Traditional Animation, BFA

Traditional Animation, BFA

There’s a reason we’re consistently ranked among the top animation schools in the Midwest and beyond. Employers want our grads. At Columbia, you’ll learn to set yourself apart by bringing your unique voice and aesthetic to your work.

The BFA in Traditional Animation is a rigorous, highly structured curriculum that arms you with technical skills and team-based collaboration. You’ll be prepared for immediate, successful entry into your chosen profession in the animation industry and beyond. You must apply to be accepted into the BFA program. Read submission guidelines and degree requirements for the BFA on the course catalog.

Many of our alumni work as professional animators, but the professional skills you’ll gain in this program translate to industries beyond just 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, but you’ll also learn by making. In Drawing for Animation 1, you’re learning the foundations of hand-drawn keyframing. 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 a body of artwork to add to your portfolio.
What to Expect Your Last Year

As a senior, you’ll create two short films. You’ll work with a team to create a three- to six-minute animated film and individually to create a three-minute animated film.

During the two-semester team project, 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 get 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 and showcases the amazing work of our graduating students.

The solo project is similar in scope to the team project, except you’ll have three full semesters to complete your three-minute animated film. You’ll serve as the producer, director, editor and every other role in between.

BFA vs. BA: What’s the Difference?

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

If you wish to pursue entry to the Traditional 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.

Courses You'll Take

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Want a glimpse into life in the industry? 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. In the 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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