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Department of Art & Design

Animation & Illustration

Student drawing caricatures
Department of Art & Design

Animation & Illustration

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Undergraduate

125 credits

required for program

Minor Available

125 credits

125 credits

required for program

Minor Available

Explore your creative passion for design and storytelling while working with artistic Christian faculty. The animation and illustration program equips you with a breadth of knowledge in computer animation, illustration, visual arts, design, 3D multimedia, effective communication, and storytelling.

Why study animation and illustration at Northwestern?

We have a design lab with professional grade tools like Unreal Engine, Maya, Mudbox, and Motionbuilder as well as Adobe After Effects, Flash, Illustrator, Premiere, and Photoshop. Our animation program was created with the help of experts from PIXAR and other major film professionals.

You will be able to demonstrate knowledge of aesthetic concepts, use visual and audio technology to create animated designs, and develop yourself as a creative professional.

With campus so close to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, students can take advantage of opportunities in Minnesota’s thriving art and business industries. Students also get to take part in field trips to major art and design centers, like the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Swedish Institute to view others’ work and be inspired.

If you have a passion for art and design, enjoy working with technology, and want the flexibility to work in different industries, this might be the right degree for you.

What will I learn?

You will develop critical thinking skills, learn to analyze, and become focused on technical production.

I have one student that’s working with Nickelodeon, another one that’s working with DreamWorks; there’s quite a bit out there. My students are pretty creative, so they have a way of getting into the industry.
Iyare Oronsaye
Assistant Professor of Art & Design

Careers in animation & illustration

There are a variety of career and academic pathways that begin with a degree in animation and illustration.

What types of work are related to this degree?

  • Digital animation or graphics
  • Multimedia presentation and development
  • Film titles or design
  • Television titling or graphics
  • Video game animation or titling
  • Computer graphics
  • Advertising or marketing presentation graphics
  • Motion graphics or animation
  • Website design and development
  • Interactive media development
  • Self-employed, contract, freelance work

Who employs people with this degree?

  • TV and cable companies
  • Online/print publishers of all types
  • Federal, state, & local governments
  • Businesses & trade associations
  • Colleges, universities & schools
  • Non-profit & special interest groups
  • Public relations & advertising firms
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Commercial agencies
  • Internet and e-commerce sites
  • Digital Media production companies
  • Any company that maintains a sophisticated website or creates digital media
View Career Guide

of Northwestern’s Art and Design graduates felt professionally prepared by their education


of seniors view faculty as available and accessible


of seniors would advise a friend to attend UNW

Preparing for a Career

College graduation rates continue to increase each year making competition for jobs even greater. Set yourself apart from the crowd with the following strategies for getting started, networking, and gaining experience.

Strategies for success:

  • Develop excellent computer skills in a variety of platforms and design software. You will need to be updating your skills for your entire career.
  • Joining a professional association and reading trade publications is crucial.
  • Gain relevant experience through part-time jobs and internships. Participate in contests locally and nationally.
  • Volunteer to create websites or other interactive media for a student or local community organization.
  • To work in this industry, consider relocating to where the jobs are.
  • Stay current with media and cultural trends.
  • Be prepared to start entry-level and work your way up the career ladder. Take a first job based on the industry and type of design you desire to work with, because work from your first job will comprise your professional portfolio.

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