Top 5 Film Schools in the U.S. Image

A degree can put you a step ahead in any industry. Attending a film school positions students to create some of the most memorable movies and television series of the future; the skills you acquire will lay the groundwork you need to become a master, and you’ll be well-equipped to land a higher paying position immediately following graduation. Knowing which school to go to, however, is the biggest question aspiring filmmakers have in their early careers. Although you may not be in the industry yet, this is the start of your entire future. These are the top five schools to consider for your film degree. Even if you don’t wind up attending one of them, they’ll give you a good idea on what to look for in a top-level program and help you make the right decision for your education.

The price of a degree might be invaluable, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to talk numbers. One of the biggest deterrents for film school for many students is the cost and potential student debt. One of the most accessible and easy way to pay for school aside from scholarships is through student loans. There are both federal and private options, and it’s wise to explore both before signing on the dotted line. A private loan is often preferred by students who take a more flexible career path. Rather than being locked in to a federal plan, you get to explore multiple loan options from various lenders and choose one that works for both who you are now and who you’ll become in the future. 

The American Film Institute

The AFI has been a staple in filmmaking since 1967. It has pioneered a wide variety of programs throughout the nation and established itself as a leader in the art of visual storytelling education. Rather than teach people strictly technical skills, AFI’s programs are rooted in the shaping of character, teaching people how to bring stories alive on the screen and leave their audience with a lasting memory that can even become life-changing.


The School of Cinematic Arts offers a host of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs to pursue your dream. Specializations include animation, cinema & media studies, film & television production, writing for film and TV and more. The school prides itself on giving its students a multifaceted experience, crossing paths with both industry leaders and newcomers to create a well-rounded perspective.


You can’t think of American film-making and not imagine learning in Hollywood. UCLA’s film school was the first to ever combine theater, film and television into a single organization. You can earn your BA in film, study theater, costume design or digital media with plenty of hands-on training and interdisciplinary opportunity.


Second only to California for its role in film and television, New York is a mecca of inspiration and opportunity. Artists of NYU’s Kanbar Institute of Film & Television will become part of a collective body of staff, students and professionals who make over 5,000 movies every single year. The school emphasizes community and collective learning, which gives students a place to develop and shape their unique voices through shared experiences with peers and mentors.

California Institute of the Arts

The CalArts School of Film and Video covers everything from artwork to production. The curriculum is grounded in shaping artistry through a variety of interactive skills. Students are taught not only how to make media according to the leading industry standards but also how to produce their own highly unique narrative. The school currently offers designated degree programs in character animation, experimental animation, film & video and film directing.

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