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Universities with Film Studies Programs: How to Choose

Film studies programs focus on the history, theory and critical aspects of media. Students analyze specific genres and filmmakers through varying historical and cultural lenses. Universities across the U.S. offer bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs in film studies.

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The field of film studies is interdisciplinary, involving the history of film, its cultural impact and analysis of storytelling, and graduates are prepared for careers in museums, the film industry or film criticism. Students interested in filmmaking can enroll in film studies undergraduate and graduate programs offered through several 4-year universities.

10 Schools with Film Studies Programs

The following 4-year schools offer degree programs in the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $50,277
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $47,750
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $12,763 (In-state); $37,471 (Out-of-state)
Chapman University Orange, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $47,260
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $42,795
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Doctorate $13,431 (In-state); $38,139 (Out-of-state)
University of California - Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate $13,461 (In-state); $38,169 (Out-of-state)
American University Washington, D.C. 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $43,103
Wesleyan University Middletown, CT 4-year, Private Bachelor's $49,274
Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $46,586

*Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Cinematography and Film Production
  • Film and Cinema Studies
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University Selection Criteria

A few important considerations for choosing a school include:

  • Students hoping to enter the film industry should look for programs that offer production courses, such as cinematography, directing and script development to best prepare for a future career.
  • Networking and internships can be crucial assets when breaking into the field, so students should look for programs that offer these opportunities.
  • Students may prefer a school that has frequent contact with their alumni through presentations, conferences and special events - many of the strongest film programs have produced famous and successful filmmakers who may be able to offer help and advice.
  • Whether interested in production or research, proper facilities can be a determining factor when deciding between film studies programs. Those passionate about film production should seek programs that have an adequate amount of filming equipment.

Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies

Students can specialize their study through elective courses in a specific genre, filmmaker, culture or production courses. In some programs, seniors produce a final project, which may be a research paper, a screenplay or a film.

Master of Arts in Film Studies

Master's degree programs in film studies are focused in the cultural impact of film, its history and preservation. Though not always required, universities may prefer applicants who have a background in film studies or in the field.

Doctorate Degree in Film Studies

Doctoral candidates must pass qualifying examinations and complete a research dissertation to graduate. Depending on the program, candidates may have the opportunity to participate in film production, though it is not emphasized in any program. Programs typically have a foreign language requirement.

Film studies programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree levels from many public and private institutions. When searching for a program, students should consider things like a program's facilities and equipment, as well as networking and internship opportunities.

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