Best Film Schools In USA

Last Updated on January 18, 2023

The list of film schools in America is long and competitive. Each year Hollywood films are released with the “made by” credit showing the school that helped create them. That’s why everyday, students attend film schools throughout the United States trying to earn their spot as one of the up-and-comers in Hollywood. We will provide an introductory look at some of the highest rated Film Schools in America with information on the types of students they attract and what sort of traits have landed them on this list year after year.

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You can get more information on the best film schools in the world,best film schools in u.s. 2020 and 10 best film schools in usa for international students on Collegelearners.

The 20 Best Film Schools in the USA

Best Film Schools in the United States

The United States is the best destination for international students who want to become the next Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, or Quentin Tarantino. There are many prestigious universities and colleges, but which ones are the best for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Film?

Let’s find out by looking at the latest university rankings.

1. U.S. News Rankings 2020: Time-Based Media

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • School of Visual Arts
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Bard College
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • University of California, San Diego

Find the full list on the U.S. News website.

2. The Hollywood Reporter: Top American Film Schools 2021

  • New York University (NYU)
  • American Film Institute
  • USC School of Cinematic Arts
  • Chapman University
  • Columbia University
  • Emerson College
  • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • UCLA
  • University of Texas at Austin

Check out the full ranking on the official THR website.

3. Niche Rankings 2022: Film and Photography

  • University of Southern California
  • New York University
  • Yale University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology
  • Dartmouth College
  • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
10 Cinematography Schools in The US for Cinephiles (Turn Your Passion Into  Your Dream Job)

10 best film schools in usa for international students

TOP-10 film schools in the USA for international students

  • American Film Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  • New York University (New York, NY)
  • University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)
  • Columbia University (New York, NY)
  • Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
  • University of North Carolina (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

To realize the dream of filmmaker’s fame, you must first get a good education. A better place than America can not be found for this – a profile education in the USA will help a student become a sought-after specialist, and maybe pretend to be a personal star on the Walk of Fame!

  • American Film Institute (Los Angeles, CA)

This institution is little like an educational one. Rather, it is a playground on which cinematic beau monde – producers, directors, writers – can improve their skills or, if desired, change the profile, specialize in a new field. On a non-profit basis, you can go through the lelleMaster’s program “conservatory program”.

The peculiarity of this program is its teachers. Learning from celebrities who join the same galaxy as David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Terrence Malik (also AFI graduates), whose names are heard not only among ordinary people, but also among professionals, is an opportunity for a short time (the program by volume in Times less than UCLA or USC) to be on the same level with  them.

Graduates of the film school AFI annually defil on the “Oscar-winning” catwalk, confirming the impeccable professionalism of their great teachers.

As a diploma work is a film shot by a student on the money of the school: 13.5 thousand dollars and casting from the professional association Screen Actors Guild, which has about 120,000 actors.

  • University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

The budget of this school is made up of the donations of its graduates. And there are more than 10,000 of them today. Almost all of them are millionaires, who do not yearly allocate money for improving their “alma mater” to huge (by the average citizen’s standards) money. Due to this, USC successfully competes with AFI, which collects the best of the best under its “banners”.

Unprecedented level of technical equipment of the USC film school attracts those who dream of Hollywood. With the help of money that the school receives not only from graduates, but also from masters of American cinema (George Lucas listed $ 175 million, approximately the same amount “gives” Steven Spielberg, who did not graduate from USC), students learn to implement fantastic ideas on the Bachelor’s program and Master’s program.

School of Cinematic Arts USC publishes professional producers, screenwriters and filmmakers – its potential sponsors, as they all make a rapid career in the film industry, not forgetting the school that showed them the path to fame.

Here there are just a few names that do honor not only to the USC school, but to the entire world cinema: George Lucas, Ron Howard, Jon Landau.

  • New York University (New York, NY)

No one can encroach on Hollywood’s star status. But the film school NYU Tisch School of the Arts, located in New York, it’s not necessary.

Students feel a constant attention to themselves, as there are not more than 12 people in the group. This creates a special atmosphere between them and the teachers, allows face to face to communicate with eminent guests – former school graduates who regularly “see” their mentors, share their secrets of mastery with the beginning workers of the “dream factory”.

Who knows, we wouldn’t have heard the names of Martin Scorsese or Oliver Stone, if they had studied in another film school. NYU Tisch School of the Arts prepared not only them, but thousands of artists whose names have already entered the history of the world film industry.

Students have an opportunity to go through three educational levels and get a degree in the field of cinematography:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • PhD

The debutant, who shot the best “exam” film, receives a prize of 200,000 dollars. 

The graduates of NYU Tisch School of the Arts at different times were Todd Phillips, James EdwardFranco, Joel Coen, Charlie Kaufman.

  • University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

UCLA School of Theater Film and Television is one of the best film academies in America. But, unlike its competitors – financial and technical giants – an international mentality, UCLA management managed to create an unusually comfortable learning environment in the walls of its establishment. Such, which can not boast of any campus in California.

UCLA students have a unique opportunity: after learning the film art under the Bachelor’s and Master’s program, they can use the materials of the largest film archive in the USA, which is only second only to the library of the Congress in value and volume.

The film school has released a whole galaxy of American “stars”, among which are Francis Ford Coppola, Alexander Payne, Tim Robbins.

  • California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)

The founder of the CalArts film school, Walt Disney, hardly suspected that his “child” would eventually turn into one of America’s best film schools. This institution was originally conceived as a “university” for animators, but, according to its dean Steve Anker, became an “experimental school”, where all kinds of art could live.

So it is, in CalArts experiment is put “on the flow”, thanks to which produces not only ordinary animators, but also playwrights, documentaries, directors. Training in bachelor and master’s programs goes in different directions:

  • Animation;
  • Dramatic narrative;
  • Experimental cinematography;
  • Multimedia.

The school was successfully completed by Tim Burton, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter.

  • Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University entered the “Ivy Cinema” due to the unique composition of the teachers. It almost entirely consists of laureates – famous filmmakers, screenwriters and producers, such as Milos Forman, Barbara de Fina, Mir Nain.

Graduates of Columbia University can not boast of multi-million royalties, but without them their names make the amateurs of American cinema tremble: Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko, Nicole Holofcener.

  • Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)

Wesleyan University belongs to those schools whose reputation is based on the authority of its founders. The name of Jeanine Basinger is too significant for students who wish to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in the field of cinematography.

The college publishes “aesthetes” of cinema, which, in addition to studying directly the programs for this kind of art, deepen their humanitarian knowledge, which qualitatively affects their vision of the world through the prism of the movie camera.

Compare Wesleyan University with the USC and UCLA – the giants of Hollywood – it’s pointless, because it’s about the various applied techniques that schools use in education. Janine Basinger works with each of the 80 students individually, “on fingers” explaining the nuances of creating a film: writing script, filming, editing. At the same time, students are closely acquainted with the “evolution” of professional tools, ranging from manual, ending with the newest digital equipment.

High grades of the school are confirmed annually by its graduates: Miguel Arteta, Michael Bay, Akiva Goldsman, Zak Penn, Rick Nicita, Joss Whedon, Larry Mark.

  • University of North Carolina (Winston-Salem, NC)

The UNC School of the Arts Academy offers students an opportunity to plunge into the world of art. Cinema in the program is on a par with music, including with collective music making, theater, choreography and design.

Apparently, because of their versatile education, school graduates regularly cashed in multi-million royalties for the creation of “traditional” films and receive prestigious awards for art films: Danny McBride, David Gordon Green, Jody Hill.

  • University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)

Art for the sake of art – such a motto could be written at the entrance to the film school UT Austin Radio-Television-Film. The main direction is independent cinema, which students learn to create in modern conditions. Technical equipment UT Austin Radio-Television-Film allows you to gradually learn the subtleties of cinema in professional studios. The average student of the school have practice in at least two special areas.

Among the famous graduates of Bruce Hendricks, Robert Rodriguez, Matthew McConaughey.

  • Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

The Department of Transmedia – the “unit” Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts – the territory of modern cinema, based on the latest computer technology. Students of the school perfectly master the latest methods (not only practical, but also theoretical) of creating a film, confidently using animation, special effects, video, know the process of producing a film from “A” to “I”.

The school accepts a limited number of students – only 40 per year, so in practice each of them is dealt with individually. “Lucky”, who managed to win the status of a promising student, get a unique opportunity – to participate in the “Week of Sorkin”. This is a kind of master class, which takes place in Los Angeles. Its “gurus” are Hollywood stars, and the founder is Aaron Sorkin, the “Oscar-winning” graduate of Syracuse University.

Famous colleagues – Chris Renaud, Albert Maysles, Aaron Sorkin.

Top 15 Film Schools in North America (US and Canada) | StudyPug

Best Film Schools In The World

1. University of Southern California (USC)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD

USC is the most respected and the best film school in the world. USC established a completely interdisciplinary learning opportunity as the world’s first media school to teach most of the areas in the Cinematic Arts. Its mission is to create and express the creative, educational, and entrepreneurial standards and procedures of film, television, and interactive media to equip students to become pioneers in the industry.

Students are introduced to the industry’s most recent technology innovations, narrative approaches, and networking opportunities to engage with prominent professionals. They offer programs for undergraduates and graduates students such as Fine Arts in Writing for Screen and Television, Cinema and Media, Animation, and Digital Arts.

2. American Film Institute (AFI)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Master’s

The American Film Institute (AFI) is among the world’s most recognized film schools. AFI assured students to acquire the process of producing films mastering technology and discipline behind the narration. Its mission is to recognize artistic excellence and develop educational efforts that empower both artists and audiences. The AFI Conservatory graduates have earned significant industry nominations and awards in Academy, Emmy, and Guild Awards.

Students should generally have an undergraduate degree. However, if they do not, they could receive a Certificate of Completion when enrolling as an Associate Scholar. AFI Conservatory creates six major specializations in Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting.

3. National Film and Television School (NFTS)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Master’s

Over the decades, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) has nurtured some of the best creative geniuses in the United Kingdom and throughout the world. NFTS offers over 30 MA, Diploma, Certification courses and short training in various cinema, broadcast, and gaming fields. Undergraduates from different schools enroll in the NFTS to continue their chosen specialty at the postgraduate level.

NFTS graduate students have earned 13 Oscars, 145 BAFTAs, and 70 Emmys and have been recognized countless times. Films generated by NFTS students are also acknowledged by prominent prizes and organizations such as Grierson Awards, Sundance Film Festival, and Cannes Film Festival. They currently offer full-time courses in Cinematography, Creative Business, Film Studies Programming and Curation, Assistant Directing and Floor Managing, Screenwriting, etc.

4. University of California (UCLA) School of Theater, Film, and Television

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD

UCLA TFT innovates a highly dynamic society program and provides an entirely interdisciplinary environment where media, performing arts, and world-class research thrive. UCLA TFT objectives will equip dedicated students with the necessary skills to explore the structures around them as versatile creators and artists, equipped with the understanding, vision, and perspective to make great experiences in the creative industry.

UCLA offers a wide range of programs, such as online courses, summer programs, and professional programs. For undergraduates, they can opt for Cinema and Media Studies, Directing, Cinematography, Documentary, Producing, or Screenwriting. Graduates also have programs, including Production/ Directing, Documentary, or Animation.

5. NYU Tisch School of the Arts (TNYU)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD

NYU Tisch School of the Arts is one of the famous film schools in the world. They are among the major arts institutions in the country, introducing dance, theatrical design and production, and film studies. They deliver intensive professional learning and relevant experience in theater and filmmaking within the setting of a renowned academic institution.

Undergraduates can choose programs in Collaborative Arts, Cinema Studies, Photography & Imaging, or Interactive Media Arts. They also offer programs for graduate students such as Art & Public Policy, Design for Stage & Film, or Performance Studies.

The Top 25 American Film Schools, Ranked – The Hollywood Reporter

6. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD

Founded by Walt Disney, CalArts is one of the finest film schools in Los Angeles. It delivers competitive undergraduate and graduates degree programs with its six Schools – Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater. They offer a comprehensive academic program and opportunities for each student to enhance their creative skills and talents.

These student’s degree programs include Acting, Experimental Animation, Film & Video, Graphic Design, Performer-Composer, etc. CalArts’ continuing learning project focuses on transparency, innovation, critical involvement, and artistic freedom.

7. Beijing Film Academy (BFA)

  • Film Program
  • Degrees offered: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD

BFA is China’s most prestigious film school and Asia’s leading institution specializing in film and broadcast production courses. It has nine schools offering courses separated into six divisions- Department of Screenwriting and Film Studies, Directing, Cinematography, Film-and-Television Technology, Film Studies, and Basic Education. They have an outstanding professor, broad subjects, and well-organized teaching methods, making BFA a place for developing skills in film creation, administration, and philosophy.

They deliver undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with short-term courses and diplomas. BFA has produced excellent alumni that have received national and international recognition for their talents in film and television for over four decades. Among their renowned graduates are filmmakers, editors, scriptwriters, and movie stars.

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