Graduate Programs in Film Directing: Degree Options

These programs are designed to train students in film directing proficiency and give them the skills to succeed in the industry. A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film Directing takes two years to complete and covers many aspects of film.

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Essential Information

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in film directing encourage creative and artistic freedom while teaching artisanship standards and a sense of social responsibility. These intensive programs require 2-3 years or more of study, research, and hands-on filmmaking work, with students typically working on their own films at every stage of the program's curriculum.

MFA students are often advised to synchronize their film directing studies with one or more areas of specialization, such as the history of early cinema, European, American and world film or theories of aesthetics. Throughout the program's coursework, examinations and thesis (which may be in the form of a short film), students generally connect their film specialty with the instruction and methods from their discipline. Prerequisites to this program consist of a bachelor's degree.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film Directing

Students in MFA programs undertake much hands-on filmmaking work, in many cases completing a collaborative short film during their first year. Most programs require the production of a thesis, which often takes the form of a 30-minute film. Film directing coursework tends to be interdisciplinary, combining subjects from art history, world cultures, literary theory and philosophy. Other common courses include:

  • Screenwriting
  • Cinematography
  • Editing, sound, and production planning.
  • Post production fundamentals
  • Film's relationship with culture and society
  • Visual and narrative studies

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Producers and directors could expect to see average job growth of 9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Film directors with experience working on movie sets are more likely to find jobs. The median annual salary for producers and directors was $68,440 in May 2015, the BLS reported.

Continuing Education Information

Doctoral degree programs are available for MFA in film directing graduates who wish to continue their higher educational pursuits. Additionally, professional organizations in the film industry, like the National Association of Schools of Theater (, the Actors' Equity Association (, the Screen Actors Guild ( and the Producers Guild of America (, offer educational and outreach programs.

A graduate degree in film directing at the master's level allows students who are interested in finding careers in the industry to gain a thorough understanding of film, cinematography, and all the skills that go into directing cinematic performances. After graduating, students may continue their education with a doctoral degree or involve themselves in professional industry organizations to seek further opportunities.

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