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Below are several frequently asked questions about BYU's Center for Animation.

Topics covered here include general admission to BYU, applying to the animation program as a student, how and when to apply, career opportunities upon graduation, scholarships, and advisement. Click on any given question to learn more.

If you have a question that is not covered on this page, please contact us here or call (801) 422-2819 to reach the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communication department.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Admission information and applications are available here. You will need the code for the animation major. The pre-major code is 488001.
  • You do not need to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be accepted into BYU or into the BYU Animation Program. However, if you are non-LDS, you will still be required to live the BYU Honor Code and complete the University General Education requirements which include various math, English, history, and religion courses (see Course Map). Many non-LDS students have been a part of the Animation Program in the past and have made great contributions to the program and to the industry.
  • The animation major covers everything from traditional cell animation to 3-D animation and compositing. Once you are accepted into the major you will meet with your assigned faculty mentor to plan and approve your electives. Built into the curriculum are recommended 2-D and 3-D emphasis recommendations, but you may take any electives reviewed and approved by your faculty mentor.
  • There are many differences between the BYU Animation experience and that of top art schools. BYU Animation provides a very artistic and technical set of skills. Art Schools are typically very expensive; BYU is extremely inexpensive (around 10x less), especially for a private institution. Although, the main difference is our collaboration-based Student Senior Film which wins many awards. Every year, students have the opportunity to work on a production-like senior film or game, while many Art Schools have individual thesis films.
  • We have found by comparison, and this is not true of all schools, but that at BYU we have far greater technology resources and access to these resources than almost any school in the world. We are currently running licenses of Maya/Houdini/Zbrush/Adobe software on all Talmage lab computers, multiple licenses of Pixar’s Renderman for rendering, thousands of processors of computer rendering ability both on and off the super computer, tens of editing stations, tens of compositing stations, high-end video cameras including HD cameras, film cameras, motion capture, a motion picture studio with two sound stages, three pencil test stations and multiple licenses of ToonBoom Harmony and TV Paint as our traditional animation software.
  • The application process and how we evaluate value is as follows: 5-10 figure drawings counts (40%), Sketchbook counts (15%), Traditional animation sample counts (15%), 3D Models (2 to 5 of them) (30%). We are looking for solid drawing and animating skills. Although many students want to focus on computer animation we believe that all types of animation have their foundation in solid drawing and traditional animation. The type of figure drawing we are looking for is precise figure drawing from an illustrator’s perspective. Precise observational drawing that shows the proper shapes, proportions and use of line. We are not as concerned about tightly rendered drawings (highly shaded) as we are looking for a student who knows how to use and control line. Classic Illustration teachers such as Andrew Loomis or Bridgeman are good sources of study. Sketchbooks -We love to see students who are studying and drawing from life. Students can grow greatly by carrying a sketchbook with them and practice drawing as much and as often as they can. Drawing at the mall, in the library, at the zoo or in any location that allows you to observe life is a great way to develop your skills. Animation – a traditional animation sample that shows a firm understanding and use of some of the basic principles of animation. This can be developed and created in our VAANM 160 Intro to Animation class.
  • This can change from year to year. We average about 60-75 applicants a year and have traditionally accepted 20-25 students.
  • The BYU Academic Advisement website says the following: “...Students must select and declare a major by the time they have 60 earned BYU credit hours (excluding language exam credits). Once a student has 75 earned BYU credit hours (excluding language exam credits), they will not be allowed to change their major, unless special permission is granted.” This means that you will only be able to apply twice unless you receive specific request from the faculty to re-apply. We strongly recommend that you have a backup plan in mind in case you are not accepted either of those two times. If you have questions, call the Advisement Center for the College of Fine Arts and Communications at 801-422-3777, or email them at You may also visit them in person at D-444 HFAC or visit their website at
  • Ultimately, this depends on you. What you choose to go into does not have to be limited by what you major in, and all knowledge and skills you gain while attending college can be helpful to you no matter what discipline you want to end up in. However, many of our students tend to gravitate toward Illustration, Industrial Design, Computer Science, Film, Graphic Design, or Photography. We recommend meeting with an academic advisor to talk through your options and determine which one would be the best for your ultimate career goals.
  • This really is a personal decision and depends on your mission departure/arrival dates. Because you can apply winter semester of your freshman year, you are welcome to apply before you leave. This means that you would not have to worry about putting together your application/portfolio while on your mission.
  • Only transfer students may apply before taking the pre-requisite courses. If you are accepted you will still need to complete these courses or have transfer credit approved by the instructors of CSAnm 150, DESAN 131 and DESAN 160.
  • The curriculum is designed so students apply for the major at the end of their freshman year. There are no advantages to being accepted as an incoming freshman, but there are disadvantages. The Illustration and Industrial Design programs require students to submit portfolios before being admitted into any freshman art/design class because of the sheer number of students interested and the limitation of resources. This creates several problems. The main one is the fact that many students do not know about the application until it's too late, then they have to wait a year to apply which means 5 years in school. Another problem with the incoming freshman application process is that not all students have good opportunities for art in high school. By applying after the first year all applicants have had the same opportunities for coursework at BYU. When we created the new animation major, we felt strongly that we shouldn't shut out any students until they had an opportunity. Hence, we have created open enrollment in some pre-requisite classes. After taking these three classes, students submit an application/portfolio for admittance into the animation major. The major can be completed in 3 years.
  • Being accepted into the Industrial Design program does not accept you into Animation any more than being accepted into any other major on campus. You must apply for the animation major following the application/portfolio guideline for the animation major. The two majors require different application materials that are reviewed by separate judging committees. The two majors have an impact on different resources (faculty, equipment, and facilities). The animation is a limited enrollment program and student numbers need to be regulated.
  • Please see the CFAC Advisement Center for General Education course transfer (D-444 HFAC, 801-422-3777, Unfortunately we can not pre-approve any major course transfers. The only way to have a transfer course accepted for your major is to complete a "Transfer Equivalency for BYU Major Requirements" form available from the CFAC Advisement Center. This requires that you meet with the instructor of the equivalent course here at BYU. The instructor will ask to see a syllabus and course assignments. The instructor makes the final decision on approving transfer credit for the major. This procedure must be completed for each major course you would like to transfer. Again we can not pre-approve course work, but we do recommend that you complete drawing courses specifically figure drawing courses and any video/film classes available to you.
  • Pre-major advisement is handled by Randa Alvord in the CFAC Advisement Center or by animation faculty . General Education advisement can be obtained from the College of Fine Arts & Communication Advisement Center D-444 HFAC, 801-422-3777, Once accepted into the animation major you will be assigned a faculty advisor/mentor. Your faculty advisor will approve all your major electives. Additionally, Julee Braithwaite ( in the CFAC Advisement Center will be your academic advisor and will track your progress towards graduation. After you have been accepted into the animation program she will keep a file on you. This file will include your general education, and major requirements, waivers and substitutions and other signed documents by your faculty advisor. When you are ready to graduate, Julee will assist you in applying for graduation and will verify that you have completed all requirements for graduation.
  • We typically reserve what scholarship money we have for those who are already in the program, however there are instances when scholarships are given to those not yet accepted to the program. To learn more about the Talent Award and other scholarships, click here.
  • We make a variety of films and games in our program. The films break down into two main categories. Faculty sponsored projects and the senior film. Faculty sponsored projects are usually those that exist as mentored experience where the main focus is on training the student in the studio environment. The “Senior Film” is the BYU Animation Programs yearly group project that is pitched by anyone at BYU and voted on by the up-coming seniors in the animation program and the animation faculty. The Senior Film trains students in the creation of an animated film as well as in the collaborative work experience.
  • We typically do not recommend software or hardware as we find that our graduates go to varying places of employment, many of which use varying software titles including oftentimes their own proprietary software. For this reason we focus on teaching fundamental drawing and animation skills. However one software title that we do recommend that students learn is Adobe Photoshop which we have found as standard software throughout the industry. However, take advantage of any opportunity to use the computer. Those who aren’t comfortable with a computer struggle in our program as well as in the animation industry.
  • As was said before, we believe that all types of animation have their foundation in solid drawing and traditional animation. We believe that a computer is a tool just as a pencil is a tool. If when you draw with a pencil you draw junk the computer will only help you to make really shiny chrome junk. We have found that even our most technical graduates find that they need to be able to draw so that they can communicate their visual ideas. A computer animated film takes as much time as a traditionally animated film to make. The computer does not make the film easier to make it merely changes the dynamics and the overall final aesthetics.
  • In Utah, our graduates average $30,000 to $45,000 a year to start. Nationally those rates vary from $30,000 to above $50,000 a year. These rates are based on talent, demand, and cost of living in that hiring location.
  • These companies hire: Theatrical Film and Animation companies, Special Effects Companies, Television Animation Studios, Gaming Companies, Advertising, and Manufacturing companies looking to create visualizations (such as the medical and automotive manufacturing fields.) Note: Many of these industries exist in varying locations. Not all graduates move to Hollywood.
  • We have students who have/had positions at gaming and feature film companies including ILM, Dreamworks, Sony Animation and Imageworks, Disney, Pixar, Digital Domain, House of Moves, Blue Sky, Third Floor, Acclaim, Disney, Toon Disney, Riot Games Blizzard, Alias, Hasbro, Nickelodeon, and Viewpoint. Local game companies include: EA Salt Lake, Disney Interactive/Avalanche Software, Chair, The Void, and Ninja Bee.
  • Due to the high demand, we do not offer tours of our facilities. You can visit our Facilities web page and tours of the campus in general are available. In addition, during spring/summer terms many of our faculty are on leave and there is not a lot of production activity to witness.
  • Start carrying a sketchbook and draw all the time if you do not already do so. Begin to study animation and illustration independently. Work hard in all of your classes. The more you know about everything, the better you will do in the industry. Learn art, history, math, physics, English…..There are so many directions one can go in the animation industry. Don’t close doors before you have a chance to go through them. Learn to use both sides of your brain. Be ready to receive criticism on your work. Parents usually think that everything their child has done is great. We on the other hand do not. We will be brutally honest, not to be rude, but to help you to improve. Taking criticism and learning and improving from it will be your key to success both in your studies and in your career. We can guarantee you that we will be much nicer in our critiques than you will receive once you are in the industry.