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New Mexico State University’s animation program continues to be ranked among the top programs in the country for the 12th year in a row, NMSU said in a news release.
Animation Career Review (ACR) evaluated nearly 200 programs across the United States and, in its 2023 rankings, NMSU’s animation program rose from 22nd to 19th nationally, NMSU said. The program remains ranked seventh regionally and first in New Mexico.
“We want to help our animation students enhance the storytelling, but not necessarily tell them what stories to tell,” said Derek Chase, professor in NMSU's Creative Media Institute who specializes in 3D animation.
“That ranking has been a big component of our recruitment, retention and the growth of our enrollment because we’ll find students that come from outside the state who hear about us,” said Chase. “Our program is pretty popular.”
“CMI offers a high-quality education at a very affordable price,” said Eddie Bakshi, who specializes in teaching 2D animation production at CMI. “We offer access to industry-standard software, taught by highly skilled professors, many of whom have worked on popular movies or TV shows.”
"We really emphasize storytelling and improvement of foundational knowledge, Chase said. "… We want to encourage our students' personal development and the ideas and stories that they want to tell."
ACR considers animation programs in degree-granting institutions with the exception of two-year community colleges, NMSU said. The criteria evaluated include academic reputation, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of program faculty, value as it relates to tuition and indebtedness, graduation rate, geographic location and employment data. Since 2020, the employment data has been given significantly more weight in the ranking formula than in previous years.
The criterion of geographic location is considered because students who attend school in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Orlando, New York, Chicago, Boston, Austin, and a few others have a distinct advantage over students in other parts of the country in terms of employment opportunities.
“The Animation and Visual Effects program at NMSU has steadily grown since it started,” said CMI Department Head Amy Lanasa, who is also a professor in the department. "Since 2018, the number of majors has grown 40 percent and the number of degrees we're awarding in animation has grown 50 percent. We were lucky to get an additional faculty line during that time, which made it possible for us to accept more students into the program, but we are still turning away applicants each semester."