Top Film Schools in the U.S.

If you’re looking to enter the exciting and rewarding world of film, there are many ways to do so. One of the most popular ways is attending a film school. Keep in mind, not all film schools are created equal. An “okay” film school will teach you what’s necessary to pass your courses. A top tier film school will allow all of it’s students to gain an in depth understanding of what they need to do creatively and successfully. The curriculum provided to students will not only foster a thorough knowledge of what it takes to create an amazing film, it will also cultivate each individual student’s natural potential to help them develop as film makers.

Here are some of the top films schools in the U.S.

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Established in 1873, Vanderbilt University began as a modest private school closely connect to the church. During the next century, Vanderbilt expanded rapidly.

The film studies degree program offers students a

The interdisciplinary film studies degree programs provides an all-embracing education in the cinema arts. Students have the opportunity to learn about the aesthetic, cultural, theoretical, and historical expressions of the film.

Required courses include:

  • Film studies
  • Film theory
  • Communication
  • Culture and consciousness
  • Cultural rhetoric of film
  • Culture and society
  • History of art
  • America on Film

Major specific courses include:

  • Communications studies
  • Philosophy Psychology
  • Asian studies
  • Art
  • European studies

During their time at Vanderbilt, students are also granted opportunities to showcase their work and compete in various film festivals.

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA

Most commonly referred to as USC, the University of Southern California is well-known as one of the top ranked film schools because of it’s paramount location, reputation as one of the top ranked film programs due to its high caliber degree program, central location, voluminous resources and adept instructors.

The School of Cinematic Arts is comprised of six divisions, including two research units. Undergraduate, Graduate, and Doctorate degrees are offered to students.

The size of the campus provides students with a variety of courses to choose from. These courses include:

  • Scriptwriting and storytelling
  • Editing
  • Sound Design
  • Producing and directing
  • Animation and digital arts
  • Interactive media
  • Producing program
  • Media arts and practice

University of California

Los Angeles, California

The University of California, also known as UCLA, has an outstanding reputation for The School of Theater, Film and Television. Students enrolled in a program within this school have access to one of the world’s largest television and film archives.

The University of California at Los Angeles offers prospective students both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in film and television. The first two years of bachelor degree program requires students to complete general studies.

General studies coursework includes:

  • Foundational arts and humanities
  • Society and culture
  • Scientific inquiry
  • Writing
  • Foreign language
  • Literature
  • American history and institutions

During their last two years of study, students will be able to begin film and television related courses.

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA

Berkeley degree programs focus on historical and theoretical inquiry of films. Not only are prospective students offered the opportunity to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees, the school also offers students the opportunity to pursue a double major.

Coursework includes:

  • History of silent and sound film
  • Documentary and the avant-garde film
  • Film theory
  • Film genres
  • Introductory film and video production
  • Screenwriting

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, one the top ranked Universities in the nation, has been a leader in cinematic studies since the late 1800’s.

Alumni from this university include, DreamWorks CEO, former presidents of CBS and Warner Home Video, current president of Columbia Pictures, and directors from the Sundance Film Festival.

Students at the University of Pennsylvania are provided with the option to pursue a cinema degree as a either a major, a minor, or a certificate program in graduate studies.

Overall coursework includes:

  • Film theory
  • History and aesthetics
  • Women studies
  • Languages and literature
  • Romance languages
  • Fine arts
  • Communications
  • Anthropology
  • English
  • Soviet montage theory
  • French auteur theory

Columbia University

New York, NY

Also known as one of the top ranked national universities in the country, Columbia University offers adept faculty and a rigorous curriculum to students.

Coursework includes:

  • Theory of film
  • Auteur studies
  • Genre studies
  • National cinemas
  • Film theory
  • Lab in fiction filmmaking
  • Script analysis
  • Narrative strategies in screenwriting and non fiction filmmaking
  • Seminars in screenwriting and filmmaking

Yale University

Yale University has continuously earned a worldwide recognition for the remarkable nature of its academic programs.

Required coursework includes:

  • Close Analysis of Film
  • Film Theory and Aesthetics
  • History of art
  • Issues in Contemporary Film Theory
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Social sciences
  • Film theory
  • Productions
  • Race and gender
  • Photography

Cornell University

Cornell University is highly regarded as an institution with an extensive history of quality education and research.

In the school of Theatre, Film, and Dance, students have the opportunity to participate in film courses without needing to commit to a major until Sophomore year when a major can be declared. In their Junior year, students can study abroad in Paris at the Center for Film and Critical Studies.

New York University

New York, NY

NYU’s department of Cinema Studies was one of the first departments within a school dedicated to film.

Coursework concentration at NYU includes:

  • History
  • Theory and film aesthetics
  • Writing requirement
  • Foreign Language
  • Literature
  • Dramatic literature
  • Theater history
  • World through art
  • World cultures
  • Journalism
  • Linguistics

Located in New York City, along with a prime location, NYU offers a vast number of degrees options, over 300 instructors, and weekly film screenings.

Degree options at NYU include a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in cinema studies (with the option of a double major option with the second major in social sciences, arts, or humanities), a Master of Arts in cinema studies or in moving image archiving and preservation, and a PhD in cinema studies.

NYU also offers a study abroad component available in London, Prague, Shanghai, and Dublin.

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago is comprised over over 80 Nobel Prize winners amid its students as and a Pulitzer Prize winning student.

The university’s connection to film dates back to the 1800’s when the institution presented one of the very first public motion picture viewings attributing to the university having the oldest and most prominent student film society in the nation.

The Department of Cinema and Media Studies offers degree in both Undergraduate and Graduate studies. Students are required to complete coursework in general studies and cinema while gaining extensive knowledge in American films and exploration of European, Russian and East Asian films.

There is a high level of competition within the film industry. Newly graduated individuals entering this film will more likely than not have to use the reputation of their institution to gain an advantage.

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