Masters in Film Directing

You can enroll in a master's degree program in film directing or film production to gain the skills needed to manage a crew, direct performers and create compelling narratives on screen. Find out program classes, admissions requirements and the career outlook for this field. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Do I Apply to a Film Directing Program?

If you want to enroll in a film directing master's degree program, you typically must submit a portfolio of your work along with the general application. The portfolio usually consists of a 15- to 20-minute video narrative that you directed or played a creative role in. You also sometimes must include a summary and an analysis of your portfolio. Programs often require you to have a bachelor's degree in film, media or a related field.

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in relevant field, video portfolio
Key Topics Discussed Editing, casting, cinematography, production, storytelling
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and distance learning degree options are available, although the latter are rare
Mean Salary (2018) $89,840* (for all producers and directors)
Job Outlook (2016-26)12% growth* (for all producers and directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Expect From the Program?

Film directing is commonly offered as a concentration of a Master of Fine Arts or Master of Arts program in film or motion picture production. You'll begin by studying other facets of film production, such as editing and cinematography, during the first half of the program and then enter the directing specialty during the latter half of the program. Master's degree programs in film directing culminate in the completion of a master's thesis, which usually consists of a feature-length or short-length film.

During a master's degree program, you'll explore all the stages of filmmaking, from editing the script and casting talent to shooting on location. You'll need to work well with others under pressure, since you'll be collaborating with actors, producers and crew members on class assignments and on your thesis project. Common film directing course subjects include:

  • Cycle production
  • Dramatic directing
  • Film history
  • Narrative storytelling through film
  • Thesis production

Can I Earn the Degree Online?

Online master's degree programs in film directing are very limited, due to the hands-on experience needed when working with a film crew. If you do enroll in an online program, you can expect to communicate with your instructors and classmates through chat rooms, discussion boards and live lectures. The coursework often includes interactive video programs and requires you to create independent film or video projects. To participate in the online program, you might need a fax machine, sound cards and speakers, in addition to video editing software.

What Is the Job Outlook for Film Directors?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that directors often have sporadic work schedules. This can equate to long hours when directing a film and then no work at all for periods of time in between projects ( The BLS stated that producers and directors earned a mean of $89,840 per year as of May 2018.

According to, the salaries of film directors can vary greatly, depending on factors like their level of experience or the companies that they work for. reported a salary range of $30,715 to $195,052 as of July 2019.

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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