This is a ranking of the 15 Best Animation and Graphic Design Colleges Online. Animation and Graphic Design artists are vital positions in the modern world of movies, video games, online media, and advertising. Some Animation careers include Special Effects for film, Art Directors, Stop Motion Animators, 3D Modeling, Compositing Artist, Flash Animator, Storyboard Artist, and Forensic Animator. Animators can use traditional media to make art, whereas Graphic Designers use computers for art—combining traditional art concepts with modern technology. Graphic Designers, for example, develop and produce designs used in print media such as magazines, advertisements, brochures, and corporate reports. Animation and Graphic Design are so closely linked in education and in business that, for ranking purposes, they are here combined. Graphic Designers may find employment in Animation, and Animators with a graphic arts background may find employment in Graphic Design.
Factors that were considered in the ranking: academic reputation, availability of online resources, variety of courses, flexibility of course schedules, and courses relevant to modern animation and graphic design occupations. As always at Successful Student, this ranking is considered from the student’s point of view.
Fun Animation Fact: The code “A-113” appears in many animated movies, from Pixar movies such as Toy Story, Up, and Finding Nemo, the Hunger Games, Marvel’s movie The Avengers, and Disney movies like Lilo and Stitch. A-113 represents the Animation program’s classroom number at the California Institute of the Arts, and is a way for these movies’ Animators to pay homage to their alma mater.
Featured Online Animation and Graphic Design Degrees: Click for Information
1. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, Georgia)
Uniquely dedicated to all areas of art and design, the Savannah College in Georgia offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in over 40 areas of study. The diversity of the student body includes 12,000 pupils from all 50 states, 23 percent of whom bring international representation.
Online courses, available for the past 12 years, run on a 10 week schedule. A total of 180 course study hours are required to complete the online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. Concentration classes provide detailed study in Topography, Graphic Design Media Management, and Production for Print and Digital Environments. Students are expected to develop comprehensive portfolios throughout the program that will aid in networking and job placement.
Faculty members are nationally recognized and bring personal experience to the classroom. Professors have worked for major brands and companies including General Electric, MTV, American Express, and Walt Disney.
2. Berkeley College (White Plains, New York)
With a commitment to ‘Students First’, Berkeley College offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs that include hands on education and internship experience. Enrollment includes over 8,000 students with over 900 international pupils from over 100 countries.
Berkeley College began offering online degrees in 2003, and has since grown the online community to include over 1,100 students and 170 professors. To help engage the distance learning students as much as possible, Berkeley offers online clubs, social media engagements, and student success workshops.
The Online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design program equips students with the necessary skills and critical thinking strategies to be successful in the workplace. Required major courses review material such as Raster and Vector Graphics, Digital Photography, Web Design, and Branding. The program culminates in a Capstone Individual Research Project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Students are also expected to complete an internship in the last quarter of study. Upon graduation, students will have completed 180 quarter credit hours.
As a recognized trade school for Arts and Visual Media, Full Sail University offers a wide variety of degrees related to Animation and Graphic Design.
The online Bachelor of Science in Computer Animation is an engaging and comprehensive option for students. Classes review the basics of drawing, shading, and lighting and move to more complex principles of physics and anatomy. Students will have the opportunity to direct a professional motion capture session in Studio classes.
Through the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design students will receive training in 2-D design, marketing collateral, environmental design, interactive media, and more. Throughout all classes, students will work with professors to develop a comprehensive and competitive digital portfolio.
Yet another program is the Bachelor of Science in Digital Cinematography. Areas of focus for this degree include film making foundations, digital video technology, and video output. The final project requires students to write, produce, edit, and output a video combining skills learned through all previous classes.
In the Bachelor of Science in Web Design and Development students will gain knowledge of interface design and usability, web standards, interactivity, and dynamic back-end development. The Final Project should include all aspects of student portfolios developed throughout the program.
For all Bachelor of Science programs, 120 credit hours are required for graduation.
Full Sail also offers the Master of Fine Arts in Media Design as a graduate degree. Study areas focus on brand development, design strategy, and production workflow. Master’s students are also challenged by the final Design Solution project, which expects students to propose solutions to a complex media design challenge. The Master’s degree requires 58 total credit hours for completion.
4. University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
The University of Florida traces its origin to 1853 as a seminary in Ocala. It was consolidated with three other colleges to form the University of Florida by the state legislature in 1905. Today UF offers over 100 online undergrad and graduate degrees.
The Online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences offers instruction in digital arts, story telling, and video game design. This degree is a mix of communication, art, and technology, and includes instruction in 3D animation, digital storytelling, and computer illustration. The UF only accepts students to this program starting in the Fall semester. As such, students all start learning at the same time, and can continue together through networks, taking the same sequence of classes. Courses include Design and Production Studio, 3D Digital Animation Technique, and Wearable and Mobile Apps. Seniors will complete a Senior Project. Students also have access to the faculty. Graduates have worked for companies such as DreamWorks and Microsoft.
5. Rasmussen College (Bloomington, Minnesota)
The Rasmussen Colleges are a network of schools dedicated to practical, hands on education that allows for direct application in the marketplace. A number of cutting edge programs are provided on campus and online.
An Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design is offered with a concentration in Animation and Motion Graphics. This program can be completed in as little as 18 months with Flex Choice options available. Students may choose to take a combination of faculty-led and self-paced courses which allows for more flexible scheduling and lower tuition costs. Students in this program can easily continue on to a Bachelor’s degree with the same concentration. The Bachelor’s program can be completed in 36 months. Graduates from the Animation and Motion Graphics program have found employment with top companies such as Polaris, Apple, Staples, and the Diamond Media Group.
Additionally, an Associate’s degree and Bachelor’s degree is offered in Graphic Design with a concentration in Web and Interactive Design. These focus on learning and utilizing Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Flash, to create motion graphics, web sites, and other media projects. Before graduation, students must choose between an internship or a final design project to demonstrate mastery of skills.
6. Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy (Chicago, Illinois)
With its distinct educational model focused on project-based curriculum, industry connections, and intensive career support, Tribeca Academy is respected as a leader in the educational field of Media Arts.
An Associate’s degree in Digital Media is available offering a general introduction to the field that is easily transferable into the Bachelors programs. Classes will cover principles of design, digital image manipulation, recording arts foundations, and motion graphics aesthetics.
Of the many stellar Bachelor’s programs available, the Bachelor of Science in Digital Media with a focus in Digital Art is a great choice. In addition to the traditional animation classes, students will also gain exposure to special effects, motion graphics, and interactive design. The accelerated option allows students to complete the degree in less than three years.
The Bachelors of Science in Digital Media with a focus on Digital Marketing has taken advantage of the latest technologies incorporating website development, mobile user experience design, search engine optimization, and social media engagement into its curriculum. Students graduating from this program have been able to find positions as digital marketing specialists, marketing managers, and webmasters.
7. Art Institute Online (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
The extent to which the Art Institute will go to provide diversity, flexibility, and quality of education can be found in the plethora of degree programs available. From Diplomas and Certificates to Bachelor degrees, any option will provide detailed study and preparation for advancement.
Graphic Design is offered as an Associate’s or Bachelor’s of Science degree. The Associate’s program requires 91 credits, or 28 courses, including seven general education courses. Courses offer a basic introduction to topics such as Web Design, Observational Drawing, and Mixed Media. Students who wish to enroll in the Portfolio class must complete 75 credits in Graphic Design or 27 credits in Digital Design.
Credit from the Associate’s program is easily carried over to the Bachelor’s degree. Students will need to complete 180 credits, or 55 courses, for graduation. Internships are available after the completion of 75 and 150 credits.
Web Design and Interactive Media are also offered as Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees. A total of 91 and 180 credits are again required for each program respectively. Class topics include Desktop Video, Image Manipulation, Web Scripting, and Programming. Internships and Portfolio courses are available for those who qualify.
Media Arts and Animation is only offered as a Bachelor of Science, and requires 180 credits for graduation. Program courses include 2-D and 3-D Animation, Material and Lighting, and Technical Visualization. Special projects may be taken as program electives.
8. California College San Diego (San Diego, California)
As a smaller, private, independent, non-profit college, CCSD offers personalized attention and flexible scheduling. Though the school started as the California College of Health Sciences, CCSD was purchased by California College, Inc. in 2003 and expanded its curriculum to include programs in business, technology, and medical specialties.
One popular degree recently added is the Bachelor of Science in Graphic Arts. Students may complete this program between 30 and 36 months. From the traditional to the more advanced, a variety of engaging classes are offered including: Psychology of Motivation, Layout and Package Design, Branding and Identity, Digital Photography, and Entrepreneurship. At the end, an independent or group Capstone project is completed allowing students to integrate and demonstrate mastery of skills. A total of 54 courses, or 183 credits, are required for completion of the degree.
9. Liberty University Online (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Enrolling over 100,000 online students, Liberty is the world’s largest Evangelical Christian University with a strong dedication to distance learning. From Certificates to Doctoral programs, Liberty prides itself in offering a variety of programs both on campus and online.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio and Digital Arts provides extensive practice-based course work, which prepares students to be competitive in the work force. Three concentrations are available to choose from: Graphic Design, 2-D Art, or 3-D Art. Ten pieces from a personal portfolio are required as evidence of interest in the degree and chosen concentration. Sample class topics include: Digital Imaging, Interactive Publication, and Gallery/Museum Fundamentals.
The Bachelor’s program can be continued to the Master’s level with the same concentrations offered. Classes explore in more detail the topics of history, research, practice, and discourse of art and design. Liberty offers the Master’s in Studio and Digital Arts as a 60 hour graduate program.
10. Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (Lakewood, Colorado)
Mixed among traditional easels and palettes are the computers and digital recording equipment that comprise the diversity of programs at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Drawing inspiration from the natural surroundings, the school encourages the pursuit of unique and creative ideas.
The online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design holds challenging expectations for its students. Students will learn mastery of research techniques, written and verbal presentations, and storytelling. Completing 123 credits is required for graduation. A sampling of class topics include experience design, 3-D packaging, raster image processing, visual sequencing, signs and symbols, and user prototyping. Students will complete the program with the Senior Graphic Design Seminar. At the end of the seminar students will have completed a thesis project, writing portfolio, and produced marketing materials.
Professors bring field experience to the classroom from companies such as Sapient, Texas Instruments, the Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, FL, and personally owned businesses.
11. Southern New Hampshire University (Hooksett, New Hampshire)
Since its founding in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University has grown to over 3,000 on campus students and 60,000 online students, making the school one of the fastest growing institutions for higher learning in America. The online classes offer scheduling flexibility with the same credibility as an on campus degree.
The Online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design offers two concentrations, 3-D Modeling and Animation, or Web Design. Some hardware items and software programs are required to participate in the degree, including a Digital SLR Camera.
Classes will cover a plethora of topics including desktop publishing, digital graphic design for the web, and a graphic design portfolio which provides students the opportunity to showcase their work. The smaller class sizes allow for more personal feedback from professors and peers. Students can expect to critique and create interactive websites, advertisements, and TV commercials. A total of 120 total credits are required to complete before graduation.
12. Academy of Art University Online (San Francisco, California)
Incredible opportunities for all students can be found at the Academy of Art University, including over 70 student and alumni art shows and gallery exhibitions each year. Since 2002 academic opportunities have expanded to include online education for the Arts.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design requires 132 credits for completion. Credits are broken down into 36 Core units, 42 Major units, 9 elective units, and 45 Liberal Arts units. Classes provide detailed instruction in branding, typography, packaging, user experience, motion graphics, and more.
In addition to the technical skills provided in the classroom, creativity, visual literacy, innovation, and conceptual problem solving are fostered. Professors bring a variety of their own talent and experience to the classroom. The Executive Director, Mary Scott, alone has completed projects for Hitachi, Sony, Disney, Microsoft, Avon, Max Factor, and others.
13. Bellevue University (Bellevue, Nebraska)
Offering over 70 degrees in rapidly advancing fields, Bellevue University is growing into a leadership position in the academic arena. The online student body currently represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and seven international regions.
The online Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design requires industry standard graphic design software and hardware. Computer requirements include a Mac OS X 10.6.8 or 10.7/Windows XP or Windows 7, a Digital camera or scanner, and a current version of Adobe Creative Suite software.
Major requirements consist of 42 credit hours covering a variety of course topics such as Web Design, Interactivity Basics, and Branding. Throughout the degree program students will develop a professional portfolio representing the range and diversity of skills mastered.
Faculty members have access to the Center for Online Operations, which aids in the creation of online classes. Students enrolled in the Graphics Design program through the College of Arts and Sciences can expect content instruction in a highly engaging, interactive, and effective environment.
14. Post University (Waterbury, Connecticut)
Responding to the student demand for more scheduling flexibility, Post University has been a pioneer in online and hybrid education. Now offering an eight week accelerated format with no set log-in times, students are able to finish programs quickly, but also at their own pace.
Of the various online programs, the Bachelor of Science in Instructional Design and Technology has been a popular choice. The 120 credits are broken down into 60 general education requirements, 51 Major, Core, and Concentration requirements, 6 career and self-awareness requirements, and one 3 credit Leadership requirement.
Class topics for the major include end-user computing application design, principles of instructional technology, and the design of e-learning. All professors emphasize project-based learning activities. The small class sizes with an average of 13 students makes peer review simple and gives ready access to professors. The program ends with an Instructional Design Capstone project.
15. DeVry University (Downers Grove, Illinois)
Recognized among the best online Bachelor programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report, DeVry University offers speed and convenience without compromising quality of education.
The online Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Design and Development has four concentrations from which to choose: Graphics and Multimedia Design, Graphics and Multimedia Management, Web Design and Development, and Web Game Programming. A minimum of 30 credit hours must be dedicated to the chosen specialty with a total of 124 credit hours for graduation.
For students seeking a shorter or more introductory program, the Associate of Applied Science in Web Graphic Design should be considered. This program requires only 67 credit hours for completion which can be accomplished in five full-time semesters. Students will gain an introductory knowledge in Digital Imaging, Web Design, Information Design, Web Animation, and Instructional Design for Multimedia.