Animation (BFA)

Animation BFA Degree

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation degree program at University of the Arts is the place for curious, motivated students to build a solid foundation for a lifetime of expression, work, study, and play in the animated arts and beyond.

In this undergraduate degree program, you will study practical foundational techniques and methods essential for both a career as an independent director/filmmaker or as a specialized artist at an animation production studio.

You will demonstrate your narrative or experimental, 2D, 3D, stop motion, or hybrid filmmaking skills with three opportunities to make an original short film: your Sophomore Piece, Junior Piece, and Senior Thesis. Juniors and Seniors in this degree program may choose to produce films as group projects.

Explore Student Work.


You will expand your knowledge of animation’s history which will inform the development of your aesthetic breadth and depth. You will transcend your comfort zone by participating in projects in which you’ll collaborate with musicians, dancers, actors, and other artists.

a person with long hair dyed green at the end is seen from their left shoulder in profile working on a digital drawing on a large wide tablet. in the background are additional people working on similar tablets or on computers with their backs turned toward the viewer.

You will hone your professional skills (and add to your resume) during your internship or group production of animated work for a real-world client in Client Animation class.

You'll meet with industry professionals and gain real-world experiences and insights through guest lectures from visiting artists and through classroom and studio trips in Philadelphia and New York City.

On our annual Ottawa International Animation Festival and Los Angeles Experience trips, you will meet directors, recruiters, and other artists from around the globe.

Finally; you will be challenged to continuously evolve as the unique animation artist that you are, as you work in a dynamic medium to tell the stories you feel passionate about and express your personal vision.



Learning from Exceptional Faculty

Working closely with an accomplished faculty of professional filmmakers and animators—whose work has screened in festivals internationally and aired on networks and channels such as Cartoon Network, HBO, Comedy Central, IFC, Netflix and Nickelodeon—you’ll take animation classes that are a mixture of hands-on instruction, lectures, screenings and critiques. Taking an internship or choosing to study abroad for a semester are additional ways to broaden your experience. When you graduate, you’ll do so with the skills to confidently pursue a career in animation.

The exciting thing about studying animation is that the medium encompasses so much. The multifaceted, multi-talented artist in you will thrive.
— Chris McDonnell, Program Director

Your Focus Is Your Choice

In your first year as an Animation major you will take introductory courses in 2D, 3D, and stop motion animation, studying the principles of creating motion and performance while experiencing a variety of tools and techniques. At the beginning of your second year, you will be able to plan a 2D, 3D, stop motion, or hybrid focus path through the rest of the curriculum with your advisor.

Animation Program Accolades

UArts Animation measures up. In 2023, the Animation bachelor’s degree program at UArts was named in the top five animation schools in Pennsylvania, the top animation schools on the East Coast and the top animation schools in the U.S. by Animation Career Review.

Resources Available to Animation Students

Collaborative by design, our Animation bachelor’s degree program allows you to work with peers from different programs. You’ll get instruction across disciplines by taking courses in screenwriting, film, and illustration alongside your major courses. You’ll also be able to use UArts’ production and technology spaces, like the 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media (CIM), animation and film studios, computer labs, and stop motion studios, among other cutting-edge spaces. Media Resources provides students with cameras, tripods, lights and other technology needed to succeed in coursework and beyond.


Sample Courses in the Animation Major

UArts’ Animation BFA degree program supports 2D hand-drawn, 3D computer, stop motion and any animation techniques you can imagine.

After completing the Animation program, students will be able to

  • Develop the ability to verbalize and bring to life a strong personal artistic vision, combining informed meaningful content creation with unique visual approaches to produce engaging sound/image work.
  • Master both traditional and digital animation skills and concepts; using motion and time understanding with drawn, stop-motion and computer-generated creative practices.
  • Demonstrate critical and analytical thought based in art history, and be able to communicate this using written, visual, oral, web or hybrid means.
  • Learn to collaborate with artists, peers and professionals to effectively manage time in a working relationship.
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First Year

Fall: 15 credits 
ANIM*111 Principles of Animation (3 credits)
ANIM*112 Introduction to Stop Motion Animation (3 credits)
DRAW*111 Drawing: Natural Forms and the Human Figure (3 credits)
Discipline History Choice (3 credits)
      AHST*101 Art, Design & Moving Image I
Writing 1 Placement (3 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
ANIM*131 Introduction to 2D Computer Animation (3 credits)
ANIM*134 Introduction to 3D Animation (3 credits)
IMAG*102 Color (3 credits)
WFTV*145 Character (3 credits)
Writing 2 Placement (3 credits)

Second Year

Fall: 15 credits
ANIM*225 Storyboarding (3 credits)
Focus Choice (6 credits)
      ANIM*211 Character Design
      FILM*124 Video Production
Critical Studies (6 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
ANIM*213 Sophomore Animation Piece (3 credits)
Focus Choice (3 credits)
ILUS*285 Drawing for Animators
Discipline History Choice (3 credits)
      FMST*251 History of Narrative Cinema I
Critical Studies (6 credits)


Third Year

Fall: 15 credits
ANIM*312 Visual Development for Animation (3 credits)
Focus Choice (6 credits)
      ANIM*228 Intermediate 2D Animation
      FILM*204 Sound Design
Critical Studies (6 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
ANIM*302 Junior Animation Piece (3 credits)
ANIM*381 Animation Professional Practices (3 credits)
ANIM*341 History of Animation (3 credits)
Focus Choice (3 credits)
      ANIM*345 Visual Effects Compositing
General Elective (3 credits)

Fourth Year

Fall: 15 credits
ANIM*401 Animation Thesis I (3 credits)
ANIM*406 Client Animation Project or ANIM*499 Animation Internship (3 credits)
Critical Studies (3 credits)
General Electives (6 credits)

Spring: 15 credits
ANIM*402 Animation Thesis II (3 credits)
Critical Studies (3 credits)
General Electives (9 credits)

Explore the Full Curriculum

I took Introduction to Computers for Object Makers. As an animation student, I found the class uniquely useful, as 3-D printing and laser cutting become more readily available for stop motion in the industry. Learning how to take a 2-D computer animation and convert each frame to physical objects in one day versus several was incredible. All of the techniques and skills I learned in that class changed my way of attacking future projects.
— Neil Andruski

Student Spotlight

headshot of katrina mortko. Katrina is lying on a hardwood floor with curl hair flopping out in all directions. next to katrina's head is a fuzzy mustard yellow plushie with rosy cheeks and a big nose.
Katrina Mortko


Animation (BFA)
Class of 2023
headshot of Gavin Thomas Walters. wearing a black top with one wooden toggle visible. Gavin is against a cream background and has a trim beard and mustache.
Gavin Thomas Walters


Animation (BFA)
Class of 2023
headshot of Hail Thomas wearing a a pink hoodie and small surfer-type necklace. hail has a wide smile and is posed in front of a closet. hail has stretched lobes and a septum and eyebrow piercing.
Hail Thomas


Animation (BFA)
Class of 2024
headshot of tiphany jackson. tiphany is smiling and looking towards the upper right. tiphany has thick black curly hair and is wearing pinkish horn-rimmed glasses.
Tiphany Jackson


Animation (BFA)
Class of 2023

Faculty Spotlight

Chris McDonnell Headshot Animation Faculty
Chris McDonnell

Animation (BFA)
Program director; animator, director and author/designer whose work has aired on Comedy Central, HBO, and Netflix
Julie Benbassat in a gray shirt with white horizontal stripes sitting on a couch in front of a wall of illustrations
Julie Benbassat

Animation (BFA)
Award-winning illustrator, painter, and animator whose clients include NPR, The New Yorker, The New York Times, TIME, Illustoria, McSweeney’s Publishing, BOOM! Comics, Cartoon Network, Sports Illustrated Kids, The National Park Service, and others
Lowell Boston standing in front of a green backdrop.
Lowell Boston

BFA '88

Animator, filmmaker and college professor whose work has aired on ABC, ESPN and Fox
A closeup of Dairys Escoto De León in a black leather jacket
Dairys Escoto De León

Animation (BFA)
An animator who aims to disrupt the static, Western film gaze with fun, experimental concepts that are socially conscious
Jack Gray standing on a city rooftop with rowhouses in the background
Jack Gray

Animation (BFA)
Animator whose short films have screened in Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anim’est International Animation Festival, PÖFF Shorts, Palm Springs ShortFest, and Oberhausen International Film Festival, among others
Inna Leonov-Kenny wearing sitting in front of a whiteboard on a slate colored wall
Inna Leonov-Kenny

Animation (BFA)
Animator with 20 years’ experience creating fulldome planetarium shows that now show worldwide
Erik Van Horn
Erik Van Horn

Game Art (BFA)
Artist, animator and writer whose clients include Wizards of the Coast and Disney Animation Studios
Karl Staven stands in front of a white wall with his hands raised next to his face as if framing a shot
Karl Staven

Animation (BFA)
Creator of more than 30 independent animated films in a variety of techniques and styles.

Alumni Spotlight

Our alumni work on blockbuster special-effects films, animated TV series, commercials, video games and more in a variety of roles, from director to storyboard artist.

Neil Andruski

BFA '20

Animation (BFA)
Animator who studied abroad in Angoulême, France
Nia Veal Headshot
Nia Veal

BFA '20

Animation (BFA)
Animator who's exploring animation for TV and game sprites
Nichola Latzgo head shot
Nichola Latzgo

BFA '18

Animation (BFA)
Freelance animator who has worked on project for Netflix, Pitchfork and TEd ED
Drew Applegate in front of a statue
Drew Applegate

BFA '15

Animation (BFA)
Storyboard artist for Walt Disney Animation Studios
Jacqueline Bauwens
Jacqueline Bauwens

BFA '15

Animation (BFA)
Animator who has worked with companies like Nike and Callaway Golf
Tracey LaGuerre
Tracey LaGuerre

BFA '14

Animation (BFA)
Animator who has worked for companies like Buzzfeed, DreamWorks and Google
Headshot of Edmond Hawkins drawing on glass with marker
Edmond Hawkins

BFA '05

Animation (BFA)
Comedy writer, director and animator who has worked on projects for HBO and SNL
Jonathan Skabla
Jonathan Skabla

BFA '05

Animation (BFA)
Digital compositor who has worked on TV shows such as The Americans and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Mike Mayfield
Mike Mayfield

BFA '03

Animation (BFA)
Director for the Netflix original series Big Mouth
Mehdi Yssef
Mehdi Yssef

BFA '00

Animation (BFA)
Game animator for Sony Computer Entertainment America
Suzanne Twining
Suzanne Twining

BFA '97

Animation (BFA)
Stop-motion animator who worked on Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls
Head shot of Adam Burton, also known as Maxwell Atoms
Adam Maxwell Burton "Maxwell Atoms"

BFA '96

Animation (BFA)
Creator of the Emmy Award winning series “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”
headshot of Jamir Smith against a blue sky
Jamir Smith

BFA '22

Animation (BFA)
Animator who has danced for the Philadelphia 76ers


Animation students begin developing their first demo reel during their freshman year and revise that reel throughout their academic career. As a part of the Animation Professional Practices class in the spring of their junior year, students post their reels to their own portfolio websites that are developed in conjunction with their personal visual identity, which is also deployed on business cards, resumes, and other materials.

Professional Practices also visits studios in New York City and Philadelphia to give students the opportunity to meet professionals and tour facilities. Guest speakers and alumni visit on a regular basis to give lectures and advice.

Students also have the opportunity to intern at a professional studio. Organizations that have hosted interns in the past include Augenblick Studios, Sesame Workshop and Stretch Films Inc.

Companies in and around Philadelphia that have hired BFA in Animation alumni include Alkemy X, Center City Film & Video, and unPOP.

Nationally, our alumni have been hired by Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, Bento Box, Augenblick, Titmouse.

As the industry continues to grow, graduates find themselves in a variety of roles. Career options for Animation majors include:

Storyboard Artist
Storyboard Revisionist
2D Animator
3D Animator
Stop Motion Animator
Effects Animator
Assistant Animator
Motion Graphics Designer
Art Director
Background Designer/Layout Artist
Background Painter
Color Stylist
Character Designer
Prop Designer
Animatic Editor

Production Assistant
Set Designer
Puppet Fabricator
3D Lighting Designer
3D Model and Set Builder
3D Modeler
3D Character Rigger
3D Texturer
Scientific Animator
Forensic Animator
Architectural Animator

The animation artist’s skills translate well to other visual fields. UArts Animation Alumni are also working in live action film and television, game design, graphic design, and illustration. Animation students also learn to pitch ideas, collaborate, and communicate with teams every day, which are valuable skills in many professional environments.

Center for Immersive Media

UArts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction.

Learn More

The space includes

  • Optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;

  • A four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 

  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 

  • Two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Your Animation Application Portfolio

You do not need previous animation experience to apply to UArts Animation. If you do have animated work, you may include your strongest examples in your portfolio.

When compiling your application portfolio, show us your enthusiasm for learning through examples of your previous work which may include:

  • Observational figure studies of the model
    • Gesture poses (short duration quick sketches)
    • Longer poses (include face, hands and feet)
  • Observational life drawings
    • Sketches of people and animals on location in parks, zoos, cafés, etc.
    • Interior and exterior environment drawings that capture the sense of a specific space
    • Drawings with opinions on the subject: intentional exaggeration, stylization, or abstraction, and drawings that illustrate an exploration of form, shape, color, and mood.
  • Imaginative Drawings (any of the below)
    • Sketchbook pages to show your range, experiments, and studies
    • Original character, creature, prop, or vehicle designs
    • Original visual development work of fictional locations
  • Visual Storytelling (any of the below)
    • Character driven comics (short 1-4 panel comics, one or multi-page comics, genre comics, slice-of-life comics, autobio comics)
    • Sequential illustrations, or single illustrations that have a strong narrative sensibility (like a picture book)
    • Storyboards or thumbnail storyboard examples (a sequential plan for a moving picture)
  • Time-based Media (any of the below)
    • Animation examples (rough or cleaned up are both OK)
    • Video turntable rotations of 3D models
    • Video flip-throughs of sketchbooks or studies
    • Live-action video with a visual direction and awareness of staging, composition and editing
    • Multimedia video showcasing compositing, collage, or experimental film techniques
  • Dimensional Sculptural Work (any of the below)
    • Photos or videos of models, sets, sculptures, puppets, ceramics

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2024 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2023

Fall 2024 priority deadline: Feb 15, 2024

We cannot accept spring 2024 applications after Jan. 8, 2024, and cannot accept fall 2024 applications after Aug. 16, 2024.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcript
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college transcript(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available

Your portfolio

A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission.

Learn more about portfolio requirements. 

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Apply Now

Scholarships & Financial Aid 

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

We encourage students to complete the FAFSA by March 15, if possible.

Many students and families have encountered technical challenges while trying to complete the FAFSA this year. If this is the case for you, continue to utilize the FAFSA support resources until your issue is resolved. UArts will ensure that all admitted students who file the FAFSA are eligible for the same institutional funding to support your costs.

Learn more

Learn more about tuition & fees 


Frequently asked questions about the Animation BFA program

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What can you do with an Animation degree?

With an animation degree, you can pursue careers in various fields such as film, television, gaming, advertising, and digital media, working as an animator, character designer, storyboard artist, or visual effects artist, among others.

Is an Animation degree worth it?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Obtaining a degree is an important piece in entering this growing field, as you will be provided with many professional opportunities such as internships and networking events in addition to learning all of the important skills and tools that will be needed in the workforce.

Do you need a degree to work in animation?
Though a degree is not always a strict requirement, having a formal education in animation can provide you with essential technical skills, industry knowledge and a strong portfolio, which can significantly enhance your chances of securing desirable positions in the competitive field of animation.

About the School of Film 

University of the Arts’ School of Film strongly believes in creative collaboration, self-expression and professional preparation through its programs in Animation, Film, Film and Animation, Film Design, Game Art, and Screenwriting.

It also offers minors in

  • Animation,
  • Film,
  • Film and Media Studies,
  • Game Art, and
  • Screenwriting.

The School of Film prepares students for careers in the film and entertainment industries via internships, networking events and an on-campus series with professional alumni. Our graduates become directors, editors, animators, game artists, cinematographers, art directors and screenwriters, working in the region and around the world.

Learn more about the School of Film.

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