10 Best Animation Schools in the US (2D, 3D, Online)

Do you want to become an animator? Do you see yourself working in a famous animation studio? If you do, you need to choose one of the best animation schools in the US. Why, because quality education always brings you one step closer to your dream job.

Since you want to become an animator, you’ll have the exclusive opportunity to create imaginary characters and bring them to “life”. It’s an exciting and fun career that requires talent, skills, love, and the best animation schools. Animation schools will put your qualities to good use and teach you everything you need to know about becoming an animator. Hence our quest to help you find the best animation schools in the US.

Animation is a rising profession offering quite profitable employment options. According to the US Bureau of labor statistics, the animator’s average annual salary was $78,790 in May 2021, with a projected growth of 16% from 2020 to 2030. So, once you become an animator, you’ll have it all, a dream job and a hefty wallet!

Wait no longer and check out our guide with the list of the best animation schools in the US. One of these schools will offer you a quality education that’ll get you closer to your first animation gig.

Best 2D Animation Schools in the US

If you’re interested in 2D animation or two-dimensional animation you’ll have to learn a mixture of techniques and designs to create the illusion of movement in a 2D setting. Many 2D animation schools in the US will enable you practical-based learning and the possibility of internship and employment. When it comes to which animation school is the best you need to review each school’s academic program and concept. Once you have all the information it’ll be easy for you to choose the best 2D animation school in the US from our list:

1. School of Visual Arts- New York

According to the Rookies World School rankings, the School of Visual Arts (SVA) has been a front-runner in the education of animators in the US. Located in New York, a city with a long tradition in animation this school has been educating and preparing students for the animation industry for more than forty years. Students at SVA are privileged to learn:

  • From the best mentors (directors, fine artists, commercial artists, photographers, special-effects artists, character designers, and writers)
  • Innovative drawing techniques
  • Industry-standard software as a tool to create 2D digital animated content (Photoshop, Adobe Animate, After Effects, Toon Boom Harmony, Storyboard Pro, and Maya)

To gain a Bachelor’s degree of fine arts in animation at SVA you’ll have to:

  • Complete 120 credits (72 in studio art courses, 30 in science courses and humanities, 15 in art history courses, and 3 elective credits from the offered undergraduate courses)

SVA graduates have worked in the best animation studios in the world, participated in acclaimed festivals won Emmy and Grammy Awards, and opened their own studios. Learn from the best and become a student in one of the best 2D animation schools in the US.

2. Savanna College of Art and Design- Georgia

Savanna College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers the following degrees in animation:

  • F.A. in animation (35 hours foundation studies, 55 hours general education, 80 hours major curriculum, and 10 hours additional electives, a total course study of 180 hours)
  • A. in animation with a total course study of 45 hours (up to 5 bonus graduate-level intensive courses may be appointed at the time of admission, bringing the student’s essential course of study to a total of 50 to 70 hours)
  • F.A. in animation with a total course study of 90 hours (up to 5 extra graduate-level intensive courses may be appointed at the time of admission, bringing the student’s necessary course of study to a total of 95 to 115 hours)

Apply for one of these degrees at the SCAD and:

  • Become a powerful tool in an industry that spans film, TV, video games, augmented reality, virtual reality, and more
  • Create your unique style in 2D, 3D, digital modeling, stop-motion animation, rigging, lighting, and look development

If you want to learn all of the above and more, become a top animator by choosing Savanna College of Art and Design as one of the best 2D animation schools in the U.S. according to Animation Career Review.

3. Cleveland Institute of Art- Ohio

At the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) students can acquire experience and guidance from faculty professionals who worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation, DreamWorks, Sony Animation, Illumination, Warner Bros, Hasbro, American Greetings, and many others. Once you become alumni at the Cleveland Institute of Art you’ll have the opportunity to work on feature films, TV series, and games, and participate in the field of sport, music, and communication industries. The Cleveland Institute of Art is here to help you bring ideas to life. Besides 2D animation the courses include:

  • 3D Animation
  • Motion Graphics
  • Storyboarding & Sequential Art
  • Acting
  • Human and animal anatomy

By mastering the traditional 2D animation principles students learn everything there is to know about the human figure and animal anatomy. To become a student in one of the best 2D animation schools in the US:

  • Complete and submit theonline application, it’s free!
  • Work with the Institute’sadmissions counselorsto create an application that stands a chance
  • Deliver your official transcript to the Office of Admissions
  • Send a letter of recommendation preferably from an art teacher
  • ACT and SAT scores are optional
  • Submit your artwork portfolio (no less than 12 and no more than 20 work samples)

See, it’s easy! Once you have the guidelines, just be persistent enough to follow them through and pave the path to becoming an animator.

4. Rochester Institute of Technology- New York

If you study film and animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology choose one of the animation options included in the film and animation degree program:

  • 2D Animation that focuses on traditional drawn forms drawn, and a combination of both traditional and digital
  • 3D Animation that focuses on progressive 3D modeling, lighting, texturing and animating in a 3D environment
  • Stop motion animation with a focus on digital technology supporting puppet basics and non-puppet frame-by-frame methods

Make the most of the exquisite Rochester Institute of Technology’s labs and classrooms equipped with the latest technology, software, sound, and screening possibilities:

  • TVPaint (2D)
  • Maya (3D)
  • Toon Boom Harmony
  • Dragonframe (stop-motion)
  • Adobe Creative Suite

Once you graduate and gain your degree in film and animation you are qualified to begin your career in feature films, television, and games. Rochester Institute of Technology’s students and alumni have created award-winning films and made important contributions to the advancement of animation.

Whatever you choose as part of theBFA in film and animation program you’ll have the chance to discover many different aspects of the animated form, films, games, augmented reality, virtual reality, digital effects, compositing, sound design, and the inclusion of animation within live-action storytelling.

Don’t hesitate, if you like what you’ve read so far, show what you can do, and learn from professionals in one of the best 2D animated schools in the US!

Editor notes: If you’re a bit of a traditionalist and you’re fascinated by 2D animation, and you want to work from the ground up, you’ll surely find your place in one of these schools. What’s even more important, these schools have the entire package, besides 2D animation, they offer 3D animation and a wide array of courses, state-of-the-art software, fully equipped technology labs, and the best professionals in the industry as your teachers. If you look closely at what these accredited animation schools have to offer (top-notch education, internship possibilities, and collaboration with the best animation studios) you’ll realize that a fruitful career awaits every student attending these top 2D animation schools in the US.

Best 3D Animation Schools in the US

The process of producing three-dimensional moving images in a digital environment- 3D Animation, is a highly competitive field. Therefore having a Bachelor of Arts or Masters of Fine Arts in animation is a great way to stand up from the crowd, and prove your artistic and technical know-how.Bear in mind, that there’s another essential factor that’ll help you boost your career in animation and that’s choosing the right 3D animation school. Go for the best and be the best! Choose a school from our list of best 3D animation schools in the US and become the best in the business:

1. Ringling College of Art and Design- Florida

Bring the characters to life and become their storyteller by applying for the number one world-ranked award-winning B.F.A. program at the Ringling College of Art and Design. The 3D Computer animation at Ringling College of Art and Design is a great place to start if you want to:

  • Learn 3D design using the latest production software
  • Acquire a deep understanding of the entire production pipeline
  • Learn about storyboarding
  • Know how to design a character
  • Do modeling, animation, texturing, and lighting

If you want to become a brilliant animator and have a great career as a visionary filmmaker Ringling College is the place to be. To fulfill your dream and become a part of this creative family of animators you’ll need to:

Animation studios from all over the world turn to Ringling College when they want to find the best and brightest animators.

2. University of Southern California Cinematic Arts- California

The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts has one of the most comprehensive animation programs in the world. Students acquire wide knowledge in the field of animation and learn about every aspect of motion art, like:

  • Traditional cartoonanimation
  • 3D character animation
  • Cutting-edge visual effects
  • Classic character animation
  • Visual storytelling
  • Performance capture
  • Visual effects
  • Motion graphics
  • Immersive media
  • Experimental filmmaking
  • Projection mapping
  • Installations and multimedia
  • Visual production
  • Real-time animation

The John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts is a very collaborative division and students exchange ideas and work on different projects with students from the interactive games division, production division, the Thornton School of Music, and the Kaufman School of Dance. If you want to become a part of this creative environment as a first-year applicant you must submit the following materials:

  • USC Undergraduate application:Common Application and USC Writing Supplement (two separate applications that can be accessed at theCommon Application website)
  • Additional materials (check the required materialshere )
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • SlideRoom application (the additional materials should be sent through the SlideRoom application)
  • Make sure to choose the right SlideRoom Application for the program you intend to apply to (for example Animation + Digital Arts Bachelor of Fine Arts to see the SlideRoom application instructions for that particular program)

Enroll in the University of Southern California Cinematic Arts and express your creativity and talent in one of the best 3D animation schools in the US.

3. Rode Island School of Design- Rhode Island

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at the Road Island School of Design (film, animation, and video) encourages its students to work in different genres, and master the moving image as a strong art form. There are production studios for film, video, 16mm, 35mm, and puppet animation at the Road Island School of Design film animation and video facilities. If you prefer editing and mixing there are digital editing and sound mixing rooms, as well as CGI and Macintosh workstations with licensed production and editing software. Use everything the school has to offer by choosing one of the following courses:

  • Advanced stop motion animation
  • Animation practices
  • Character design
  • Collaborative study
  • Communicating science: through animation
  • Computer-generated imagery 3-D
  • Digital effects and compositing for the screen
  • Digital practices
  • Directing
  • Film & video installation
  • Film practices and many more

What’s even more important is the fact that the Road Island School of Design goes beyond teaching students how to use the latest equipment in animation. The school’s idea is to master the use of tools by concentrating on ideas, critical thinking, and content development. As you can see Road Island School of Design as one of the best 3D animated schools in the US has much to offer to its future students.

4. Pratt Institute- New York

Focus on individual expression through form and motion at the Pratt Institute by choosing the BFA program in digital arts and 3D animation. Become a student at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York and create amazing worlds with even more amazing characters. Bring those worlds to life through these animation studio courses:

  • 3-D modeling
  • 3-D animation
  • Character design
  • Character animation
  • Storyboarding and storytelling
  • Animation history
  • Motion dynamics
  • Lighting and rendering
  • Post-production courses

As an undergraduate in Pratt’s Department of Digital Arts, you’ll be able to develop aesthetic finesse and the technical skills necessary to launch your career as an animator in thedigital arts.Graduate at one of the best 3D animation schools in the US and as Pratt alumni, you’ll have the chance to exhibit your work in galleries and work in major animation studios (DreamWorks Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Giant Fox Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks…), just as many Pratt alumni before you.

5. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games and Animation- California

Gnomon School of Visual Effects and Animation located in Hollywood, California is also known as “the MIT of visual effects”. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Production degree covers:

  • Different features of a 3D skillset
  • Deep understanding of the 3D production pipeline
  • Visual arts
  • General education studies

This full-time program produces production-ready animators who are able to develop their command of design and technical requests in association with the film, game, and visual effects industries. Gnomon’s digital production program also provides:

  • Technical education that highlights the importance of tools, processes, and workflow
  • Thorough guidance in industry software like Maya, ZBrush, V-Ray, Houdini, Substance, Nuke, Unreal Engine, and more
  • Possibility for enhancement in particular skills
  • Design of a demo reel used for employment
  • Financial aid for those who qualify

Besides domestic US students, at Gnomon international students are also eligible to apply. Take everything this school has to offer and become a student at one of the best 3D animation schools in the US.

Editor notes: Mastering 3D animation will enable you to work in different industries, thus giving you plenty of career opportunities. Besides character animation and modeling, film, television, and gaming, 3D animation is welcomed in the business world (for creating appealing products, training videos, presentations, marketing and advertising, and memorable business communication), in education (as a great way of teaching scientific processes), in medicine (for medical videos and training for rare operations or techniques), in the military and police ( as a great training without the risk of injury), in engineering and technology prototyping (engineers view their design on the screen before wasting any materials), in architecture and design (architects can see their buildings in virtual reality), in stage shows (for that WOW effect). Each of these degrees will give you the necessary knowledge to make it in the world of digital arts. Unlike 2D, 3D animation is clearly on the course for more success in different industries, you just have to find the one you like best.

The Best Online Animation School in the US

1. Academy of Art University

The Academy of Art University is ranked as one of the best art and design online animation schools in the world. The school offers accredited online courses taught by top industry professionals. As an online school, it provides you with the possibility to gain your degree on your terms.

At the Academy of Art University, you can apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree accessible online. If you select this path you’ll learn the skills needed to master today’s digital technology and you’ll be able to choose one of the primary areas:

  • Visual effects
  • 3D Modeling
  • 3D Animation
  • 2D Animation
  • Stop motion
  • Storyboarding

Use the flexibility of online education and study on your own time, at your own pace. You can take full-time or part-time classes and still pursue your creative goals.

Being a pioneer in online learning, this school’s online programs deliver the same quality of education as the one offered to on-campus students. The quickest way to enroll at the Academy of Art University is to complete the online application. The school encourages its future students to apply early. So, every interested high school freshman, sophomore, and a junior in the school’spre-college art experience program canapply here and potentially become a student in one of the best online animation schools in the US and the world. That would be quite an achievement for every future animator out there!


We perceive and enjoy animation in every aspect of our lives through advertisements, digital games, educational materials, journalism, entertainment, television, animated films, and motion pictures. We grew up watching cartoons and still enjoy them as adults. Many skillful animators had their part in creating our favorite animation movies that we enjoy so much.

If you’re reading this article you’re probably the next in line of becoming an animator. Combine your passion and talent and make the most of them by attending one of the best animation schools in the US.

Starting from the ground up and studying 2D animation then advancing with 3D animation, building site graphics, and recreating scenes you’ll become a part of the animation magic- bringing pictures to life. The best and quickest way to become an animator responsible for creating this appreciated and well-paid magic is by acquiring a degree from one of the best animation schools in the US. Study our list, choose your field of study and be the next visionary in the world of animation.

With the rapid technological development, only the sky is the limit for our future animators!

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