Top 10 Film Schools: Best Film Schools in the Nation

Read about the top film schools in the United States, including two that are located in Los Angeles and New York City. Learn about the degree options at three leading universities, and find a handy table that provides a snapshot of the programs available at other schools around the country.

School Information

Film schools can typically be found in colleges and universities, such as the three highlighted below. They include the University of Southern California, New York University and Ohio University. In general, programs in film production and screenwriting can lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts. Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Critical Studies programs may also be available.

1. University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

School Highlight: USC offers a MFA Producer's Program.

In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles tied for 25th among national universities. USC's School of Cinematic Arts was the first film school established in the United States and includes a number of departments devoted to the study of film and television production, cinema studies, producing and screenwriting, as well as animation and interactive media. Aside from producing, undergraduates can pursue programs in all of the aforementioned fields of study, which lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). The critical studies program leads to a Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

2. New York University in New York City, NY

School Highlight: NYU hosts the First Run Film Festival.

According to U.S. News & World Report, New York University (NYU) ranked 32nd among national universities in 2015. NYU is home to the Tisch School of the Arts, which offers film programs through its Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television.

Undergraduate students majoring in film and television take classes in film criticism and history, audio production and animation. Courses in acting, directing, editing and scriptwriting are also part of the program. Graduate students may pursue an MFA in Filmmaking or a dual MFA and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Producing. Aspiring professionals in the MFA program create at least five movies while acquiring practical experience as crewmembers and camera operators on their classmates' projects.

3. Ohio University in Athens, OH

School Highlight: The film department is aligned with the Athens International Film and Video Festival.

Ohio University is a public institution that U.S. News & World Report ranked tied for 129th among national universities in 2015. The College of Fine Arts includes the School of Film, where students can pursue an undergraduate minor in film or earn an MFA or a Master of Arts (M.A.). A 4-year BFA program is available through the Honors Tutorial College. The program offers two specializations in film studies and film production, both of which require completion of a final thesis project.

Top Film Schools

College/University Name Distinction Location
American Film Institute Conservatory American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women program Los Angeles, CA
California Institute of the Arts Community Arts Partnership program Valencia, CA
Columbia University Offers summer program New York, NY
Florida State University Non-degree Torchlight Program acquaints students with the business practices associated with the film industry Tallahassee, FL
Northwestern University Interdisciplinary MFA in Film and Theater program Evanston, IL
University of California - Los Angeles MFA in Cinematography program Los Angeles, CA
University of Texas - Austin University of Texas Film Institute (UTFI) Austin, TX

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