Even though earning a bachelor’s degree in animation is the path many animators take to get their careers started, there is clear value to earning an associate’s in animation online or on-campus instead. Students in this type of program develop their entry-level animation skills in image editing and modeling, in addition to developing a portfolio. Digital media, elements of design, color theory, image editing, video game development, web & computer animation, and other art courses make up the typical course load for this major.
Students are also often required to complete an internship and create portfolios of their work. Following graduation, many animators work as freelance multimedia artists. Other career options include work in the fields of digital animation, graphic illustration, advertising, television and film production, video game production and publishing.
Our list of the top ten affordable associate’s degrees in animation is taken from a list of over 70 programs that cost less than $8,000 per year (based on tuition reported to collegenavigator.gov). We then ranked the schools according to the quality of the program (based on graduation rate and student teacher ratio reported on collegenavigator.gov).
The top 10 associate’s degree programs in animation are:
- Western Piedmont Community College
- De Anza College
- Piedmont Community College
- Shoreline Community College
- Miami Dade College
- Niagara County Community College
- Southeastern Community College
- Mt. San Antonio College
- Cañada College
- Diablo Valley College
Reviewing the Cheapest Associate’s in Animation Programs 2021
10. Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill, California
Online Associate’s in Animation
Diablo Valley College offers a variety of affordable Associate in Arts degrees, including one in Animation and Game Design. This 60 credit associate’s in animation online program prepares students for careers as web designers, animators, or computer game designers. Students are provided with a strong foundation in the fundamental aspects of animation, and will learn the production process and workflow of animation projects. Students have the option to attend their classes online or in person, during the day or during evening hours.
9. Cañada College
Redwood City, California
Associate in Arts in 3D Animation and Video Game Art
Associate in Arts in Digital Art and Animation
Cañada College offers two 60 credit, affordable animation associate’s degrees. The AA in 3D Animation and Video Game Art places equal emphasis on the artistic and the technical sides of 3D modeling and animation, while guiding students through the entire process from storyboarding and conceptualization to the final product delivery. The AA in Digital Art and Animation uses project-based courses to help develop the needed principles of visual communication, leading to the construction of either an electronic or print portfolio.
8. Mt. San Antonio College
Associate of Science in Animation
The Associate of Science program in animation at Mt. San Antonio College offers a balanced blend of art and technology based skills essential for today’s careers. This affordable 60-65 credit associate’s in animation program is driven by the current industry needs and standards. Students will graduate fully prepared for employment as a junior animator, character designer, storyboard artist, 3D modeler or game designer.
7. Southeastern Community College
West Burlington, Iowa
Associate of Applied Science in Animation for Television, Film and New Media
Southeastern Community College offers a 64-65 credit AAS degree in animation that uses state-of-the-art technology in SCC’s own animation lab. The broad-based instructional associate’s in animation program features training in various industry specific software applications, such as Toon Boom Harmony, Photoshop, Blender, Maya, 3DS Max, ZBrush, Substance Painter, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. The curriculum covers all of the necessary skills of animation, including production, modeling, texturing, stop motion, and demo reels.
6. Niagara County Community College
Sanborn, New York
Associate in Science in Animation
Niagara County Community College’s AA in Animation program is a 64-credit, 4-semester program that is designed as a transfer program. The school aims to place emphasis on creative avenues for problem-solving skills, leadership, personal expression, and solid foundational animation and art skills. Students will gain experience in scriptwriting, storyboarding, character design, and motion graphics, as well as 2-D and 3-D design.
5. Miami Dade College
Associate in Arts in Computer Arts Animation
Miami Dade College offers an affordable AA in Computer Arts Animation designed primarily for those who wish to transfer to a 4-year program. During the course of the 60-credit, two-year program, students will learn to use state-of-the-art 3-D animation software that meets the current industry standards. Program areas include drawing, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, computer animation, and streaming media content.
4. Shoreline Community College
Associate of Applied Arts and Science in Animation/Video for Multimedia
The AAS program in animation at Shoreline Community College offers a flexible, affordable program option for those looking to earn their associate’s in animation. The 115-credit program has 4 yearly entry points, and offers an exciting curriculum in which the students will acquire the technical and creative storytelling skills to produce 2D and 3D visual content using industry-standard multimedia tools. Additionally, the 2-year plus degree articulates with short-term, stackable certificates for additional skill sets.
3. Piedmont Community College
Roxboro, North Carolina
Associate in Applied Science in Digital Effects and Animation Technology
At Piedmont Community College, students can earn an affordable associate’s in animation. Their 66-credit program combines hands-on training with computer art and animation programs, such as Autodesk Maya and Adobe Creative Suite. Students who complete the two-year program will graduate with a proficiency in team production experience, design and animation principles, portfolio preparation, and recognition of the best practices and industry standards.
2. De Anza College
Associate in Arts in Film/TV Animation
De Anza College offers an affordable, exciting animation associate’s degree. The 90-credit curriculum fully prepares the graduates for work in the film, TV, game or internet animation industries. Students in the program will learn about profressional pre-production and production animation methods, which includes storyboard design, character design, 2-D hand drawing and digital animation, and 3-D stop motion and animation. Before graduation, students will create and present an entire animation project, from conception to completion.
1. Western Piedmont Community College
Morganton, North Carolina
Associate in Applied Science in Digital Effects and Animation Technology
Western Piedmont Community College offers the best affordable associate’s degree in animation. The two-year program combines coursework and laboratory experiences and uses a variety of industry related computer tools. The 66-credit curriculum is designed to provide students with all of the necessary training to become competent in creating, manipulating and animating digital images. Upon completion, students are prepared for either immediate job entry or transfer to a 4 year degree program.