University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX) – Outstanding screenwriting training
UTA’s MFA in Screenwriting is consistently regarded as one of the best programs for anyone serious about writing great stories for film and television. Tuition is low compared to that of similarly celebrated institutions, but only seven students are accepted per year. One of its most remarkable features is the TV Writers’ Room workshop class, in which the entire group collaborates to create a season of a new show that is then pitched to the major networks. This creates a direct link between emerging talent and those with the power to hire them. Meanwhile, the school’s MFA in Film & Media Production recently added Latinx filmmakers Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer, The Infiltrators) and Iliana Sosa (Detained in the Desert) to its faculty.
Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City, OK) – Outstanding training
The university’s BFA in Film Production — the only one of its kind in Oklahoma — is a general filmmaking program that offers a well-rounded education in craft and theory. Applicants interested in cinematography will find it particularly advantageous. Digital techniques are taught so that graduates are ready to work on sets. But they can try their hand at analog filmmaking as well. This year, OCU plans to open a new motion-capture studio and a motion graphics and CGI lab.
Also read: Alumni Offer Their Film School Advice
Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) – Outstanding theory and criticism theory and criticism training
Aside from its B.A. and BFA in Film Media Arts, SMU offers an M.A. in Popular Film and Media Studies. Launched in 2015, this idiosyncratic program deals with the critical examination of mass-consumed media and their repercussions in society at large. It explores subjects like how dedicated fandom has influenced the development of science fiction and fantasy content. On the production side, SMU film majors produce a collective feature-length film over a summer on a biannual basis, meaning that if you are there for four years, you’ll likely be part of two shoots.
Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL) – Outstanding television training
Education tailored toward making prestige television is in demand. Columbia College Chicago’s B.A. in Television offers a wide-ranging curriculum that takes into account the entire TV production ecosystem, from writing to post-production. Seniors with a concentration in writing get to replicate the experience of interacting in a writer’s room environment by pitching ideas and holding table reads with classmates. For those aspiring to become showrunners and executive producers, the BFA in Television Executive Producing and Entrepreneurship is a perfect fit: It’s geared towards the business side of creative ventures to shape new decision-makers in a competitive media landscape. There’s also a 35,500-square-foot media production center with three television studios, three sound stages, and even a remote production truck.
DePaul University (Chicago, IL) – Outstanding comedy filmmaking training
DePaul University takes advantage of its proximity to comedy company The Second City in its graduate and undergraduate degrees in Comedy Filmmaking. Its Master’s in Screenwriting with a Concentration in Comedy is the first and only degree of its kind. Aimed at nourishing new comedic perspectives, courses are hosted at both The Second City and DePaul University. DePaul is also renowned for its access to impressive production facilities, most notably the 32,000-square-foot production facility Cinespace Studios.
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) – Outstanding screenwriting training
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) – Outstanding documentary training
Non-fiction storytelling is a priority at Northwestern University. Its relatively new MFA in Documentary Media program is a six-course study plan that embraces hybrid experimentation and encourages participants to look beyond traditional narrative formulas. Each graduate student receives $5,000 to help finance a thesis project, and students are also guaranteed an assistantship position for one academic quarter. Seasoned documentarian and cinematographer J.P. Sniadecki (The Iron Ministry, El Mar La Mar) serves as the program director.
Continue for the U.S. Southeast selections of our Best Film Schools in the U.S. & Canada, 2020