Top Graduate Film School in the U.S. with Program Summaries

Find out about three of the top film schools to offer graduate programs in the U.S. Learn about these schools' ranking information and get program summaries to make an informed decision about your education. View article »

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  • 0:03 School Overviews
  • 0:41 University of…
  • 1:39 New York University in…
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  • 3:10 Top Graduate Film Programs

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Find schools that offer these popular programs

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

School Overviews

Top graduate film schools teach students advanced skills in video and audio production, cinematography, and film editing. Students can earn master's degrees or doctoral degrees in the field. Although graduate film programs are available throughout the country, the top film schools tend to be located in large metropolitan cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, which have greater access to film industry resources. The University of California, Los Angeles (or UCLA); New York University (or NYU); and Boston University are three such schools. All of them are highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report and provide opportunities for hands-on training.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

School Highlight: At UCLA, graduate students in the film school have access to numerous research centers associated with the school, such as Center for Performance Studies and the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment.

In 2017, UCLA was ranked #2 among top public schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. In the same year, the Princeton Review named it one of the best western colleges. The School of Theater, Film, and Television offers several master's degrees and a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies. The Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography teaches technical filmmaking skills, while the Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies focuses on the social and cultural relevance of film and related media. Students can also enroll in production and direction, animation, or screenwriting master's degree programs. Courses offered in the film programs include film editing and post-production, motion picture lighting, digital cinematography, and film history.

2. New York University in New York City

School Highlight: NYU's film program is associated with the Cinema Research Center, which explores new models of financing, producing, marketing, and distributing media and entertainment.

NYU was ranked #36 among all national universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2017. The university's Tisch School of the Arts offers a Master of Fine Arts in Film. The program requires three years of study and allows students to create a variety of self-produced narrative films. Students work with film crews and other students to film, edit, and finalize film projects of various lengths. Courses are offered in film aesthetics, cinematography, film directing, acting for film, and movie business law. The program also includes workshops and seminars for advanced filmmaking concepts.

3. Boston University in Boston, MA

School Highlight: Boston University houses its own student-run production company, and offers its students the chance to study in Los Angeles for a semester.

Boston University was ranked #39 in the country by U.S. News and World Report for 2017. For graduates interested in film, the university's Department of Film & Television offers Master of Fine Arts programs in cinema and media production, screenwriting, and film and television studies. Master of Science_ degrees are also offered in television and media ventures. In addition to classroom-based courses in the theory and analysis of film, students can get real-world experience working at film production organizations in the Boston area or by participating in an internship in Los Angeles.

Top Graduate Film Programs

Excellent graduate film programs are also available at the following schools:

College/University Name Location Distinction
Brigham Young University Provo, UT BYU's graduate film program is designed for working teachers and professionals and offers evening and weekend classes.
Columbia University New York, NY Columbia tied for a #5 ranking on U.S. News & World Report's 2017 list of all national universities.
San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA Students have access to six facilities and labs, including those in stop-motion animation and digital cinema.
Stanford University Stanford, CA Along with Columbia, Stanford ranked 5th on U.S. News & World Report's 2017 listing of all national universities.
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI Students have access to several guest artists, including TV directors, screenwriters, film editors, sound designers, actors, and more.
University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA The school has close ties to Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh Film Office, local theaters, venues, and film festivals.
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA USC was ranked #23 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2017.

Prospective graduate students who want to pursue advanced studies in film can find programs that prepare them for success in the field by combining academic coursework with practical training. They can enroll in Ph.D. programs in some of the best schools in the country.

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