U.S. Northeast


Boston University

Boston University’s Film and Television program in the College of Communication is all about versatility, turning its students into Swiss Army knives capable of producing incredible works of art. Case in point: both Safdie brothers are alumni. Students can expect a broad foundation, with an opportunity to choose a focus on Production, Screenwriting, Film and Television Studies or Management/Producing. Boston was the number five big city on our 2022 list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker, so students can easily find opportunities to gain experience on films shooting on location. Major recent projects have included Don’t Look Up, but students can also stay on campus and hone their skills at the student-operated station, butv10, or the in-house, student-run agency, Hothouse Productions.


Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema

(Brooklyn College/CUNY)

The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema will soon begin its seventh year — situated within the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Steiner Studios, making it the only film school in America on a working film lot. Many students in the program grew up in New York City and can take advantage of the $10,567 per semester tuition, in addition to scholarships. The school’s executive director is Richard Gladstein, the former dean of the AFI Conservatory and twice Academy Award-nominated producer who famously helped discover Quentin Tarantino and produced his debut Reservoir Dogs, as well as Pulp Fiction and several others from Tarantino, along with hits including The Bourne Identity and The Cider House Rules. “We like new talent. We like nurturing new voices,” says Gladstein. Students in the graduate program will make at least four films while they are enrolled. History and criticism are integral to the program, but the education is primarily hands-on production. Feirstein has first-rate camera, grip and electric gear, four sound stages, construction equipment, seven Avid Everywhere post-production suites, DaVinci Resolve color grading suites, as well as 5.1 sound mixing and recording studios. Its advisory counsel and mentors to the students include John Turturro, Stephen Daldry, Stephen Soderbergh and Randall Poster.


Columbia University

(New York City)

Columbia is sometimes called “the story school” because of its intense focus on story. “We believe this ‘future-proofs’ our students, because storytelling skills are endlessly adaptable, and forever in demand,” says Film chair Jack Lechner. “They can be scaled down to a web series, or scaled up to a studio tentpole movie or streaming series.” The Film MFA offers a Creative Producing track that lasts three years and a Screenwriting/Directing track that lasts three or four, and students take first-year classes together and eventually work together on projects. Robust industry outreach and mentorship programs connect Columbia students and graduates with alums, as well as filmmakers, producers, executives, agents and managers.


Dartmouth College

(Hanover, New Hampshire)

Dartmouth, which counts Shonda Rhimes and Mindy Kaling among its alums, takes an unsurprisingly intellectual approach to the study of film. Its department of Film & Media Studies embraces a diversity statement that calls “cinema itself a colonial construct,” and vows to “contribute to an equitable and just world.” It also describes Film and Media Studies as “particularly key to contemporary social change,” noting movies’ history of perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and powerful potential to correct them. New Hampshire is a lovely place for introspection and deep study, but students can also get a taste of the film industry up close and personal with a Los Angeles study program that offers them work experience and research opportunities. 


Emerson College


Emerson is extremely internship-focused and encourages students to focus on extracurriculars and independent filmmaking. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in film, sound design, and writing for film and television, among other media disciplines, and many Emerson professors currently work in their fields, giving students the benefit of learning the most up-to-date practices being used in the industry today. Additionally, students can submit to the student-exclusive Emerson Film Festival, and the school offers state-of-the-art filming equipment. Though based in Boston, Emerson has a thriving Los Angeles program in which seniors live at Emerson’s Hollywood campus and take classes while doing internships. Many then find industry jobs through the vast alumni network playfully known as the Emerson Mafia.


New York University

We don’t have to tell you that NYU, located in bustling Greenwich Village, is one of the top film schools in the world: NYU Tisch School of the Arts graduates include Joel Coen, Spike Lee, and 2021 Best Director winner Chloé Zhao, whose Nomadland won Best Picture. Lee is now an NYU professor. Offering a film and TV program for both undergrads and grad students, NYU trains filmmakers not just to make films, but to stand out. Faculty, staff and students produce over 5,000 films a year. In the graduate program, students participate in an intensive three-year conservatory that focuses on storytelling and helping writer-directors develop their voices along with technical skills. 


Rhode Island School of Design

(Providence, Rhode Island)

This school where Gus Van Sant and Seth Macfarlane earned their BFAs offers students a Film/Animation/Video curriculum in live action, animation, or a combination of the two, and encourages students to work across genres and mediums. You can thank RISD not only for the creator of The Family Guy and its many offshoots, but also for much of the look and feel of The Simpsons — RISD graduates were crucial to the development and evolution of Springfield. Speaking of towns we love, Providence is a terrific place to learn, and regularly turns up on our annual list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker


Syracuse University

(Syracuse, New York)

The BFA in Film degree at Syracuse University emphasizes original thought and independent film, with a special emphasis on aesthetics. The Department of Film and Media Arts teaches students to think clearly, critically, and skillfully as they learn scriptwriting, budgeting, pre-production directing, sound design, and 2D and 3D animation, among other disciplines. The Syracuse International Film Festival provides students opportunities to work and network with industry professionals, and the school offers off-campus learning programs in Los Angeles, as well as Prague, Czech Republic, and Bologna, Italy. 


Wesleyan University 

(Middletown, Connecticut)

About two hours from New York City, this prestigious Connecticut school really knows its movie history. Its College of Film and the Moving Image includes the Department of Film Studies, Jeanine Basinger Center for Film Studies, and the Ogden and Mary Louise Reid Cinema Archives. CFILM cares deeply about not just making films, but understanding and preserving film history, and supports that goal with a major and minor in film studies, an elementary school outreach program, and a deep emphasis on historical and cultural analysis. The Basinger Center includes the student-run Wesleyan Film Series, which programs films for four nights of every week school is in session. The Reid Cinema Archives, meanwhile, contains a plethora of primary historical records, serving as the main repository for documents about Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Ingrid Bergman, Raoul Walsh, Gene Tierney, Kay Francis, and more. Also, recent graduate Jack Fessenden, director of Foxhole,  took part in this recent MovieMaker panel discussion with four filmmakers ages 18-22 on the future of film.

U.S. Southeast


Florida State University, College of Motion Picture Arts 

(Tallahassee, Florida)

FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts offers both a BFA and MFA in motion picture arts, with program offerings in production, animation and digital arts, writing, as well as a film studies minor. The college also features the Torchlight Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, designed to supplement students’ education by teaching them about emerging business practices of the industry. Students involved in the Torchlight Center program can take coursework in movie financing, distribution, and marketing, and then intern to gain real-world experience. Through Torchlight, students have helped present, market, publicize, promote and distribute films including Sex Ed, The Debt, Cold Water, and more. FSU is also focused on building up Florida’s film community, using the Torchlight Center to encourage faculty to produce their projects in Tallahassee. The College of Motion Picture Arts boasts that 100% of student films get funding, and touts its 5:1 student faculty ratio.

Best Film Schools Full Sail

In March, Full Sail University opened its new on-campus virtual production studio, Studio V1. Photo courtesy of Full Sail University.


Full Sail University 

(Winter Park, Florida)

Full Sail University has over 40 years of experience in-person and online in shaping the next generation of creators. Its accelerated degree programs allow undergraduate students to earn their degree in 20 months, and graduate students to earn their degree in a year. Degree program offerings include the Film Production MFA, Film Bachelors, Digital Cinematography Bachelors, and Computer Animation Bachelors. Through a program called Project LaunchBox, students receive exactly what they need to create and build their portfolios. The equipment and software in Project LaunchBox is unique to each degree program and reflects ever-changing industrial standards. The university’s campus is equipped with a Hollywood-style backlot, dubbing stage, production studios and more. Additionally, in March, Full Sail opened one of the first, largest and most technologically advanced virtual production studios on any university campus — Studio students to gain real world industry knowledge utilizing the latest technology, while also attracting professional projects to the region,” says Rick Ramsey, Full Sail’s education director of Visual Arts. 


Ringling College of Art and Design 

(Sarasota, Florida)

Undergraduate students at Ringling get to choose between two paths: Narrative or Branded Entertainment. Narrative focuses on the storytelling aspect of filmmaking and how it leads to the visual evolution of a movie, with students learning about each step of the production process, including screenwriting, cinematography, directing, editing, production design and producing. The Branded Entertainment path is for those interested in video production and content creation, focusing on how to engage the audience’s passions with high-quality, dynamic content. Ringling’s campus boasts an 8,400 square foot soundstage, and students get down to business quickly, creating three to five films in their first year of school. They’ll also have the chance to work with industry leaders and make connections with Ringling alumni who have gone on to find careers at Netflix, Comedy Central, MTV and NBC. 

Best Film Schools SCAD

Behind the scenes of Cinco De Mayo Is Not a Thing, a web series created by Mariana Gomez Ruiz, an Atlanta SCAD student from Mexico CityPhoto courtesy of SCAD, one of our Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada.


Savannah College of Art and Design 

(Savannah, Georgia)

“Savannah is a city built for film,” says Andra Reeve-Rabb, dean at the School of Entertainment Arts at SCAD. The picturesque community looks like a living film set, and has stood in for countless other great cities and towns. It’s also home to the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, a major Hollywood destination on the awards campaign trail. It puts students front and center and places great emphasis on helping them learn from visiting A-listers. For example, director Barry Jenkins attended the festival in 2018, and the following summer he filmed his Amazon series The Underground Railroad in Savannah, hiring 70 SCAD students and alumni. SCAD offers a rolling admission process because the school is a large, fine-tuned machine, running at the speed of Hollywood. The program’s motto is “We learn by doing,” and it delivers with excellent production spaces, VR stages, and technology. Recent award winners include Emily Dillard and Nicola Rinciari, 2020 B.F.A. recipients in film and television whose Our Side won a College Television Awards Emmy in the scripted series category. And since 2015, Savannah has been consistently ranked as one of the top four smaller cities and towns on our annual list of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker.

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