Cinema Production Degrees: Program Information by Level

Oct 10, 2019

There are degree programs in cinema production available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Students gain knowledge of how movies and TV programs are created.

Essential Information

While many positions in the entertainment industry require applicants to have real-world experience through internships, a degree program in cinema production or a related field can provide students with a basic, practical knowledge of how to create movies and television shows.

Some programs may not go by the specific title of cinema production. However, students can find similar coursework and training in programs in film and video production, cinematography or screenwriting. These programs prepare students for careers as film editors, camera operators, writers, directors, post-production workers, cinematographers, and producers.

Cinema and film programs require students to have obtained at least a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission. Some bachelor's and master's programs may ask students to submit a portfolio or example of previously produced work related to film. In addition, master's programs require a background in cinema or film and GRE exam scores.

Associate's-level curricula features both creative and technical courses. A bachelor's program in the field offers students experience in film and video analysis and development. At the master's level, the focus tends to be on developing and refining a personal style.

Associate's Degree in Cinema Production

Students who earn an associate's degree in cinema production are prepared to enter the film industry or can choose to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor's degree. Students pursuing an associate's degree in cinema production will undertake introductory courses in film-making, which may include:

  • Introductory screenwriting
  • Visual communications
  • Basic editing
  • Digital finishing
  • Lighting
  • Sound for motion pictures

Bachelor's Degree in Cinema Production

Students who pursue bachelor's degrees in cinema or film production undertake courses related to cinema theory, production approaches and film style techniques. They also experience constructive critiques through portfolio reviews and frequently have the opportunity to submit work to film festivals. Programs prepare students through a variety of courses related to cinema production, including the following topics:

  • Scriptwriting
  • Pre-production
  • Film theory
  • Digital photography
  • Cinematography
  • Post-production

Master of Fine Arts in Film

A Master of Fine Arts in Film program offers students hands-on experience as filmmakers, narrative storytellers and collaborators. Individuals typically develop various scripts and a portfolio reel throughout their experiences in the program. Forming their own approach includes experimenting with all types of camera, directing, and post-production techniques. Courses examine advanced topics in the following areas:

  • Directing
  • Screenwriting
  • Editing
  • Film criticism
  • Acting
  • Documentary filmmaking

Popular Career Options

Associate's degrees in cinema production offer individuals the ability to pursue work that requires basic knowledge of film and TV planning, creation, and production. Students with a bachelor's degree in cinema or film production gain hands-on knowledge of filmmaking, scripting of story lines, collaborating on a set, and film editing. Individuals can find work as sound engineering technicians or as:

  • Writers
  • Editors
  • Video editors
  • Camera operators
  • Cinematographers
  • Independent filmmakers

Employment Outlook

Individuals who acquire a master's degree have a plethora of career options to consider, including positions as a producers, directors, set designers, editors, animators or educators. Salary is dependent upon each job type. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) producers and directors earned an average annual salary of $89,840 in 2018, while the average annual earnings for film and video editors was $86,830 in that year. (

Degree programs in cinema production often include technical courses and hands-on training components. Bachelor's and master's graduates may work in many areas, including in post-production and screenwriting.

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