10 Best Online Animation Degrees [2021 Guide]

If you’re intrigued about breaking into the animation industry and pursuing a career in gaming, movies, or television, then you might want to consider earning an online animation degree.

Online Animation Degrees

Completing the requirements for a bachelor’s in computer animation online can help give you a strategic advantage over talented people who no formal training.

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You can also differentiate yourself from competitors and position yourself to earn more in an industry that has many exciting opportunities.

Online Animation Degrees

There are a number of accredited universities that offer animation degrees online, including both online bachelor’s and online master’s in animation degrees. Two specific specializations that might interest you include computer animation and game design.

Select the degree specialization that most interests you to learn the nitty-gritty about what it’s about, what courses you’ll need to take, and what career paths you can explore.

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.

Computer Animation

team of computer animators working together in a modern office

Enrolling in an online computer animation program can help you learn the skills needed to enter any of a number of career areas. You can expect courses to focus on areas such as web design, 3D modeling, and graphic imaging.

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When looking for a suitable program, ensure that it offers a field study or internship component where you can gain real-world experience. After you’ve completed the requirements to earn your degree, you may be able to find jobs as an animator, computer programmer, graphic designer, and more.

Game Design

Game designers testing the game they are developing

Does the possibility of applying your skills to the gaming space pique your interests at all? You won’t lack for options if you’d like to study online and gain the skills you need to work in the thriving gaming space.

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One course you’ll probably take is 3D design and modeling, which is especially relevant if you’d like to design video games. This class teaches how to create animated 3D designs. You can also find opportunities in the art director, mathematical modeler, forensic animator, and advertising artist spaces.

Computer Animation Careers & Salaries

Computer Animation Careers & Salaries

When you earn your online undergraduate degree in animation from an accredited institution of higher learning, it can open up a world of opportunities for your career.

With your degree, your portfolio of work, your internship experience, you can demonstrate to employers that you have the skills needed to hit the ground running. Some specific career paths that you may take include video game designer, storyboard artist, and forensic animation.  See more below:

  • Video Game Designer: Game designers typically work as part of a team to design and create games. According to research firm Statista, the mobile game segment of the gaming industry in North America last year was a whopping 10 billion. In the role of a video game designer, you may have responsibilities like creating characters, animating, writing code with different programming languages, and more. You could eventually move on to managing video game projects, ensuring games are made within budget, and ensuring team members achieve deliverables.
  • Storyboard Artist: If you’re interested in getting an online animation degree but don’t really fancy working on video games, there are other options. As a storyboard artist, you may work on visual illustrations to outline a production master plan for television programs, movies, and commercials. Storyboard artists create visual representations for the director before any filming takes place. The storyboard can recommend camera angles, props, color schemes, and lighting.
  • Forensic Animation: Forensic animation involves using full-motion computer graphics to reenact events like automobile collisions. This is critical where there are questions about who was at fault in a vehicle accident, where criminal activity results in injury or death, or where there is a mishap like the collapse of a parking garage.

There are many job opportunities available if you earn an online animation degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some careers in the field include:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Applications Software Developer $110,140
Art Director $97,270
Multimedia Artist or Animator $77,700
Digital Designer $77,200
Producer or Director $76,400
Special Effects Artist in Advertising $73,820
Film and Video Editor $67,250
Cartoonist $65,800
Sound Engineering Technician $53,520
Graphic Artist $53,380
Illustrator $52,340

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can command a respectable salary even in an entry level capacity. Its occupational handbook, for instance, notes that the median pay for special effects artists and animators is $77,700 annually or $37.36 per hour.

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Typical entry-level education for a job in the field was an undergraduate degree, and the job outlook for the next ten years is 4%.

Computer Animation Curriculum & Courses

Computer Animation student working on her computer at home

When you pursue an animation BA online, much like with an online multimedia design degree program, you can expect to take a lot of different courses designed to provide you with the fundamentals. You’ll build upon these skills – and add new ones – over the course of your studies. Here’s a look at some of the most common courses you’ll likely need to take:

  • 3D Modeling and Animation: This course teaches the ins and outs of a computer graphics method for creating 3D digital images of surfaces or objects.
  • Audio and Editing Techniques: If you want to make the most out of your animations, you’ll want to skillfully incorporate sound. So this course is designed to teach the fundamentals of audio and editing skills.
  • Introduction to Digital Imaging: This course teaches the basics of programs like Adobe Photoshop. By the time you’ve completed the course, you should be able to properly use tools like filters, special effects, and channels as well as to assess images to figure out what corrections or changes should be implemented.
  • Background Design and Layout: This course teaches how to create background layouts for animations.
  • Character Rigging: Otherwise known as skeletal animation, character rigging is a technique performed by using software to build the bone structure of an animation. This course can also teach you how to use this technique to operate a 3D model.
  • Web Design: This course focuses on the principles of proper website design and website architecture.
  • 3D Computer Lighting: This course discusses the various tools and strategies that can be employed to simulate light in a 3D environment.
  • Introduction to Animation Concepts: This course teaches about facial impressions with 2D and 3D models.
  • Body Mechanics and Locomotion: This course discusses body mechanics. By understanding the principles of body motion, you produce more realistic animations.
  • Programming Languages: Some of the most common programming languages for games include C++, CSS3, and Java.

Different schools have different courses, but you can be reasonably certain that all the aforementioned courses will be part of your curriculum in some way or another.

Admission Requirements

Computer Animation degree student studying together

While an online undergraduate degree in animation can be your ticket to a successful career, you’ll have to meet certain basic admission requirements before being accepted into the program in the first place.

  • Application, high school transcripts, and letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement that covers personal accomplishments, scholastic interests, and career objectives
  • Portfolio or artwork or animation
  • Many universities require that applicants to undergraduate programs have a minimum GAP of between 2.0 to 3.0.

This is just a small look at some admission requirements that many schools have in place.

Accreditation

Online Animation Degrees Accreditation

When selecting the right program for your needs and career objectives, don’t forget about the importance of accreditation. Regional accreditation from a recognized accrediting body is critical and should not be overlooked.

The reason this is so important is that earning a degree from an unaccredited university or from an “accredited” university whose accreditation does not come from a legitimate accrediting body means that prospective employers may not recognize your degree as legitimate.

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An accredited program is one that meets specific quality standards and will be more recognized by employers.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

financial aid for computer animation degrees students

Might you need financial assistance in order to pursue your education? Fortunately, there are options available to you.

One option is to compete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online to apply for the financial aid you need to pursue your education. You can also apply for state aid. If you don’t qualify for federal or state student loans, you can apply for bank loans or private company loans.

Another option is to seek out scholarships, grants, and bursaries – sources of funding that you won’t have to pay back. It’s a good idea to apply for as many sources of free funding as you can so that you can cut down on, if not entirely eliminate, the amount of debt you have to take on.

What Can You Do With a Computer Animation Degree?

web designer working on his computer at home

Instead of asking what you can do after earning an online animation degree, you should really be asking what can’t you do. From animator to art director, from illustrator to graphic artist, and from web designer to software engineer, an animation degree can help open the door to a wealth of opportunities.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes in its occupational handbook, the median pay for special effects artists and animators is $77,700. So the pay is very respectable.

How Much Does a Degree in Animation Cost?

While different schools charge different amounts for their programs, a general rule of thumb suggests that you can expect to pay anywhere from about $350 to $700 per credit to earn an online degree in animation.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Computer Animation Degree Online?

Computer Animation Degree students studying in a library

If you’re taking an online undergraduate degree in animation, you will usually need to successfully complete 120 credits. Depending on how much of a workload you’re willing to take on, you can wrap it up in between two and a half and four years.

This assumes, of course, that you’re a full-time student. It will take longer than the aforementioned range if you’re doing it part-time.

Are There Any Affordable Computer Animation Degrees?

The short answer is yes. Based on the per course cost break down of $350 to $700 per credit hour, you can see that there is a 50% gap between the low end of the range and the high end of the range.

So, if you’d like to earn an online bachelor’s in animation but wish to do so as affordably as possible, focus on schools that offer prices that are on the lower end of the range.

Is An Online Animation Degree Worth it?

game developers working together on an application

Yes, an online animation degree is worth it for many students. Despite a projected declining job growth in the arts and design field as a whole, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 4% increase in employment for special effects artists and animators over the next ten years. Common animation careers in this field include applications software developer, digital designer, and film and video editor.

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Also consider that there are plenty of high-paying jobs once you get your foot in the door and gain more experience in the industry. And while many people assume that people who earn animation degrees are limited to working in the gaming industry, the job and career paths are much more diverse.

Universities Offering Online Bachelor’s in Animation Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University campus

The Academy of Art University’s Online Bachelor’s Degree in Animation is an award-winning program. Students learn visual effects, 3D as well as 2D animation and design, and storyboarding skills to see their creations blossom into life. A faculty of distinguished professional artists teaches students online at their own pace

  • BFA in Animation and Visual Effects

Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Baker College

Baker College campus

At Baker College, a Bachelor of Science in Game Software Development prepares students for a lucrative and growing industry. From conceptual design to finalizing a project, students learn every step of game development from an accomplished faculty. Financial aid, scholarships, or grants are offered to over three-quarters of students.

  • BS in Game Software Development

Baker College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Franklin University

Franklin University campus

Franklin University’s Online Bachelor’s Degree in Interactive Media Design provides the education students can use for a variety of career paths. From mobile apps to larger games, websites to media management, students have the freedom to pursue the interactive design goals that most meet their creative goals.

  • BS in Interactive Media Design

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Mason University

George Mason University

George Mason University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Game Design offers an educational insight into the technical aspects and practical application of game design theory. George Mason partners with the Virginia Serious Game Institute, which supports students in their academic and career goals before and after graduation.

  • BFA in Computer Game Design

George Mason University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

National University

National University campus

National University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design helps students shape their creative goals for games, animation, websites, and more. With new classes that begin every month and over $30 million available in new scholarships, National University supports its students while delivering a solid education.

  • BA in Digital Media Design

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design campus

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation offers students a top tier education in both 2D and 3D art and animation. Artists learn the basic elements of storyboarding, modeling, and character design while mastering the skills to bring their characters and stories to life.

  • BFA in Animation

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah College of Art and Design campus

Savannah College of Art and Design offers an online degree in Interactive Design and Game Development. Beyond an education in the fundamentals of design and animation, students have the opportunity to show off their creative work at arenas like the Intel University Games Showcase and other professional conferences.

  • BA in Interactive Design and Game Development
  • BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development

The Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

Southern New Hampshire University’s Online Graphic Design Program presents a cultivation of creative skill alongside artistic techniques. Students can take concentrations in 3D modeling and animation, or web design, to add an area of expertise to their degree.

A renowned faculty delivering small classes provides an exceptional educational experience.

  • BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts – 3D Modeling and Animation

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Advancing Technology

University of Advancing Technology campus

At the University of Advancing Technology, the online Game Art and Animation Degree offers students the skills to bring their artistic visions to the screen. Students develop an ideology of game design focused on making games exciting for players. Scholars study animation, textures, physics, and more in this innovative degree.

  • BA in Game Art and Animation

UAT is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Florida

University of Florida campus

The University of Florida Online’s Bachelor of Arts in Digital Arts and Sciences examines the exciting fields where art and technology meet. Students explore elements of game design, animation, programming, and other fields of study to acquire the knowledge they need to advance their creative careers.

  • BA in Digital Arts and Sciences

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Computer Animation Online

Bachelor’s in Computer Animation student studying online at home

An online bachelor’s degree in animation could be your ticket to a financially and intellectually rewarding career. The entry level pay is respectable, but the potential for much higher-paying jobs is there if you put in the work and demonstrate your skills.

If you’re chomping at the bit and wish to begin your educational journey, explore the online animation bachelor’s programs available from accredited universities.

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Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.