Cinematography Master's Degrees: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Read about the coursework for master's degree programs in cinematography, which are typically available in an on-campus format rather than online. Get career info for cinematographers, and check the employment outlook for the motion picture industry in general. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Can I Expect from a Cinematography Master's Degree Program?

Several colleges and universities offer 2-4 year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs with specializations in cinematography. These terminal degree programs combine classroom instruction with practical experience behind the camera. You may utilize sound stages, high-tech cameras and top-of-the-line editing tools in state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. You may be expected to complete a portfolio or write, direct and edit a thesis film project. Other schools state that you must complete a film- or television-based internship prior to graduation.

Program Information Master's degree programs cover classroom instruction and practical experience with cinematography, and may require you to create a portfolio, thesis or internship as a graduation requirement
Online Programs Online degrees are rare due to the practical requirements, but you may be able to earn some credits to apply to a master's program online
Course Topics Courses cover topics involving shooting video or film, including screenwriting, lighting and sound
Median Salary (2018)$58,990 (for film and video editors and camera operators)
Career Outlook 13% growth from 2016 to 2026 for film and video editing and camera operation careers

Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Are Online Programs Available?

Due to the hands-on nature of cinematography, online MFA programs are rare. However, you may be able to locate online classes that can earn you course credit toward your graduate degree. Online content for these programs and courses is delivered through live chats and video streaming.

What Topics Will I Study?

For master's degree programs in cinematography, you'll learn about the production and post-production processes involved in shooting film or video. Courses may focus on filmmaking, screenwriting and digital editing. You may learn how lighting affects movie or television scenes. Professors may also discuss how to troubleshoot lighting or sound problems encountered while filming. Some programs include topics in visual design and art direction. You may also study how different film genres and authors influenced the evolution of movies.

How Will This Degree Help Me?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cinematographers typically begin their careers as assistant camera operators ( A cinematography MFA program can build your organizational and technical skills, making you a more versatile cinematographer, according to some program websites. These programs can also help you build a professional portfolio to present to potential employers.

Employment for film and video editors and camera operators was expected to increase 13% during the 2016-2026 decade, as stated by the BLS. However, employment within this industry can be erratic due to a high turnover rate and strong competition for jobs.

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:

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