List of Top Colleges with Movie Directing Programs

Jan 09, 2020

Movie directing is the process of turning a written script into a short or full-length film. Find out about rankings and program offerings for the top colleges with movie directing programs.

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  • 0:00 School Overviews
  • 0:54 UCLA
  • 2:02 California Institute…
  • 2:36 Arizona State University
  • 3:10 Other Top Schools

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School Overviews

Aspiring movie directors can study at some of the top institutions in the country. Learn about a few of these top-ranking schools and why their programs are considered some of the best.

Located in the hub of the moviemaking industry, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) both offer studies in the cinematic arts. A little farther east is Arizona State University (ASU) that also offers degree programs in the field. These institutions are nationally recognized for their fine arts programs. UCLA offers bachelor's and master's degree programs related to movie directing, while CalArts features a master's degree program only, and ASU only offers a bachelor's degree program. Let's explore these top U.S. News & World Report-ranked institutions.


The University of California at Los Angeles is ranked 20th among national universities in 2020 according to U.S. News & World Report. The UCLA School of Film, Theater and Television's graduate fine arts program was ranked tied for second in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report on its 'Top Fine Arts Programs' list. The Bachelor of Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media is a liberal arts program. Students can take classes related to movie directing, such as directing the camera, stylistic studies for the moving image and screenwriting. The university counts Francis Ford Coppola, Rob Reiner, and Tim Robbins among its alumni.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Production/Directing is a four-year program with an emphasis in film direction. Each year of coursework highlights a specific area of filmmaking, including the filmmaking process, professional training, movie production, and completion of a thesis project. Students take classes in directing the actor for camera, film analysis, post-production sound, and writing for the short film.

California Institute for the Arts

The graduate fine arts program at the California Institute of the Arts ranked tied for ninth on U.S. News & World Report's list of 'Top Fine Arts Graduate Programs' in 2016.

The MFA in Film Directing is a three-year program with faculty mentors that help create each individual's course of study. The program spotlights acting, scene study, screenwriting, and critical thought, and students are required to complete a film each year. The curriculum includes studio acting, cinematic storytelling, narrative editing, and one-act production.

Arizona State University

At Arizona State University film students may have the opportunity to work on a Universal Pictures film set for a semester through the university's cooperative education relationship with the studio. U.S. News & World Report ranked ASU as tied for the 20th best graduate fine arts program on their 2016 list of top fine arts graduate programs. The school offers two bachelors of art (BA) degrees in film, as well as a film and media production minor. Students can earn a BA in film, focusing on film and media production, or a BA in film, focusing on filmmaking practices.

Other Top Schools

Now we'll turn our attention to a few other top institutions that offer movie directing degree programs.

College/University Name Distinction Location
Chapman University Has a film program faculty that have worked on over 500 total feature film productions Orange, CA
Columbia University Allows undergraduate film students to get additional experience working on productions through the Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions (CUFP), a student-run organization New York, NY
Cornell University Lets film students design an independent major, and they have the option to coordinate their study of film with studies in another discipline Ithaca, NY
CUNY Brooklyn College Offers film students internships with companies like HBO, Showtime Networks, NBC Universal, Magnolia Pictures, and Jigsaw Productions Brooklyn, NY
New York University Offers a dual Master of Business Administration (MBA)/MFA that allows students to learn both the creative and business sides of the film industry New York, NY
Rochester Institute of Technology Offers a BFA that focuses on film and animation Rochester, NY
Stanford University Offers an MFA focused specifically on documentary film production Stanford, CA
Temple University Allows film students to spend a term in Los Angeles interning in the entertainment industry, taking courses, and networking through the university's LA Study Away program Philadelphia, PA
University of Texas Located in a city with a thriving film scene, which is home to world-renowned directors like Robert Rodriguez and the host of several film festivals, including South by Southwest Austin, TX

Students can study movie directing at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels from several top institutions in the nation. These programs stand out with the various specializations, internships, and facilities they offer.

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