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Southern California Film Schools with Degree Program Summaries

Feb 28, 2019

Research film programs in Southern California, which currently has over 20 schools offering training in the field. To narrow down your options and decide which one is a good fit for you, read an overview of degree options, admission info and program requirements for three colleges in the area.

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Film Programs in Southern California

As the home of American movie production, Southern California features a number of film schools. This article highlights the training opportunities and required coursework at three of those institutions. It also includes a table of facts and figures on the schools, along with some details on additional program options in the region.

  • The University of California - Los Angeles, located about 15 miles from downtown L.A., offers a bachelor's degree in film as well as a master's degree in cinematography and a doctoral program in cinema and media studies.
  • Students can earn associate's degrees in film studies at Santa Monica College, which is situated just about two miles from central Santa Monica.
  • Located roughly 16 miles from the downtown area of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a private institution offering a production bachelor's degree and a film production master's-level program.

Comparison of Schools

The tuition rates for undergraduate students vary quite a bit among the profiled institutions, which could be a major consideration when it comes to selecting where to study film. Take a look at this table to get info not only on costs but also stats on enrollment figures, acceptance rates and more.

University of California - Los Angeles Santa Monica College Loyola Marymount University
School Type Four-year, public Four-year, public, primarily associate's Four-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 44,027* 29,760* 9,618*
Campus Setting Large city Small city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $13,261 in-state
$41,275 out-of-state*
$1,142 in-state
$8,558 out-of-state*
$46,386*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2017) 65%* 51%* 90%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 16%* N/A - Open admissions* 52%*
Retention Rate (2016 to 2017) 97% for full-time students* N/A* 91% for full-time students*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate 91% (Began in 2011)* 30% (Began in 2011)* 79% overall (Began in 2011)*

Sources: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics.

University of California - Los Angeles

The University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) houses the School of Theater, Film and Television. In addition to offering graduate and undergraduate programs, the school coordinates internships with local film and television studios. Its alumni and faculty include award-winning animators, producers and directors.

Bachelor of Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media

This four-year program teaches students about the history of film and television. Students also examine experimental and documentary films. Film criticism courses are also included in the curriculum. After the first year, students must choose to specialize in either film production and directing, animation, screenwriting, digital media, screenwriting, cinematography or editing and post-production.

Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography

The curriculum in this four-year program trains students in areas including directing, post-production and studio lighting. Additional seminars explore various film genres and epochs, such as European film history or documentary film. Other MFA programs offered by the film school include animation, screenwriting and production/directing.

Doctor of Philosophy in Cinema and Media Studies

Students in this graduate-level program take a wide range of seminars discussing film history and theory. Some provide an overview of current research, while others develop students' ability to teach a film studies curriculum. Ph.D. candidates are granted access to the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the second largest in the country. The graduate program in cinema and media studies is also available as a Master of Arts (MA).

Santa Monica College

The college's Communication and Media Studies Department offers an associate's degree in film as well as programs in the related fields of broadcasting and communications. It also features a film club that offers regular exhibitions of student work.

Associate of Arts in Film Studies

Three core courses covering the history and culture of film form the foundation of this 60 unit program. Students also select 21 units from a range of specialty courses. These courses include women in film, scriptwriting, production planning and digital film making. This program is appropriate for transfer to a four-year program or for entry-level employment in the industry.

Loyola Marymount University

This Catholic institution offers both graduate and undergraduate programs that feature access to digital technologies and equipment. Students also have opportunities to complete assistantships and internships.

Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television Production

LMU's bachelor's degree program in film and television production helps students turn their ideas into finished products. Curriculum begins with courses in such areas as screen production and sound design. To complete program requirements, they must oversee a film project from start to finish. Students are free to create documentary or fictional films for screen, television or even mobile platforms.

Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television Production

Coursework for LMU's three-year program covers fundamental topics in sound, screenwriting and production. After exploring these areas, students will also study cinematography, editing and directing. Students will participate in a practicum at a studio, production company or agency during their second year. To finish their degree program, students complete a three-credit thesis project in post-production techniques during their third year.

Other Schools

There is no shortage of film programs in the Southern California area. Located closest to the heart of Los Angeles, the University of Southern California offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in this field, while Los Angeles City College offers associate's degrees similar to those found at Santa Monica College. Private, not-for-profit schools can also be found in cities throughout the region, including Biola University in La Mirada, the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena or Woodbury University in Burbank.

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