Perhaps you’re someone who dreams of a career in moviemaking, and has come to the realization that the discipline, experimentation and personal relationships that flourish in an academic setting are exactly what you need to thrive in your field.

Perhaps you’ve decided to put your energy and resources where those dreams are and go to film school. This is very likely to be one of the biggest decisions in your life, but you’ve made it.

Congratulations. But where, exactly, do you turn now? 

The household-name programs can seem like a recipe for insta-respect—and hey, they’re famous for a reason. But take an analogy from the world of film festivals: You don’t have to premiere at Cannes to have the experience that’s best for you. Let’s underscore that “for you” part again. Be clear and honest about your personal objectives (what’s your dream role on a production? What types of projects do you want to work on?), and match them with the most compatible institution—whether it’s the one with the great internship program, or the one with the fanciest equipment you’d never get to touch otherwise, or the one that’s 15 minutes from your house (or online).

Illustration by Josephine Kyhn

Out of the hundreds of bachelors and masters degree programs in the United States and Canada, we’ve chosen 40 that we believe represent the best of what higher education has to offer the film world, organized by region. We chose a quality of each school to spotlight, too, because even the most well-rounded program has its particular strengths. Some of these schools are fixtures on any academic best-of list, while others may be unexpectedly pleasant discoveries; some are brash new upstarts and some have been quietly churning out successful graduates for decades.

Either way—because of that decision you made—someday soon you might be listed on a “famous alumni” page. 

Start reading on the next page, or jump to a region here:

U.S. West

U.S. Northeast

U.S. Southwest

U.S. Midwest

U.S. Southeast



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