There is no shortage of Best Film School lists out there. It seems like everyone has an opinion on which where you should get your film production education. Simply put, no single film school is right for everyone.
So how do you choose the best film school for your career? Well, you can start by categorizing them by what they do best. By taking a look at the top 21 top film schools for every aspiring filmmaker, we will narrow the focus so that you can make an educated decision.
Table of Contents
Everything you need to know about line producers.
- The Top 5 Schools For Filmmakers
- Where To Go For An Animation
- Where To Go Internationally
- Where To Go For The Price
- Where To go Online
The Top Five Schools for Filmmakers
OUR TOP FIVE THIS YEAR
All of the schools in this section have helped to pioneer the art of film and television with their outstanding programs.
These film schools are staples of the film production education community.
They have been around for years and have produced industry names you’ve heard of.
George Lucas, Rob Reiner, and Tim Burton to name a few.
But just because they’re on a lot of Top Film Schools lists doesn’t mean they’re necessarily right for you.
Take a look at our breakdown before deciding if these film schools fit your needs.
I think everything that you do, you're learning. I mean, every movie that you make is like a film school; that's one of the things that I enjoy about filmmaking. — Peter Jackson
1.1 USC - UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Take a look at the best
USC is not only considered one of the best film schools in California but one of the best film schools in the world. And for good reason.
It is the oldest university in the US dedicated to film studies. It actually started alongside the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929; the dawn of stateside cinema.
No matter which field of filmmaking interest you most, you can learn and study it here.
USC has built a true film community on campus, with undergrad and grad programs in everything from film production, screenwriting, and animation to interactive media and digital arts.
There are both undergraduate and graduate level degree programs. They include film production, screenwriting, cinema and media studies, animation and digital arts, interactive media and games. They even offer a producing program through the USC Marshall School of Business.
The acceptance rate for USC is around 13%.
But the School of Cinematic Arts only admits about 3%.
Yes, it’s tough to get in. Though if you’re serious about a career in filmmaking, USC should be on your list of film schools worth the application fee.
TUITION: $50,010 per year
WHO WENT TO USC?
Jay Roach, Judd Apatow, Jon Chu, Paula Patton, Stacey Sher, Robert Kiraz, Scott Alexander, Judd Apatow, Sam Peckinpah, Gregg Araki, John August, Robert Zemeckis, Matthew Weiner, John Carpenter, Larry Karaszewski, Ron Howard, Ryan Coogler, Caleb Deschanel and Conrad Hall
1.2 UCLA - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES
One that’s second to none
UCLA is another Los Angeles film school with a stellar reputation. It has been around for more than 60 years and was the first to combine theatre, TV and film programs into one.
No wonder it’s often ranked as one of the top three film schools in the country.
WHO WENT TO UCLA?
Allison Anders, Carol Burnett, Francis Ford Coppola, David Koepp, Anne Marie Johnson, Catherine Hardwicke, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Jim Morrison, Todd Holland, Justin Lin, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, George Takei and Gore Verbinski.
UCLA Extension also offers incredible non-degree programs that are modeled after their Masters of Fine Art studies.
UCLA IN A STARRING ROLE
FUN FACT?UCLA has starred in quite a number of films and television shows, including: Legally Blond, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Modern Family, Scream 2, and House.
1.3 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY TISCH SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
Look at the best east coast film school
That’s right! LA film schools aren’t the only film schools out there!
NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is considered one of the best film schools in the country and is great for film majors who vibe with the energy of New York City.
Nestled in the heart of the West Village, New York becomes an amazing and unparalleled part of your education.
From the onset, you’ll be immersed in your major. In fact, students, faculty and staff make a combined 5,000 films per year!
One of the most unique programs for cinema, New York University allows students to double major with a business degree like director Cathy Yan who will direct the next Marvel Harley Quinn movie.
So when you’re looking at undergraduate film schools, graduate programs or even getting your Ph.D. in cinema studies, make sure to give some consideration to NYU.
Professors include many Nobel Laureates, Guggenheim Fellows and Macarthur Fellows such as Anna Deavere Smith.
WHO WENT TO NYU?
Martin Scorsese, Joel Coen, Chris Columbus, Vince Gilligan, Rachel Morrison, Alec Baldwin, Reed Morano, Vince Gilligan, Damon Lindelof, Morgan Spurlock, and Spike Lee.
1.4 AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
Study like some of the masters
At the beginning of the fall, 1969, the former Center for Advanced Film Studies opened its doors as the American Film Institute.
Nestled at the foot of the Hollywood Hills and offers advanced degrees in directing, cinematography, screenwriting and more.
It was also one of the first schools to recognize the need for diversity in film. This led to a free directing workshop just for women in 1974.
Today, AFI maintains its title as one of the best film schools in the world. The level of talent the school draws is unparalleled. In fact, 13 of the thesis films by its fellows have been nominated for Academy Awards.
It’s first class went on to become the most widely recognized filmmakers in the industry and world.
Thirteen of the thesis films by its fellows have been nominated for Academy Awards.
The Conservatory has bestowed honorary degrees on notable Hollywood players such as John Williams, Sydney Pollack, Clint Eastwood, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Spike Lee, Rita Moreno and Quentin Tarantino.
The conservatory program offers advanced degrees in cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design, and screenwriting.
WHO WENT TO AFI?
Darren Aronofsky, Todd Field, Julie Dash, Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel, and Paul Schrader.
1.5 CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS
Not all LA film schools are in the city
Here is an amazing Los Angeles film school not in the heart of the big city and doing just fine.
The California Institute of the Arts is the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States to focus specifically on visual and performing arts.
It is also one of the few institutions in the US that permits students to retain complete control and copyright over their work.
In addition, their graduate program in fine arts was ranked #9 in the United States by US News and World Report.
They offer BFAs and MFAs in animation and film & video. They also have a revered MFA program in film directing.
WHO WENT TO CalArts?
Tim Burton, Lee Sheldon, James Mangold
WHERE TO GO FOR ANIMATION
THE IMPORTANCE OF BACKGROUND TALENT
Animation is a specialty. And this film school is all about specialization. That’s why we’ve created a special section just for animators.
Sure, a lot of film schools have animation departments. But the following schools specialize in nurturing and developing animators into industry artists.
2.1 RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
Don’t be a starving artist here
Ringling College of Art and Design has been on the rise for a number of years.
In fact, films like Coco (2017) prove, they are upping the ante on what small animation programs can do. 17 Ringling alumni worked on the smash hit film.
They offer Bachelors of Fine Arts in computer animation, creative writing, film, game art, graphic design, illustration, motion design, and photography and digital imaging.
If it’s anything to go by, they recently trademarked their mission phrase, “Shattering the Myth of the Starving Artist.”
WHO WENT TO RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART?
David Bromstad, Patrick Osborne, Michelle Phan, and Brandon Oldenburg
2.2 RHODE ISLAND SCHOOL OF DESIGN
An Ivy for the artists
Anyone on the east coast will know that this film school is not just a film school.
Known as Harvard for artists, RISD has an impeccable film program that includes cultivates the art a lot more than the business.
This little art school offers 16 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate majors including Film/Animation/Video, Digital+Media, and Illustration.
Animation, digital media, and illustration among them.
They also share classes, faculty, and resources with Brown University. Meaning your education will be top tier.
And when it comes to inspiration, you’ll have plenty. RISD houses an enormous art collection on campus that rivals any museums.
You can find your motivation with history’s greatest creative minds.
An enormous endowment and an art collection to rival any museum means that RISD students are never short of inspiration or means.
The school was ranked #1 in graphic design according to QS World University Rankings and made USA Today’s Top Ten Best Schools for Pursuing a Film Degree.
WHO WENT TO RISD?
Gus van Sant, Martha Coolidge, Ellen Kuras, David Byrne, Diane Arbus, Mary Lambert, Seth McFarlane, and Todd Verow.
2.3 THE SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART
Let the south influence your art
Only in its’ fortieth year, Savannah College of Art and Design has made quite a name for itself in the world of art, media, and design.
Set in the lovely confines of Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia the private college has extended its campus reach to programs on two other continents. The Lacoste, France location was founded in 2002 and the Hong Kong campus 2010.
In addition, the college offers nationally ranked, online degree programs.
Their animation program includes Animation, Character Technical Direction, Concept Art for Games, Interactive Design, Interactive Design, and Game Development, Visual Effects, Motion Media Design.
They also have an Entertainment Arts program that offers Dramatic Writing for Film and Television, Motion Media Design, Performing Arts, Production Design, Sound Design, Television Producing, and Technical Direction.
Also, you are minutes away from the amazing nightlife of one of the South's most cosmopolitan areas.
WHO WENT TO SCAD?
Eleanor Davis, Vicki Lau, Dean Trippe, India.Aire, Danny!, Sean Murphy and Thomas Kalnoky
2.4 SHERIDAN COLLEGE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Watch for the animation from this one
Didn’t see this polytechnic school coming? Neither did we.
But do a little bit of research into animation film schools and you’re sure to see Sheridan’s name pop up.
In fact, you’re sure to see it pop up a lot.
That’s because nearly a third of the animators at Disney and Pixar are Sheridan graduates.
This is namely because a third of Pixar, Disney and Don Bluth Productions seems to come from this Canadian institution.
Established in 1967, the animation department already boasts five Academy Award nominees and two winners.
Not too shabby.
The college is presently seeking full university status in Canada by increasing its course offerings. It has recently established an academic senate and increased the number of instructors with masters and doctoral degrees.
TUITION: $3002 per year including national health care
WHO WENT TO SHERIDAN?
Domee Shi, Danny Antonucci, Brent Butt, Dean DeBlois, Christopher Guinness, Raman Hui, John Kricfalusi, Nik Ranieri, Samantha Youssef, and David Soren.
Where To Go Internationally
IF HOLLYWOOD ISN’T YOUR SPEED
Los Angeles film schools are what many think of when considering a career in film production. But LA is only a single film market.
Many international institutions offer cheaper tuition, sunny climates, and unique and beautiful cultures.
Not to mention a chance to see the world.
Here are the International film schools we think you should consider for your short course, two-year, bachelor’s or master’s program.
Sign-up and use StudioBinder’s FREE Gantt Chart Software for VideoStay ahead of the curb and the submission dates with online software that is free to use. All the information for your prospective schools, dates of submissions and fees will be in one place. Turn worry into organization with one resource.
3.1 NATIONAL FILM AND TELEVISION SCHOOL
Go across the pond for film school
Having recently won a 2018 BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, NFTS is on everyone’s list.
And why not?
They offer more than 30 MA, diploma, and certificate courses across film, TV and gaming. They also feature more behind-the-camera classes than any other film school. Anywhere.
There is a reason that so many films from this island kingdom do well in the United States.
TUITION: $7,905 per year
WHO WENT TO NFTS?
Roger Deakins, Nick Park, Lynne Ramsey, Alison Snowden, Nick Willing, Ruhul Amin, Mark Herman, and Bernard Rose.
3.2 TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY
Study film in the middle east
This is the largest university in Israel and one of the best film programs in the world of cinema education.
A partnership with the New York University Tisch School of the Arts is what really makes this program stand out for international film majors.
Tel Aviv University was launched in 2006 and offers programs in both English and Hebrew.
You’ll be immersed in the history of film, film theories and hands-on production courses that encourage creativity and sociocultural depth.
You’ll also be surrounded by a booming and exciting metropolis that begs to be explored.
With programs in both English and Hebrew, the Tel Aviv University film school
TUITION: $13,205 per year
3.3 CENTRO DE CAPACITACIÓN CINEMATOGRÁPHICA
Learn film and a second language
The CCC, as it’s commonly known, stands at the heart of Mexico City. This stunning and historic area is considered the Mexican Hollywood and has inspired many students to venture south for their film production degree.
There are no course offerings in English, but if your Spanish skills are up to snuff, you can attend this film school for a tuition of $1600 per year.
Repeat: $1600 per year.
The first president of this institution was Luis Bunuel if that tells you something about the legacy it already has.
The CCC offers training in 16mm, 35mm and digital filmmaking, a large soundstage and full audio production facilities.
The CCC also has a great extension program that expands its programs beyond production and cinematography.
TUITION PER YEAR: $1,600
WHO WENT TO CCC?
Rodrigo Prieto, Everardo Gonzalez and Tatiana Huezo
3.4 AUSTRALIAN FILM, TELEVISION AND RADIO SCHOOL
Say “G’day” to the school down under
AFTRS is not exactly the international bargains of most film schools on this list, the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School is a premier school for film education.
AFTRS is definitely not the cheapest international school on our list. Not by a long shot. But it’s globally recognized as one of the top film schools in the world.
Federally mandated by the Australian parliament in 1973, AFTRS was established so that Australian artist and craftsman could tell Australian stories.
Today, it stands with more than 5000 awards and selections for student films from top festivals like Cannes and Sundance. Its staff and alumni have won Oscars, BAFTAs, and other prestigious honors.
Because of AFTRS’s state-of-the-art facilities, world-class faculty and proximity to the famous Bondi Beach, it is easy to see why many international students are making their way “down under”.
You can even earn an undergrad degree in just three years. Something to consider when thinking about tuition prices.
TUITION PER 2 YEARS: $AUS41,000 or 29,062 per year US. Still less expensive than similar schools in the US.
WHO WENT TO AFTRS?
Gillian Armstrong, Alex Proyas, Andrew Lesnie, Peter Rees and Phillip Noyce
Where To Go For The Price
HERE ARE SCHOOLS THAT GIVE A BANG FOR THE BUCK
4.1 LOS ANGELES FILM SCHOOL
Study in the heart of Hollywood
The Los Angeles Film School is a great spot for those wanting to dive straight into their film education.
They offer an 84% acceptance rate and don’t care about standardized tests or transcripts.
They only care that their film majors have a passion for making movies.
The LA Film School offers hands-on training in production, directing and producing. Their students work with industry-standard technology and can show their work in a 300-seat movie theater on campus.
The founding faculty included Hollywood names such as William Fraker, Jon Amiel, Dede Allen, and Janusz Kaminski.
And if you can’t make it to the campus, students can also take online classes in animation, digital filmmaking, and entertainment business.
FILM PROGRAM TOTAL: $47,000 (program fees vary depending on concentration)
DID YOU KNOW?
Martin Pensa, Kyle Newachek, Jaycen Joshua, Brandon Trost, and Brian Taylor.
4.2 CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY AT NORTHRIDGE
Mingle with their notable alumni
CSUN is a state-sponsored school with seven film and TV focused programs. They offer state-of-the-art soundstages, mixing studios and equipment.
They also offer a nice list of Hollywood A-listers as their alumni.
CSUN is located just inside LA Country and has built great relationships with the city’s elite studios, agencies, and production companies.
TUITION PER YEAR: $6,900 for in-state students
DID YOU KNOW?
Morris Chestnut, Debra Winger, Jenna Elfman, Joan Chen, Paula Abdul, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Englund, Eva Longoria, Allyson Hannigan, Cheech Marin, and Eve Plumb.
4.3 NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY
Go to New York on four continents
Nope, NYFA isn’t just in New York. In fact, this fast-paced film school is all over the world.
Four schools in the US, three in Europe, two in Asia and one in Australia.
Needless to say, NYFA is growing. Fast.
The school opened in 1992 with the idea that students need to start making films right away.
It’s this hands-on approach that allows each student to director their own project and crew 25 more in their first year.
You read that number right. You’ll be a part of at least 26 films in your first year.
Sure you can get your AA, BA, BFA or MFA at NYFA. But you can also enroll in short-term programs and workshops if you’re pressed for time.
Their shortest? 2 days.
If that wasn’t enough, NYFA has partnered with the Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art to provide educational and filmmaking projects for their students.
They’ve also built a relationship with RED Digital to give their students access to one of the industry’s most coveted cameras.
Their faculty has included: Matthew Modine, Lou Gossett Jr, Brenda Vaccaro, Bill Duke, and Anthony Richmond.TUITION PER YEAR: Los Angeles 30,840 Per year for BA in filmmaking
WHO WENT TO NYFA?
Issa Rae, Antonio Chavez Trejo, Paul Dano, Imran Khan, Shaquille O’Neal, Chord Overstreet, Damon Wayans, Eamonn Walker, and Damon Wayans Jr.
4.4 COLUMBIA COLLEGE
Get to know the other Columbia
Chicago’s Columbia College has become a film school to be reckoned with.
The campus is situated in the heart of the city and offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to its 7000+ students.
Film majors are encouraged to use the Windy City as a backdrop for their art. There is a massive lake, free sculpture garden and endless eclectic neighborhoods steps away.
Not to mention plenty of deep dish pizza.
In 2011, YouTube partnered with Columbia College to launch the first Youtube Creator Institute. A way to train students in digital media and promotion.
Today, the school continues to push the boundaries of modern movie making for its film majors.
WHO WENT TO COLUMBIA COLLEGE?
Lena Waithe, Janusz Kaminski, Tonya Pinkins, Aidan Quinn, Pat Sajak, Common, George Tillman Jr, Michelle Monaghan, Bob Odenkirk, Mauro Fiore
4.5 STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT PURCHASE
Take a trip to purchase college
Outside of California, there are very few state-sponsored film programs that have proven influential to filmmaking. Purchase has filled the vpoid nicely with its’ film department and, importantly, its’ theatre department.
Set on 500 acres, the state college has both a film BFA and a film and video minor. It encourages students to write, produce and direct projects, leading to a well-rounded film production education.
Need more evidence that this little school rocks in a big way?
SUNY Purchase was listed as one of Kiplinger's 100 Best Public College Values in 2017.
It also has an entire course on the television show Breaking Bad.
TUITION: In-state $8,267 Out-of-State: $18,117
WHO WENT TO SUNY-PURCHASE?
Zoë Kravitz, Melissa Leo, James McDaniel, Parker Posey, Ving Rhames, Jay O. Sanders, Wesley Snipes, Stanley Tucci, Shea Whigham, and Constance Wu.
Where To Go Online
THESE ARE GREAT FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
Perhaps attending a Los Angeles film school or international conservatory isn't an option for you. Maybe you’re a busy professional or juggling work and kids.
Don’t worry. You can still study film production.
Attend film school on your time with online courses from great universities.
Online institutions have come a long way in their offerings. Today, you’ll find many that give you a great film/media education from the comfort of your home.
In fact, many schools offer expedited options that allow you to complete courses in four to eight weeks, rather than a full semester.
You can usually transfer your credits to on-campus schools too. But make sure to verify this with whichever school(s) you apply to.
Sign-up and use StudioBinder’s FREE Gantt Chart Software for Video
An online chart tool like this allows an applicant to see:
- The start date of an application process
- What the application deliverables are
- When tasks begin and end
- The duration of each task
- The completion date of the project
The structure of online timeline allows applicants to see the relationships between tasks for all submissions.
5.1 UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Learn all about tomorrow online
The University of Arizona’s mantra is “All about Tomorrow.” This is a great motto to keep in mind with their online film school offering. Affordability and convenience are the reason we love their online program.
ONLINE TUITION: $526 per unit (12 units = full course load)
5.2 UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
Click over to Big Sky Country
You don’t have to endure the brutal winters of Big Sky country to get a world class online education. The University of Montana offers both undergraduate and graduate level course work and degrees in Media Arts.
COST PER YEAR: $7,000 - $25,000
5.3 ACADEMY OF ART UNIVERSITY
Stick with a school for the arts
The online program at this dynamic Art school in the heart of San Francisco caters to the specific needs of art and design students. You don’t have to pay the premium rents of the city in order to take advantage of a world class education.
ONLINE TUITION: $25,000 per year
How to overcome writer’s block
If you are applying to film schools, then you will definitely be writing a lot of essays for the entrance exams. Depending on how many schools you’re applying to, you might be at a loss for words. Make sure you let the words flow and get the pages out with our tips to overcome writer’s block.