What Are the Best Film and Movie Production Schools?

Degrees in film and movie production are offered at different levels: Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Bachelor of Art (BA), Master of Fine Art (MFA) and Certificates. Review three top-ranked schools and learn what you should look for when choosing a film and arts school. Search a list for other top rated schools in the U.S. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Characteristics of the Best Film and Movie Production Schools?

Film production covers several areas, including cinematography, directing, screenwriting and post-production. Some schools have everything, while others specialize. A good school will also give you plenty of hands-on opportunities. You'll want to look for programs offering state-of-the-art equipment and studio facilities and the chance to exhibit your work. Visiting film artists could enhance both your enjoyment and the learning potential of the program.

A film production program with students, faculty or graduates that are award winners is a good sign that it provides excellent instruction. Certificate programs can be useful if you already have a degree, and if you're looking to enhance your filmmaking career with other skills, such as in business, dual degree options could also be attractive.

What Are Three of the Best Film and Movie Production Schools?

American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles, CA

The AFI Conservatory offers 2-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree programs in production, production design, cinematography, directing, editing and screenwriting. The faculty includes Emmy, Academy and other award-winning artists-in-residence. You can learn from presenters ranging from Leslie Abramson to Ed Zwick in the Harold Lloyd Master Seminars.

You'll have access to the Warner Brothers building sound stages, screening rooms and production offices and the Sony Digital Arts Center for post-production and media storage systems. As a first year fellow in any of the disciplines, you'll work on several of your own narrative projects. During your second year, you'll collaborate with your peers in other disciplines to create group projects. Special programs include the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. These degrees are offered:

  • MFA in Cinematography
  • MFA in Directing
  • MFA in Editing
  • MFA in Producing
  • MFA in Production Design
  • MFA in Screenwriting

Colorado Film School in Denver

CFS is a partnership among the Community College of Aurora, Regis University and the University of Colorado Denver's College of Arts and Media. UC-Denver tied for 205th place in U.S. News & World Report's 2019 national university ranking, and Regis tied for 26th ranked Regional University in the West (www.usnews.com).

Certificate, associate degree and BFA programs are available for writing and producing, writing and directing, cinematography and videography, post-production, and acting for the screen. If you want to go directly to the job market, a 1-year, 60-credit immersion certificate program addresses all aspects of production, including directing. CFS also offers Apple certification training in Final Cut Pro and Color.

Students create, collectively, over 1,000 films per year. A juried show of student work is presented at the end of each term. You'll have access to editing labs and suites, a screening room, a sound lab and studios. You'll also have access to a graphics room, digital sound room, digital cameras, lighting boards, studio lenses and a cyclorama. An artist-in-residence program brings film artists to campus. Available programs include:

  • Advanced Immersion Certificate
  • Certificate in Writing and Producing
  • Certificate in Writing and Directing
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Acting
  • AAS in Writing and Directing
  • AAS in Post-production
  • BFA in Writing and Directing
  • BFA in Writing and Producing
  • BFA in Post-Production
  • BFA in Cinematography and Videography

New York University in New York City

NYU tied for 30th among U.S. News & World Report's national universities in 2019. Admission to the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts requires a portfolio. This NYC school offers an undergraduate major in film and television and several master's degree programs related to film production.

Besides master's degrees in filmmaking, animation and digital arts and interactive telecommunications, a 3-year program leading to a Master of Fine Arts in Film run by director Oliver Stone is offered by Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore. Other notable options include a master class with director Spike Lee.

Kanbar and the Stern School of Business offer a joint MBA/MFA degree program that combines business management principles and filmmaking. This program involves travel to the Cannes Film Festival, participation in NYU's ProMotion Pictures competition and co-production of short films with classmates.

Any Kanbar undergraduate or graduate student can enter the Media Internship Program, working for companies like Starz, HBO or Focus Features. As a student, you'll have access to Tisch's live television studios and extensive film production and post-production facilities. In addition, you'll be able to use the facilities at the Film Library, which houses screening rooms, audition and rehearsal rooms and an extensive screenplay collection. Kanbar also sponsors the First Run Film Festival, which screens student work. The following degree programs are available:

  • BFA in Film and Television
  • MFA in Filmmaking
  • MFA in Animation and Digital Arts
  • MBA/MFA Dual Degree in Producing
  • Master of Professional Studies in Interactive Telecommunications

Top Ranked Schools For Film And Movie Production

College/University Institution TypeLocationEstimated Undergrad In-State Tuition*
University of Southern California- Los Angeles 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA$56,000
Arizona State University 4-year, Public Tempe, AZ$11,000
University of California School of Theater, Film and Television 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CAN/A
Chapman University 4-year, Private Orange, CA$53,000
University of California - Berkeley 4-year, Private Berkeley, CA$14,000
Loyola Marymount University 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA$48,500
University of California - Santa Cruz 4-year, Public Santa Cruz CA$14,000
Wesleyan University 4-year, Private Middleton, CT$55,000
Pratt Institute - Main 4-year, Private Brooklyn, NY$52,000

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

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