The 2020 Best Visual Effects Schools and Colleges in the World rankings is something we take very seriously and no external influences or payments are entered into at any point. Our rankings focus on the quality of students portfolios that are submitted to our judging panel which best reflect the recruitment interview process.

We feel that traditional school rankings that include peer and employer reviews, faculty to student ratio, citations and other data are not adequate when ranking the best creative schools. For a complete breakdown of how we rank the best schools for 2018 please read how we rank the best schools and how we analyse the data in the sections located at the bottom of this page.

What is Visual Effects

At its core, Visual Effects (abbreviated VFX) is the process by which digital imagery is created to manipulate or enhance real world footage that has been filmed with a video camera.

Visual effects involve the integration of video camera footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, time consuming or impossible to capture on film.

Visual Effects are not just limited to big block buster films, they are commonly seen in television commercials, broadcast series, architecture, advertising and more.

Why would you want to work in Visual Effects?

Maybe because it's a career that involves the perfect mix of story telling, cutting-edge technology and creativity. It could also be because you love films and want to hang out on set surrounded by movie stars. Maybe you want a career that allows you to travel the world or even work remotely from home. Or maybe it's because you love drawing and building things with your hands and on the computer. There are so many reasons why you would want to work in Visual Effects and there are dozen of possible career paths open to you across multiple industries.

School of the Year Trophies

The Rookie Awards are the most important student award and ranking globally as it has a credibility that others just don’t have. It doesn’t let advertising budgets create higher school rankings, it uses industry to assess and judge student work and discounts for any school flooding the awards with entries. Having the ‘employability of the Artist’ as a judging criteria is key, for in the creative fields you can be free of constraint and let the ideas flow but getting and building a career requires an additional ability to be practical and having ideas that can be executed and maintained.
Darryn Melrose, former Chief Executive of Media Design School

Top Visual Effects Schools and Colleges in 2020

The official rankings for 2020 have been calculated based on the performance of students work submitted to our industry panel. Full details can be found further down the page about how we calculate and rank schools.

Rank School Location Score View
1 Gnomon United States 92.46 Learn More
2 Think Tank Training Centre Canada 82.125 Learn More
3 Lost Boys | School of Visual Effects Canada 72.39 Learn More
4 FX Animation Spain 67.425 Learn More
5 University of Hertfordshire United Kingdom 65.85 Learn More
6 ArtFX France 64.84 Learn More
7 SF Filmschool Republic of Korea 61.77 Learn More
8 Bournemouth University United Kingdom 61.475 Learn More
9 Savannah College of Art and Design United States 60.87 Learn More
10 3dsense Media School Singapore 60.17 Learn More
11 ESMA France 60.13 Learn More
12 Kristiania University College Norway 59.41 Learn More
13 The Animation Workshop Denmark 58.8 Learn More
14 New3dge France 58.115 Learn More
15 Flinders University / CDW Studios Australia 55.87 Learn More
16 PIXL VISN | Media Arts Academy Germany 55.32 Learn More
17 The One Academy of Communication Design Malaysia 54.48 Learn More
18 Howest University of Applied Sciences - Digital Arts and Entertainment Belgium 51.115 Learn More
19 Animum Creativity Advanced School Spain 50.4 Learn More
20 Academy of Art University United States 46.585 Learn More

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Top entries submitted by Visual Effects students from these schools and colleges

Follow these links below to view some of the incredible entries that our judging panel were tasked with reviewing. These entries showcase the quality of work created by students which helped rank their schools.

Kasita Wonowidjojo

I fell in love with the work of Guillermo del Toro in Pan's Labyrinth; the intricacy of the world and creatures within the film ignited a passion within me. I realized I wanted to be a part of a team ...

Sonia Seow

While I was finishing my foundation year in architecture school, I realised I wanted to build or create something more; something not bound by the laws of real world physics nor imagination. Thus, I f...

Jared Fischler

I've always loved all forms of visual storytelling. However, it wasn't until college when I got really into behind the scenes motion capture videos and realized how breathtaking and emotional CG can b...

Joseph Liu

I have been doing creative work for many years, as a graphic designer and a fan of drawing. I'm a big fan of games and music and I believe I'm talented in multiple areas. It all started with a try of ...

Kosuke Iwasaki

I am very passionate, eager to learn new skills and enjoy problem solving. I am specialized in Compositing as well as roto painting, CG integration, set extension, keying, and BG prep. I recently gra...

Yung Sheng Tseng

I am a big fan of Sci-fI movies, When I was a child I liked to create the world I imagine. After I finished studying university in Taiwan, I decided to learn a 3D program and try my best to see how f...

Khaled Osama Sabry

In my graduation year from the faculty of architecture, my passion started to grow more and more about that industry and after finishing my graduation I put my first step in the animation and VFX indu...

Alexander Tuma

My name is Alexander Tuma and I am an aspiring 3D/texture artist based in South Australia. From a young age, I was fascinated with digital art/design, wanting to know more about it and how it was crea...

William Fiorentini

I was 17 when I started thinking about VFX, Transformers was the first franchise I wanted to work on, thanks to the industry I want to work on the best blockbusters ever made.

Halime Maloof

I was about 8 years old when I first saw Independence Day on the tv, and I remember being amazed by it, after that I was hooked by the film industry for life. However, I never realized that it was a p...

Vincent Hebrard

I've always liked to draw, as far as I can remember my dream has always been to work as a creative person. I've always been attracted by art and always wanted to create my own character and environmen...

Darren Lesmana

I am a Houdini FX TD, currently residing in Vancouver, Canada. I specialize in Houdini Rigid Body Dynamics, Pyro Simulations, Flip Simulations, Crowd Simulations and rendering using Mantra, Arnold and...

Jonathan Aceituno Fuentes

Two years ago I realized that it was time to change my career path, I worked as a graphic designer until then.

Laureline Massias

Thanks to my family who let me watched a lot of movies when I was young, I kind of always knew I wanted to work in the movie industry. As it involves design and animation, FX was for me the best comb...

Daniel Goh

I first picked up Modeling a few months ago and very quickly enjoyed it, LIKE ALOT. But at the same time I really enjoyed doing other things like Compositing, Lighting, Look Dev, grooming etc. (Basica...

Lennart Vulto

Dealing with virtual worlds and illusions is truly riveting to me and has fascinated me since I was little. Getting a viewer to think that something imagined is real, or to give them the opportunity t...

Masazumi Watanabe

I am an FX Technical Director, using Houdini and Maya. My specialization is Houdini Pyro, RBD destruction, Fluid, Vellum, and Particle Simulation. I recently graduated from the Effects Technical Dire...

Orion Terry

A while back when movies really started to push the visual boundaries in cinema. After I watched The Matrix for the first time I immediately told my mom that financing isn't for me.

William Medcalf

In highschool when I first picked up blender and learned 3d was a viable industry

Ramon Schauer

I started out with 3D in 2014 when I started studying Animation & Game at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany. During the course I mainly focused on environment art for games but slow...

Detailed information about the top schools and colleges for Visual Effects

The following schools are the top Visual Effects educational facilities for 2020 and offer great courses and curriculum that produces students that are ready for the challenges faced by professional artists working in Visual Effects. Follow the links below to find out more about these schools, their facilities, team, success stories, student artwork and more.


1. Gnomon

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.

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Think Tank Training Centre

2. Think Tank Training Centre

Founded in 2005 in Vancouver BC, Think Tank Training Centre specializes in the latest software, techniques and technologies used by 3D artists working in the film, television and video game industries. In 2018 we ranked #1 in Canada (#4 worldwide) for Game Development, and #2 in Canada (#3 worldwide) for Visual Effects, and have consistently placed in the top four in previous years. Think Tank's campus is an inspirational place of learning, delivering a one-of-a-kind mentorship program which gives our students the edge as they transition into fully-fledged working professionals.

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Lost Boys | School of Visual Effects

3. Lost Boys | School of Visual Effects

Complete your training in Effects, Lighting, or Compositing.The award-winning Lost Boys Studios operates this extraordinary school of visual effects. With its roots as an internationally renowned VFX boutique with 20+ years of excellence. Lost Boys has both pioneered and mastered craft-centric specialized Diploma & Certificate Programs for feature film VFX production delivered from within a studio environment. Focused & specialized training sets a solid foundation for growth, puts you in demand, and maximizes your career potential. Alumni enjoy a combined placement rate of 99% at jobs found within their field of study. Lost Boys is your best chance at a career in VFX.

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FX ANIMATION Barcelona 3D & Film School

4. FX ANIMATION Barcelona 3D & Film School

With 12 years of experience and internationally recognized as one of the 100 best animation schools in the world, FX ANIMATION Barcelona 3D & Film School is a high performance centre with its own degrees specializing in Animation, VFX, Video Games, Concept Art, Cinematography and Architectural Visualization, with unique headquarters in Barcelona. Barcelona 3D & Film School is certified by the main software manufacturers (SideFX, Autodesk, Maxon, Chaos Group and Foundry). The school has a 99% employment rate, with students working at over 800 companies worldwide, proving that students are given a high level of formative and professional training.

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University of Hertfordshire

5. University of Hertfordshire

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.

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ArtFX School

6. ArtFX School

ArtFX is a private digital arts college, training its students in CGI, VFX, 3D Animation and Video Games. Located in Montpellier (France), the school was created by professionals of the film, video games and visual effects industries.As the only school in Europe specializing in compositing CGI into live-action footage, ArtFX is a reference for CGI and CG animation training. At ArtFx you will develop professional level skills and build a solid network of contacts thanks to our close partnerships with professional artists. Thanks to these connections our graduates also have a 99% placement rate in major post-production studios within France and around the world.As a private establishment of higher education technical training, ArtFx is a member and co-founder of the Network of French Film An

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SF filmschool (Republic of Korea)

7. SF filmschool (Republic of Korea)

SF Film School was founded in 2001with a track record of sending graduates across the globe to work at VFX companies with which they have close industry ties. SF Film School aspires to become the best school for CG and VFX in Korea, and worldwide, aiming to send their students into the world market. SFFS is the first VFX school in Korea to have alumni work at leading studios Lucas Film, MPC and Fromsoftware.

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Bournemouth University

8. Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University is a public university in Bournemouth, Dorset, England, with its main campus situated in neighbouring Poole. The university was founded in 1992 as one of the new universities, however the origins of its predecessor date back to the early 1900s.The university was a finalist for two prizes in British higher education – the 2009 Times Higher Education (THE) Awards for "University of the Year" and "Research Project of the Year".Traditionally known for its focus on professional courses, in the 2000s Bournemouth University invested in research to underpin its curriculum and maximise its contribution to the regional and national economies. The university currently has over 16,000 students, including over 1,500 international students.

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Savannah College of Art and Design

9. Savannah College of Art and Design

The Savannah College of Art and Design exists to prepare talented students for professional careers, emphasizing learning through individual attention in a positively oriented university environment.SCAD visionThe Savannah College of Art and Design, an institution with distinctive yet complementary locations, will be recognized as the leader in defining art and design education. By employing innovation in all areas, SCAD will provide a superior education through talented and dedicated faculty and staff, leading-edge technology, advanced learning resources and comprehensive support services.SCAD valuesBeing a student-centered institution.

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3dsense Media School

10. 3dsense Media School

3dsense Media School is a pioneering digital arts school in Asia, preparing students for careers in the media and entertainment industry for over 13 years. Dedicated to providing a real-world education, 3dsense aims to mold the next generation of elite digital artists and designers for the global industry. Some of the properties her alumni have worked on include Interstellar, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Avengers, The Hunger Games series, Assassin’s Creed, Game of Thrones and many more. 3dsense was recently ranked top 20 in the world and 1st in Asia in the CG Student Awards 2015, School of the Year category.Besides education, the school also plays a major role in fostering a vibrant arts & design industry through its events and masterclasses.

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11. ESMA

ESMA CG School is a hiher education institution located in Montpellier, Toulouse, Nante, Lyon and Montreal, with more than 25 years of experience.Recognized for the quality and richness of its artistic teachings, the school offers two courses related to CG Animation and FX: a Prépa Entertainment and a Professional Cycle CG Animation & FX.Our ambition: to offer a teaching in adequacy with the professional environment in order to prepare our students for the various artistic professions and to facilitate their insertion and their success in the world of work.

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Kristiania University College

12. Kristiania University College

The Visual Effects (VFX) Bachelor program at Westerdals, Kristiania University College, is Norway’s biggest VFX education. Focus is on compositing, VFX supervision and general VFX engineering built on a solid foundation of drawing, photography and colour. Run by some of Norway’s most senior and experienced VFX artists and supervisors, the program has a firm emphasis on being industry centric utilising tools, processes and methodology that students will encounter when they enter the industry as professional VFX artists. Students from the program has contributed to productions such as Game of Thrones, Watchmen, Star Trek Discovery, Lost in Space and Star Wars: The Mandalorian.

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The Animation Workshop/ VIA University College

13. The Animation Workshop/ VIA University College

The Animation Workshop/VIA University College (TAW) enjoys a strong and wide reputation due to the top educations we provide for the international film industry, yet we are much more than a school. The Animation Workshop is located in Viborg, Denmark. It is a part of VIA University College’s School of Business, Technology and Creative Industries and has expertise in the areas of education, culture, communication, and business development. To this effect, it benefits from a strong international network of artists, professionals, companies, funding institutions, and partner schools.

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14. New3dge

New3dge, located in Paris, is a private school of higher education specialized in the fields of Game Art, 3D Animation&VFX and Concept Art. We have tailored our student program and our teaching methods alongside some of the major players in these fields. We recruit our educators from our network of respected professionals around the globe. At New3gde, we give our students the opportunity to learn skills and work with cutting edge technology in an ever-evolving environment, guaranteeing their integration in the video game, 3D animation/VFX field and Concept Art. Our current placement rate is 92% More infos at :

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Flinders University / CDW Studios

15. Flinders University / CDW Studios

In partnership Flinders University and CDW Studios have created a very unique study environment where you are being taught by an instructor who currently works as a professional in that industry. Our instructors are world class, and have experience freelancing and working for some of the world’s top entertainment providers and creators, such as Blizzard Entertainment, Rising Sun Pictures, Disney, Warner Brothers and Lego just to name a few. By employing industry professionals CDW Studios and Flinders University ensure that students receive an intensive industry relevant education along with the critical thinking, analysis and structure that a Flinders University degree provides.

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PIXL VISN | media arts academy

16. PIXL VISN | media arts academy

PIXL VISN was founded in 2010 by industry professionals Andrei Stirbu and Robb Innes. We offer an accelerated 15-month 3D Animation and Visual Effects training program in a modern facility equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, located in the heart of Cologne, Germany. Instructors at PIXL VISN are a part of the industry: They work in relevant positions at major studios around the world helping to create major Hollywood feature films, hit television series and blockbuster video games. Our graduates have worked on productions like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Game of Thrones” and “Disney’s Dumbo”. In the official “World School Rankings® 2019” at “The Rookies”, PIXL VISN ranked 3rd in the ranking of the best Animation schools in the world and 10th in the ranking of the world's best Visual Effects schools.

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The One Academy of Communication Design

17. The One Academy of Communication Design

For over 25 years of creative education excellence, The One Academy has been renowned as one of the best art and design colleges in Asia with over 2,500 existing students in two of our main campuses. We are committed to our role as a world-class education provider by nurturing creative pioneers who can brace and surpass international standards.To achieve this, we provide comprehensive courses, for instance, Film Visual Effects and Digital Animation with Game Development, in collaboration with industry masters such as Andrew Gordon, Pixar animation director, Eduardo Pena, concept artist of The Hobbit trilogies, and also Ubisoft, to name a few.

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Howest University of Applied Sciences - Digital Arts and Entertainment

18. Howest University of Applied Sciences - Digital Arts and Entertainment

Digital Arts & Entertainment (DAE) is a state-of-the-art, yet accessible, English-taught Bachelor’s degree. Fully accredited, 3 years, amounting to 180 ECTS credits. DAE is taught at Howest, a modern and unconventional university of applied sciences, situated in a small but beautiful historic city in Flanders, Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe. At DAE you can choose between 4 study majors: Game Development, Game Graphics Production, Independent Game Production or 3D Production & VFX. It is an industry-approved and award-winning curriculum, with alumni in leading companies and studios all over the world, such as Blizzard, Bungie, Ubisoft, DICE, Rocksteady, Guerrilla Games, Larian, Unity, Studio Gobo, Sumo Digital, ILM, MPC, DNeg and many more.

We offer an open, inclusive and international community where you will work on real-life, team-based and industry-assessed projects and assignments. We focus on a practically-oriented education where you receive training by qualified experts. This, together with international guest lectures by key industry speakers and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, makes for an ideal environment to become an expert in the industry.

Our campus is located at the heart of Western Europe, based in the small, comprehensive, safe and beautiful historic city of Kortrijk, at the banks of the river Leie, where over 1000 years of history meet with modern architecture and design. Here we offer our high-quality degree for a comparatively very low tuition fee. Graduating from our industry-approved and award-winning curriculum, many of our alumni work in leading companies and studios all over the world. This is strengthened by our unique technical artists profile. No matter what major you choose, you will have a good grasp of what your colleagues are up to, which makes cooperation easier.

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Animum Creativity Advanced School

19. Animum Creativity Advanced School

Whether you are passionate about film, videogames, advertising or architecture, our high quality face-to-face and online training focuses on the most important thing: to have the best reel or portfolio in the industry. Our methodology and our academic framework make this possible. The best advice we can give you: thoroughly analyze the work of the students.

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Academy of Art University

20. Academy of Art University

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.

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How we calculate the school rankings

Data is based on the quality and performance of student work that is submitted to our judging panel for the Rookie Awards.

We feel that traditional school rankings – that include peer and employer reviews, faculty-to-student ratio, citations and other data – are not adequate when ranking the best creative schools. This might work in industries with more traditional career paths, however, when it comes to technical and creative roles, such as Visual Effects, Feature Animation and Games, it’s a lot more complicated.

The Judging Process

Each entrant is reviewed by members of the official Judging Panel which includes over 120 highly influential and respected industry veterans. The Judges were asked to score entries based on criteria including — creative skills, technical skills, presentation, variety of skills, complexity, raw talent, and employment potential.

School Calculations

Based on the results of student submissions we received this year we have released the following in-depth breakdowns about the best schools.

Each school is awarded a final score based on the performance of each student representing their academic facility.

When analysing the average scores of each student per school there are three possible data formulas available to use: mean, median and mode.

The Rookies uses median. The median is the middle point of a number set, in which half the numbers are above the median and half are below. A median is intrinsically understandable. It is the middle number when the values are put in order.

  • Schools with < 8 student entries are excluded from ranking.
  • Incomplete student entries are removed from calculations. No penalties.
  • Each student receives a performance score. Max 100 points.
  • Median students score calculated per school. Max 100 points.
  • Each category finalist receives 10 bonus points toward School Score.
  • Each category runner up receives 15 bonus points toward School Score.
  • Each category winner receives 20 bonus points toward School Score.

Is your school missing?

For Students: Please put us in touch with the right person at your school.
For Faculty: Our team is here to help showcase your school to the world. Talk to us today about how to get your school certified, to promote your sucess stories and to make sure you rank highly next year!

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