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The Best 15 Film Schools In California in 2021

March 17, 2021 | Staff Writers

Film Schools in California
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The number of film schools in California has really grown in the last few years. Gearing up while stocking up on 3D Cameras, most of these schools are modern. But even with all that technology, making a decision about which school to attend can be a nightmare. Thankfully, if you know what you want to pursue, you’ll definitely end up in the right school. From video to photographic arts to cinematic arts, California has it all. If you are searching for the best film school in California, our writing will shed some light on the best schools.

Why You Should Attend a Film School

If you have a desire to pursue a career in film or, you want to become a director, actor, or screenwriter, the best way to prepare yourself is to attend a film school. One of the important benefits of attending film school is to hone your skills and study the subjects, related to the film. Since making a high-quality film takes time, you need to attend the best film school.

Good film schools will give you a hands-on approach on how to use lighting, camera, audio, and other film equipment. You also need to remember that a film school covers a range of topics, including theories, hands-on assignments, and management. Having said that, you should look for a school with everything you are looking for.

Moreover, attending a film school allows you to affirm your life choices and, gives you a chance to discover your talent. Surrounding yourself with individuals who share your passion and are positive is very important in your career growth. By attending a film school, it’s possible to build a powerful network to help you throughout your life. Ultimately, deciding whether to attend or not to attend a film school is something that you can decide on alone. Overall going to a film school will validate and nourish your urge to become a filmmaker.

The Best 15 Film Schools In California

1. University of Southern California (98 points)

If you want to pursue a degree in film, photography arts, and video, the University of Southern California is a very good option. Located in the famous city of Los Angeles, it has trained several students all over the world. Unlike other schools, its students are encouraged to study business and communications to boost their career later on in life. Some of their programs include film scripts, film productions, media and film studies, media arts digital arts and practices, and interactive media and games. It also provides many ways for students to get engaged in the entertainment industry in a hands-on approach manner.

Tuition per year: $$57,256

Graduation Rate: 91.9%

2. California Institute of the Arts (94 points)

Originally founded as a creation of Walt Disney in collaboration with several other giants in the industry, California Institute of the Arts is currently one of the best film schools in California. If you want to specialize in animation, this school has everything you need. It also has full production capabilities for documentary, fiction and experimental filmmaking. Hence, students can learn what they need to cover. They can also connect with studios and other industry contacts through internships and the annual Animation Portfolio Day. Featuring several work programs, their students will easily gain hands-on experience so they can become the best in their fields.

Tuition per year: $52,850

Graduation Rate: 66.7%

3. Stanford University College (89 points)

Stanford University College is an elite private university located in California San Francisco Bay. As a mid-sized university, it has an enrollment rate of 7,087 students. Since it only has an acceptance rate of 4%, its admission is quite competitive. If you are considering a major in film and media studies, it’s recommended that you take FILMSTUD 4 introduction and take other courses to prepare you. These courses will anchor the major through exposure to film language and visual and narrative structures. Since courses may not be offered throughout the year, you need to consult the University so as to know the true picture.

Tuition per year: $52,529 

Graduation Rate: 94%

4. University Of California- Santa Barbara (86 points)

University of California Santa Barbara is ranked among the best universities for students who are interested in video, film, and photography arts. Located in the medium-sized suburb of Santa Barbara, it’s a medium-sized college that caters to a wide variety of students. As one of the leading internal centers for research and education, the department of film and media studies has everything that you need. 

Once a student is admitted, he can choose the kind of degree he wishes to pursue.

Tuition per year: $44,145

Graduation Rate: 82.3%

5. American Film Institute (80 points)

American Film Institute has a great history of training graduates to work in major advertising, television production programs, films, and all the other commercial, artistic endeavors. Accepting only MFA for two-year degree programs, most of their students are working professionals. By bringing the students together, it allows them to develop long term relations through collaborations. Accepting less than 50 trainees in one year, you can only expect them to produce the best. Some of their courses include editing, directing, cinematography, scriptwriting, and design. It’s, therefore, one of the best film schools in the world.

Tuition per year: $59,951

Graduation Rate: 69%

6. Loyola Marymount University (79 points)

If you want to study video, film, and photography arts, it’s very hard to beat Loyola Marymount University. As a moderately sized private school located in the city of Los Angeles, it provides some of the best courses. One of the things that set it apart is its spirit of collaboration. Founded in 1911 the University is committed to fostering an academic community and provides an opportunity for real-world engagements and intellectual experience. As the global center of arts, it has everything you need in film school.

Tuition per year: $50,683

Graduation Rate: 82.7%

7. Chapman University (75 points)

Situated in Orange City, Chapman University far from the big city but close enough for students who are looking for practical engagement. Given that it’s one of the best film schools, their graduates are trained to succeed in the most important fields of television production and the film industry. After graduating, the students get titles such as BFA and MFA in film production, film studies, film and television production, screenwriting, production design, and TV production. Some of the courses are even joint degrees with business and law schools.

Tuition per year: $54,945

Graduation Rate: 79.1%

8. Columbia College Hollywood (73 points)

Columbia College Hollywood is a unique film school located in the heart of the entertainment industry. Founded in 1954, it offers undergraduate studies in television, film, directing, acting, visual effects, and new media production, among others. To show the students the practical aspects of the work, it has full production and screening rooms. Whether you want to become a Foley artist, screenwriter, or director of photography, it has everything you need. If you’re looking for a good film school in California, this is the right place to start.

Tuition per year: 24,492

Graduation Rate: 71.4%

9. Laguna College of Art and Design (70 points)

Founded in 1961 and located in Laguna Beach, Laguna College of Art and Design is a relatively small university. It offers MFA and other art and design courses. Besides, it has affiliations studies abroad with the University Of Applied Sciences Of Breda, Art Academy of Florence Italy, and the University of Communication in India. Plus, it’s affiliated with the Vermont College of arts. As a place where artists and intellectuals meet to live, work and earn a living, it’s the perfect place to be if you’re in search of the best film school. The best part is that artists around collaborate to provide the students with the best training.

Tuition per year: $36,600

Graduation Rate: 56.1%

10. San Francisco State University (68 points)

San Francisco State University is a very large university that offers many disciplines alongside film programs. They focus on both studies (history, theory, and criticism) as well as production. They have world-class faculty, a diverse student body and an intense creative culture that takes advantage of of the region and state industry. Production classes include 16mm film, VR, screenwriting for games, and sound design. Studies classes include world cinema and popular weekend workshops. The program is renowned for their experimental and documentary film programs and have a robust fiction program. Animation is a jewel in the school as well. Their programming focused on race, rebellion and resistance as well as women of color in Hollywood features distinguished guests and alumni.

Situated in San Francisco, the school was started in 1899 and is currently providing both master’s and undergraduate degrees. Overall, it offers some of the best courses and degree programs. Since it was established in 1899, it’s been known for offering excellent teaching services. Featuring hundreds of workshops and guest lectures, students can rest assured they’ll get everything they need.

Tuition per year: $7,200 (in-state); $19,000 (out-of-state)

Graduation Rate: 79.1%

11. Emersion College Los Angeles (65 points)

Emersion College Los Angeles is an amazing university that’s well-positioned for aspiring students in the film industry. Featuring some of the best courses, undergraduate, postgraduate, and masters’ students are offered degrees in radio, film, and video production. Since starting its film and media school, it has been ranked as one of the best colleges in the California area. Apart from the arts, students can get training in marketing, administration, and communication. That gives them an opportunity to join the working environment as soon as they graduate.

Tuition per year: $27,000

Graduation: 81.3%

12. The University of California Irvine (62points)

The University of California Irvine is a very large university providing several disciplines alongside film programs. Started in 1965, it’s currently offering degrees in cinema and film studies. Depending on the course of the program you are taking, it charges approximately $40,000 in tuition fees. Its mission is to improve lives through rigorous academic programs, research, and dedicated public service. They believe that true progress can only be made when different perspectives are combined altogether. They also enlighten their students and direct them to a better future through training.

Tuition per year: $43,481

Graduation Rate: 87.2%

13. New York Film Academy (59 points)

With a name such as a film academy, you don’t expect to find this school next to the major film and Hollywood film studios. Situated close to Warner and Brothers and Universal Studios, New York Film Academy offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs. Their most common titles include 3D animation, fashion photography, game design, visual effects, digital edition, music video, and graphic design. Apart from getting the first-class edition, their students enjoy the benefits that come with studying in Los Angeles.

Tuition per year: $32,542

Graduation Rate: 70.7%

14. Woodbury University (56 points)

Founded in 1884, Woodbury University has degree programs in filmmaking and animation. Their BFA filmmaking program includes courses in a variety of areas, including film production, directing, cinematography, screenwriting, entertainment marketing, producing, career training, and entertainment law. They have required internships, with their students working at Paramount, Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, CBS, Secret Hideout, Valhalla, and other well-known film companies. Through that, they provide effective ways for students to build a long-lasting and successful career in the film industry and television production. If you want to explore the industry of film making, this is the right place to be.

  • Tuition per year: $41,182
  • Graduation Rate: 64.3%

15. Santa Monica College (51 points)

Started in 1929 as a high school, Santa Monica College is currently one of the best film schools in California. Whether you’re an aspiring film or television professional, it has everything you need. It’s, therefore, an affordable option for artists who want to join the world of entertainment. By offering an outstanding and unique educational experience, they ensure their students gain a wealth of experience while studying all 24 units required. If you’re looking for a good film and television production college, this is the place to be.

Tuition: $305 per unit

Graduation rate: 28%

Ranking Methodology

This ranking was based on the analysis of best software data from the U.S Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the respective university website. The schools were ranked based on tuition amounts and the rate of graduation. Both factors were accorded 50 points. Each school was assigned points based on how it compared with others on tuition and graduation rates. The points earned for both ranking factors were then added together to get each school’s total score. The school with the most points ranked first in the list, and the points were accorded down the list accordingly.

We strive to provide current and accurate information to our readers. If you’re associated with one of the schools, we ranked above, and you realize an error in the information provided, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make necessary corrections.

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