Cinema School Rankings: Top Schools

Learn about well-regarded schools that offer degree programs in cinema. Find out about degree options and specializations, and get tips on selecting a program. Schools offering Film degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top-Ranked Cinema School?

Top cinema schools are often in or near major entertainment production centers with broad cultural resources. These schools have extensive academic or industry connections that may lead to work in the cinema specialty you've chosen. Graduates and students are frequently award-winners in their respective fields. Training institutes and special collections will be available; state-of-the-art facilities could help you produce work that will launch your career. The schools below have programs you might want to consider.

What Are Three Top-Ranked Cinema Schools?

New York University (NYU) in New York, NY

NYU was U.S. News & World Report's 30th-ranked school in 2019 among national universities. You could pursue a master's degree in moving image archiving and preservation through the Tisch School of the Arts' Department of Cinema Studies. If you want to be a filmmaker, several Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs are available through Tisch's Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television; Spike Lee serves as the artistic director for these programs. Oliver Stone is the artistic director of the 3-year graduate film program offered in Singapore.

Facilities include a Digital Media Library, a production center with full-time staff and technical assistants can fulfill equipment, repair and other student needs. A post-production center provides editing, composing, dubbing and duplication facilities as well as screening rooms. The Todman Center offers a soundstage with professional lighting as well as casting and rehearsal rooms. Available degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Cinema Studies
  • Master of Arts (M.A.) in Cinema Studies
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Cinema Studies
  • M.F.A. in Filmmaking
  • MBA/MFA in Film Producing

University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA was tied for 19th among U.S. News & World Report's national universities in 2019. The School of Theater, Film and Television offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film, Television and Digital Media. Upper division undergraduate students and graduate students can apply for summer internships. The Summer Institute of Producing is also available, offering credits and placement in entertainment companies ranging from motion picture studios to independent production companies. Nearly one million dollars in financial awards are available to students on an annual basis.

Alumni have won Oscar, American Film Institute, Art Directors Guild, Directors Guild of America, Emmy, Spirit and Golden Globe awards. UCLA Students have won Student Academy Awards and Directors Guild of America Student Film Awards. UCLA's Film & Television Archive offers a program and event schedule, restoration facilities and a film and TV collection. The Archive also presents screenings of NYU's Orphan Film Collection. You can earn the following degrees:

  • M.A. in Cinema and Media Studies
  • M.F.A. in Animation
  • M.F.A. in Cinematography
  • M.F.A. Producers Program
  • M.F.A. in Production/Directing
  • M.F.A. in Screenwriting
  • Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies

University of Chicago (UC) in Chicago, IL

UC was tied for 3rd in the U.S. News & World Report 2019 national universities ranking. UC's Department of Cinema and Media Studies focuses on history, aesthetics and critical scholarship. You could take courses in early cinema, new media, experimental and avant-garde work, performance theory or African-American cinema and film culture. You'll be encouraged to take supporting courses in other departments and interdisciplinary centers, like the Center for East Asian Studies.

The Gerald Mast Film Archive at the Film Studies Center (FSC) includes titles ranging from feature films to documentaries; FSC sponsors U.S. and international film preservation projects. You could participate in the student-run Doc Films or Experimental Film Club. Fire Escape Films, a student-run filmmaking organization, produces workshops and festivals.

The Chicago Multimedia Initiatives Group (CMIG) partners with student multimedia artists to produce film projects. Its facilities include a sound booth, a multimedia screening room, a production server and multiple editing workstations. These degrees are available:

  • B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies
  • Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies

More Schools With Cinema Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Barnard College Private, not-for-profit, 4-year New York, NYN/A
San Francisco State University Public, 4-year or above San Francisco, CA$9,000
Wheaton College Private, not-for-profit, 4-year Norton, MAN/A
Purdue University Public, 4-year West Lafayette, IN$10,000
Yale University Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above New Haven, CT$42,000
Savannah College of Art and Design Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above Savannah, GA$38,000
California Institute of the Arts Private, not-for-profit, 4-year Valencia, CA$49,000
Massachusetts College of Art and Design Public, 4-year or above Boston, MA$23,000
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Public, 4-year or above Carbondale, IL$15,500

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools