Earning an Online Animation Bachelor's Degree

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Aspiring online animation students should understand what they might learn from the degree, as well as how to meet admission criteria and the career options available. Students should also consider opportunities the field offers for professional growth. This guide covers the ins and outs of online animation programs so you can make informed decisions regarding your next step toward your academic and professional goals.

Overview of Animation Degrees

Animation uses design and drawing skills to create image sequences for multimedia products. Animators may also use computer technology to manipulate still images, like photographs, to make them appear as though they move. Animation involves graphic design and art, along with an understanding of physics, math, and computers. Students who want to earn a computer animation degree online not only enjoy art, but also want to understand how technology can serve as a tool to help bring art to life.

Animation degree classes build skills in media storytelling, web design, and software, including Autodesk and Adobe Creative Suite. These students learn desktop publishing, digital imaging, and even design history, which prepares them for a range of careers in the field. Some online animation programs require on-campus coursework, which provides access to the hardware and software you can expect to use in the workforce. Your online degree studies might also require an internship.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of multimedia artists and animators to grow by 8% through 2026, outpacing the average growth of 7% for all occupations.

Application Process

Online animation programs usually require applicants to submit applications with their background information, plus transcripts from previous high schools and any other schools they attended. Applicants may also need to demonstrate that they meet a minimum GPA requirement or submit either SAT or ACT exam scores. Some schools ask applicants to draft a personal statement explaining why they want to earn this degree and how they expect to apply their learning in the industry. In addition, schools might ask for letters of recommendation from previous teachers and employers. Online animation programs may require applicants to submit portfolios showcasing their work, which may include drawings and illustrations, digital imaging, and examples of 2D and 3D animations.

What Will I Learn?

Computer animation online students should expect to sharpen their skills in digital design and design software. In computer animation classes, you will build your ability to develop standout images and make them lifelike. These classes ensure you possess proficiency in the technologies used by animation professionals. You learn to achieve photorealistic effects, create and develop characters, and design 3D models to make your work appear as real as possible. Courses also teach web design, allowing students to identify the connection between typography and color theory. These marketable skills position students to succeed in their chosen careers.

Completing your computer animation degree online typically requires 120 credits, including 40-42 in general education, 10-12 in arts and sciences, and 30-33 in the major. The remaining 34-36 credits go toward elective coursework.

The following provides examples of courses you might encounter during your online animation degree. Each school maintains its own curriculum, but most include the following topics of study.

Interactive Animation

You study web design, game development, and art to learn how they benefit from interactive animated graphics. Understanding and applying user interfaces allows you to achieve outstanding animations that creatively convey concepts. Students do not typically have programing experience, but they learn to wed technology and animation, which today's multimedia frequently incorporates.

Desktop Publishing

Learners develop fundamental design skills in software applications like Adobe Creative Suite and Autodesk. They also use the software necessary to visually communicate ideas and information in print and online. Students can leverage these skills to communicate through animation on an array of platforms.

3D Character Animation

Students learn to animate characters by deepening their knowledge of the 12 animation principles. They develop characters from concept to completion, including modeling, rigging, skinning, and facial setup. These skills support animators' storytelling ability, which industries like gaming and film require to engage their audiences.

Digital Sculpting

Students in this class use zbrush, a type of 3D modeling software. This software allows them to sculpt using multiple brushes, and develop poly painting and masking skills. Students also learn to apply their zbrush abilities in other 3D software. Moreover, students understand how sculpting aligns with gaming production.

Graphic Imaging

This class teaches students how to transform photographs into products they can use in digital media. They study how to repair, adjust, and retouch images. This course prepares students to pursue either web design or digital media artistry as a profession.

Typography

This class explores typeface recognition, the visual aspects of letterforms, and how to incorporate type into imagery. It also examines the history of typography. Students learn how to appropriately set words, sentences, and phrases with accurate spacing. Those most interested in digital media can draw on these skills to enhance their work.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Animation?

Students pursuing an online animation degree should possess a talent for art and design, and know how to communicate through imagery. Your studies can only enhance skills you already demonstrate. The following passages provide more details about which skills and competencies you can expect to strengthen while pursuing your computer animation degree online. They also discuss the occupations you can enter, and an anticipated salary.

Core Skills

Online animation programs develop students' creative skills by helping them envision what innovative, visually appealing storytelling requires. Whether you develop characters from start to finish, create digital artistry that requires typeface expertise, or design for the web, you need to think outside of the box and make your work stand out from others'. Your courses should challenge you to go beyond the norm and produce results that highlight your unique capabilities.

That said, your studies should build your critical thinking abilities and complement your creative talent and artistic prowess. Innovation requires practicality, especially regarding risk management and overcoming challenges. You can also expect your studies to strengthen your skills in planning, execution, and problem-solving. Your courses and hands-on learning experiences should teach you to make sensible, evidence-based decisions that reflect sound judgment.

Animation projects usually follow a strict timeline, budget, and scope, meaning animators must understand the fundamentals of project management. Your coursework should teach you these important concepts, and equip you to work in teams with matrixed responsibilities, to avoid unnecessary complications.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Online animation graduates enjoy various career choices, since their talents support businesses in ways that attract and retain users. Animators must possess the know-how to create appealing, visual media, and also understand how those media must align within a project to help that project succeed.

Animation graduates may qualify for careers in advertising, marketing, web design, or fine arts. They might also choose to enter the gaming industry, helping to create characters and other art pieces that come to life for players. If the entertainment industry suits you, know that today's production companies rely heavily on digital capabilities for movies, television, and music.

Browse Bachelor’s in Animation Careers
Animator

An animator creates cartoons through motion picture animation, hand drawings, and computers. Their creativity and character development skills support movies, television shows, and games. They generally collaborate with teams of artists and marketing specialists to bring their concepts to life.

Annual Median Salary

$51,001 per year

Digital Animator

These professionals rely on computers and technological tools to develop moving illustrations. Storyboards allow them to drive toward their final product throughout the process. In addition to artistic skills, digital animators must understand relevant digital software.

Annual Median Salary

$49,535 per year

Character Animator

These specialists develop and design characters using 2D and 3D modeling, computer software, and even puppetry. The characters move and interact in digital environments as part of the storytelling for television shows, movies, mobile apps, and games.

Annual Median Salary

$87,016 per year

Art Director

Art directors manage print, web, and television promotions by coordinating all aspects of concept and design. Their roles require attention to the creative concept, so they can assign work to artists. They should also possess skills in various design suites, like Photoshop, to effectively lead a team.

Annual Median Salary

$63,895 per year

Creative Director

These professionals lead the creative activities at marketing companies and advertising agencies, collaborating with artists, designers, marketers, and sales teams to create visions for their products. Their responsibilities include guiding teams in the creative process from start to finish.

Annual Median Salary

$87,016 per year

Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Animation?

Graduate animation studies can sharpen your professional skills, allowing you to concentrate in a particular focus. A master's in animation can qualify graduates for leadership roles and specialized positions, preparing these professionals for careers as screenwriters, producers, and studio executives.

Earning a graduate degree can position you for occupational success, but you can still achieve your professional goals with just a bachelor's. Experience counts for a lot as well, since employers respect real-world knowledge from on-the-job training. Professional experience also provides employers insight into a candidate's versatility and ability to work with others.

Accreditation for Animation Bachelor's Programs

Applicants should look for accredited online animation degrees. Accreditation demonstrates an institution's academic rigor and quality. Established in 1944, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASD) maintains standards for art and design degrees. Its members include more than 360 colleges, universities, and conservatories. NASD lists its members in an online database to make it easy to determine whether a program holds accreditation.

If your prospective program doesn't hold NASD accreditation, at least make sure institution is accredited by a regional or national agency. As noted earlier, accreditation demonstrates that an institution meets the educational standards of an accrediting agency.

Animation Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can boost opportunities for members to network, find employment, and pursue ongoing education and training. These associations help their members connect with one another to exchange and build knowledge of the field. They also offer workshops, symposia, and conferences discussing and showcasing the latest trends and practices to boost your career. Professional organizations frequently post jobs in an online database, showing members what companies seek when hiring, and which kinds of openings are available.

International Game Developers Association

This global organization's membership comprises the artists, programmers, and producers who make up the game development industry. With more than 150 chapters and special interest groups globally, IGDA engages members in conferences and game showcases. In addition, its resource library offers access to abstracts, papers, and presentations on the industry.

The American Institute for Graphic Arts

With more than 25,000 members representing over 70 chapters, AIGA promotes design as a professional expertise. The institute aims to ensure the impact of design on business and society. Members range from design fans to leading practitioners, bringing with them an array of experience. Benefits include learning opportunities, resources and tools, and programs for special interests.

International Council of Design

Ico-D raises awareness for best practices in the design profession, and promotes the value of design in society. Founded in London in 1963, the council offers regional meetings, an awards program, and a mentorship initiative for students who join.