Enhance entertainment and film videos by combining real and virtual actors and settings.

Animation and Visual Effects

Animation and Visual Effects Major

A major in the Computer Graphics Technology Program
in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology

This major is also available at the Purdue in Indianapolis campus. Learn more here.

New uses for animation and visual effects are being incorporated into all types of industries and careers. One day, your animated creations could:

  • Level up an immersive adventure of a video game!
  • Demonstrate an innovative architectural design for a construction company’s new building!
  • Play an exciting role in the latest blockbuster movie!
  • Convey complex scientific data or health information in a news broadcast!
  • Explain important theories in classrooms!
  • Demonstrate products in commercials!

The computer animation and visual effects major teaches students how to bring their ideas to life by incorporating computer rendering, motion, digital lighting, 3D modeling, character rigging (creating a mesh skeleton), texturing, audio and special effects.

Students learn to:

  • Develop highly graphical videos for the television and film industries.
  • Create stunning imagery by layering video and photo elements.
  • Place actors filmed in front of green screens into virtual environments.
  • Merge 3D, computer-generated models with live-action sets.
  • Remove undesired objects from scenes.
  • Correct color and extend sets

Our graduates have found success working with educational software, forensics animation and advertising. Eight of our alumni were part of the creative teams behind Oscar winner "Big Hero 6" and Golden Globe winner "How to Train Your Dragon 2!"

Good to know

Visual effects compositing is a STEM-based discipline. Courses in trigonometry, calculus and physics provide understanding of the underlying fundamentals. Students supplement comprehension by studying animation, digital lighting, digital video and audio, and special effects.

Courses in business writing, technical writing, psychology, marketing and management, and entrepreneurship will help you become the well-rounded visual effects professional that today’s employers demand.


  • Learn at one of Animation Career Review’s Top 50 Animation Schools and Colleges in the United States!
  • Experience innovative tools for animation and visual effects compositing.
  • Learn to use our LightCraft Previzion System, the same visual effects system used in Hollywood productions, to create compelling, immersive video content.
  • Work on projects that help automate animation processes, which can benefit everyone in the animation industry.
  • Improve your career prospects and portfolio with real-world projects that enable you to work alongside faculty and real clients.
  • Access knowledge and experience of professors who are leading experts in animation and its uses for healthcare, education, human-computer interaction, scientific visualization, assistive technology, film and games.
  • Gain leadership skills by networking with experts as part of Purdue’s ACM SIGGRAPH (Association of Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques) chapter, the first student chapter of the professional computer graphics organization.
  • Utilize the Polytechnic learning environment to become a career-ready graduate
  • Earn your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer graphics technology in only five years with a special plan of study.

What can I do?

3-d modeler
Technical director
Visual effects compositor
Motion graphics compositor

Where can I go?

Animation Mentor
Walt Disney Company
Rhythm & Hues

The Computer Graphics Technology program is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, https://www.abet.org, under the commission’s General Criteria with no applicable program criteria.

The Computer Graphics Technology program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, https://www.abet.org, under the commission’s General Criteria with no applicable program criteria.

College is not only about furthering your passions, but the payoff for that passion after college. I’ve always said that I want to work on movies—‘I want my name in the rolling credits at the end.’ And because of the Visual Effects major, I’ve jumped at all the opportunities to learn!
Bri Baehl
Animation and Visual Effects
student quote photo

About the school/department

The Department of Computer Graphics Technology touches all aspects of computer graphics, from animation to scientific visualization, and from user experience to game studies. Research projects on these topics push the boundaries of how the medium can be used, while the variety of degree options prepares students to be practitioners and managers in an array of computer graphics-related careers.

Additional Information

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Talk to an Advisor

Prospective students

Prospective students can reach out to CGTAdvising@purdue.edu to request an appointment to speak with a Department of Computer Graphics Technology advisor or student services professional.

Current students

Current students can schedule an appointment to meet with academic advisors in person or virtually via BoilerConnect.

Learn more about advising

Related Degrees

Continuing Education