The Top 25 Film Schools in America

August 21, 2020

Lead graphic for magazine story. Campus buildings with students. The students' heads are replaced with cameras.

Reposted from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (August 19, 2020)

The Top 25 Film Schools

By Mia Galuppo and Kirsten Chuba

A career behind the camera begins at these elite institutions (even as COVID-19 complicates curricula)

With both entertainment and higher education deeply impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown, top film schools across the US spent the summer break reassessing established curricula. Many programs are moving classes completely online to comply with local and state health restrictions (student films will mostly be shot on cellphones and star family member and roommates). Colleges, universities and conservatories alike are filing in the gaps in their promised programs with Zoom lectures from top talents like Taika Waititi and Spike Lee, and hoping to hold makeup physical production classes over the spring and summer breaks in 2021, assuming the work returns to relative normality by then.

But no matter how they are handling the pandemic, all of THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's top film programs are committed to ensuring their graduates will be ready for a career in Hollywood—whatever it may look like.  Whether it's adding new virtual and augmented reality labs (like University of California Los Angeles), or offering more courses in Black film theory (USC, Chapman, CalArts and UT Austin are among the schools to do so), these programs air to evolve with the industry and educate the storytellers and executives who will shape the future of entertainment—even if that future currently on hold.


This state school offers a cost-effective education that has the added value of being Los Angeles-adjacent. And thanks to a grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the department of cinema and television is finishing a three-year cycle of updating production facilities, which includes new camera, sound and lighting equipment. Curriculum additions include a dedicated documentary production program, while extracurricular adds include a gallery devoted to the art of film posters, and upgraded script library and a public screening series that centers on21st century LGBTQ films and rock'n'roll fare.

NOTABLE ALUMNI: Glenn S. Gainor (Head of Physical Production at Screen Gems), Ami Cohen (Executive Direcotr of Television at Lionsgate), and John Hampian (VP Physical Production at Lucasfilm)