Best Film Programs 2021

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While most schools confer a bachelor of arts in film, some colleges offer bachelor of science degrees. BA film degrees focus on the artistic side of the cinematic subfields, while BS programs often explore the technical aspects. Graduates of accredited on-campus or online film programs work in diverse creative arts areas, depending on their field of expertise and professional interests.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the top-paying states for film and video editors include California ($118,510), New York ($90,290), New Jersey ($89,540), Washington ($82,060), and Massachusetts ($74,760). The BLS projects an 18% growth rate for jobs in this sector from 2019-2029, which bodes well for graduates.

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Top 10 Film Programs


  • Q. What can you do with a film degree?

    Careers in film vary greatly and often depend on a graduate’s area of interest and concentration. Some of these jobs include editors, writers, and sound technicians.

  • Q. Is a BA or BS in film better?

    Different degrees support different career paths. Generally, a BS serves students who plan to work in the technical side of the industry, while a BA supports more art-focused jobs.

  • Q. How long is a film degree?

    Like most undergraduate degrees, film programs require 120 credits of coursework and typically take four years of full-time enrollment to complete.

  • Q. Is it a good idea to major in film?

    Film programs suit students with a passion for the industry. Degrees in film provide technical and creative training that prepare students for a career in film or other industries.

Best Online Film Programs 2021

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Why Get a Degree in Film?

Onsite and online film degrees give students the chance to explore, develop, and focus their artistic interests and enter productive and well-paying careers in various professional areas.

Keep Skills Current
Well-crafted film programs keep a student’s knowledge and skills relevant in the rapidly changing field.
Build Professional Network
Professional opportunities in the film industry often arise within insider networks. Pursuing an undergraduate degree in the field allows students to establish industry contacts early.
Focus Creativity
A bachelor’s degree in film gives enrollees the opportunity to explore the diverse technical and artistic aspects of the field, helping students decide on an area of concentration.
Enhance Credibility
Although the film industry values creativity, a bachelor’s degree presents the holder as a disciplined, knowledgeable, and skilled professional capable of making artistic contributions to the industry.
Job Security
Data from the BLS show that bachelor’s degree-holders enjoy lower unemployment rates (2.2%) than associate-trained workers (2.7%) and employees with some college but no degree (3.3%).

How Much Do Film Majors Make?

Film majors often pursue diverse career paths, depending on their interests and strengths. Possible career options include film and video editors, animators, and art directors, all of which yield median annual salaries higher than the national median wage. Graduates often also explore enrolling in a certificate program that focuses on a specific area in filmmaking such as screenwriting, set design, or production technology.

Film Program Requirements

Schools typically mandate the submission of the same requirements for applicants to their on-campus or online film programs. Common requirements include SAT or ACT scores, transcripts from every postsecondary school attended, and at least one recommendation letter. Many film programs also require applicants to submit a portfolio of their work, especially students who plan to major in a creative sub-field such as screenwriting or directing.

Culminating activities often vary, but most film programs require degree candidates to complete a project showcasing their skills and knowledge in a specific film area. Most film students earn a bachelor’s degree.

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Bachelor’s in Film Specializations

Because they encompass a broad area of study, many film programs offer concentration areas that give students the chance to focus on their individual interests.

A cinema concentration includes courses in cinematography techniques, editing, and film theory. Students also learn how to build visual narrative structures for different genres.

A production specialization familiarizes students with the entire production process. This includes preparing a budget, storyboarding, hiring and managing the production crew, shooting, editing, and finally marketing and completing post-production work.

With a screenwriting specialization, students learn how to write for a cinematic audience. They examine topics such as plot and character development as well as conflict creation and resolution. Students also become familiar with current screenwriting software.

Courses in a Film Bachelor’s Program

Film programs give students the opportunity to turn classroom theories into cinematic creations like short scripts, video clips, or soundscapes. Most film degrees include coursework in fundamental subjects such as visual storytelling, American film history, and editing. Continue reading for a small sample of classes offered by many film programs nationwide.

A cinematography class teaches enrollees how to compose a film scene using various elements such as camera angle, lighting, sound, and set design. In the field, cinematographers carry out the director’s vision for each scene. The course includes various opportunities for creative collaboration.

The course teaches students how to identify and manipulate various aural elements to enhance the visual story. Enrollees familiarize themselves with the latest sound technologies available for creating, editing, and manipulating sound for film. The course includes hands-on opportunities for students to create soundscapes for different film genres.

From silent movies to contemporary CGI, students trace the evolution of the film industry by examining iconic works from different cinematic periods across a variety of genres. The course includes a brief survey of successful commercial foreign movies, documentaries, and short films.

Scholarships for Film

Colleges and universities offering on-campus and online film degrees support many of their enrollees through scholarships and grants. Film majors often explore financial aid opportunities from professional organizations and private nonprofits related to the industry, such as the three programs described below.

  • NBC Universal Full Circle Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Partnering with the American Indian College Fund, NBC Universal welcomes applications from Native American students majoring in an eligible media field such as film or television. Eligible applicants show a minimum 2.0 GPA and enroll in an accredited tribal college.

    Amount: $5,250

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  • The Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The program accepts applications from students pursuing a major in film or television. The scholarship committee only accepts applications from juniors and seniors. Eligible applicants must be enrolled at an accredited four-year college or university anywhere nationwide.

    Amount: $3,500

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  • The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: NATAS administers several scholarships for film students including minorities, sports television program enrollees, and film students with demonstrable financial need. Each scholarship opportunity maintains specific application requirements and deadlines. In addition, NATAS regional chapters offer several scholarships to active members within their geographical area.

    Amount: $10,000-$20,000

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