Education

Best 3D Modeling Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top 3D Modeling programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

3D modeling is the process of creating a three-dimensional representation of an object. 3D models can be used for a variety of purposes, including animation, architecture, engineering, and product design. 3D modeling degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in 3D modeling, including product design, game design, and animation.

3D modeling degrees offer a broad overview of the field of 3D modeling, covering topics such as modeling techniques, animation, and game design. Students in 3D modeling degree programs learn about the different software programs used to create 3D models, and how to use those programs to create realistic models. They also learn about the principles of design, and how to apply those principles to create models that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

How to Choose the Right 3D Modeling Program

When it comes to choosing the right 3D modeling 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 location of the school, the length of the program, and the curriculum.

The cost of a 3D modeling program can vary depending on the school and the location. For example, public schools tend to be cheaper than private schools. Additionally, schools in urban areas tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas.

The location of the school is also important to consider. This is because the location can impact the internship and job opportunities that are available to students after graduation. For example, students who attend school in a city with a large number of 3D modeling firms may have an easier time finding a job than those who attend school in a more rural area.

The length of the program is another important factor to consider. This is because the longer the program, the more expensive it will be. Additionally, students who attend a longer program will have less time to work and earn money.

The curriculum is also an important factor to consider. This is because the curriculum will determine what courses students will take and how they will be prepared for their career. For example, some programs may offer more hands-on experience than others.

By considering these factors, prospective students can find the right 3D modeling bachelor’s degree program for their needs.

Best Bachelor’s in 3D Modeling Programs

The best programs for 3D Modeling 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
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts & Sciences from University of Florida is an interdisciplinary degree program that is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in the entertainment, communications, and technology industries. Students in the program take project-based classes in team-oriented environments, reflecting the dynamic of the modern professional industries that they will enter after graduation.

Rank 2
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A) degree program in 3D Animation at University of Connecticut gives students experience in all aspects of 3D animation production: modeling, lighting, rendering, animation, simulations and visualizations, rigging, and compositing for visual effects. The courses in the program focus on the core principles of 3D animation, which are then applied to any industry standard application. Students have the ability to customize their education to focus on their personal area of interest.

Rank 3
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Modeling and Animation from Indiana University is a uniquely interdisciplinary program that trains students in a wide range of skills applicable to careers in art, communication, business, industry, government, and the professions. The computer and computer technologies are at the core of the program, and students will learn how to apply 3D concepts to 3D modeling, animation, projection mapping, gaming, advanced motion graphics and compositing, and rapid prototyping. There are also 18 credits of free electives available, which provide students with the opportunity to pursue a minor or explore other areas.

Rank 4
University of South Florida
Tampa, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Animation and Digital Modeling from University of South Florida is a comprehensive program that engages students in the development of both 2D and 3D animation, as well as the production of virtual 3D objects for fine art, film, games, and visualization. The program combines cutting-edge technology with a foundation of the design process, craft, and studio art practices, allowing students to gain an invaluable skill set as they progress through their courses.

Rank 5
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Digital Design from Rochester Institute of Technology is a four-year program that prepares students for careers in the field of 3D design. Students in the program learn to use the same software that professionals use to create virtual elements for games, movies, visualizations, and more. The program provides ample opportunity to collaborate with engineers, musicians, scientists, animators, and medical professionals, giving students the chance to put their 3D design skills to use while they are in school and after graduation.

Rank 6
IUPUI
Indianapolis, IN

The Bachelor of Science in 3D Graphics & Animation from IUPUI is a perfect fit for students passionate about next-generation technologies and being on the forefront of innovation. The program provides the skills needed to work across many visualization platforms, including games, advertising, and scientific illustrations. Students will also learn how to translate their skills for emerging mediums such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D printing. Classroom projects give students the opportunity to produce portfolio-ready work to show prospective employers.

Rank 7
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 8
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 9
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 10
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN

The Bachelor of Science in Digital Media degree from East Tennessee State University is a versatile degree that can prepare students for a wide range of careers in the field of digital media. The degree offers four different concentrations for students to choose from, each of which provides its own set of skills and knowledge that can be applied to a specific career path. The four concentrations are Digital Animation, Digital Game Design, Digital Visualization, and Visual Effects.

Rank 11
Southern Arkansas University
Magnolia, AR

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game, Animation, and Simulation from Southern Arkansas University is a 121-hour program that prepares students for a career in game, animation, and simulation design. The program includes courses in 3D design, game design management, basic digital photography, physics of animation, and 3D character rigging. Students also have the opportunity to choose from a variety of electives in areas such as history of modern art, advanced art studio, and virtual reality workshop. Upon completion of the program, students will be able to critically analyze, develop, and produce engaging mass media projects associated with a variety of entertainment, industrial, commercial, and educational fields.

Rank 12
Berkeley College
New York, NY

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3D Digital Visualization degree from Berkeley College is a great choice for students interested in pursuing a career in digital visualization. The curriculum focuses on design fundamentals, theory, visual communication, culture, and history, and students will learn advanced 3D modeling software used in the design industry. The small class sizes and personal attention from instructors with real-world experience prepare students for a wide range of career opportunities. Students in the program will have access to current technology used by design professionals and opportunities for field trips, guest lectures, and other related events.

Rank 13
Keiser University
Fort Lauderdale, FL

The Keiser University Bachelor of Science in Animation and Game Design degree prepares students for successful careers in interactive digital media fields such as video game design and production, as well as 3D modeling and animation. Students learn the necessary knowledge and practical application of interactive media theory and processes to grow professionally and academically throughout their careers. Concepts explored include character development, 3D modeling and animation, level design, programming languages and interactive storytelling.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in 3D Modeling Program

3D modeling programs at the bachelor’s level typically require students to complete between 120 and 180 credits. The coursework focuses heavily on computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D animation software. Students also learn about design principles, 3D printing, and sculpting. Some programs also require students to complete a capstone project or internship.

Most bachelor’s programs in 3D modeling do not require any in-person attendance. However, some schools may require students to complete on-campus labs or other activities. 3D modeling programs typically do not offer separate concentrations, but students may be able to choose electives or interdepartmental courses to match their specific interests.

Overall, 3D modeling programs cater to students with strong technical skills and an aptitude for design. Students must also be able to work independently and follow complex instructions.

Common 3D Modeling Courses

A 3D modeling degree program will typically offer courses that cover the various software packages used in the industry, as well as animation and design principles. The list below details five common courses taken by undergrads in 3D modeling programs.

Technical Modeling

This course covers the technical aspects of 3D modeling with an emphasis on the use of computer software to create models. Topics include an overview of 3D modeling software, 3D file formats, working with 3D primitives, 3D mesh modeling, 3D NURBS modeling, and 3D spline modeling. Upon completion, students should be able to create 3D models using various software programs and file formats, and apply the appropriate modeling technique for the desired result.

Rendering

This course covers the creation of photorealistic images from 3D models. Topics include the use of ray tracing, global illumination, and radiosity to create realistic images; the creation of textures, materials, and lighting; and the use of advanced rendering techniques such as caustics, sub-surface scattering, and volume rendering. Upon completion, students should be able to create photorealistic images from 3D models using a variety of rendering techniques.

Animation

This course covers the principles of animation and the production process, from pre-production through post-production. Students will learn about the 12 principles of animation, storyboarding, pre-visualization, character design, modeling, texturing, lighting, rigging, animation, rendering, and compositing. Students will also have the opportunity to create their own 3D animated short using industry-standard software. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of animation to create realistic and compelling 3D animations.

3D Methodology

This course covers the 3D modeling process from start to finish. Students will learn about the software and hardware used in 3D modeling, as well as the principles of 3D design. Topics include 3D scanning, 3D printing, and the use of 3D software to create models. Upon completion, students should be able to create a 3D model from scratch using the software and hardware learned in the course.

3D Tools

This course covers the use of 3D tools to create models for use in animation and game design. Topics include an overview of the 3D production pipeline, an introduction to 3D modeling concepts and software, an exploration of 3D form and topology, an introduction to UV unwrapping and texturing, and an introduction to rigging and animation. Upon completion, students should be able to create and texture 3D models using industry-standard software, and animate those models using basic rigging and animation techniques.

Career Options for 3D Modeling Graduates

Graduates of 3D modeling programs work in a variety of industries, including gaming, movies, and product design. They may also work in fields such as architecture, engineering, and advertising.

3D Modeler

3D modelers create three-dimensional images that are used in a variety of industries, including video games, movies, architecture, and engineering. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to build the models, which can be created from scratch or based on two-dimensional drawings or photographs. 3D modelers typically specialize in one particular type of modeling, such as organic shapes, buildings, or machinery.

3D Animator

3D animators use computer-generated images (CGI) to create three-dimensional moving images, often for video games, movies, television shows, and other forms of digital media. They work with a team of other animators and artists to bring characters and objects to life. 3D animators use a variety of software programs to create their animations, and they must have a strong understanding of the principles of animation, such as weight, balance, and movement.

3D Rigger

3D riggers are responsible for the creation and maintenance of rigs used in 3D animation and modeling. Rigs are the skeletal structures that provide support and movement to 3D models, and they can be used for a variety of purposes, including video games, movies, and product design. 3D riggers must have a strong understanding of both anatomy and animation principles in order to create efficient and realistic rigs. In addition to creating new rigs, 3D riggers are also responsible for troubleshooting and maintaining existing rigs.

Technical Art Director

Technical art directors are responsible for the technical aspects of the artistic vision for a game, film, or other interactive project. They work with the art director to ensure that the artistic vision is achievable and that the project can be completed within the given budget and timeframe. Technical art directors also work with the engineering team to develop efficient workflows and to create tools and pipelines that meet the needs of the artists. In addition, they work with the producers to ensure that the project is on schedule and within budget.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers use color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques to create visual compositions. Common uses of graphic design include identity (logos and branding), publications (magazines, newspapers, and books), advertisements and product packaging. Graphic designers must be able to translate complex information and concepts into visual form. They work with clients, art directors, and other designers to develop design solutions that meet the client’s objectives.

Insights From a 3D Modeling Graduate

Belen Marsh is a 3D Modeler at Industrial Light & Magic. She has a bachelor’s degree in 3D modeling from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Belen has over 7 years of experience in 3D modeling and animation.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your 3D Modeling degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Belen Marsh: I took advantage of every opportunity that was available to me while I was in school. I did internships, I took on freelance work, and I participated in as many extracurricular activities as I could. I think it’s important to get as much real-world experience as possible while you’re still in school. It not only helps you to build your portfolio, but it also helps you to make connections in the industry.

I would also recommend taking advantage of any software or hardware discounts that are available to students. Many companies offer significant discounts to students and recent graduates, and it’s a great way to get started in your career without breaking the bank.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in a 3D Modeling career?

Belen Marsh: A successful 3D modeler is someone who is passionate about their work, has a strong attention to detail, and is always willing to learn new things. 3D modeling is a constantly evolving field, and the best modelers are those who are always keeping up with the latest software and techniques.

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

Belen Marsh: The most challenging course I took was “Introduction to 3D Modeling.” It was a lot of work and required a lot of time and effort. My advice to students who are about to start this course is to be prepared to work hard and to be patient. It takes time to learn the software and to create good models.

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