Top Colleges for Directing

Find out what you should look for when choosing a school with film or acting programs related to directing. Read about three top-ranked schools with directing programs, and check their national rankings. Review the relevant degree programs you could pursue at each school. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Choose a Top College for Directing

As a prospective director who's looking for a top college, you might want to seek a program that offers hands-on opportunities and instruction from working artists. The option to specialize in theater or exposure to animation could be particularly beneficial, depending on your desired career path. You also might look for colleges or universities that offer internships and/or study-abroad opportunities. If you plan to study at the undergraduate level, you might have a hard time finding bachelor's programs that emphasize directing; however, some schools offer directing courses to film, acting or theater majors.

What Are Three Top Colleges for Directing?

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia

In 2016, CalArts was tied for a No. 9 national ranking for its fine arts graduate programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. CalArts offers degree programs in film and video, acting and directing through its School of Theater and its School of Film and Video. This school features four sound stages, a permanent set and theater, and affords student access to black-and-white and film-directing studios, plus videographics laboratories and animation studios.

You might intern with an industry organization through a program co-sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You could study in Europe, India, South Korea or Taiwan, or possibly work on a partnered project involving the Museum of Modern Art or the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The following degrees are available:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Film and Video
  • BFA in Acting
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film and Video
  • MFA in Film Directing
  • MFA in Directing
  • MFA in Acting

University of California (UC) - San Diego

U.S. News & World Report ranked UC San Diego as tied for No. 13 for its graduate fine arts program in 2016. Theater majors at this university take at least one directing course. Three undergraduate productions occur per year, and you might have the opportunity to be involved with cabaret events. Theater majors have studied abroad in France, Italy, Mexico and England.

Externship opportunities are available at the Tony-award winning La Jolla Playhouse. You could attend important festivals in Europe or produce shows. Available degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Theatre
  • MFA in Theatre
  • MFA in Theatre and Dance (Directing)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Drama and Theatre

Yale University in New Haven, CT

Ranked No. 1 for its fine arts graduate program by U.S. News in 2016, Yale University offers an undergraduate major in film studies as well as a major in theater studies that requires independent projects, production seminars and a senior thesis project. The graduate Yale School of Drama offers a 3-year drama certificate program and an MFA in Directing program.

At Yale, you'd have access to facilities like the University Theatre, Iseman Theater and School of Drama Annex. You also would have the unique opportunity to work within the Tony Award-winning Yale Repertory Theatre. Additionally, the university features the Robert B. Hass Family Arts Library, which includes a 20,000-volume drama collection, and the Digital Media Center for the Arts. Degree programs include:

  • Certificate in Drama - Directing
  • B.A. in Film and Media Studies
  • B.A. in Theater Studies
  • MFA in Directing
  • Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies

Ten More Schools for Film and Directing

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of Southern California 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA$45,000
New York University 4-year, Private New York, NY$45,000
University of California - Los Angeles 4-year, Public Los Angeles, CA$13,000
Chapman University 4-year, Private Orange, CA$31,000
Loyola Marymount University 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA$18,000
University of California - Berkeley 4-year, PublicBerkeley, CA$14,000
Pratt Institute 4-year, Private Brooklyn, NY$34,000
University of Michigan4-year, PublicAnn Arbor, MI$23,000
Emerson College4-year, PrivateBoston, MA$31,000
Columbia University4-year, PrivateNew York, NY$48,000

*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:

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