Masters Degree in Film: Program Overviews

Two program options are available to students interested in earning a master's degree in film, both of which require a bachelor's degree in a liberal arts or humanities field. Learn about these programs' requirements and get career info for graduates.

Essential Information

Graduate film students can pursue a Master of Arts in Film Studies or a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production program. The former focuses on the theoretical and historical aspects of the field. Students learn to think and write critically about films.

In a Master of Fine Arts in Film Production program, students gain practical skills in filmmaking and film design. Applicants may have to submit a sample film and letters of recommendation for admission to the program. A final thesis film is often required for graduation.

Master of Arts in Film Studies

A master's degree in film studies is synonymous to a master's degree in cinema studies. Classes for the M.A. program introduce students to the academic study of film and ask them to consider the philosophical and political implications of a film genre or a director's body of work. Many of the courses require students to write papers that analyze film sequences or entire films. Some common course topics include:

  • Film theory
  • Film comedy
  • Film aesthetics
  • Editing theory
  • American cinema
  • Documentary filmmaking

Master of Fine Arts in Film Production

The Master of Fine Arts in Film Production is the terminal arts degree for students interested in filmmaking. Part of the curriculum is devoted to film theory and history, but students mainly focus on developing skills in aspects of moviemaking.

All aspects of production are covered, and students gain experience in screenwriting, editing, cinematography and directing before selecting a concentration. Students must generally complete a number of short films throughout the program.

Hands-on experience is emphasized in the MFA curriculum. Students learn every aspect of film production by completing a number of short projects. Additional course topics may include:

  • Producing
  • Sound
  • Film history

Popular Career Options

Film studies is an academic field, although graduates may also go on to work in various professional practice roles as filmmakers or screenwriters. Common career options for graduates of a Master of Arts in Film Studies program include:

  • Film critic
  • Film curator
  • Film preservationist

Competition for film production jobs is fierce. Graduates of MFA programs typically gain experience in lower-level jobs and work their way up. Alternatively, some grads choose to teach at the community college level. Common job titles for a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Film Production program include:

  • Grip
  • Camera operator
  • Assistant director
  • Cinematographer
  • Community college instructor
  • Film producer

Continuing Education Information

A Ph.D. program in film studies is an option for students who want to continue their graduate studies. The degree program prepares students for careers as film educators at major colleges and universities.

Students interested in studying film at the graduate level can focus on theory through Master of Arts programs or production in a Master of Fine Arts program.

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