Grow Your Skills

Our 36-credit Master of Arts degree in Animation offers three concentrations (3D Character Animation, Visual Effects, Video Games) that center around gaining hands-on skills in the chosen concentration. This major is designed for students who possess an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, college, or art school who are looking to further sharpen their skills and increase their understanding of the discipline. It accepts recent undergraduates, master’s level transfer students, and working professionals who want to grow their animation skills.

All of the courses in this program are offered in a hybrid format, which allows students to decide if they would like to attend classes in-residence, remotely online, or a combination of the two. If you live locally, some weeks you may want to be in our state-of-the-art Animation Lab with the Professor while other weeks you may opt to join remotely to work around personal or family obligations. Whether you live near or across the globe, you can be in our Animation Master’s program and attend your classes in whichever way works best for you.


New enrollees can apply to begin in the Fall or Spring semester. Full-time students can complete this program in 1.5-2 years. Part-time students may take courses over multiple years until the required 36 credits are completed.


F-1 visa holders must attend all courses in-residence on a full-time basis.

Upon entry, students select one of these concentrations to be their area of focus.

3D Character Animation Concentration

In this concentration, students give personality and emotion to digital 3D characters. Through the use of software techniques and acute observation skills, they show their ability to portray convincing and engaging performances in their animated characters and creatures.

Required Courses (18 Credits)

Major Electives (18 Credits)

6 ANIM 5000 or Higher Level Courses

Visual Effects Concentration

In this concentration, students animate illusions and tricks of the eye to simulate imagined events in stories and computer-generated environments. Along with enhancing and manipulating digital imagery created in a variety of 3D and 2D software programs, they also learn to integrate and composite believable components and visual effects into live-action footage.

Required Courses (18 Credits)

Major Electives (18 Credits)

6 ANIM 5000 or Higher Level Courses

Video Games Concentration

In this concentration, students design and create animations that are intended to be utilized in video games and interactive media. They learn how to optimize the visual data, bearing in mind the limitations of the platform that will be delivering it, in that the device will be dynamically rendering the incorporated assets in real-time.

Required Courses (18 Credits)

Major Electives (18 Credits)

6 ANIM 5000 or Higher Level Courses

Other Animation Electives

MA in Animation degree applicants must digitally submit a portfolio of 10-15 creative pieces as part of the application process. Acceptance is based on the quality of the work as well as meeting all of the other academic admission requirements of the university. The review committee is looking for work that is original in concept and content and will evaluate the portfolios to determine if the applicant qualifies to enter the program based on their artistic skills. If the submitted work infringes on copyright laws or is copied from other sources the applicant will be denied admission.

Contact Information
Derek G. Larson
Request login information to our cloud to upload your portfolio.

Requirements for Graduate Admissions

No Standardized Testing is Required

Completed FDU graduate admissions application

Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts from all colleges and universities attended

Two letters of recommendation (from a professor, employer, or professional in the field familiar with the student’s strengths and abilities)

Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a minimum cumulative grade point ratio (CGPR) of 2.70 (applicants with a CGPR of less than 2.70 may be admitted on probation)

Digital portfolio

Personal statement


Course Descriptions

  • ANIM5100 Students investigate and analyze the history of special effects and techniques while applying the understanding to modern day visual effects and animation. Starting within-camera methods, this course covers topics that include traditional stop motion, camera motion control, matte paintings, models and miniatures. Students also explore modern computer generated visual effects, animation composting and production techniques.

  • ANIM5200 With the earliest video game surfacing in the 1950's, when they were primarily created as experimental projects at colleges and in tangent with big company research , this course teaches how games have developed over the years. Students learn how video gaming gained conventional popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, when arcade games, gaming consoles and home computer games became available to the general public . In this course students discover how video gaming evolved to become a widespread form of entertainment and a slice of contemporary culture throughout the world.

  • ANIM5300 This course teaches how to write animated stories that vividly create and intense experience for the reader through plot, structure, conflict, crisis points and climax. Students then convey those stories, by showing rather than telling, through producing sketched storyboards and pre-visualization animatics. They brainstorm together by arranging and rearranging the sketches in order to evoke a stronger narrative based on their classmates input and feedback. Through this process, students consider modifications in their storylines as well as additional scenarios that may contribute to the enhancement of their ideas. Writing biography profiles that bring the story's characters to life is also covered in this course.

  • ANIM5400 Character Design begins during the initial stages of the development of animated films and video games and plays a critical role in the creation and success of those pieces. In order to bring their characters to life, students in this class learn the process of designing imaginative original characters by sketching and assembling model sheets. These documents are routinely used in the industry to aid in standardizing the look, postures, and personality of an animated character.

  • ANIM5500 2D animation generates movement in a two-dimensional imaginative space. Students in this course learn both the creative and technological skills necessary for animating characters and backgrounds in digital two-dimensional worlds. Creating bitmap and vector graphics using software programs are also covered in this course.

  • ANIM5600 When a 3D layer is created in After Effects, it gains additional properties such as z-depth, material options, light, shadow and cameras. Students in this class expand their 3D skills to create the types of compelling animations that people are accustomed to seeing. They learn to transform 3D layers relative to the composition and customize the space to push the visuals to a higher level. Adding effects and masks to 3D layers, compositing 3D layers with 2D layers, and creating and animating cameras and lights are also covered in this course.

  • ANIM5700 Dynamic Effects & Particle Systems in After Effects: A particle system is a technique in game physics, motion graphics, and computer animation that uses a large amount of tiny graphics to mimic certain kind of visually random events. These types of animations are very difficult to replicate with the usual rendering methods. Students in this class focus on pushing the envelope in creating realistic looking particle systems including fire, explosions, smoke, sparks, falling objects, clouds, fog, snow, rain, dust, stars and galaxies, as well as imaginary graphic effects such as glowing trails and magic spells.

  • ANIM5750 Characters are an integral part of many film and video game projects. In this course students learn to create segmented and seamless 3D characters based on concept art of their own unique characters using a variety of polygonal modeling techniques. Emphasis on creating clean optimized meshes is taught in this course.

  • ANIM5800 Compositing is the joining of visual elements from separate sources into a single image, usually to give an illusion that all those elements are parts of the same environment. This course teaches how to replace parts of an image with other graphics in a convincing, seamless way so as to appear as if they are part of the original. Students learn to combine digital backgrounds with live-action sets and objects, as well as adding elements shot in small spaces to large virtual environments in order to enhance the reality of the visuals.

  • ANIM5850 This course expands on the techniques learned in the Digital 2D Animation course. The emphasis is on a more in-depth use of the vector animation toolset and the motion editor to produce engaging animations. Students learn attention to detail and study the subtleties necessary in creating polished, high-quality animated pieces.

  • ANIM5900 Scripts automate monotonous tasks and perform complex calculations while expressions determine that a property equals something. This course teaches how to use expressions to build connections between layer properties and to dynamically animate layers. Students also learn to write scripts to assist in completing a series of commands and tell the software to perform a sequence of actions.

  • ANIM6100 This class teaches digital sculpting by learning how to create realistic 3D characters using industry standard applications. The focus is on anatomy, form and proportion while learning how to add a high level of detail to polygonal meshes utilizing the software tools. Texture painting is also taught through a variety of comprehensive demonstrations, exercises and assignments.

  • ANIM6150 Textures give the appearance of compound surfaces that reflect lighting as well as displaying the attributes and detail found in the materials, coloring and shading. In this class, students learn about the various types of textures and finishes that can be applied to their 3D characters. They create custom texture maps and also learn how to control how they are applied to the surface of their character models using various methods such as the unwrapping and composite mapping techniques.

  • ANIM6300 Study 3D character animation techniques applied to seamless 3D characters as well as skinning and facial morphing. The focus is on the details of secondary motion, follow through and asymmetrical poses to emulate realistic body motion and facial expression.

  • ANIM6350 Students learn to create and control various types of 3D particle systems to be able to implement special effects such as fire, explosions, fluids, dust, bubbles, disintegration, physics, collisions, etc. into their 3D scenes and animations.

  • ANIM6400 A video game animator's job is to portray the movements and behaviors that happen in the game. This course teaches how to animate game behaviors, sequences and cut scenes in an effective way to maximize the use of game engine's technology within the limitations of that particular platform. Students learn how it may be necessary to limit the amount of motion frames and the number of graphics displayed on the screen simultaneously. Because game animation is often a combination of a number of different kinds of motions, the students in this class learn to build and assemble libraries of reusable animations.

  • ANIM6600 Students integrate their ideas using a cutting edge powerful rendering engine. This course emphasizes bringing character and objects to life inside of a gaming environment. Students use the tools provided to create interactive graphic content while focusing reducing the time needed to create visually stunning games. Assembling scenes containing original custom visuals, audio and realistic action that performs well on any platform are also covered in this course.

  • ANIM6700 Fluid simulation is a computer animation technique used to produce lifelike animations of liquids such as water and sludge. These kinds of simulations span in difficulty from enormously time-consuming high-end animations for film to real-time particle systems used in modern games. This course covers creating various types of fluid effects in both 3D space as well as in the 2D post.

  • ANIM6805 Motion tracking is a cinematic practice of adding graphic elements to film footage with accurate size, location, and movement in relation to the photographed elements in the scene. This course teaches how to track the movement of a camera through live-action shots so that identical computer-generated camera moves can be duplicated using animation software. Students also learn how to composite animated elements into live-action shots so they appear perfectly matched in perspective in order to look natural and seamless.

  • ANIM6900 This course teaches the game creation process of combining 2D digital art and audio with gameplay, and instills how good planning plays an important role in video game production. Students learn to understand the video game production pipeline from the planning stage and level design, to creating sprites and graphic and audio assets, to assembling a prototype of a game.

  • ANIM7000 This course continues to develop the artistic and technical skills necessary to become a successful character animator by focusing the critical principles of animation like weight, overlapping motion, and subtleties through the use of animation layering, and muscle simulation. Students also learn how to better show feelings of happiness, desolation and distress by articulating the personality and emotion of their animated characters to the audience. This class builds on the character rigging and animation skills learned in the previous character animation course.

  • ANIM7100 3D Character Animation- Weight, Overlap and Follow through: Follow through and overlapping are techniques that help to produce more realistic movement that looks as if the character imitates the law of physics. The achievement of believable motion and how the action follows through is frequently more necessary than the move itself to making an animation appear more convincing. In this course students analyze the subtleties of motion and learn to understand how if one body part stops other parts may overlap and follow through the leading motion, gradually coming to rest. They also learn to add weight, mass and moving holds to add life to breathing characters.

  • ANIM7200 Emotion and personality are the most challenging parts of character animation, because it is essential that it portray subtlety and scope in what is being visually communicated to the audience. In this class, students learn the skills, procedures and thought processes for animating expressive faces coordinated with body language. Through the use of a variety of techniques, the focus is on evoking thought, enthusiasm and emotion in their characters actions.

  • ANIM7250 Lip-syncing is the art of making an animated character's mouth move in unison with a prerecorded track of dialogue. To make a character appear to speak involves determining the timings of the speech as well as the actual animating of the mouth to match the dialogue track. This course teaches how to make a character give the impression of speaking by use of manual timing as well as learning to use lip-syncing software.

  • ANIM7300 From feature films to broadcast TV, fur is now commonly seen in animation the world over. In this course students learn how to apply fur and hair to their 3D characters and experiment with the software features to give it the qualities (such as styling, flyaway, clumping, and kinking) that they envision. Applying dynamics, gravity, collision detection and external forces (such as wind) to the hair are also covered in this course.

  • ANIM7400 In computer animation, cloth simulation refers to the production of soft body that animate via flexible dynamics. As opposed to rigid body animation, the shape of soft body objects change and flex as they move. By learning specialized rendering properties that replicate real-world physics, students apply visually realistic clothing properties to their 3D characters. The focus is to enhance the realism of animated characters wearing flowing apparel.

  • ANIM7425 This course teaches the process of recording human movement, captured by an array of sensors, which are placed on the body in a variety of combinations. Students learn to use software that records the actions of live actors and then map that motion data to 3D character models so that it performs the same movements as the actor. Whether animating for film or games, the techniques learned in this class allow for increased motion testing because of the ability to quickly animate digital 3D characters.

  • ANIM7500 This course expands upon the techniques learned in the Game Creation courses. Students learn to add their own tools and to enhance performance while increasing graphic quality. This course also covers how to use the high-end customizable game engine tools to quickly export visually exciting, fully produced games.

  • ANIM7525 Virtual Reality is the use of computer technology to create simulated environments where users are immersed in and able to interact with 3D worlds. In this course students learn to simulate a user's physical presence with imaginary environments in a way that allows them to interact with it through the use of state -of-the-art VR headsets. The goal is to simulate breathtaking sensory experiences by creating 3D environments and animations, as well as incorporating audio and precise motion tracking that transports users into worlds that are beyond the imagination.

  • ANIM7550 Students work at a company or organization for between 5 and 20 hours per week, filling an animation, interactive media or video game role. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

  • ANIM7600 In the industry, video games are primarily produced by a team of people. The students in this class work in groups to design and create their own video games. The type of games and the role that each person fills is determined by the group with the oversight of the professor.

  • ANIM7700 Members of the faculty engage in research projects with selected student with the goal of professional publication or presentation.

  • ANIM7775 Students work at a company or organization for between 5 and 20 hours per week, filling an animation, interactive media or video game role. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

  • ANIM7805 Members of the faculty engage in research projects with selected students with the goal of professional publication or presentation.

  • ANIM7900 This is the capstone course to be taken in the final semester prior to graduating the program. Students present the animation work that they produced in all of their animation courses in the program to the class and discuss their professional interests and goals. Undergoing a series of follow-up critiques from their classmates, students learn to assemble and revise polished professional demo reels highlighting the strongest segments of each of their projects, focused on meeting their career goals. Based on additional critical feedback sessions, students design personalized logos that will be used to market themselves as professional animators. Personalized business cards, resumes, letters of introduction and follow up letters are then written and designed, emulating the persona of their final logo. In order to present their demo reel and promote their animation skills to prospective employers, students learn how to plan (content, navigation, graphic design) and develop visually and technically impressive portfolio websites, exhibiting their own individual artistic style by following through with the branding established in the final logo design. How to implement and design social media presences and utilize other online avenue to market their skills and find work is also covered in this course.