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Bachelor of Fine Arts Animation

For international students: this is a STEM-designated program, which can qualify you to extend your post-graduation stay in the United States.

The BFA in Animation provides students serious about careers as animation artists with a thorough foundation in the art of animation and its history, combined with intense advanced practice in a wide variety of animation methods and mediums. Animation BFA students have an opportunity to explore a wide and deep range of animation courses in traditional animation (hand-drawn, stop motion, and hybrid), 3D animation and modeling, character design, storyboarding, game art, motion graphics, VFX animation, as well as film and TV courses in screenwriting, editing, sound, and directing. Graduates of our program have gone on to careers as animation artists, story artists, visual designers, character animators, game artists, CGI effects animators, and motion graphics animators. The program’s visual arts history and studio art requirements give students an aesthetic grounding crucial to success in these areas. In their many animation production courses, students will have access to the latest in animation software, tools, and technologies including professional-level animation and effects software, Cintiq labs, 3D printing, stop motion stages and fabrication studios, 3D motion capture, motion control, and sophisticated sound studios. Students will gain valuable production experience both in class and through internships, and benefit from the School of Cinematic Arts’ connections to leading animation, film, and TV studios and CDM’s relationship with Chicago’s largest game development studios.

Alumni of our program have been hired in animation roles at a wide variety of companies, including DreamWorks Animation, LAIKA Studios, Warner Bros. Animation, Blizzard Entertainment, Bioware, Iron Galaxy Studios, The Mill, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, ShadowMachine, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Electronic Arts, and Cartoon Network, to name just a few.

Learn more about the portfolio requirements for applying to this program.


Cinema Animation

The Cinema Animation concentration is for students who are interested in the areas of traditional animation (hand-drawn, stop motion, and hybrid), 3D character animation, 3D modeling and rigging, motion graphics animation, and CGI effects animation. In addition to the core visual aesthetic and animation courses, students study filmmaking, visual storytelling, and advanced courses in their focus area. They are given in-depth instruction in the most up-to-date software and technology available, but the emphasis is always on creativity, experimentation and expression.

Game Art

Becoming a game development artist requires a solid foundation in animation, visual design principles, color theory, and drawing. Students in the Game Art concentration also receive in-depth instruction in the latest advanced game modeling and animation technology and practices, including motion capture, rigging, texturing, environment art, and digital sculpting. They learn about real-world problem-solving, team dynamics, and pipeline requirements while working alongside programmers and game designers on cross-disciplinary game development projects.

Storyboarding and Character Design

Storyboard artists are in demand in the television and feature film animation industries. A storyboard artist can also find work storyboarding live action films, visual effects, and commercials. The skills of the storyboard artist can also be applied to graphic novels and comics. Character design is a much sought-after role in animation, game art, live action film, comics, and children’s literature. Both disciplines share a requirement for strong traditional drawing skills.

Motion Graphics

Motion Graphics, sometimes known as Motion Design, involves putting graphic forms, text, and photographic elements into motion using the principles of animation. These are almost always paired with sound and music for a specific purpose, such as in advertisements, educational and industrial videos, films and television titles, visual effects, and video games. Chicago is a major center for commercial advertising production, and Motion Graphics is a significant part of the commercial production and post-production process.

Visual Effects Animation

The VFX Animation concentration in the Animation BFA deals with the artistic creation and animation of computer-generated 3D creatures, vehicles, objects, and environments for use in the live action film and television industries. Think of the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, the AT-ATs of Rogue One, or the future Los Angeles of Blade Runner 2049. The concentration combines a solid animation foundation with specialized VFX courses. VFX careers in live action film and television require skills ranging broadly from live action compositing to 3D character animation. Skilled VFX artists are in high demand within the feature film, television, commercial, and new media industries. This concentration complements the VFX concentration in the Film & Television BFA, which is balanced more towards live action production.

3D Animation

The 3D Animation concentration is for students interested in 3D animated filmmaking. Students will learn all the 3D tools necessary to realize their cinematic vision, including the most current approaches to 3D animation, modeling, texturing, lighting, rigging, visual effects, compositing, and rendering. Students will complement their 3D studies with a solid foundation in studio art, visual design, art history, and traditional approaches to cinematic filmmaking.


Nationally Recognized Programs

  • #15 animation program in the US and #1 in the Midwest according to Animation Career Review (2024)
  • A Variety Top Film School in North America (2022)
  • #14 film school in the US by the Hollywood Reporter (2023)
  • Steve Socki

    Steve worked in TV Animation at Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, & Disney TV. His new animated film is currently showing in over 30 international film festivals.

  • Brian Ferguson

    Brian is a 25-year veteran Walt Disney Feature Animation character animator whose filmography includes Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan.

  • Amy Lockhart

    Amy’s animations have screened at festivals nationally and internationally, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the International Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan.

Animation Faculty

DePaul has one of the largest full-time Animation faculties in the country. Their filmography includes Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Mulan, The Simpsons, Futurama, and Rugrats. Our instructors come from diverse backgrounds in feature and TV animation, commercial production, game development, motion graphics, CGI, and art exhibition. They have worked at major animation and game studios including: Disney Feature Animation, Fox TV, Fox Kids, JibJab, Will Vinton, Sesame Street, NBC Studios, Nickelodeon, Calabash, Rough Draft, WMS, RoboModo, Wideload, and Day 1, and have exhibited internationally at galleries and film festivals.

students working on Octodad video game 

Game Development Teams

Students interested in game art can take advantage of CDM’s large and active game development program by working with game design and programming students on game projects. These projects take many forms: multi-disciplinary team courses, game development contests run by the student organization DeFRAG, and extra-curricular special projects. Your project may join our many award-winning student games, including the indie game hit Octodad.


LA Quarter

Animation students have the opportunity to study and intern in Los Angeles for three months through DePaul’s innovative LA Quarter program. Students accepted into the program earn degree credit while living in the center of the animation, film and game development industries. LA Quarter students have interned at many studios including DreamWorks Animation, Bix Pix Entertainment, Duck Animation Studios, and Nickelodeon Animation.


Visiting Artists Series

This series brings innovative practitioners and industry leaders to the DePaul campus for film screenings, on-stage conversations, and professional panels. Past visiting artists include legendary Russian animator Yuri Norstein, stop-motion animators The Brothers Quay, Disney features writer/director John Musker, experimental 3D animator David O’Reilly, Pixar director Doug Sweetland, Pixar character designer Chris Sasaki, Disney Feature Animation storyboard artist Lissa Treiman, Pixar Writer/Director Adrian Molina, and many more.


Premiere Film Festival

Our annual Premiere Film Festival showcases the best of student work in cinema and animation with awards covering all facets of filmmaking, from screenwriting to post production. Jury members include industry insiders, festival programmers, and filmmakers from around the country.

DePaul Animation Lodge logo  

Animation Lodge

Animation Lodge is a student organization for both animation majors and enthusiasts. The Lodge provides a space for members to discuss animation trends and techniques, network with one another and professionals, and help build each other’s portfolios through critiques and group projects. Animation Lodge hosts Mayday, a weekend-long animation marathon where students, alumni, and faculty create films based around a designate theme, annually.


Project Bluelight

Project Bluelight is a professional, educational, and community outreach program where students receive hands-on experience in motion picture production. The award-winning stop-motion/live actor project Speed Dating was recently created as part of this program.

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