Chicago Film Schools with Program Overviews

Mar 02, 2019

The Chicago area has a few schools that offer film programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission information and program requirements for three schools within 20 miles of downtown Chicago to make an informed education decision.

Schools in Chicago with Film Programs

Students wishing to study film have a number of schools to choose from in the Chicago, IL, area. Read about a few of the closest schools, all of which are 35 minutes or less from downtown. Find out about the course and technical requirements. The table allows for easy comparison of school statistics. Also provided is a brief paragraph highlighting two other school options.

  • Columbia College - Chicago is about a mile from Chicago's downtown area. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Cinema Art and Science, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cinema Directing and an MFA in Creative Producing.
  • The University of Chicago, which is about 7 miles from downtown, offers a BA in Cinema and Media Studies, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Cinema and Media Studies.
  • Students at Northwestern University, which is located about 12 miles from downtown Chicago in Evanston, can earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) or BA in Communications, Radio, Television and Film or a Minor in Film and Media Studies.

Comparison of Schools

Use the table below to compare important information and make an educated school decision about your school choices.

Columbia College - Chicago University of Chicago Northwestern University
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2016-2017) 7,312* 16,227* 22,008*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Small city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $26,474* $56,034* $52,678*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 88%* 61%* 61%*
Acceptance Rate (Fall 2017) 92%* 9%* 9%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 66% (full-time students)* 99% (full-time students)* 98% (full-time students)*
Graduation Rate (Students began in 2011) 44%* 93%* 94%*

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

Columbia College - Chicago

This school offers undergraduate and graduate programs related to film. Numerous concentrations are available at the undergraduate level, while graduate students get to create their own projects.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema Art and Science

Students in this degree program can choose from a variety of concentrations: cinematography, cinema visual effects, directing, editing and post-production, producing, production design, screenwriting, and sound for cinema. The first year comprises a student notebooks course in which students practice analyzing film. Additionally, students will gain experience in creating their own films. A final project will be completed in the last year. Columbia College's BFA program is an intensive program that does not allow time for a minor or double major.

Master of Fine Arts in Cinema Directing

Students in this 52-credit Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program prepare to create a thesis film by taking classes in production, writing and directing. One of the requirements of this program is an active internship. The school attempts to create a collaborative environment for students by having them work with a producer and with elements from the creative producing and music composition for the screen MFA programs.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Producing

Across this two-year master's degree program, students are required to create numerous short film projects, with a feature film project due by the end of the program. The last semester of this program is spent in a studio lot in Los Angeles working with people in the Hollywood film industry. The curriculum for this program allows students to learn about marketing, exhibition, film production, line producing and distribution, as well as the legal and business aspect of the industry.

University of Chicago

The school's Department of Cinema and Media Studies features the Film Studies Center, which provides students with a location for screenings, workshops, seminars and classes.

Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies

A research paper and 12 classes in the major make up the bulk of this program. Eight of those courses are electives, while the four required classes include one each in film analysis and senior colloquium and two in the history of international cinema. There is an honors option for this program for students who've earned a 3.5 GPA or higher in their major and a 3.25 GPA or higher overall.

Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies

Theory and history work are two aspects of this Ph.D. program, with the rest of the program focused on the criticism of film and similar media. Students develop research skills while also examining the economical, cultural, social and political impacts of film. Students also learn about diversity and cultural aspects of film, nationally and on a transnational level.

Northwestern University

Hands-on experiences are an important part of a film student's study here in areas such as producing, creating and editing.

Bachelor's Degree in Radio, Television and Film

Students in this program learn to work with film, computer animation and video installations while studying the impact of media on various cultures. This includes a look at the past, future and present as political, social and economic aspects of these three media are studied. Graduates can look forward to careers in directing, screenwriting, media production, media criticism or arts management. This program awards either a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts.

Minor in Film and Media Studies

This interdisciplinary program looks at issues involved in the analysis and interpretation of media. Students in this minor take a course each in media text analysis and media and literature, as well as five other courses with a focus on media and film studies. Course options include television history, film history, TV and film criticism, national cinema and documentary film, as well as many other topics.

Other School Options

Only one and a half miles from downtown Chicago is the University of Illinois at Chicago, which has a minor in moving image arts. Governors State University, which is about 28 miles from Chicago's downtown, has undergraduate and graduate programs in communication that include opportunities for filmmaking and multimedia studies.

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