Film school rankings are hard to quantify because no consistent salary figures are available on graduates once they enter the film industry. However, there are qualitative measures such as reputation, facilities and alumni that can help students make the best choice when selecting a program. If you're interested in attending a film school, a number of colleges offer an industry-respected education.
USC School of Cinematic Arts
Often considered the gold standard due to its facilities and world-famous alumni, the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, founded in 1929, is the oldest film school in the country. USC offers undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees in film and television production, critical studies, animation and writing for screen and television. In March of 2009, the school unveiled a new complex that houses post-production suites, mixing theaters and digital classrooms. Famous alumni include George Lucas, Ron Howard and Robert Zemeckis.
New York University Tisch School of the Arts
The New York University Tisch School of the Arts was founded in 1965, and confers bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in film, television and production through the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. In the Fall of 2008, the school introduced a three-year program that allows students to obtain a dual Master of Fine Arts in Producing and Master's of Business Administration degree. The artistic director of the film program is filmmaker Spike Lee, and other famous alumni include Martin Scorsese and Brett Ratner.
Columbia University School of the Arts
Columbia University School of the Arts in New York offers an undergraduate film studies major that emphasizes screenwriting, Master of Fine Arts programs in creative producing and writing and directing, and a Master of Arts in Film Studies. Classes include fundamentals of directing, elements of dramatic narrative and editing. Director Katherine Bigelow who won the Academy Award in 2010 for the "Hurt Locker," is a graduate of the film program.
University of California Los Angeles
The University of California Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television has degree programs in animation, cinema studies, directing, production, screenwriting, acting, playwriting and theater. Master of Fine Arts in Directing classes include cinematography, post-production and classic film theory. Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting classes cover classical film theory, film structure, screenwriting fundamentals and visual analysis.
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles has developed Master of Art degree programs in editing, directing, producing, production design, cinematography and screenwriting. AFI also provides a directing workshop that has trained more than 200 women, including author Maya Angelou.
California Institute of the Arts
The California Institute of the Arts consists of six separate schools: art, critical studies, music, theater, film/video and dance. Each program confers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The school of film and video is divided into four programs: film and video, experimental animation, character animation and film directing, which is the only program that doesn't offer a bachelor's degree. Because CalArts is a school solely devoted to the arts, enrollment is small compared to the bigger film schools, allowing for more personal instruction.
University of Texas Austin
The University of Texas in Austin's Radio, Television and Film College of Communication has master's degree programs in screenwriting, media production and media studies, which also confers a doctorate. The Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Production requires students to direct at least four films, and places equal importance on documentary and fictional films. Famous alumni include actor Matthew McConaughey and director Robert Rodriguez.
University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem has established degree programs in drama, filmmaking, music, visual arts, design and production and music. The filmmaking school was founded in 1993 and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in filmmaking degree requires students to write, direct, photograph, edit and design their own short films and digital video productions. The school also offers a Master of Fine Arts in Film Music Composition.
University of Miami
The University of Miami School of Communication has master's degree programs in motion picture producing, motion picture production, screenwriting and film studies. The Master of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Producing degree trains students to become film producers in mainstream features and independent films. Courses cover subjects such as production management, marketing and distribution and legal aspects of motion pictures.
Florida State University
Florida State University in Tallahassee's College of Motion Picture Arts department offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production, Master of Fine Arts in Production and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for the Stage and Screen. Only 24 students are admitted into the master's production program which is a full-time, two-year course. The writing program spans six consecutive semesters and admits six students each fall.
- USC School of Cinematic Arts: Degrees Offered
- Columbia University School of the Arts: MFA Programs
- American Film Institute: Education @ AFI
- CalArts: Programs and Degrees
- The University of Texas at Austin: MFA In Film & Media Production
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Filmmaking Programs
- USC School of Cinematic Arts: Contact Information
- Top Film Schools: Which One Is The Best For You?
- University of Miami School of Communication: Contact Us
- Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts: Graduate Programs
- New York University: Graduate Film -- Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television
- Columbia University School of the Arts: Contact
- UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: All Programs
- UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: Contact
- American Film Institute: Home
- CalArts: Contact
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Filmmaking Contacts
- University of Miami School of Communication: MFA Motion Picture Producing
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.