The Best Video Game Art and Animation Degrees 2021

The Best Video Game Art and Animation Degrees 2021
1Savannah College of Art and DesignSavannah, Georgia
2University of Wisconsin-StoutMenomonie, Wisconsin
3Full Sail UniversityWinter Park, Florida
4Champlain CollegeBurlington, Vermont
5Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroy, New York
6University of Advancing TechnologyTempe, Arizona
7Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan CampusTeaneck, New Jersey
8Ringling College of Art and DesignSarasota, Florida
9Maryland Institute College of ArtBaltimore, Maryland
10Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, New Hampshire
11DePaul UniversityChicago, Illinois
12Regent UniversityVirginia Beach, Virginia
13Woodbury UniversityBurbank, California
14Monmouth UniversityWest Long Branch, New Jersey
15The University of Texas at DallasRichardson, Texas
16Towson UniversityTowson, Maryland
17Rocky Mountain College of Art and DesignLakewood, Colorado
18Becker CollegeWorcester, Massachusetts
19Lynn UniversityBoca Raton, Florida

Successful Student has ranked the The Best Video Game Art and Animation Degrees for 2021 in the U.S. This ranking is designed for students who want to make informed college and degree decisions for getting a degree in Game Art or Animation. These colleges offer on-campus and a few online programs in Game Art and Animation. This ranking is comprised mostly of bachelor’s degrees in Game Art/Animation.

Digital Art for video games is a necessary part of game design and creation. As technology advances so does the ability to create a more masterful and detailed digital world. Game Artists apply the skills of light, motion, texture, and more to the world of 2D and 3D characters to bring game worlds to life. Whether it is a single player or an online multiplayer role playing game, each has an artistic element which requires the skill of a Game Artist.

Career Information for Game Designers and Graphic Artists

Game Design Careers Average Salaries with a Bachelor’s DegreeGrowth Rate
Game Developer$101,644.00*26%
Game Designer$66,152.00**
*ZipRecruiter, **PayScale

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Animation is a career field that is projected to grow at 4 percent until 2029. In 2020 the yearly median wage for a Multimedia artist was $77,700. Though some artists work in a company office, it is also common for artists to be able to work from home. Most employers will require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or similar field, however it is the talent of the artists which will be most critical. The following programs will help you develop your skill and help you build connections to the field.

Graphic Design and Animation Careers Bachelor’s Degree: Average SalaryGrowth Rate
Multimedia Artists and Animators$77,700.004%
Graphic Designers$53,380-4%
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Featured College:

The Best Video Game Art and Animation Degrees 2021

Ranking Methodology:

We selected the schools with the highest academic influence in game art and game animation, and factored in the particulars of each program (the degrees and variety of courses offered), and academic prestige.

1.Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) offers three degrees in Animation: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Arts.

SCAD is unique, in that they offer something called GRADpath, where freshmen begin earning undergrad and graduate courses continuously, which means that students can finish their B.F.A and M.A. in four years, and the B.F.A. and M.F.A in five years. This is a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in 4 or 5 years, which usually takes at least six years on normal degree tracks.

SCAD offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation on campus. It consists of 180 hours total, which includes 75 hours towards the major, with classes such as History of Animation, Principles of 3-D Animation, and Principles of Screen Design.

The Master of Arts in Animation is 45 hours, and is available on campus and online. Classes include Animation Context and History, Art Criticism, and Drawing in Motion.

The Master of Fine Arts in Animation is 90 hours, and is also available on campus and online. Classes include Character Animation and Basics, Animation Character Set Up, and Animation Aesthetics and Practice. SCAD has campuses in Savannah, Georgia, Hong Kong, and Atlanta, Georgia, and offers certain degrees fully online.

2.University of Wisconsin-Stout

Menomonie, Wisconsin

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Game Design and Development with a focus on Art offered at the University of Wisconsin encourages a hands-on learning experience through cutting edge facilities with state of the art equipment. Students in this program have access to three different computer labs with equipment such as:

  • AAA development kits
  • Intuos Cintiq displays
  • HD and 3-D projectors
  • Virtual reality headsets

Accolades of the program include national co-champion as the E3 College Game Competition. The comprehensive and progressive nature of the program has lead both Princeton Review and Animation Career Review to rank this program as one of the best in the country.

3.Full Sail University

Winter Park, Florida

Full Sail is one of the premiere entertainment educators in America. Their Bachelor of Science in Game Art can be completed on campus or entirely online. This will take students an average of 20 months to complete on campus or 29 months to complete online.

The detailed curriculum will cover essential topics to help students master traditional art and animation principles. Students will then be able to effectively apply these skills to 3-D models for a realistic outcome which can be added to an ongoing portfolio that will be built up each semester. Career development modules are interspersed throughout the curriculum to help student build connections to the industry and work field.

4.Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

At Champlain College, the Game Art and Animation degree offers an ‘Upside-Down’ curriculum where students can take up to six courses towards their major during their first year. This has the benefit of opening up early internship opportunities and a full portfolio for a highly marketable resume.

Students enrolled in this degree have access to the Game Studio, which allows for collaboration with students in related majors such as Game Programming and Game Design. Additionally, the Emergent Media Center offers paid positions to Game Art and Animation majors as early as their freshman year for hands-on experience.

5.Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Troy, New York

Rensselaer Tech manages the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences which offers a Bachelor of Science in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences. The total 128 required credits for this degree include:

  • 36 credits for the major
  • 36 credits in concentration courses
  • 24 credits in Math and Science core courses
  • 20 credits of electives related to the Humanities, Arts, or Social Sciences
  • 12 credits of free electives

The core courses for the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences concentration include:

  • History and Culture of Games
  • Art for Interactive Media
  • Character and Story for Games
  • Game Development I and II

6.University of Advancing Technology

Tempe, Arizona

The University of Advancing Technology has created a unique, technology centered academic environment for the tech geek of toady seeking to create new and improved technology for tomorrow. Classes are kept small, with the average attendance being 15 students, to encourage peer connections and a more personalized education from the professor. The Bachelor of Art in Game Art and Animation degree is a comprehensive program which immerses students in the artistic principles of 3-D video game art including the topics of:

  • Color Theory
  • Lighting and Shading
  • Life Drawing and Anatomy
  • Scene Staging
  • 3-D Mesh Topology
  • Motion Capture and Facial Animation

7.Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus

Teaneck, New Jersey

At Fairleigh Dickinson University, the Visual and Performing Arts Department offers a Film and Animation major with a Video Game Animation concentration. The curriculum emphasized the more artistic side of video games concentrating on the visual and design components in addition to learning the necessary software. Students will become familiar with programs such as 3-D Studio Max, Unreal, Unity and ZBrush. There are 42-45 credits required for the major with courses such as:

  • Motion Graphics with After Effects
  • 3-D Asset Creation for Video Games
  • 3-D Particle Animation and Effects
  • Logo and Product Animation
  • Custom 3-D Character Rigging and Animation

8.Ringling College of Art and Design

Sarasota, Florida

Though small is size, with a total enrollment of approximately 1,400 students, Ringling College of Art and Design has been making large strides in the area of visual and technological arts. The College offers a four year Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art degree which requires 120 credits for graduation. The curriculum of the degree focuses on designing, creating, and analyzing the visual art for computer and video games. Some of the courses for the major include:

  • 3-D for Games I, II III, and IV
  • Game Design I, II, and III
  • Programming for Artists
  • Visual Development for Games I and II
  • Traditional Animation

9.Maryland Institute College of Art

Baltimore, Maryland

As part of the Interactive Arts major, the Maryland Institute College of Art offers a Game Arts Studio Concentration. The curriculum focuses on two main areas of gaming, Art and Design. The Art classes will use concepts of drawing and painting as applied to the digital world. Students will gain experience critiquing the function of art in various modalities. The Design classes focus more on game theory and developing gaming systems. In total students will have to complete 15 credits for the Game Arts Studio concentration. Required courses may include:

  • 2-D Game Studio
  • 3-D Game Design
  • Level and Narrative Design
  • Virtual and Augmented Realities
  • TableTop Game Studio

10.Southern New Hampshire University

School of Arts and Sciences

Manchester, New Hampshire

As one of the most affordable private, nonprofit institutes for higher education, Southern New Hampshire University offers more than 200 online and on campus programs with a student-first approach to the curriculum. One such comprehensive degree is the Bachelor of Arts in Game Art and Development offered through the School of Arts and Sciences. Here students will gain a well-rounded knowledge of video game art asset creation through classes such as:

  • Concept Art and Color Theory
  • 3-D Modeling and Animation
  • Interactive Animation
  • Environment Design
  • Illustration

As a traditional undergraduate major, this program should take approximately four years to complete.

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11.DePaul University

Chicago, Illinois

Through the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University students may enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation which offers a concentration in Game Art. As part of the total undergraduate credits for this degree, students must dedicate a minimum of 20 credits towards the focus area. Courses for the specialization may include:

  • Advanced 3-D Character Animation
  • Hand-drawn Character Animation
  • Animation Production
  • Making Comics

Students enrolled in the Game Art concentration are also required to take three Studio Art courses such as:

  • Beginning Sculpture
  • Watercolor Painting
  • Screen Printing
  • Advanced Figure Drawing

12.Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Supported by a Christian foundation and encouraging academic environment, students at Regent University have access to 128 graduate and undergraduate areas of study offered both online and on campus. The College of Arts and Sciences offers the Bachelor of Arts in Animation on campus only, though weekend and evening classes may be available. This program requires a minimum of 120 credits with tuition currently set at $555 per credit hour for full-time on campus students. Courses for this degree may include:

  • Composition and Sound for Animators
  • The Art of the Storyboard
  • Advanced 3-D Animation Techniques
  • Digital Special Effects for Film and Television
  • The Business of Animation

13.Woodbury University

Burbank, California

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and Design at Woodbury University is offered through the School of Media, Culture, and Design. The program has been regionally and nationally recognized by the Animation Career Review as one of the best degrees of its kind. Students may choose to specialize in specifically Game Art or Game Design as they progress through the degree. Game Art focuses on character and environmental design while Game Design focuses on game conceptualization and play mechanics. Internships are a required element for graduation. Core courses for both specializations include:

  • Game Fundamentals
  • Game Design Documentation
  • Game Prototyping
  • Sound Synthesis and Design for Games

14.Monmouth University

West Long Branch, New Jersey

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University is comprised of 10 departments. One of these is the Department of Art and Design. Here students can enroll in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Animation with concentration in Animation. The curriculum covers a variety of relevant and engaging topics such as:

  • Storyboarding
  • Sequencing
  • 3-D Model Development
  • Rendering, Animation, and Sound

Classes may include:

  • Digital Illustration
  • Principles of 3-D Animation
  • Animation/Motion Graphics I and II
  • Advanced Digital Imaging and Illustration

A similar Graphic and Interactive Design concentration is also offered. Students in this specialty area will be exposed to motion graphics, web design, creative book arts, fine art imaging, and more.

15.The University of Texas at Dallas

Richardson, Texas

The University of Texas School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication offers a comprehensive Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Technology with a concentration in Gaming. The 120 total credits include 45 credits for the major and 33 credits for electives giving students an academic flexibility for a variety of concentrations and areas of specializations. Courses for the major and concentration may include:

  • Computer Graphics for Artists and Designers
  • Digital Content Design and Usability
  • Photography
  • Virtual Environments
  • User Experience Design for Games

Throughout the curriculum, students will be exposed to not only the creation and design of games, but also the cultural implications of interactive media.

16.Towson University

College of Fine Arts and Communication

Towson, Maryland

At Towson University in the College of Fine Arts and Communication, students may enroll in the comprehensive Bachelor of Fine Arts Art and Design major, which offers a Digital Art and Design concentration. There are 21 required units for all Art and Design majors and an additional 60 units for the concentration. There are three additional areas of focus offered within the concentration:

  • Animation
  • Digital Arts
  • Experimental

Examples of possible courses focusing on digital art and design include:

  • Illustration principles for designers and illustrators
  • History of Modern Design
  • Interactive Media: Theory and Application
  • Digital Object Design
  • Photo Imaging – Advanced Motion

17.Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Lakewood, Colorado

Since its founding in 1963, the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design has had a passion for educating students in the creative arts. The current Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art degree has merged technical and artistic coursework into one comprehensive program. Students are expected to complete 123 credits for graduation which include:

  • 15 credits Art History classes
  • 30 credits Liberal Arts classes
  • 24 credits Foundation classes
  • 48 credits Core classes
  • 6 credits Studio electives

Courses for the major will cover the principle topics of:

  • 3-D Modeling
  • Visual Storytelling
  • Level Design
  • Lighting and Texture
  • Character Rigging and Animation
  • Business Ethics and Copyrights

18.Becker College

Worcester, Massachusetts

At Becker College, the Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media Design with a Game Arts concentration is offered by the School of Design and Technology. This traditional four year undergraduate degree requires 121 total credits for graduation. Course examples may include:

  • History of Game Development
  • Digital 3-D Modeling
  • Life Drawing
  • Game Industry Trends
  • Game Studio

Students in this program also have access to the Massachusetts Digital Game Institute. This facility is a statewide research center which opens up opportunities for networking, collaborative research, academic cooperation, and more. After graduation, students from this program have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Blizzard StudioX
  • Demiurge Turtleboy Games
  • Harmonix Horseplay
  • Nukefile

19.Lynn University

Boca Raton, Florida

At Lynn University, students will be exposed to all aspects of the gaming and animation design process in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation with concentration in Game Art degree. Concepts covered in the program include:

  • Screenplay writing
  • Storyboarding
  • 3-D modeling
  • Texturing and animating characters and environments
  • Use of cinematic lighting
  • Technical direction

Students in the Game Art concentration will focus specifically on:

  • Character modeling
  • Concept art
  • Texturing for games
  • Lighting
  • Animation
  • Strategic planning

A total of 29 credits should be dedicated to the concentration with a total of 127 credits for the complete undergraduate degree.

How to Make Game Art

Credit to Riot Games for this very instructive series of videos on Game Art.

1. Introduction to Game Art

2. Concept Art

3. Character Art

4. Environment Art

5. Tech Art

6. Character Animation

7. Visual Effects

8. Sound Design

9. User Interface Design

10. Game Design