play button  

Master 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 Animation MFA is the premiere degree of the DePaul graduate Animation program. It’s designed for serious students who are interested in creating original animated films and artwork as their main vocation, and is the terminal degree in the animation field. The degree is intended for those with undergraduate degrees in Animation, Film, Art, Graphic Design, Illustration and other visual arts areas.

The DePaul Animation MFA program is centered around a fall-through-spring single project model, in which students are closely mentored by faculty. During the first year students spend the majority of their time working on a film they complete under the tutelage of one of the two Animation MFA Co-Chairs, internationally recognized artists/animators Amy Lockhart and Jacob Ciocci. They also choose MFA Faculty Mentors from our large full-time Animation faculty, who regularly consult with them on their projects. Students are helped to develop a personal vision and push the limits of their abilities and the potential of animation as an expressive medium.

During their second year, students begin work with one of the MFA Co-Chairs on their MFA Thesis Project, and assemble their MFA Thesis Committee for regular feedback. The program uses the cohort model, so students will work alongside their peers throughout their degree. Animation MFA students also receive rigorous training in the history, critical artistic issues, and fundamental principles that are necessary for animation artists.

Animation MFA students have an opportunity to explore our 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 advanced graduate film and TV courses in screenwriting, editing, sound, and directing. 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. MFA students often collaborate on their film projects with talented voice actors and musicians in DePaul’s nationally-ranked Theatre School and School of Music.

Degree Requirements

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)
  • Amy LockhartAmy Lockhart

    Amy, Animation MFA co-chair, has screened at festivals nationally and internationally, including the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the International Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan.

  • Jacob CiocciJacob Ciocci

    Jacob, Animation MFA co-chair, is a founding member of the influential art collective Paper Rad, and has exhibited at major international museums including MoMA, the New Museum, and Tate Britain.

  • Brian FergusonBrian 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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

student working with clay for character animation 

The Latest Technology

We are constantly researching and testing the latest industry technology for use in our classes, and add new software and equipment annually. In the past year, we’ve built two new stop-motion studios and have become the only animation program in the US with a pro-level Volo Motion Control Crane (used by Laika and Disney) Dragonframe system. We also have two green screen stages and a VR studio, fully equipped animation teaching and student labs, and sound recording studio, to name just a few of our state-of-the-art facility and equipment offerings.

Application Deadlines

Enrollment QuarterDomestic Student DeadlineInternational Student Deadline
Fall (Priority Deadline)December 15December 15
Fall (Final Deadline)May 15May 15

Admission Process

The graduate application process involves completing an online application, sending in your transcripts and submitting any supplemental material (e.g., letters of recommendation, certifications, etc.). To learn more about your program specific requirements, visit our Graduate Admission page

Admission Requirements

Contact Graduate Admission

Request Information


Ask a Student Ambassador