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Animation is a medium that moves, inspires, entertains and educates audiences. The CIA Animation department teaches students how to produce professional content to support their vision, with an emphasis on storytelling.

Courses include 2D Animation, 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Storyboarding & Sequential Art, Acting, Human and Animal Anatomy and many more. Students are introduced to many different skill-based classes early in the major. They spend time studying the human figure, animal anatomy, 3D modeling, sculpting and 3D animation, while mastering traditional 2D animation principles.

During their sophomore year students learn to design characters, study color, storyboarding and film analysis. There are also field trips to the zoo and natural history museum for research and inspiration.

In their junior year, students identify an area of focus and work on independent and collaborative projects. They learn the importance of communication, production management and how to create a shared vision. The wide range of classes allows students to focus on an area of expertise while developing a well-rounded background in all areas of animation. In addition, students can use their open electives to study outside of the program and collaborate with other departments based on their interests.

In their senior year, students apply the skills they have learned to a thesis project. The projects can be done either independently or through collaboration in their choice of animated media.

All students in the Animation major experience working with a client, a community partner, or intern with a company before graduation.

Students gain real-world experience in the classroom and are mentored by veteran industry professionals. Our faculty has worked for companies such as Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Animation, Dreamworks, Illumination, American Greetings, Warner Bros, Hasbro and many others. Combined, the department professors have over 20 feature film credits, 200 TV episodes, 100 TV series, 300 digital productions and expertise in nearly every aspect of animated production. There is always someone available that can answer student questions.

Our alumni work on feature films, TV series and games, as well as the sports, automotive, medical, music and communication industries. If there is a screen or projection, there is an opportunity for animators to bring their ideas to life.

Real-world experience for real-world careers

What may best set CIA apart from other colleges of art and design is our commitment to preparing students for a career path through real-world experiences. You'll learn by working on real-world projects with external partners or clients, or in the public sphere—all before graduation.

These opportunities allow you to put your classroom and studio knowledge to work in a professional setting while still being guided by faculty. You’ll learn what it takes to meet clients’ expectations, and you will emerge with confidence that will serve you as you launch your career.

What can I do with a degree in Animation?

  • Game Designer
  • 3D Character Animator
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Animator
  • Independent Filmmaker


Cutting-Edge Animation

Having the latest technology is essential as an Animation student. At the Cleveland Institute of Art, you will work in our state-of-the-art facility that consists of computer labs with the latest industry standard software and hardware. You also will have access to the newest equipment for digital video, lighting, and sound as well as a motion-capture system, a green-screen Chroma Key studio, two lighting and shooting areas, a sound recording studio, a render farm, drawing tablets, cintiqs and a screening theatre.

CIA also houses the fabrication studios, a shared space, staffed and supervised by highly qualified technical specialists. Students from all courses of study are encouraged to use this space and do hands-on material studies. This communal environment gives students optimal means of making for their individual exploration and group projects.