Film studies at the graduate level attracts creative thinkers who are interested in the history, aesthetics, and theory of film. Coursework for the academic study of film includes cultural, political, and philosophical perspectives on film genres, screenwriting, directors, production, editing, and cinematography. Schools with strong film studies programs provide a variety of interdisciplinary options that prepare graduates for success in this competitive field.

If you are determined to have a career in the film industry, pursuing a master's degree can be a sensible choice for achieving advanced literacy in film studies, especially for postsecondary teaching careers. Graduates may also pursue opportunities in related communications fields, such as public relations and educational media. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for producers and directors will grow by 12% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average.

What Are The Best Online Master's in Film Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Regent University

Virginia Beach, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Regent University prides itself on providing education through Christian leadership and values. Regent offers the master of fine arts in film-television.

Students in the online master's degree in film studies may take one of three concentrations in script and screenwriting, script writing, or producing. Regent offers the script and screenwriting concentration to professional writers interested in film, television, and stage writing. Students graduate from the 44-credit program with at least three full-length scripts, a portfolio, film and television production research skills, and advanced writing skills in playwriting, short films, and television.

The degree helps students explore plot and pacing skills, character development, and problems in scripts. Classes examine film and television project development, including research, scene analysis, and storylines.

Learners with a master's in film production online qualify for careers such as feature film screenwriters, television writers, and executive producers. Since many students work full time with a family, Regent encourages learners to take courses at their own pace.

Online master's in film coursework covers writing for television and short films, topics in scriptwriting, feature film scriptwriting, and playwriting. Students complete courses in eight-week sessions.

Applicants must submit unofficial college transcripts showing a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applications must also contain an academic background questionnaire and a government-issued ID.

Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Fine Arts in Film-Television
Available Concentrations: Script and screenwriting, script writing, producing
Tuition: $650/credit
Credit Requirements: 44 credits

Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (888) 777-7729
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter


Lipscomb University

Nashville, TN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Lipscomb University sits in Nashville, the capital of Tennessee famous for its country music scene. A private, Christian liberal arts college, Lipscomb offers the master of arts in film and the master of fine arts in film and creative media in its cinematic arts department.

Both programs require students to take courses online and on campus. Graduates qualify for careers as film and video editors, camera operators, producers, directors, and actors.

The master of arts degree trains filmmakers seeking to write, produce, direct, or edit media including commercials, videos, and feature films. Students complete the 36-credit program in 17 months. The program helps learners gain film industry knowledge and hone screenplay and storytelling structures. The capstone project is a portfolio containing a screenplay with a production and distribution plan.

The more intensive master in fine arts degree offers a track for television and film writers and directors that requires 62 credits to graduate. The producer's track requires 75 credits. The programs focus on storytelling, technical and business skills, and content collaboration. Students complete a documentary or feature screenplay and a 15-page research paper as part of their capstone project.

To apply for either program, candidates must submit a standardized test score, official transcripts, a video or screenplay sample, personal statement, and resume.

Lipscomb is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Film and Creative Media or Master of Fine Arts in Film and Creative Media
Available Concentrations: Writer and editor or producer in the master of fine arts program
Credit Requirements: 36-75 credits depending on concentration
Program Length: Minimum 17 months

Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Phone: (615) 966-5693 ext. 5693
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter


Savannah College of Art and Design

Savannah, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

Georgia incorporated Savannah College of Art and Design as a specialized art college in 1979. Today, the college offers the master of arts in motion media design, an online degree.

The online film master's degree prepares graduates for careers as art or creative directors, visual effects artists, or graphic coordinators. Students who complete the 45-credit program qualify for jobs as production designers, motion media producers, and motion design animators.

Motion media courses examine visualization and concept storyboarding focused on finding solutions to motion media design problems. Students in the master of film studies online produce storyboards and learn how to navigate production guides and guidelines. Classes cover filmmaking foundations by examining historical materials. Dynamic typography examines motion, message, and legibility. Motion picture design results in students producing a professional-grade project.

Students in the online film master's degree program may take a course to bolster their career by collaborating via a project. Learners improve effective communication, management efficiency, and problem-solving skills by working with peers across different research disciplines.

Applicants must submit transcripts showing a bachelor's degree or equivalent, a portfolio, two reference letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Applicants may request a personal or telephone interview as part of the application process. The online film master's degree program does not accept graduate transfer credits. The college may assign additional courses, increasing the number of credits needed to graduate.

Savannah College of Art and Design is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Motion Media Design
Credit Requirements: 45 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Synchronous, asynchronous, or some combination of the two

Admission Requirements
GPA: Minimum GPA

Phone: (800) 869-7223
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter


National University

La Jolla, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

National University prides itself in its distance learning course offerings. The university opened in 1971 in San Diego, California, and now offers more than 100 on-campus and online programs. National University offers a master of arts in film studies.

The online master's in film studies examines film history and theory in contemporary and historical cinematography. Students learn research and writing techniques, technical film vocabulary, and analyze and research American and international film directors. Learners participate in discussions on theoretical issues in film and criticism of certain films or literary periods.

National University designed its online program for working professionals seeking a graduate degree. Students in the online master's in film program qualify for careers teaching film studies at community colleges and in jobs requiring literacy and critical-thinking skills.

National University holds classes every quarter and requires 45 credits for graduation. Students may transfer up to 13.5 quarter units of graduate credit with a minimum grade of B.

Students in the online master's in film studies program take eight core and two elective courses. Core courses examine film theory, the history of silent and American films, film genre studies, and world film. Coursework covers American and international directors. Learners finish studies with a capstone project.

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA from a regionally accredited institution. Candidates with a minimum 2.0 GPA may submit a GMAT, GRE, or Miller Analogies test score.

National University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Arts in Film Studies
Tuition: $430/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 2.5 Minimum

Phone: (877) 287-2765
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter


Tiffin University

Tiffin, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 28%

Located less than one hour from the shores of Lake Erie, Tiffin University sits on a 135-acre campus in the small town of Tiffin, Ohio. Tiffin University prides itself in its online offerings, including a master of humanities with a concentration in film studies.

The online master's in film appeals to candidates who want to teach art or English at a two-year college. Coursework examines film from its early Hollywood days to contemporary cinema in independent and cult films, classic movies, work cinema, and documentaries. Graduates qualify for careers as art or English teachers and in cinematography, film or video editing, publicity, and screenwriting.

The online master's degree in film studies combines art and communication. Coursework in the film concentration covers film theory, teaching college art, cult and independent film, documentary film, film censorship, third cinema, and classic Hollywood cinema.

Semesters last 15 weeks and start in January, May, or August. Full-time students complete the online master's degree in film studies in about 18 months, while part-time learners finish the program in about 30 months. The flexible approach allows students to meet their educational needs and career goals while balancing life and work demands.

Applicants must either possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or currently attend an accredited master of business administration program. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework. Applicants to the master's in film studies online must also provide a resume and a personal statement.

Tiffin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Humanities with a Concentration in Film Studies
Tuition: $550/credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years

Format: Online

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (800) 968-6446
Social Media Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Film Program?

Distance learners pursuing an online master's degree in film studies typically have considerable flexibility in tailoring their studies to their areas of interest. While program details vary among schools, the list below features descriptions of three sample courses commonly offered in film studies programs at the graduate level.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Film

  • Advanced film theory: This course examines theoretical models and approaches employed in academic analysis of film as a cultural medium. Topics may include authorship, cultural studies, reception studies, formalist and realist theories, postmodernism, and genre theory. Students may focus on one major figure, approach, or issue, and participate in film screening lab work.
  • Advanced film history: This course explores major cultural, technological, and artistic trends shaping film history, and traces the development of film as an art form dating from the 1890s. Representative genre films are selected and screened in class. Topics may include historiography, film censorship, notions of cinematic realism, cinematic technique, film narrativization, and technological innovation.
  • Documentary production workshop: Graduate students in this course gain a range of practical skills useful for the production of documentary projects. With a focus on collaboration, time management, professional ethics, and critical analysis, students acquire competencies in all phases of field production through experience gained in researching, writing, shooting, and editing documentaries.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Film?

Online master's degrees in film typically involve 36-45 credits and two years of full-time study. In exceptional cases, diligent students may accelerate their pace and complete a two-year program in three semesters plus one summer session. Some programs enable students to choose a coursework-only track or write a research paper or thesis, with the latter option extending degree completion time.

While cohorts are not common in graduate level film studies programs, if you do choose a program structured around cohort learning, your studies proceed in tandem with your cohort, which graduates as a group. Individually paced programs may offer more flexibility in scheduling, enabling you to complete your degree sooner. Many programs allow you to undertake work in related disciplines so that you can specialize in an area of interest, such as African studies or scriptwriting.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Film Degrees

To ensure schools and programs meet proper standards of academic rigor and quality, they undergo a peer review process conducted by accreditation agencies. It is in your best interest to investigate the accreditation status of programs and schools you are considering, since federal financial aid is only available to students enrolled in institutions accredited by federally recognized agencies. Transfer credits, too, are generally only accepted for coursework completed in properly accredited programs.

Regional accreditation, the most respected and popular designation, is handled by six U.S. regional bodies, one for each geographic region. National accreditation generally applies only to for-profit, vocational, technical, or religious schools. The National Association of Schools of Theatre conducts field-specific accreditation for programs in film studies and theatre arts. Another resource available to distance learners is the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a private nonprofit organization specializing in recognizing distance education programs.

Two agencies, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), oversee U.S. accreditation standards. The ED maintains a list of trusted accreditors, and CHEA maintains a comprehensive database of accredited educational institutions and programs recognized by one or both of these agencies. To help ensure that your online master's degree in film studies meets approved standards of quality and continual improvement, you can take advantage of these public service resources to verify the accreditation status of schools that interest you by searching the ED and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Film Graduates

Master's in Film Salary

Salary trends can vary widely in the film industry. Note that experience and location can influence salaries just as much as educational background and specific job responsibilities. The table below features PayScale data regarding expected salaries for five practical and popular film-related professions at the early, middle, and late career stages.

Top Paying U.S. States for Music Directors and Composers
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Film/TV producer $67,657 $48,000 $67,000 $83,000
Associate producer, film/TV $47,505 $44,000 $52,000 $60,000
Creative director $85,850 $54,000 $79,000 $106,000
Production assistant $36,101 $32,000 $35,000 $37,000
Film editor $49,572 $41,000 $53,000 $63,000

Master's in Film Careers

Careers in film are notoriously competitive, and graduates with a master's degree in film studies typically rely heavily on tenacity, resilience, and determination to succeed. Graduates typically focus their career paths around theoretical areas like history and analysis, or practical areas like directing, production, post-production, and distribution. Some graduates pursue teaching or postgraduate research in film. Experience, networking, and personal recommendations are critical for career success in all areas of the field.

Producers and directors

Film producers and directors supervise the financial and artistic aspects of film making. They interpret scripts and bring them to life in motion picture and television entertainment. Their duties include casting actors, selecting scripts, managing the work of assistants, determining budgets, hiring production teams, and securing distribution channels for films.

Median Annual Salary: $70,950
Projected Growth Rate: 12%

Film and video editors

Film editors work as technicians to fit pieces together, manipulate images, and cut unnecessary scenes to assemble a finished film. Their responsibilities include reading scripts and understanding the director's vision, working with sound editors, trimming film footage, and selecting scenes for dramatic entertainment value, performance quality, story continuity, and proper timing.

Median Annual Salary: $59,040
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary film studies teachers instruct students in film theory, film history, and other related subject matter at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Their duties include classroom instruction and grading, developing research programs, supervising graduate students, and integrating interdisciplinary material. They also supervise research and publish scholarly material in the field.

Median Annual Salary: $75,430
Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts

Graduates with film master's degrees often work in documentary journalism or screenwriting for feature-length screenplays. Film journalists may write reviews to report and inform the public while offering critical takes on film from theoretical and historical perspectives. They can work for magazines, websites, digital media, radio, and newspapers.

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

Art Directors

Art directors hold responsibility for the design and overall visual style of a film, including factors like makeup, costuming, hair styling, color schemes, location aesthetics, and other visual aspects. They supervise the artists who develop concept art and layouts, and coordinate the artistic aspects of film production and editing.

Median Annual Salary: $89,820
Projected Growth Rate: 5%

Professional Organizations

Students and recent graduates in film studies can join professional membership organizations to take advantage of networking opportunities, master classes featuring internationally recognized directors and producers, and awards events recognizing outstanding achievement in the field. Since networking is of particular importance to professionals in film studies, some organizations offer student internship opportunities and competitions. Scholarly interest groups are particularly useful for graduate students, as they feature a variety of opportunities for fellowship, support, and advocacy.

Financing Your Online Master's in Film Program

While funding a graduate education in film studies can seem daunting, your first step is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for grants, loans, work-study programs, and other funding sources available through the U.S. government. You can also pursue scholarships and grants available through private sources, and apply for graduate fellowships available at some schools. To learn more about your options, review our resources below.


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