We have one cycle of admissions per year, and applications open on October 1st. Acceptance letters will be mailed by April/May of the following year.

Deadline for applying is March 20th.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in order to apply, and submit the following application materials:

Apply through Cal State Apply. Applications will only be accepted for fall terms. Create an account, then search for Master of Design, Specialization in Animation (Special Session). Select this program at San José State and complete the application.

Then submit the following required materials to the Department of Design via the Slideroom portal:

Required Application Documents Breakdown

  • A resume (1-2 pages, PDF) summarizing the applicant's education, awards or recognition, work experience, travel, languages, and special skills.
  • An unofficial transcript (PDF) from each institution from which they have obtained a degree.
  • A short personal statement (max 3600 words) Please write a statement of intent that articulates your goals and how you expect the master of design program to prepare you to achieve your intentions. Tell us about your aesthetic influences, creative interests, professional aspirations as an artist and explain why you are pursuing a graduate degree in Animation. 

If possible please include comments on the specific areas on which you would like to concentrate (animation, games, TV productions, film, etc,) and your goals upon completion of the MDes degree.

In your statement, try to address the following questions: 

1) Why are you interested in doing a master of design? Why now? Why at SJSU? 

2) How has your background (professional experience and/or previous studies) sparked an interest in a masters degree? What exactly has sparked your interest in pursuing a Master Degree?

3) What are your career goals after graduation? 

We recommend you use a text editor to work on your statement (keeping track of your word count) and then copy and paste it in SlideRoom when it is ready.

  • Two letters of recommendation (PDF)  from individuals who can attest to you, the applicant's creativity and aptitude as well as to the quality of past work and potential of future achievements.  Letters can be from professors or supervisors/directors who have worked with you. The department does not provide official recommendation forms. 
  • A “pre-proposal” with an indication of the type of project you want to develop while in our program  (1-2 pages maximum, PDF) - Since there’s a variety of projects that can be developed in our program, it is important to us to know what kind of creative project you are most interested in. That doesn’t mean you have to commit to do exactly the project you are describing in your pre-proposal. Most likely your project will take a different shape and/or direction as you progress through our curriculum. Nevertheless, and since this is a hands-on program, we would like to know what you are interested in developing.

Do you want to work on a short film? Do you want to develop a pilot for a TV show? Do you want to create a video game? A central piece of our curriculum is the development of a creative project, from beginning to end. Please tell us what kind of project you would like to develop while in our program. This should be a brief, summarized description, no longer than 1 page. Adding sketches, drawings or preliminary designs to that page is ok, if you feel images are essential to convey your ideas. If you already have a theme or topic in mind, you could give us a brief outline. It is important to address the medium and topic of a possible culmination project. If you have initial ideas for story or visual style you can add that as well, though that is optional. 

Our Master’s program is about developing student projects, and these projects can be individual or collaborative. However, we believe that collaborative projects can offer more opportunities to combine expertises and achieve better results. If you have an interest in collaborations with other students please indicate that in your pre-proposal.

  • A portfolio of previous work  submitted on “SlideRoom”. Your portfolio will give us an idea of where you are as an artist, giving us a window into your tastes and abilities in the arts. In order for your portfolio to be seriously considered by the faculty committee and in order to produce the most advantageous presentation, it is important to follow the guidelines. Please read through the requirements carefully:

15 pieces maximum. Please include a selection of your best and most recent artwork. If the artwork was part of a collaborative project let us know exactly what was your specific contribution. 

Your work can be in any medium (for example: storyboards, graphic novels, animated scenes, concept designs, character designs, paintings, drawings, 3D models, rigs and illustrations, digital paintings, samples of digital work such as modeling, rigging or lighting.) If a sample of work submitted is longer than three minutes, it may not be viewed in its entirety.

  • IMPORTANT: Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio. Submit separate images of individual works, 1 piece per page. Do not submit composited images, or links to websites, and please make sure that the image fills the slide.

For each portfolio piece, please indicate:

  1. Title of each piece and year of making
  2. Year of making
  3. Medium (painting, 2D animation, 3D animation, drawing, etc)
  4. For each of you portfolio entries under “Description”  please specify exactly what you did (the whole piece, animation of all characters, lighting of the shot, storyboards etc) and write a short sentence explaining why you chose to include that  piece in this portfolio

*Do not add captions, descriptions, titles or other extraneous text within the area where you upload your image. Use the “Description” area in SlideRoom to add any extra information.

Though not a requirement, we would like to see portfolio pieces that somewhat relate to your creative project pre-proposal. For example, if you are interested in developing a short animated film, it would be great to see artwork that showcases your work related to the area of animation, such as animated scenes or tests, concept designs, character designs or storyboards. If you are interested in developing a game, it would be great to see artwork that   relates to the type of game you are interested in developing (designs, game prototypes, etc)

What kinds of pieces can you add in your portfolio?

Videos - We accept short videos showcasing samples of your animations, animatics or rigging. In terms of animation, we accept individual shots, or shots/sequences in which you have contributed as a storyboard artist, or animator, rigger, or lighting/compositing artist etc. Make sure to specify what exactly you did for each video uploaded. Each individual shot or sequence counts as 1 portfolio piece. Please be selective and choose short sections of work that best represent your contributions to each specific project. As an alternative, you can upload a short demo reel (2 minutes max) showing a collection of shots edited together—that would count as 1 portfolio piece. Samples should be uploaded directly to SlideRoom (no Vimeo, or Youtube links please).

We also accept short films (2 minutes max). If your short film(s) are longer than 2 minutes, please choose only the best sections of the film(s), and edit them down to 2 minutes or less. Please specify what was your role in the short film, and what were your contributions. If you work on a short film in a capacity other than as a director (part of a crew), please upload only the shots in which you have worked on, and specify your contributions. Make sure your video is compressed to H264, and it is no longer than 2 minutes. The committee will not evaluate work that is longer than 2 minutes. If you are including rigging in your portfolio please submit a short film showing your rig functionality.

For all VIDEOS, please compress them to H264, and edit them down to a max of 2 minutes. 

Still Images - Illustrations, models, character and environment designs, storyboards, etc.: If you are a graphic novelist or comic book artist you can upload a PDF showing a page of your work. Character designs, illustrations and storyboard can be uploaded as individual images as a PDF, jpeg, png, etc.

Sketchbook pages: The admissions committee would love to see spreads showing 2 or more pages of a sketchbook you have been working on. Please take a picture of the pages/spreads you think are your best and upload as either a jpeg or a PDF.

Please remember that we are looking for personal work that gives us a sense of who you are as an artist, rather than technical exercises. Please do not include generic class assignments (bouncing ball or walk cycles, for example), or figure/life drawing, still life drawings, unless you believe they offer a view of a personal and/or unique approach as an artist.

Please check your file sizes: 

  1. Images (up to 5MB each)
  2. Video (up to 250MB each)
  3. PDFs (up to 10MB each)
  • International students must demonstrate English language proficiency. One of the following is required (all test scores must be less than two years old):
  1. A TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of at least 590 (paper based), 243 (computer based), or 96 (internet based), with a score of 5 in the Writing Section;
  2. PTE (Pearson Test of English) score of at least 68;
  3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS - institution code 4687) score of at least 7.0;

A GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is not required.

Incomplete or late applications or submitted documents will be rejected.

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