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Animation & Visual Effects

The School of Animation & Visual Effects is one of the best animation schools in the nation, combining traditional and digital skills to satisfy students' creativity and prepare them for careers in the industry. Our curriculum provides students with a foundation in art, design, technology, and concept development - all essential skills for those working in the standard phases of animation as storyboard artists, visual developers, concept artists, and visual effects animators.

Our students learn from the best in the industry; we draw our instructors, guest lecturers, and advisory board members from award winners and world-leading production facilities. Our curriculum is designed by board members and industry professionals, so that students learn the skills that are in demand today. Our graduates go on to be recruited by the best animation companies.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Our Master of Fine Arts program is designed to provide students with expertise in directing a complete, short animated film, designing and building 3D characters, and fully integrating visual effects shots from concept to post-production. As 3D modelers, animators, compositors, texture artists, and lighting or technical directors, our graduates focus on the production of computer arts for entertainment industries such as film, television, and video games.

The MFA in Animation and Visual Effects focuses on storytelling with an emphasis on technical acuity and emotional response. Graduate students are grounded in strong traditional skills that are then translated into the depth and dimension facilitated by technology. The program educates students in all aspects of animation and visual effects film processes, from concept to post-production, while fostering skills, creativity, problem solving, and professionalism.

During Directed Study, which is the production phase of the students' Final Projects, real-world skills such as process, communication, collaboration, and time management are practiced to ensure graduates meet or surpass the needs of the industry. Each graduate student's Final Project is evaluated by a committee of professionals for consideration in film festivals and exhibition during the Spring Show.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree students will graduate with a professional portfolio or demonstration reel, demonstrating knowledge of life drawing and an understanding of movement and acting; filmmaking theory; the principles of animation, concepts, and storytelling; the use of colors to convey feeling and mood; composition and design principles; as well as content, marketability, and presentation.

Our students develop strong traditional skills and storytelling abilities that can then be applied to digital technology. By advisement of the department directors, students will focus on one of the key areas of the animation industry, including: Visual Effects, 3D Modeling, Character Animation, Storyboarding, Visual Development, and 2D Layout and Background Painting. Emphasis is placed on creating a professional quality demo reel and/or portfolio that reflects the standards of the industry.

Associate of Arts (AA)

Our Associate of Arts students have the best of both worlds. Our curriculum stresses traditional skills and storytelling ability, coupled with cutting-edge software and digital technology.

Our students learn from the best in the industry. We draw our instructors, guest lecturers, and advisory board members from award winners and world leading production facilities. Our curriculum is designed by our board members and industry professionals so that students learn the skills that are in demand today.

Online Awards of Completion (OAC)

The School of Animation and Visual Effects offers several Online Awards of Completion for those students who want to add new skills without enrolling in a degree program. Award of Completion and personal enrichment students may have these courses credited toward a degree at the Academy of Art University, pending portfolio review and approval by the department director. Degree-seeking students must satisfy existing degree requirements.

Online Awards of Completion are offered in the following subjects:
Character Design & Technical Direction, Computer Graphics, Maya Applications, 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, 2D Animation, Visual Effects

Review all of the School of Animation & Visual Effects Online Awards of Completion:
ANM Online Awards of Completion

Career Opportunities


  • 2D and 3D Animator
  • 3D Modeler
  • Visual Effects Artist
  • Compositor
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Concept Artist
  • Character Designer

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