Pursuing a career in film is an exciting endeavor with many potential roles. Be it cinematography, production, editing, or a multitude of other specialties, there are more and more ways to be part of the action. While exhilarating, the film industry can be a competitive, fast-paced environment that relies on those who are most skilled; for this reason, students looking for their film studies bachelor’s degree need to find the best possible school for their interests.
There is a multitude of colleges with bachelor’s degrees in film studies, but not all of them have the right combination of affordability, top-notch film equipment, strong faculty, and other pertinent factors of comparatively better film studies departments. One way to cut costs is to attend community college, either locally or out of state. Just make sure to examine the policies concerning credit transfer of the school you plan to attend
Below are the top 30 values for bachelor’s degrees in film studies. These colleges were selected from a pool of approximately 80, all with an annual net price of under $34,000. In the process of ordering this ranking, points were awarded based on the quality of well-rounded, relevant film studies curriculum (1-5 points), film and merit-based scholarship opportunities (1-4 points), recognition in the film industry job market (1-4 points), state-of-the-art film and production equipment (1-5 points) alumni success (1-3 points), and an additional point for film-related features of particular distinction. In the event of a tie in points, the school with the lower tuition is ranked higher.
Net tuition and enrollment data were gathered from College Navigator.
Ranking the Top Film Studies Degree Programs Available
#30 – McDaniel College
Total Enrollment: 3,003
Tuition : $22,177
A smaller academic community, McDaniel College of Maryland is packed with opportunities to take the next steps in your artistic career. Within the college’s department of communication and cinema, there is an undergraduate degree in cinema that is increasing in popularity; this film studies bachelor’s encompasses curriculum in writing, production, and critical studies. Additionally, film majors are exposed to multiple behind-the-scenes skill-building which proves marketable in the filmmaking job market. McDaniel College is a high-value, low-cost choice for applicants, and the financial aid department works extensively to make tuition the most affordable.
#29 – Kean University
Union, New Jersey
Total Enrollment: 14,112
Tuition (in-state): $11,581
Tuition (out-of-state): $18,183
With a history spanning 150 years, Kean University is one of New Jersey’s leaders in higher education. Among this college’s 52 undergraduate options is a BA degree in Media and Film; students who select this major acquire an education in both practical and creative skills, best preparing them for a future in this competitive field. Kean’s media and film major has available concentrations in film, multicultural programming, management, and broadcast. A top value film degree, Kean has over a dozen scholarship opportunities to keep tuition attainable to all qualified applicants.
#28 – Dominican University
River Forest, Illinois
Total Enrollment: 3,696
A prestigious college in the Midwest, Dominican University of Illinois is a mission-centered institution founded in 1901. Incoming film enthusiasts at this school will find a unique BA program in digital cinema; this department largely focuses its curriculum on the artistic elements of filmmaking. Digital cinema undergrads learn design applications, 3-D graphics, drawing, video production fundamentals, color photography, and more. In addition to a singular BA option, students may opt to double major in art and design and digital cinema. Dominican University has multiple networking events throughout the year, both for alumni engagement and job fairs.
#27 – Grand Valley State University
Total Enrollment: 25,325
Tuition (in-state): $11,363
Tuition (out-of-state): $16,392
Grand Valley State University of Michigan is an enormous midwestern school with 25,000 students and over 120 available degree options. GVSU degree-seekers find this school to be a great higher education value due to its low tuition and attentive, scholar-level faculty. This school’s BA and BS options in film and video production is a rigorous program that yields highly employable industry skill sets; film studies majors take part in coursework covering animation, nonfiction documentary filmmaking, media, sound design, history, and more. GVSU has established multiple grants and scholarships for qualified film students seeking funding for their work.
#26 – Cleveland State University
Total Enrollment: 16,915
Tuition (in-state): $9,696
Tuition (out-of-state): $12,938
Calling itself “a student-focused center of scholarly excellence,” Cleveland State University has a rich history of academic leadership and diversity. Whether you are local to Ohio or enrolling from out-of-state, this college maintains a remarkably low tuition rate for all students. For budding filmmakers, CSU’s school of communication has designed a BA degree in film, television, and interactive media; this 45-credit major includes a well-balanced curriculum of history, production, writing, and several courses in current film and media trends. In order to ensure optimum understanding of the field work, CSU’s film and television majors are required to complete a capstone project before graduating.
#25 – Pacific Union College
Total Enrollment: 1,955
Tuition : $29,064
A small, Christian-based private school, Pacific Union College offers a personalized education from award-winning faculty. This college’s BA in film and television is both comprehensive and long considered a top value degree in the job market. Students on the film studies track are taught history, directing, editing, cinematography, and many other aspects of organized film production. Additionally, film majors graduate with a strong background in packaging and pitching one’s work to industry professionals. In order to optimize hands-on production experience, all BA students in film are required a minimum of 300 hours of fieldwork.
#24 – Florida State University
Total Enrollment: 40,830
Tuition (in-state): $9,684
Tuition (out-of-state): $24,116
Located in the state capital, Florida State University is known for its well-respected faculty and strong academic programs. For students seeking a future in filmmaking, Florida State has motion arts BFA degrees that specialize in production or animation and film studies. FSU exposes its film majors to a state-of-the-art, comprehensive range of motion picture equipment that includes grip and camera trucks, RED Mysterium X and EPIC cameras, and digital post-production labs; by honing their craft in these top-notch facilities, graduates find that they are prepared for a wide-range of employment prospects in the field.
#23 – State University of New York at Fredonia
Buffalo, New York
Total Enrollment: 4,842
Tuition (in-state): $8,074
Tuition (out-of-state): $17,924
Found in the beautiful city of Buffalo, the State University of New York at Fredonia is a small, vibrant campus rich in opportunity. This college’s top value BFA in film and video arts is considered among the most intense programs at the school; students majoring in this department are required to take a comprehensive range of 2-D and 3-D art, video, art history, narrative development, and special effects courses. SUNY Fredonia has high standards for its film studies majors, and all BFA candidates must produce a substantial capstone production project before earning their degree. Post-graduation, alumni have found gainful employment in special effects departments, art direction, and creative freelance work.
#22 – Stephens College
Total Enrollment: 901
A small private women’s school with a competitive admissions process, Stephens College represents the utmost in academic excellence. This college practices an individualized education approach, allowing each student to design their own degree track relevant to their specialized interest. For women who want to make their mark in film work, Stephens has a BFA in the popular digital filmmaking field; film students work on state-of-the-art equipment, and are encouraged to write, produce, and direct original films. This college’s Citizen Jane Festival both celebrates women filmmakers and provides a promising network opportunity for job prospects.
#21 – Wayne State University
Total Enrollment: 27,140
Tuition (in-state): $11,814
Tuition (out-of-state): $25,254
Found in the growing arts metropolis that is Detroit, Wayne State University is one Michigan’s main attractions. This college’s English department has an established BA degree program in film studies; this program has a curriculum designed to balance foundational education with artistic expression. Wayne State has a budding reputation in nearby community, fostering relationships with the Detroit Film Theater, PBS, and local news stations. Graduates of the Wayne State film studies program have found promising careers in script writing, film criticism, production, education, and more.
#20 – Morehouse College
Total Enrollment: 2,167
A renowned historically black college in Georgia, Morehouse College of Atlanta is an all-male institution with outstanding academics. One of Morehouse’s recent additions is its cinema, television, and emerging media studies program (CTEMS), established in 2012. With funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, this film and television studies BA has comprehensive course options in cinematic vocabulary, African American cinema, film production, screenwriting, and analysis. Graduates of this college’s film and television program emerge with a deeper knowledge of the multi-layered filmmaking process. Morehouse sponsors several film-related networking societies that provide a foundation for future employment opportunities.
#19 – Fashion Institute of Technology
New York, NY
Total Enrollment: 9,565
Found on Manhattan’s west side, Fashion Institute of Technology is a hub if innovative thinkers and creators. Students who attend FIT for film have the option of getting their BS in film and media, or enroll in a two-year associate’s in film and media. If accepted into the program, students in the bachelor’s in film degree take part in experiential learning projects, film theory and criticism, cinematography, world cinema, and film genres. This college is part of the State University of New York system, making it an affordable bachelor’s degree in film with a great reputation.
#18 – University of Georgia
Total Enrollment: 36,130
Tuition (in-state): $11,622
Tuition (out-of-state): $29,832
Founded in 1785 just north of Atlanta, the University of Georgia is consistently ranked one of the highest-rated and affordable colleges in the nation. UGA’s department of theater and film studies is one of this school’s many highlights, offering a competitive, marketable BA in film studies; students on this degree track are exposed to a unique combination of theory, history, directing, writing, and comparative literature. Since 2000, this college has steadily built connections with arts production companies in London, Italy, and Asia.
#17 – University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Total Enrollment: 29,796
Tuition (in-state): $9,574
Tuition (out-of-state): $26,814
The Department of Media Studies at the University at Buffalo awards a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies or Media Studies, Master of Arts in Film and Media Studies, Master of Fine Arts in Media Arts Production, and Ph.D. in Media Studies. The B.A. in Film Studies is an interdisciplinary program focusing on history, theory, criticism, and analysis of cinema. Media Studies students can concentrate in Production (choosing from tracks such as film, video, or documentary), or Critical Studies. The M.A. in Film and Media Studies is designed for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D., while the M.F.A. is for students interested in making media. Departmental scholarships include the Levy-King-White Scholarships, awarded based on merit and financial need.
#16 – City University of New York – Queens College
Flushing, New York
Total Enrollment: 62,953
Tuition (in-state): $6,938
Tuition (out-of-state): $14,048
Established in one of the most exciting cities in the world, City University of New York is an affordable degree option with big payoffs. For undergraduates beginning their career in film, CUNY has a BA in film studies that implements an interdisciplinary education; in addition to a wide range of film-related courses, students are required to balance their degree with curriculum in comparative literature, writing, art history, and other liberal arts courses. Graduates of the CUNY Queens College film program have found lucrative careers in film and television production, education, media marketing, and other areas.
#15 – University of Central Florida
Total Enrollment: 62,953
Tuition (in-state): $6,368
Tuition (out-of-state): $22,467
If you’re a student seeking a top-value BA degree in film, the University of Central Florida offers a BA in cinema studies that has earned national respect. UCF’s film students take part in curriculum that covers foundational film styles, critical analysis, production, and aesthetics. This institution values a well-rounded, personalized education experience that celebrates the special talents of each individual; many graduates continue on to UCF’s master’s programs in motion picture production and interactive media. In order to make tuition even more affordable, the University of Central Florida offers multiple film-based scholarships and grants to qualified applicants.
#14 – State University of New York at Binghamton
Binghamton, New York
Total Enrollment: 16,913
Tuition (in-state): $9,053
Tuition (out-of-state): $22,173
Part of the affordable State University of New York network, SUNY Binghamton is consistently ranked one of the best college values. The department of cinema provides its film students with an innovative education that allows for utmost personal expression; the BA in cinema has progressive courses in film analysis, independent production, editing, scriptwriting, and more. Cinema majors hone their craft on the latest industry equipment, leaving graduates with the broad technical background sought by employers. In order to make tuition even more attainable, merit-based scholarships are awarded to especially talented film students. Binghamton alumni include influential film critics and Pulitzer Prize winners.
#13 – State University of New York at Oswego
Oswego, New York
Total Enrollment: 7,937
Tuition (in-state): $7,934
Tuition (out-of-state): $17,784
Located in a remote, peaceful upstate setting, the State University of New York at Oswego is among the smaller, more competitive colleges in the SUNY system. One of the most popular majors at this college is the BA in cinema and screen studies, a program that emphasizes an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach to learning. SUNY Oswego film majors take courses in digital film production, screenwriting, dramatic filmmaking, the history and theory of film, and much more. Additionally, this college has merit-based cinema scholarships that make this film degree a top value opportunity.
#12 – University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Total Enrollment: 25,260
Tuition (in-state): $8,637
Tuition (out-of-state): $22,534
A globally respected institution, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln has academic programs for virtually any fields. UNL’s degree offerings come from its state-of-the-art film department; future filmmakers can pursue either a BA in film studies, or a BFA in film and new media. This college focuses on producing well-rounded, multidisciplinary graduates with effective communication skills. In order to ensure the best possible employment prospects, this top value college has a strong, engaged network of film recruiters and alumni.
#11 – Five Towns College
Dix Hills, New York
Total Enrollment: 653
At just over 650 students, Five Towns College is a good choice for those seeking a smaller, community-based academic experience. This Long Island-area school has degree programs that include a BFA in film and video; the associated curriculum with this major spans cinematography, directing, production, sound recording, and much more. Five Towns values a hands-on, experiential approach in education, providing valuable internship opportunities and lectures from visiting professionals in the field. Graduates from this top value film department are sought out from companies such as MTV, HBO, and Tribeca Film Center, among others.
#10 – Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Total Enrollment: 16,096
Tuition (in-state): $7,814
Tuition (out-of-state): $15,732
One of the largest public universities in Minnesota, Saint Cloud University is home to a diverse student body of over 16,000 students. This institution’s film studies degree is a unique BA program that encourages students to be well-versed in all genres; students engage in courses in critical analysis, screenwriting, filmmaking, history, and how to successfully develop a project proposal. Students in the SCU film program often participate in the esteemed Telluride Film Festival Student Colloquium in Colorado, as well as the Annual International Film Series. A top value film studies degree, Saint Cloud students are invited to apply to a range of generous scholarship and grant programs.
#9 – University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Total Enrollment: 31,592
Tuition (in-state): $8,197
Tuition (out-of-state): $26,022
Among the finest in higher education options, the University of Utah continues to expand its programs, facilities, and student engagement. Students beginning their career in film studies will find a great home here. The BA in film and media arts is a well-rounded degree track that was named number one in the state by filmcolleges.com. Film and media majors are invited to customize their coursework by way of special interests and which elective courses best match their concentration. This college’s top value film degree is in the opportunity-rich Salt Lake City area, which offers a wide selection of promising internship and post-graduate employment opportunities.
#8 – Western Michigan University
Total Enrollment: 23,529
Tuition (in-state): $11,029
Tuition (out-of-state): $23,713
A large and dynamic community, Western Michigan University is home to outstanding academic resources and faculty. Students have found this college to be a top value degree opportunity in a vast array of fields. One of their growing departments is the BA in film, video, and media studies; this major largely focuses on radio and television production, which provides a competitive edge in the job market. WMU employs a hands-on education model, encouraging its film and video students to take part in internships, freelance work, and opportunities with the campus radio station. Western Michigan is a dream-come-true for film and media enthusiasts who want to enter the industry knowing the latest equipment. This college has tremendous financial resources, and students are awarded generous scholarships each year.
#7 – City University of New York – Brooklyn
Brooklyn, New York
Total Enrollment: 17,410
Tuition (in-state): $6,838
Tuition (out-of-state): $13,948
City University of New York’s Brooklyn campus is another outstanding option for an affordable degree in New York City. For those interested in pursuing their dreams in the film industry, CUNY Brooklyn has a BA in film with the best possible connections; film majors may select field concentrations including film production, documentary filmmaking, screenwriting, and industry studies. This college has fostered strong employment connections with high-profile media giants including (among others) Film Society of Lincoln Center and HBO. Additionally, film studies majors who excel in their craft are eligible for generous scholarship opportunities; the Paul and Betsy Mazursky scholarship is among the most coveted in the department.
#6 – Compass College of Cinematic Arts
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Total Enrollment: 116
Tuition : $14,175
Originally a small production company, Compass College of Cinematic Arts has since emerged as one of newest and most promising film schools. Based in Christian values, CCCA’s film studies degree is an intensive, accelerated program led by accomplished leaders in the industry. Undergraduate film majors immerse themselves in both practical and artistic elements of the filmmaking process; this top value film studies degree involves curriculum in sound, editing, scriptwriting, graphics, marketing, and much more. Compass alumni have gone on to work with the biggest names in entertainment, landing positions with blockbuster films and national television shows.
#5 – Watkins College of Art Design & Film
Total Enrollment: 292
Found in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, Watkins College of Art Design and Film is an elite artistic college community. This top value college has an esteemed film school, currently home to a rigorous BFA program; film studies majors learn both the aesthetics and practical aspects of filmmaking, exploring field areas including directing, editing, writing, producing, and shooting. In the process of mastering basic film techniques, film students are encouraged to develop their distinctive artistic perspective. Through the Guest Filmmaker Lecturers series, Watkins exposes its BFA students to accomplished professionals in the field, and graduates have found direct employment opportunities through this and similar programs.
#4 – California State University – Long Beach
Long Beach, California
Total Enrollment: 37,446
Tuition (in-state): $6,452
Tuition (out-of-state): $17,612
Settled along 322 acres of Long Beach, California State University is a hub of creativity and academic curiosity. This college has over 62 available study areas, which includes a BA in film and electronic arts; this department has seen great advancements in its 50-year history, and remains among the most affordable film studies degrees in the nation. CSULB film majors learn from seasoned professional faculty members who have comprehensive industry knowledge. In addition to a solid foundation in history and theory, BA candidates can specialize in narrative production, screenwriting, editing, sound design, and digital arts. Each year, California State’s financial resources allow over $150,000 in film and electronic arts scholarships.
#3 – University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Total Enrollment: 970
Tuition (in-state): $8,983
Tuition (out-of-state): $24,403
A small school with enormous offerings, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a prestigious, selective institution. For aspiring filmmakers, this college has some of the best facilities available. In 2015, construction was completed on a 30,000 square-foot digital media complex, now home to equipment in gaming, effects, animation, and design. Students pursuing their BA in film can declare concentrations in animation, cinematography, producing, sound design, visual effects, screenwriting, or directing. UNCSA alumni have found prominent roles in film both in front of and behind the big screen.
#2 – San Francisco State University
San Francisco, California
Total Enrollment: 30,256
Tuition (in-state): $6,476
Tuition (out-of-state): $17,636
Found in one of the most exciting cities in the nation, San Francisco State University is home to over 30,000 students from around the globe. This top value college has a rapidly expanding BA in cinema studies, growing from 800 to 1200 majors in under three years. Cinema majors at SFSU appreciate an uncommon film curriculum that encompasses critical theories, film history, cinema studies, and much more. This college also provides degree specialization options such as (among others), animation, screenwriting, cinematography, and sound design. San Francisco State has established over a dozen scholarships and fellowships related to a career in film.
#1 – Columbia College – Chicago
Total Enrollment: 970
Tuition : $24,344
Columbia College of Chicago is a selective institution with the largest film program in the U.S. Film majors benefit from an unprecedented $100,000 in annual funding, further adding great value to this film degree. From day one, film studies majors are immersed in the field through on-location studio visits in Hollywood and abroad. Columbia College has both BA and BFA film degrees on an undergraduate level; CC film majors are given a wide range of specialization options including directing, cinematography, screenwriting, sound for cinema, and post production, among others. Columbia College graduates are regularly sought out for ongoing employment opportunities.
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