Friday, 6 September 2019

Why Do Animators Need a Masters' Degree?

Do Animators Need a Master's Degree? It's a question we get asked often at Animation Apprentice, mainly by prospective students who want to know if the committment of time necessary to complete an MA in animation (such as the one we run with Buckinghamshire New University) is worth the effort.

The simple answer is, it depends on what you want to do. Academia cares about academic qualifications. Industry cares about demo reels.

If your focus is purely on industry, and on finding work there, you don't really need a masters' level qualification.  But if you are hoping to teach, especially in higher education, a masters degree is more or less a necessity.

What universities need
Our course is the world's first online MA in animation
Universities are generally funded by the state, and they are therefore subject to regulation by the governments who fund them.

Governments therefore tend to insist on certain objectively measurable standards, such as that academic staff must be properly qualified.

Since governments aren't good at judging talent on its merits, they tend to look at objective criteria like academic qualifications.

In government eyes, a qualified animation lecturer isn't necessarily someone who is really good at animation; it is someone with a masters' degree. As a result, higher education institutions tend to insist that their staff have an MA. And, if they are teaching at master's level, ideally a PHD. 

Work visa 
In addition, if you are looking to work overseas in a country of which you are not a citizen, an MA can help a lot with a work visa. For example, obtaining a visa to work in the USA can be much easier if the applicant has an MA in their chosen field.

What industry needs
Industry is quite different. Industry needs talent, and it knows what talent looks like. Industry also understands that most university courses tend to focus on written skills, often in the process neglecting practical skills, and so they tend not to put much faith in academic qualifications. Your demo reel, on the other hand, is vitally important. A great demo reel is the secret to finding work in industry. If you want to break into industry, but have no interest in teaching, then our 30 week course is a better choice than the masters' degree.

Masters' Degree at Bucks
Our online MA in animation, hosted in partnership with Animation Apprentice, is a unique degree, in part because it has a strong focus on practical skills. Our online MA teaches our students how to animate, and to be employable as animators (with a great demo reel), but also how to engage with the theory of the medium at masters' level. 

Academic Content - Fil Ieropoulos
Alexander Williams
Dr Fil Ieropoulos, Senior Lecturer at Bucks New University is our students' main point of contact for all academic work; the written evaluations (essays) that link to the animation production work as well as the dissertation.  Fil helps students to contextualise their production work, and enable development of the level of research enquiry that is expected at Masters level. 

Practical Training - Alexander Williams
Alexander Williams, founder of Animation Apprentice, teaches, delivers, assesses and marks the practical part of the course.  All our students have a personal login at, with access to the all the learning materials.
The balance we strike between theory and practice is one of the things that makes this course unique. We have designed the course to have a strong appeal both to those interested in learning practical skills that will get them a job, and also the theoretical skills that will make them qualified to teach in higher education.

To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link

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