Schools with Film Directing Programs and Courses: How to Choose

Dec 17, 2019

Film directing programs are most commonly available at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Students can find film directing programs and courses at 4-year universities, film schools, private academies and extension programs. Schools in major cities like Los Angeles and New York, where much of the film industry is based, may hold the most promise for aspiring film directors.

Film Schools

Here are some schools with strong programs in film production and directing:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2018-2019)*
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's $53,948
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's $51,828
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's $51,853
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's and Master's $56,225
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's and Master's In-state: $13,226; Out-of-state: $42,218
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state: $15,262; Out-of-state: $49,350

Source:*National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when seeking a school in this field:

  • Consider the location and professional connections available through the faculty, alumni network and other students at a school.
  • Programs that offer hands-on experiences, such as an internship, will help students gain better insight into the field.
  • Look into a school's program focus to determine which program meets the prospective student's interests.
  • Search for schools offering single courses in film direction when not looking for a full degree program.

Bachelor's Degree in Film Directing

Offered as part of a liberal arts degree, these programs are usually designed to give students a thorough understanding of the context of filmmaking, from the history of the medium to current issues involving the film industry. Some programs include internship opportunities to provide hands-on instruction and contacts for postgraduate employment. These 4-year programs include courses in various aspects of filmmaking.

Master's Degree in Film Directing

Master's degree programs in film and performance direction usually take 2-3 years to complete and may be considered a terminal degree. Programs often culminate in a creative thesis project involving production of a short film, allowing students to work with people in other areas of film, such as writing, acting and scoring. Graduates may be qualified to teach film directing or find entry-level work in the industry. Prerequisites may include a bachelor's degree and a sample film that demonstrates the student's skills and potential as a film director.

Individuals interested in a film career as a director, can find programs in film production at both the bachelor's and master's degree level. Programs that offer hands-on experience in cities where film production is prominent may afford students better opportunities upon graduation.

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