Top Film Schools in the U.S.

There is no business like show business. If you love movies and want to be a part of that world, behind the scenes or in front of the camera, film schools can show you how. From foundation courses to specializations, film schools can train you in theory and practice to understand various aspects of filmmaking and industry roles, and implement techniques learned.

A good film school provides you with cutting edge technology, opportunities to showcase your work, exposure through activities and interactions with those in show biz, excellent faculty, and an up-to-date curriculum. A school’s alumni and their career chart can also indicate a college’s commitment to its students.

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Here’s a round-up of some of the best film schools in the U.S. that could be the start-off point for a career in films

AFI Conservatory
  • Courses: MFA degree in cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design, and screenwriting
  • Facilities: State-of-the-art technologies
  • Other highlights: Close to Hollywood, guest lectures, narrative workshops, Harold Lloyd Master Seminar series, AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women, AFI Writers’ Room Ready, AFI Conservatory Online Theater
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Alumni: David Lynch, Terrence Malick
CalArts’ School of Film and Video
  • Courses: Program in film and video – four-year BFA and MFA, three-year MFA in film direction, and animation degrees in experimental animation and character animation
  • Facilities: Equipment cage with sophisticated equipment, animation computer labs, animation studios, multimedia lab, video studio, videographics lab and telecine, post-production and sound facilities, theater, film directing studio, installation space, black-and-white studio, and a permanent set
  • Location: Valencia, CA
  • Alumni: Chris Buck, Tim Burton
Chapman University’s The Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
  • Courses: Undergraduate degrees (Sodaro-Pankey Undergraduate School of Media Arts) and graduate degrees (Conservatory of Motion Pictures). Courses include film studies and production, documentary, screenwriting, and more
  • Facilities: Marion Knott Studios with cutting edge studios, sound stages, editing suites, and theater, Digital Media Arts Center with art studio, screening room, and more
  • Other highlights: Owns the Chapman Filmed Entertainment, workshop-style classes, guest lectures, career panels, cross-cultural filmmaking opportunities
  • Location: Orange, CA
  • Alumni: Darren Bunkley, Justin Simien
Columbia University School of the Arts
  • Courses: Undergraduate and graduate degrees, MA in film studies, MFA programs in screenwriting/directing and creative producing
  • Facilities: Digital Media Center with post-production and media labs
  • Other highlights: Columbia University Film Festival, Carla Kuhn Memorial Speaker Series, Film Casting Site
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Alumni: Lisa Cholodenko, Jennifer Lee
Emerson College
  • Courses: BA, BFA and MFA degrees. Areas of study include Writing for Film and Television and Short Form Media, Comedic Arts, Production, and more
  • Facilities: Paramount Center with a screening room, sound stage and theater, digital production labs and suites, television studios
  • Other highlights: Satellite campus in Sunset Boulevard, film festivals, extra- and co-curricular opportunities in a college-based television channel and radio station, international study and external programs
  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Alumni: Holly Bario, Doug Herzog
Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television
  • Courses: Undergraduate and graduate degrees in recording arts, screenwriting, production, animation and film studies, special programs
  • Facilities: Red One digital camera for student productions, Movie Magic Scheduling and Budgeting software, editing suites, 100TB Isilon server via 10GB ethernet, Walter and Grace Lantz Animation Lab, Mayer Theater
  • Other highlights: Internships with 400 partner companies including Disney and Paramount, summer workshop for low-income students, 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Alumni: David Mirkin, James Wong
NYU Tisch School of the Arts
  • Courses: BFA, BA, MA, MBA/MFA and PhD degrees in Film and Television, Cinema Studies, Dramatic Writing, and Moving Image Archiving and Preservation
  • Other highlights: Internship with The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with Stephen Colbert, workshop-style classes, film festivals and screenings
  • Location: New York, NY
  • Alumni: Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
  • Courses: Undergraduate and graduate degrees in animation, cinema and media studies, screenwriting, cinematography, and more
  • Other highlights: Hypermedia Studio project, film festivals, theater lab, Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design, Center for Performance Studies, Film and TV Internship Program
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Alumni: Jack Black, Tim Robbins
USC Cinematic Arts
  • Courses: Undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees in animation, critical studies, interactive media, screenwriting, and more      
  • Facilities: Screening rooms, sound stages, mixing theaters, post-production suites, state-of-the-art technologies like the Oculus Development Kit and Render Farm, script library, Avid editing bays, visual effects studios, Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre Complex, and IMAX theater
  • Other highlights: Internships with Pixar and NBCUniversal
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Alumni: George Lucas, Bryan Singer
These are just a few of the top film schools in the U.S. If these universities don’t offer what you are looking for, there are plenty of other options to explore.
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