9 Questions About Animation Degrees Answered

Smiling animation student with artwork

In a world full of screens where people can enjoy video games, movies and shows at the click of a button, animation has gained new attention. If you enjoy the world of animation, you may consider earning a degree in animation. A BA in Digital Design With an Emphasis in Animation degree merges design techniques and use of technological tools to help students learn how to create their own work and gain skills that can lead to various career opportunities.

1. What Is an Animation Degree?

An animation degree focuses on developing students’ talents while teaching new aspects of animation that can be used in their future career paths. This degree helps students become leaders in areas such as:

  • Motion graphics
  • Typography
  • 2D animation
  • 3D modeling
  • Digital design

The courses in a BA in Digital Design With an Emphasis in Animation program revolve around helping students use visual messages to create an impact in their field through technology.

2. What Courses Are in a Digital Design With an Emphasis in Animation Program?

A few courses in this degree program include:

  • Design Thinking: This course helps students to get a solid background in the visual arts as they embark on their path to graduating with an animation degree. Students get to create artwork and practice developing their design skills.
  • Design Professionalism: As a digital design with an emphasis in animation major, it is helpful to understand business concepts and how they connect to animation. Design Professionalism focuses on these aspects of business and how they are relevant to design.
  • Layout and Composition: Understanding artistic design concepts is important in animation. Students on this course get to experiment with different techniques to come up with solutions using layout and composition.
  • Creative Processes: This course is designated to help students further their creative thinking and artistic abilities. The hands-on exploration in this course allows students to develop processes that will help them create in their future career.
  • Motion Technologies: As an animation student, learning motion-based technology and its implication is important to learning how to design digitally with skill.
  • 2D Motion Design: In 2D Motion design courses, students get to develop their understanding of animation. This course covers animation principles and strategies.
  • Advanced Motion Design: This course takes many of the concepts from previous classes and combines them to allow students to complete motion designs similar to what they would work with in the professional world.

3. What Skills Does an Animation Degree Teach?

These courses mean students get to learn a variety of skills that are applicable to an assortment of careers. Some of these skills include:

  • Creativity: The courses in an animation degree develop student’s creativity. Creativity is important in animation because it allows students to come up with new concepts and solutions that make their work even more impactful.
  • Critical Thinking: Critical thinking and problem solving is just as important in fields such as design and animation as it is in other fields. Creators must be able to take what they are given and make a vision come to life. If a problem arises, students must be able to resolve the issue.
  • Animating: Being able to animate and knowing the various concepts related to creating good animations is a big part of what makes animation graduates so valuable on a variety of teams in the career world.
  • Collaborating: Collaborating inside and outside the classroom helps students learn how to work well with others. Animators often work with other teams or artists and being able to work smoothly alongside other people is extremely valuable.
  • Designing: Many of the courses encourage students to create and design. This allows students to become comfortable with different styles and mediums.

4. What Are Some Animation Degree Job Opportunities?

There are many career options for those who are interested in animation.

  • Animator: Animators work for various companies and businesses to design animations for a variety of purposes. Some animators may work on commercials while others might work on websites or even big movie productions.
  • Graphic Designer: Graphic designers create designs that reach particular audiences and create an impact in people’s minds. Some designers may work in-house for companies. Others may freelance or work for agencies.
  • Illustrator: Illustrators draw and create images. Illustrators can draw a range of things depending on their job. For example, an illustrator can work with an author to create images for a book. Others may sketch storyboards or faces.
  • Game Asset Designer: Game asset designers work within the gaming world. They help to design and come up with concepts for various pieces of a game.
  • Concept Artist: Concept artists are similar in the fact that they help come up with concepts and bring these ideas to life. However, concept artists do not work solely in the gaming industry; they also work in other companies, agencies and firms.
  • Art Director: Art directors are in charge of the visual and artistic aspects of projects. They may head a team and work with clients to make sure that everything in a project is up to their standards and visually appealing.
  • Web Animator: Web animators are animators that specialize in animation and design for the web. These animators may work on animations that go on websites or animations for online games.

5. What Are Similar Degree Options?

Perhaps you have a passion for animation and already know you want to pursue a degree in animation. If not, and you want to explore degrees that are similar to animation, you may want to spend some time looking into the following options:

Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Graphic Design

If you are not sure if animation is for you, but you enjoy the digital design aspects of an animation degree, you may want to consider an advertising and graphic design degree. This degree gives students the chance to enhance their design knowledge and learn concepts of advertising. Graduates from this program may pursue careers as designers, art directors, production assistants and other roles in the art and advertising world.

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design With an Emphasis in Web Design

Another option in the digital design realm is a degree in web design. The courses in this program teach students about UX and web design. If you are interested in pursing a career as a web designer, graphic designer, web developer or creative director it may be beneficial to look into this major. 

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film With an Emphasis in Production

A film degree opens up options for students to explore career possibilities in video production and the movie industry. The careers available to those with this degree range from producer and director to editor or prop designer. This degree could be a good fit for individuals who are creative but do not necessarily want to spend their time working on designs.

6. How Do I Get a Degree in Animation?

You may be wondering how to get a degree in animation. The following steps will help set you on the path to earning your degree and starting a career in animation:

Choose a School

The first thing you should do is chose a school. Researching a college before you decide to go there is important. You may want to ask questions such as:

Apply

Once you have wrestled with these questions and decided on what you want in a college, it is time to apply. Each college has a different admissions process; it may be beneficial to get in touch with an advisor or counselor. 

Enroll

After you have been accepted, enroll in classes in your program. Before you know it, you can be learning about animation topics and on your way to graduation. Try and make the most of your classes. The more effort you put into learning and exploring new concepts, the more you will be able to gain from your experience.

Complete Your Degree

Finally, complete your degree. You will need to take all the required courses and fulfill graduation requirements in order to earn your animation degree. When you complete your degree, take this as a time to celebrate. You have just earned a degree that can open up numerous job opportunities and give you an edge in the workplace.

7. How Do I Get Experience in Animation?

A bachelor’s degree in animation or a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in animation is important in qualifying for many jobs as animators or designers. However, gaining other real-world experience can also help set you apart and add to your learning inside the classroom.

Internships and Work Experience

For animation students, internships and work experience are helpful tools in developing style and skills as an animator. They are also valuable as experience on job applications and resumes. Students can check with local animation studios, design programs and companies to find job listings or see if internships are available. It may also be useful to do some research online to explore bigger internship possibilities with companies like Disney or DreamWorks.

Practice

A big part of becoming experienced is practicing. Trying new techniques or styles can help you develop as an animator. Practice does not necessarily have to be for a class or project. In fact, it may be beneficial to spend some free time animating or using creativity to help develop your own ideas.

Inspiration and Collaboration

Inspiration is everywhere in today’s world of screens. There are many places where inspiration for animation can be found to help you grow in your field, including:

  • Videos
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Other creators
  • Advertising
  • Social media

Inspiration goes hand-in-hand with collaboration. Working with other animators or artists can help you gain experience. It may be helpful to learn from a mentor or more advanced animator so that you can explore new aspects of animation.

8. Do You Need a Degree to Become an Animator?

There is no universal prerequisite that requires individuals in the field of animation to have an animation degree, but graduating from an animation program greatly increases your chances of being able to secure a job in animation. The U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics states that a majority of special effects artists and animators need a degree in computer graphics, art or a related field in order to develop the portfolio and skills required by employers.*

9. Is an Animation Degree Worth it?

An animation degree provides invaluable experience to students interested in the world of animation. Students learn new skills and become more prepared to face the professional world after graduation. Employers see significance in a bachelor’s degree, making it a wise choice for those who want to pursue this field.

Explore more degree offerings from the College of Fine Arts and Production at Grand Canyon University. Click on the request Info Button at the top of your screen to start your journey at GCU and learn more about our digital design with an emphasis in animation degree program.

*Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Special Effects Artists and Animators in May 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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