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Watkins College of Art at Belmont University Named Top 50 Illustration School in the Nation, No. 1 in Tennessee by Animation Career Review

After considering nearly 150 schools across the US, the Animation Career Review named Watkins College of Art at Belmont University a Top 50 illustration school, coming in at No. 43 nationally, No. 7 in the South and No. 1 in the state of Tennessee. This honor is decided based on academic reputation, employment data, admission selectivity, depth and breadth of the program, value as it relates to tuition/indebtedness and graduation rate.

Watkins College of Art merged with Belmont University in 2020, originally existing as a separate institution established in Nashville in 1885. The school is fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art Education, Studio Art, Illustration, Photography, Design Communications and Experiential Design, Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art, Photography, and Art History, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in the Visual Arts as well as minors in Art History, Design Communications, Painting, Photography and Studio Art.

Dan Brawner, associate professor of design & illustration, says the honor is meaningful because “it puts a spotlight on our program, recognizes years of strong student work and reflects a dedicated faculty who are deeply immersed in the wider creative community.”

Belmont University’s studio-based Illustration program provides a multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial-focused education, so students are equipped for success in whichever path they choose- whether it be as an animator, art director, educator, graphic novelist, character designer, children’s book illustrator or any other occupation within this growing field. Graduates of Watkins have an extensive understanding of visual literacy, typography, conceptual and technical development, advertising illustration, art licensing and surface design, book illustration and sequential art, character design and development, and editorial illustration.  

“Our professors bring a breadth of experience to the classroom, challenging students and encouraging work that is on par with the best students in the country,” Brawner continued. “Extraordinary alumni accomplishments are proof that a career in illustration is not pie in the sky stuff.” He hopes to continue creating valuable opportunities for Watkins students, increase enrollment for the College of Art, add illustration faculty and grow their reputation.

The Animation Career Review is an online resource for people aspiring to work in animation, game design, graphic design, digital art and related fields. Launched in 2011, they strive to provide the most accurate and relevant information for prospective illustration students to use as a starting point in the college search process. Over the past eleven years, Animation Career Review has generated over 14 million unique visitors, an average of over 1.2 million per year.

The full rankings can be found here.

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