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Top 10 Film Schools: Best Film Schools in the Nation

Read about the top film schools in the United States, including three that are located in Los Angeles and New York City. Learn about the degree options at four leading universities, and find a handy table that provides a snapshot of the programs available at other schools around the country. View article »

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  • 0:00 School Information
  • 0:40 University of Southern…
  • 1:25 New York University
  • 2:11 Ohio University in Athens, OH
  • 2:36 Columbia University in…
  • 3:14 Top Film Schools

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Video Transcript

School Information

Individuals hoping to attend film school may enroll at the undergraduate or graduate level. The schools featured here have been ranked among the best in the nation and offer unique training opportunities. Film schools can typically be found within colleges and universities. In general, programs in film production and screen writing can lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts. Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Critical Studies programs may also be available. Let's discuss four schools that have been ranked as top universities and feature exceptional film programs.

University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles 23rd among national universities. USC's School of Cinematic Arts was the first film school established in the United States and includes a number of departments devoted to the study of film and television production, cinema studies, producing, and screenwriting, as well as animation and interactive media. Aside from producing, undergraduates can pursue programs in all of the aforementioned fields of study, which lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). At the graduate level, USC offers an MFA Producer's Program and a critical studies program that leads to a Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

New York University in New York City, NY

According to U.S. News & World Report, New York University (NYU) ranked 36th among national universities in 2016. NYU is home to the Tisch School of the Arts, which offers film programs and hosts the First Run Film Festival.

Undergraduate students majoring in film and television take classes in film criticism and history, audio production, and animation. Courses in acting, directing, editing, and scriptwriting are also part of the program. Graduate students may pursue an MFA in Filmmaking or a dual MFA and Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Producing. Students in these programs create at least five movies while acquiring practical experience as crewmembers and camera operators on their classmates' projects.

Ohio University in Athens, OH

Ohio University is a public institution that houses a film department aligned with the Athens International Film and Video Festival. The School of Film allows students to pursue an undergraduate minor in film or earn an MFA or a Master of Arts (M.A.). A 4-year BFA program is available and offers two specializations in film studies and film production, both of which require completion of a final thesis project.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Cinematography and Film Production
  • Film and Cinema Studies
  • Photography

Columbia University in New York, NY

U.S. News & World Report credited Columbia University as the sixth best value school in the nation for 2016. The same year, Columbia placed fifth best university in the nation overall. Undergraduate students may major in film studies where they will learn about the art of film, film technologies, and how film impacts society. Graduate students may pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting/Directing or a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Producing where they undertake hands-on creative projects to gain applicable experience. Graduate students may also enroll in a Master of Arts in Film Studies, which emphasizes scholarly film study and critical theory.

Top Film Schools

Other schools that offer top-notch film programs include:

College/University Name Distinction Location
American Film Institute Conservatory Home to the American Film Institute Directing Workshop for Women Los Angeles, CA
California Institute of the Arts Has a Community Arts Partnership program Valencia, CA
Florida State University Has a non-degree Torchlight Program that acquaints students with the business practices associated with the film industry Tallahassee, FL
Northwestern University Offers an interdisciplinary MFA in Film and Theater Evanston, IL
University of California - Los Angeles Offers an MFA in Cinematography Los Angeles, CA
University of Texas - Austin Home to the University of Texas Film Institute (UTFI) Austin, TX

Aspiring filmmakers seeking world class education can find excellent schools around the country. In addition to high ranks, these colleges and universities offer well developed, specialized studies in film production, cinematography, and theory.

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