Bachelor's Programs in Animation

What to Expect When Earning an Online Animation Degree

Updated on: 11/29/2018
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If you’re considering a career as an animator, earning an online bachelor’s degree in animation is a great first step. Animators often work in the world of video, television and marketing, commonly in careers as illustrators, special effects artists, filmmakers and even video game designers. Dream big—animators at Disney TV say it takes a wide range of artistic positions to create an animated show. A career as an animator can be both creatively challenging as well as financially rewarding, and the demand for these jobs is steady.

To learn more about how to study to become an animator, here’s a rundown on the top bachelor degree programs in animation, each of which you can complete completely online.

How Much do People with Animation Degrees Make?

With an animation bachelor’s degree, you can take advantage of a wide array of career paths. Here are a few positions that tailor made for those who have completed online bachelor’s degrees in animation.

Job Description

A 3D animator job is ideal for anyone who enjoys using professional animation and drawing software to model movements, characters, and backgrounds on screen. 3D animators must be able to work collaboratively on a team in addition to working well independently. They must also be able to handle deadline pressure well.

Job Description

3D artist roles are perfect for individuals who are good at coming up with creative ideas, as they will play important roles in the conceptualization process. They must also know how to use rendering, software, and lighting to create visual effects and textures. These professionals must possess both artistic skills and technical/software skills to thrive in these roles.

Job Description

A graphic artist role is a great match for anyone who is computer savvy and has a knack for facilitating communication between clients and target audiences. These individuals must have strong software knowledge and storytelling ability. They also need to have stellar decision-making ability, strong problem-solving skills, and good time management and communication skills.

Sources: BLS 2018

Animators may be able to earn a median salary of more than $70,000 per year, but where you choose to live or work as an animator can make a difference in your earning potential. For a closer look at salary statistics for animators in your state, search below.

Here is a chart that shows the state-by-state average earnings for an animator:

What Courses Should I Take to Become an Animator?

While no two animation bachelor’s degree programs are exactly alike as far as their course loads go, most have fairly similar curricula.

To graduate, you will be required to master programs such as Adobe Creative Suite, JavaScript and other software and tools that are designed for animators. Then, you’ll practice using these tools to create real animations. You should leave your program with a digital portfolio that you’ll be able to share with clients and potential employers.

Here are five sample courses that you might expect to see in your animation program:

3D Modeling & Animation

In a 3D modeling and animation course, you will learn all about 3D modeling and how it is used specifically for video games. You’ll learn the basics of modeling as well as a variety of techniques to use based on whether you are modeling for mobile, personal computer or current-generation gaming consoles.

Interactive Animation

Students in game development, advertising and marketing, and other specialties can benefit from utilizing interactive animated graphics. You’ll learn to create interactive animations that help to convey a given concept. This is typically a hands-on computer course in which you will create a number of models using the latest technology.

3D Character Animation

Here, you will learn the basics of character animation through the 12 principles of animation. You will also learn the pipeline for creating an animated character, a process known as “skinning and rigging.”

Basic Design & Color Theory

A good baseline skill to go along with your animation training will be learned in your design courses, where you’ll study the basic principles of design and learn to create advertising layouts and designs as well as visual merchandising.

Advanced Digital Imaging

Here, you’ll find a much more hands-on course that will help you to learn how to create a brand identity. You’ll learn how to design a logo as well as how to select fonts and colors, in addition to important techniques such as imaging software integration and file format capabilities. You will then be able to prepare visuals for print, video and Web.

How to Choose the Best Online Animation Degree Program

Need help in choosing the best online animation bachelor’s degree program? As we mentioned previously, “best” really means “best fit” for you, rather than highest rated. Here are a few frequently asked questions that you may have, along with answers to these questions.

What types of animation bachelor degree programs are available online?

There are many different types of animation bachelor degree programs available for you to study entirely online, and more are emerging each year. This makes sense since animation is almost entirely computer based these days. A few of the bachelor’s degree programs in animation you can earn online include:

  • Media Arts & Animation
  • Computer Animation
  • Game Design & Animation
  • Animation Technology

Is the coursework the same in an online animation bachelor’s degree program as it is in the classroom?

For the most part, courses will be similar in subject matter to their classroom counterparts. You’ll learn about visual art components, such as color theory, composition, drawing and filmmaking, in addition to the modern computer technology used to create today’s animations. All of this can be done online.

Will my bachelor’s degree in animation program cover the latest technologies?

Most online animation programs will finish with learning cutting-edge technologies and the most modern programs used in animation today. You’ll graduate with a well-rounded knowledge of animation, from its history to modern practices.

What programs will I learn to use through an online bachelor’s degree program in animation?

Through your online animation program of choice, you will likely learn a wide variety of programs that are most popular among professionals today, including the full Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk 3ds Max, VisTablet and others.

What careers will online bachelor degree programs in animation prepare me for?

You can find programs to prepare you for careers in a variety of specialties, including those for Web designers, multimedia artists and art directors. Animators work in film and TV, in gaming, in Web design and in a marketing capacity. Programs are available for each specialty.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Animator Programs

A variety of animation-related scholarships and financial aid grants and programs are available to those who qualify. For anyone who may be interested in financial assistance for an online bachelor degree program in animation, here are some scholarships you might consider:

Aspiring Animation Professional Scholarship

Sponsored by the Animation Career Review, this scholarship is meant for high school graduates who choose to pursue an animated degree at an accredited art school, college or university in the United States. The ACR awards 10 $1,000 scholarships per year.

Student Scholarship Competition

Offered by the Society of Illustrators, this competition involves an animation category in which students must submit finished animation films. This scholarship is limited to those already in undergraduate art degree programs.

Phyllis Craig Scholarship

Offered by Women In Animation (WIA), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing women in animation, this $1,000 scholarship is for female students enrolled in animation programs at accredited art schools or colleges. It also includes a one-year membership in WIA.

Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences gives out two $2,500 each year to students majoring in animation. Students must apply directly through the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences or via their colleges or universities.


sponsors an annual competition for a scholarship in 3D visualization and animation. Applicants have to submit finished animated shorts that they created using 3D computerized imagery.

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