Affordable Film & Video Degrees

Scroll down to see the most affordable film/video/photography degrees, as well as info on the different types of degrees in this field and program accreditation.

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School Rankings

1

University of California-Irvine

The Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies program at the University of California-Irvine focuses on history, theory and criticism of modern media and audio-visual language. The program draws from the humanities to analyze film, television, popular music and new technologies. Students can take advantage of professional internships in editing, music, film, writing, animation, marketing and more through a network of studios and firms, and international learning programs are offered. The school offers a screening room for students, a media editing lab and film production equipment. There are also a number of student organizations that provide collaborative experiences, such as ZOTFEST, a student-created film festival and celebration.

CAG Score 97.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

30,051 Students

2

CUNY Queens College

The Bachelors in Film Studies at Queens College is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the film history, theory and criticism. Students take classes across a number of departments, including media studies, history, comparative literature, art history and foreign languages. The program puts a strong emphasis on writing, and graduates will be able to produce academic papers such as criticism and to produce professional projects such as screenwriting and treatments. Courses required for the film studies major include only a few production courses, although students interested in taking more film or video production courses can minor or double major in Media Studies.

CAG Score 97.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

19,310 Students

3

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities offers an interdepartmental Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Media Culture. Courses are taken in departments of art, communication, cinema and media culture, and literature. Students study themes of society, history and culture; production and training; national, international and foreign cinemas; and theory, method and critique. A senior project is required, which can be completed by directed study, a thesis, or a significant production project. Student groups and mentoring programs help establish career contacts while students are encouraged to pursue internships. The College of Liberal Arts offers the Neil Anderson Scholarship ($2,500) and Waller Scholarships ($3,000).

CAG Score 96.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,147 Students

4

California State University-Long Beach

The Department of Film and Electronic Arts at CSU Long Beach offers a Bachelor of Arts program with options in narrative production and in theory and practice of cinema. A minor in film and electronic arts is also available. The BA program has the following areas of specialization: broadcast production, cinematography, creative nonfiction production, editing, sound design, screenwriting, production management, critical practice, and digital arts. The California State University system offers a number of internship opportunities to CSULB film and electronic arts students through its Entertainment Industry Initiative. Internship programs provide students with the first-hand work experience in areas such as administration, distribution, and media production. The college awards more than $150,000 in scholarships every year to qualified students in each department.

CAG Score 96.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

36,809 Students

5

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

The University of Washington-Seattle offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photomedia, combining the practice of traditional photography with emerging digital and video media. Shooting studios, lighting equipment, and specialized photography equipment are available for student use. The school also provides access to darkroom and digital printing equipment and fully equipped computer labs for photo and video editing. Creative expression is guided by courses in the historical and cultural roles of photography in society. Students also complete a significant photography project to present a BFA Thesis Exhibition. An honors program is also offered with opportunities to take graduate-level seminars and complete small group exhibitions. The School of Art, Art History and Design offers the Mary Gates Endowment for students.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

44,784 Students

6

CUNY Hunter College

Hunter College provides film students with both theoretical perspectives on film and practical skills required to produce films. On the analytical side, students study current critical theories, multicultural perspectives on cinema, and alternative filmic practices. On the production side, they learn screenwriting, direction, production, sound, editing and cinematography. Thanks to Hunter's location in New York City, film students are able to land internships at leading film, television and video companies. Facilities available to Hunter film majors include four multimedia computer labs, a black box space for film screenings and other uses, a video editing lab and two screening rooms. Scholarships available for film students include the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation Scholarship Awards, a multiyear scholarship.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,112 Students

7

CUNY Brooklyn College

With New York City's role as a major film center, CUNY Brooklyn film majors are well positioned to gain important internships and meet working film professionals who come to speak at the school. The college offers a Bachelors in Film with several concentrations, including film studies, film production, documentary film production, screenwriting and industry studies. Brooklyn College students have the opportunity to intern at places such as the Film Society of Lincoln Center and HBO. They are also eligible to participate in the Annual Brooklyn College Student Film Festival and attend workshops, film screenings, and talks by independent filmmakers sponsored by the Brooklyn College Film Society. Available scholarships for film students include the Paul and Betsy Mazursky Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,390 Students

8

University of California-Los Angeles

The School of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California-Los Angeles is developing a new curriculum that reflects the evolving industry. Degrees include the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies. Students train in all aspects of film production and studies the best work from the history of film. The school is affiliated with the UCLA Film and Television Archive and REMAP and offers internships and a number of community engagement programs. Film students work with the Department of Theater to produce original works as part of the Coppola One-Act Marathons. Scholarships include the Antonio David Blanco Scholarships, Archive Research Awards and Dana and Albert R. Broccoli Charitable Foundation Scholarship.

CAG Score 96.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

41,845 Students

9

CUNY City College

Students who earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video Production at City College receive hands-on training in making single-camera fiction and documentary films. The film major is designed as a two-year, four-semester program with a very structured format that requires students to take classes in a number of different but related aspects of the filmmaking process at the same time. During each semester, students take a production course, a theory or history class, and a craft course such as screenwriting or film editing. Before graduating, all students are required to do a thesis project that requires either producing a short film, writing a screenplay or writing a research paper.

CAG Score 96.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

15,579 Students

10

Appalachian State University

Students seeking a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Photography at Appalachian State learn to apply principles and theories of visual design to compose images that effectively communicate with the viewer, whether the message is personal or client driven. Photography majors learn to use both analog and digital photography technology. They also develop communication and problem solving skills that will allow them to work with clients such as art directors or publishers. Photography facilities at Appalachian State include a black and white film darkroom, an alternative process darkroom, a lighting studio, and digital printing labs. The Art Department has a number of scholarships that photography majors can apply for, including the Martin and Doris Rosen Scholarship (amount varies).

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

18,026 Students

11

Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Film and Media and also has a two-year film and media program that leads to an associate degree. Students take classes in film theory and criticism, cinematography, film genres, and world cinema. They also receive hands-on instruction in the practical skills of film production. Students can tailor the program to their interests by taking courses in a variety of disciplines, from costuming to storyboarding. Film students also can find internships at the many TV networks and film studios in New York City. FIT also offers an Associate in Applied Science in Photography and Related Media and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and the Digital Image.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,764 Students

12

Dominican University

Students admitted to the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Cinema program at Dominican University complete an art foundations core, with courses such as three-dimensional design, fundamentals of drawing, and introduction to design applications, as well as a cinema core, which include classes in beginning color photography and video production, acting fundamentals, and introduction to film studies. In order to graduate from the program, students have to complete a capstone project or a write a senior thesis. The capstone is a portfolio-length research project executed as a narrative, documentary, or experimental production work. The senior thesis is recommended for students pursuing a double major in digital cinema and art and design. There is also a minor in digital cinema available.

CAG Score 96.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,498 Students

13

SUNY College at Oswego

The Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Screen Studies program at State University of New York-Oswego includes courses in history and theory of film, with hands-on learning in digital film production and screenwriting. The program is a cooperative degree offered by the departments of English and Communications. Film production courses include production of a dramatic film, which serves as the capstone educational experience. Students have extra-curricular activities available including the Film Scholars Guild, Creative Writing Club, Oswego Independent filmmaking group, and SUNY-Wide Film Festival. Scholarships include the Gerhard D. Zeller Cinema Studies Outstanding Senior Award ($1,000).

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,034 Students

14

Saint Cloud State University

Students seeking a Bachelors in Film Studies at St. Cloud University get a firm socio-cultural grounding in film history, learn by studying the works of master filmmakers, and develop hands-on skills like writing scripts, creating storyboards, and shooting and editing film. Classrooms used for film courses are equipped with modern sound and projection systems, and the department maintains a large library of films. The university hosts an annual international film festival, and many students participate in the Telluride Film Festival Student Colloquium in Colorado. Undergrads in the film department can apply for paid teaching assistantships. Available scholarships include the Dale L. and Gretchen N. Swanson Film Studies Scholarship and the Ronald G. Perrier Endowed Scholarship in Film Studies.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,076 Students

15

Barnard College

The film studies major at Barnard College gives students a background in the history and theory of film and an understanding of how film relates to other art forms. Along with courses in film history and theory, students take workshops in filmmaking and screenwriting and are required to write a script and produce a short film. Majors must complete 36 credits in film studies, including 21 credits in required courses and 15 credits in electives such as Documentary Tradition, Topics in American Cinema, Script Analysis, or Narrative Strategies in Screenwriting. Seniors must take a thesis seminar from the Department of Film Studies or the Department of English/Film. Film students may find internships to hone their skills.

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,573 Students

16

SUNY at Binghamton

The Cinema Department at the State University of New York-Binghamton bills itself as the antidote to Hollywood, because it puts the spotlight on underground, experimental and independent production. This focus continues in the guest lectures and film series the college hosts. Students earning a Bachelors in Cinema take six core courses to acquaint them with film analysis and how to produce a work in both film and video. Once they have gained that background, students choose an area of concentration, such as directing, editing or writing. The college has up-to-date filmmaking equipment students may borrow, and lab spaces for processing, printing, editing and animating films. Scholarships include the Cinema Scholarship in Honor of Professor Kenneth Jacobs.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,695 Students

17

Ferris State University

Ferris State offers students interested in film and video two different possible career paths. The Bachelor of Science in Television and Digital Media program trains students in film and video production, including skills such as scriptwriting, directing and producing. Before graduation, students take a six-month full-time internship at a production studio or station, typically in Michigan or Chicago, allowing students to gain hands-on experience while working with professionals in the field. The Bachelor of Applied Science in Digital Animation and Game Design prepares students for work in fields such as 3D animation, simulations and game design. Both programs use current technology and update equipment frequently to keep abreast of changes in the industry.

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,600 Students

18

University of California-Davis

In the fall of 2015, UC Davis closed the undergraduate majors in Film Studies and in Technocultural Studies and replaced them with a new program - Cinema and Digital Media. This program integrates the study of digital and audio-visual media and offers a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Digital Media degree. The curriculum includes coursework in the foundations of filmmaking, advanced video and electronic arts, animation, community media and activism, computer graphics, and gaming. As part of the College of Letters and Science (CLS), cinema and digital media majors can apply for the following general CLS scholarships: Cusumano Family Scholarship (incoming freshmen), William B. Jameson Scholarship (sophomore male students), and the Carolyn F. Wall Scholarship (students with financial need).

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

34,508 Students

19

McDaniel College

The Department of Communication and Cinema at McDaniel College offers an undergraduate major in cinema that focuses on three core cinematic skills: writing, critical studies and production. The cinema major curriculum requires 50 credits of major coursework, including six core courses in subjects such as video editing, scriptwriting and television production. Students are also required to complete a two-credit internships in an area of emphasis: production, writing or critical studies. Cinema majors have the option to complete a dual major in theater arts, which requires a total of 62 program credits. Cinema students also complete a senior capstone in the form of a 20-minute film that is played in a public screening in May.

CAG Score 95.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,206 Students

20

SUNY at Fredonia

SUNY Fredonia offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts that allows students to major in Film and Video Arts. The B.F.A. program requires students to take 21 credits in foundational classes, which include classes in art history, 2-D art, 3-D art, and drawing. Students are also required to complete at least 52 credits in their major area. For film and video majors, required classes include experimental video, experimental narrative, and special effects. Film and video majors also participate in directed and independent studio projects and produce an experimental video as a capstone project. Applicants must submit a portfolio of their work when seeking admission to the B.F.A. program.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,215 Students

21

University of California-Santa Cruz

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Film and Digital Media follow an integrated curriculum that gives them the opportunity to produce various works in film and interactive digital media, while studying the effects of modern media (movies, television, the internet, videos) on society. Concentrations are available in critical studies, production, and integrated critical practice. Coursework includes classes in visual culture and technology, screenwriting, and sound and image in theory and criticism. A Master of Arts degree in social documentation and a Doctor of Philosophy program in film and digital media are available. Film students can apply for the Eli Hollander Aspiring Filmmaker Award that provides financial assistance for the completion of a current film project or for future creative endeavors.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

17,866 Students

22

University of California-Santa Barbara

Starting out as a small film studies program in 1973, UC Santa Barbara's Department of Film and Media now offers Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in film and media studies. Students can apply for admission to the joint MA/PhD program or the PhD-only program. The doctoral program offers two optional areas of emphasis in global studies and in technology and society. Coursework includes classes that cover a wide range of topics such as media criticism, advanced film analysis, new media production, and contemporary animation. Students can compete for several departmental awards such as the David F. Siegel Award ($1,500), the Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Award ($1,300), and the Alexander Sesonke Prize ($1,000).

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,051 Students

23

University of California-Berkeley

The University of California-Berkeley offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Film and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Film. The focus of the program is on study and analysis of moving images, though electives in production and screenwriting are available. The department is affiliated with the Pacific Film Archive, and internship opportunities are offered there as well as with local production studios. The graduate program allows Ph.D. candidates to pursue an emphasis in new media, critical theory or women, gender and sexuality. Though Ph.D. candidates earn a Master of Arts after partial completion of the Ph.D. requirements, there is not a separate curriculum. The department awards the Roselyn Schneider Eisner Prizes in Film and Video ($2,000).

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

37,565 Students

24

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a Bachelor of Science in Media and Cinema Studies degree. Students can choose to concentrate in cinema studies or in media. Coursework for the cinema studies concentration include film theory and criticism, politics of popular culture, film and nature, and various courses in foreign films. In addition to the 44+ hours that must be taken within the major, students are required to complete at least 18 hours in approved areas of study outside the major, such as anthropology, gender and women studies, history, or philosophy. There are a number of scholarship opportunities (with variable amounts) available to media and cinema studies students, including the Christopher L. Allen Scholarship and the Forsythe Family Endowed Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,140 Students

25

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia Department of Theatre and Film Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies. The curriculum includes courses in film theory, history and criticism as well as comparative literature and a variety of languages. Though history and theory are the primary focus of the program, students do have the opportunity to study acting, directing and writing. Students may also choose to double major in Theatre and Film Studies. Scholarships offered by the College of Arts and Sciences include the Chelsea Montgomery Machemehl Undergraduate Scholarship, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Scholarship and Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Council Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

35,197 Students

26

State University of New York at New Paltz

The State University of New York - New Paltz offers a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Visual Arts, in which the student may concentrate on photography, taking a number of studio classes. Students must submit a portfolio to be admitted to the program. New Paltz students can also apply for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in photography, which requires they submit a portfolio and be interviewed. The BFA program emphasizes photography as a fine art but students also study commercial photography. Mixed media, digital photography, experimental and manipulative techniques are all covered in the program. Photography students may apply for the Luigi and Anita Traverso Endowed Photography Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

7,692 Students

27

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois-Chicago offers a Bachelor of Science and graduate minor in Media and Cinema Studies and a Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts in Photography. Media and Cinema Studies explores aesthetics and social implications of film. Students are aided in research by the Institute of Communications Research. The School of Art and Design has developed a photography curriculum that blends creative and technical abilities with art history and criticism. Facilities include darkrooms, computer workstations, editing facilities, shooting studios and an extensive fine art library. Master's students produce final projects exhibited in the Krannert Art Museum. Scholarships include the Hugh and Allie D. Hughston Enochs Memorial Award, the Paula Gottschalk Scholarship and the Caterpillar Excellence Fund.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,969 Students

28

University of California-Riverside

The University of California-Riverside offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media and Cultural Studies through its newly-formed department. The curriculum incorporates study of race and gender studies, textual analysis, political economy and media policy through interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences courses. While the program is not a film production program, students do undertake short film projects as part of its annual MCS Film Festival. The program works to examine media of the past and present, including visual, audiovisual and computer-generated media.

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

21,498 Students

29

University at Buffalo

The Department of Media Studies at the University at Buffalo awards a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies or Media Studies, Master of Arts in Film and Media Studies, Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts Production, and Ph.D. in Media Studies. The B.A. in Film Studies is an interdisciplinary program focusing on history, theory, criticism, and analysis of cinema. Media Studies students can concentrate in Production (choosing from tracks such as film, video, or documentary), or Critical Studies. The M.A. in Film and Media Studies is designed for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D., while the M.F.A. is for students interested in making media. Departmental scholarships include the Levy-King-White Scholarships, awarded based on merit and financial need.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,995 Students

30

University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri School of Technology offers an in-depth and accredited Bachelor of Science in Professional Photography. Technical instruction is provided in both traditional formats and digital imaging, with a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. Students supply their own primary camera, but professional equipment is available for student use. Computer labs and fully functional black and white film processing labs are also supplied. Classes cover not only the technical and creative aspects of photography, but also the business skills needed for the field. Outside of class, the school offers a Special Housing Interest Program, allowing photography students to live together in a dorm. The school offers the Mel Jenkins Photography Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

13,379 Students

31

Missouri Western State University

Missouri Western State University's Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a concentration in photography. Additionally, MWSU's Department of Theatre, Cinema and Dance offers a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Cinema with a cinema concentration. The B.F.A. in Studio Art requires 77 major credits, including foundation core courses in drawing, two-dimensional design, ceramics, three-dimensional design, art theory and criticism. Students are also required to complete 15 credits in their chosen concentration. For photography students, this includes coursework in photomedia at introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. The B.A. in Theatre and Cinema with a concentration in cinema requires 30 credits of core courses and 27 credits of concentration courses in subjects like audio production, film theory, scriptwriting, editing, producing, cinematography and directing.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,834 Students

32

Iowa Central Community College

Iowa Central Community College offers an Associate in Applied Arts degree in professional photography. Students receive a well-rounded education in the field that includes training and instruction in the modern digital applications of photography, as well as traditional analog darkroom techniques. The curriculum includes coursework that cover various topics such as graphic design, photography in journalism, basic and advance set and prop design, darkroom photography, advanced portraiture, and photography portfolio development. Students can also take business courses that focus on the photography field (marketing in photography, commercial photography, etc.) that will prepare them to manage a photography studio or run a private photography service. Students have access to fully-equipped studios and computer labs with state-of-the-art software and equipment.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,686 Students

33

Valencia College

Valencia College offers an Associate in Science program in film production technology which prepares students for specialized careers in the film industry after just two years. Students are taught by professional filmmakers and receive hands-on training in the following areas of film production: editing, electrical/lighting, gripping, camera, sound, and set construction. The AS in Film Production Technology degree is a 64-credit program that can be completed on a full-time (2 to 3 years) or part-time (3 to 4 years) basis. A technical certificate in film production fundamentals is also available. This certificate program can be completed in one year. Students have the option of transferring their degree into the Bachelor of Applied Science program available at any regional UCF campus.

CAG Score 95.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

43,217 Students

34

George Mason University

The Film and Video Studies program at George Mason is an interdisciplinary program leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Students take theory classes, study business practices and take practicums in filmmaking. Each student chooses a concentration: producing and directing, production and post production, or screenwriting. George Mason also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts degree in Computer Game Design through its College of Visual and Performing Arts. To be considered for scholarships, students who want to major in computer game design must submit a portfolio of artwork such as drawings, 3D works, any games they have designed, or examples of graphic design or website design. Masters students must complete a capstone project.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

33,729 Students

35

Kean University

Students seeking a Bachelors of Arts in Media and Film at Kean get a combination of theory, practical skills and content to prepare them for entry-level media jobs in a professional setting. The program offers students three options for concentrations: film, broadcast, and multicultural programming and management. All students learn the basics of audio, field and studio production. Students concentrating on film will produce a project, independently or as part of a group, that will be shown during a senior film festival. Film students can apply for a variety of scholarships, including about a dozen scholarships funded by previous Kean graduating classes.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,359 Students

36

The University of Texas at Austin

The Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin offers a Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film, a Master of Arts in Media Studies, a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting, a Master of Fine Arts in Production, and a Ph.D. in Media Studies. The graduate programs in the UT Austin Department of Radio-Television-Film are consistently ranked in the top 10 U.S. graduate programs in both the academic study of media and creative media production. RTF students may be eligible for a number of RTF & College of Communication Scholarships. RTF students may take courses such as Superheroes, Space Operas, and Scream Queens: Fantastic Genres on American TV, Film History, and Video Game Production, Culture, and Criticism.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

51,313 Students

37

University of Central Oklahoma

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Photographic Arts from the University of Central Oklahoma study under the Department of Mass Communication. Courses not only cover the technical aspects of photography and production, but also the fields of commercial photography, fine arts and photojournalism, including media writing, ethics, and law. An internship in the field is required and students can also gain experience through student media outlets, such as The Vista student newspaper. The school offers The Finney Scholars Scholarship and Daniel Smith Photography Scholarship along with a number of photographic arts annual awards.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,840 Students

38

CUNY College of Staten Island

The College of Staten Island offers a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies and a Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies. The B.A. combines theory and practice and includes courses in history, theory, and criticism of film along with classes in film and video production. Cinema Studies majors may concentrate in critical studies or in production. The two-year master's program includes classes in media history, theory, and criticism so that students gain skills in research, writing, and creating media. M.A. students must complete a thesis, which can be written or in the form of a media production. Campus facilities available to cinema majors include a film/video lab, editing suites, digital/analog TV studio, audio studio, and equipment rental.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,346 Students

39

Highland Community College

Highland Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Commercial Photography and an Associate in Arts in Studio Photography. The A.A.S. in Commercial Photography is designed for those who want to begin working in photography and design after earning a two-year degree, while the A.A. in Studio Photography is designed for those who intend to transfer into a bachelor's program and eventually work as a fine arts photographer, marketing their work to patrons, galleries, corporations or museums. Both programs require 63 credits of coursework, including the creation of a portfolio. The A.A. program, however, requires 21 credits of program courses, while the A.A.S. requires 23 credits of program courses and nine credits of photography electives.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,217 Students

40

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida School of Visual Arts and Design awards a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Photography, Master of Arts in Digital Media and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema. The undergraduate Cinema Studies program includes a foundation in film styles and aesthetics with students moving on to production courses and critical analysis. The photography program is a 2+2 program with Daytona State College and incorporates technical, creative and critical skills. Master's programs involve interactive media and production of a motion picture. Scholarships and grants include the Maria Caccavo Diversity Scholarship and UCF/Orlando Capstone Production Grant.

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

60,767 Students

41

San Francisco State University

Students admitted to the San Francisco State University's Bachelor of Arts in Cinema program are required to complete the following coursework within the first semester of their junior year: cinema studies, filmmaking, filmmaking lab, film history (I & II), and critical studies. The program offers the following areas of emphasis: animation, filmmaking (documentary, fiction, and experimental), media and culture, and screenwriting. Students also have the option of crafting an individualized plan of study in fields such as critical theory, cinematography, sound design, and experimental filmmaking. Master of Arts degrees in cinema studies and Master of Fine Arts programs in cinema are available. Students can apply for the Robin Eickman Cinema Student Scholarship ($1,000) and the James (Jim) Goldner Scholarship ($1,000).

CAG Score 95.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

29,465 Students

42

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and New Media and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies. The BFA program offers training in film and media production, including screenwriting, visual effects, and computer animation. The BA in Film Studies is focused on film history, criticism, and theory, with a liberal arts curriculum. Students choosing a BA degree choose a related minor, such as Communications Studies or Theatre Arts. Recent UNL students have had their short films accepted to the Cannes Film Festival, and the Cinema 16 student filmmaking group supports student-led creative projects. Scholarships offered include Hixson-Lied Undergraduate Scholarships and the Paul and Bernice Crounse Scholarship ($1,400).

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,006 Students

43

Ridgewater College

Ridgewater College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in professional photography technology, as well as a professional photography technology diploma. The A.A.S. program requires 60 credits of coursework, including 45 credits of core courses in subjects like photographic concepts, Photoshop, wedding photography, environmental portraiture, digital cameras and video production. The diploma program in professional photography technology requires 64 credits of coursework, including coursework in oral and written communication, small business operation, employment preparation, digital restoration, commercial photography and studio operations. Students in the diploma program are also required to complete three-credit internships.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,753 Students

44

Brandeis University

Brandeis University offers an undergraduate major and minor in film, television and interactive media. Students majoring in film, television and interactive media are required to complete nine major courses, including one core course and eight electives. Coursework covers subjects such as motion picture editing, reading screenplays, screenwriting, acting and non-American cinema. The film, television and interactive media minor requires the completion of six courses. Film, television and interactive media students are also encouraged to complete internships for course credit, participate in student-run clubs like the Brandeis Film Collective, study abroad and attend the program's "Meet the Artist" film screenings and premieres.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,945 Students

45

University of Houston

The Department of Art at the University of Houston recognizes the field of photography is evolving thanks to advances in technology. To address the needs of students, the school developed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography/Digital Media that makes use of new technology while building on a foundation of traditional photography. Technical skills, such as lighting and film processing, are combined with study of photography history and criticism. The school offers digital photography and wet photography labs, with fully equipped photo editing computer labs. Students also have access to specialty photographic equipment and video cameras. Students are required, however, to supply their own laptop.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

40,914 Students

46

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University offers a Bachelor's in Film, Video and Media Studies, with a focus on radio and television production. The university provides state-of-the-art facilities with practical experience and courses that include hands-on work. Students are encouraged to seek internships, freelance work and volunteer positions that enhance their coursework. Students may also find positions with the campus radio station. The Clifford Center includes a broadcast production lab, imaging lab, graphics programs and a multimedia auditorium, with cameras and equipment available for students to use. Scholarships include the Roslyn Abrams Endowed Scholarship in Communication, Paul and Julie Yelsma Scholarship and Peter and Laurel Northouse Endowed Leadership Scholarship.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,914 Students

47

Grand Valley State University

The School of Communication at Grand Valley State University offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in both film and video production and photography. The B.A. and B.S. degrees in both subjects have similar requirements, except the B.A. requires proficiency in a foreign language and the B.S. requires coursework in statistics and research. Students in the film and video production major are also required to complete 22 credits of foundation coursework, 15 credits of emphasis coursework and one to six credits of internship or thesis coursework. The photography major requires 31 to 34 credits of core coursework, including a three to six credit senior capstone. Additionally, students are required to complete a minimum of nine credits of electives, with the option to complete an independent study and an internship.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,094 Students

48

Wayne State University

Wayne State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Film degree that provides students with the opportunity to study the history of film as well as engage in film and video production. Students can concentrate in film and media production or in film and media theory and criticism. Each year, students from Wayne State, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan produce a film through the MCFA consortium. The students are involved in all aspects of the production, from writing the script, casting, editing, and marketing the final product. The Department of English offers a BA in Film Studies program that focuses on cinema appreciation and research. Film studies is also an area of concentration in the PhD in English degree.

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,578 Students

49

University of Utah

At the University of Utah, the Bachelor of Arts in Film & Media Arts degree is available through the College of Fine Arts. Students are required to take an introduction to film class as well as courses in the history of filmmaking and in film production. Students can customize their program by enrolling in elective classes that reflect their interests. There is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film & Media Arts degree available, which can be completed within two to three years. Students are required to pass a comprehensive test in film history, submit a portfolio of work, and write a thesis in order to graduate from the program. Graduate students are offered teaching assistantship positions that include tuition benefits.

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

31,515 Students

50

Cleveland State University

The School of Communication at Cleveland State University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in film, television, and interactive media. Students are required to complete 45 credits in the major to earn the degree. The curriculum includes coursework in the principles of communication, mass media and society, film and TV production, and media and technology. In addition to the media core courses, students must also take classes in history (2 courses), production (3 courses), and writing (1 course). Electives are available in media studies and in media production. The completion of a capstone project is required for graduation. A minor in international film is now available. Transfer students are required to take at least 20 credit-hours of communication courses at CSU.

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

16,936 Students

Filmmakers and creative professionals have the best – and worst – jobs in the world. On the one hand, they bring a magic world of entertainment to life, working as directors, producers, game designers, editors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and special effects gurus. On the other hand, filmmakers have to deal with constant competition, unpredictable employment, and a constant lack of funds. Many film school graduates find it impossible to have a sustainable career in the movies.

If this reality hasn’t put you off, then it’s time to consider education options. That’s why we created our guide to affordable film, video, and photography programs. Here you’ll find information on everything from common majors, degrees, and career opportunities to accreditations and the issue of for-profit schools. Most importantly, we tackle the most critical question you’re likely to face – do you really need to go to film school at all?

Should I Go to Film School?

Pros

Some graduates and professionals claim film school is useless. Others say it’s a unique experience that they would never give up. There is no right or wrong answer here. The question is what works for your personality and goals. Benefits of going to film school include:

  • Technical Skills: A skills-focused degree can be very helpful if you’re interested in the technical side of production (e.g. game design, post-production, computer animation, etc.). With a strong program, you’re ready to roll upon graduation.
  • Networking: Film schools will usually try to arrange local internships and real-world practicums for students. They can also hook you up with successful alumni. Students in Los Angeles and New York film schools have an edge here.
  • Mentorship: Film professors and instructors have usually done some time in the business. What’s more, they’re willing to listen to your questions and suggest avenues for advancement.
  • Facilities: Good film and photography schools come stacked with state-of-the-art cameras, editing facilities, and equipment. Take a tour of the campus and see what students have to say about their experience.
  • Industry Exposure: At the end of a year or semester, a lot of film schools host festivals and showcases of student work. Industry bigwigs (e.g. producers and executives) may be invited to attend.

A variety of famous directors – including Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and David Lynch – have earned MFAs in film directing.

Cons

Here’s the hard truth. Crappy film schools abound. Quentin Tarantino never earned a degree. Werner Herzog advises you to forget the conventional wisdom and “work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse.” In reality:

  • You May Not Need a Degree: There are no real degree requirements for film and television jobs. Unless you’ve gone to USC or NYU, producers and employers won’t particularly care about your degree, especially if you’re working as crew (e.g. sound engineer, film editor, etc.). What they really want to know about is your most recent job. Work samples and contacts are going to make your career.
  • Many Technical Skills Can Be Learned On the Job: It may only take a week or two before you’ve mastered the basics.
  • Film School is Expensive: You might do better investing your money in camera equipment, paying a crew, filming a movie, and submitting your work to independent film festivals. That’s true practical experience.
  • You Can Network on Your Own: Instead of relying on your professors’ help, you could join the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), schmooze at festivals, post your work to the Internet, and start cold-calling.
  • Digital Equipment is Cheap: It used to be that film school was the only place to work with high-quality cameras. Not anymore. You can make a great movie with very little.
  • Film Lessons are Free: There are plenty of inexpensive or free tutorials available online. There are even free online film schools (e.g.  4Filmmaking.com and FreeFilmSchool.org). Want hands-on practice? Ask to shadow someone on the job while you serve as an apprentice.

A career in film takes luck, talent, stubbornness, and a knack for getting to know people. You don’t need to go to film school to acquire these skills.

Types of Film Degrees

Associate’s Degree in Film

An associate’s degree in film is a 2-year undergraduate program that covers core general education and film courses. These degrees are offered by a variety of community colleges, technical schools, and universities. Shop around – you may find that facilities at a community school are just as good, or even better, than a conventional film school! A high school diploma or GED is needed to apply.

Some students earn an associate’s degree as preparation for a bachelor’s degree down the track. If you’re interested in this option, make sure your course credits will be transferable to the 4-year program of your choice.

Degree Choices

  • Associate of Arts (AA): A broad-based degree that includes general liberal arts courses. This is a typical choice for students interested in transferring to a BA.
  • Associate of Science (AS) : A science-focused degree for students interested in the technical side of production or photography (e.g. computer animation, game production, recording arts, etc.).
  • Associate of Fine Arts (AFA): An intense, practical degree that balances training in the artistic side of filmmaking (e.g. screenwriting, storyboarding, etc.) and technology (e.g. sound mixing, editing, camera operation). You may need to submit a high school portfolio in your application.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS): An applied degree (i.e. one that prepares students for work straight after graduation). AAS programs can be offered in areas such as filming, editing, production, lighting, photography, and more.

Sample Coursework

Please see our section on Common Film Majors for more information on common coursework in each major.

Career Opportunities

As we noted in our section on Should I Go to Film School?, you don’t need a degree to work in the industry. However, an associate’s degree from a community college with great facilities can give you a strong technical foundation for jobs such as:

  • Cinematographer
  • Audio engineer
  • Camera operator
  • Editor

Bachelor’s Degree in Film

A bachelor’s degree in film is a 4-year undergraduate program that is aimed at giving students a comprehensive education in film theory and practice. Most bachelor programs are a mixture of general education requirements and courses in a specific film major. Baccalaureate programs are offered by a wide range of colleges and universities. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.

Degree Choices

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA): A broad-based degree that mixes liberal arts courses with classes in film and television. The BA tends to have the fewest film courses – if you’re interested in getting stuck into film work immediately, take a look at the BFA or BS.
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): An intense, hands-on degree that focuses on practical training in all aspects of film. You’ll find BFAs in many film majors, including screenwriting and directing. Competition for entry into BFA programs is intense, and many admission committees will want to see a high school portfolio of work.
  • Bachelor of Science (BS): A science/technical degree that focuses on areas such as post-production, sound engineering, special effects, animation, and more. As a condition of graduation, you will probably be required to take a few prerequisites in general education and liberal arts.

Sample Coursework: Film Production

Please see our section on Common Film Majors for more information on common coursework in each major.

Career Opportunities

Film and photography are highly competitive fields. For every 1 job, there are 100 qualified candidates. As we talked about in Should I Go to Film School?, you don’t need a degree to become a filmmaker or work in the business. Having said that, a strong degree from a well-known school, a stunning portfolio, and a bucketload of luck can qualify you for a variety of careers, including producer, director, cinematographer, camera assistant, video editor or screenwriter. Remember that it’s your work experience that counts the most.

Master’s Degree in Film

A master’s degree in film is a 1-3 year graduate program that focuses on advanced studies and research. Eligibility will depend on your choice of program, but most universities will expect you to have an undergraduate degree in film (or a closely related field) from an accredited film school. MFA screenwriting programs (~2 years) tend to be shorter than MFA production programs (~3 years).

Degree Options

  • Master of Arts (MA): The MA is a generalist degree, and may combine arts courses (e.g. screenwriting, producing, etc.) with some technical training. Most directors – if they choose to earn a master’s at all – opt for an MFA.
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA): The MFA is considered an intense, practice-based degree offered in a variety of fields, including screenwriting, directing, animation, and producing. It culminates in a thesis project, which is often a feature film, television pilot, or web series.
  • Master of Science (MS): Like the AS and BS, the MS is a specialist degree focused on the technical end of filmmaking (e.g. sound, cinematography, special effects, animation, post-production, etc.).

You may also find master’s programs that allow you to transfer from an MA or MS into an MFA after your first year is complete.

Sample Coursework

For general information on degree choices, please see our section on Common Film Majors. As a master’s student, you will also be allowed to choose a concentration/specialty. For example, you might wish to focus on documentaries or advanced film production.

Career Opportunities

If you’ve skimmed through our section on Should I Go to Film School?, you’ll have noticed that a number of well-known directors hold an MFA. But you certainly don’t need a master’s degree to work in the business. Instead, the master’s degree is often earned by professionals who wish to push themselves further in their field.

The MFA is considered a terminal degree – i.e. you’ll be able to lecture at colleges. However, you may not be able to become a fully fledged professor with tenure without significant work experience and/or a PhD.

Doctoral Degree in Film

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Film is a 3-7 year advanced degree and the highest academic qualification you can achieve. This is a purely research-based degree – if you’re interested in advanced hands-on experiences, you should consider the MFA instead. You’ll find PhD programs being offered by film schools, English departments, and media studies programs. Unless it’s a combined master’s/PhD program, a master’s degree in film or a closely related field will be required to apply.

Sample Coursework

Regardless of the subject, PhD programs are typically split into two major parts. The first few years are spent in advanced coursework and early stages of research. The remaining years are devoted to original research and writing a doctoral dissertation. Many PhD students supplement their income by teaching classes to undergraduates.

Career Opportunities

PhD graduates frequently go on to teach film at the university level. Others become researchers or go back to working in their original field. Most practicing filmmakers don’t bother with a PhD.

Certificate in Film & Other Qualifications

A standard degree isn’t your only option for film study. Accredited schools also offer workshops, conservatory programs, and certificates – non-degree qualifications that take ~6 months to 1 year to complete. Like a minor in a conventional degree program, undergraduate and graduate certificates are intended to provide students with specific skills in an area of film. Please talk to your academic adviser to see what combination of qualifications might work for your goals.

If you are thinking of pursuing a certificate in order to earn course credits for a conventional degree (bachelor’s or master’s), first make sure that your certificate credits will be transferable to the program of your choice.

Common Film & Media Majors

Film & Media Production

This is the broadest film major and one of the most popular. Film production majors learn how make a film by getting involved in everything from set design, camera operation, screenwriting, lighting, cinematography, broadcasting, sound engineering, editing, and scoring. They may also study theory, film history, and the business of television and Hollywood.

Much of the work in a film production program is supposed to be hands-on. Students are often required to alternate jobs, serving as a production manager one day and an editor the next. Almost everyone is expected to produce a portfolio with a variety of shorts, documentaries, and feature-length films.

Film Studies

Film studies is often less practical and more theoretical than film production. Film studies majors explore areas like film history, theory, criticism, and media studies. They study films, conduct research on media trends, and debate film’s significance in society.

Animation

Like their buddies in film production, animation majors learn how to create films – from planning and storyboarding, to sound design, screenwriting, and editing. A lot of their time is spent learning how to use digital animation software, editing equipment, and similar facilities. They may also take classes in areas such as interactive media, 3D modeling, and the history of animation.

Cinematography

Cinematography majors are interested in exploring the way that cameras can be used to capture a story. Lawrence of Arabia? Saving Private Ryan? Gravity? These movies owe a great deal to their cinematographers.

Post-Production

Post-production refers to the process that occurs after the initial footage has been shot. Students in this area often study editing, sound, and special effects.

Game Production & Design

Game designers are similar to film directors – only this time, they’re working on creating the world of a video game. That means game design majors spend a lot of time on the production side (e.g. game environments, storylines, and characters) and a lot of time on the technical side (e.g. sound production, special effects, animation, etc.).

Photography

Photography majors study all types of photography (digital and film) shot with all kinds of cameras. Coursework for this major can include classes such as photojournalism, art history, 3D design, editing, archiving, and more.

Important Accreditations

Regional Accreditation

When it comes to conventional universities and colleges, we suggest you look for ones with regional accreditation. This is a “seal of approval” granted to institutions (e.g. non-profit and public colleges and universities) by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).

You can learn more about the difference between regional accreditation and national accreditation in Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.

Benefits of Regional Accreditation

Choosing a regionally accredited school will make it easier for you to:

  • Transfer credits (many regionally accredited colleges and universities will not accept credits from nationally accredited schools)
  • Apply for student loans, tuition reimbursement, scholarships and funding opportunities
  • Get into graduate school
  • Look good in the eyes of headhunters and recruiters

Regional accreditation only applies to a college or university, not to individual film or photography programs. If you’re concerned about the quality, you may wish to see if the film program has NASAD accreditation. We talk more about the debate between For-Profit vs. Non-Profit below.

NASAD Accreditation

Founded in 1944, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the only accrediting body for visual art programs recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It sets the standards for both graduate and undergraduate degrees in 330+ schools of art and design. Postsecondary, non-degree granting schools such as the for-profit New York Film Academy are eligible for accreditation.

Search for a NASAD-Accredited School.

For-Profit vs. Non-Profit

Unlike many conventional subjects, there are two major types of film schools:

  1. A program housed in a public or private non-profit college/university
  2. A for-profit organization (e.g. Full Sail, Los Angeles Film School, New York Film Academy, etc.)

Generally speaking, traditional colleges and universities are built on a liberal arts education framework. For example, they may ask you to take survey courses in film history and theory. Having said that, you may be able to find BFA or BS degrees that give you more opportunities to specialize.

For-profit schools, often called trade or vocational schools, usually skip the academics and head straight for practical work and labs. For example, you might spend a great deal of your week working on film projects and building your technical skills.

If you are thinking of for-profit schools, be aware that they may have high student loan default rates. And be sure to check your budget. A for-profit school may be just as expensive – if not more – than a non-profit.

No matter which film school you go to, it can be really tough finding work. Your best bet is to aim for a program with a great reputation that provides plenty of networking opportunities.

Fine Arts

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