Courses in Film Directing in NYC with School Options

Feb 27, 2019

NYC Schools with Film Directing Courses

Aspiring film directors can find undergraduate and graduate courses at a large private university, an Ivy League school and a senior college affiliated with the City University of New York (CUNY). Each of the three schools offers courses in directing as part of a bachelor's or master's degree program in film or a closely related field of study, such as those summarized below. Along with the program summaries, this resource includes a comparison table with important school information and a paragraph about another college and university that offer courses in film directing.

  • New York University (NYU) is in the Greenwich Village area of New York City, just 1.5 miles from the downtown. Courses in directing can be found through the university's film and television institute and can lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Fine Arts.
  • Columbia University, nine miles from downtown, offers a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting and Directing. At this Ivy League school, students can train with faculty members who've shown their work at major film festivals and been nominated for various industry awards.
  • For students looking for a more budget-friendly option, CUNY Hunter College offers directing courses through its Bachelor of Arts in Film program. The college is on the east side of Manhattan, approximately five miles from downtown.

Comparison of Schools

Future film directors can use this table to compare the tuition rates at Columbia, NYU and Hunter and gauge how difficult it might be to gain acceptance into the school of their choice. Enrollment, financial aid, graduation figures and retention rates can also be found in this table.

New York University Columbia University CUNY Hunter College
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 51,123* 30,454* 23,005*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $50,464; undergraduates; $43,848; graduate* $46,956; graduate* $6,982 in-state; $14,372 out-of-state undergraduates*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Aid (2016-2017) 54%* 59%* 81%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 28%* 7%* 40%*
Retention Rates (2017) 93%* 97% * 83%*
Graduation Rates for Students Beginning in Fall 2011 (undergraduate) 84%* 95%* 52%*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

New York University (NYU)

NYU's Tisch School of the Arts houses the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, which offers courses in film directing. Undergraduate and graduate-level study are both available options.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Film and Television

Students wishing to apply to the film and television baccalaureate program must submit a resume, personal story and a creative portfolio that illustrates their visual storytelling skills; evidence of leadership and collaboration is also required. The portfolio can be in the form of a film or live video of an animated, fictional or a documentary story. Undergraduate film directing courses deal with the director's process, directing actors and directing the camera to emphasize aspects of a script. Undergraduates can also take an actor/director workshop course that offers training in areas such as characterization, improvisation and scene breakdown.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Filmmaking

The MFA in Filmmaking program also offers a variety of directing courses, including a master class. Students can also undertake special directing projects. To gain admission to the program, students must submit a 5-part portfolio of written and visual work; a filmmaking background is not required. Classes deal with directing silent films, short video documentaries and adaptations. Students work on individual and collaborative projects.

Columbia University

Columbia University's School of the Arts offers an MFA in Screenwriting/Directing. Applicants are admitted in the fall semester only and must submit a portfolio consisting of an autobiographical essay, a dramatic writing essay, a feature film treatment and a writing sample of a film scenario.

MFA in Screenwriting/Directing

MFA students enrolled through the film division can learn about film directing through the screenwriting and directing program. This program consists of two years of coursework and creative workshops, followed by 1-2 years of thesis work.

During the first year of study, students get a combination of training in directing, directing actors, producing and screenwriting. After completion of the first year, students can then choose to focus solely on directing. During the thesis period, students meet regularly with their advisors to develop their papers. They may also take master classes and advanced workshops that can further develop their directing skills.

CUNY Hunter College

This public, urban college is the largest school within the CUNY system. Through the Department of Film and Media Studies, students can select a major in film and complete coursework in directing.

Bachelor of Arts in Film

Aspiring film directors at CUNY Hunter College must first pass an introductory cinema course with a grade of B or better to declare the film major. In addition, students must complete a prerequisite course in media and film in the digital age in order to take film production courses. The film production courses account for 12 credits and include a screen directing course. Students may complete an advanced screen directing course and a documentary directing elective class.

Other School Options

Courses in film directing are also available at Pace University in Manhattan, located about one mile from the downtown area. The university's Actors Studio Drama School offers an MFA degree program with a track in directing. Students may also complete a course in film directing at CUNY Brooklyn College, located about six miles away from downtown Manhattan. The college offers a certificate and a Bachelor of Arts program in film production, which includes a film directing workshop.

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