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Online Degrees in Animation


Article Sources
  • 3D Animation Arts (APANID), Washtenaw Community College, http://www.wccnet.edu/academics/programs/view/program/APANID/, accessed September 2018
  • 3D Animation Certificate, American River College, https://wserver.arc.losrios.edu/~artnm/3danimation.htm, accessed September 2018
  • 3D Animation (CTANI), Washtenaw Community College, http://www.wccnet.edu/academics/programs/view/program/CTANI/, accessed September 2018
  • 3D Design & Animation - Associate in Applied Science, Jackson College,https://www.jccmi.edu/degree/associate-degree/, accessed September 2018
  • A.A.S. in Animation and Visual Effects, Columbia College, https://flashpoint.columbiacollege.edu/aas-animation-vfx/, accessed September 2018
  • Animation and Visual Effects, Master of Arts (MA) Degree, Academy of Art University,https://www.academyart.edu/degree/animation-visual-effects/?degree=ma, accessed September 2018
  • Animation and Visual Effects, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree, Academy of Art University, https://www.academyart.edu/degree/animation-visual-effects/?degree=mfa, accessed September 2018
  • Animation Industry Trends of 2018: It's About To Get Real With Real-Time, Nimble Collective, 2018, https://nimblecollective.com/animation-industry-trends-of-2018-its-about-to-get-real-with-real-time/
  • Bachelor of Animation, School of Science and Engineering, Atlantic International University,https://www.aiu.edu/Bachelor-of-Animation.html, accessed September 2018
  • BA Graphic Design - 3D Modeling and Animation, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/bachelors/ba-in-graphic-design-and-media-arts/3d-modeling-and-animation, accessed September 2018
  • Computer Animation, Bachelor of Science, Full Sail University, https://www.fullsail.edu/degrees/computer-animation-bachelor, accessed September 2018
  • Global Animation, VFX & Games Industry: Strategies, Trends and Opportunities, 2018, Market Research Report, Global Information, Inc., Digital Vector, Inc., 2018 https://www.giiresearch.com/report/dv176185-glob-animation-ind.html
  • Graphic Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm, accessed September 2018
  • Multimedia Artists and Animators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm, accessed September 2018
  • Römpötti, Harri, The Future of Animation: More Realism and Immersion. I NordicomInformation (38)2: 54-57, 2016, http://www.nordicom.gu.se/sites/default/files/kapitel-pdf/nordicom-information_38_2016_2_54-57.pdf
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Animators and multimedia artists are professional graphic artists who design and create visual effects for all forms of media. Potential students should possess a strong passion for creativity, have artistic talent, and have good communication skills.

Although a formal education is not always required to become an animator, thorough knowledge of software and computer applications used in the business is necessary to perform the tasks at hand. An online degree program in animation can help prepare graduates to enter the job market with a solid understanding of the creative process and the specific tools typically involved.

High school graduates wanting to work part-time and earn a degree may find that pursuing an online degree in animation can offer the flexibility needed to balance work, life and study. Online degree programs can also suit the busy lifestyles of working professionals looking to advance their careers with a higher degree.

Virtual reality is taking animation, and movies in general, to the third dimension in more concrete way than any 3D movie could.

Drawing on their love of the visual arts as a way to tell a story, animators create two- and three-dimensional models, as well as computer-generated images (CGI), for video games, television, movies, and other forms of media. They also make edits to these effects after receiving feedback from directors, designers, and other clients.

An animation professional's duties can vary greatly depending on the industry they work in, the animation function they carry out and the software they use. The typical duties of an animator may look like this:

  • Developing storyboards for their animations
  • Working with other animators and visual artists to create animations
  • Using illustrations and computer programs to create animations and visual effects
  • Conducting research to create either realistic or highly stylized animation and visual effect designs
  • Editing animations based on feedback from directors, game designers and other clients
  • Working to (often tight) deadlines in coordination with their peers, directors, game designers and other production staff

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

Prospective students can choose from a range of online options — from certificate-level to master's degree programs. Many online degree programs offer 24-hour access to lectures and materials, making it easy for students to complete the required coursework at a time that is most convenient for them.

Multimedia Artists and Animators
Education Level Required & Percentage of Respondents
Bachelor's
62%
Associate
19%
Some college
17%
Source: 2018 Occupational Information Network (O*NET), U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Read through the sections below to know more about what you can expect to learn at each degree level, the duration of the degree, and possible outcomes.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

The total value of global animation industry was US$ 254 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach US$ 270 billion by 2020.

Online certificate animation programs are designed to give students a broad understanding of different computer animation techniques at a basic level. Students can also learn how to apply this knowledge in different industries that require entry-level digital art and animation skills.

Typical duration: One to two years of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Subjects help students learn how to develop ideas for animation, implement them and finally present them as a finished, polished product. Courses may include:

  • Digital 2D animation
  • Introduction to 3D modeling
  • 3D character animation
  • Concept development for animation
  • Motion and sound

Possible electives: Facial expression and anatomy; character design

What can I do after earning a certificate?

An online certificate in animation can prepare you for entry-level roles in the digital design and animation industry. Positions you may be able to apply for include:

  • Graphic designer
  • Computer programmer

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Coursework for online associate degree programs in animation combines traditional art skills like using perspectives and understanding light with digital drawing and animation techniques such as modeling. You may also be able to choose a concentration like game or film animation at this level.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education classes, courses can include:

  • 3D animation modeling
  • Fundamentals of movement and animation
  • Introduction to compositing and visual effects
  • Organic modeling and rigging
  • Graphic imaging

Students can often be required to complete a demo reel to showcase their work as a part of their associate degree program.

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

An associate degree in animation can open up a variety of entry-level job roles in the digital arts and animation industry. It can also be used as a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree. Potential occupations include:

  • Compositor
  • Animator
  • Character modeler
  • Environmental artist
Gaming companies are focusing on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) enabled games.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?

Students may study a broad range of digital art and animation-related topics to develop their skillsets. A choice of concentrations, such as video games or television, may be available. Coursework is usually a blend of theory and practical learning.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Students at this level usually learn the different principles of computer animation and modelling. They also learn how to render and edit their animations using different software used in the industry. Apart from general education core classes, courses may include:

  • Foundations in color theory and typography
  • Designing wireframe 3D models
  • Rendering photorealistic effects
  • Advanced digital graphic design for the web
  • Technical animation

Students usually need to complete a portfolio of their work as a part of their degree program. The completion of a bachelor's thesis may also be required.

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

A bachelor's degree in animation is the minimum educational requirement for many employers. Some entry-level positions that can be available:

  • Animator
  • Art director
  • Illustrator
  • Graphic artist

What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?

A master's degree in digital art and animation builds on the skills covered during your undergraduate degree program and explores them in more detail. Master's degree programs often require students to choose a specialization. Some master's degree programs also allow you to take classes that help you learn to teach animation as a subject at the graduate level.

Typical duration: Two to three years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in animation or a related field

Typical coursework: Classes can include topics that explore the origins and evolution of animation, the finer aspects of storyboarding and honing technical skills. Courses you may likely take are:

  • Figurative concepts
  • History and techniques of character animation
  • Digital effects and compositing
  • Stop motion puppet animation
  • Production compositing principles

You may need to complete a master's thesis or project as a part of your degree requirements.

What can I do after earning a master's degree?

A master's degree in animation can open up a number of opportunities at larger animation studios as well as in academia. Occupations you may be eligible for include:

  • Animator
  • Art director
  • Illustrator
  • Graphic artist
  • Animation teacher

We’ve used factors that students that are especially useful for students interested in online Animation. To present you with the best opportunities, our methodology has taken into consideration factors like number of online programs offered in Animation, tuition, ratio of students participating in distance education programs compared to the total enrollment, student-faculty ratio, services such as academic and placement, and more.

NOTE: The accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating this information with IPEDS.OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level.

Associate
Bachelor's
Master's
1
Academy of Art University
San Francisco, CA
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL
Average in-state tuition
$4,477
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
58%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,517
Admissions Rate
42%
Graduation Rate
88%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Full Sail University
Winter Park, FL
Average in-state tuition
$19,929
No. of online programs
64
% of students in distance education
98%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,334
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
27%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Lakewood, CO
Average in-state tuition
$16,268
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,534
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
46%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Franklin University
Columbus, OH
Average in-state tuition
$12,216
No. of online programs
50
% of students in distance education
87%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,487
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
6%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
6
University of Advancing Technology
Tempe, AZ
Average in-state tuition
$20,189
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
31%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,081
Admissions Rate
85%
Graduation Rate
19%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
1
Academy of Art University
San Francisco, CA
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah, GA
Average in-state tuition
$35,910
No. of online programs
18
% of students in distance education
20%
Avg. amount of Aid
$12,560
Admissions Rate
93%
Graduation Rate
65%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
Average in-state tuition
$44,990
No. of online programs
N/A
% of students in distance education
15%
Avg. amount of Aid
$44,972
Admissions Rate
5%
Graduation Rate
96%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
1
Academy of Art University
San Francisco, CA
Average in-state tuition
$20,952
No. of online programs
102
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,248
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
2
Mesa Community College
Mesa, AZ
Average in-state tuition
$2,064
No. of online programs
28
% of students in distance education
33%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,411
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
University of Advancing Technology
Tempe, AZ
Average in-state tuition
$20,189
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
31%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,081
Admissions Rate
85%
Graduation Rate
19%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
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Accreditation

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the main accrediting body for animation degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The NASAD accrediting standards and guidelines are set by their member institutions in consultation with other individuals and organizations.

Accreditation standards are set by professionals, and therefore these programs are more likely to live up to the professional standards of education required to work in the field. Many employers may require graduates to hold degrees from an accredited program as it can demonstrate that you have the skillsets they are looking for.

Additionally, attending an accredited program is often a requirement for receiving federal funding in terms of financial aid.

There are plenty of animation scholarships to be found for eligible students. A few of them are listed below. Some large animation studios combine their scholarship programs with internships - an added bonus for recipients. It can also be a good idea to check with your university's financial aid office to see if you might qualify for financial aid programs or any scholarships they might offer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that most potential employers of animation and multimedia artists seek candidates holding at least a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite to employment. Upon graduation, many animators choose to specialize in one or more aspects of animation once they enter the workforce. Some may work entirely in film, while others focus on television, video games, or other industries.

Here are a few of the most popular options showing the animator job outlook with wage and employment data:

Career
Employment
(2017)
Average Salary
(2017)
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Multimedia Artists and Animators28,560$78,23010.4%
Graphic Designers217,810$54,6804.7%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Employment Statistics

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Motion Picture and Video Industries
  • Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
  • Software Publishers
  • Specialized Design Services
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Washington
  • Florida
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • San Rafael, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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Article Sources
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