10 Best Online Animation Degrees [2020 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. You can also differentiate yourself from competitors and position yourself to earn more in an industry that has many exciting opportunities.

Best Online Animation Degrees

There are a number of accredited universities that offer animation degrees online. 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 will 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.

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’ll 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.

One course you’ll need to take is 3D design and modeling, which is especially relevant if you’d like to design video games. You’ll learn 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, the world will be your oyster as far as job and career opportunities are concerned.

With your degree, your portfolio of work, your internship experience, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you have the skills needed to hit the ground running. Some specific career paths that you can 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’ll 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 will work on visual illustrations to outline a production master plan for television programs, movies, and commercials. Your job in this job role will be to 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.

Careers Average Annual Salary
Senior UX Designer $120,000
Senior Account Executive $107,000
Senior User Experience Designer $107,000
Technical Artist $107,000
Animation Director $106,000
Interactive Media Director $101,000
Account Manager $94,000
Lead Animator $89,000
Web Developer $88,000
Software Engineer $83,000

As you can see from our chart, there are some lucrative job options – some of them being senior positions – for those who pursue an online animation degree.

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 multimedia artists and animators in 2019 was $75,270 annually or $36,19 per hour.

Typical entry-level education for a job in the field was an undergraduate degree, and the job outlook from 2018 to 2028 was 4%.

Computer Animation Curriculum & Courses

Computer Animation student working on her computer at home

When you pursue an animation BA online, 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: In this course, you will learn 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 will teach you the fundamentals of audio and editing skills.
  • Introduction to Digital Imaging: You’ll learn the basics of a program 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 will teach you how to create background layouts for your animations.
  • Character Rigging: Otherwise known as skeletal animation, character rigging is a technique performed by using software to build the bone structure of your animation. This course will teach you how to use this technique to operate a 3D model.
  • Web Design: You will focus on the principles of proper website design and website architecture.
  • 3D Computer Lighting: This will course will show you the various tools and strategies that can be employed to simulate light in a 3D environment.
  • Introduction to Animation Concepts: You’ll learn about facial impressions with 2D and 3D models.
  • Body Mechanics and Locomotion: You will learn about body mechanics. By understanding the principles of body motion, you’ll be better able to 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.

An accredited program is one that meets specific quality standards and will be 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, you’ll have access to a wealth of opportunities.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes in its occupational handbook, the median pay for multimedia artists and animators last year came in at $75,270. 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. With an average salary of $52,890 and 4% job growth, a degree in animation can help you launch a career in this cutting-edge industry. Common animation careers include game developer, graphic designer, video game artist, and web page designer.

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

Each of the universities included below are regionally accredited and offer animation bachelor’s degree online.

#1  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.

#2  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.

#3  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.

#4  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.

#5  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.

#6  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.

#7  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.

#8  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.

#9  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.

#10  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.

Isaac Collins
WRITTEN BY
Isaac Collins