Top 5 Master Degree Programs in Computer Animation and Gaming in North America


Top 5 Master Degree Programs in Computer Animation and Gaming in North America

Many young people are interested in computer animation and game design. And for the past few decades, universities have been scrambling to meet this demand. There are now more ways for students to study these fields than ever before. Even better, the career possibilities for graduates is on the rise.


Employment for multimedia artists and animators, a group that include game designers and computer animators, is projected to grow 4% by 2028, and the field carries a relatively high median salary of $72,520. [1]


These careers allow you to work in a fun and dynamic industry. Creating computer animation and video games merges your creative side with technical know-how, making it deeply fulfilling for those who pursue a career in the field.


To help you navigate the many degree programs available, we’ve assembled a list of the top five in North America.

1. NYU

Courtesy NYU


Something that sets New York University’s (NYU) Game Center MFA apart is its location at the legendary Tisch School of the Arts. That means plenty of new and exciting art to explore right on campus. Plus, students are encouraged to broaden their academic horizons and check out all the departments at NYU.


The Game Center MFA covers many areas, from the design and production side to the critical study and history of games. NYU is unique in the great deal of freedom students have in creating their own course of study.


When the two year degree is completed, NYU students will find it a lot easier to enter their professional lives. Career skill development and industry workshops are a core aspect of the degree. And their Game Center Incubator helps selected graduating student projects get the resources they need to become finished projects.


Tuition and fees for all graduate students at the Tisch School of the Arts currently run to about $65,926 a year.

2. CalArts

Courtesy CalArts


The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is one of the most respected art schools in the country, and animator alumni have gone on to make a major impact on American animation. Its Santa Clarita campus has a staggering diversity of arts education, meaning lots of variety in electives.


Their Experimental Animation MFA and Art and Technology MFA are great ways to learn your craft while also getting a look across the contemporary art space. These programs teach you the tools of the trade, but they also encourage experimentation and collaboration. There’s a reason it is the epicenter of animation education in North America.


CalArts graduates have gone on to work at major animation studios like Weta Digital, Dreamworks, Industrial Light and Magic, Disney, Pixar and Nickelodeon. And with so many fields of art being studied there, the connections you can make with fellow artists are second to none.


Tuition and fees currently stand around $42,936 per academic year.

3. SVA

Courtesy SVA


The School of Visual Arts’ (SVA) in NYC has a top-tier MFA in Computer Arts. Their facilities and faculty are geared toward a multidisciplinary approach, giving students a well rounded education not only in computer animation but all kinds of digitally assisted filmmaking techniques. And since it was the first MFA in the United States to focus on computer art, it has a wealth of institutional knowledge and network of alumni to draw from.


The MFA in Computer Arts uses working professionals as faculty, giving students direct insight into their profession long before they graduate, with an emphasis on computer animation for film.


This two year program has produced graduates who work in some of the most prestigious computer animation companies, like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks, among others. But they’ve also gone on to careers in fine art, landing in exhibitions at top level museums and galleries like the Guggenheim, MoMA, and many others.


Tuition and fees for graduate students currency run around $53,800 per year.


Courtesy SCAD


The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has an amazing MFA in interactive design and game development at their Savannah, Georgia location. But unlike other programs, this graduate degree can be earned entirely online. That makes it the only option on this list for those who do not have the resources or ability to move on campus.


Their game development concentration brings you through the entire process of game creation. On campus, students also have access to state-of-the-art technology, and elearning students will still have access to the amazing faculty and in-depth curriculum.


Graduates from SCAD have gone on to careers at major companies like Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, and others. The program has also won multiple gaming competitions, like the Intel University Games Showcase and the E3 College Game Competition. Those accomplishments speak to the strength of the program and the quality of students that pass through the school’s doors.


Tuition and base fees for a full year runs $39,240.

5. USC

By Padsquad19, CC BY-SA 3.0 


While the other schools on this list typically have one master’s degree program for computer animation or video game design, the Los Angeles-based University of Southern California (USC) has several.


For computer animators, USC offers an MFA in Animation. Because you are in LA, the ability to network and connect with Hollywood before you even graduate means major professional opportunities.


Their MS in Computer Science with Specialization in Game Development emphasizes the technical and engineering-oriented component of making video games. On the other side, their MFA in Interactive Media pulls more from the creative and artistic areas of development, making use of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. And the best part? Students in either track will still work together on projects in a department that Princeton Review has ranked #1 in Game Design every year since the ranking began in 2009.


Tuition and fees for the Interactive Media MFA runs about $44,903 a year, while the MS in Computer Science with Specialization in Game Development comes in around $36,189 a year.


Computer animation and video game design are fields that require up-to-date technical knowhow. That’s why the master’s program you choose is so important, because you need experience in the tools that will still be relevant once you graduate. You’ll also be entering a creative field, which means professional development and gaining connections is vital to success later on. These top five schools all give you access to the technology you need and the contacts to launch a successful career.

Top Ten Art Relevant Universities with Master’s Degrees and Programs in North America


Top Ten Art Relevant Universities with Master’s Degrees and Programs in North America

The United States houses some of the most internationally renowned art universities in the world. 

With many different campuses and universities in the middle of important cities of the arts, it may be difficult to choose which is the best option for you. We have compiled a list of the top ten art-relevant universities that offer master’s degrees and other degree programs in North America. Each of these programs is different in its own way and is an excellent choice for anyone looking to make a career out of the arts. 

1. NYU - $32,695

New York University is lovingly known as NYU and is one of the most popular art universities in the world. Within the campus, students from over 48 states and 39 countries are represented and eager to learn all that they can about the fine arts. 


Tisch School of the Arts at NYU was founded in 1965 and has one of the most intensive admission processes of any school or program within the NYU system. Whether you’re interested in art public policy, cinema studies, dramatic writing, performance studies, or something else, NYU more than likely has a program for you.


Your professors at NYU will one day be your colleagues on Broadway and in the fine arts scene in New York City, but in the classroom, they share their relevant expertise that ensures you are ready for life after your degree. While attending NYU, you’ll have the chance to work in professional actor studios and train with professionals. 90% of graduates were working or continuing their education after graduation


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

2. CalArts - $53,466

Have you ever dreamed of attending a school created by Walt Disney himself? 


California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1961 by Walt Disney and his brother Roy, to create a school where working artists could come to learn and grow without the constraints of a conventional school. In 1970, CalArts was opened as an extension of that very same dream. 


CalArts offers over 70 degree programs in many different art forms. Whether you’re interested in musical theater or painting, there is something here for you. Their six main schools consist of Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theatre. Within these schools, many more specific courses and programs await! 


CalArts is unique from other options because it has connections throughout Hollywood. Many graduates have gone on to become Disney animators or animators. Top studios and production companies send recruiters to CalArts consistently!  


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

3. SVA - $50,319

School of the Visual Arts is located in New York City and is currently working with 7,000 art students that are on their way to fulfill their dreams in an art-related field. 


The college offers degrees in advertising, animation, design, fine arts, photography, video, and much more. 


SVA is set apart from other schools because their students and faculty are working professionals. Your coursework is doing what you love! Students looking for masters in directing produce professional films for nine months in order to obtain their degrees. Some of these films have gone on to be chosen for prestigious events like the Cannes Film Festival and Festival Internazionale di Milano, setting these students up for success well beyond an A in the classroom!


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

4. SCAD - $38,975

The Savannah College of Art and Design is unique from other options on the list because they own and operate their very own casting office. Through the SCAD casting office, you will receive help getting professional jobs while you’re in school and after you graduate! Students have utilized the casting office to get jobs with networks like Netflix, CBS, and BET! 

No matter what your arts degree is in, you’ll thrive here! Whether you are interested in writing, sequential art, fibers, or even equestrian studies, there is a degree program here for you! 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

5. USC - $68,231

USC’s Roski School of Art and Design has been designated the #1 college for design in America and the #7 college for art in America, making it a great choice for anyone who hopes to make a career out of the arts. 


Looking to intern in Hollywood? USC students regularly go on to work with top networks and galleries throughout college, gaining employment afterward graduation! Alumni have gone on to create notable works like Star Wars, Forrest Gump, and much more! The campus is located in Los Angeles, which provides students an edge and an advantage as they sit in the middle of a thriving artistic community. 

For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

6. Yale University - $45,700

While many only look to Yale for academically competitive programs such as Mathematics and Sciences, their arts programs are also rigorous and competitive. 


The School of Art at Yale College was founded in 1869 and was one of the first professional art schools offered in the United States. It focuses on a primarily graduate degree-centered curriculum but also offers an art major to undergraduate students. 


The program is unique because it centers on studio time and structured courses, allowing students to encapsulate themselves within their artwork and studies. It is consistently ranked the #1 arts school in the U.S. and students are required to take at least two classes outside of the arts school during their graduate programs, ensuring that they receive a well-rounded education 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

7. Rutgers University - $32,132

Rutgers University’s very own Mason Gross School of the arts is one of the leaders in art education in North America. 


The art school at Rutgers offers many undergraduate and graduate programs in things like art, design, filmmaking, music, theater, dance, and much more. Housed in New Jersey, the school is only 45 minutes away from New York City which offers students a quiet escape from the city life but also a quick train ride to the vibrancy that it has to offer. 


The Mason Gross School of the Arts was founded in 1976 and is one of the hardest schools to get into at Rutgers. The school is unique because of its intimate class sizes and the urban/suburban hybrid model that they thrive on. One day you could be studying on the streets of Broadway, the next you’ll be in a classroom in quiet New Jersey. The school is closely networked with the arts communities in NYC and consistently encourages professionals, casting directors, and recruiters to work with and scout out the talent at Rutgers. 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

8. Bard College - $37,484

Bard College’s Division of the Arts offers unique and innovative programs in the arts. 


With a 9:1 student to faculty ratio and 17% of the student body consisting of international students, Bard College students are met with a diverse college experience unlike any other. Bard College is unique because of a program called the Live Arts Bard (LAB), where professionals come in to work beside students to create professional projects! These projects go on to receive awards and are a great way for students to get real life industry experience and get their names out there.  


If you’re interested in art history, architecture, visual culture, dance, film, electronic arts, music, photography, studio arts, or theater and performance, Bard College’s Division of the Arts may be the next step for you. 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

9. Maryland Institute College of Art - $50,160

MICA was founded in 1826 and sits in the bustling city of Baltimore. It is a beautifully diverse institution that houses artists from all over the country and the world. 


With degrees and programs in things like art education, social design, illustration practice, and much more, MICA students are met with a curriculum that both encourages and challenges them to reach their fullest potential as artists and individuals. 


Maryland Institute College of Art is unique because it is the oldest degree-granting college of art and design in the nation and is renowned for producing a huge number of recognized artists and designers. Famous alumni often stop by to guest teach classes, and many even become professors themselves. Students graduate with skills in resume writing, artist statement writing, and they feel an overall sense of satisfaction about having gone to MICA. 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

10. School of the Art Institute of Chicago - $43,980

Students at SAIC study among the third largest collection of art in the world and learn from pieces that have inspired the lessons in their textbooks. 


It is one of the most significant independent schools of art and design in the nation and is housed in the unique and vibrant city of Chicago. Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey called it the most influential art college in the United States, and it has received recognition among many other publications and institutions of fine arts. There is simply no other college like SAIC because you’re sitting and learning among the real art pieces you’re learning about. It is the ranked as the seventh top art and design school in the world and students gain notoriety just by having SAIC on their resume! 


If you’re looking to be in the center of all of the action and learn from the professionals, SAIC is a great option for you. 


For more program and degree-related information, or to fill out an application, please visit their website.

Which Program Will You Choose?

Each of these art programs boasts many different and unique features that set it apart from the rest. As each artist’s craft is different, each artist’s journey is also different. 

Whether you prefer busy NYU with its innovative arts program, the School of Art Institute in Chicago and its amazing museum and collection of art history, or the quieter but stunning campus of Rutgers University, there are so many options for you to choose from among these colleges!

The only question now is which one of these fine institutions will you call home?