Saturday, 27 April 2019

Do Animators Need a Master's Degree?

Do Animators Need a Master's Degree? It's a question I get asked often, mainly by prospective students who want to know if the committment of time and effort that is necessary to complete an MA is worth the investment.

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 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 heavily regulated by the governments who fund them, and governments tend to insist that academic staff must be properly qualified. Since government bureaucrats aren't good at spotting talent, 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
Dr Fil Ieropoulos
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.

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.

For more on the experience of studying at Bucks New University, come and visit us at one of our Open Days, take a virtual tour of one of our animation studios, check out what our students think of our course, and see why we're ranked in the top 12 creative universities in the UK.

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