As the fickle entertainment business tilts slowly (but perhaps decisively) away from the director’s medium—cinema—to that medium more associated with rooms full of frazzled writers pounding out pages of dialogue on laptops, the craft of writing is getting more respect circa 2018.

The era of “peak TV” and binge-watching seems to be here for a while, and the demand for writers who can churn out snappy banter, deliver a polish on deadline, or collaborate with a team to plot out a season or more of storylines is at an all-time high. 

That’s where you, the aspiring film student with dreams of residuals checks from NBC, come in. You’ll be pleased to find that both bona fide film schools and colleges with premiere film studies offerings have attuned themselves to the shifting sands, adding robust new feature writing and TV writing programs, creating their own working TV writers’ rooms, introducing graphic novel writing courses, and in other ways recognizing a scripting-over-shooting paradigm. 

But wait. Perhaps you fancy yourself a visual stylist extraordinaire—the next Brian De Palma—and you dream of the analog, cinema-is-king film school experience that Spielberg and Lucas would recognize fondly. The 2018 landscape has something for you, as well, with legacy cinematography and directing programs that continue to hone their reputations by availing themselves of the latest camera gear, inviting Oscar winners to guest lecture, and renewing their relevance by working to head off the industry’s stubborn gender imbalance. 

Illustration by Cesar Tezeta

If you fancy yourself ahead of the tech curve, you’re in luck, as animation, VFX and Virtual Reality (VR) labs are popping up like mushrooms on film campuses across the U.S. and Canada, along with new, demanding coursework to go with them. Someone’s got to satisfy the public’s insatiable demand for new video games and superhero films. Why not you? 

Countless undergrad and graduate programs out there are vying for your matriculation (read: money) in sunny downtown L.A., in the wintery wilds of Canada, up and down the East Coast, and everywhere in between. We’ve chosen 40 schools ahead of the trends that matter in 2018, organized them by region, and highlighted their individual strengths, whether it’s a world-beating MFA program, a unique internship opportunity, or an all-star faculty. Your artistic education is a journey in need of its own storyboarding, so make sure you start it off with this carefully constructed campus compass in hand. 

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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