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Best Master’s in Film Degree in 2021

April 28, 2021 | Staff Writers

Masters in Film
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The following list of schools have high quality programs for those seeking to earn a Master’s in Film.  Each of the institutions on this list are fully accredited.  Programs are ranked using a matrix of cost, faculty to student ratio, and graduation rate.  Using these three key pieces of information an overall ranking was given.  The lower the tuition and faculty to student ratio will lead to a higher ranking.  A higher graduation rate will also lead to a higher ranking.  Programs that are high quality and affordable will lead to greater student success during the program and in their careers following graduation.  

Here are the 17 Best Master’s in Film Degree!

1. University of California Los Angeles        Points:  11

A public institution, the University of California Los Angeles was established in 1882 as a teaching college.  UCLA has since grown to become a global leading research institution that offers a wide array of undergraduate and graduate degrees.  Those seeking to study film will find themselves in Hollywood, studying film in one of the most renowned schools.  Students seeking to earn a Master’s degree can take one of two paths;  a Master of Arts in Film or a Master of Fine Arts in Film.  Concentrations include animation, directing and producing, and screenwriting.  Whether students are interested in studying the history or techniques of film, they will find a path for their interests and career goals. 

 At A Glance

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Resident Tuition: $12,953
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $28,055
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 91.4%

2. University of Southern California             Points:  11

A private institution, the University of Southern California was founded in 1880 and is the oldest private institution in California.  Those desiring to study film will be right in LA with Hollywood and all the opportunities that has to offer film students.  USC is home to the oldest and largest film school in the nation,  Those seeking a Master’s degree in Film will find a MFA in Cinematic Arts, Film, and Television Production.  This particular degree takes students through cinematic production.  Students will also take courses on screenwriting, interactive cinema, music video production, directing in a virtual world and more. 

At A Glance  

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Resident Tuition: $59,260
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $59,260
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 8 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 91.5%

3. Columbia University New York      Points:  11

Columbia University School of the Arts offers students the opportunity to go to film school at one of the world’s great universities, with a faculty of working professionals esteemed in both Hollywood and the independent film community. The Film MFA programs—in Screenwriting/Directing and in Creative Producing—are populated by top students from around the world, and the curriculum fosters cutting-edge creativity, intellectual rigor, and hands-on practicality. Since the Film MFA at Columbia was introduced in 1966, it has been renowned for the global success of its alumni in film and television, including top prizes at Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Berlin and the Academy Awards. The Film and Media Studies MA program gives students a unique opportunity to study film history and theory in the midst of an active filmmaking community.

At A Glance

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Resident Tuition: $49,968
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $49,968
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 6 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 94.9%

4. Stanford University         Points:  11

A private institution, Stanford University has a global reputation and ranks among the best institutions for learning and innovation worldwide.  The graduate program in film is no exception.  Students can earn an MFA in Documentary Film and Video in which students learn the historical, theoretical and critical framework for producing non-fiction films.  Courses will include digital video, film/video writing, editing, nonfiction film production, advanced documentary film directing, and more.  The program only admits 8 students per year and they will have two years to complete the program.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Resident Tuition: $11,770 Per Unit
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $11,770 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 5 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

5. University of Pennsylvania          Points:  11

A private Ivy League research university, University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740 as one of the colonial colleges.  As a renowned institution in many fields, the University of Pennsylvania has been ranked among the top in Business as well as Fine Arts programs.  Students studying cinema will find a Graduate Certificate in Cinema and Media Studies.  Students of this program are prepared with the skills to research and teach film and media as well as advance their own skills in the field.  Core courses of the program will include world film history to 1945, World Film History from 1945 to the present, and television and new media.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Resident Tuition: $7,594 Per Unit
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $7,594 Per Unit
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 6 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 95,2%

6. Loyola Marymount University         Points:  11

A private Jesuit and Marymount university, Loyola Marymount University is a top-ranked Catholic school.  As one of the largest Roman-Catholic institutions on the West coast, Loyola is home to over 9,000 students that enroll in its high quality programs every year.  If students are seeking an advanced degree that focuses primarily on film production will find a MFA program at Loyola that is rigorous and well-regarded program.  The MFA in Film and Television Production prepares students to produce, direct, screenwrite, edit, record, and design their own work as they utilize the latest technologies.  A sampling of courses include cinematography, writing for production, writing for production, and more.   

At A Glance

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Resident Tuition: $18,903
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $18,903
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 10 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 82.7%

7. Northwestern University          Points:  11

A private research institution, Northwestern University was established in 1851 to serve as the leading institution for higher learning in the Northwest Territory. Well-known for its research, business, and law programs, Northwestern University has also graduated many well-known film and television writers and producers.  Anyone looking specifically for a MA in Film with an emphasis in documentary films will find Northwestern to be a great choice.  They offer an MFA in Documentary Media that provides an interdisciplinary experience and encourages hybrid experimentation with film.  Required courses will include narrative techniques, documentary techniques, and expanded techniques that allow for MFA in Doc Media students to work in sound, interactive, computational, installation, and VR contexts.

At A Glance

  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Resident Tuition: $56,567
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $56,567
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 6 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 93.5%

8. New York University       Points:  9

A private institution, New York University was established with the mission of providing education to all based upon personal merit. NYU is home to the well-regarded prestigious Tisch School of Arts.  Within that school students can study film and earn an MFA in Film Production.  This program is an intensive three year conservatory.  Students will learn by doing, they create and produce their own films in the classroom and on sets.  This program is ideal for anyone seeking to become a leader in the film industry.  Through developing a range of short films students will use film script, and showcase their technical skills.  

At A Glance

  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Resident Tuition: $23,126
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $23,136
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 9 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 85,4%

9. Boston University        Points:  9

A private research institution, Boston University was established in 1839 with historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church, though it is now a nonsectarian institution.  The COM Department of Film and Television has ranked among the top 25 schools for three consecutive years by the Hollywood Reporter.  The program consists of 16 courses but only four required courses.  The required courses include International Masterworks, Film Theory and Criticism, American Masterworks, and TV Theory and Criticism. Students can design their experience and degree with the remaining courses they choose to take to complete their degree.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Resident Tuition: $28,454
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $28,454
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 10 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 86.5%

10. The University of Texas at Austin         Points:  9

A public research institution, The University of Texas at Austin is the flagship institution with the University of Texas system.  UT Austin offers a graduate program, an MFA in Film and Media Production that mentors artistic and creative students from around the world.  The program paces equal emphasis on fiction and nonfiction cinema and production.  The program enrolls 12 students each year enabling faculty to work closely with students and mentor them through the program and through their productions.  Students will find the strong suit of UT Austin is that of the director.  A large emphasis is placed on directing quality films during their time at UT.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Resident Tuition: $11,998
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $22,966
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 18 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 80.8%

11. Stony Brook University        Points:  9

A public institution, Stony Brook University is a member of the State University of New York system. Though it is commonly recognized as one of the top research institutions in the world, Stony Brook University is also home to the Manhattan Center for Creative Writing & Film and features stand-alone MFAs in Film and Television Writing created in partnership with indie production legend Killer Films. We offer Tracks in Directing, Screenwriting, and Producing for Film, and a comprehensive degree in Television Writing where students create the portfolios that can get them staffed in writers rooms. While making their short films, webisodes, and independent features, students will also gain applicable skills in production, cinematography, and editing. Students have unique professional opportunities with internships at Killer Films and other NYC-based entertainment companies. Student and graduate work have been showcased in film festivals worldwide.

At A Glance

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Resident Tuition: $5,655
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $11,550
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 12 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

12. California Institute of the Arts          Points:  7

A private institution, California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1961 as an institute that was created specifically for students of the visual and performing arts.  The School of Film/Video offers a variety of programs from experimental animation to film directing.  Students can earn an MFA through their three year program.  Students will learn not only technical skills, but also the history and critical perspectives in their area of focus.  Core courses include filmmaking fundamentals, film production workshop, digital editing, and cinematography.  Students can customize their degree with integrated media or even an integrated school degree  

At A Glance

  • Location: Santa Clara, California
  • Resident Tuition: $51,466
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $51,466
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 7 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 66.2%

13. Syracuse University         Points:  7

A private research institution, Syracuse University was founded in 1831 by the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Syracuse University is a leading institution in the fields of engineering and business fields as well as the fine arts.  The MFA in Film integrates film production with conceptual and critical study of film while maintaining a strong focus on global cinema.  With a strong foundation studying film history culture alongside producing their own work creates a well-rounded experience.  Students even have opportunities to study in Prague for a semester.  Courses include cinema acting and directing, filmmaking, introduction to film theory, and problems of film perception.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Syracuse, New York
  • Resident Tuition: $30,294
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $30,294
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 15 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 82.1%

14. University of Miami       Points:  7

A private research institution, the University of Miami enrolls approximately 18,000 students across a dozen schools and is one of the best art colleges in Florida.  Those seeking to earn a MA in Film will find a diverse MFA in Motion Pictures program that builds on foundational knowledge of producing and screenwriting.  Students will advance their use of technology in film production as well as work on their screenwriting and editing along with production.  Many specializations are offered on top of the core courses of directing the camera, narrative production, sound design, and media activism.  Students can specialize in producing, editing, directing, cinematography, documentary, and more.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Coral Gables, Florida
  • Resident Tuition: $40,236
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $40,236
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 12 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 81.4%

15. Emerson College           Points:  5

A private college, Emerson College is one of the smaller institutions on our list, with only 3,500 students enrolling every year, but it is among the top film programs in the nation.  Students will learn alongside industry experts as they have access to large university resources but experience personal mentoring where faculty collaborate with students. Core classes will cover production, screenwriting, business of modern media, and more.  Students will also have the opportunity to specialize in a variety of areas such as New Media, History of Documentary, Avant Garde Experiential, and Installations.  

At A Glance

  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Resident Tuition: $31,264
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $31,264
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 79.8%

16. Chapman University          Points:  5

A private institution, Chapman University is a distinguished institution that offers over 100 areas of study across ten schools.  The MFA in Film Production offered by Chapman is a faculty mentored, hands-on program that takes students through all aspects of film production.  The tradition track will take students three years to complete, while the accelerated track takes two years.  Students will learn both on the set of film alongside faculty as well as in the classroom. There are also other graduate programs in film such as an MA, MFA or joint degrees.  Graduates from these programs are ready to dive into careers as Film Directors, TV Producers, or Film Documentation.  .  

At A Glance

  • Location: Orange, California
  • Resident Tuition: $54,924
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $54,924
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 13 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 79.1%

17. Savannah College of Art and Design        Points:  5

A private institute for art, the Savannah College of Art and Design offers more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design college.  With an enrollment of 13,000 students across multiple campuses in Savannah, Atlanta and around the world SCAD helps students become experts in the technical aspects of Film.  The MFA in Film and Television is a fabulous program for teaching the many aspects that go into filmmaking as well as allowing students to express their creativity and craft making in the process.  Courses include technical elements of film production, field production, cinema in context, and film and media production technology.   

At A Glance

  • Location: Savannah, Georgia
  • Resident Tuition: $38,975
  • Non-Resident Tuition: $38,975
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: 20 to 1
  • Financial Aid: Yes
  • Graduation Rate: 65.5%

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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