Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design (BFA)

Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts
Major: Animation, Film, Photography, and Motion Design
Program Code: 3284

About This Major . . .

The B.F.A. in Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design (AFP&MD) is unique. After completing traditional freshman-level composition and drawing courses, AFP&MD majors enter a three-tiered program of study. The first tier consists of courses in the principles of animation, film, photography, and motion design—courses designed to outline the specifics of each area and the relationships connecting the areas to each other. The second tier follows with intermediate-level courses where students apply and expand upon earlier basic concepts while exploring more complex applications and completing projects that address the interaction of time, movement, and space. Finally, the third tier offers advanced levels of study providing opportunities for majors to produce a more individual and high-quality portfolio coupled with options for experimentation, collaborative work, and travel. Also unique to AFP&MD are the possible experimental combinations of multiple areas of study in animation, film, photography and motion design. Students at the senior level have opportunities to integrate all four AFP&MD areas or focus on various combinations of digital techniques. Students are encouraged to follow their passions and interests and focus on the area or areas most suited to their individual career goals.

For more information on what you can do with this major, visit Career Services’ What to Do with a Major? resource.

All CMU baccalaureate graduates are expected to demonstrate proficiency in specialized knowledge/applied learning, quantitative fluency, communication fluency, critical thinking, personal and social responsibility, and information literacy. In addition to these campus-wide student learning outcomes, graduates of this major will be able to:

  1. Interpret and apply formal elements and principles of design. (Specialized Knowledge)
  2. Demonstrate application of tools, materials, techniques, and proper use and care for equipment through quality craftsmanship. (Applied Learning)
  3. Generate individual response through concept and theory beyond formal elements to create personal content. (Communication Fluency)
  4. Communicate clearly regarding the critical analysis of art and design both historical and contemporary. (Critical thinking/ Communication Fluency)
  5. Design and publish a professional portfolio and demo reel that meet current industry standards. (Applied Learning)
  6. Demonstrate technical, aesthetic, and conceptual decisions based on application of the creative design process for photographic and time-based media. (Specialized Knowledge)

Each section below contains details about the requirements for this program. Select a header to expand the information/requirements for that particular section of the program's requirements. 

To print or save an overview of this program's information, including the program description, learning outcomes, requirements, suggested course sequencing (if applicable), and advising and graduation information, scroll to the bottom of the left-hand navigation menu and select "Print Options." This will give you the options to either "Send Page to Printer" or "Download PDF of This Page." The "Download PDF of This Page" option prepares a much more concise presentation of all program information. The PDF is also printable and may be preferable due to its brevity. 

Institutional Degree Requirements

The following institutional degree requirements apply to all CMU baccalaureate degrees. Specific programs may have different requirements that must be met in addition to institutional requirements.

  • 120 semester hours minimum.
  • Students must complete a minimum of 30 of the last 60 hours of credit at CMU, with at least 15 semester hours in major discipline courses numbered 300 or higher.
  • 40 upper-division credits (an alternative credit limit applies to the Bachelor of Applied Science degree).
  • 2.00 cumulative GPA or higher in all CMU coursework.
  • A course may only be used to fulfill one requirement for each degree/certificate.
  • No more than six semester hours of independent study courses can be used toward the degree.
  • Non-traditional credit, such as advanced placement, credit by examination, credit for prior learning, cooperative education and internships, cannot exceed 30 semester credit hours for a baccalaureate degree. A maximum of 15 of the 30 credits may be for cooperative education, internships, and practica.
  • Pre-collegiate courses (usually numbered below 100) cannot be used for graduation.
  • Capstone exit assessment/projects (e.g., Major Field Achievement Test) requirements are identified under Program-Specific Degree Requirements.
  • The Catalog Year determines which program sheet and degree requirements a student must fulfill in order to graduate. Visit with your advisor or academic department to determine which catalog year and program requirements you should follow.
  • See “Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Certificates” in the catalog for a complete list of graduation requirements.

Essential Learning Requirements

(31 semester hours)

See the current catalog for a list of courses that fulfill the requirements below. If a course is an Essential Learning option and a requirement for your major, you must use it to fulfill the major requirement and make a different selection for the Essential Learning requirement.

English 1
ENGL 111English Composition I-GTCO13
ENGL 112English Composition II-GTCO23
Mathematics 1
MATH 110College Mathematics-GTMA13
Select one History course3
Select one Humanities course3
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Select one Social and Behavioral Sciences course3
Fine Arts
Select one Fine Arts course3
Natural Sciences 2
Select one Natural Sciences course with a lab4
Select one Natural Sciences course3
Total Semester Credit Hours31

Other Lower Division Requirements

Wellness Requirement
KINE 100Health and Wellness1
Select one Activity course1
Essential Learning Capstone 1
ESSL 290Maverick Milestone3
ESSL 200Essential Speech1
Total Semester Credit Hours6

Foundation Courses

(15 semester hours, must pass each course with a grade of “B” or higher.)

ARTE 101Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 102Three-Dimensional Design-GTAH13
ARTE 118History of Art, Prehistory to Renaissance-GTAH13
ARTE 119History of Art, Renaissance to Present-GTAH13
ARTS 151Foundation Drawing I3
Total Semester Credit Hours15

Program Specific Degree Requirements

(51 semester hours, must pass each course with a grade of “B” or higher.)

Art History Course
ARTH 331History of the Moving Image3
Animation, Film, Photography & Motion Design Courses
ARTA 123Lights! Camera! Action3
ARTA 222Principles of Digital Photography3
ARTA 223Image and Motion3
ARTA 224Principles of Film and Motion Design3
ARTA 225Principles of Animation3
ARTA 322Intermediate Photography3
ARTA 323Character Design and Story Concepts3
ARTA 324Two-Dimensional Animation and Motion Design3
ARTA 3253D Digital Modeling3
ARTA 326Digital Filmmaking3
ARTA 327Sound Principles and Production3
ARTA 422Advanced Photography and Studio Lighting3
ARTA 424Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design Studio I3
ARTA 425Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design Studio II3
ARTA 426Advanced Motion Studio3
ARTA 427Portfolio and Demo Reel3
Total Semester Credit Hours51

General Electives

(All college level courses appearing on your final transcript, not listed above that will bring your total semester hours to 120 hours. 17 semester hours)

Select electives17
Total Semester Credit Hours17
Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterSemester Credit Hours
ENGL 111 English Composition I-GTCO1 3
ARTE 118 History of Art, Prehistory to Renaissance-GTAH1 3
ARTE 101
Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH1
or Lights! Camera! Action
Essential Learning - History 3
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ENGL 112 English Composition II-GTCO2 3
MATH 110 College Mathematics-GTMA1 3
ARTE 101
Two-Dimensional Design-GTAH1
or Lights! Camera! Action
ARTE 102 Three-Dimensional Design-GTAH1 3
ARTE 119 History of Art, Renaissance to Present-GTAH1 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Second Year
Fall Semester
ARTS 151 Foundation Drawing I 3
ARTA 223 Image and Motion 3
ARTA 225 Principles of Animation 3
KINE 100 Health and Wellness 1
KINA Activity 1
Essential Learning - Natural Science with lab 4
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARTA 222 Principles of Digital Photography 3
ARTA 224 Principles of Film and Motion Design 3
Essential Learning - Natural Science 3
Essential Learning - Humanities 3
ESSL 290 Maverick Milestone 3
ESSL 200 Essential Speech 1
 Semester Credit Hours16
Third Year
Fall Semester
ARTH 331 History of the Moving Image 3
ARTA 323 Character Design and Story Concepts 3
ARTA 324 Two-Dimensional Animation and Motion Design 3
ARTA 322 Intermediate Photography 3
Essential Learning - Fine Arts 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARTA 325 3D Digital Modeling 3
ARTA 326 Digital Filmmaking 3
ARTA 327 Sound Principles and Production 3
Essential Learning - Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
General Elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
Fourth Year
Fall Semester
ARTA 424 Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design Studio I 3
ARTA 426 Advanced Motion Studio 3
ARTA 422 Advanced Photography and Studio Lighting 3
General Electives (2 courses) 6
 Semester Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARTA 425 Animation, Film, Photography and Motion Design Studio II 3
ARTA 427 Portfolio and Demo Reel 3
General Electives (3 courses) 8
 Semester Credit Hours14
 Total Semester Credit Hours120

Advising Process and DegreeWorks

Documentation on the pages related to this program is intended for informational purposes to help determine what courses and associated requirements are needed to earn a degree. The suggested course sequencing outlines how students could finish degree requirements. Some courses are critical to complete in specific semesters, while others may be moved around. Meeting with an academic advisor is essential in planning courses and altering the suggested course sequencing. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to understand and fulfill the requirements for her/his intended degree(s).

DegreeWorks is an online degree audit tool available in MAVzone. It is the official record used by the Registrar’s Office to evaluate progress towards a degree and determine eligibility for graduation. Students are responsible for reviewing their DegreeWorks audit on a regular basis and should discuss questions or concerns with their advisor or academic department head. Discrepancies in requirements should be reported to the Registrar’s Office.

Graduation Process

Students must complete the following in the first two months of the semester prior to completing their degree requirements:

  • Review their DegreeWorks audit and create a plan that outlines how unmet requirements will be met in the final semester.
  • Meet with their advisor and modify their plan as needed. The advisor must approve the final plan.
  • Submit the “Intent to Graduate” form to the Registrar’s Office to officially declare the intended graduation date and commencement ceremony plans.
  • Register for all needed courses and complete all requirements for each degree sought.

Submission deadlines and commencement details can be found at

If a student’s petition for graduation is denied, it will be her/his responsibility to consult the Registrar’s Office regarding next steps.