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General admission questions

How/where can I get information about the 3D Animation and CGI program at Dawson?

Before sending your email, please check the entire “Frequently Asked Questions” page for our program website, to make sure your question is not already answered there.

If your question has not already been answered on the Frequently Asked Questions:

You can access more information about the program by contacting the Department Chair, Charles Le Guen, at



What are the admission requirements?

Read up on the admission requirements to the 3D Animation and CGI program. Given the competitive nature of the program, it is strongly recommended that the applicants have learned some basic art fundamentals, and an ability to draw.

I’m a beginner. Can I study here if I don’t know any 3D animation?

Yes! This program assumes you are a beginner. We do not expect you to have any 3D knowledge before you enter the program. We would rather you have strong art fundamentals.

Do you accept students in the winter?

Unfortunately, the program only accepts new students in the fall (students must apply by March 1st to be considered for the following Fall start).

How much does it cost to attend your school?

For Quebec residents, the program tuition is free. More details about college costs can be found under Student Fees.

Where can I get a registration Form?

The registrar’s office at Dawson College, room 2D.6

What type of financial/academic support is available at the College?

Student Services provide a great deal of support to students. Check the College website to find out about the Academic Skills Center, the Mentor Program, the Peer and Faculty Tutoring Programs, Advising and the financial assistance available.

What Should I Include in My Letter of Intent?

Be yourself.  The letter of intent is your opportunity to tell us why you want to study with us, why you feel you would be a good candidate for our program, and what you would like to do professionally in the long run (and how this program fits in with that plan).  The letter of intent should be included with the application (March 1st) and another copy should be included with your portfolio when you bring that to us for review (mid/late March).  Please do not email us your letter of intent.


I already have started/completed a CEGEP DEC in another program. Is that OK/good/bad?

We have many students who have started/completed other various CEGEP DECs before coming to study with us.

It is always beneficial to them, for multiple reasons: students with prior CEGEP experience understand the CEGEP system already, and they may also have completed some/all of their required CEGEP General Education classes.

Having General Education classes already completed when beginning our program can lighten the student’s overall workload, since students are credited for General Education classes they have already taken in CEGEP.

Questions about entrance portfolio & drawing test

Why do I need a portfolio to get in?

This is an art program. It is very rewarding, but it is not easy. To succeed, students should already have learned some basic art fundamentals before they are admitted. The portfolio helps us to see whether they have the skills to succeed or not. If not, we can coach them to be ready.

What do you look for in a portfolio?

We look for strong art fundamentals. Because this program has a forte in character animation, we especially appreciate seeing characters in motion and/or characters with motion. For a detailed list of what we require in the portfolio, visit our requirements page.

Can I get feedback on my portfolio before the application deadline?

Yes! Absolutely! All of our teachers are friendly and have an open-door policy. They will gladly meet with you and give you feedback on your portfolio. The best thing to do is to contact our faculty member overseeing portfolio feedback for new a applicants, Geoff Carley.

Geoff is one of the founding faculty members of the department, and gives great feedback on portfolios.  Send him an email at this address to request an appointment for having your portfolio reviewed.

The students who stand the greatest chance of getting in are those who come visit us regularly for feedback on their work, as they prepare for the portfolio, weeks in advance of the deadline. Some students start as early as September and keep bringing us their latest work to see, right until portfolio day in March. Those students tend to have a strong portfolio by the time portfolio review day comes around, and also have already demonstrated a strong level of commitment.

What should I do if I don’t have a portfolio and/or I can’t draw?

Take some drawing classes and start building your portfolio. We can gladly suggest classes around town that would be helpful.

What kind of grades do I need to get into the program?

This is a competitive program to get into, but we don’t have a pre-set cut-off. The number of applicants varies from year to year, and so the cut-off varies as well. And because we look at the grades and the portfolio and the drawing test, we don’t treat all students the same; we recognize that some students might have strong marks and a weaker portfolio, while others might have a strong portfolio and weaker grades. We take a holistic approach and hope to find the best overall students that balance out these areas.

Why don’t you expect students to know 3D software before entering your program?

The art fundamentals are the most important aspect, and we’d like aspiring students to focus on that. We can easily teach you the software skills once you’re in the program. But the art fundamentals come first. It’s easier to teach a poet how to use a word processor then to teach poetry to someone who only knows how to use a word processor but who doesn’t yet know how to write poetry. In this same way, we feel the art skills are paramount. Software changes with time, but strong art skills do not.

I applied and didn’t get in! What should I do?

Contact us and work with us to improve your chances for the next time. Because we get many applications, the program standards are high and not everyone can get in on their first attempt (some try once, twice, even three times before getting in). This is good thing, because it means that when you do get in you will be surrounded by like-minded students who are also committed and passionate. Students who show us their work often and take our advice on how to improve it, tend to not only have a strong portfolio by March, but they also then have an established relationship with us. The faculty appreciates that level of commitment

I need to improve my drawing… Can you recommend a good school/class?

Good question. Not all drawing classes are the same.

To be admitted into our program, we would highly recommend that you look into studying drawing with one of these schools, listed below.  Although they are not the only drawing schools in Montreal, they are schools we hold in high regard and would have no hesitation recommending, as preparation for our program.

  1. Studio-technique
  2. Syn studio
  3. L’Atelier de Bresoles


When is the portfolio review/drawing test?

The portfolio and drawing test are generally sometime in late March.  The college will send you an invitation with a specific date and time for your group.

The college will send you the date and time for your portfolio review and drawing test after they have processed your application (provided you submit an application to them before the March 1st deadline).

You should not attend any one of our portfolio reviews or drawing tests if you have not been invited  by the college – it is impossible to be admitted to the program without this invitation.

If you feel you should have received an invitation but did not, you should contact to inquire.

Is it OK to use another artist’s work as inspiration for my submitted portfolio artwork?

It’s OK to redraw an image from an existing artist in your portfolio, but it MUST be very clearly labeled as a reproduction, with credit given to the original artist.  Otherwise we will suspect you are trying to pass the work off as your original artwork and not accept you into the program (this has happened).

Even if you are drawing from a photograph, it should be labeled as a photo study.

We’re much more interested in seeing your creativity and original artwork than working with existing images or characters.




Questions about the industry

Are there jobs for graduates in this field?

Yes, all over the world, but especially right now in Montreal – seems many companies cannot find enough people to fill their empty seats. But it takes a high standard to enter this competitive field, and a lot of work to meet & to maintain those standards. And we cannot predict what the opportunities will be like in the future.

What are the salaries like?

Starting salaries might vary from company to company and person to person, but a starting salary of $35-$45K is not uncommon, with significant increases in the first few years, depending on the individual.  Supervisors typically earn $100K-150K, some earn more than that.

How closely involved are you with the industry?

All of our teachers have strong ties with the industry. All of them are either working in the industry full-time and teaching part-time, or else they are teaching full-time and working in the industry part-time. They have all worked in the industry. Many of our teachers are in decision-making roles within the industry, and are well-positioned to become the bridge to industry for the best students.

Questions about the program

Do you offer a work stage?

We do not. But we do have strong ties with the companies in the industry. Our best students have job offers lined up before graduation day. We also have relationships with companies who hire some of our students for periods of 8 weeks during the summer, often between 2nd and third year.

What other types of animation do you teach?

We teach animation principles in the first semester using hand-drawn 2D animation exercises. We also have the students make a stop-motion film in their second semester, which helps them learn about editing and cameras, in addition to this traditional form of animation.

Will I have any drawing classes in the first year?

In the first year we offer Drawing in Perspective, Drawing Anatomy, and Drawing for Animation.

Why do you have drawing, painting and sculpture classes?

Because art fundamentals are at the core of what we do. We are training the students in computer generated art, but the computer is just a tool. We teach the art skills as well as the computer skills.

Do you offer any “concept art” or “digital painting” or character design classes?

We offer character and environment design classes in our first semester, “Intro to Preproduction” class.

Students learn sketching for animation in their “Sketching for Animation” class.

Students learn digital painting skills in their matte painting class.

In third year, students must produce their own concept art for their thesis film projects.

I already have a DEC – can I finish in less than 3 years?

No, you cannot finish earlier however, having a D.E.C. will enable you to have a lighter course load. The program is offered during regular daytime hours.

Last Modified: February 25, 2019