 and has campuses in Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, and Lacoste, France. The school is home to nearly 13,000 students from almost 50 states and 115 countries.
The school offers more than 40 majors and 60-plus minors, including Animation, one of the school’s top majors. Graduates of SCAD’s animation programs have taken jobs at Disney Animation Studios and Digital Domain.
6. Miami International University of Art & Design
Students can earn the Miami International University Global Campus online Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Media Arts and Animation degree in 12 quarters.
MIU Global Campus is a fully online learning modality offered through Miami International University of Art & Design. Students must complete 180 quarter credits in subjects like the principles of Animation, perspective drawing, character development, and also human anatomy.
This online computer animation degree program teaches students the skills needed to secure employment in the industry. Students are mentored by faculty and instructed to create a standout portfolio.
MIU is located in downtown Miami and encompasses a diverse population representing all walks of life and cultures from over 60 countries. The school is part of the Art Institutes, a school system dedicated to preparing students to pursue creative careers.
7. University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
The University of Advancing Technology offers a Bachelor in Arts in Game Art & Animation. This online computer animation program teaches students to create 2D and 3D art for video game platforms and master all levels of video game development.
Each student has a UAT-Online Team for dedicated support through graduation. The UAT BA in Animation is an online bachelor’s degree students can earn in less than three years. Online game art students take five-week modules that you take one at a time. They take 3 classes per semester for a total of 15 weeks per semester. Each class lasts 5 weeks, and they are taken one at a time.
The standard degree credit completion pace in 2.67 years compared to a four-year bachelor’s degree. The degree requires a total of 120 credit hours for graduation. UAT charges a flat rate for tuition, with no difference for in-state or out-of-state students.
8. Rasmussen University
The Rasmussen University Bachelor’s in Graphic Design with a specialization in Animation and Motion Graphics is a degree students can complete in 36 months.
This online bachelor’s in animation program combines hands-on experience with technical industry knowledge to prepare students for the rapidly changing animation industry. Students can take this program entirely online. They can also enroll in Rasmussen’s Flex Choice program, which combines online and traditional courses.
Rasmussen College was started in 1900 by Walter Rasmussen 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 focus of the college is to provide higher education to students to thrive in their future careers. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
9. The Los Angeles Film School (LAFS)
|Degree: Bachelor of Science in Animation
The Los Angeles Film School online Bachelor of Science in Animation degree has concentrations students can choose from. These concentrations build on the 12 principles of animation and focus on a student’s specific interests in Visual Effects or Game Art.
Located in Los Angels, California, LAFS is a for-profit college. The school opened in May 1999 with an inauguration ceremony led by Oliver Stone. It offers associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees in majors relating to the entertainment industry.
Additionally, it has accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE).
10. University of Hawaii – West O’ahu
The University of Hawaii West O’ahu Bachelor of Arts in Creative Media degree with a concentration in General Creative Media is offered online via distance education. This degree completion program is for students who have completed coursework in the UH system and reside on the islands.
The online bachelor’s in animation program focuses on producing and distributing content across all major media platforms. These include audio recordings and on-location videos. Graduates learn interviewing techniques, communicate concepts and ideas, collaborate on media projects, and produce a professional portfolio.
University of Hawaii West O’ahu is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission.
What are Career Options with an Online Animation Degree?
Skilled animators will find diverse animator career track options across sectors and industries. Graduates of online computer animation programs will find rewarding animator career path opportunities from small privately-owned design firms to large-scale production companies. Aspiring animators have the same rigorous education online as traditional students on campus.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the BLS, notes that more than 62,000 special effects artists & animators were working in the United States in 2021.
Animation Jobs and Career Options
With an online animation degree, you may decide to remain within the animation industry by vying for a position that would include design, storyboarding, or 2D/3D animation.
Still, other online animation degree holders may choose careers in hand drawn animation, visual arts, visual effects, or dive deep into advertising or Graphic Design. Holding an undergraduate online animation degree prepares animation students for these animator career path options.
- 2D animator / 3D animator
- Digital Media Design and Computer Animation
- Movie Making
- Video Game Illustration
- Website Development
- Video Game Animators
- Lighting artist
- Background Artist
- Visual Effects Animator
- Senior Graphic Animator
- Character Animator
- Graphics Animator
- 3D Artist
- Animation Designer
- Graphic Effects Supervisor
- Forensic Animator
- Key Frame Animator
- Image Editor
- Texture Artist
- Layout Artist
- Rendering Artist
- Lighting Artist
- Storyboard Artist
- Clean-Up Artist
- Rigging Artist
- Digital Ink and Paint Artist
What is the Animation Job Outlook?
According to the BLS – the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators for 2021 was $78,790.
The projected job growth for professional animators is anticipated to be 16% through 2030. This is faster than average compared to all occupations in the United States.
|Advertising and Public Relations
|Motion picture and video industries
|Computer systems design
Advance Your Career with Additional Training
With further, more specialized training or professional certifications, aspiring animators can also choose somewhat more unconventional traditional animation. Suppose you are hoping to earn an online computer animation degree.
In that case, the good news is that most animation work is done digitally, which offers a seamless fit for online coursework. And while an online digital animation student will not be in a traditional classroom, they will receive the critical hands-on training required in a convenient and flexible format.
Career Paths with an Online Bachelor’s in Animation
Other career paths available for online students and animation graduates include the following areas:
- Advertising & Marketing – animators working in these industries will create and produce animated ads.
- Graphic Design & Illustration – animators working in these industries will create comic books, comic strips, brand designs, and end-consumer products, among many other items.
- Video Game Design and other electronic arts
How Much Can You Earn in Animation?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators for 2021 was $78,790, which translates to $37.88 per hour.
The following represents the percentile of salaries for special effects artists & animators for May 2021.
|Percentile of Salary (%)
|Online Animation Salary
|$ 46,000 per year
|$ 61,300 per year
|Median – 50%
|$ 78,790 per year
|$ 102,660 per year
|$ 131,370 per year
Similar Jobs for Animators
The majority of available animation-related jobs require job applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree in animation or an online bachelor’s in animation. The following offers a list of similar occupations to animating professionals and their relative salaries.
|Animator Occupation Alternative
|Median 2020 Salary
|Art Director/Art Directors
|$100,890 per year
|Craft and Fine Artists
|$49,960 per year
|Film & Video Editors and Camera Ops
|$ 60,360 per year
|$ 50,710 per year
|$ 79,000 per year
|Digital Designers & Web Developers
|$ 77,200 per year
What Will You Learn in an Online Animation Degree Program?
Online computer animation degree candidates are taught by animation industry professionals and cover a wide variety of classes and online courses. An animation curriculum includes the technical training for a successful career in the industry.
Animation Courses and Curriculum
A typical online education includes coursework, an animation workshop in professional studios, and animation training in a studio production environment. Listed below are some animation courses.
- The Principles of Basic Animation / Animation Basics
- Background Design & Character Animation
- Camera Direction
- Color Theory
- Figure Drawing
- Stop Motion Animation
- Animating Character Functions and Character Rigging
- Story Boarding or Storyboarding
- Screenwriting and Time Management
- Concept Art
- Character Design
- Visual Development and Visual Communication
- Computer Literacy
- Managing a Pre & Post Production Pipeline
- Industry Standard Software classes on Adobe Creative Cloud, Toon Boom, or Autodesk Maya.
- Feature Animation
- Web Design
- Final Project
- Animation Design
- Writing for Animation
- Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation
- Interactive Animation
- Computer Animation for Film and Video
- Visual Thinking and Organization for Animation
- Photography, Film, and Animation
- Art, Design, and Architecture
- Communications and Digital Media
- Game Design and Development
- Animation and Special Effects
- Interactive Media Design/Motion Media Design
- Interactive Environments
- Design for Learning
- Visual Effects
- Themed Entertainment Design
- Animation Process and Animation Illustration
- Interactive Design and Game Development
- Character Technical Direction
- Animation Concepts and Animation Aesthetics
- Technical Direction
- Film and Television/Film and Motion Media Design
- Character Animation
- Art and Technology
- Digital Art and Digital Design/Advanced Digital Imaging
- Experience Design and Production
- Experimental Animation
- Graphic Design
- Computer Animation
- Motion Capture and Motion Design
- VR Development
- Business of Art and Design
- Entertainment Design
- Fine Arts
- Senior Studio: Animation
- Animation Practices
- Animation Pre-Production
- Computer-Generated Imagery 3D
- Digital Effects and Compositing
- Digital Practices
- Collaborative Studies
- Digital Filmmaking and Video Production
- Visual Arts
- Game Art and Design
- Media Arts and Animation
- Interior Design
What are the Admissions Requirements for an Animation program?
Students who are interested in an online degree in Animation must first take general education classes offered by the school. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. It is also helpful to have some computer classes.
Basic Admission Requirements
- A completed application and fee if applicable
- high school transcripts
- letters of recommendation
- A personal statement that covers personal accomplishments, scholastic interests, and career objectives
- Portfolio or artwork or animation
- minimum GAP of between 2.0 to 3.0
Animation Software and Tech Requirements
Animation degree programs use various software programs like Adobe Creative Suite including In-Design and Adobe Photoshop. So, students familiar with industry-specific computer animation software programs have an advantage.
Additionally, animation students need their own computers. Most schools have the specs you will need to be listed on their websites.
Online vs Traditional Programs
Both programs teach the same curriculum. But, they have different delivery formats. The best animation schools are teaching students how to join the real world production pipeline.
An on-campus or online animation degree program will also offer degree candidates networking opportunities. Animation majors can attend industry conferences and networking events.
How Do You Become an Animator?
Becoming an Animator is a rewarding profession for those who are creative, but it is also a very challenging and competitive field to get into. If you have considered the profession, you may be wondering is becoming an animator worth it? What are the education requirements for animators? Here is a look at the steps to becoming an animator for those who are serious about the computer animation field.
Get an Animation Education
Animator education requirements typically include a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer graphics, art, or a related field. Professional animators possess art, communication, technology, creativity, and time management skills to be successful candidates for high-level animation jobs.
An Online Degree in Animation will help you develop and hone those skills in preparation for working in the field. The education requirements for an Animator vary from job to job. Still, the field does require specific creative and technical skills that are best learned in a classroom or online setting.
Develop Your Animation Skills Through Practice
Beyond the animator education requirements, you’ll have to practice if you want to become a skilled animator. The steps to becoming an animator will be different for everyone. The best thing you can do to prepare for the field is to practice your craft as much as possible.
Education requirements for animators typically require a certain amount of group work. But, it is also wise to work independently. You’ll undoubtedly work on interesting assignments in the classroom. However, take the initiative to work on side projects so you can develop your unique style. It’s easier to develop skills when working on projects that excite you.
Create a Stunning Animation Portfolio
Will I need a portfolio of my work to start my career? Once you’ve completed your animator education requirements, it’s time to develop a portfolio to apply for jobs or attract paying clients. The education requirements for an Animator are designed to teach you the technical skills you need to succeed in the business.
But employers will still want to see a concrete demonstration of your work to determine if you are a right fit for the position. Your portfolio will showcase your style and all the work you’ve put in during your course.
The exact requirements for becoming an animator depend on the position you’re going after. For example, some employers may request a professional demo reel. Still, nearly all serious opportunities will require a portfolio of some kind.
Same Journey Different Path
Those are the basic requirements for becoming an animator. Everyone’s journey will be different and there may be additional steps or education requirements for animators looking to work at top studios.
But all professional animators will follow this path to some degree. If, after pondering the animator education requirements, you are still wondering if the education spent learning animation will pay off.
Is Becoming an Animator Worth It?
You’ll have to decide whether or not you’re passionate about animation, but animators make good money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median annual wage for special effects artists and animators was $78,790 in May 2021. Animators with experience can make more.
The highest-paid Animators work in the motion picture and video industries, and the gaming industry. Animators working for software publishers, in advertising and public relations, and in computer design also earn high salaries. Forensic animation is another interesting career that pays well.
Why Become an Animator?
If you become an animator you will be able to make a living doing something creative. The best way to gain that experience is to apply for internships or lower-level positions like an assistant at a professional studio, so you can learn the ropes.
Working on a major motion picture requires experience and technical know-how that you may not be able to learn in the classroom. Most animators start out with shorts and other projects that are easier to handle, so if it’s your ambition to one day work on features, you’ll have to get the experience and the abilities.
Other Schools and Programs in the US
Listed below are some other schools that offer animation degrees online and on-campus to add to your school search.
- Animation Mentor online animation school – Emeryville, California
- Digital Animation & Visual Effects School – Orlando Florida
- Academy of Interactive Entertainment – Seattle, Washington
- Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida
- Gnomon School of Visual Effects – Los Angeles, California
- Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) – traditional program
- Southern New Hampshire University
- National University – La Jolla, CA
International Animation Schools
- CG Spectrum Online School for Animation and VFX – Melbourne, Australia
- Think Tank Training Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia
- Vancouver online Animation School (VANAS), Vancouver, British Columbia
Your Career in Animation
Like any other creative skill, being a professional Animator takes passion, discipline, and dedication. If you are willing to put in the work, there is no limit to how far you can go. Plus, you’ll be able to make a decent living doing something you love. Although the education requirements for animators are often rigorous, once you see your vision come to life, the work you put in will be well worth it.
Entertainment companies and movie studios are always on the lookout for skilled and talented animators. So, if it’s something you’re passionate about, you should consider taking steps to make your dream a reality. Because Animation is a growing career and it also pays well, now is a great time to think about earning an Online Degree in Animation!
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