Film certificate programs help novice filmmakers and seasoned professionals grow their professional and creative toolkits for a more affordable price. Explore top-rated film certificate programs for every student, accounting for affordability, accessibility (including online-only learning options), opportunities for non-university student participation, and more.

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1. National Film and Television School (NFTS)

Certificates Offered: Filmmaking, Location Management for Film and TV Production, Post Production Supervision, Producing Your First Feature, Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice, Script Supervision and Continuity for Film and Television, TV Drama - Creating the Bible, Virtual Production (Filmmaking with Real-Time Technologies)
Cost: Varies upon program

NFTS consistently ranks among the top film schools in Europe. For 12 consecutive years, NFTS has made The Hollywood Reporter's top 15 international film schools — notably, as the only UK film school on the list. The historic institution partners with All3Media, BBC, Warner Brothers, and other leading film studios to ensure film certificate students can gain hands-on experience and nurture their professional networks for a more affordable price. In addition to its main campus in Beaconsfield, NFTS offers courses in central London and several other satellite campuses in England and Wales. In-person and hybrid students can take advantage of the top-notch production facilities, well-connected and highly experienced faculty, and easy access to stunning shooting locations, and filmmakers worldwide can enhance their skills in fully remote courses.

Take a look at the diverse film certificate programs offered by NFTS for both UK and EU/EUA nationals and filmmakers worldwide:

Filmmaking: NFTS's core film certificate program prepares you for diverse industry careers, from VFX artist to director. This part-time, six-month course consists of 48 classes taught on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings online. The course ends with a five-day, hands-on practicum at the Beaconsfield campus.Explore film as an art form while learning practical skills to create the “film package.” This core assignment spans the length of the program and requires you to complete a screenplay, pitch document, budget, schedule, call sheets, movement orders, mood boards, and a director's statement.

This film certificate program is open to applicants at all filmmaking levels who are 18 and older and obtain a valid visa for the five-day practicum. To apply, submit a 300-word story concept and a summary of your professional and educational experience. If you complete the film certificate program and get accepted to an NFTS MA or Diploma course, half the certificate course fee will go toward your tuition. –$5,396.67, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit

Casting: Learn how to choose the ideal actors for small- and large-budget productions in this 24-week-long evening film certificate program supported by the Casting Directors' Guild of Great Britain & Ireland (CDG). Develop foundational knowledge by studying under casting directors in online and in-person classes at the NFTS London base in Golden Square. Each module covers a cornerstone of casting direction:
  • Module 1: Casting Fundamentals
  • Module 2: Actors
  • Module 3: Union Agreements and Equal Opportunities
  • Module 4: Specialist Fields
  • Module 5: Benefits of Training
  • Module 6: Final Assessment (A final project that requires you to complete a real world casting assignment before an industry panel.)
The course is exclusive to UK applicants and EU/EEA Nationals with UK pre-settled/settled status, and people who are currently in the UK on a valid visa for the full duration of the course. All applicants must be 18 and older and have strong opinions about television and film. –$5,689.24, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit

Location Management for Film and TV Production: Gain the knowledge and certification to become a Location Manager, Assistant Location Manager, or a Location Scout in (…). Each role is essential to helping directors, assistant directors, cinematographers and designers find and manage filming locations. Develop practical skills in workshops and on-set/location site visits. Learn essential on-set health and safety practices, including COVID-19 protocols, and graduate with a certificate and Production Safety Passport.

If you choose to attend the in-person course in London, you must be either a UK national, an EU/EEA national with a UK pre-settled/settled status, or residing in the UK on a visa valid for at least 24 weeks. To apply, provide a summary of your professional experience and a 300-max word statement about why you would make an excellent Location Manager. –$4,867.46, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit

Post Production Supervision: Prepare for a robust career as a Post Coordinator or Post Supervisor and to take on the changing film industry. This six-month, part-time film certificate program is sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery/Warner Bros. Discovery Access, Netflix and Prime Video. Courses are divided into weekly webinars and five in-person sessions at the central London campus in Golden Square. Improve your post-production skills by learning about budgeting, networking, and scheduling.
  • Module 1: Pre-Production & Production, Post, before Post Production starts!
  • Module 2: Starting Post Production
  • Module 3: Picture Post
  • Module 4: Sound Post
  • Module 5: Accounts & Legal
This film certificate program is open to filmmakers 18 and older worldwide who have completed their general education. You must also qualify for a visa to attend five in-person classes. NFTS favors applicants with some production experience and an enthusiasm for the craft. –$1,093.67

Producing Your First Feature: Learn how to produce your first feature film on a budget, attract generous financial support as a producer, and develop and identify films with commercial potential. This six-month, part-time film certificate program meets online (Scotland) or in-person (central London). Classes are taught in the evening and divided into four modules:
  • Module 1: Development
  • Module 2: Packaging and Financing
  • Module 3: Production and Post-Production
  • Module 4: Distribution, Sales and Marketing
If you choose to attend the in-person course in London, you must be either a UK national, an EU/EEA national with a UK pre-settled/settled status, or residing in the UK on a visa valid for at least 24 weeks. NFTS favors applicants who are enthusiastic about producing and have some prior production experience. To apply, provide a 300-max word description of a story you want to film and why, a 300-max word summary of your relevant experience, and a 300-max word summary of why you would make an outstanding producer. –$4,614.60 (for both central London and Scotland)

Screenwriting: Finding Your Voice: Go beyond mastering basic screenwriting techniques and learn what inspired you as a writer and filmmaker. This part-time six-month course is divided into weekly in-person courses and one-to-one writing tutorial sessions on Zoom/Skype every two weeks. Discover how to craft stories that capture audiences from all backgrounds and translate your artistic vision onto small and large screens. Expand your portfolio by drafting several projects at various stages of development, from concept to treatment, with support from your classmates in an online forum.

If you choose to attend the in-person course in London, you must be either a UK national, an EU/EEA national with a UK pre-settled/settled status, or residing in the UK on a visa valid for at least 24 weeks. To apply, submit ten pages (with a supporting one-page outline) of a short, feature, or television screenplay in industry-standard format, saved as a PDF. Note: The Wales course is open exclusively to UK and EU/EEA nationals.

NFTS favors applicants with a screenwriting background or experience taking college media courses. If you complete the film certificate program, you may receive an interview for the two-year Screenwriting MA program. –$6,890.30, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit (for both Wales and central London)

Script Supervision and Continuity for Film and Television: Through rigorous full-time coursework across three months, develop practical skills to become a Script Supervisor. Sponspored by BBC, this film certificate program prepares you to supply scripts, run orders, and organize camera shots to lay the groundwork for successful rehearsals, recordings, and film and television shoots. Learn how to collaborate with the production team to maximize productivity and prevent delays on- and off-set. Work within the 4k multi-camera television studio gallery, gain experience using ScriptE and BBC Scriptwriter, attend on-set and site visits to major British television and film studios, and more.

If you choose to attend the in-person course in London, you must be either a UK national, an EU/EEA national with a UK pre-settled/settled status, or residing in the UK on a visa valid for at least 24 weeks. To apply, fill out the online application — no supporting materials required. NFTS favors applicants with previous film industry and/or production experience. –$4,867.46, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit

TV Drama - Creating the Bible: The pitch bible is the screenwriter’s essential guidebook to information on characters, setting, and other key story elements — and this film certificate program prepares you to develop one. All3Media, a leading UK-based production company, sponsors this 8-week, part-time course taught at the Beaconsfield campus. Students must attend in-person classes at least three days per week, Monday to Wednesday.

Learn how to write dramatic features in the same vein as The Crown, House of The Dragon and Succession in classes that replicate writers’ rooms. Pitch your projects and story ideas to the heads of All3Media, Neal Street Productions, and Company Pictures for a chance to see your work in theaters.

To apply, fill out the online application with a copy of your resume or CV. NFTS urges applicants to have a passion for drama and strong writing and editing skills. —$4,867.46, plus a non-refundable $632.14 deposit

Virtual Production (Filmmaking with Real-Time Technologies): Are you fascinated by CGI, video special effects, AI, and virtual production (VP)? Do you want to kick start your career in the competitive and flourishing VP industry? If so, consider this film certificate program sponsored by Warner Bros. Discovery Access, StoryFutures, and Screen Scotland. Gain essential knowledge to excel as an animator, director, or VFX specialist in this part-time, 24-week hybrid course divided into weekly webinars and in-person weekday and weekend classes at the Beaconsfield campus.

Learn the essentials to work on various VP productions, from special lighting techniques to using an LED stage driven by Unreal Engine to utilizing the VP LED wall at NFTS Beaconsfield Film Studios, in six modules:
  • Module 1: Introduction to Virtual Production
  • Module 2: Unreal for VP 1
  • Module 3: Unreal for VP 2
  • Module 4: LED Stage Technical Setup
  • Module 5: Design for Virtual Production
  • Module 6: Practical LED Stage Workshop

If you choose to attend the in-person course in London, you must be either a UK national, an EU/EEA national with a UK pre-settled/settled status, or residing in the UK on a visa valid for at least 24 weeks. The course is open to applicants 18 and older with at least two years of film industry experience and production and some post-production experience. To apply, fill out the online application form with a copy of your updated resume or CV along with a portfolio or links of your work.

This course accepts students with adjacent experience, such as video game design and 2D or 3D animation. All students must have access to high-level VP software, including Unreal Engine. NFTS favors applicants who are historically underrepresented in the VP and film industries. Each year, six seats are reserved for Scottish students. Additionally, NFTS may reimburse transportation and lodging fees for Scottish students traveling to attend in-person classes. –$4,361.75

Curious about attending NFTS to study film? Learn more about each campus, the NFTS alumni network, managing the costs of attendance, and more in FilmSchool.org’s exclusive interview with the NFTS admissions department.

2. University of California Los Angeles (Extension)

Certificates Offered: Business Management of Entertainment, Cinematography, Directing, Entertainment Studies, Film and TV Development, Film Scoring, Post-Production, Producing
Cost: Varies upon certificate program

As one of the oldest film institutions in America, UCLA Extension is an excellent option for California-based filmmakers looking for a blend of prestige and affordability. The university boasts a breadth of film certificate programs that can be pursued full-time for nine months to one year or spread out over the course of 3 years. Although the university has faced setbacks in the past few years, it remains an undisputed heavy hitter in the cohort of famous California film schools and continuing education programs. In 2022, FilmSchool.org named UCLA Extension one of the best film programs in the nation. And in 2023, the university was featured on FilmSchool.org’s list of the top undergraduate film programs in California.

Take a look at the unique benefits of each UCLA Extension program:

Business and Management of Entertainment (Online/In Person): Learn the legal and financial aspects of filmmaking, plus how films are funded, distributed, and marketed. –$6,705.00

Cinematography: Prepare for a career as a camera operator, director of photography, or a cinematographer. Understand cinematography essentials from rigging lighting to using camera composition and movement to strengthen your narrative. –$8,505.00

Directing: Transition into directing or grow your skillset as a director by developing one original short film. Learn how to navigate the pre-production, production, and post-production phases, collaborate with actors, and more. –$9,040.00

Feature Film Writing (Online/In Person): Learn the art of feature film writing with emerging screenwriters and writers in other creative mediums. Hone your ability to execute a scene and develop intriguing characters in classes taught by Writers Guild of America members and industry professionals. –$4,320.00

Entertainment Studies: Expand your knowledge and explore potential careers in the major arenas of the entertainment industry, including acting, cinematography, and directing. –$8,940.00

Film and TV Development: Improve your expertise in development or transition into a career as an entertainment acquisition executive. Learn how to write screenplay coverage and how to write better stories. –$8,940.00

Film Scoring: Prepare for a career scoring films, video games, or emerging media by growing your technical skills and learning how to maximize a project’s budget. Apply for the BMI/Jerry Goldsmith Film Scoring Scholarship to grow your network of film scoring professionals. – $14,556.00

Post-Production: Enhance your editing skills to improve your film projects or gain essential knowledge for editorial and post-production careers. Train on industry-standard software and equipment and network at post-production internships. –$6,705.00.

Producing (Online/In Person): Learn how to shift gears into a producing career and deepen your understanding of storytelling in the filmmaking process. Understand how financing, marketing, and distribution affect the production process. Apply for the Movie Magic Scholarship to receive one free Entertainment course of your choice. –$8,940.00

Television Writing (Online/in Person): Aspiring television writers work toward mastery of writing and editing spec scripts. Courses taught by industry professionals and members of the Writers Guild of America discuss writing for television dramas. –$4,320

Both writing certificate programs are a part of the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension. Graduates receive Advanced Standing in Antioch University Los Angeles’ MFA program in creative writing or Antioch University Santa Barbara’s MFA program in TV/screenwriting, playwriting, or emerging and new media, so they can enroll in either program with one semester completed.

The UCLA Extension program is also open to international students, who can apply for an F-1 visa. Members of UC alumni associations, UCLA recent graduates, UC faculty and staff, UCLA faculty and staff, and senior citizens can receive tuition discounts UCLA Extension also awards $400 enrollment fee waivers on a case-by-case basis.

3. UCLA (Professional Program)

Certificates Offered: Directing, Screenwriting, Writing for Television, Writing for Late Night Comedy, Advanced Workshops
Cost: Varies upon certificate program

For an even more comprehensive film training experiene, consider UCLA's graduate-level, non-credit Professional Program with courses taught by UCLA TFT staff. This film certificate program is more competitive than UCLA Extension. It also requires a no-fee application with the following materials:
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college (in any field)
    • If you don't have a bachelor's degree, you may write a letter to the Program Director explaining how your life and professional experiences are equivalent. The program accepts 2-3 non-degree holding students each application cycle.
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or CV
  • Supporting creative materials that vary upon program (e.g., reel, writing sample)
Late applications are accepted if your UCLA Professional Program has the additional space. Writing samples must be in industry-standard format. Many applicants have a film background, while others work in creative and technical fields. Waitlisted applicants are eligible to enroll in their program the following year. Graduates receive a certificate from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television.

Learn more about the specific requirements and course objectives in each Professional Program:

Directing: Learn the art of directing by exploring emerging film industry technologies and current narrative techniques in small seminar-style classes. In 38 sessions across 10 weeks, train under industry professionals and attend lectures led by more than two dozen guest directors offering demonstrations and in-depth Q&A sessions. Master the pre-production, production, and post-production phases by taking courses in topics such as Director’s Workflow and Set Etiquette. Note: This is a knowledge-based certificate program, so you will NOT do hands-on directing work. Classes are held from 7-10 p.m. PST. The first half of the course is online, and the second half is on campus. To apply, submit your portfolio, a link to a 2-5 minute directing sample, a professional resume, and a one-page statement of purpose. Reels, short films, and web series are accepted. –$6,750

Screenwriting (Online/In Person): Learn to write engaging screenplays in classes taught by screenwriting faculty at UCLA TFT. In workshops of only 10 students taught across three quarters, learn the phases of the screenplay lifecycle in three-hour-long workshops. In fall, explore story concept development; in winter, apply your knowledge by writing a full-length screenplay; and in spring, work with a new workshop instructor to write a second full-length screenplay. Recorded lectures and live Q&A sessions help support your studies. Classes are held from 7-10 p.m. PST. To apply, submit a five-page original writing sample (written independently and in consecutive order) and a one-page statement of purpose. Original TV pilots and feature screenplay samples are accepted. –$6,750

Writing for Television (Online/Person): Prepare for a career in writing for television or expand on your portfolio in drama or comedy. In workshops of 10 students taught across three quarters, practice roundtable reading and script analysis while writing compelling original work. In fall, write a spec teleplay of an existing television series; in winter, write your original pilot; in spring, write a second original pilot. Recorded lectures and live Q&A sessions help support your studies. Classes are held from 7-10 p.m. PST. To apply, submit a five-page writing sample and a one-page statement of purpose. You must also declare the Drama or Comedy track. Original TV pilots, original TV spec scripts, and feature screenplay samples are accepted. –$6,750

Writing for Late Night Comedy (Online): Led by Emmy-nominated actress-writer-producer-director Holly Wortell, this unique Professional Program teaches joke and sketch writing of the highest caliber. In online workshops limited to 12 students, learn how to transform everyday observations and breaking news into hilarious writing material. You’ll leave the program with a complete talkshow packet and sketch portfolio that reflect your professional and creative goals. To apply, submit three “Thank You” notes inspired by The Jimmy Fallon Show (with the first two matching the tone of the show) and a one-page statement of purpose. This film certificate program is exclusive to students 21 and older. –$1,200

Producing (Online): Production techniques for independent and major motion pictures are constantly shifting, and the UCLA Professional Producing Program helps prepare you to weather ups and downs in the industry. In online workshops held on 38 weeknights across 10 weeks, learn skills critical to a successful producing career. The film certificate course is based on UCLA MFA Producers Program and taught by faculty at the UCLA TFT. Recent guest lecturers include Keith David (Nope, Armageddon) and Nate Moore (Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). No additional course materials are required. –$6,750

Acting for the Camera: Enhance your acting skills by attending the only non-degree acting program overseen by staff at the UCLA TFT. In workshops of 16 students across 10 weeks, attend guest lectures by world-famous actors, from Jennifer Anniston (Friends, The Morning Show) to Jason Bateman (Ozark, Arrested Development) and take scene Study workshops to deliver compelling performances across different mediums. Acting for the Camera workshops learn set etiquette and tips to win casting calls. Career Development connects you to respected casting directors and talent managers who help you understand your role in the industry. Learn self-marketing strategies culminating in a personal project pitched to an industry panel. Scene Study workshops vary by quarter. Spring explores acting in niche genres such as horror and sci-fi, winter explores acting in film and single and multi-camera comedies, and fall explores acting and audition development. Workshops are conducted three days each week, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. PST.

Advanced Workshops: If you successfully completed the Screenwriting or Writing for Television Professional Programs but aim to continue growing your skillset, consider the Advanced Workshop for high-level screenwriter and television writers. In workshops limited to eight students taught across 10 weeks, rewrite your feature screenplays or original television pilots. All genres are welcome. For the application, provide proof of successful completion of a prior Professional Program. –$1,750

International students must prepare to attend courses exclusively taught in English. For admission, they must show proof of a TOEFL score of 560 or better ( equivalent to 87 in the online version of the test) or an IELTS score of 7 or better. They must also apply for the F-1 visa.

Note: The UCLA Professional Program does not provide government financial aid, student loans, grants, scholarships, GI Bill/military waivers, and internship credit.

4. New York University Tisch School of the Arts

Certificates Offered: Filmmaking, Producing, Television Writing, Screenwriting
Cost: Varies upon program

NYU Tisch offers non-credit certificate programs for filmmakers who want to attend one of the most prestigious film schools worldwide for a fraction of the cost of earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In 2022, FilmSchool.org ranked NYU Tisch’s summer certificates one of the best film programs in the nation. Each program has four units divided into two core courses and two electives. (Note: For-credit courses do not count toward completing the certificate.)

Take a look at what NYU Tisch has to offer filmmakers on a budget:

Television Writing: The core courses, Episodic Writing I (Specs) and II (Pilots), allow film certificate students to write a “spec” episode of an existing television show and one original pilot. Choose from electives in spec writing, comedy writing, creating TV pilots, and/or playwriting. Each elective has unique offerings tailored to every type of writer: Sketch Comedy Writing is a no-holds-barred exploration of comedy writing that includes group rewriting, while Playwriting I requires playwrights to come to the first class with at least two ideas for a 50-70 page stage play and heavy reading and analysis of existing plays. – $4,567

Filmmaking: Learn every pillar of filmmaking in three non-credit courses. This certificate program is the least expensive and delivers outstanding value by delving into conceptualizing, shooting, editing, and producing feature films. The core course, Writing for Screen, can be taken in person or online. Two required electives explore filmmaking fundamentals in unique formats. Master non-fiction storytelling for the screen in Fundamentals of Sight and Sound: Documentary. Alternatively, explore unconventional filmmaking techniques and take creative risks in Intermediate Experimental Workshop. Learn to shoot for small screens in Intermediate Production: Short Commercial Form. Or hone in your digital filmmaking skills by creating five short films front-to-end in Fundamentals of Sight and Sound: Filmmaking. – $3,425

Screenwriting: Learn the fundamentals of writing for film and television in Screenwriting I and Screenwriting II under the instruction of a professional screenwriter. Prepare to write three short films and develop the synopsis and outline for a feature film, and read and analyze scripts. Choose two electives from Episodic Writing I (Specs), Episodic Writing II (Pilots), Playwriting I, and Sketch Comedy Writing. – $4,567

Producing: Choose two of three core courses: Producing Essentials, Media Moguls in the 20th Century, and Film Development: The Tools of Creative Movie Producing. Producing Essentials and Film Development are ideal for the beginner producer, while Media Moguls examines prominent figures who revolutionized production practices. Choose two electives from Fundamentals of Sight and Sound: Filmmaking, Fundamentals of Sight and Sound: Documentary, and Producing for TV. Producing for TV allows film certificate students to serve as executive producers on a project of their choice. – $4,567

The NYU Tisch summer film certificate programs are open to NYU Tisch film students, students from outside colleges and universities, and applicants with a bachelor's degree in any field. Learn more about how to qualify as a visiting student.

Curious about the ins and outs of studying film at NYU Tisch? Compare the summer certificate programs to the university's renowned bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, plus learn about campus life in FilmSchool.org’s NYU Tisch: How to Apply guide.

5. University of California Berkeley

Certificate Offered: Summer Certificate Program in Film & Media Industries and Professions
Cost: $4,609

Eager to grow your filmmaking toolkit as quickly as possible? Consider UC Berkley's non-credit Summer Certificate Program Film & Media Industries and Professions. UC Berkley is a first tier UC school, second only to UCLA for top tier academics and selectivity. The university's full-time film program is known for prioritizing theory, and its film certificate program encourages critical thinking about film and new media.

To graduate, you must complete three core courses — Pitch to Production, Entertainment Law, and Film & Media Professions — in one summer session. Industry professionals lead classes about basic production strategies, film distribution, common legal issues on film sets, and how to navigate studio and independent film productions.

The film certificate program is open to UC Berkeley and non-UC Berkeley students. Graduates receive a certificate from the UC Berkley Department of Film & Media.

6. Rhode Island School of Design

Certificates Offered: Animation
Cost: $9,460*

Rhode Island School of Design offers a non-credit, online certificate in Animation that helps animators fine-tune their craftsmanship and develop compelling original characters. In 2022, Animation Career Review ranked RISD no. 6 in its list of the top animation schools in America. FilmSchool.org also ranked RISD one of the top Northeastern film schools thanks to its top-notch courses for aspiring animators.

Academic and industry professionals lead 18-hour courses covering filmmaking fundamentals. Level I: Core introduces certificate students to the fundamentals of drawing, design, digital design, applied color, plus the mechanics of animation. Level II: Concentration allows certificate students to expand their portfolios with advanced character design and storyboarding classes emphasizing narrative development. The program concludes with a final portfolio review. You can also take dynamic electives.

*Supplies, software subscription fees and additional materials are not included in the program fees.

7. Parsons School of Design (The School of Media Studies at The New School)

Certificate Offered: Film Production, Documentary Media Studies
Cost: Varies upon program

If you’ve seen Project Runway, Parsons School of Design will ring a bell — but you might not know that the historic New York City art school also offers film certificate programs. Film certificate students in both programs enjoy access to historic film institutions, film festivals, and insights from industry professionals.

In eight courses, filmmakers at any level of experience in the Film Production certificate program learn the technical and theoretical aspects of cinematography, lighting, script writing, directing, pre- and post-production, and editing. Certificate students must complete at least one original film project. The foundational course, The Art of Film, explores filmmaking fundamentals and how technology, culture and film intersect. They apply their knowledge in a filmmaking studio, an intermediate film lab, advanced pre-production, advanced post-production, and an advanced post-production course. –$790–$1,685 per course

Filmmakers compelled to tell stories that raise awareness around social issues or preserve history can enroll in the Documentary Media Studies certificate program. New York City is one of the best cities for documentary filmmakers worldwide due to its rich history, ethnic diversity, and stunning landscapes. In one year of full-time study, certificate students learn to create an original short documentary from development to post-production. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in any area from an accredited college or university and submit a portfolio. Note: This program has a fall start. –$17,439

8. University of Washington (Professional & Continuing Education)

Certificate offered: Film & Video Production
Cost: $5,775

Current and aspiring filmmakers who want to improve their skills in directing, production design, audio recording, editing, and on-set leadership should consider UW’s program for non-traditional film students. For one, UW is located in the heart of Seattle; the Emerald City is filled with historic film landmarks. And the local film industry is seeing a slow but steady revival after setbacks during the pandemic.

In evening courses across eight months divided into three quarters, you will learn how to create independent films and video arts projects on a budget. Experiment developing films for artistry, advocacy, and marketing purposes in hands-on courses led by top-notch instructors, including Emmy Award-winning writer-director-producer Maria Gargiulo (East of Occidental, The Guest House).

The first quarter teaches the principles of film and video production. The second quarter helps students hone their skills. And the third quarter focuses on the film and video capstone project: writing, shooting, and editing your short film. Additionally, the UW Certificate Scholarship and Rotary Scholarship cover most of the film certificate program costs.

9. The San Francisco Film School

Certificates offered: Professional Certificate in Digital Filmmaking
Cost: $33,360

As one of the most production-oriented film certificate programs in this list, the Professional Certificate (PC) at The San Francisco Film School is ideal if you want to expand your portfolio while gaining technical knowledge. VFX, audio recording and post, cinematography — The San Francisco Film School’s rigorous curriculum prepares you for a range of film careers. San Francisco is also one of the best cities nationwide for film production: Film certificate students can capitalize on the scenic cityscape and surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes in film and television shoots, and aim to work with top-rated studios such as George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

You can complete the program on campus or pursue a low-cost residency ideal for working professionals. In-person students attend most classes on campus, while low-cost residency students must attend classes on campus for at least one week each semester. All students receive the signature Professional Film Equipment Package in their first semester. This beginner’s toolkit contains a 4K cinema camera, lens, film audio recording kit, and three-point lighting kit.

Each course prepares you to write, edit, and shoot at least four films: a visual montage, a short film, a short documentary, and a web commercial. You will also gain experience by experimenting with different film set roles on student-led productions, including assistant director, gaffer, cinematographer, and sound recordist.

All students take at least 46 credits, two of which must be elective courses. Courses are taught Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. You have between 12 and 20 months to complete the film certificate program. Although the film certificate is offered through a vocational (and fully accredited) fine arts school, the application requires your most recent college transcripts, plus a personal statement and other supporting materials.

10. University of Massachusetts Amherst (University Without Walls)

Certificate offered: Film Studies
Cost: $8,010 (summer start); $8,676 (fall start)

Reap the benefits of studying at one of the strongest public universities in America without enrolling as a degree-seeking student. The Film Studies online certificate program at UMass Amherst University Without Walls is open to both degree- and non-degree-seeking students who aim to hone their filmmaking skills at one of the top 100 national universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

In six courses, broaden your knowledge of industry best practices, filmmaking techniques, and the business angle of film and video arts. Industry professionals lead courses worth a total of 18 credits that can be applied to the university's Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Studies. Electives are diverse, inclusive, and reflect film industry trends. Students are encouraged to evaluate how gender roles, race, and intersectionality shape film and television series. The program is designed to help you schedule your courses around personal and professional commitments. There are no course overload restrictions or fees to help you earn your film certificate faster.

11. Fullerton College

Certificates Offered: Television and Film Production
Cost: $1,104 annually for California residents; $7,752 annually for non-residents

Unlike many other film certificate programs, Television and Film Production at Fullerton College delves into writing and producing for radio and other niche areas of filmmaking, not limited to media aesthetics, world cinema across the 1900s, and non-linear editing. Fullerton College is only a 1-2 hour drive from major motion picture studios in Los Angeles but offers a 12.2% reduction in cost of living. And as one of the oldest community colleges in the nation, the cost of attendance is cheaper than other California-based film certificate programs.

Enhance your professional, technical, and creative filmmaking skills in courses such as Audio Production Techniques and Writing for Radio, TV and Film. To graduate, students must complete the required 24-48 units. Click here for a list of courses that can transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.

12. Brooklyn College

Certificates Offered: Film (Producing, Screenwriting) for undergraduates and graduates
Cost: Varies upon academic status (university student vs. non-degree student, residency

As a part of the City University of New York system — nicknamed the poor man’s Harvard — Brooklyn College offers an all-around excellent film certificate program for university students and non-degree students.* The Screenwriting and Production tracks are each worth 30 credits and teach film certificate students to grow their storytelling skills. Brooklyn College's Magner Career Center helps film certificate students access networking and job opportunities with WarnerMedia, Netflix, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., among other production studios.

Both tracks are open to undergraduate and graduate students. Here's what makes each track unique:
  • Screenwriting: Learn about film history, the link between film narratives and the production process, and more in nine core courses and one elective. Prepare to write and workshop one feature-length screenplay.
  • Producing: This comprehensive certificate program covers the fundamentals of filmmaking, including the essentials of production, cinematography, sync sound recording, and the language of film in 10 courses. Certificate students craft a short, advanced-level, synchronized sound film later workshopped in a post-production course.
Take a look at the total cost of attendance:

Undergraduate
  • Full-time New York residents (15 credits across two semesters): $6,930
  • Part-time New York residents (fewer than 12 credits across multiple semesters): $9,150
  • Non-degree New York residents – $13,350
  • Non-degree non-residents – $27,450

Graduate
  • Full-time New York residents (15 credits across two semesters) – $11,090
  • Part-time New York residents – $14,100
  • Full-time AND part-time non-residents – $25,650

Learn more about the tuition breakdown and additional costs, including material fees.

*Non-degree students who do not have a bachelor’s degree must have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete the CUNY Basic Skills Assessment Tests.

13. Santa Monica College

Certificate Offered: Film Production
Cost: Varies upon residency

The Certificate of Achievement - Film Production is a hybrid certificate and associate’s program that provides a comprehensive yet affordable film education. In 2022, Movie Maker named Santa Monica College one of the top 40 film schools in North America due to its outstanding film production training. High value and low cost, this film certificate program is widely considered one of the top community colleges for filmmakers in California. Certificate students learn the ins and outs of directing, editing, cinematography, sound design in courses that combine theory and hands-on instruction. They can also screen their work with fellow emerging filmmakers at the annual Santa Monica International Film Festival.

The program stretches out across five semesters with a total of six electives. The first two semesters set up certificate students for success by focusing on the history of film, appreciating cinema, and beginner to intermediate screenwriting and digital filmmaking. The remaining three semesters explore creating short films, advanced digital filmmaking, and a mix of general education courses.

Take a look at the total cost of tuition:
  • California residents: $1,104
  • Non-residents: $3,504
Learn how the Certificate of Achievement - Film Production program can transfer to a four-year bachelor’s degree film program at University of California and Cal State schools.

Gain In-Demand Filmmaking Skills on a Budget​


Film certificate programs are a cost-conscious way to explore your passions, find the best industry career for your skills, transition in your career, and network with other filmmakers. However, they tend to target one specific area of filmmaking at an accelerated pace. So, before you apply for a film certificate program, learn more about attending your university of choice as a bachelor’s or master’s degree student by becoming a Supporting Member.

We also invite you to connect with the FilmSchool.org community by participating in our Forums. Ask questions and offer answers about applying to film school, engage with current film school students hosting AMAs, get free portfolio tips and feedback, and learn the ins and outs of your top film programs.

FilmSchool.org is 100% advertisement free and Supporting Memberships make articles and interviews like this one possible. Supporting Members also enjoy FULL access to the application database (GPAs, test scores, portfolios...), our full Acceptance Data statistics, private student clubs and forums, and other perks.
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Alexa P.
Alexa Pellegrini (she/her) is a freelance copywriter, editor, poet, and essayist. Keep up with her latest musings on Twitter.

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