How to Apply to Columbia University's BA in Film and Media Studies for 2024 Entry

Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room at the Lenfest Center for the Arts (c) Frank Oudeman-2.jpg
Columbia University's BA in Film Studies program teaches undergraduates how to become scholars and accomplished writers of film by primarily analyzing films, scripts, and filmmaking techniques to create one short film or screenplay.

BA in Film and Media Studies students analyze the history and cultural significance of film to gain technical and theoretical knowledge needed for industry careers. Many students build their portfolios through Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions, a student-run filmmaking organization.

The program is open to undergraduate students at Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and Barnard College; 12 courses (36 credits total) are required to complete the major. Undergraduate students declare the Film Studies major by the beginning of their sophomore year.

Alumni pursue careers in film as well as film distribution, public relations, and film archival. Take a look at the program overview.

Years 1-2

Undergraduate filmmakers complete their general education courses through their constituent college, as well as the core prerequisite course for the major: Introduction to Film and Media Studies (FILM UN1000). FILM UN1000 is offered at the start of each semester and examines film through the lens of aesthetics, history, theory, and criticism.

By the end of year 2 (upon successful completion of FILM UN1000), students declare the Film and Studies major.

Years 3-4​

Laboratories in Screenwriting (FILM UN2420), Fiction Filmmaking (FILM UN2510), and Nonfiction Filmmaking (FILM UN2520) prepare students to develop their own creative projects. To graduate with honors, students can take the Senior Seminar in Film Studies (FILM UN3900), a course that requires a thesis project that demonstrates high-level proficiency in cinematic criticism.

There is a cap of four screenwriting and filmmaking classes that can be counted towards the major. Popular electives include American Film: Noir, Seeing Narrative, and the Senior Seminars in Film Studies, Screenwriting, and Filmmaking.

In year 4, advanced courses allow students to apply theoretical, cultural, and historical studies to screenplays and short films. The Senior Seminar in Filmmaking (FILM UN3910) allows students to make short thesis films while learning how to distribute and market their work. The Senior Seminar in Screenwriting (FILM UN3920) gives students the opportunity to write and revise a 30-page screenplay.

How to Apply​

Before you apply to the BA in Film and Media Studies program, make sure your high school coursework meets the minimum requirements (homeschooled applicants have these unique guidelines). Prepare to submit the following:
  1. Common Application, Coalition Application, or QuestBridge Application (for finalists only) — Each version of the core application requires a mandatory personal essay; list of personal achievements, academic accolades, and employment history; and autobiographical information.
  2. Columbia-Specific questions: Applicants must explain why they are a good fit for Columbia University by answering these questions.
  3. Secondary school profile: Provide official transcripts from all high schools attended, one high school counselor’s recommendation, your school profile, and one completed mid-year report.
  4. Two letters of recommendation: Provide letters from two high school instructors who taught you in academic courses.
  5. Application fee: Applicants must pay the non-refundable $85 fee.
    • If the application fee poses a financial burden, applicants can determine if they are eligible for an application fee waiver by submitting this form.
In 2022, Columbia University instated its test-optional policy for all freshmen applicants. Additionally, creative materials are not required for the BA in Film and Media Studies program.

If Columbia University is your top choice for undergraduate film studies, consider applying Early Decision. If admitted, you agree to withdraw all other applications and accept your offer. Early Decision applicants can be admitted, deferred (delegated to the Regular Decision pool and notified by April 1), or denied admission. For more information about deadlines, see "Columbia University Application Deadlines and What to Expect After Applying").

If your application will be late due to a medical emergency or a natural disaster, email an extension request as soon as possible to

For even more information about the undergraduate application process, read Columbia University's online FAQs.