A/I Frequently Asked Questions


Impaction Updates
B.A Design Studies Major (Animation/Illustration Area)
Program Overview
Preparation for the Program
Program Length of Study
Program Areas of Study
Portfolio Review
Program Learning Objectives
Student Placement
Contact Information


Impaction Updates

Q: What are the admission criteria for fall 2014?

A: Admission policies for fall 2014 are available here.


Q: Is the GPA for transfer students still 3.85?

A: No. For fall 2013, the GPA for transfer students was 3.85. For fall 2014, the GPA for transfer students has been lowered to 3.20.

 I am a current SJSU student. Can I change my major to Animation/Illustration?

A: Unfortunately, our college is currently not allowing any students to change their major to Animation/Illustration.


Q: I am a non-Animation/Illustration major at SJSU. Can I enroll in Animation/Illustration classes?

A: Unfortunately, our college is currently not allowing any NON Animation/Illustration majors to enroll in Animation/Illustration courses.


Q: I have been admitted to SJSU in fall 2014 as undeclared. Can I change my major to BFA Animation/Illustration when the fall 2014 semester begins?

A: Unfortunately, students admitted as undeclared for fall 2014 will not be allowed to change majors to BFA Animation/Illustration.


Q: Why am I not allowed to major in Animation/Illustration?

A: The University is trying to manage the number of majors in every program. They have a set idea of how many students they want to allow to major in Animation/Illustration, and set criteria to attempt to achieve those numbers.


Q: I already have a Bachelor’s degree. Can I still apply to SJSU?

A: Unfortunately SJSU is not currently accepting students interested in pursuing a second Bachelor’s degree. And currently, Animation/Illustration does not offer a graduate degree.


B.A Design Studies Major (Animation/Illustration Area)


A: A new BA Design Studies major has been approved for fall 2014. Beginning in fall 2015, students wishing to major in BFA Animation/Illustration (A/I) will enter as a BA Design Studies major. They will be allowed to take foundation A/I courses, and after several semesters those who pass our portfolio review, will be allowed to change major to BFA A/I.


Q: What happens if a BA Design Studies major does not pass the Animation/Illustration portfolio review?

A: Those students will not be allowed to continue with Animation/Illustration courses, and will instead continue on with the BA Design Studies program, getting a strong liberal arts degree.  They will go on to select courses from a variety of different departments ranging from Radio/TV/Film, Theater Arts, Design, Art, Music, and other Humanities programs.


Q: Can I change to BA DESIGN STUDIES in fall 2014 and begin taking Animation/Illustration courses?

A: Unfortunately, BA Design Studies majors will not be allowed to enroll in any A/I courses in fall 2014. Even though those foundation A/I courses are required for the BA Design Studies major.


Q: Could I switch to BA Design Studies in fall 2014 and begin taking A/I classes in fall 2015?

A: We think this may be allowed, but cannot guarantee.

Also please keep in mind however, this would increase the time it takes to graduate by one year for both freshmen and transfer students. For transfer students, this would make unit counts so high, restrictions would likely make it difficult to be allowed to change to BFA A/I once passing the portfolio review.



Q: How do I apply for the Animation/Illustration Program?

A: Please click here for complete information on SJSU Admissions.


Q: Is there a portfolio review for admission?

A: At this time, there is no portfolio review for admission.


Program Overview

Q: What do you teach in your program?

A: Our courses focus on training our students for employment in the screen arts; film, television, gaming, and internet based entertainment in one of four disciplines; animation (2D & 3D), concept art, 3D modeling, and storyboarding.


Q: Can I study to do children’s books or comic books?

A: Although our students graduate with the skills to go into children’s books and comic books, there is no direct focus on those disciplines. All of our students are required to study drawing, painting, 2D & 3D animation, and modeling before deciding on an area of focus.

Preparation for the Program

Q: Should I take all of my GE classes at a Junior/Community College?

A: No, because students can generally only take two A/I courses per semester, they should spread out their GE classes and electives over the five years, so they always have enough units to remain a full-time student (for insurance and student loans).


Q: What should I take in Junior/Community College to prepare? What classes transfer from my Junior/Community College?

A: Any drawing, painting, animation, CG classes are good preparation for transferring to SJSU, though they are not transferrable for credit. Currently there are very few classes (Acting and Art History) that are transferrable to the SJSU A/I Program. Lists are available here.

However, transfer students articulating courses from other colleges must be aware that while transferrable art and animation courses may be administratively equivalent and count towards a degree at SJSU, this does not guarantee that these courses prepare students at the level required for success as an SJSU Animation/Illustration (A/I) major.

Please click here for details regarding course articulation from other colleges.


Q: How much do art supplies cost?

A: Aside from computers and software, first semester class supplies can range between $400 - $600. Our program works with an art supplier so that class supply packets are available for purchase during the first week of classes. These supplies are sold for much lower rates compared to retail prices. Typically, supply costs become significantly lower after the first two semesters.


Q: What type of computer will I need?

A: Our students use both PCs and Macs; go with what you are most comfortable. Laptops are a necessity, as many students are required to work in class. Computers should be fast enough to run the minimum system requirements for Maya and Photoshop.


Q: What computer programs will I need?

A: Required programs vary with classes. Standard ones include but are not limited to Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. The Adobe Suite is available at reduced rates through the university and this year, Adobe permitted students to download a version of the Adobe Suite for free.


Q: Do I need to pass a portfolio review to enter as a Freshman/Transfer student?

A: Currently, no.


Program Length of Study

Q: How long does it take to get through the program?

A: Currently, for students entering in the fall semester, the SJSU A/I Program takes five years to complete.


Q: Why does it take so long to get through the program?

A: Because of the intense course content, after the first semester, students generally cannot successfully take more than two A/I classes per semester. Therefore, they need to be spread out over five years.


Program Areas of Study

Q: What areas of study are offered in the program?

A: The program allows for four areas of concentration: story, visual development, 3-D modeling, and animation.


Q: When do I choose my concentration?

A: Students typically choose their concentration in their third, fourth or fifth year. 


Q: Does that mean that I have to try all areas before making up my mind?

A: All students are required to take courses that use skills in story, visual development, 3-D modeling and animation.


Q: Can I opt to only focus on one type of class; animation, visual development, storyboarding, or modeling?

A: No, all of our students are required to take the same beginning classes in drawing, painting, animation, and modeling. Towards their junior year, they begin to focus in one of the four disciplines.


Q: Can I have a concentration in just 2-D animation?

A: No, all A/I students learn skills in both 2-D and 3-D animation.


Q: Is it possible to complete the A/I program without using 3-D digital technology?

A: No, all A/I students must learn 3-D computer skills.


Q: Is it possible to complete the A/I program without taking traditional drawing classes?

A: No, all A/I students must learn to draw proficiently using traditional methods. 


Portfolio Review

Q: What is the Mid-Program Portfolio Review?

A. Currently, students are required to pass a review before registering for upper-division classes requiring drawing proficiency. Students that pass the review must then pass a sketchbook assignment over the winter or summer break after being accepted.


Q: When do I apply for the Review?

A. Students typically apply for the review after the fourth or fifth semester of taking A/I classes.


Q: What kind of work should I submit for the Review?

A. Selected work from all of your previous A/I courses. Complete details on how to apply for the Review are available here and will be discussed in your classes.


Q: What happens if I do not pass the portfolio review?

A: A high percentage of students do pass the review but those who do not will schedule a meeting with an A/I advisor to discuss what alternative course of study best suits their skills. 


Program Learning Objectives

Q: What are the A/I Program Learning Objectives?

A. There are five main Program Learning Objectives:

Understanding the principles of color, design, optics, and perspective and the attainment of basic skills in life drawing and the physics of motion.

Developing proficiency in life drawing, knowledge of both digital and traditional painting, and intermediate studies in the physics of motion. Familiarity with principles of sequential narrative and the ability to work cooperatively.

Ability to create and develop original narrative, sequential projects—short films and tests incorporating visual development, modeling, storyboarding and animation.

Understanding of professional standards and practices including proficiency in visual development, modeling, animation, or storyboarding.

Understanding of art, film and animation history, theory, and criticism from a variety of perspectives, including those of art historians, animators and filmmakers.


Student Placement

Q: What kind of jobs are available for A/I graduates?

A. SJSU A/I graduates find employment in games, feature film, and television.


SJSU A/I graduates have screen credits on more than 80 major motion pictures including Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Atlantis, Avatar, Brave, Beowulf, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Bewitched, Bringing Out the Dead, A Bug’s Life, Cars, Cars 2, Clash of the Titans, Cloverfield, Curious George, Drag Me to Hell, Dreamcatcher, The Emperor’s New Groove, Eight Crazy Nights, Eragon, Finding Nemo, Flag of Our Fathers, The Frog and the Princess, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Hellboy, Home on the Range, Horton Hears a Who, How to Train Your Dragon, The Hulk, Ice Age, Ice Age III, The Incredibles, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Iron Giant, Iron Man, The Island, Joseph: King of Dreams, Magnolia, Mission To Mars, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Osmosis Jones, Lemony Snickett: A series of Unfortunate Events, Madagascar I, Madagascar II, Madagasgar III, Men in Black II, Mirror, Mirror, Mission Impossible III, Monsters, Inc., Peabody and Sherman (forthcoming), Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Poseidon, Punch Drunk Love, Rango, Ratatouille, Salt, Shrek II, Shrek III, Shrek Forever After, Signs, The Simpsons, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Space Cowboys, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Star Wars Episode I, Star Wars Episode II, Star Wars Episode III, Terminator III, The Tale of Despereaux, The Tigger Movie, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Twlight Saga: New Moon, Toy Story, Toy Story II, Toy Story III, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Up, Van Hellsing, Wall-E, War of the Worlds, Where the Wild Things Are.


Contact Information

Q: Who do I contact for advice regarding A/I classes?

A: For all general information about the Animation/ Illustration Program please contact 

Department Office
Art Building 120



A/I advisor contact information is available here.