Television Director Degree Programs with Career Information
Find out what degree programs are available for aspiring television directors. Read details about what type of degree is earned, what prerequisites apply and what will be addressed in program coursework. Get job outlook and salary information for the TV industry.
Breaking into the television industry as a director is extremely difficult due to the relatively low number of positions available. Fortunately, there are degree programs that prepare aspiring directors in the fundamentals of film and television directing. These degree programs include the Bachelor of Arts in TV & Film Production and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in TV & Film Production.
At the undergraduate level, students will take fundamental courses in cinematography, TV writing, sound recording, editing and camera operations. Master's degree studies address more advanced topics in many of these areas. Graduate students might also take courses in film criticism, preproduction practices and production technologies. The MFA can be earned in about three years. A master's degree could also help to prepare students to teach related topics in a community college setting.
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Television & Film Production
The Bachelor of Arts degree program in Television and Film Production provides students with an introduction to the fundamentals of directing for television. Students in the program learn how to operate digital HD cameras as well as the fundamentals of cinematography for television. Other courses emphasize working with actors and editing raw footage into a cohesive television program. The program requires that students gain practical experience in television production. However, some classwork will be devoted to television history and production theory. The degree should take four years to complete.
Students must have completed high school or earned GED certificates before applying to a Bachelor of Arts programs in Television and Film Production. Scores for either the SAT or the ACT will also be required by many colleges and universities. In some instances, a prospective student will have to submit a film reel of work that he or she has produced. This reel will give the admissions committee an idea of the student's interests and capability and may play an important role in the admissions decision process.
Courses for an undergraduate degree in television production emphasizes all aspects of the production process. Possible courses include:
- Directing for television
- Writing for television
- Sound recording
- Industrial production practices for television
- Genre studies
- History of television
Popular Career Options
Very rarely do graduates of a television production degree program break into the industry as directors. Graduates typically find entry-level jobs and work their way up the production ladder. Some possible career outcomes include:
- Key grip
- Production assistant
- Camera operator
Master of Fine Arts Degree in Television & Film Production
A Master of Fine Arts degree program in Television and Film Production takes at least three years of study to complete. Most MFA programs in film and television production require a final project, and the degree could possibly take longer than three years if a student's project is large in scale and scope.
The MFA program emphasizes hands-on experience and expertise with regards to all aspects of television production. Students receive training in screenwriting, cinematography, directing and editing. Numerous projects in addition to the final project will be required. The purpose of these production projects is to demonstrate proficiency in the field of television direction and visual storytelling ability. Some programs will allow students to specialize in some aspect of film and television production.
Prospective graduate students should hold undergraduate degrees in television and film production. Additionally, many colleges and universities require two or three recommendation letters, statements of purpose and writing samples. Writing samples could be television scripts or research papers on some aspect of television history or theory.
The most important element of the application package, however, is the portfolio. Portfolio requirements vary but typically consist of a reel that demonstrates a student's ability to produce and direct for television and to succeed at the MFA level.
MFA classes offer practical hands-on experience in every facet of television directing and production.
- Television production
- Film and television directing
- Sound design
- Advanced editing techniques
- Television preproduction
- Production technology for television and film
- Film and television criticism
Popular Career Options
The MFA in film and television production prepares graduates for a range of careers in the television industry.
- Television director
- Key grip
- Television producer
- Community college instructor
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, the employment of producers and directors is expected to grow by about 11% for the period 2010-2020. This growth of employment is about as fast as the average for all jobs in the U.S.
The television and film industry has traditionally been difficult to break into. However, public demand for television shows and movies is high. The BLS reports that the annual average salary for all producers and directors, as of May 2012, was $92,390; the average salary for those in the radio and television broadcasting industry was $67,110.
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