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Cinematography Schools in the U.S.

Cinematography schools are intended for students who would like to pursue careers in filmmaking. In addition to filmmaking, cinematography requires the ability to supervise and manage a film crew. Important factors to consider when choosing the ideal cinematography school include quality of equipment, faculty experience and proximity to filming venues.

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Cinematography schools cover the creative and technical aspects of filmmaking. Depending on the school and specific program offered, students can earn a bachelor's, master's or even a PhD in Cinematography.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Cinematography and Film Production
  • Film and Cinema Studies
  • Photography

Top Cinematography Schools

The following schools are among the top-rated cinematography schools in the United States according to The Hollywood Reporter. Tuition rates are based on the 2015-2016 school year.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, MA $50,277 (Undergrad) $39,984 (Grad)
New York University New York, NY private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, MA, PhD $47,750 (Undergrad) $38,592 (Grad)
American Film Institute Los Angeles, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year MA $44,082
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA public, 4 year BA, MA, PhD $12,763 (In-state Undergrad) $37,471 (Out-of-state Undergrad) $11,220 (In-state Grad) $26,322 (Out-of-state Grad)
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, MA $43,986 (Undergrad) $43,400 (Grad)
Columbia University New York, NY private, not-for-profit, 4 year MA $42,280
Chapman University Orange, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, MA $47,260 (Undergrad) $25,331(Grad)
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, MA $42,795 (Undergrad) $17,441(Grad)
Emerson College Boston, MA private, not-for-profit, 4 year BA, $41,052

Source: *NCES College Navigator

School Selection Criteria

Cinematography schools are intended for students who would like to pursue careers in filmmaking. Students should consider the following before deciding on a school:

  • When choosing a cinematography school, students should focus on programs taught by a talented or well-credentialed faculty.
  • Students should consider the quality of equipment and proximity to filming venues to determine if a school is right for their career goals.
  • Choose a program that incorporates studies on the filmmaking business with instruction on cinematographic techniques.

Cinematography Overview

Cinematography schools are intended for those interested in pursuing a degree in filmmaking. Besides learning the technical skills required for cinematography, other courses are needed to successfully complete a cinematography degree. Students will also complete coursework in directing, editing, production, critical studies, and cinematography theory.

The top cinematography schools in the U.S. are a mix of public and private schools and tuition rates vary considerably. Most offer several degree paths, allowing students some creative flexibility in designing their degree programs.

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