Top 8 Undergraduate Film Schools on the East Coast

When one thinks of best film schools, big undergraduate programs and powerhouses in Los Angeles such as USC and UCLA spring into mind. They are popular for a reason! Being in Los Angeles has its own perks, for sure. However, there are plenty of other great film schools that one can find across the country. To be good, a film program does not need to just be in Los Angeles. Especially since a student’s undergraduate career should develop a variety of skills, including critical thinking and media literacy, that will aid in one’s film career later on.

There are many factors to consider when selecting which undergraduate film program to apply to during high school, such as location to your hometown, cost of tuition and living expenses (Los Angeles is not cheap!), access to great professors, practical experience, and more. If you are serious about working in the industry, you’ll be living in Los Angeles for a long time so don’t be afraid to try something else for a bit.

Here are the best 8 undergraduate film schools that you can find on the East Coast. Give the list a look, hopefully you will find a few new film programs to add to your list of schools to apply to!

Please note that schools are listed in alphabetical order.

Boston University - College of Communication (B.A. & B.S.)

Boston University - College of Communication (B.A. & B.S.)

Film & Television at the BU College of Communication (COM) is committed to teaching students how to tell stories over multiple platforms such as...

Boston University
Boston, MA
  • Tuition: $56,000
Boston University’s Film and Television major is in the College of Communication. While there are some foundational courses required such as Writing for Communication, the rest of your courses are tailored for your interests and your own career goals. Students have the ability to pick a variety of classes from production, screenwriting, cinematography, and more. One of the highlights of Boston University is the student produced and managed TV station butv10. buTV10 has award-winning, student-created news, sports, drama, comedy and variety programs that are created by students. In addition, Boston University also has many campuses abroad, with courses and internships available in popular study abroad locations in London, Sydney, Shanghai, and Los Angeles.

Emerson College (BA/BFA)

Emerson College (BA/BFA)

At Emerson’s Department of Visual and Media Arts, the process of transforming your vision into reality is fast-paced, exciting, and rewarding. You’ll dive right in and start working with talented mentors, collaborators, and crew members from day one. We're all about learning by doing. Is your...

Emerson College
Boston, MA
  • Tuition: $49,000
Emerson College has a great undergraduate film program within the Department of Visual and Media Arts. Undergraduate students are able to pick from a variety of major and minor programs, including BFA Media Arts Production, BFA in Global Film Art (including a year in Paris!), BFA Comedic Arts, and more. Courses include “The Writers Room” that simulates a real life writer’s room, “Feature Film Writing'', and “Writers in Development”. Students benefit from working professors and internships that are available to them in Boston. Many students love Emerson’s central location in Boston. Emerson also has a campus located in Los Angeles where they can intern for a semester. Even though it is a small liberal arts college, there are many Emerson alumni working in Hollywood and it is not a school to pass up!

Ithaca College

Ithaca College

From day one, you’ll be on—on set, on camera, on point. Find inspiration in our award-winning media outlets (ICTV, WICB Radio, "The Ithacan"). Develop your talents with industry-leading mentors. Connect your career goals in our global professional networks. With more majors than most...

Ithaca College
Ithaca, NY
  • Tuition: $45,000
At Ithaca College, one can major in anything at the Park School ranging from Cinema and Photography, Television-Radio, Screenwriting, to Documentary Studies. Ithaca College wants to give students the creative and technical tools to start from Day One. They boast a state of the art television, studio, sound stage, 14 media labs, and a 200 seat auditorium. Ithaca College also allows students to study and intern in Los Angeles for a semester as well. According to their website, more than half of Ithaca alumni got their jobs directly or indirectly through their internships, and about 80% of their students do at least one internship during their studies. Many students love their time at Ithaca College for the professors and the wide variety of extracurricular activities provided.

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New York University
New York, NY
  • Tuition: $53,000
Outside of Los Angeles, New York University’s Undergraduate Film & Television program at the Tisch School of the Arts may be one of the most prestigious film schools in America. It is an extremely competitive program to get accepted into, with famous alumni such as Martin Scorsese, Rachel Morrison, and Joel Coen. Thanks to its prime location in New York City, there are lots of opportunities for NYU students to participate in film internships such as at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Bleecker Street Films, Anonymous Content, and A24 Films. NYU also has a campus in Los Angeles, offering upper level classes and internships. Students are able to take courses in acting, animation, production, cinematography, post production, writing, and more. Although a great program, it can be very intense.

Pratt Institute

Pratt Institute

At Pratt you begin making your own films and collaborating with your peers in your first semester. You will have access to everything you need to make your work– professional cameras, tripods, sound, and lighting equipment as well as computer labs, software and production facilities. Our faculty...

Pratt Institute
Brooklyn, NY
  • Tuition: $54,000
Pratt Institute in New York City offers its students BFA degrees and all of the benefits that New York City has to offer. Pratt Institute provides a solid foundation in the history, culture, and techniques of filmmaking and then allows their students freedom in creativity. The priority at the Pratt Institute is for freedom of creative expression. Rather than focusing on one specific area, students will write, direct, and edit as filmmakers. Really unique classes are offered at Pratt Institute such as Dreams, Memories, and Hallucinations, a nontraditional animation, and AfterEffects class. Students also have the opportunity to collaborate with fashion design students in Film + Fashion.

Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design

In Film/Animation/Video students explore the art of the moving image, learning to master the tools needed to articulate a creative vision, whether using film, animation, installations, interactive media or a combination. FAV professors support the investigation of the technical, aesthetic and...

Rhode Island School of Design
Providence, RI
  • Tuition: $53,000
Students at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) can receive their BFA in Film / Animation / Video. Students are able to work in live action, animation, or a hybrid of the two, envisioning and creating unique work. Students continually analyze and solve problems, being exposed to critical theory and working hands on with faculty members. With access to professional production equipment and editing software, students master the tools of the trade to create art. Foundational classes include drawing, design, and literature. Many students claim RISD has a warm and welcoming environment and top notch professors.

Syracuse University

Syracuse University

Our bachelor of fine arts (B.F.A.) degree program encourages independence, debate, and originality. Our approach to film is an aesthetic one rather than a commercial enterprise. We’re proud that Syracuse is ranked among the top 25 film schools in the United States by The Hollywood Reporter and...

Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY
  • Tuition: $54,000
Located in New York, Syracuse University offers a BFA in Film. Not only do students take history and theory classes, but through using top notch facilities, students have a hands-on education covering everything from development to post-production. Courses are taught by working professionals. Students at Syracuse University have amazing opportunities to take classes in Los Angeles and abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, and Bologna, Italy. Additionally, students can participate in the Syracuse International Film Festival.

Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University has long been a leader in undergraduate Film Studies. Since the 1960s, scholars in both the humanities and the social sciences have recognized cinema as the most important of the new forms of art developed in the 20th century--one which has had a profound and pervasive effect...

Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT
  • Tuition: $57,000
Wesleyan University offers a Film Studies program at the undergraduate level. The College of Film and the Moving Image promotes the study and practice of visual storytelling. Not only do they offer typical courses like “History of Global Cinema”, but more interesting ones like “Computational Media: Videogame Development” or “Television Storytelling: The Conditions of Narrative Complexity”. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and more wrote that, “I simply do not believe there’s a better Film Studies Department in the world… The major gave me an understanding of the art, the necessary requirement for any kind of creator.”

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About author
Kira writes stories about diverse young women who make their own way in the universe as troublemakers, crime-doers, and shit-stirrers. Within months of graduating from UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program, Kira staffed on two web shows that will air in March 2020. She is a staff writer, winner of the Writer's Assistant Network Pilot Competition, and Women in Film scholar.


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