Best 12 Film Degree Programs in 2021 - Best Value Schools

Best 12 Film Degree Programs in 2021

Staff Writers by: Staff Writers

The study of film covers a broad range of related topics, which can be seen from the various film degree programs available in the education marketplace. Each of these available film degree programs prepares students to fill the many rewarding and creative positions available in the film industry.  

Filmmakers are storytelling artists. Most students with a serious interest in working in the entertainment industry – as a director, a screenwriter, a camera equipment operator, an editor, or a producer, typically begin their career by enrolling in one of the quality baccalaureate film degree programs with a major or academic focus in film or media.

A bachelor’s film degree program offers both a comprehensive general education plus the opportunity to begin to explore the many facets and aspects available for those students who wish to an academic degree from one of the nation’s film degree programs. Some programs offer more technical education, whereas others may focus on the creative aspects of the industry. Some of the more popular categories of film degree programs include –

  • Film Studies
  • Film Production
  • Animation
  • Mass Communications, to name a few.

As students move forward and complete more advanced film degree programs, they can specialize their film focus even further, as many graduate film degree programs provide a capstone or culminating project that allows students to demonstrate their skill and creativity.

The film degree programs noted below represent a cross-section of film programs from traditional universities as well as programs offered by highly specialized film and art schools. Each student is encouraged to consider the programs closely to ensure the program meets their academic objectives, falls within their budget, and prepares them for the next stage in their life.

Film Degree Programs

1. Florida State University (FSU)

Florida State University (Florida State) College of Motion Picture Arts offers some of the most affordable film degree programs in the Sunshine State. Florida State University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree includes classes in advanced editing, film aesthetics, research/creative methods, film business planning, and visualization and composition, plus a professional internship, among others.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $3,233.45 per semester (Resident) – Undergraduate for four years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BFA I Motion Picture Arts – Production (120 credit units – 91 credits from film curriculum).
  • Student Enrollment – 42,450
  • Accreditation – SACSCOC & NASAD

2. The School of Arts at the University of North Carolina (North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina (UNC) School of the Arts  (UNCSOA)School of Filmmaking is recognized as one of the finest schools for film in the nation. Students enrolled in the University of North Carolina’s film degree programs attend RiverRun Film Festival screenings and travel to Los Angeles with faculty members to ensure a well-rounded storytelling educational experience. The University of North Carolina’s School of Filmmaking partners with the Sundance Institute.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 6,497 per semester – Undergraduate (Resident)
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BFA in Cinematography
    • BFA Picture Editing & Sound Design
    • BFA Production Design & Visual Effects
  • Student Enrollment – 1,086
  • Accreditation – SACSCOC

3. Full Sail University (Florida)

Full Sail University offers some of the most innovative film degree programs from its central Florida location in Winter Park. Established in 1979, Full Sail University provides degree candidates more than 100 studios, a backlot to film on, and a variety of soundstages. In fact, Full Sail has been recognized by Animation Career Review among the top 20 animation schools in the country. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in film with academic focuses available in post-production, production, and preproduction in less than two years.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 10,440 per semester for full-time – Undergraduate for four years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • Bachelor’s in Film
    • Bachelor’s in Digital Cinematography (available online)
    • Bachelor’s in Computer Animation in Film (available online and on-campus)
  • Student Enrollment – 21,666
  • Accreditation – ACCSC & NASAD

4. The University of Colorado (Colorado)

Established in 1876, the University of Colorado (UC Boulder) Department of Cinema Studies and Moving Image Arts offers several film degree programs from its Boulder campus.Students enrolled in the University of Colorado – Boulder’s film degree programs explore film from a critical perspective that includes a solid background in film history and methodologies.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 15,307 per semester (Resident) – Undergraduate (15 credits per)
    • $ 6,740 per semester (Resident) – Graduate. (9 credits per)
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BA in Film & Video Arts – Production
    • MFA in Film
  • Student Enrollment – 37,883
  • Accreditation – HLC

5. Ithaca College (New York)

Established in 1892 as a music conservatory, Ithaca College‘s (IC) Cinema & Photography Experience at the School of Communication offers several of New York’s best film degree programs. Ithaca College offers two baccalaureate level degrees in film and cinema – a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Cinema & Photography and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Film, Photography, and Visual Arts.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 23,305 per semester for four years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BS in Cinema & Photography (120 credit units)
    • BFA in Film, Photography and Visual Arts (120 credit units)
  • Student Enrollment – 6,266
  • Accreditation – MSCHE & NASAD

6. Quinnipiac University (Connecticut)

Quinnipiac University was established in 1929 after Northeastern University chose to abandon its Connecticut campus in New Haven. Originally a school for commerce and business, Quinnipiac is now a full status university known for its polling operations and its film television and media arts programs. Quinnipiac University offers two baccalaureate level film degree programs with its Bachelor of Arts and its Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in  Film, TV, and Media, taught by award-winning (Emmy, etc.) faculty. Students can opt to attend one semester at the school’s Los Angeles facilities, or travel abroad to France or Ireland, among other locales.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 24,100 per semester for full-time – Undergraduate for four years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BA in Film, TV & Media
    • BFA in Film, TV & Media
  • Student Enrollment – 9,708
  • Accreditation – NECHE & NASAD

7. Emerson College Visual & Media Arts School (Massachusetts)

Emerson College’s Visual & Media Arts School (EVMAS) offers one of the most unique film degree programs with its Global Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) in Film Art. Students enrolled in Emerson College’s film degree programs are tasked with creating videos, films, and public media art installations, all in the name of creative expression. Students study abroad in the Dutch countryside and Paris  (and other European communities) while spending summers learning how to implement creativity with cutting-edge equipment. Emerson College operates several theatres and other venues for students to practice their craft.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 25,120 per semester – Undergraduate.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BFA in Film Art
  • Student Enrollment – 4,919
  • Accreditation – NECHE & NASAD

8. The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

The California Institute of the Arts School of Film & Video offers several of the most innovative educational film degree programs in the western portion of the United States. All students enrolled in CalArts’ Bachelor of Fine Arts’ film degree programs must pass a graduation review to graduate but learn practical and technical skills in a workshop-like environment. CalArts’ film degree programs allow students to explore film and video production at its most fundamental levels, including editing, design, and sound production, among others.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 26,425 per semester for BFA and MFA programs.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BFA in Film & Video – a 4-year program.
    • MFA in Film & Video– a 3-year program.
  • Student Enrollment – 1,520
  • Accreditation – WASC & NASAD

9. New York University (New York)

New York University (NYU) Tisch Arts/Institute of Film & Television offers some of New York’s finest film degree programs with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) program in Film and Television with available concentrations in television, cinematography, producing, documentary, directing, or post-production, among others. New York University’s cinema studies film degree program is recognized to be one of the first university divisions in the nation devoted exclusively to film.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 26,812 per semester – Undergraduate for four years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BFA in Film and Television (128 credit points)
  • Student Enrollment – 52,885
  • Accreditation – MSCHE

10.  Boston University (Massachusetts)

Boston University’s (BU) College of Communication offers some of the finest film degree programs in New England, offering an interdisciplinary approach to storytelling on TV and film and any other media options. Student projects created at Boston University’s Redstone Festival have received  Academy Award nominations, with the College of Communication listed among the top 25 film schools in the nation. The bachelor’s degree program explores the fundamental film areas of screenwriting, production, studies, and management. All degree candidates have the opportunity to participate in an internship in Los Angeles through Boston University’s film degree program.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 28,427 per semester for full time – Undergraduate
    • $ 28,628 per semester for Graduate.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BS in Film & Television
    • MFA in Film & Television Studies
  • Student Enrollment – 33,729
  • Accreditation – NECHE

11. The University of Southern California (California)

The University of Southern California (Southern Cal) Cinematic Arts/Division of Film  Television Production offers some of the west coast’s best film degree programs with its two baccalaureate degree options (BA & BFA) and Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production. Students explore the many ways to relay stories from tiny mobile devices to giant IMAX screens, using cutting-edge editing software and technologies.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 28,628 per semester – Undergraduate for four years.
    • $17,607 per semester – Graduate for three years.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • BA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production (128 credit units)
    • BFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production (128 credit units)
    • MFA in Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production (52 credit units)
  • Student Enrollment – 48,321
  • Accreditation – WASC

12. American Film Institute (California)

American Film Institute (AFI Conservatory), which is recognized as offering some of the nation’s best film degree programs with a certificate and a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) program in Film with an academic concentration in Cinematography, Editing, Producing, Design, Screenwriting, Directing or Production. Classes are taught in workshop facilities and include cycle production, dramatic analysis, and the craft of cinematography, to name a few.

  • Tuition Fees
    • $ 29,975.50 per semester – Graduate.
  • Degree Programs Offered
    • MFA in Film with an emphasis in Cinematography
  • Student Enrollment – 334
  • Accreditation – WASC & NASAD

Film Schools Ranking Methodology

The film degree programs that are noted above include a cross-section of the available film programs at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

The data amassed to analyze these film degree programs was obtained from each school’s dedicated website or the College Navigator website, managed by the NCES o the National Center for Education Statistics. Tuition fees, unless noted otherwise, are for the academic calendar year of 2020 – 2021.

  • Semester tuition fees were calculated using 15 credit units for baccalaureate degree programs (to allow for the completion of 120-semester units in four years) or nine credits for graduate degree programs. If the tuition fees deviate from this protocol in any way, this will be noted as such.
  • Student enrollment data is indicative of the higher learning institution’s size, which can be an essential facet of a student’s educational decisions.
  • Accreditation information has been provided for each school at the regional and specialized accreditation level.
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