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Animation program ranks among top 10% in U.S.

School of Cinematic Arts program ranked 18th by Animation Career Review

Animation students draw in a lab
Animation students at DePaul benefit from opportunities to collaborate and access technology throughout the College of Computing and Digital Media. (Photo by Scott Roberts)
DePaul’s animation program is among the top 10% in the U.S., according to new rankings from Animation Career Review. Within the School of Cinematic Arts, the animation program offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and rose to 18th place from 23rd last year. This is the sixth straight year that DePaul has ranked in the top 25. The ranking cites DePaul’s academic excellence, the depth and breadth of faculty expertise and the success of alumni in the film and game industries. Students also benefit from opportunities to collaborate and access technology throughout the College of Computing and Digital Media.

The ranking places DePaul’s program at number two within the Midwest and among the top 10 Animation MFA programs in the U.S.

Student, alumni animators help vault ranking

“The most satisfying part of teaching is when a student gets their dream job,” says Scott Roberts, associate professor and chair of the animation program. “It’s such a thrill to see a student’s name in the credits of films like ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and shows like ‘BoJack Horseman.’”

DePaul animation graduates are working for Nickelodeon, Blizzard Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, Wargaming and Disney. They have credits on favorites from “SpongeBob SquarePants” to “Encanto.” Animation director and writer Chaz Bottoms graduated from the program in 2017 and is developing “Battu,” an animate​d TV series, for Cartoon Network with Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry.

Student success begins on campus, and many of DePaul animation’s 326 undergraduates and 65 graduate students participate in extracurricular activities. The Animation 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. DeFRAG connects the student gaming community with events and a game lab that brings together animators, game designers, and programmers.

Faculty bring industry experience to the classroom

DePaul has one of the largest animation faculties in the nation with 13 full-time faculty. They hail from major animation and game studios including Disney Feature Animation, “Sesame Street,” Nickelodeon and Calabash Animation, and Vinton Studios and have exhibited internationally at galleries and film festivals.

Roberts says this depth of faculty experience and diverse specializations contributed to the ranking. Faculty teach a wide variety of animation areas, including Organic 3D Modeling, Character Design, Storyboarding, Motion Graphics, Stop Motion Animation, Animated Series Development, Hand-Drawn Character Animation, History of Animation and more.

Faculty in animation often team up to create opportunities for students, including feature-length films that are open to all School of Cinematic Arts students.

“3D films are really complicated and work intensive, so we created a project where anyone can participate,” Roberts says. Animators and other television and film students collaborate, contributing storyboards, character design and more. The first completed film is currently being submitted to festivals, and work has begun on the second film.

Technology, innovation create opportunities

Being on the leading edge of technology also bolsters DePaul’s reputation. The Unreal Academic Partner Program recognizes exemplary universities that integrate Epic Games’ Unreal Engine into their classes and labs. Animators are essential to the creation of games, films and other c​ontent, and DePaul was selected for providing high-quality educational opportunities and innovative facilities. Students have access to the Virtual and Augmented Design Lab, DePaul Originals Game Studio, VR editing suite, and labs that house hundreds of workstations equipped with Unreal Engine.

Animation Career Review also highlights that DePaul students may participate in the L.A. Quarter. The 10-week immersion program allows students the opportunity to apply to intern at major Hollywood studios such as Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Studios, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers and many others, while earning course credit and staying at university housing.

“We are living in the golden age of animation,” Roberts says. “There has never been a time with more animation in films, TV and games. We are constantly looking for ways to innovate and to provide what students want and what’s going to help them down the road.” 

To learn more about DePaul’s animation program, visit​.