The film industry has more than $100 billion in global revenues. As of January 2022, roughly 422,000 people work in the sound recording and motion picture industries in the US alone, a staggering 35% increase from the previous year.
Success in the film industry needs strong technical skills and creativity. Many positions in the entertainment industry need professionals with specialized training and knowledge of editing platforms or film equipment. By pursuing a master’s degree in film, students will further improve their skills and develop a more solid understanding of the history, politics, culture, and philosophies that make up successful films.
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A master’s in film studies will prepare students to join the big and challenging world of the film industry. Whether you intend to work in directing, writing, editing, producing, or something else, earning graduate film programs is the best way to ensure you are already prepared for whatever career path you may entail.
In the film industry, writing and production, among other fields, have significantly increased at an average rate, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. People now demand more media than at any time in history, which explains why the demand for professionals in the film industry is constantly growing.
Film and TV production is a very rewarding field. With various film genres these days, it’s no surprise why professionals in film production are continuously growing. The curriculum in a graduate film studies program usually combines communication and art and includes extensive background information about how the TV and film industries work. Students explore and learn about studio business practices, censorship, conducting research, media theory and distribution, marketing, and a lot more.
The schools in this top five list were chosen based on several ranking criteria. Each graduate school and master’s program was chosen based on these criteria:
- Delivered as a fully online or hybrid Master’s in Film program, enabling working professionals to pursue advanced studies in the discipline without giving up their careers,
- Features online courses for relevance to film as an industry, such as filmmaking, film history, film theory, and cinematic art,
- Highlights the latest trends and technologies in the film industry,
- May offer financial assistance to eligible graduate students,
- Hold relevant accreditation from academic agencies that set the academic standards, and are recognized by the US Department of Education,
- Recognized by film associations that seek to advance the industry.
Read our Methodology to learn about how we rank graduate programs.
The 5 Best Online Graduate Film Programs
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona 85281, United States
Online Master of Advanced Study – Film and Media Studies
The Online Master of Advanced Study in Film and Media Studies offered by ASU Online will allow students to pursue a full range of academic, creative, consulting, and other media-related roles.
- This online graduate degree program will teach students how to evaluate, communicate, and consume through media.
- Online students are prepared for roles in different professional and artistic settings, including K-12 education, film, journalism, social media studies, publishing, and more.
- For this master’s degree in film, students need to complete three required courses: Film Analysis, Hollywood Film Historiography, and Cultural History of US Television: Theory and Method.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Standout Features of Arizona State University’s Online Master of Advanced Study in Film and Media Studies:
The program is ranked among the best online graduate degree programs in Film Studies and is offered on multiple start dates throughout the year.
Did you know?
For years, Arizona State University is ranked as one of the US’ most innovative schools, according to US News and World Report.
1000 Regent University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
This master’s degree is ideal for high achievers who are drawn to the interesting world of the media and entertainment industry.
- Regent University’s Online Master of Arts in Producing is designed for graduate students who wish to work in the executive and producing sectors of the entertainment industry.
- Students will learn the tasks and responsibilities of producing and content creation while using their knowledge in different media formats, including web media, film, television, emerging technologies, and live events.
- This online program teaches practical skills and theoretical perspectives on how the media market operates.
Regent University is SACSCOC-Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges-approved.
Standout Features of Regent University’s Online Master of Arts in Producing:
Technical tools are very essential for MA Film Studies students as they can effectively help them accomplish class schedules. At Regent University, students are not required to buy their cameras and other equipment. While some students opt to buy their own tools, the school’s FTV Equipment Office has loads of cameras and other equipment students need for FTV class assignments.
Did you know?
Regent University is one of the nationally top-ranking universities. All its on-campus and online programs are presented from a Christian perspective and are supported and handled by award-winning faculty in Virginia Beach.
1 University Park Drive, Nashville, TN 37204, United States
The online Master’s in Film and Creative Media with a concentration in Screenwriting at Lipscomb University is perfect for those emerging screenwriters, creative writing enthusiasts, and storytellers who wish to master their craft under the supervision of accomplished professionals in the entertainment industry.
- This accredited online master’s program will lead master’s degree-seekers on a journey through a professional major motion picture production and cinematic story structure.
- Students in this film program concentration will immerse themselves in the practical realities and creative crafts that drive the film industry.
- Students will learn a lot from this online degree from people who are working in the film and television industry. This will help improve their craft for writing for the television and screen industry.
- Before admission, students must already hold a bachelor’s degree or undergraduate degree from any related program. They should also have acquired the basic skills and knowledge needed to write, evaluate, and engage in critical thought at the graduate level.
Lipscomb University holds regional accreditation from the SACSCOC.
Standout Features of Lipscomb University’s Online Master’s in Film and Creative Media-Screenwriting:
This master’s in film studies is highly selective. Students need to meet with the Graduate Program Director first for evaluation. Whether you are into movie production, a would-be art director, or focus more on the business side of the film industry, you will have a personalized plan of study. This allows for a better artistic exploration while honing your technical proficiency and practical skills to undertake your thesis project.
As part of a thesis project, students also create a “Walk Away Project” where each student will study, research, and draft a plan for the next project or step toward their career path.
Did you know?
Lipscomb University offers faith-based education to two Tennessee prisons. This is particularly helpful considering only 35% of state prisons across the US offer a college education. Out of this rate, only 6% of the prison population takes university-level courses.
9388 Lightwave Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123
National University’s Online Master’s in Film Studies is particularly ideal for students who are interested in film theory, movie history, and critical analysis.
- By exploring historically significant and critically acclaimed films from the US, this fully online program helps students develop more advanced and high-level cinematic vocabularies.
- This online class provides students with advanced historical, theoretical, and aesthetic appreciation of cinema. This will also give them the necessary tools, vocabulary, and research abilities needed to produce professional scholarship in the field on topics both of historical and current academic interest.
- Graduate online classes in film prepare students for doctoral studies in the field, and for teaching college art at the community college level, as well as for careers that need critical thinking and advanced literacy.
National University is an accredited institution by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Standout Features of National University’s Online Master’s in Film Studies:
This program proceeds one course at a time thru four-week, compact terms, and culminates in a capstone project. Here. students will produce their original research project that focuses on a specific director, genre, or cinematic history period.
Did you know?
National University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) that offers quality education to a diverse student population. Furthermore, 30% of its whole student body is active-duty military service members and veterans, and 82% of its undergraduates are transferees from other colleges and universities.
1 Macklem Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390, United States
The online master’s offered at Asbury University includes the master’s degree in film and tv production will help students build the expertise they need to be professionals in any film career, including how they can be successful in creating an independent film, or have a deeper understanding of film censorship.
- This online master’s in film studies will teach students about the basic principles of storytelling, and allow them to discover how to translate these principles into practice.
- Students will learn closely work with industry professionals and top faculty as they hone their craft.
- This Masters in Fine Arts in Film and TV Production will help students master their talent in production, from their first idea down to the final project. And since the program is completely online, this allows students to join the class no matter where they are. At present, the school has students from 20 states and 4 countries.
- After completion of this online master’s degree, students will have a more thorough understanding of the storytelling process, an extensive grounding in media ethics and technical skills, and the ability to research to support and shape messages.
Asbury University is regionally accredited by the SACSCOC.
Standout Features of Asbury University’s Online Master of Fine Arts: Film and TV Production
This online master’s degree is designed not only to help students become experts in film and tv production but also to make a strong impact as a producer, a director, a cinematographer, a film and TV production teacher, or any other related roles in television and narrative film studies.
Did you know?
Asbury University, originally called Kentucky Holiness College founded by Reverend John Wesley Hughes, is said to be the ‘first holiness college in the US”.
Common Courses in an Online Master’s in Film Program
A master’s degree in film program is designed to build one’s knowledge of the history, techniques, and philosophies of film. Many programs have advanced-level courses too especially in major areas like storyboarding, writing, and editing. While the curricula generally vary by concentration and program, most of them offer the same courses. Below are the most common ones.
Writing for Television
This course will focus on the various writing processes and techniques for making content for television. Students will explore the fundamental principles behind two major narrative forms in television: drama and comedy.
Studio Business Practice
This course will provide students with an extensive overview of the business side of film and television and focuses on the roles producers play to create projects. Students will learn more about insurance, budgeting, human resources, and copyright law. The curriculum incorporates a project that challenges learning in making a business plan for an organization or a media project.
Lighting and Cinematography
This course explores the fundamentals of filmmaking, including proper lighting techniques in creating specific aesthetics. Students will come up with a media project using course concepts and editing techniques. This will also explore the different roles of the grip, lighting, and camera teams on a film set.
Visualization and Concept Storyboarding
This focuses on the practices and theories of concept development, including how storyboards play a huge role in planning out projects. The course parallels real-world situations that feature common production guide formats, industry tools, and the usual setbacks students face in film studies.
Feature Film Scriptwriting
This focuses on advanced approaches to screenwriting for feature films. Students study the different steps involved in the whole process, including drafting an idea, developing treatments, creating the step-outline, editing the final draft, and marketing the screenplay.
Master’s in Film Career Path
Film careers usually require film professionals to possess specialized skills in producing, writing, and video/audio editing. Some jobs you can land with a master’s degree in film include:
Design: Designers design costumes, create sets, and manage props for television and film. Careers in this area require at least a bachelor’s degree or experience in makeup artistry, fashion design, or the arts. Designers bring to life the vision of a director by making sure that the actors and set adhere to the period, theme, and mood of a production.
Education: Those who hold a master’s degree in film will qualify for a career in education by teaching aspiring filmmakers. While this is a common career path, there are schools that require a doctorate, along with years of work experience.
Screenwriting: Screenwriters usually have a master’s degree in creative writing, film, or English under their belt. This field involves adapting an event, novel, or person’s biography to the screen, or developing an original transcript. These professionals work in television, movie productions, or for video game companies.
Post Production: This includes several careers like video and film editor, producer, photographer, and animator. All these roles involve commercials, fine-tuning films, and other projects to meet quality standards before reaching the public eye. Usual tasks include filming scenes, organizing footage, and working with directors to get the best shots.
- A master’s degree in Film will provide students with amazing opportunities because this program not only covers the artistic skills needed on the job but the business skills as well.
- A career in film requires aptitude in storytelling, strong aesthetic skills, and a passion for the arts because that is what you will be doing most of the time.
- The great thing about online programs, like the online Master’s in Film, is that they tend to be cheaper, with fewer materials costs and fees. Financial aid and scholarships are also awarded to qualified online students.