7 Best Animation Schools in California (FAQs, Career) | 202211 min read

Best Animation Schools in California: The majority of the other states in the United States do not match California’s number of animation schools. There are no fewer than 69 schools in California that offer animation programs.

On top of all of that, California is the state that provides the most opportunities for employment and internships with prominent animation studios such as Disney and Pixar.

These are just some reasons so many people with dreams of becoming animators move to California to pursue their goals.

On that note, this article provides tips on the best animation school programs in California and other tips on animation as a good major.

Is animation a good major?

No, it’s not a bad choice for many college students. For the next ten years, the demand for multimedia artists and animators is expected to grow by 4%.

Art directors, animators, craft or fine artists, graphic designers, and web developers are all common professions in the animation industry.

Careers in animation can be found in a wide range of fields, including advertising, television, gaming, and film.

In animation, the combination of art and technology adds another dimension to the degree.

In addition to creating, you can also utilize software to express your thoughts and ideas. Moreover, it is possible to pursue a wide range of job options with the animation talents you learn in college.

As an animator, your degree may lead to a career in video game or film animation, but you may also be able to branch out into other areas.

You may, for instance, animate for a company’s website or other marketing materials and materials.

You can also work in similar disciplines like graphic design if you have a bachelor’s degree in animation. You can become an art director after gaining experience.

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Is a Degree in Animation Worth It?

It’s true that many students find an animation degree to be worth their time and effort.

An animation bachelor’s degree can open up a multitude of creative job paths for you. If you have a degree in computer animation, you may be able to find work in a range of fields.

Animators, on the other hand, work with companies to produce animations by incorporating movement into still images.

As a character animator, you can pursue a career in animation on the big and small screens. Characters are brought to life by these animators, allowing their audience to become invested in them.

You can also work in advertising as an animator, making animations for advertisements and promos. You can also use your animations to advertise and brand yourself in the internet world.

More so, as a mobile game developer, you’ll have the opportunity to create characters and settings for gamers to explore.

Best Schools for Animation in the State of California:

1. The Academy of Art University:

Academy of Art University, formerly known as Academy of Art College and Richard Stephens Academy of Art, is a private art school in San Francisco, California that operates for profit. Richard S. Stephens established the Academy of Advertising Art in 1929.

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In addition to providing education in a wide variety of artistic disciplines, the Academy of Art University is home to instructors that focus specifically on animation.

The Animation and Visual Effects program at this institution can be applied to completing any degree or certification except a doctoral degree.

Within the scope of this program, you will receive instruction that will enable you to become an expert storyboard artist, visual effects artist, or 2D or 3D animator.

The Academy of Art University’s lecturers have among them professionals who have won awards, adding to the institution’s already considerable attractiveness.

A few of them have played roles in producing animated movies like The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Shriek. 

In addition, the Academy of Art University is the first school of animation and visual effects to teach in a studio production environment, known as StudioX. This distinction was awarded to the university in 2005.

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2. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts):

CalArts can also be referred to as the California Institute of the Arts. It is located in the city of Los Angeles in California.

The school was established in 1961 and now offers degree programs leading to the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels in courses related to the visual arts.

The CalArts School of Film and Video also offers students the opportunity to participate in animation classes.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Character Animation, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation, and the Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation are the three animation degrees that CalArts can earn.

During your studies for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Character Animation, you will learn more about the art of character acting and how to tell a story through animation.

Experimental animation is for students who want to make their unique cinematic art to create concepts and professional approaches that are both academically challenging and aesthetically sophisticated.

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3. University of Southern California:

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, is a private research university. It was started by Robert M. Widney in 1880 and is California’s oldest private research university.

The University of Southern California, also known simply as USC, is yet another excellent school in California from which you may graduate with a degree in animation.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Fine Arts can be earned at the University of Southern California.

Since its founding in 1880, the University of Southern California has provided more than 45,000 students with a wide range of degree programs covering various subject areas.

On the other hand, animation programs may be found under the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts at the university.

The University of Southern California offers animation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

You can specialize in Animation and Digital Arts and obtain either a Bachelor of Arts or a Master of Fine Arts degree in this field of study.

You can feel confident that you will become an animation and digital art expert if you study these subjects at USC.

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4. Gnomon School of Visual Effects:

Gnomon School of Visual Effects has expanded both in terms of its curriculum and creative offerings since it opened its doors in Hollywood, California, in 1997.

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This California private school was initially established to meet the training demands of industry artists.

Since its founding, the school has expanded to offer entertainment design and digital production programs that span two and four years.

The Hollywood Reporter ranked Gnomon College as one of the top 10 VFX schools in the world in 2019, and the school topped multiple other industry-specific rankings.

Because of this, Gnomon College is now often called the “MIT of VFX.”

Therefore, Gnomon’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Productions program is not limited to just the study of special effects.

To accomplish this, you will be instructed by qualified instructors and given access to professional software such as Maya and ZBrush.

At this animation school in California, you can work toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while also improving a specific talent by taking classes in the electives program.

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5. ArtCenter College of Design:

The Art Center School in Los Angeles, which would later become ArtCenter College of Design, was established in 1930.

Hillside Campus and South Campus are the two locations that makeup ArtCenter College’s current presence in Pasadena, California.

At ArtCenter, students can participate in various undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in many art subfields, in addition to interdisciplinary studies.

Since its inception, the ArtCenter has maintained a high ranking not only internationally but also on a national level.

The animation program covers a wide range of topics related to animation, such as character animation, storyboarding, modeling, art direction, and lighting for both 3D and 2D animation.

After you finish this thorough training program, you’ll be ready to have a successful and rewarding job in the entertainment industry.

ArtCenter is one of the top animation schools in California.

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6. California College of the Arts (CCA):

California College of the Arts is a non-public art institution. It was started in Berkeley, California in 1907 and relocated to an Oakland, California historic mansion in 1922.

In 1996, a second campus was established in San Francisco; in 2022, the Oakland site was closed and combined with the San Francisco campus.

The two campuses that makeup California College of the Arts serve more than 1,900 students and provide 22 undergraduate and 13 graduate degree programs. However, these degrees are only available in arts, fine arts, and architecture.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation is the only animation degree earned from CCA.

On the other hand, this animation school in California takes a more traditional, fine art approach to teaching animation within its curriculum.

In addition to working in the studio, you will develop your film grammar by learning sketching, sculpture, acting, and narrative. Film grammar is how your frames, shots, scenes, and sequences are put together.

In addition, CCA’s teaching staff comprises professionals from related fields; artists who are now working on a range of projects and are members of animation teams for companies such as Dreamworks, Pixar, and Tippett continue to instruct students who are studying animation.

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7. Cogswell Polytechnic College:

The University of Silicon Valley is a private college in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose, California.

About 700 undergraduate and graduate students are getting Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Art degrees from Cogswell Polytechnic College.

Even though it is a relatively small institution, Cogswell boasts of being one of the most prestigious animation schools in the state of California.

With so many students, it’s only natural to expect the best attention to help you do well in school.

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Consequently, the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Art and Animation program at Cogswell College’s Department of Art and Animation is the only animation degree provided by a private animation college.

With this degree, however, you have the option to concentrate on areas such as 3D modeling, 3D animation, entertainment design, or technical art.

You will be able to gain all of the skills studios look for if you study animation at Cogswell, which will greatly assist you. In addition, you will receive feedback from industry contacts.

As one of the best animation schools in California, students who graduate from the Cogswell School of Animation work at animation studios such as Activision Blizzard, Pixar, Cartoon Network, Disney, and Dream Works after completing their degrees. 

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Where Do Animators Work?

Animators can be found working in a wide range of fields. 56% of multimedia artists and animators work for themselves, according to the BLS.

When it comes to animation, a lot of people work for themselves as freelancers or contract workers.

Advertising and public relations departments both require animators. Advertising and mobile corporations may use them as contract workers or full-time employees.

More so, an animator may be able to work from home if the position allows it and the employer permits it.

Is animation a safe career in California?

The benefit of working in animation is that you have the flexibility to take on numerous projects at once. As a result, this is a new kind of employment stability.

It’s not uncommon for people to believe that a solid and safe profession is a 9-to-5 employment, however the animation industry offers an alternative.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Animation Schools in California:

Is animation a stable job?

From 2016 to 2026, the employment of multimedia artists and animators is expected to expand by 8%. This is in line with the national average for all jobs. Demand for animation and visual effects in video games, films, and television is expected to drive the industry’s expansion.

Is animation easy?

You’re going to make a lot of poor animations when you start off. Have in mind that everyone who has achieved greatness has started somewhere; learn from your failures, and keep at it.

Is animation hard to study?

It takes a long time to learn how to perform animation well, and it also takes a long time to get good at it. An excellent piece of animation can take weeks or months of work, but that’s often what it takes to get there. It’s never a good idea to rush it.

What makes a successful animator?

A great visual imagination and a creative mind
An ability to see fine details and a good sense of color.
Drawing, model-making, and computer graphics software skills
Long hours and a strong work ethics.

Conclusion:

There you have it, a list of the best schools in California that provide animation programs.

Use this guide to figure out which of these animation schools best fits what you are looking for in an animation school you wish to attend in California.

Awesome one; I hope this article answered your question.

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