Best Online Bachelor's in Film Programs

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Earning a degree in film is a great way to kickstart a fun, lucrative career in a fast growing industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, over the next decade, jobs in film and video editing will grow even faster than the national average. Now is a great time to start your bachelor's degree in film.

This guide outlines what you can expect while earning your film degree online, and walk you through the important steps to consider before selecting the program that's best for you.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Location Description
1 Arizona State University-Skysong RANKING SCORE 70 COST Graduation Rate 51% LOCATION Scottsdale, AZ

Located about six hours from Los Angeles, Arizona State University brings the film industry into the living rooms of distance learners nationwide through its BA in film and media studies program. The 120-credit, 39 course degree is delivered asynchronously in courses that last between seven and eight weeks. Students usually earn their degree in about four years, and are prepared for many entry-level positions in the industry, including talent agents, TV producers, and production assistants. ASU’s film studies curriculum includes coursework in race and gender in American film, intermediate screenwriting, and baseball, film, and American dreams. Freshman applicants to the program must meet one of three requirements: top 25% of high school class, 3.0 GPA, or 24 on the ACT (22 for Arizona residents). Transfer applicants must have completed at least 24 college credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

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2 The University of Montana RANKING SCORE 52.5 COST Graduation Rate 49% LOCATION Missoula, MT

Located in Missoula, the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts offers an online BA in media arts. The 14 course, 43 credit program includes coursework in Photoshop, film editing, and interactive media. Students take two courses per semester over the course of four years of part-time study. Montana’s program has a broader focus than most other film degree online programs; in addition to careers in film, graduates enter careers such as gaming, interactive media, and web design. Coursework at the University of Montana’s is asynchronous, but all students have the option of blending online classes with in-person coursework. Many students who major in media arts at Montana also double major in another field.

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3 Lamar University RANKING SCORE 46 COST Graduation Rate 32% LOCATION Beaumont, TX

A member of the Texas State University system, Lamar University -- located in Beaumont -- has transfer and articulation agreements with several schools in Texas. As a result, Beaumont is a terrific option for transfer students, provided they have completed 18 college credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0. The school’s 120-credit bachelor of science in communication -- film takes about four years to complete, and coursework includes advanced digital editing, film production, film editors, and studio recording. Lamar’s degree is also corporately focused, which prepares graduates for careers with major studios. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through the Blackboard platform. Freshman applicants must either have earned top 10% placement in their high school class or meet a minimum SAT/ACT score threshold.

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Like any degree program, details will vary from school to school, and program to program. The section below includes sample coursework and degree timelines you may expect from your online bachelor's degree in film.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Film

While course offerings and requirements vary by institution, the list below provides a few examples of courses you might encounter in a film degree.

  • Intro to Film: A basic requirement for most film programs, this course explores various cultural and technical aspects of film, including cinematography.
  • Screenwriting: While learning various aspects of film, students also learn how a screenplay is conceived and written. This course studies different screenplays to analyze their elements and style, and lets students experiment in writing their own.
  • New Media and Culture: Typically offered as a seminar-style class covering special topics, which may include the rapidly changing digital world, digital media, or the cultural influences on contemporary film.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor's in Film?

Because each program differs in its requirements, a number of factors influence the length of your degree in film. Generally speaking, bachelor's degrees require around 120 credits to graduate. Depending on whether you enroll part- or full-time, and the formatting of the school's terms, you might take between two and four years to complete your degree.

Some schools offer accelerated options that allow you to complete courses in five-to-eight weeks, as opposed to taking a full 15-week semester. Part-time enrollment also affects the duration of your program; full-time students generally earn their degree more quickly. Some programs also offer cohort learning, which means you begin the program with a group of peers, and complete the program alongside them. Other programs may allow for an individualized option that lets you complete coursework at your own pace.

Regardless of which program you choose, it's essential that is accredited. Accreditation is the process by which various regional and national accrediting agencies ensure schools and individual programs are meeting certain academic standards. When a school is accredited, it means an accrediting agency has vouched for the validity and quality of that school and its degree programs.

Schools can be nationally or regionally accredited, but it is more common to find regionally accredited colleges. While regional accreditation is usually more rigorous and, therefore, more prestigious, it also impacts one's ability to transfer credits. For example, regionally accredited schools may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited ones. Additionally, some degree programs may also hold major-specific accrediting agencies; film programs are often accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

There are a number of organizations oversee accrediting bodies. The Department of Education requires all students applying for federal aid to attend accredited schools. Similarly, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation is another resource for finding accredited institutions that meet the standards to receive federal aid. Both the DOE and the CHEA offer searchable databases of accredited schools and programs.

Bachelor's in Film Salary

Careers in the film industry are growing at impressive rates, making it a perfect time to earn your degree in film. The table below outlines median salaries for five occupations that graduates of these degree programs often pursue. However, keep in mind that salaries can be impacted by professional experience level and the individual workplace.

Occupation Median Salary
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators $59,040
Producers and Directors $70,950
Multimedia Artists and Animators $65,300
Art Directors $89,820
Writers and Authors $61,240

Bachelor's in Film Careers

A bachelor's degree in film prepares graduates for a variety of job opportunities upon graduation. While some may work in areas that directly within the film industry, others may find positions in broadcast news, writing and editing, or art direction. People in these areas are often interested in all kinds of art and creative pursuits, and generally desire a career that allows for significant creativity.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Editors and camera operators may work in a variety of roles, including television and movie production. They edit raw video footage, -- sometimes under the guidance of a project's director -- to create a final product that entertains or informs viewers.

Median Annual Salary $59,040
Projected Growth Rate 11%

Producers and Directors

Although common within the film industry, producers and directors also work in live theater, television, and other performing arts. They produce and direct based on a writer's script or screenplay. These professionals often have prior experience in the field before taking on these roles.

Median Annual Salary $70,950
Projected Growth Rate 9%

Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians

These technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment used to create productions. They may work in radio, television production, movie production, or even as sound engineers for musicians. A degree is helpful for this field, but a special certificate may also add to your qualifications.

Median Annual Salary $42,550
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts

News reporters work in all kinds of environments, including on-location reporting and in-studio broadcasts, and on national news outlets or local ones. They also work for digital or streaming news outlets, or other online spaces.

Median Annual Salary $38,870
Projected Growth Rate -9%

Art Directors

These directors create a visual style in creative productions, including movies, television shows, magazines, newspapers, and even product packaging. Often, these are self-employed professionals who choose their projects on a contract-basis, providing a lot of professional freedom to pursue projects they're passionate about.

Median Annual Salary $89,820
Projected Growth Rate 2%

Funding your online education can often feel overwhelming. There are many options to choose from, but before making any decisions, you should complete the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). This form determines your eligibility for federal student aid, including scholarships, grants, and student loans. You may also find local opportunities for scholarships, including contests, local businesses, or even your current employer.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.