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Study abroad : Subject Guides

The best universities for animation

Combining imagination, innovation and creativity a degree in animation is a popular specialisation. We take a quick trip around the world to investigate which universities are rated top for the discipline.

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We’ve all got our favourites. Perhaps it’s Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story or Stuart the dungaree-wearing minion. Maybe you prefer playing an action-packed console game or immersing yourself in an augmented reality treasure hunt. What all these have in common is the art of animation and design. It’s a specialised field that takes imagination, innovation and a lot of creativity. This article is for you if you’ve been considering studying for an animation degree. We guide you through some of the best universities for animation in the world.


Without further ado, it’s time to see which institutions do it best.


RMIT University


The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University dates back to the late 1880s. Additionally, it is the biggest university in Australia and has over 82,000 registered students, of which 16,400 are international students. The university is based in Melbourne on the southern coast of Australia and has campuses in Vietnam and a hub in Barcelona, Spain.  The institution has a five-star ranking from QS for education excellence, which is backed up by an Australian Research Council commendation.


The College of Design and Social Context at RMIT is ranked number one in the Asia-Pacific region and 15th globally for art and design by the QS World University Rankings 2021. At the School of Design, you can study towards a top-ranked degree in animation that covers areas such as special effects, 2D and 3D design, digital art and motion graphics. The animation degree courses on offer at RMIT range from a Diploma of Digital Media Technologies to a master’s degree in animation.


Read more about some of the other creative subjects you could study.


Rhode Island School of Design


Located in Providence, Rhode Island in the USA, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has an established reputation as one of the premier institutions for art and design studies in the world. It offers 22 major subjects in which students can qualify, including a four-year bachelor’s degree in film and animation.


RISD is home to just over 2,500 students, of which 37 per cent hail from overseas. What makes the institution stand out is the relatively small class sizes, an average of 14. This leads to more focused learning and personalised student support. The prestige of RISD can be discerned from the highly selective acceptance rate of just 20 per cent.


RISD occupies the esteemed position of one of the top five places to study art and design as per the QS World University Rankings 2021. It also shares an affiliation with Brown University, an Ivy League member and a top 100 global university according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.


Discover the institutions where you could study for an animation degree in the USA.


University of the Arts London


The University of the Arts London (UAL) is ranked second in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2021 for art and design. It is the biggest institution in Europe that focuses exclusively on the study of art, design and fashion. It is known for producing some of the most prominent and well-known creative figures, including 15 Turner Prize winners. You may recognise the names of fashion designers Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, alumni of the university.


Over 18,000 students attend the institution each year, coming from 130 countries around the world. The institution is spread over six schools, each with a distinct focus. At UAL you can study several degrees related to animation including a BA (Hons) Animation, BA (Hons) Virtual Reality, BSc (Hons) Creative Computing and BA (Hons) Game Design. If you were in any doubt about the quality of UAL bear in mind that it is also considered as one of the 25 best institutions for art and design by the Complete University Guide League Tables 2022.


Explore your options for studying for an animation degree in the UK.


Media Design School


Media Design School is a relatively young institution by comparison to the others on this list, but by no means less of a force in the field of art and design. Started in 1998, the institution was the first in the southern hemisphere to offer a course focusing exclusively on 3D animation. This innovative and pioneering approach has seen the institution partner with major international companies, such as Sony PlayStation, Unity Technologies and IBM.


Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Media Design School provides qualifications from diploma through to master’s degree level. All are endorsed by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA). Some of the subject areas you can study include 3D animation and VFX; motion design; and game art and game programming.  The reputation of the institution is reflected in the impressive 93 per cent employment rate of graduates and the fact that many work for world-leading companies, such as Microsoft, Warner Bros and Lucasfilm.


Read more about institutions offering animation courses in Australia and New Zealand.


Royal College of Art


We end our list of the universities for animation in the global city of London at the Royal College of Arts (RCA). The institution occupies the exclusive number one position for the study of art and design in the world as per the QS World University Rankings 2021. This is a familiar ranking for the Royal College of Arts, as it has occupied the top spot for the last seven years.


RCA is a relatively small institution with about 2,300 students, however has students from over 60 countries. It has a storied history with world-famous alumni, since starting as the Government School of Design back in 1837. Some of the people to have passed through the doors of the institution include artist David Hockney, designers James Dyson and Jonathan Ive, and film director Ridley Scott.


It’s a good sign that 95 per cent of graduates say that the employment they had found is related to their degree. RCA offers programmes across numerous disciplines from illustration and textile design to product design and animation. One of the flagship courses is the master’s degree in animation, which aims to develop creative professional practice and innovation.


We know you’ll probably need to gather your thoughts after that run through the top places to study for an animation degree. However, while you’re here you could find our guide to the costs of studying abroad helpful, so to the guide to international student work rights.  Make sure you’re also up to date by following the latest student news.


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