Education

Best 2D Animation Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top 2D Animation programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

2D animation is the process of creating animated images and videos using two-dimensional drawings. 2D animation degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the animation industry, including animator, storyboard artist, and character designer.

2D animation degrees offer a broad overview of the animation process, covering topics such as character design, storyboarding, and animation software. Students in 2D animation degree programs learn about the different aspects of creating animated images and videos, and how to use animation software to create their own animations.

How to Choose the Right 2D Animation Program

When it comes to choosing the right 2D animation bachelor’s degree program, there are a few key factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. These include the cost of the program, the length of the program, the location of the school, and the curriculum.

The cost of a 2D animation bachelor’s degree program can vary depending on the school. Some programs may be more expensive than others, so it is important to do your research and find a program that fits your budget.

The length of the program is also a important factor to consider. Some programs may take longer to complete than others, so you will need to make sure you have the time to commit to the program.

The location of the school is also important. Some schools may be located in areas that are more conducive to 2D animation careers, so you will want to consider this when making your decision.

Finally, the curriculum is important to consider. Some programs may offer more specialized courses than others, so you will want to make sure the program you choose offers the courses you are interested in.

Best Bachelor’s in 2D Animation Programs

The best programs for 2D Animation ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Bradley University
Peoria, IL

The Bachelor of Arts in Animation from Bradley University prepares students for careers in animation, design, special effects, and entertainment. The program emphasizes hands-on experiences and provides students with the opportunity to intern at places like Maui Jim, Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center, OneFire, or the Boy Scouts of America. Students in the program also have the opportunity to study abroad in Ireland, the Netherlands, or Los Angeles. The program culminates in a capstone project where students produce an original short film.

Rank 2
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation + Digital Arts from University of Southern California is a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of animation and digital arts. Students in the program will learn about classic character animation, 2-D and 3-D storytelling, performance capture, visual effects, motion graphics, stop-motion, experimental filmmaking, installations and multimedia, documentary animation, and visualizing scientific research. The program also offers the opportunity to explore collaborative projects with the interactive games division, production (live action) division, the Thornton School of Music, and the Kaufman School of Dance.

Rank 3
The University of Tampa
Tampa, FL

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from The University of Tampa is a professional degree program that focuses on 2D and 3D computer animation, motion effects, CGI, and visual and advanced software applications. Students who graduate with this degree will seek roles as creative artists within the animation industry and related fields. The BFA in Animation is accredited by NASAD.

Rank 4
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in Animation and Visual Effects from Purdue University teaches students how to bring their ideas to life by incorporating computer rendering, motion, digital lighting, 3D modeling, character rigging, texturing, audio and special effects. Students also learn to develop highly graphical videos for the television and film industries, create imagery by layering video and photo elements, and place actors filmed in front of green screens into virtual environments. The program also offers the opportunity to earn a certificate in business economics, corporate finance, data analytics, or real estate investment.

Rank 5
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Animation from Loyola Marymount University provides students with a deep understanding of traditional and digital approaches essential for success in film, television, video game design, and developing media forms. Students in the program will develop a personal artistic vision while learning about the collaborative filmmaking process. They will be exposed to the latest technology, master classical drawing and storytelling skills, and be equipped with a top-ranked liberal arts degree.

Rank 6
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Madison, NJ

The Bachelor of Arts in Film and Animation from Fairleigh Dickinson University offers three concentrations: 3D Animation, 2D Animation, and Video Game Animation. Students can choose to focus on one concentration or switch between concentrations as they progress through the curriculum. The program emphasizes theory and production, with a focus on developing students’ skills in writing, character design, storyboarding, and animation principles. Students also have the opportunity to take courses in game design, low poly 3D modeling, and 3D environment modeling. Upon completion of the program, students will have a strong foundation in the principles of animation and will be prepared to pursue careers in the field.

Rank 7
California State University-Fullerton
Fullerton, CA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Entertainment Art/Animation from California State University-Fullerton is a four-year program that prepares students for careers in the entertainment industry. The program emphasizes the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as well as the mastery of industry-standard software and technologies. Students take courses in 2D and 3D design, drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, and illustration, and have the opportunity to choose from a variety of electives to tailor the program to their specific interests. The program culminates in a capstone project in which students apply their skills and knowledge to a real-world problem or challenge.

Rank 8
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in Animation from Arizona State University is a fine arts degree with a focus on animation. The program is designed to give students a strong foundation in animation techniques and principles, with the flexibility to explore other areas such as stop motion, video, and special effects. The program also offers courses in other areas of the arts, allowing students to tailor their education to their specific career goals. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the technical and artistic skills necessary to create animations for exhibition in arts venues and entertainment media.

Rank 9
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation from Minnesota State University is a well-rounded program that prepares students for a career in the animation industry. The curriculum provides a foundation in film and live-action shooting, as well as training in traditional stop-motion animation, 2D and 3D computer animation. Students will also become familiar with animation software and hardware, such as 3D Studio Max, MAYA, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Illustrator, After Effects, Photoshop, and InDesign.

Rank 10
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation at Florida International University is a 120-credit program that emphasizes concepts and technical practices essential to the production of 2D and 3D computer animation and new media. Students in the program will explore the role of animation and new media within contemporary culture, its potential for artistic output, and creative storytelling.

Admission to the program is based on a portfolio review by a departmental committee. The focus of the review is on quality work, technical ability, and consistency.

Rank 11
Ball State University
Muncie, IN

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from Ball State University provides students with a comprehensive digital animation experience. The curriculum leads students through a classic arts foundation and then into a strong technical foundation guided by industry demands. Students will learn up-to-date animation techniques and how to use industry-standard animation software. They will also have plenty of opportunities to participate in hands-on, collaborative projects with students and faculty in other courses of study.

Rank 12
University of Colorado Denver
Denver, CO

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Graphics & Animation from University of Colorado Denver is a top-ranked program that trains students to be 3D digital content creators. Students in the program learn arts aesthetics, critical thinking, and communication skills while gaining expertise in digital 3D animation and graphics. The program includes instruction in the state-of-the-art Digital Animation Center (DAC), where students learn advanced technology and software. Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in fields such as architecture, urban planning, motion picture and television production, advertising, product simulation, industrial design, and visualization.

Rank 13
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation at Sam Houston State University is a highly collaborative program that teaches students how to tell stories through 2D and 3D animation. The program is built on a foundation of fine art, drawing, design, and art history courses, and students have the opportunity to take courses in 2D Animation, 3D Computer Animation, Pre-Visualization, 3D Modeling, Character Animation, 3D Animation for Interactive Games, and the History of Animation. Seniors complete their degree by taking the Animation Portfolio class, in which they create a professional demo reel, website, and print portfolio.

Rank 14
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, GA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Animation degree from Kennesaw State University prepares students for careers in animation and animation-related fields. The degree focuses on intensive work in digital animation, supported by a general studies program. Students take courses in animation, storyboarding, composition, character development, and digital animation production. In addition, they choose from a selection of studio courses in areas such as advanced study of the figure, concept art, 3D animation modeling, and digital animation studio.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in 2D Animation Program

Most 2D animation programs at the bachelor’s level require between 120 and 128 credits for completion. The curriculum covers topics such as storyboarding, character design, and animation principles. Students also learn about the history of animation and explore the different software programs used in the industry. Many programs include an internship component to give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience.

In order to succeed in a 2D animation program, students need to be creative, detail-oriented, and have strong time management skills. They should also be comfortable using various animation software programs.

Common 2D Animation Courses

A 2D animation degree program will typically include a wide variety of courses in art, animation, and film. The following is a list of five courses that are often found in a 2D animation degree program.

History of Animation

This course covers the history of animation from its beginnings in the late 1800s to the present day. Students will explore the development of animation as an art form, the technological advances that have made it possible, and the different styles and genres that have emerged over the years. The course will also examine the influence of animation on popular culture and the ways in which it has been used to communicate social and political messages. Upon completion, students should have a comprehensive understanding of the history of animation and its place in the world today.

Character Design

This course covers the design and construction of characters for traditional hand-drawn 2D animation. Topics include building characters from basic shapes, creating characters with personality and appeal, and designing characters that work well in animation. Students will also learn about the different methods used to bring characters to life on the screen, including keyframing, tweening, and rotoscoping. Upon completion, students should be able to design and draw original 2D characters that are expressive and well-suited for animation.

Drawing for Animators

This course covers the principles of drawing for animators with an emphasis on the use of line, shape, form, volume, perspective, and composition. Students will apply these concepts while drawing from observation, memory, and imagination. A variety of drawing media will be explored. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of drawing to create 2D animation artwork.

Digital 2D Animation

This course covers the principles and techniques of digital 2D animation. Topics include the history of animation, the 12 principles of animation, character design, storyboarding, and the use of industry-standard software to create digital 2D animations. Upon completion, students should be able to create digital 2D animations using industry-standard software.

Storyboarding

This course covers the process of creating storyboards for use in animation, film, and video games. Topics include panel layout, shot types, transitions, special effects, and continuity. Emphasis is placed on developing visual literacy, communication skills, and an understanding of the relationship between storyboards and the final product. Upon completion, students should be able to create storyboards that communicate the key story points, action, and emotion of a given scene or sequence.

Career Options for 2D Animation Graduates

Graduates of 2D animation programs work in a variety of industries, including film, television, video games, and advertising. They may also work in fields such as web design and graphic design.

Storyboard Artist

Storyboard artists take the script for a film, TV show, video game, or other visual project and translate it into a series of images that will guide the project’s animators or visual effects team. They work with the project’s director and other artists to ensure that the story is told in a visually interesting and effective way. Storyboards are like a comic book version of a film or TV show—they’re used to plan out each scene, shot by shot.

2D Animator

2D animators create the illusion of movement by drawing or painting images and then playing them back in rapid succession. They work in a variety of settings, including film and video production studios, advertising agencies, gaming companies, and post-production facilities. 2D animators use a variety of software programs to create their animations, which can range from simple line drawings to complex digital images. In addition to their artistic skills, 2D animators must be able to use their technical skills to create animations that meet the requirements of their clients or employers.

Character Designer

Character designers create the look and feel of animated characters. They work in a variety of fields, including film, video games, and advertising. Character designers typically have a background in illustration, and their job is to translate written character descriptions into visual designs. This can involve creating several versions of a character, each with a different outfit or hairstyle, to show how the character might look in different situations. Character designers also create “model sheets,” which show the different angles of a character’s face and body, as well as how the character would look in different expressions.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use their creativity and technical skills to communicate ideas through images and the layout of websites and printed pages. They may work independently or on a team, and their work includes everything from creating logos to designing marketing materials, product packaging, and illustrations. Most graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design or a related field, and many have previous experience in an internship or as a junior designer.

Art Director

Art directors are responsible for the overall visual style and presentation of a publication, an advertising or marketing campaign, a film, a television program, or a theater production. They work with a team of designers, illustrators, photographers, and other artists to develop the overall look of a project and ensure that it meets the client’s or director’s vision. Art directors typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, graphic design, or a related field.

Insights From a 2D Animation Graduate

Natalee Serrano is a 2D Animator at Disney. She has a bachelor’s degree in 2D animation from the Rhode Island School of Design. Natalee has over 7 years of experience in 2D animation and character design.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your 2D Animation degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Natalee Serrano: I made the most of my 2D Animation degree program by taking advantage of the opportunities to intern and work on collaborative projects. I was also very active in the animation community, both on and offline. I participated in forums and online groups, and I attended animation festivals and events. I made sure to network and connect with as many people in the industry as possible.

All of these experiences helped me to develop my skills and my portfolio, and they also helped me to make connections that led to my first job after graduation.

ClimbtheLadder: What should students interested in 2D Animation be good at?

Natalee Serrano: Students interested in 2D animation should be good at drawing, creative problem solving, and storytelling. They should also be able to work well under pressure, as animation can be a very fast-paced industry.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Natalee Serrano: The most challenging course I took was character design. I would advise students to be patient and to understand that the process of designing a character takes time. I would also recommend that they take inspiration from their favorite characters and try to understand why they are their favorite characters.

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