Film School Rankings

by Jennifer Croley
Film School Rankings

If movies are your passion and you are planning to be the next Spielberg or Scorsese, then you may be considering film school. There are many options out there, but which one could put you on the path to an Academy Award?

Deciding where to go to school can be tough. If only there was some book or website that could tell you the right school for you. Unfortunately, there is no one source to do that for you, but school rankings can provide some helpful information.

School rankings often involve quantitative analysis of various “indicators of excellence” such as retention, faculty resources, and graduation rate, but film school rankings seem to rely more on qualitative measures such as student experience and industry reputation.

Most available film school rankings are based on user submissions, meaning anyone who has an opinion can submit their information into the rankings list. Wikipedia, Filmmaking.net, and The Actor Studio all rely on a user submission system to rank schools. Of these three, Filmmaking.net, which claims to have the largest directory of film schools on the web with over 723 schools listed, has the most clearly defined ranking system asking each person who provides feedback about a school to submit an overall ranking from these choices: excellent (best film school on the planet), good (worth the effort), adequate (you'll learn something useful), poor (but beggars can't be choosers), and dire (don't waste your time). The informality of these rankings further supports the idea that choosing the right school for you will require some serious research on your part and should not be based solely on which school sits at the top of someone else's list.

Although this extreme informality does not lead to one definitive film school ranking list, there are several well regarded schools that are heralded as the best or most notable schools through various sources. Even informally though, there does not seem to be consensus on one top school that is “the” place to be for aspiring filmmakers.

Even if there were a magic equation that could quantify what is good and bad about film schools in general and from this calculate the which one would be considered to be the “best,” that school still may not be the right fit for you, so you will have to do some ranking of your own to figure out which school should top your list. Here are a few things to consider when making your picks.

  • Do you want to focus solely on directing?
    Students at some film schools focus their full attention on directing, while other programs offer a more well-rounded production experience with required course work in other areas such as producing, writing, editing, and acting. Also, if you want to take classes outside the film school or perhaps get a second major in another area, you will need to consider the quantity and quality of the school's other programs.
  • Is making a film while in school your number one priority?
    Just because you go to film school, doesn't mean you will actually get to make a film while you are there. At some schools students compete with each other for the chance to direct a film, while students at other schools are required to complete a film or video production before graduation.
  • Did anybody famous go there?
    Of course you should never choose a school based solely on who was there before you, but there are some advantages to attending a big name school with famous graduates. Those very famous (and very rich) alumni like to support their alma maters, so these schools usually have great equipment, strong reputations, and powerful Hollywood allies. Just know that a big name usually means a big tuition bill, and there are many less famous choices that can provide you with a good film education and help you get started in the movie business.

Although film school rankings are pretty informal and not based on a lot of quantitative analysis, they can help you understand how various schools are seen through the eyes of professionals and students.

Below are links to more information to help you in your film school search.

Film School Rankings and Reviews

Featured School

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