Television Production College and School Program Overviews

The field of television production encompasses program production, news production, technical occupations, sales and management. Colleges award certificates and offer associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in television production and broadcasting.

Essential Information

Television production degrees are offered at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Certificates are available at some institutions. At the bachelor's and master's levels, externships may be available. Television production can be a highly competitive industry to get into. Individuals interested in television production careers must be willing to work their way up from the bottom. The more training, the better, and experience weighs heavily. One way to get experience is as a volunteer at a small private or public television station. Most colleges have their own television production studios. Once a person has some work experience in the industry, positions such as production intern or production assistant may open in a larger, professional arena. Internships typically last less than one year and may be non-paying or paying. Typically they provide a method of breaking into the industry. Often, internships can be taken for course credit in degree or certificate programs. Usually, verification is required from the school in order to be accepted into the program. Duties can vary and may include administrative tasks, organizing and logging tapes, maintaining video archives, research and assisting crew members, among other possibilities.

  • Program Levels in Television Production: Certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma; bachelor's degree
  • Other requirements*: Externship

*Available at some institutions

Certificate in Television Production

Training from a certificate program in television production is one way to get started on a career in this field. Basically, this is a survey program that exposes students to industry fundamentals. This not only provides training, but helps students decide if television production is the right career choice.

Since a certificate program is generally offered at community colleges, there may be differing requirements for admission. Typically, students only need a high school diploma or GED. Students may need to have taken standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT or to have passed a state proficiency examination. The certificate program is a focused series of courses that deal only with basic television production. Courses include:

  • Television production
  • Television studio
  • Television equipment
  • Writing for broadcast
  • News production
  • Telecommunications

Associate's Degree in Television Production

Individuals who earn associate's degrees in television production have received training in scripting, staging, lighting and set construction, in addition to editing and control room duties. An overall understanding of the field includes a familiarization with computers and electronic graphics, advertising, marketing, announcing and human relations. Students may choose to concentrate in broadcast production or sales and marketing

Community colleges generally require a high school diploma or GED for admission. At times these qualifications are waived if the student passes a state proficiency examination. Once enrolled, a student must often complete the general education requirements before starting courses related to the major. Typically, students pursuing an associate's degree in television are presented with a variety of courses, providing them with complete coverage of the subject matter. Coursework examples include:

  • Light and sound editing
  • Mass communication
  • Control room and studio production techniques
  • Documentary production
  • Announcing
  • Writing for television

Bachelor's Degree in Television and Radio

A bachelor's degree program in television and radio promotes complete understanding of electronic media. While a number of core courses are required for all degree candidates, the program typically allows a large number of electives. This provides an opportunity for the student to concentrate on a certain area. During the course of the bachelor's program, students become familiar with the day-to-day operations of a studio. This is most often accomplished by performing multiple duties at the college's broadcasting facilities, although externships at commercial stations are also available.

Applicants for admission to a 4-year degree program in television and radio must hold a high school diploma or GED. In many cases, a school may require a minimum combined SAT or ACT score. Depending on the college, an individual's high school GPA can have some bearing on admission. Although individual special interest courses are included in a bachelor's degree program, in addition to general education courses, candidates usually take 18 credits of advanced core courses for a television and radio major. Available courses include:

  • Mass media
  • Television industry
  • Communications
  • Television ethics
  • Multimedia production
  • Program development

Bachelor's Degree in Broadcasting

Individuals pursuing this degree become familiar with digital video and audio production, including editing, post-production, animation and graphics. Theory is coupled with technical training. In many programs, students are allowed to concentrate in either the news and performance or production areas. News and performance stresses writing and reporting, while production focuses on the developing the presentation as a whole.

In most cases, the prerequisites for entrance into the broadcasting major are the same as those for entering the television and radio major. Although electives are chosen from a broad list that allows students to focus on their concentration, all broadcast bachelor's degree candidates are given a solid base in broadcast theory.

  • Broadcasting production
  • Broadcasting research
  • Writing for broadcasting
  • Broadcasting's relationship to society
  • Broadcast law
  • Ethics

Master's Degree in Television Production

A master's degree in television production marries creativity and practicality. Individuals who pursue this degree prepare themselves for careers in the upper echelons of TV production. The program exposes students to different aspects of programming, how to bring ideas to fruition and then present them. Students develop program content, also learning to produce and direct using various camera techniques in both live and filmed productions.

Applicants must hold Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees from accredited colleges or universities. Along with their applications, students are usually required to submit their scores from either the GRE or the MAT. In many cases, letters of recommendation will also be required for admission to the program. Master's degree candidates will prepare to take on departmental or overall responsibilities for broadcast production or in post-production facilities. Paid internships may often be required. Some students also participate in supervised externships. Coursework includes:

  • Multi-camera production
  • Single camera production
  • Script structuring
  • Television writing
  • Post-production
  • Field video productions

Popular Career Options

Seniority and experience play large parts in a television production career. However, by virtue of having associate's degrees, graduates are prepared to enter the industry at higher levels than are certificate holders. Those holding an associate's degree are often hired as production assistants to production managers, production coordinators or assistant directors; this allows them to learn the business while holding some actual responsibility in the development of a television production.

Well-rounded in their preparation to join the television industry, graduates holding bachelor's degrees in television production may choose from a range of career paths, including on-air reporter, advertising executive, salesman, assistant director and programming assistant. Broadcast bachelor's program graduates often begin careers in assistant positions, such as assistant to the set designer, cameraman, producer or director, with time and experience, individuals move up the ladder in the industry. Other career paths have to do with the front office or on-air presentation. Common career options include writer, editor, producer, post-production technician, camera operator and audio production engineer.

With a master's degree, graduates have more latitude in their career choices. Career options include general manager, producer, director, technical director, video engineer and news director. As a rule, they've also acquired experience and have their eyes set on high-level positions in the management or production end of the business. Technological advances have also made the technical aspects of production attractive.

Continuing Education

Working at smaller production companies and studios, where there is usually less competition, serves as a training ground towards better jobs at larger operations. The Society of Broadcast Engineers offers several certifications to production technicians who, by way of experience and exhibited abilities, qualify to sit for examinations. Although not a license, certification serves as proof of competence and a high quality of professionalism.

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