Animation, Traditional Animation, BA

Animation, Traditional Animation, BA

There’s a reason we’re consistently ranked among the top animation schools in the Midwest and beyond. Employers want our grads. Columbia students set themselves apart by bringing a unique voice and aesthetic to their work. Animation students graduate with tangible professional skills, from technical chops to adaptability to the ability to effectively collaborate and communicate.

The curriculum for the BA in Traditional Animation is flexible. You can easily pursue a complementary minor or take a variety of electives. The degree prepares you for a career in animation or the entertainment industry, and it’s also a launchpad into graduate studies.

Many of our alumni work as professional animators, but the professional skills you’ll gain in this program translate to industries beyond animation. Related fields of study include video game production, television production, cinema visual effects, toy design, product design, illustration and digital advertising, just to name a handful of potential career paths.

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll take courses like History of Animation, a lecture-based theory class that provides a frame for your work, and you’ll also learn by making. In Stop-Motion Animation, you’re posing puppets and making films. In Animation I, you’re hand-drawing and moving cutouts on a camera stand. In Alternative Strategies for Animation, you’re painting on glass and animating charcoal drawings. No matter which entry-level courses you take your first year, the end product is body of artwork to add to your portfolio.

What to Expect Your Last Year

As a senior, you’ll have the chance to work with a team in Animation Production Studio to create a six-minute animated film, or you can take electives that can help you polish your demo reel and gain professional-level competency in the areas of your choosing.

During the two-semester Animation Production Studio, you’ll supervise and be supervised in roles ranging from director to editor to lighting supervisor. In the first semester, you’ll pitch ideas and collectively choose a single story. Then you’ll start getting your hands dirty with tasks like creating preproduction concept art and storyboards and hand-drawing or building stop-motion assets. You’ll continue to build and refine the film during the second semester and present it at Manifest, Columbia’s annual urban arts festival that celebrates the amazing work of our graduating students.

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature a flexible curriculum that allows for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs feature more focused required coursework in the major.

If you wish to pursue entry to the Tradition Animation BFA program, you must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. If eligible, you will be evaluated individually by the Cinema Art and Science department sometime during your first or second year of enrollment.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Want a glimpse into industry life? Head out West. Animation Studios in LA is a 1-credit, January-session course for senior Animation students. In the mornings you’ll dive in with sessions covering professional standards and industry preparation. Afternoons you’ll tour local animation studios such as Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Cartoon Network or Disney.

What are my internship options?

As an Animation student, you’ll have the chance to apply for noncredit or credit internships at studios like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Disney Animation and postproduction effects companies like The Mill.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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