Master On Campus

Animation and Visual Effects

Academy of Art University

36 months
35730 USD/year
34110 USD/year
Tuition fee
Apply date
Start date


Earn your animation degree from one of the most dynamic Animation and VFX programs in the country. If you’re an aspiring storyboard artist, visual effects artist, 2D or 3D Animator, come learn from some of today’s most accomplished professionals in the heart of the industry in the Animation and Visual Effects program of Academy of Art University.


The Animation and Visual Effects program of Academy of Art University focuses on developing skills in any one of the many areas of expertise within the animation and visual effects industry. The program educates students in all aspects of animation and visual effects, from ideation to post production. Communication, collaboration, and time management skills are emphasized throughout the program to ensure graduates are acclimated to the intense professional culture that awaits them.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Present an original thesis concept worthy of the MFA degree
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the thesis project
  • Produce a professional-standard project, with topical content for the industry, showcasing technical and artistic ability.

Technical Skills

  • Demonstrate facility with animation technology and software.

Presentation Skills

  • Clearly discuss work and workflow process with a review committee, using industry terminology.
  • Effectively pitch ideas to the review committee
  • Create visually compelling, professional quality presentation materials

Preproduction Skills (Project Development)

  • Execute projects that demonstrate attention to: research, analytical thinking, detail, flexibility in problem solving, and revision.


  • Collaborate effectively to produce creative projects

Professional Readiness

  • Present a comprehensive demo reel / portfolio demonstrating professional-level achievement of specialty skills
  • Demonstrate accountability for planning complex projects, prioritizing tasks and meeting project milestones.
  • Document project workflow.

Specialty Skills: Traditional Animation

  • Demonstrate strong drawing skills and facility with anatomy, proportion, figure, animals, perspective, color and design, and composition
  • Develop visual stories that support comedic or dramatic situations
  • Stage stories through effective camera placement choices
  • Draw convincing characters, layouts, storyboards, and animatics
  • Apply the principles of animation to create animated movement and performances

Specialty Skills: Storyboarding

  • Demonstrate strong drawing skills and facility with composition, and color and design
  • Create value studies that set the mood for each scene, applying an understanding of light source.
  • Demonstrate continuity in visual storytelling through effective camera placement choices

Specialty Skills: 3D Animation

  • Apply the major principles of animation
  • Create pieces that showcase expression and emotion
  • Stage stories through effective camera placement choices

Specialty Skills: Modeling

  • Convincingly model forms in 3-dimensions that demonstrate a thorough understanding of anatomy and sculptural form.
  • Display a range of modeling skill sets including hard surfaces and organic.
  • Create textures that will be applied to the surface of models.
  • Produce industry-standard turnarounds and wireframes

Specialty Skills: Visual Effects

  • Design digital effects that meet the needs of the imagery.
  • Create believable images by combining elements from different sources
  • Compose shots for narrative power.


Academy of Art University offers some of the best training and hands-on experience to help accelerate your animation career. We pride ourselves in doing an exceptional job preparing you to excel in your chosen profession. Our degree programs are designed to equip aspiring animators with a comprehensive toolbox of marketable skills that lead to success in exciting animation and visual effects industry.

2D Animator

A 2D animator is concerned with creating 2D images by either hand drawing each frame or digitally manipulating flat media for games, television, the web, or feature films.

3D Animator

A 3D animator is concerned with the movement in computer graphic imagery including characters, inanimate objects such as robots or cars, or cameras for television, feature films, or games.

3D Rigger

The 3D rigger creates a skeleton for a 3D model so it can move. Characters are rigged before they are animated because so they can be deformed and moved around.

Character Animator

A character animator in traditional, 3D, or stop motion is concerned with the performance on screen. An understanding of timing, movement, of humans and animals, and acting is essential to bringing characters to life.


Modelers digitally build objects in a 3D environment, including cartoon and realistic characters, animals, plants, buildings, and cars. Models are built so that they can be moved, painted, and lit properly.


The producer realizes the director's creative vision by building a strong crew of collaborators. The producer champions creative, maintains the financials and schedule, influences tech innovation, and oversees the administrative process.

Stop Motion Artist

Good with your hands? With frame-by-frame manipulation, a stop motion artist creates a performance using posable puppets, props, and sets. Their work can be seen on television, film, and advertising.

Storyboard Artist

The storyboard artist translates the printed word into cinematic images. They provide the first look at what the final film or video game might look like. Storyboarding is a fast track to directing.

Technical Director: Compositing

A compositor uses digital software to combine separately created elements into one seamless image. They know color, lens effects, film artifacts, atmospheric effects, scale, perspective, parallax, and more.

Technical Director: Dynamics

A dynamics technical director uses particles and fluid simulation to create moving elements such as fire, water, and explosions for combining with live action elements or used in a fully CG project.

Technical Director: Lighting and Rendering

The lighting technical director determines the visual look for a film using light and color, and has a powerful influence on the what the viewer sees and feels. to tell the viewer what to see and how to feel.

Programme Structure

Courses include:
  • Gesture & Quick Sketch for Animators
  • 3D Modeling & Animation (Maya)
  • Traditional Animation
  • History & Techniques of Character Animation
  • Storyboarding for Thesis
  • 3D Character Animation

Key information


  • Full-time
    • 36 months

Start dates & application deadlines


90 alternative credits


On Campus

Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

Other requirements

General requirements

  • College transcripts must show the classes/subjects, grades, credits and number of hours completed for each class
  • Applicants and sponsors must complete the Affidavit of Support Form
  • An art portfolio in your chosen discipline is required with detailed descriptions for all international graduate school applicants
  • An official bank letter (from student. family/parents/sponsor) must show a minimum balance of $42,000 USD or equivalent
  • We do not require TOEFL or IELTS scores and do not have a minimum score requirement
  • Photocopy of your valid passport
  • Photocopy of your 1-20, 1-94, or other visa document
  • If your transcripts are not in English. they must be translated and notarized

Tuition Fee

To alway see correct tuition fees
  • International

    35730 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 1191 USD per credit during 36 months.
  • National

    34110 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 1137 USD per credit during 36 months.

Living costs for San Francisco

2206 - 4119 USD /month
Living costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

Due for update

Updated over a year ago

Check the official programme website for potential updates.

Our partners

Animation and Visual Effects
Academy of Art University


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