Top US Film Schools

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Here is a list of the top US Film Schools, many of which have now legendary alumni and equipment to rival Hollywood studios! Clicking on the School website image for each will take you directly to their website. Click here for Top 10 UK Film Schools.

1. University of Southern California


Location: Los Angeles, CA

Choice of Courses: Excellent

Animation & Digital Arts

Interactive Media

Film & TV Production

Producing Program


Facilities: Excellent

Their production facilities are used by students who produce the equivalent of 250 hours of film, television and interactive projects each year, nearly equal to the output of any major studio!

Notable Alumni

Ron Howard, Jon Landau, George Lucas

Best Features

This is one of the best Film Schools in the world, generous donors from legendary alumni enable it to afford cutting edge equipment and facilities. The school is in the heartland of Hollywood and has great industry links. 

Tuition: $45,602 undergraduate; $71,896 two-year master’s; $84,968 three-year master’s




2. American Film Institute


Location: Los Angeles, CA


Choice of Courses: Very Good

The school operates as a conservatory rather than a standard university.






Production Design


Facilities: Excellent

The school boasts some of the world’s best facilities.


Notable Alumni

Darren Aronofsky, David Lynch, Terrence Malick


Best Features

Strong industry links, excellent facilities and industry-wide respect make this school one of the top in the world. 


Tuition: $43,904 first year; $52,509 second year




3. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts


Location: New York

Choice of Courses: Ok

They have an undergrad and graduate course in Film

Undergraduate Film & Television

Graduate Film

Facilities: Good

The facility is run by 11 full-time staff members and over 50 technical assistants that are both technically and professionally trained in many technical and aesthetic aspects of film production. The equipment packages vary by level of study (fundamental through advanced/thesis), and are available to students enrolled in production courses.

Postproduction: Approximately 150 workstations

Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, or Pro Tools (or combinations of all three applications) and are available in various configurations: multi-station computer labs; single station edit suites; ADR, Foley, Mix & Recording studios; dubbing/duplication facilities; film & video screening rooms; Sound FX stations, etc.)

The Todman Center offers casting, rehearsal and shooting rooms, as well as a 2,500 square foot film and television sound stage that includes 108 channel dimmable lighting grid, a full compliment of professional lighting/grip equipment, an 80’LFx14’H white cyclorama and surrounding drapes in both black and digital green.

Notable Alumni

Joel Coen, Charlie Kaufman


Best Features

The school has a solid reputation and courses are taught by industry veterans (Spike Lee is Artistic Director).

Tuition: $49,237 undergraduate; $50,632 graduate



4. UCLA – University of California, Los Angeles


Location: Los Angeles, CA


Choice of Courses: Excellent


A number of undergraduate and graduate degrees available.


Film & Television Major/Minor

Animation MFA

Cinematography MFA

Producers Programs MFA

Production/Directing MFA

Screenwriting MFA

Facilities: Excellent

First class facilities here. Check out their website for full details of this.

State-of-the-art tools, technology and equipment rivaling any professional studio, production house or Broadway stage. From the best film and digital cameras to classic film and TV soundstages and a real working back lot, to high-end mixing and scoring stages and the finest post-production editing suites and facilities.

2 major working theaters including the 567-seat Freud Playhouse, fantastic rehearsal spaces, and professional costume, scenic and prop shops on campus. We also have cutting-edge research labs such as REMAP and the Walter Lantz Digital Animation Lab that help define where the digital future is going.

Notable Alumni

Dustin Lance Black, Jack Black, Shane Black, Tim Robbins, George Takei

Best Features

Top facilities and industry clout make this a strong option for a filmmakers school of choice.


Tuition: $23,748 to $29,295 undergraduate ($46,626 to $52,173 out-of-state); $15,288 graduate ($30,390 out-of-state)





5. CalArts – California Institute of the Arts


Location: California

Choice of Courses: Good


Film & Video BFA, MFA

Experimental Animation BFA, MFA

Character Animation BFA only

Film Directing MFA only


Facilities:  Excellent


Permanent Set: The 125-seat Bijou Theater is CalArts’ main screening facility. It features a high-quality video projector and both 16mm and 35-mm Xenon projectors as well as DVD, laserdisc, DVCAM, Betacam SP, 3/4-inch and VHS equipment


The Louis B. Mayer Permanent Set, 35-foot by 39-foot interior set with simulated backdrops for backyard and patio.

Black-and-White Studio: A 39-foot by 47-foot space, the Black-and-White Studio is outfitted with a permanent hard cyclorama.


Film Directing Studio: measuring 39 feet by 36 feet. Equipment includes two digital video camera packages with full sound and lighting support, a Fisher camera dolly

Video Studio, Videographics Lab and Telecine: a multiple camera soundstage with light grid and a control room in which students acquire video images and sound. It features a 40-foot by 45-foot live shooting space with digital key green and black cycloramas and, when needed for full green-screen work, portable green flooring. In addition to lights hung from the grid, there are Fresnel lens and Softlight instruments on rolling stands, and an array of grip equipment.

The Video Studio’s production control room is built around a Grass Valley video switcher and a Soundcraft audio mixer, while the master control room houses an audio/video router and electronics for the switchers, effects generators, and central video and timecode patching systems. In addition, a Videographics Lab features both analog and digital video synthesizers, a Grass Valley switcher, an ADO digital video effects unit and industrial black-and-white and color cameras.

Macintosh workstations using Final Cut Pro allow for data capture and output of HD and SD uncompressed and DV and DVCAM formats.

The Telecine Room in this facility is used to make non-sync transfers from 16mm film, Super 8 film and 35mm slides to DV, Digital Betacam, Betacam SP and other video formats.

Animation Studios: pencil test systems with Video LunchBox digital frame buffers for quick testing of drawings for immediate feedback for motion and timing.

Downshooters with attached DSLRs cameras and two Oxberry camera stands for single-frame shooting, equipped with 16mm, 35mm or DSLR camera bodies.

The school provides three stop-motion shooting studios with lighting grids and an additional studio equipped with a computerized motion-control camera stand.

Notable Alumni

Tim Burton, Brad Bird, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton


Best Features

Outstanding facilities and good choice of courses.


Tuition: $39,976 undergraduate




6. Columbia University School of Arts


Location: New York

Choice of Courses: Ok



Creative Producing


Facilities: Ok


The only reason I have given “Ok” is because details on the facilities and equipment were not readily available from the school website. I would suggest you request this, however Columbia is one of the top schools in the country and I’m sure the facilities will be more than satisfactory.


Notable Alumni

Writers Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph), Simon Kinberg (This Means War) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph), director Greg Mottola (Superbad)


Best Features

At first glance the choice of courses may seem limited, however I do think it provides for a well-rounded storyteller. It’s a good move combining screenwriting with directing, many filmmakers wish to study both and this is one of the few schools that offer that opportunity. Also the school offers an internship program as part of the course. 

Tuition: MFA $51,674 a year for first two years; $4,268 for third year




7. Loyola Marymount University


Location: Los Angeles, CA

Choice of Courses: Ok



Production (Film & TV)

Feature Film Screenwriting

Creating, Writing, & Producing for TV


Facilities: Ok 

Again I could not find much detailed information on the facilities and equipment here. It’s best to request a brochure.

Notable Alumni

Writer Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games sequels), writer-producer David Mirkin (The Simpsons) 

Best Features

The courses though limited in choice offer great depth, some like the course in Creating, Writing, & Producing for TV leave each student with a portfolio of pilots including a web episode and a trailer for a TV pilot. 

Tuition: $37,605 undergraduate; $1,020 per unit graduate




8. Boston University


Location: Boston, MA

 Choice of Courses: Ok



Film Production

Media Ventures



Facilities: Ok

Detailed information on the facilities and equipment were not readily available. It’s best to request a brochure.

Notable Alumni

Producer Bonnie Arnold (How to Train Your Dragon), producer Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland), producer Debbie Liebling (Comedy Central/South Park)

Best Features

The Media Ventures course is available as a dual MBA for the enterprising producer or film executive types.

Tuition: $43,970 graduate



9. Art Center College of Design


Location: Pasadena, CA

Choice of Courses: Limited 

Graduate Film 

Facilities: Very Good 

The facilities are too extensive to list but as part of the course you will become RED certified in order to use those cameras.

Notable Alumni

Directors Michael Bay and Tarsem Singh 

Best Features

This is by far one of the most all rounder courses available. Best for the filmmaker that doesn’t wish to specialize just yet but wants a good overall knowledge of the filmmaking process, from pitching a script, to setting up lights, this course has it all. 

Tuition: $35,980 undergraduate; $38,026 graduate



10. FSU – Florida State University

florida sta

Location: Tallahassee, Florida

Choice of Courses: Good

BFA Animation & Digital Arts

BFA Production

MFA Production

MFA Writing

Facilities: Excellent

Super-16 and 35mm production equipment to RED Mysterium X and RED EPIC cameras, including grip and camera trucks.

Postproduction: a tapeless workflow supported by a SAN (storage area network) on a fiber optic infrastructure in a Mac OSX environment.

Students have 24-hour access to 15 client-based editing suites running Adobe Creative Suite version 6.x and Steinberg Nuendo 5.x software.  Additionally, select suites are outfitted with DaVinici Resolve 9 for finishing.  Other facilities include two soundstages, two HD screening stages, two 5.1 rerecoding stages, an ADR/Foley stage and a visual effects lab supporting Nuke, Mari and the Adobe Creative Suite.

Visual Effects Lab: professional applications such as Shake, Maya, Photoshop, Boujou, After Effects and many others.

The lab features five fully outfitted QuadCore G5 workstations, networked with the post facility’s optic fiber network and with more than 4.2 terabytes of additional dedicated storage.

Sound Stages: two soundstages (A and B)

Mixing: two re-recording stages (mix theaters A and B) for the completion of student works.

These are fully automated mixing facilities featuring WK Audio control surfaces on Nuendo editing/mixing systems.

Student productions are prepared and mixed to accepted Dolby Digital specifications.

Notable Alumni: Marvel senior vp production and development Stephen Broussard, Participant Media executive vp production Jonathan King

Best Features

The school has brilliant equipment and facilities and a good choice of course. 

Tuition: $ 25,896 undergraduate ($86,117 out-of-state)




11. Wesleyan University


Location: Middletown, Connecticut

Choice of Courses: Limited


All film majors study the motion picture in a unified manner, combining historical, formal, and cultural analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels in 16mm film, digital video, and virtual formats. Unique emphasis is placed on the study of the medium, its industry, aesthetics, and technology. 

Film Studies 

Facilities: Ok

Detailed information on the facilities and equipment were not readily available. It’s best to request a brochure.

Notable Alumni

Matthew Weiner, Joss Whedon

Best Features

The course seems to give a good all round overview of filmmaking. With specific models ranging from Advanced filmmaking to Writing for Television. 

Tuition: $46,674 undergraduate


12. Rhode Island School of Design


Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Choice of Courses: Limited

BFA Film/Animation/Video

Facilities: Good

Apple workstations for post-production. These stations have an installed base of the Adobe Production Suite, Autodesk Maya, Pro Tools, Final Cut, Avid, and an assortment of specialized animation software.

16mm film cameras, HDV camcorders, DSLRs and image scanners. Underlit drawing tables are available for hand drawn sequences. FAV maintains animation stand studios, stop action animation studios, and two large studios for green screen and black out shooting.

Film editing is done on Steenbecks. Digital Film and video is edited in private rooms or in our 14 station lab 

Notable Alumni

Cinematographer Robert Richardson (Hugo), director Gus Van Sant

 Best Features

The school offers good facilities. 

Tuition:$42,622 undergraduate

See Top 10 UK Film Schools here

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