Which Colleges Offer Directing Degrees?

College theatre and music departments and film schools have programs that will teach you production essentials for directors. Regardless of which direction you want your directing to take, there's a program out there designed to put you into a director's chair. Read on to see some of the different options you can choose from. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Directing Degree Programs

Directing degrees are offered by many universities. These programs tend to be graduate degree programs, usually a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA), though some schools do offer directing programs at the undergraduate level. In general, these are hands-on, full-time programs. Students often get opportunities to direct and work with people earning degrees in related fields throughout their education. Below are just some of the programs that are available in directing, as well as important facts about directing programs.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Common Courses Cinematography, film and television criticism, film theory
Prerequisites Demonstration of performance ability may be necessary for entry into a directing program
Possible Careers Theatrical management, television or film assistant
Concentrations Film & media production, play direction, filmmaking

Northwestern University

This school, located in Evanston, IL, offers a MFA in Directing for stage productions. This program will teach you directing skills and style techniques specific to stage directing, with an emphasis on a broad spectrum of dramatic works from historical periods to contemporary times. Degree requirements include coursework in theatre practice and directing, student productions and the completion of a master's thesis.

An internship program is a required part of the curriculum, and you can do your internship in one of the Chicago theatres or another approved theatre. This program stresses the collaborative effort involved in directing stage performances.

Carnegie Mellon University

At Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, you can get your Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing and pursue your MFA at the same school. The bachelor's program offers a broad approach to directing that covers basics in television, theatre and film projects. In your undergrad program, you'll learn about lighting, set design, playwriting, theatre history and theatre management.

At the graduate level, the program places an emphasis on theatre productions, both traditional and experimental. You'll need to have at least three years of professional theatre experience before you can apply to this program. This program requires a thesis project for graduation and offers an opportunity to be mentored by a working theatre professional.

University of South Carolina

This Columbia, SC university offers a Master of Music in Opera Theatre with a stage directing track. Along with direction courses, you'll also study music theory and history. You're required to act as an assistant director in two productions and direct two other fully-orchestrated opera on your own to receive this advanced degree.

Additionally, the University of South Carolina offers a BA in Theatre within their theatre and dance school that includes directing coursework in its curriculum. Students can take classes in play direction and the history of theatre under the guidance of expert faculty.


If you have your heart set on the cinema, Los Angeles, CA's UCLA may be your destination for an MFA in Production/Directing. This program places its emphasis on the collaborative work involved in film and video productions and teaching the importance of storytelling through a director's eyes. Experimental venues are encouraged in this cutting-edge program.

In UCLA's program, you'll learn about cinematography, directing techniques for camera venues, animated film studies, film and its effect on society, post-production and even video game theory. Your courses will take you from process to professional training to production. Studies will prepare you to create the outline for your thesis project, which will include budgets, timelines and the projected length of the film, among other necessary aspects of film production and direction.

UCLA also offers an interdisciplinary MFA in directing through its Department of Theater. This is a collaborative program that works with acting and playwriting students to create projects. The program also includes internships at local theaters.

Possible Careers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), camera operators, television, video and motion picture professionals earned a median annual salary of $54,570 as of May 2018. Producers and directors earned $71,680.

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