Film Schools in Pennsylvania with Degree Program Overviews

Jul 31, 2019

There are more than 20 schools within the state of Pennsylvania that have film degree programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Aspiring filmmakers in Pennsylvania have many options within the state, which has more than 15 public and private non-profit educational institutes that award film degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels. Most of these programs are offered at 4-year schools. Film may be a concentration within a larger degree program. Degree programs may also have tracks for students wishing to focus their studies. In some cases, students will need to present a portfolio when applying.

Students are often required to complete a project, thesis, dissertation or paper. In addition, students may have the opportunity to gain practical experience through co-ops or working on their own shows or movies. Teaching assistant positions are also available for graduate level students. Profiled below are the ten largest of these schools, as well as a comparison table that shows school offerings and at-a-glance tuition info.


Bucks County Community College

Bucks County Community College is a 2-year school located in the city of Newtown. The school offers a 60-credit Associate of Arts in Cinema and Video Production program. Students study film history and analyze films, as well as learn the basics of cameras, production systems, and special effects. They also participate in the planning and production of a film. Required courses include media scriptwriting, digital editing, and field production.

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh is home to Carnegie Mellon University, a large, private research institution that was ranked among the top 25 universities in the world by the Times Higher Education of London. The school offers undergraduate and graduate programs in video and media design. Students enrolled in the bachelor's program receive an overview of shooting and editing. The 3-year Master of Arts in Video and Media design covers media technology and production techniques. Students are also required to complete a thesis project.

DeSales University

Situated in Center Valley, DeSales University is a private, Roman Catholic school that had an enrollment of more than 3,400 students in 2018. The institution offers a 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Television and Film program. Students complete at least 123 credit hours of coursework, which may include history and appreciation of TV and film, writing for TV and film, and funding and distribution. Additionally, they gain hands-on, practical experience by producing television shows and short films.

Drexel University

Drexel University is a private college in the city of Philadelphia. It offers a 185-quarter-credit Bachelor of Science in Film and Video program. Core courses cover film history, cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound. Previous film students have had co-op employment opportunities at companies such as Comcast, Paramount Studios, USA Network, and MTV.

Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus

University Park-based Pennsylvania State University is a large, research university that enrolls over 45,000 students a year. Students who wish to be accepted into the school's 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video program need to be in their fourth semesters and to have earned at least a C in basic video and filmmaking. They also need to submit a portfolio for review by department faculty. Once accepted, they can choose an emphasis in narrative, alternative, or documentary production.

Point Park University

Over 4,000 students attend Point Park University, which is located in the city of Pittsburgh. The school offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Production program. Students can choose from five different concentrations, including editing, cinematography, producing, directing, and sound. Some of the required major courses include history of American cinema, narrative structure of cinema, and visual structure of cinema.

Saint Joseph's University

Saint Joseph's University is a private, Roman Catholic college situated in Philadelphia that offers a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film. Students take introductory courses, such as introduction to film and digital filmmaking, before selecting a track in theatre, musical theatre, or film. Those who select film take track-specific courses like producing and business of film, digital cinematography, and animation. The school also offers a minor in film studies.

Temple University

Close to 40,000 students attend Temple University, a 4-year, public school in Philadelphia that offers bachelor's and master's programs for potential filmmakers. The undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Arts program provides students with a strong foundation in filmmaking techniques and theory, including digital media, film, and audio. Students can choose from a general sequence, a media studies thesis sequence, or a creative thesis sequence. The general sequence allows students to design their own programs, while the other two require a thesis film.

Students in the Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Arts program focus on narrative and documentary filmmaking, with an emphasis on social consciousness. Rather than a traditional dissertation, students complete a creative project. Graduates are eligible to instruct at the university level; they can also pursue careers in the entertainment industry as independent filmmakers or film industry personnel.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private college in Philadelphia that enrolls nearly 26,000 students annually. Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies. Some of the courses offered include world film history, Hollywood film industry, documentary video, and poetics of screenwriting.

Graduate students can earn a Certificate in Cinema Studies. This program requires them to complete four seminars of cinema studies classes, write a research paper, and take six cinema studies colloquia. The school also advises that students gain experience by working as cinema teaching assistants.

University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus

Found in the city of Pittsburgh , the University of Pittsburgh is a large, research university that enrolls over 28,500 students. The school offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies program, as well as graduate-level certificate and degree programs. The undergraduate program provides students with a foundation in film production, theory, history, and aesthetics. Students can also gain an appreciation for the cultural impact of modern cinema. Program graduates might enter into career fields such as film journalism, film archiving, film instruction, or television production.

The university also has relevant graduate programs, including a terminal Master of Arts in Film Studies and a Doctor of Philosophy in Film Studies. Doctoral students complete core courses in film history and theory, as well as film electives. They also spend time working as teaching assistants and complete a dissertation. The school also offers master's and Ph.D. film studies certificates.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Film Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Bucks County Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate of Arts in Cinema/Video Production $4,513 in-district
$8,353 in-state
$12,193 out-of-state
Carnegie Mellon University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Video and Media Design,
Master of Fine Arts in Video and Media Design
$55,465
DeSales University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Arts in Television and Film $37,400
Drexel University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Film and Video $53,244
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video $18,454 in-state
$34,858 out-of-state
Point Park University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Production $31,450
Saint Joseph's University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film $44,974
Temple University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Arts,
Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Arts
$16,970 in-state
$29,066 out-of-state
University of Pennsylvania 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies,
Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies
$55,584
University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies,
Master of Arts in Film Studies,
Master of Arts Certificate in Film Studies,
Doctor of Philosophy in Film Studies,
Doctor of Philosophy Certificate in Film Studies
$19,080 in-state
$32,052 out-of-state

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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