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Top 15 Best Colleges for Film Majors

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Film majors in college learn about the history of film, how to analyze films, and how to produce their own original media. The major is perfect for students with a penchant for both creating art and studying the humanities. 


Graduates of Film Studies are well-equipped to create innovative media (individually, or as a team) and see long-term projects through to fruition. The major also prepares them to write clearly, think analytically, and conduct research. For that reason, Film majors not only go on to careers in the film sector, but also other fields involving media, such as marketing, business, and design.


In this post, we’ll be sharing the top 15 best colleges for film majors, why their film departments stand out, and what it takes to get into these schools. See the complete list of top schools for film.


Top 15 Best Colleges for Film Majors


Click on the school to jump to a description of its film department. Keep in mind that this admissions data is for the entire university, and that stats may be different for colleges within each university (if applicable).


School Name Location Acceptance Rate (2019) Middle 50% SAT Scores Middle 50% ACT Scores
1. University of Southern California (USC) Los Angeles, CA 11.4% 1270-1490 28-34
2. UCLA Los Angeles, CA 12.3% 1290-1510 27-34
3. Chapman University Orange, CA 53.6% (2018) 1190-1380 25-31
4. New York University (NYU) New York, NY 15% (2020) 1350-1530 30-34
5. Wesleyan University Middletown, CT 19.8% (2020) 1450-1560 33-35
6. UT Austin Austin, TX 31.8% 1170-1400 27-33
7. Columbia University New York, NY 5.3% 1480-1560 33-35
8. ArtCenter College of Design Pasadena, CA 58% (2018) 1216 (average) N/A
9. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Providence, RI 20% 1343 (average) N/A
10. Ringling College of Art and Design Sarasota, FL 67% N/A N/A
11. Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 50% (2018) 1270 (average) 28 (average)
12. Emerson College Boston, MA 35.6% (2018) 1220-1380 27-31
13. Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 43.8% 1250-1400 27-31
14. University of North Carolina School of the Arts Winston-Salem, NC 38.2% (2018) 1090-1280 22-28
15. California College of the Arts Oakland, CA 88% N/A N/A

View more top schools for film majors


1. University of Southern California (USC)

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Acceptance Rate: 11.4%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 19,907

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1270-1490 SAT, 28-34 ACT


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is divided into seven divisions, allowing students to focus on:


  • Animation & digital art
  • Cinema & media studies
  • Film & television production
  • Interactive media & games
  • Media arts + practice
  • Producing
  • Writing for screen & television
  • Business of cinematic arts


The school offers B.A. or B.F.A. degrees in nearly all of the divisions, minus Producing (it’s a graduate program only). The USC School of Cinematic Arts is the only media school in the world to offer programs in all major components of cinematic arts. Students take courses across all seven divisions, and get to work hands-on in their specific fields of interest.


Learn more about USC and what it takes to get accepted.


2. University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA)

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Acceptance Rate: 12.3%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 31,577

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1290-1510 SAT, 27-34 ACT


The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television offers a B.A. in Film and Television. Students will receive a liberal arts education, along with taking courses in cinema and media studies, production, and film and television craft. In their senior year, Film and Television majors focus on their area of specialty, from directing to animation. As part of their degree, they must also complete an internship as an upperclassman.


Learn more about UCLA and what it takes to get accepted.


3. Chapman University

Location: Orange, CA

Acceptance Rate: 53.6% (2018)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 7,281

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1190-1380 SAT, 25-31 ACT


The Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts offers a highly-respected B.A. in Film Studies, among many other film- and media-related programs. Film majors at Chapman will study film history, genres, and diversity in the industry. They will learn to analyze films using classical and contemporary theory, and produce high-quality research papers. 


Learn more about Chapman University and what it takes to get accepted.


4. New York University (NYU)

Location: New York, NY

Acceptance Rate: 15% (2020)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 26,733

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1350-1530 SAT, 30-34 ACT


NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts has one of the most prestigious film programs, and its alumni have many impressive accomplishments, from directing The Handmaid’s Tale to Harry Potter to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Students in the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television will gain a liberal arts education along with their specialized film instruction. Interested students may also apply for the dual degree (B.S. in Business and B.F.A. in Film and Television) offered by Tisch and NYU’s highly-selective Stern School of Business.


Learn more about NYU and what it takes to get accepted.


5. Wesleyan University

Location: Middletown, CT

Acceptance Rate: 19.8% (2020)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 3,009

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1450-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Wesleyan University is a liberal arts college with an open curriculum, meaning that there are no required courses outside of your major. To be eligible for the Film Studies major at Wesleyan, you must take two prerequisite courses and get a B+ or higher. The major is interdisciplinary, and involves history, analysis, and production. Students of the College of Film and Moving Image also have access to the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, the Wesleyan Film Series, and the Filmmaking Club.


Learn more about Wesleyan University and what it takes to get accepted.


6. The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)

Location: Austin, TX

Acceptance Rate: 31.8%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 40,804

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1170-1400 SAT, 27-33 ACT


*UT Austin admissions data varies a lot by in-state/out-of-state applicants, and whether applicants are guaranteed admits.*


The Moody College of Communications at UT Austin is ranked the #2 public film school by The Hollywood Reporter. It offers a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film, where undergraduates participate in major film festivals, conduct media studies research, and participate in internships with large production companies. Alumni go on to not only work in the film industry, but also other media sectors, like app development and game design.


Learn more about UT Austin and what it takes to get accepted.


7. Columbia University

Location: New York, NY

Acceptance Rate: 5.3%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 8,216

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT


Film Studies majors at Columbia can expect a curriculum that is “scholarly, international in scope, and writing-intensive.” Students will be exposed to the technology, art, and cultural significance of the field. They’ll have the chance to participate in internships with film companies, join the Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions, and work on graduate student films. 


Learn more about Columbia University and what it takes to get accepted.

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8. ArtCenter College of Design

Location: Pasadena, CA

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 2,008

Average SAT Score: 1216


Film students at the ArtCenter College of Design have access to the latest technology and tools at the college’s facilities in LA. Students receive foundational instruction in film before going on to specialize in cinematography, editing, or directing. During the program, students are given the chance to write and direct a film, and develop a reel of original work.


Learn more about ArtCenter College of Design and what it takes to get accepted.


9. Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Location: Providence, RI

Acceptance Rate: 20%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 1,994

Average SAT Score: 1343


RISD offers a B.F.A in Film/Animation/Video that exposes students to the basics of the field through a series of shorter projects. Students then go on to focus on live action, animation, or open media, all while working on more intricate projects involving skills from interactive programming to character design. RISD students have the added benefit of attending a college right next to Ivy League Brown, where they can cross-register for courses.


Learn more about RISD and what it takes to get accepted.


10. Ringling College of Art and Design

Location: Sarasota, FL

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 1,561

Average SAT/ACT Score: N/A


Ringling College of Art and Design offers a B.F.A in Film that teaches students not only the technical aspects of filmmaking, but also the art of telling engaging stories. Film majors can choose from two areas of focus: Narrative and Branded Entertainment. The Narrative emphasis is more centered on the art of filmmaking, while the Branded Entertainment emphasis prepares students for the marketing/business side of film along with producing media.


11. Syracuse University

Location: Syracuse, NY

Acceptance Rate: 50% (2018)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 15,226

Average SAT/ACT Score: 1270 SAT, 28 ACT


Film majors at Syracuse have access to faculty who have premiered films at prestigious festivals around the world. Students are offered a wide variety of unique opportunities, including the Syracuse International Film festival, domestic exchange programs in LA, and study abroad programs in the Czech Republic and Italy. 


Learn more about Syracuse University and what it takes to get accepted.


12. Emerson College

Location: Boston, MA

Acceptance Rate: 35.6% (2018)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 3,855

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1220-1380 SAT, 27-31 ACT


Aspiring filmmakers at Emerson College have the choice between a degree in Media Studies (B.A. or B.F.A.) or Media Studies Production (B.F.A.). During the program, students will learn history and theory, create their own original media, and conduct research and analysis. B.A. students have the option of participating in a one-semester capstone project, and B.F.A. students must complete a year-long thesis. Students who wish to study abroad may also be interested in the Global BFA in Film Art in conjunction with the Paris College of Art.


Learn more about Emerson College and what it takes to get accepted.


13. Loyola Marymount University

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Acceptance Rate: 43.8%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 6,700

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1250-1400 SAT, 27-31 ACT


The Loyola Marymount School of Film and Television has programs in:


  • Animation
  • Film and Television Production
  • Film, TV, and Media Studies
  • Recording Arts
  • Screenwriting


Students in the School of Film and Television are also eligible for study abroad programs in Italy, Germany, and Hungary. Beginning Fall 2020, students can also apply to live in the school’s living-learning community for first-years, allowing them to develop closer ties with their classmates and faculty (who are co-directors of the community).


Learn more about LMU and what it takes to get accepted.


14. University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Location: Winston-Salem, NC

Acceptance Rate: 38.2% (2018)

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 890

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1090-1280 SAT, 22-28 ACT


UNCSA film students start their college journeys by learning the foundations of film production through a wide variety of digital projects. After their first two years, they’ll pick a concentration and work with classmates to develop short films. Students will have access to distinguished faculty and visiting artists, and in their final year, they’ll travel to LA to screen their films before industry professionals. The school also co-hosts the annual RiverRun International Film Festival, allowing students to be exposed to up-and-coming creators from around the world.


Learn more about UNCSA and what it takes to get accepted.


15. California College of the Arts

Location: Oakland, CA

Acceptance Rate: 88%

Total Undergrad Enrollment: 890

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: N/A


The California College of the Arts offers a B.F.A. in Film, where students will build their skills through collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. All Film majors complete a two-semester Senior Project, which is a culmination of the skills and knowledge they’ve gained. Students are also required to take courses in the Humanities and Sciences for a well-rounded education and perspective.


Learn more about CCA and what it takes to get accepted.


There are more colleges that are great for film! See the complete list.


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Lily Fang
Content Manager

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Lily Fang is the Content Manager at CollegeVine and an alum of Amherst College. In her spare time, she trains for marathons and blogs about sustainability, running, and travel.