Top Graduate Film School in the U.S. with Program Summaries

Read on to learn about two of the top film schools to offer graduate programs in the U.S. Learn about these schools' ranking information and get program summaries to make an informed decision on your education.

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School Overviews

Top graduate film schools teach students advanced skills in video and audio production, cinematography and film editing. Although graduate film programs are available throughout the country, the top film schools tend to be located in large metropolitan cities that have greater access to film industry resources, such as New York or Los Angeles. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and New York University (NYU) are two such schools; both are highly ranked and provide opportunities for hands-on training.

Top Graduate Film Schools in the U.S.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

In 2014, UCLA was ranked #2 among top public schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. In 2010, Princeton Review named it a Best Value College among public schools. The School of Theater, Film and Television offers several master's degrees and a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies. The Master of Fine Arts in Cinematography teaches technical filmmaking skills, while the Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies focuses on the social and cultural relevance of film and related media. Students can also enroll in production and direction, animation or screenwriting master's degree programs. Courses offered in the film programs include film editing and post-production, motion picture lighting, digital cinematography and film history.

2. New York University in New York City

NYU was ranked #32 among all national universities by U.S. News and World Report in 2014. The university's Tisch School of the Arts offers a Master of Fine Arts in Film. The program requires three years of study and allows students to create a variety of self-produced narrative films. Students work with film crews and other students to film, edit and finalize film projects of various lengths. Courses are offered in film aesthetics, cinematography, film directing, acting for film and movie business law. The program also includes workshops and seminars for advanced filmmaking concepts.

List of Good Graduate Film Schools in the U.S.

College/University Name Distinction Location
Boston University In addition to housing its own student-run production company, BU offers its students the chance to study in Los Angeles for a semester. Boston, MA
Brigham Young University BYU's graduate film program is designed for working teachers and professionals and offers evening and weekend classes. Provo, UT
Columbia University Columbia tied for a #4 ranking on U.S. News & World Report's 2014 list of all national universities. New York, NY
New York University NYU ranked #11 on U.S. News & World Report's 2012 list of the best graduate multimedia and visual communications schools. New York, NY
San Francisco State University Students have access to six facilities and labs, including those in stop-motion animation and digital cinema. San Francisco, CA
Stanford University Along with Columbia, Stanford took the #4 spot on U.S. News & World Report's 2014 listing of all national universities. Stanford, CA
University of California, Los Angeles In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCLA #5 on its list of schools with the best graduate programs in multimedia and visual communications. Los Angeles, CA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Students have access to several 'guest artists,' including TV directors, screenwriters, film editors, sound designers, actors and more. Ann Arbor, MI
University of Pittsburgh The school has close ties to the Pittsburgh Film Office, local theaters, venues and film festivals. Pittsburgh, PA
University of Southern California In 2014, The Hollywood Reporter named USC the top film school in the country. Los Angeles, CA
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  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
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      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
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    • Iowa (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Iowa include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at San Francisco State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Film and Cinema Studies
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Illinois include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Cinematography and Film Production
        • Photography
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    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
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    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
        • Film and Cinema Studies
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    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
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      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts

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