Colleges & Campus

Animation Career Review Recognizes UCF’s Visual Arts, Design Programs Among Best in Nation

Through persistent efforts toward excellence and innovation, UCF is recognized for preparing students pursuing studies in art programs to be successful visual artists in the billion-dollar animation industry.

Animation Career Review, which serves as a comprehensive database of universities and college art programs throughout the nation, has recognized the successes of several of the School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD)’s emerging media BFA and MFA programs, including animation and graphic design as well as the studio art BFA and B.A. area of illustration, ranking them among the best of the nation’s public art schools. SVAD is part of UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities.

Animation Career Review’s 2023 Rankings


  • No. 3 – Top 10 School Programs in Florida for Animation
  • No. 4 – Top 40 Public Animation Schools and Colleges in the U.S. — placing UCF in the top 4%
  • No. 4 – Top 25 Schools and Colleges in the South
  • No. 5 – Top 10 MS/MA Program in the U.S — the only school in Florida to make the list
  • No. 13 – Top 25 MFA Program in the U.S — the only school in Florida to make the list
  • No. 19 – Top 50 Animation BFA Program in the U.S
  • No. 23 – Top 50 Schools and Colleges in the U.S.— placing UCF in the top 15%

Graphic Design:

  • No. 4 – Top 10 Schools in Florida
  • No. 8 – Top 25 Schools in the South — two spots higher than last year and placing UCF in the top 6%
  • No. 26 – Top 50 Schools and Colleges in the U.S. — placing UCF in the top 9%


  • No. 2 – Top Schools and Colleges in Florida
  • No. 3 – Top 10 Schools and Colleges in the South
  • No. 6 – Top Public Schools and Colleges in the U.S. — one spot higher than last year and placing UCF in the top 10%
  • No. 30 – Top Schools and Colleges in the U.S. — placing UCF in the top 25%

“It is great to see the continued external recognition of our high-caliber programs in animation, graphic design and digital illustration,” says Rudy McDaniel, SVAD director. “The top rankings of our animation and design programs speak to the excellent instruction and student success in our digital programs, as well as the outstanding foundations our students learn in design and drawing.”

These rankings reflect the combined efforts of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Animation Career Review base their rankings on academic reputation, employment data, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the programs, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, graduation rates and retention rates.

Animators in the U.S. are estimated to make average annual salary of $111,130, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. UCF graduates have gone on to work at top entertainment companies like Disney Pixar, Dreamworks, Electronic Arts, Laika and Universal Orlando.

Students of the animation tracks prove to be in demand even before graduation, as some have been actively hired while still attending UCF. Most recently, Lyn Oquendo ’23 a career at Warner Bros. Animation during their final semester. Some graduates have worked on award-winning productions — such as Theresa Falcone ’14 and Christopher Sanchez ’14 who worked on Soul and Smallfoot together. Falcone has also worked on Toy Story 4.

Other accomplished graduates include:

  • Caleb Hecht ’11, lighting TD for Weta X and who has worked on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
  • Tal Minks ’18 ’22, lead animator for Steamroller Animation and who worked on Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Jessica Minoso ’15, render QC for Lightstorm Entertainment and who worked on Avatar: The Way of Water and Blizzard Games’ Heroes of the Storm
  • Paula Navarro ’21, production coordinator for Adult Swim working on Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm and Bird Girl

“What makes SVAD so unique is that we are coupling world class studio art with cutting edge industry practice. These factors combined with the accessibility and affordability of Florida’s State University system make SVAD a top choice for animation in comparison with more expensive private schools,” says Associate Professor of Emerging Media Matt Dombrowski ’05 ’08MFA. “Our data for these rankings is a testament to our amazing faculty members’ connections with our vast alumni network. SVAD’s animation tracks have collectively showcased their student work in over 700 film festivals, winning international recognition by earning more than 150 awards.”

Talented faculty with industry insight are crucial to building and maintaining the reputation of UCF’s arts programs as high-ranking units with a focus on the creative pursuits and education of students.

“Faculty here at UCF are highly invested in the success of their students dedicating many hours outside the classroom refining the quality of the program and mentoring individual students,” says Lecturer and Graduate Coordinator Jo Anne Adams.

To learn more about the UCF School of Visual Arts and Design’s offerings, visit

Myshala Liddick
Tags: Academic Excellence College of Arts and Humanities rankings School of Visual Arts and Design

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