In a rapidly evolving world, creative skills are highly sought after. From animation and games to architectural visualization, product design, and illustration and concept art, the creative industries are teeming with opportunities. These fields thrive on fresh ideas, innovative thinking, and a mastery of the latest technologies. That's where world-class online creative schools come into play, empowering individuals to explore, hone, and showcase their talents.
Unveiling the Best: The Top 20 Online Creative Schools
Every year, The Rookies scours the globe to identify the leading educational institutions shaping the creative minds of tomorrow. From this extensive search, we present to you the top 20 online creative schools. These institutions have demonstrated excellence in nurturing talent and equipping students with the skills required for success in animation, games, archviz, product design, and illustration and concept art.
Here is the list of the Top 20 Online Creative Schools for 2023:
Savannah College of Art and Design prepares talented students for creative professions through engaged teaching and learning in a positively oriented university environment. SCAD is continually recognized for educational and professional excellence, affirming our commitment to the highest standards of achievement in art and design in the U.S. SCAD constantly researches and reimagines programs to instill the critical skills and knowledge students need to succeed in their chosen careers.
SCAD consults industry leaders, gathers data on business and design needs and collects student feedback to inform the genesis and evolution of every degree taught at the university. SCAD offers more programs and specializations than any other art and design university in the U.S., with 40 undergraduate, and 61 graduate degree programs. SCAD is one university and offering degrees in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and online via eLearning, with additional study abroad opportunities in Lacoste, France. Each SCAD location provides a new experience, and students can choose to study in any location, at any quarter during their education.
At every location and online, in every discipline, SCAD students are educated through comprehensive curricula and sophisticated technology so that they may create their most ambitious visions. Designed to exceed the leading-edge resources found in top design firms and global headquarters, SCAD resources instill in-demand technological agility. With licensure for more than 100 software packages and remote access to next-gen programs.
School-ing was born out of a love for 3D and Architecture, a vocation for teaching and the desire to help revolutionise the way of teaching and learning. School-ing is a specialised school that seeks to give a twist to traditional training, to bring the reality of the professional market closer to the classroom and offer tools so that students can develop their artistic and creative potential.
ARTSIDE is a private higher education institution founded by Digital Art professionals, with a strong desire to offer innovative training that meets the expectations of International studios. More of 70 teachers come from the largest international studios and share this desire to train future talents. They offer with Artside a professional education and share their workflow and tools used in production and offer our students a complete professional network.
Our students develop an in-depth understanding of 3D production/Concept Art pipelines and a mastery of technical and artistic applications. Our program is based on 3 specialisations in order to train in the trades of Concept Art, 3D Character Art and 3D Environment Art for video games and extends over a 4-year Bachelor through comprehensive programs covering all production issues from current studios. A 14-month online training is also possible for those who already have artistic and technical fundamentals depending on the desired specialisation.
For over twenty years, Gnomon has educated many of the world’s best digital artists. Called “the MIT of visual effects” by Fast Company magazine, Gnomon offers a variety of educational options to help students reach their goals in the entertainment industry, with both degree and vocational certificate programs, specialized courses for high school students and over 100 individual courses for professional enrichment.
Visual effects artists launched Gnomon with the support of the entertainment industry to help meet the demand for well-trained creative talent in the growing field of digital entertainment. Our graduates are professionals working on the latest blockbuster films and games, and have positions at film and video game studios around the world.
Since 2005, Think Tank has been offering an unmatched learning experience that emphasizes collaboration and feedback with professional supervisors and mentors from across the VFX, Animation, Game Art, and CG world. Consistently ranked as one of the top schools worldwide, Think Tank's Online, Campus, and Hybrid programs offer artists a specialized and hands-on education that primes them for an exciting career in the Film, TV, and Games. Go directly from school to studio with the latest software, professional mentorship, job readiness training, and an industry-ready demo reel. Most artists who want to get into the CG industry rarely know what job position or discipline they want to end up in.
Think Tank believes in supporting your journey to discover your true passion and unique point of view. Work with Advisors, Instructors, and Personal Mentors who are themselves experienced in CG to establish exactly the type of work you want to do. Once your specialization is determined, you’ll develop an industry-ready portfolio alongside your mentor that is catered towards a particular career, and ofter, a specific studio. This means that when you’re looking for that first job, your work will already be elevated above the average generalist. Up for the challenge? Think Tank is here to help you take the next step.
3dsense Media School is a leading digital arts school in Asia, preparing students for careers in the creative entertainment industry since 2003. We focus on providing industry-based training for Visual Effects, Animation, Game Art, Motion Design, Concept Art, Illustration and Toy Production.
Since 2015, 3dsense has been consistently ranked amongst the Top 10 Art Schools globally by “The Rookies World School Rankings”, the world’s most respected ranking system for creative media schools. Besides education, the school also plays a major role in fostering a vibrant arts & design industry through its events and masterclasses. These include CGOverdrive, CG Hero Awards, and “Behind the Pixels”, a YouTube interview channel providing unparalleled access to industry veterans sharing vital knowledge and insights.
We are a specialized educational institution for CG and VFX (Visual Effects) located in Seoul, Busan, and Daegu, South Korea. Many of our graduates currently work for top VFX and 3D animation companies worldwide. We welcome students of all levels of experience. Our systematic curriculum is designed to guide students with no prior experience towards becoming CG and VFX professionals.
For students who already have experience, we provide specialized education in their chosen areas of interest. Regardless of their skill level upon entry, our goal is for all students to acquire practical and comprehensive skills in the field of CG and VFX by the end of the program. SFFS is an ideal school for both beginners and experienced individuals in the industry.
“The only constant is change”, so training in the field of new technologies is essential to progress in today's digital world.
With a professional staff delivering the best 3D education programs in Spanish for the past 25 years, butic offers authorized and specialized programs covering fields like 3D Visualization, Visual Effects or 3D Modeling, all of them delivered by highly professional instructors, those who make us the only online school simultaneously authorized by leading companies like Autodesk, Adobe, Chaos Group, Itoo Software or Epic Games Unreal Engine, something extremely important in order to get a high quality and certified education recognized around the world. Our reputation and results, allow us to have more than 95% placement rate for our graduates who have found jobs within their field of study. Because of this, students rate us as 5 out of 5 in our public Google profile.
As part of EPIC GAMES Connectors Program launched in 2022, butic is one of the selected 14 schools around the world authorized as Unreal Engine Premier Training Center, dedicated to teaching artists visual storytelling in real time.
If you speak Spanish and you want to change your life, we are here to help.
For nearly 15 years, The Game Assembly (TGA) has been educating highly skilled game developers for the global games industry.
At our campuses in Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden, we provide education for Game Animators, Game Artists, Game Programmers, Level Designers, Procedural Artists, and Technical Artists. Each program spans 1.5 to 2.5 years, with a significant portion dedicated to a game company internship. Our approach divides your time between specific courses for your field and collaborative, cross-disciplinary game development. We primarily focus on creating 3D games and emphasize the use of agile methods and regular feedback.
Since 2022, in partnership with Kaplan, we also offer an apprenticeship master program in the UK for in-depth game programming exploration.
We closely collaborate with the games industry, both in Sweden and internationally, to ensure that our education aligns with employers' expectations. During your time at TGA, you will have the opportunity to meet guest speakers, attend workshops, and receive feedback from industry experts. Our graduates are now spread worldwide, forming a fantastic network benefiting both the school and our students.
A degree from TGA is your ticket to a creative and exciting profession, with the entire world as your field of work.
Residing at the intersection of creativity and technology, CG Spectrum and CG Spectrum Institute are global online training providers for the film, video game, and creative industries, delivering an industry-standard education.
They provide online, expert-led courses and accredited degrees and diplomas in animation, VFX, game development, digital painting, virtual production, and 3D visualization, along with career development services and access to a vibrant online community of over 4,000 students, alums, and industry professionals.
CG Spectrum is an Unreal Authorized Training Center, Unreal Academic Partner, SideFX Certified Training Provider, Toon Boom Authorized Training Center, and Chaos Academic Partner.
CG Spectrum at a glance:
170+ film and game industry mentors
80% job success rate for advanced course graduates
Students across 90 countries
1-on-1 mentorship options
2-week, 3-month, 6-month, and 9-month courses
CG Spectrum Institute is registered with the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), combining academic excellence with real-world industry practices to ensure students receive a high-quality education.
CG Spectrum Institute at a glance:
4 unique accredited degrees and diplomas
FEE-HELP available for eligible students
Partnered with world-class film and game studios
Fast-tracked degrees (full-time bachelor’s students graduate in 2 years)
Teaches technical skills balanced with industry concepts and interpersonal skills
University of the Arts London (UAL) is Europe’s largest specialist art and design university. Its unique creative community is made up of 6 renowned Colleges, each with its own world-class reputation: Camberwell College of Arts, Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion and Wimbledon College of Arts. UAL is the world’s number 2 University for Art and Design in the QS World University Rankings® 2022. Offering an extensive range of courses in art, design, fashion, communication and performing arts, UAL is the main talent pipeline to the UK’s creative industries.
Home to a diverse community of over 21,000 students from 129 countries, UAL has a track record for launching and furthering careers. Our graduates can be found in every part and at every level of the creative and cultural sectors, from heads of global business to self-employed practitioners, and on shortlists for awards ranging from the Turner Prize to the Oscars. Building on UAL’s association with some of the most original thinkers in the arts, students and staff are inspired to challenge convention, generate new ideas and nurture talent. Home to award-winning staff and students for more than a century, UAL’s Colleges are at the forefront of learning, creativity and practice in their specialist subjects. This close-knit College structure offers opportunities for learning and enquiry for people at all stages of their creative development.
The School of Creative Arts is the oldest part of the University of Hertfordshire, and its roots date back to 1890 with the formation of St Albans School of Art that later merged with the University in the 20th century. The School prides itself on its devotion to teaching creativity and the skills required to enable students to reach the goals they want from a degree and future career. It combines a wealth of physical resources that cover all aspects of creative arts production from animation, games and film, to fashion, print making, ceramics and architectural design to name a few.
A large base of talented staff with working experience of the industries they teach in allows students to gain knowledge from those who have already worked in the areas they wish to enter after graduation. The School maintains close links with many companies in the creative industries, allowing students to be part of live projects, company visits, guest lectures on specialist cutting edge topics and to get to meet the people and companies who inspired them to begin their journey into art in the first place.
Norwich University of the Arts is a dynamic, modern and creative community providing arts, design, architecture and media education from a unique campus at the heart of the city. Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has established itself in arts, design and media education for over 170 years. But while our history can be traced back to 1845, our outlook is forward-thinking.
From a city centre campus that boasts cutting-edge facilities, to an approach to teaching which saw us awarded Gold under the Teaching Excellence Framework and ranked 10th in the UK for teaching quality by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, our reputation for excellence is well-earned. NUA has thrived as an established University, developing a national reputation as an innovative and creative academic community, with a firm commitment to offering vocational, practice based courses that afford students space to develop their skills and pursue their passion.
U-tad is a higher education institution that was founded in 2011 by pioneering entrepreneurs in the technology and digital art sectors, who identified there was an urgent need in the industry to serve the existing demand for highly qualified professionals in the digital economy. In years prior, U-tad’s founders had created Pyro Studios (Videogame Studio that created world famous ‘Commandos’) and Ilion Animation Studios (which premiered succesful landmarks of Spanish animation such as the international launch ‘Planet 51’).
U-tad offers official Undergraduate Degrees, Vocational Education and Masters in Animation, VFX, Digital Design, Videogames (Art, Design and Engineering), Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics, AR/VR and Cybersecurity. It counts over 1,900 students and a faculty of over 320 professors of which 80% are active professionals in the industry.
U-tad is rated among the top 10 International Universities for Videogame studies in the ‘Game Schools Ranking’ (by GAMEducation), among the best 25 universities in which to study Animation (by ‘Animation Magazine’), and Top 10 Computer Science Excellence University (by ‘SEDEA Excellence Ranking’).
U-tad was the first Spanish education institution to develop study programs in which students work on real, multidisciplinary projects that emulate the industry work dynamics. This practical ‘learning by doing’ teaching methodology and project-based learning means that U-tad’s students develop reels and projects which will become their presentation portfolio to companies upon completion of their studies. Being able to achieve job opportunities in major companies worldwide and to win important international awards.
FX Barcelona Film School is a multidisciplinary school that combines audiovisual creativity, digital art and new technologies to train digital artists and audiovisual content creators of the present and the future of this thriving industry that is entertainment in film, series, video games, animation and virtual reality among others. The cross-disciplinary training in all areas allows its Master's and Career training programmes to be unique and highly valued by companies in the sector. That is why our graduates have a 99% job placement rate: the school offers them international job opportunities, paid internships and in-company trainings guaranteed and managed by the school.
Since 1929, Academy of Art University has helped prepare aspiring artists and designers for professional careers by offering 135+ accredited degree options in more than 40 areas of study. Choose from animation and visual effects, game design and development, illustration, fine art, communications, filmmaking, and more. We are first and foremost a professional school—a purpose-based art and design school where students develop their talents and acquire the specific skills sought by the creative marketplace. Our hands-on curriculum is taught by some of the finest minds working in today’s creative and innovative industries—professional artists and designers who bring their industry expertise to the classroom. Academy students graduate with a solid creative foundation, business savvy, and an entrepreneurial spirit that tends to stick with them for life.
Animum is an internationally recognized graduate school committed to excellence. We offer the highest level of specialization in each of our masters, with a 100% professional training, with the highest rigor and commitment to quality. Some of the disciplines we teach in our school are 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, Illustration and Concept Art, VFX, Compositing and Lighting.
With campuses in Stockholm, Malmo, Boden, Skellefteå, and Karlstad (Sweden) and Warsaw (Poland), Futuregames offers a diverse range of educational programs at various levels. From short courses for seasoned professionals to full-time programs for aspiring game developers entering the industry, we cater to different interests and aspirations.
Boasting nearly 20 years of experience, Futuregames has consistently ranked among the top game education institutions worldwide. Our alumni, comprising over 14% of the Swedish games industry, excel in fields such as game art, game design, programming, VFX, QA, and more.
We take pride in our commitment to bridging the gap between education and the professional industry. Collaborating with renowned game companies like Avalanche Studios, CD Project Red, Coldwood Interactive, EA DICE, Epic Games, Fatshark Games, King, Glorious Games Group, Level Eight, NEAT Corporation, North Kingdom, Paradox Arctic, Starbreeze Studios, Star Stable, Turborilla, Ubisoft, Zordix, and many others, we provide an immersive learning environment.
USW Cardiff is one of the largest providers of Creative Industries Education in the UK, with a curriculum covering Illustration, Animation, Graphic Communication, Film and Media Production, to Drama, Performance, Music and Dance. Partnerships with major employers have led to 95% of our graduates entering employment within 6 months of graduation. Our graduates work for major studios including Disney Pixar, Rockstar Studios, Sony Pictures Animation, EA Games, DreamWorks and broadcasters including BBC, HBO along with many independent companies.USW Cardiff prides itself on its vibrant city-centre location with several animation and games employers within easy reach.
The Faculty offers a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the areas of - Animation and Games, Film & VFX, Music and Sound, Journalism & Media, & Performance, Design Communication, Fashion & Photography – all ideally placed within the same landmark building to foster a ‘culture of collaboration’ between them. All courses are united by a course structure that supports the development of ‘creativity’, ‘skills’ and ‘professionalism’, and is underpinned by a shared ethos that focuses upon twenty-first graduate skills.
What Sets These Schools Apart?
1. Online Flexibility: Each school offers online programs, giving students the freedom to learn from anywhere in the world.
2. Cutting-Edge Curriculum: Expect courses designed with the latest industry trends and technologies in mind.
3. Expert Instructors: Learn from professionals with real-world experience in their respective fields.
4. Diverse Specialisations: Whether you're passionate about 3D modeling, game design, or product development, these schools have you covered.
5. Graduate Success: Graduates of these programs have gone on to work for renowned studios and companies worldwide.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Criteria Were Used to Select the Top 20 Online Schools?
The selection was meticulously carried out through a comprehensive evaluation process, primarily based on the Rookies Global School Rankings. The Rookies is a highly respected authority in the field, known for its commitment to recognizing and celebrating excellence in digital arts education.
1. The Rookies Global School Rankings: Our primary criteria revolved around The Rookies Global School Rankings. These rankings take into account a variety of essential factors such as the quality of education, the excellence of student work, graduate success rates, and the overall reputation of each institution.
2. Diverse Disciplines: We focused on schools that offer a wide range of programs across creative disciplines, including animation, game development, architectural visualization, product design, and illustration and concept art.
3. Online Accessibility: Our list comprises schools that provide online programs, ensuring that students have access to world-class education, no matter where they are located.
4. Excellence in Learning: These schools have demonstrated a commitment to delivering top-notch education, offering their students the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in their chosen careers.
5. Industry Engagement: We considered the extent to which these schools engage with industry professionals, fostering valuable connections and opportunities for their students.
The combination of these factors led to the selection of the Top 20 Online Creative Schools. Each institution on this list is a testament to its dedication to nurturing talent and helping students achieve their creative and professional aspirations.
2. How Do These Online Programs Work?
These online schools provide a virtual learning environment where students access course materials, interact with instructors, and complete assignments through a dedicated platform.
3. Are There Scholarships or Financial Aid Options?
Many of these schools offer scholarships or financial aid to eligible students. Be sure to check the respective school's website for details.
4. Can I Choose Multiple Specialisations?
Absolutely! These schools offer a wide range of specialisations, allowing students to tailor their education to their unique interests.
5. How Do I Apply?
Application processes vary by school. Generally, you'll need to submit an online application, portfolio, and any required documents. Detailed instructions can be found on each school's website. Just follow the links provided above.