Although not currently covered in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, film studies is a hugely popular area at universities and colleges around the world, often taught at specialized film schools and academies.
Course options range from undergraduate film studies programs at large universities, to more specialized postgraduate programs at specialized arts institutes. Film studies qualifications include the BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and, in some cases, an MPhil/PhD. It’s also possible to complete a one- or two-year diploma instead of a full degree.
Read on for an insight into the top film schools around the world, divided by region, along with current tuition fee information (at time of publishing).
Top film schools in the US & Canada
Top film schools in the US:
American Film Institute (AFI)
The school which David Lynch said he would give up everything “in a heartbeat” to attend, the American Film Institute (AFI) is perhaps the most famous of all film schools in Los Angeles, or even the whole of the US, hosting festivals and star-studded events throughout the year. Despite some challenges in maintaining its previously faultless reputation, the American Film Institute in recent years has settled back on track, now enabling students to produce as many as four personal films during their studies and to get advice from visiting industry experts including the likes of Steve McQueen. Boasting 28 Emmy nominations among alumni in 2014 alone, the American Film Institute also counts South Park producer Anne Garefino and Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky among its past fellows.
2015/16 tuition fees: US$47,030 (The AFI Conservatory Program, 1st year students); $58,216 (2nd year students)
The CalArts School of Film and Video, dreamt up by Walt Disney shortly before he died in 1966, joins AFI as another of the most prestigious film schools in Los Angeles (CalArts is located in the suburb of Valencia), now a stomping ground of many of the best animators and filmmakers in Hollywood. Tim Burton, one of CalArts’ earlier graduates, was followed by a series of notable Disney animators including Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Frozen). In 2014, CalArts students were lucky enough to be taught by Academy Award-nominated actor and director James Franco. Film studies degrees offered at CalArts include the BA, MA, MFA and DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts).
2015/16 tuition fees: US$43,400 (all students)
Los Angeles Film School
Located slap-bang in the middle of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, it’s easy to see how the Los Angeles Film School got its name as one of the most notable schools for budding Hollywood filmmakers. Offering bachelor and associate degrees in all areas of the entertainment industry, the Los Angeles Film School also encompasses the Los Angeles Recording School, home of the famous RCA building where Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones once recorded their music. The Los Angeles Film School also offers online programs in digital filmmaking and the entertainment business.
2015/16 Tuition fees: US$74,622 (domestic students); US$79,617 (international students)
NYU Film School
Outside of Los Angeles, leading film schools in the US include New York’s NYU Film School. Although a part of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the NYU Film School is an institution in its own right. Located in the center of one of the world’s most culturally vibrant and renowned metropolises, NYU Film School boasts world-class alumni such as respected filmmaker Martin Scorsese and the much-praised creator of US TV series Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan. In the past season alone, 10 of NYU Film School’s alumni were nominated for an Oscar. In addition to NYU Film School’s main NYC campus, the school also has a campus in Singapore. As well as a number of undergraduate film studies degrees, the NYU film school offers a postgraduate-level MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Filmmaking.
2014/15 tuition fees: US$25,093 (all students). Students should also expect to pay an additional US$1,212 for registration per term, US$1,570 per additional unit and between US$2,000-15,000 per year for equipment and insurance.
USC School of Cinematic Arts
Adding to the list of prestigious film schools in Los Angeles is the University of Southern California’s USC School of Cinematic Arts, a place where many of Hollywood’s most famed filmmakers started out. Receiving millions of dollars of support every year from the likes of George Lucas, the USC School of Cinematic Arts offers world-class media facilities such as an IMAX theatre and research lab, making it one of the most state-of-the-art film schools in Los Angeles. Alumni of the USC School of Cinematic Arts include comedy writer and producer Judd Apatow and Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios. Film degrees offered by the USC school of Cinematic Arts include the BA, BFA and the MFA.
2014/15 tuition fees: US$48,347 (undergraduate level); US$34,079-49,601 (graduate level). Additional fees for equipment may also apply.
Other top film schools in the US:
- Boston University’s College of Communication
- Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
- Colorado Film School
- Columbia University’s School of the Arts
- Emerson College’s Department of Visual & Media Arts
- Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television
- New York Film Academy
- Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts
- UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television
- University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts
- University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication
Top film schools in Canada:
Toronto Film School
Part of the RCC Institute of Technology, the Toronto Film School is well established as one of the best film schools in Canada. Spanning a wide curriculum, from film and TV production to interior decorating, the Toronto Film School is a career-focused school with a strong commitment to providing practical industry knowledge. Programs at the Toronto Film School take between one and two years to complete and all students graduate with a diploma.
2014/15 tuition fees: US$15,800 (1 year program); US$24,000 (18 month program); US$32,150 (2 year program)
Vancouver Film School
Offering 13 programs covering all elements of the entertainment arts industry, Vancouver Film School is another of the leading film schools in Canada. From 3D animation to sound design, Vancouver Film School teaches its students in a condensed one-year program focused on gaining practical skills alongside industry knowledge. Students of Vancouver Film School graduate with a diploma.
2015/16 tuition fees: US$29,800 (domestic students); $45,050 (international students)
Other top film schools in Canada:
Top film schools in Europe
Top film schools in the UK:
London Film School
Open only to postgraduate students looking to gain a master’s degree or a PhD, the London Film School is one of the most highly reputed film schools in Europe, located in the heart of central London. Established for 60 years, the London Film School focuses on building craft and production skills in a practical environment, and has been named as one of just three ‘Film Academies’ in the country by Creative Skillset, a UK governmental agency. Although the London Film School admits less than 150 students a year, the student base is a truly international one, with current students hailing from over 60 countries worldwide.
2015/16 tuition fees: US$78,043 (in total, for all students on the two-year program)
National Film and Television School (NFTS)
Often lauded as the UK’s top film school, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) is hidden away on the outskirts of northwest London, near Slough. The only film school in the UK with its own film and television studios, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) offers a wide range of specialized postgraduate degrees, including 13 master’s programs, eight diplomas, three certificate awards and a number of short courses. Wallis and Gromit creator Nick Park and Harry Potter director David Yates are among notable alumni of the National Film and Television School.
2014/15 tuition fees: US$17,800 per year (MA programs, domestic students); US$37,700 per year (MA programs, international students)
Top film schools in continental Europe:
Academy of Performing Arts’ Film and TV School (FAMU)
Established in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, in 1946, the Academy of Performing Arts’ Film and TV School (FAMU) is one of the oldest and most prestigious film academies in the world. Responsible for nurturing filmmakers such as Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) and offering programs in both Czech and English, FAMU, as the school is often known, attracts an exceptional international cohort every year.
Tuition fees: Free for Czech students and Czech speakers; US$45,674 (international students)
Located in Paris on the site of the old Pathé studios where the infamous Lumiere brothers are said to have invented filmmaking in 1894, La Fémis, established in 1986,is now reputed as one of the best film schools in Paris. La Fémis offers programs taught only in French, but also provides exchange programs with US institutions such as CalArts and Columbia University. You’d better make your application a good one though, because La Fémis only accepts 3% of applicants each year.
Tuition fees: US$517 (domestic students); US$15,334 (international students)
Lodz Film School
Another of the best-reputed film academies in Europe, Lodz Film School, otherwise known as the Polish National Film, Television and Theater School, is the institution that produced a large number of Poland’s top filmmakers, helping shape the Polish cinema industry. With new departments and modern equipment being added continually, Lodz Film School is one of Europe’s leading film institutes. By way of programs, Lodz Film School offers a full spectrum of full-time, part-time, postgraduate and PhD courses, ranging from two to five years of study.
Tuition fees: US$8,300-15,000 per year (all students) with a 30% fee reduction for Polish students.
Other top film schools in Europe:
Top film schools in Asia
Beijing Film Academy
With Avatar’s James Cameron as a visiting fellow and one of the world’s fastest-growing film industries as a setting, the Beijing Film Academy is well-placed as the only film academy in China and the largest in the whole of Asia. The Beijing Film Academy offers a BFA taught in English, as well as a large range of undergraduate and postgraduate Chinese-language programs. The school also offers an exchange program, a Chinese-language learning program and a short-term training program.
2013/14 tuition fees: US$12,900 per year (English MFA, international students)
Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA)
South Korea’s flagship film school, established in 1984, the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) is at the heart of the nation’s film industry. While many alumni of the Korean Academy of Film Arts currently dominate their home market, some, such as Bong-Joon Ho (Snowpiercer), are busy creating a buzz in the US.
2014/15 tuition fees: US$4,000-6,000 per semester (estimate only, based on government information)