Top Schools for Cinematography and Film Production

Learn about cinematography and film production programs, which can usually be found in a college communications or fine arts department. Get a snapshot of what's available at four leading schools, and find information about other film institutes and universities with top programs.

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  • Cinematography and Film Production
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School Information

Cinematography and film production programs can often be found at schools that offer degrees in television and film studies. Two of the three schools profiled below have received national university rankings from U.S. News and World Report. New York University's graduate multimedia and visual communications program has also been recognized by USN&WR. Two of the three schools offer both undergraduate and graduate programs in film and television production. Admission to the graduate program at the University of California in Los Angeles is highly competitive.

1. New York University (NYU) in New York, NY

School Highlight: A dual Master of Business Administration and Master of Fine Arts program for TV and film production students is available.

In 2012, the graduate fine arts program at New York University ranked 11th among multimedia and visual communications programs around the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts has one of the largest film and video production facilities in the East, where students can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree in film and television production. Once enrolled, students become familiar with every step of the film and video production process, including the use of the camera (cinematography), editing and sound production. They also have the opportunity to showcase their work through annual student film festivals, such as the First Run Film Festival.

2. University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles

School Highlight: USC is home to the Peter Stark Producing Program.

A private school located in Los Angeles, the center of the U.S. film industry, USC ranked tied for 25th among U.S. News and World Report's list of national universities for 2015. At the School of Cinematic Arts, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film and Television Production. The MFA takes about three years to complete. In the second year of study, MFA students specialize in one area of film production, such as writing, editing, directing and cinematography.

3. University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)

School Highlight: UCLA has the second largest film collection in the country behind the Library of Congress.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the Los Angeles campus of the University of California ranked tied for 23rd among national universities in 2015. UCLA's School of Theater Film and Television offers a 4-year MFA in Cinematography program that includes courses in lighting, directing, digital cinematography and production. In preparation for their theses, students in the cinematography and directing programs have the opportunity to collaborate on their own productions.

Top Film Schools

School Name Distinction Location
American Film Institute Conservatory Hosts the Harold Lloyd Master Seminar series Los Angeles, CA
California Institute of the Arts Students present their films at the school's Bijou Theater Valencia, CA
Columbia University Faculty active in producing major motion pictures New York, NY
Florida State University Honored by the Director's Guild of America Tallahassee, FL
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Home to the Gene Siskel Film Center Chicago, IL
Temple University Hosts the Diamond Screen Film Festival for students Philadelphia, PA
University of Texas - Austin Master Class guest lecture program Austin, TX
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