Best Film Programs in America

Are you ready to find your fit?

You don’t have to live in Hollywood to become a film writer, producer, or director.

In fact, some of the best film programs in the country are hidden in states like Montana and Michigan! If you’re a creative film buff looking to get in on the action, there are tons of programs for both graduate and undergraduate students. You’ll learn everything from lighting and stage directions to writing for television, film, and more. The below programs have everything you need to succeed in this competitive industry.

What kind of film degree should you get?

If your dream is to work in the entertainment industry, a film degree may be your best bet. But what type of film degree is best for you? If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to look into a comprehensive bachelor’s program that will teach you all of the ins-and-outs. However, if you have some hands-on experience and are looking for an advanced degree, there are plenty of graduate programs that offer more in-depth courses and experiences for students.

If you wish to specialize in a certain area of film, like directing, editing, or screenwriting, you’ll want to look for a degree that offers that focus area. If you’d like to complete a thesis project or capstone, you’ll also want to ensure the program in which you enroll offers that!

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How much money do people make with a film degree?

The amount of money you can earn with a film degree depends on what exactly you decide to do with your degree. For example, video editors and camera operators can earn an average of over $58,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while a producer or director can earn more than $71,500 a year.

Of course, your earnings will depend on your success in the field. If you’re incredibly talented in storytelling, you may very well join the ranks of top-earners like Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard. The good news is that job opportunities in the film industry are on the rise – in fact, jobs are set to increase by more than 10% over the next decade.

What can you do with a degree in film?

From working in television and film to theater and more, there are plenty of opportunities for those who hold a degree in film. Interested in screenwriting? Great! Prefer to work in lighting and audio mixing? Excellent! Working in film doesn’t mean you have to work in New York City or Los Angeles – there are plenty of media hubs scattered throughout the country and around the world that are looking for talented folks in film.

What are the requirements for a degree in film?

The requirements for a degree in film will vary based on the program you’re applying to. If you’re applying to a bachelor’s program, you may not need any experience or a portfolio to be considered for admission.

However, if you’re applying for an advanced degree, you should be prepared to submit some type of visual or written portfolio. Admitted students must usually complete a capstone or thesis project of some sort. Many programs also require students to hold a minimum GPA to be eligible for graduation.

What are the best film degrees?

Below, you will find the best schools out there that offer film degrees. These schools are not only well-known for their film programs but have also been ranked according to instructional excellence, student success, and overall student satisfaction. From California and New York to Boston and Savannah, here are the 25 Best Film Degrees!

Ranking Methodology

We’ve found that the best degrees are those that offer not only fair prices but ample flexibility and convenience as well! To find the best degrees for you, we look at the best schools in the country based on reputation, student satisfaction, program quality, and return on investment. Then we review the bottom line – just how much is this going to cost? Check out our methodology page for a more in-depth description of our data.

Once we determine all of the above, we curate a list of stellar schools for you! These not only represent the best degrees you can get but also ones that will fit your budget. Check out our picks below!

  1. Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles, CA




    Loyola Marymount University (LMU) is a top-notch Jesuit school that offers a media training as part of its educational offerings. Its LMU School of Film and Television (SFTV) has been ranked within the top 10 and is close to many major Hollywood studios, providing students will access to film and TV jobs. The school is located right in Los Angeles, Calif., and is staffed with 40 instructors on the subject. Students that enroll in SFTV are exposed to array film and television courses as well as hands-on experience with 790 film productions being produced by students from 2014 to 2015.

    Program Features

    The Bachelor of film and television production program at Loyola Marymount University’s SFTV is comprised of 18 units of online or in-class work. During these classes, students will be able to complement their production, recording arts, screenwriting or animation studies. The Bachelors in Film program at Loyola Marymount University divulges deep into the history of film and TV with notable courses such as:

    • Art of the Cinema
    • Art of Television
    • Survey of American
    • International Film
    • Film Authors

    Graduates of SFTV are in high-demand, according to the college, with many students having careers in a multitude of film and TV production that ranges from art direction to 3D animation. Students that take the film program will be intimately involved in every aspect of film including features, short films, documentaries and global film. This is designed to expose students to other cultures as well as the national histories and beliefs of others through film. The average student GPA within in the film school is 3.7.

  2. Boston University

    Boston, MA




    The Boston University College of Communication Film and Television program is a progressive learning environment that is set within the prestigious school’s two campuses. Located in Boston, this university has a history that dates back to 1839 and is well established in the film industry with notable instructors including documentary filmmaker Sam Kauffmann and award-winning producer-writer-director Garland Waller and Mary Jane Doherty.

    Program Features

    The Bachelors of Film and Television at Boston University is comprised of 128 credits and 32 four-credit courses. Here, you’ll learn the art of storytelling along with writing, image creation, and managing and producing films and television productions. The history of film and television is also explored, giving students the skills they need to excel in a career in film or television. Some of the courses include:

    • Storytelling for Film and Television
    • American Masterworks
    • Television Drama
    • The Holocaust
    • Film Industry

    Boston University’s involvement in the film and television world runs deep as it offers a student content distribution network with butv10 and is intimately involved in the Redstone’s film festival in New England. It also has its own production house with Hothouse Productions, where it encourages student ideas and growth. The classes for the Film & Television program are designed to be small, giving each student the opportunity to work personally with the faculty that is made up of internationally acclaimed writers, filmmakers, and media professionals.

  3. Ithaca College

    Ithaca, NY




    Ithaca College was established in 1892 and is stationed in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Here, students are able to thrive in a campus setting that is both close to Manhattan and Toronto, both bustling districts for the film industry. The school hosts a variety of classes for film majors that are designed to enhance their ability to ability to work in an array of mediums. The Bachelors of Film, Photography, and Visual Arts falls under the Roy H. Park School of Communications and is accompanied by a diverse range of instructors in the photography, cinema, film, writing, and production fields.

    Program Features

    The Bachelors of Film, Photography, and Visual Arts falls under Ithaca College’s bachelor of fine arts program. IT encompasses 120 credit hours focusing on the film, photography and visual arts studies. Under this program, students will learn an array of mediums to prepare them for today’s film requirements. There is also the opportunity to travel around the world with the school’s program to learn hands-on from acclaimed film professionals including courses in Los Angles to as far away as Italy. Some of the courses students can expect to take are:  

    • Writing for Screen Media
    • Thesis Cinema Production
    • Hollywood and American Film
    • Fiction Film Theory
    • History of Photography

    At Ithaca College, students will be introduced to the art of photography and film production first as part of their Bachelors of Film, Photography, and Visual Arts degree. Here, students will learn to record, develop, and edit video. The Bachelor’s program is designed to help students learn to juggle an array of projects while also learning to meet tight deadlines while learning to manage their creative energies. The school prepares students with a broad array of skills related to the film industry to ensure they have the ability to work in the environment that is constantly changing.

  4. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA




    The University of Southern California (USC) is top private research school that extends across 15 acres of learning and living with approximately 2500 students in attendance each semester. The school offers film studies through its USC School of Cinematic Arts. This part of the school was founded in 1929 and provides a global understanding of film and media throughout time. USC, overall, has been ranked as a top school in several reports and employs a faculty of 4000. It is located in Los Angeles.

    Program Features

    For students looking to obtain a degree in film degrees at USC, the school offers both a Bachelors of Art and a Bachelors of Fine Arts. The Bachelors of Arts track provides the necessary skills a student would need for the art of filmmaking while the Bachelors of Fine Arts offers more extensive studies and more technical training. The program at USC incorporates 128 units, where students are able to select from a number of different electives. Typical courses include:

    • Directing in Documentary
    • Fiction and New Media
    • Cinematic Arts Laboratory
    • The Production and Post-Production Assistant
    • Introduction to Film Graphic – Animation

    As part of the film program, USC offers the First Look film festival which is open to friends, family and of course, the Hollywood community. Here, students present their films to the public and a reception complete with awards is provided. The school also offers students the ability to acquire thorough knowledge and appreciation of film, television and new media as well as allowing them to express themselves creatively video, film or new media. The school also offers a graduate degree program with a Masters of Fine Arts in six areas of studies including producing, directing, cinematography, editing, production design, and sound.

  5. Chapman University

    Orange, CA




    Chapman University is situated in Orange, Calif., where it educates students on a variety of subjects. It was initially founded as Hesperian College in 1861 in Woodland, Calif., but has moved to a university system that also encompasses a Semester at Sea program. It has been named as a top college in the Western region by U.S. News and World Report, ranking sixth. Its Bachelors in Film Studies is just one film and television related undergraduate majors it offers.

    Program Features

    With the Bachelors in Film Studies, students are exposed to the study of film both in a historical sense as well as in a critical review approach. The coursework is made up of a variety of genres of films in addition to learning about filmmakers, international films and filmmaking practices. To obtain a Bachelors in Film Studies, students must complete 36 credits with some classes including:

    • Introduction to Visual Storytelling
    • Introduction to Film Aesthetics
    • Film Analysis
    • History of Film to 1959
    • History of Film 1960–Present


    At Chapman University, the Film Studies program is designed to educate students and give them the skills to enter the film industry as a critic, reviewer or archivist. The Bachelors in Film Studies also helps prepare students to continue on to graduate school at Chapman University with a Masters in Film Studies, Film Production or other film or media discipline. The film studies academic are part of the school’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, where students can also obtain an Integrated Undergraduate Master of Arts in Film Studies degree. This provides students with a Masters of Arts in Film Studies. The program encompasses five years instead of the standard six that most colleges offer.

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