Top Graduate Film School in the U.S. with Program Summaries

Read on to learn about two of the top film schools to offer graduate programs in the U.S. Learn about these schools' ranking information and get program summaries to make an informed decision on your education.

School Overviews

Top graduate film schools teach students advanced skills in video and audio production, cinematography and film editing. Although graduate film programs are available throughout the country, the top film schools tend to be located in large metropolitan cities that have greater access to film industry resources, such as New York or Los Angeles. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and New York University (NYU) are two such schools; both are highly ranked and provide opportunities for hands-on training.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

School Highlight: Graduate students at UCLA's film school have access to numerous research centers associated with the school, such as Center for Performance Studies and the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment.

In 2015, UCLA was ranked #2 among top public schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. In the same year, the Princeton Review named it a top public school. The School of Theater, Film and Television offers several master's degrees and a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies. The Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography teaches technical filmmaking skills, while the Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies focuses on the social and cultural relevance of film and related media. Students can also enroll in production and direction, animation or screenwriting master's degree programs. Courses offered in the film programs include film editing and post-production, motion picture lighting, digital cinematography and film history.

2. New York University in New York City

School Highlight: NYU's film program is associated with the Cinema Research Center, which explores new models of financing, producing, marketing and distributing media and entertainment.

NYU was ranked #32 among all national universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2015. The university's Tisch School of the Arts offers a Master of Fine Arts in Film. The program requires three years of study and allows students to create a variety of self-produced narrative films. Students work with film crews and other students to film, edit and finalize film projects of various lengths. Courses are offered in film aesthetics, cinematography, film directing, acting for film and movie business law. The program also includes workshops and seminars for advanced filmmaking concepts.

Top Graduate Film Programs

College/University Name Distinction Location
Boston University In addition to housing its own student-run production company, BU offers its students the chance to study in Los Angeles for a semester. Boston, MA
Brigham Young University BYU's graduate film program is designed for working teachers and professionals and offers evening and weekend classes. Provo, UT
Columbia University Columbia tied for a #4 ranking on U.S. News & World Report's 2015 list of all national universities. New York, NY
San Francisco State University Students have access to six facilities and labs, including those in stop-motion animation and digital cinema. San Francisco, CA
Stanford University Along with Columbia, Stanford took the #4 spot on U.S. News & World Report's 2015 listing of all national universities. Stanford, CA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Students have access to several 'guest artists,' including TV directors, screenwriters, film editors, sound designers, actors and more. Ann Arbor, MI
University of Pittsburgh The school has close ties to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh Film Office, local theaters, venues and film festivals. Pittsburgh, PA
University of Southern California In 2014, The Hollywood Reporter named USC the top film school in the country. Los Angeles, CA

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