Master's Programme in Animation

No intake 2022. Applying for the studies starting in 2023 will be possible during the application period 2022-2023.

Would you like to be part of the magical world of animation, create visually engaging stories and breathe life into characters? Animation major explores both the theory and practice of this most imaginative and joyous form of art. The programme is the first of its kind in Finland, and students will become part of a wide network in the Finnish and international animation community. You will be thoroughly supported by our dedicated professors in finding your own voice and maximising your artistic potential to launch a successful career in animation.




1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021




2 år, heltidsstudier


Lämplig lägre högskoleexamen


Det konstnärliga utbildningsområdet


120 studiepoäng


Högskolan för konst, design och arkitektur


€15000/år (magister studier) för studeranden från länder utanför EU/EES

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No intake 2022. Applying for the studies starting in 2023 will be possible during the application period 2022-2023.

The demand for animated content has expanded rapidly and is not limited to the entertainment industry anymore. The moving image being a powerful and striking way to deliver a message, animation is increasingly used in a variety of fields and contexts – from crisis communications to educational materials. The students learn different storytelling techniques, and get to experiment with them and apply them to bring their ideas to life. The course is led by leading professionals, and students have the most up-to-the-minute technology at their fingertips.

Upon graduating from the Master's Programme in Animation graduates will have:

  • Advanced skills and knowledge to work as experts and fully fledged creators in their field. Graduates are able to design, create and head animation productions. They have gained a solid understanding of different types of animation, and/or a more specialised perception of a particular technique.
  • Ability to work both as part of a multidisciplinary team and as an independent artist. Ability to work in a team is central to the course, furthermore it is important to understand the different roles and disciplines in a filmmaking process. Graduates also possess the knowledge and skills needed for independent and demanding artistic work.
  • Analytical and critical approach to their work and industry. Graduates are able to examine their work and the work of others with a critical eye and an attention to detail. They are critical thinkers and able to discern which information is credible and useful to them.
  • Extensive research skills. Graduates are able to conduct their own qualitative and artistic research, contribute to animation-related academic discussions and pursue doctoral studies, should they wish to do so.


Overall, the Master’s Programme in Animation comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of advanced major studies (60 ECTS), elective studies (30 ECTS) as well as a Master’s thesis (30 ECTS).

During the first year, you’ll learn skills in storytelling and visualisation, pre-production, directing, character design, character animation and directing, covering almost any 2D and 3D animation techniques (from CGI to cartoon and stop frame).

In the second year you start working towards a specialist area and your master’s thesis. You will familiarise yourself with entrepreneurial opportunities and further develop your artistic identity.

More information can be found in our Study Guide 2020-2022

Languages of instruction

In the Master’s Programme in Animation, the language of instruction is English. Students can write their Master’s Thesis in English, Finnish or Swedish.

Tracks / majors within the programme

The opportunities in animation are many, and students can choose to focus on specific areas such as directing, screenwriting, pre-production or design. The faculty often takes the initiative of inviting visiting lecturers – all experts in their fields – based on students’ wishes, ensuring that the study environment remains dynamic and ever-evolving. An example of a field that is particularly topical is character animation, where we look at the movement and its expressive power – examining how to turn any inanimate object, such as a coffee cup or chair, into relatable and humane character. 


With an on-going flow of visiting lecturers from all over the world and strong connections to the global animation industry, the Master’s Programme in Animation is highly international by definition. Students are encouraged to submit their work to different festivals and competitions nationally and abroad. In addition, all the usual options to develop one’s global competencies are available, such as:

  • spending a semester at one of Aalto University’s partner universities around the globe
  • taking a summer course abroad
  • carrying out practical training abroad
  • carrying out master’s thesis research abroad
  • acting as a tutor for first-year students

Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through their studies, but also through multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate to the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.

After graduation / Post graduate opportunities

The Master's programme in Animation at Aalto is considered a great foundation for doctoral studies and post-doc positions.

Career opportunities

As the moving image becomes ever more dominant in today's visual world, the career opportunities in animation are vast. The media and entertainment industry remains important, but there is an ever-increasing number of surprising applications where animation is needed as well, from visualisations, simulations and installations to creative arts. Examples of possible professions include:

  • Animation director
  • Animation designer
  • Supervisor
  • Producer
  • Layout artist
  • Storyboard artist
  • Concept artist

Aalto University has well-established career services to support students’ employment in Finland and abroad. Thanks to the flexible curriculum, many Aalto students start work during their studies and guarantee themselves entry positions before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company.


There are a number of research groups at Aalto University focusing on animation from different perspectives. Topics include but are not limited to autoethnography, experimental and documentary animation, craftsmanship, VR and new forms of animation and costume design for animated characters.

Multidisciplinary / Collaboration

The programme has close ties with Finnish animation studios, production companies, festivals and other institutions. Greater Helsinki is a hub for many exciting startup companies and studios, and students have the opportunity to build an extensive network throughout their studies. A lot of the studying takes place in a master class style format, allowing for personalised learning and individual attention. Collaboration across disciplines takes place regularly throughout the programme, with talents such as composers and voice actors contributing to the student projects.

Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom of choosing elective courses across the university bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.

Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for Master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

The applications to Master’s Programme in Animation will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

Phase I 

Artistic and/or design practice

Assessed area

Demonstrations of artistic work or assignments

Admission requirements


Solid general and artistic knowledge and advanced skills in animation.

High level of past achievement. Applicants are expected to demonstrate sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in animation practice in form of personal portfolio/creative work. A portfolio should include a demo reel of creative animation work samples showcasing prior professional and artistic activities. In addition, it should demonstrate the understanding of storytelling through animated images.

Method of demonstrating competence



Relevance of previous studies

Assessed area

Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements

Admission requirements


Previous Bachelor’s degree in either animation, film, visual communication, graphic design, illustration or equivalent.

Or prior industrial experience deemed to be equivalent to Bachelor’s degree

Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

Method of demonstrating competence

Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)

Or a degree-equivalent professional qualification



Assessed area

Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills

Admission requirements


Motivation letter demonstrating

  • Strong professional interest and capacity to achieve the Masters’ standard
  • Motivation

Method of demonstrating competence

Motivation letter


Motivation letter of maximum 4000 characters in length explaining your reasons for applying to this area of specialisation and telling of your particular interest(s) in the field as well as your goals and expectations for the studies to be completed at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Describe your specific strengths and areas of interest, goals, artistic vision and other aspects of your work.


Other areas of competence

Assessed area

Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. screenings, exhibitions, festivals, competitions, non-formal education

Admission requirements


Applications must include the applicant’s CV indicating personal data, educational background, work experience, animation productions and applicant’s work in them, screenings, exhibitions, awards, grants, study trips and positions of trust

Method of demonstrating competence

Curriculum vitae


Phase II 


Assessed area

Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills/ assessment of second-phase assignments

Admission requirements


Interview and motivation letter demonstrating

  • Strong professional interest and capacity to achieve the Masters’ standard
  • Motivation
  • Feasibility of the applicant’s aims as based on the portfolio and written application
  • Communication skills

Method of demonstrating competence

Interview, second-phase assignments



Evaluation process

The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for Master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases. 

Phase I

In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Artistic and/or design practice
  • Relevance of previous studies
  • Suitability/Motivation letter
  • Other area of competence

Only the applicants who fulfill the requirements/are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.

Phase II

In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria

  • Suitability/interview, Portfolio pitch, second-phase assignments

Phase II consists of an interview, which includes a portfolio pitch. During the interview applicants are also asked to complete a set of assignments

After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II.


Study-option-specific documents requested

The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:


Your portfolio should include a demoreel of creative animation work samples. The portfolio demonstrates your understanding of storytelling through animated images. It should contain work related to your artistic expression, and showcase your prior professional and/or artistic activity on a broad scale. Include a brief account of how the productions were carried out and specify your roles in them, the names of the production companies and/or commissioners, the production dates, the main artistic contributors and where the works have been publicly screened or published. Submit your demoreel either as a downloadable password protected Vimeo link or a QuickTime or MP4 file and ensure the video files work in the common Mac or PC user interfaces. Animation tests, storyboarding and concept artwork will also be approved as a part of the portfolio.

Maximum size of the Portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file Portfolio-lastname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.

Motivation letter

Applicants must write up a motivation letter of a maximum of 4000 characters in length, explaining why they wish to apply to the degree programme in question, what their particular interests are in the field, and what their hopes and expectations are regarding studies at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The plan should explain the applicant’s personal strengths, areas of interest, artistic and design visions and artistic objectives.


Applications must include the applicant’s CV (single PDF file) indicating personal data, educational background, work experience, animation productions and your work in them, screenings, exhibitions, awards, grants, study trips and positions of trust.

Language of the application documents

The application documents must be submitted in English.

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