Special Effects College: List of Schools and Colleges with Special Effects Degree Programs

Published Oct 27, 2009

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Special effects can be seen in blockbuster films, television dramas or commercials and gaming software. Creators of these special effects hold degrees in visual effects, animation and motion media design. Brigham Young University, University of Southern California and Sam Houston State University all have special effects degree programs.

Special Effects Program Details

Special effects play a large component in the production of film and television. Special effects artists create visual enhancements through digital and animated technologies, such as Adobe Master Collection, Houdini and RenderMan. These visual effects are used when it's too dangerous to use live actors and actresses.

Many visual effects degree programs are taught in digital recording studios and require much hands-on learning from their students. Entry-level employment can be found with a bachelor's degree in special effects. However, senior-level directing positions often require a graduate degree in visual or special effects.

Special Effects Bachelor's Degree Program Details

Special effects artists create visual effects for film and television production. Visual effects producers, technical directors and digital effects animators learn their craft by completing a bachelor's degree program in visual effects, motion media design or animation. Bachelor's degree programs in special effects expose students to digital media and animation concepts and state-of-the-art technologies that make these effects possible.

Students study modeling and animation, drawing, color theory, 2-D and 3-D design and visual effects programming. They may also take courses in special effects cinematography, concept development, compositing and storyboarding. Many bachelor's degree programs in special effects require supervised studio internships that result in the completion of special effects portfolio for students to use in securing employment.

Special Effects Master's Degree Program Details

Visual effects directors, animation directors and special effects studio managers have advanced degrees in visual effects, animation or cinematography. A master's degree program in special effects prepares these technical professionals to not only conceptualize special effects but also to direct the entire production of such a sequence.

Graduate students take courses in visual effects programming, theory and application and studio management. They may also study contemporary art, 3-D techniques and procedures, advanced animation and modeling. Special effects graduate students are required to complete studio field internships, teaching experiences and visual effect theses.

Public and Private Nonprofit Schools with Special Effects Degree Programs

School NameInstitution TypeEnrollmentMailing AddressPhone Number
Brigham Young University4-year, Private, not-for-profit34,244Main Campus, Provo, Utah 84602(801) 422-4636
University of Southern California4-year, Private, not-for-profit33,747University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089(213) 740-2311
Sam Houston State University4-year, Public16,6621806 Ave. J, Huntsville, Texas 77340(936) 294-1111
Rochester Institute of Technology4-year, Private, not-for-profit15,0551 Lomb Memorial Dr., Rochester, New York 14623-5603(585) 475-2411
East Tennessee State University4-year, Public13,646807 University Parkway, Johnson City, Tennessee 37614-0000(423) 439-1000
Ferris State University4-year, Public13,5321201 S. State St., Big Rapids, Michigan 49307-2251(231) 591-2000
University of Idaho4-year, Public11,791875 Perimeter Dr., Moscow, Idaho 83844-2282(888) 884-3246
American University4-year, Private, not-for-profit11,6844400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20016-8001(202) 885-1000
Southern Methodist University4-year, Private, not-for-profit10,9656425 Boaz St., Dallas, Texas 75275-0221(214) 768-2000
Carnegie Mellon University4-year, Private, not-for-profit10,8755000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213-3890(412) 268-2000

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