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10 Best Film Schools You Need To Consider For Your Career Path

If you have an interest in being a part of the next big movie or television series, then majoring in film may be the best option. The film major is popular, and it may become overwhelming to decide between some of the best film schools in the world.

If you think about it, our obsession with movies is everywhere. Every year, there are awards shows for the best movies. We devote our Saturday nights to go to the movie theater. There are careers built on reviewing movies, like Rotten Tomatoes, various blogs, and even podcasts devoted to talking about the hottest movie. It’s not surprising that there are so many resources for those interested in working in film and television. That’s why we will discuss the best film schools based on their key features, notable alumni, tuition, and location.

Best Film Schools FAQ

students in a shooting place working for their project

What Are Considered Best Film Schools?

Which Classes Will You Take?

Where Can You Attend Film School?

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get?

How We Reviewed

one of the buildings of the best film schools

Choosing the right school is important—and that’s why we created a list of the top 10 best film schools in the United States and reviewed them based on each school’s key features, notable alumni, location, and tuition.

Overall Tuition Range of the Best Film Schools in the U.S.

magnificent building of the Best Film School in the U.S.

Though we will discuss tuition for each school, we know that the cost of school can be a heavy burden on today’s students. These schools range from about $25,000 per year to $60,000 per year. If these numbers sound a little overwhelming, don’t forget that there is always a chance to apply for a scholarship or apply for other kinds of financial aid.

What We Reviewed

film student taking videos of a runner in a race track
  • USC’s School of Cinematic Arts
  • Vanderbilt University
  • American Film Institute
  • CalArts School of Film and Video
  • New York University
  • Chapman University
  • The University of Chicago
  • Toronto Film School
  • London Film School
  • Wesleyan University

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts campus

Located near Hollywood, USC’s school of cinematic arts offers some state-of-the-art facilities, where they offer an IMAX theater and a research lab. USC also receives millions of dollars per year in donations from prospective Hollywood artists like George Lucas. This university is ranked as our number 1 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Ron Howard, filmmaker, director, and actor
  • George Lucas, writer for Star Wars
  • Robert Zemeckis, writer for Back to the Future

Location

University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is located in Los Angeles, California.

Tuition

As an undergraduate, you can expect a tuition of about $53,000. As a graduate student, you can expect a tuition of about $33,000 to $48,000. There may also be additional fees for equipment use.

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Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University field campus

Vanderbilt University holds a steady rank in America’s top 20 private universities. The interdisciplinary film program offers one of the best film school educations–teaching students about the cultural, historical, theoretical, and aesthetic aspects of the entire field. This university is ranked as our number 2 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • James Patterson, writer, producer, and filmmaker
  • Edward Kerr, actor on Pretty Little Liars
  • Zhubin Parang, head writer for The Daily Show

Location

Vanderbilt University is located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuition

An undergraduate student can expect to pay about $44,000 per year.

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American Film Institute

American Film Institute campus

The American Film Institute is unlike other universities. This school is a non-profit organization that works to educate filmmakers while honoring the heritage and history of movie-making. The dean of the American Film Institute is the famous and Oscar-nominated producer, Richard Gladstein. This university is ranked as our number 3 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Patty Jenkins, filmmaker, and director of Wonder Woman
  • Frank Mourris, film animator for Frank Film
  • Sam Esmail, filmmaker, and director

Location

American Film Institute is located in Los Angeles, California.

Tuition

For an undergraduate student’s first year, tuition is about $48,000. For a student’s second year, the tuition increases to about $60,000.

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C​alArts School of Film and Video

CalArts School of Film and Video campus

CalArts, otherwise known as the California Institute of the Arts, was founded by Walt Disney. CalArts is one of the best film schools to learn animation. Famous filmmakers and directors who have worked on some of the most well-known Disney and Pixar movies (Zootopia, Despicable Me, Fantasia) speak highly of this institute. This university is ranked as our number 4 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Tim Burton, writer, director, and filmmaker of The Nightmare Before Christmas and other films
  • John Lasseter, director, and screenwriter of Toy Story and other Disney-Pixar films
  • Brad Bird, animation director, voice actor, and screenwriter of The Incredibles and other animated films

Location

The California Institute of Arts is located in Valencia, California.

Tuition

The tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students is about $48,000. Tuition is different for graduate students pursuing a degree in aesthetics and politics.

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New Y​ork University

New York University campus

New York University’s Kanbar Institute of Film and Television is a prestigious program within NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2017, six alumni members from the Tisch School of the Arts were nominated for an Oscar. This university is ranked as our number 5 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Vince Gilligan, creator of AMC’s Breaking Bad
  • Martin Scorsese, filmmaker, director, and screenwriter
  • Rachel Morrison, cinematographer for Marvel’s Black Panther

Location

New York University and the Tisch School of Arts is located in New York, New York. There is also a second Tisch campus in Singapore.

Tuition

For all students, no matter what program, tuition is about $26,000. However, students can expect to pay additional fees of about $2,000 for registration per term and additional units.

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Chapman University

Chapman University building

Chapman University’s film school gives undergraduate students the opportunity to learn about filmmaking in specialized subjects. Some of the film program’s focuses include Digital Arts, Film Production, and Television Writing. It is a wonderful program for recent high school graduates who know what niche they want to specialize in before entering college. This university is ranked as our number 6 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Justin Simien, creator of Netflix’s Dear White People
  • Darren Bunkley, producer of The Amazing Race
  • Colin Hanks, actor, and director

Location

Chapman University is located in Orange County, California, about 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles.

Tuition

An undergraduate student can expect a tuition of about $47,000.

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The University of Chicago

The University of Chicago campus

The University of Chicago has over 80 Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners among its faculty and students. The university also has a film history dating back to the late 1800s when the school provided one of the first-ever public viewings of motion pictures. This university is ranked as our number 7 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Bernie Sanders, politician
  • Anna Chlumsky, actress
  • Roger Ebert, film critic

Location

The University of Chicago is located in Chicago, Illinois.

Tuition

An undergraduate student can expect a tuition of about $51,000.

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Toronto Film School

Toronto Film School building

Toronto Film School is one of the best film schools, but we had to go all the way to Canada. Toronto Film School programs usually take one to two years to complete, and all students graduate with a diploma. This institution is a great way to start your film career and build on your requirements. This university is ranked as our number 8 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Kyle Reaume, actor, writer, and director
  • Gabriel Darku, actor
  • Zahra Faraji, screenwriter, and filmmaker

Location

Toronto Film School is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tuition

For one year at the Toronto Film School, a student can expect a tuition of about $16,955. For an 18-month program, the tuition goes up to $24,000.

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London Film School

London Film School campus

London Film School is only open to postgraduates looking to pursue their master’s degree or a PhD. The London Film school has been named as one of the best three film academies in the country by the UK governmental agency, Creative Skillset. This university is ranked as our number 9 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Boaz Davidson, director, writer, and producer
  • Tak Fujimoto, director of photography for Star Wars and other films
  • Hauke Richter, art director for Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, and other television

Location

London Film School is located in London, England, United Kingdom.

Tuition

For the two-year program, students can expect a tuition of about $78,000. There is an additional Visa Administration Fee of $280 for international students.

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Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University campus

Wesleyan University offers its student the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, which gives students access to a range of historical documents. Scholars, biographers, and media experts use documents like these all around the world for reference. This university is ranked as our number 10 pick on our list of best film schools.

Successful Alumni

  • Michael Bay, director
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, playwright, director, and producer
  • Joss Whedon, screenwriter

Location

Wesleyan University is located in Middletown, Connecticut.

Tuition

An undergraduate student can expect a tuition of about $52,000.

More Info

The Verdict

film stuff talking and working about their film shoots

Today, we discussed what can be expected of a film major, what kinds of careers can stem from an education in film, and the best film schools to attend if you are serious about starting your film career. At the end of the key feature descriptions, we ranked each university out of 10 spots.

The best film school is the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts. With highly appraised alumni, this school receives millions of dollars of donations per year and is constantly updating its world-class film and research facilities. In downtown Los Angeles, we love that this university is so close to Hollywood where there is boundless opportunity for filmmakers and related fields alike.

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