Chapman University - Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Reviews & Admissions Statistics

4.25 star(s) 4.25 Stars (4 Reviews)
School Website
Degrees Offered
  1. 4 Year BA
  2. 4 Year BFA
  3. 2 Year MA
  4. 2 Year MFA
  5. 3 Year MFA
  1. Acting
  2. Animation & Digital Arts
  3. Broadcast Journalism
  4. Cinematography
  5. Creative Producing
  6. Directing
  7. Documentary Filmmaking
  8. Editing
  9. Film & Television Production
  10. Film Studies
  11. Business / Film Dual Degree
  12. News and Documentary
  13. Producing
  14. Production Design
  15. Public Relations and Advertising
  16. Screenwriting
  17. Set Design
  18. Sound Design
  19. Writing for Screen & Television
Tuition Range
$60k to $70k
Undergraduate Deadlines
Early Action: November 1
Regular Decision: January 15
Spring: October 15
Graduate Deadlines
December 1

Film School details

Undergrad Student Body
Graduate Student Body
  1. Student owns all copyrights
Start of Production Classes
  1. Unknown
Camera Equipment
  1. ARRI Digital Cinema Cameras
  2. RED
  3. Sony Cinema Cameras
Software Used
  1. Adobe After Effects
  2. Adobe Premiere
  3. Avid Media Composer
  4. DaVinci Resolve
  5. Final Draft
  6. Pro Tools
Filmmaking Facilities
  1. Sound Stage(s)
  2. Green Screen
  3. Sound Recording Studio
  4. ADR Foley Stage(s)
  5. Color Correction Suites
  6. Editing Bays
  7. Screening Rooms
  8. Sound Mixing Room(s)
  9. TV Studio
  10. Visual Effects Studios
  1. Student must arrange
  2. School provides resources to help find internships
Job Placement
  1. School Connects Students with Alumni
  2. School Provides Career Development Training
Application Fee
GRE Required?
  1. No
SAT or ACT Required?
  1. No
Portfolio Required?
  1. Yes
Letters of Rec Required
  1. 1 (Undergrad)
  2. 2 (Graduate)
Notification of Decision
End of April

Rising to number 4 on The Hollywood Reporter's annual rankings of the top 25 American film schools in 2022, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University offers top-notch filmmaking courses in an intimate learning environment. Notable alumni include the Duffer brothers, writer-director-producers of Stranger Things; Justin Simien, writer-director-producer of the feature film and television series Dear White People; and Chris Marrs Piliero, who directs music videos for internationally recognized artists such as The Black Keys and Ariana Grande.

Read our exclusive interview with the Chapman admissions department:

How to get into Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: Tips from the Department of Admissions (Part 1)

How to get into Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: Tips from the Department of Admissions (Part 1)

Rising to number 4 on The Hollywood Reporter's annual rankings of the top 25 American film schools in 2022, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University offers top-notch filmmaking courses in an intimate learning environment. Notable alumni include the Duffer brothers...

Undergraduate Application Requirements

  • Common application with Chapman questions
  • SAT/ACT optional
  • At least one letter of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • Common App School Report form
  • Dodge College Personal Statement
  • Creative Resume
  • Major Requirement Creative Sample
  • Major Requirement Essay

Graduate Application Requirements

  • $60 fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of Intent
  • Resume
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Creative Supplement

Tuition Details

Notable Alumni

  • Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer (Stranger Things)

Internship Opportunities

Yes (required during summer)
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time it was last updated. PLEASE verify with the school ALL due dates and requirements as they may have changed since our last update. If any info on this page is incorrect please let us know and we will update it. We are not responsible for missed deadlines or rejected applications due to out of date information on this page. Please do your due diligence.

Latest Film School Reviews

Reviewed by: Current Student
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Cinematography
  • Cheaper than prestigious LA or NY film schools
  • High end facilities
  • Discipline specific degrees offered
  • Seems to admit anyone/desperate for students
  • Poor coursework
  • Feels more like a TV school than a film school
  • Could be a lot shorter program
I studied in the MFA cine program for one year and deferred due to the corona virus, but decided not to return to the program, mainly due to disillusionment with the quality of the classes.
The first semester, everyone is required to take a class called "Story". To be blunt the class was kind of a joke. It involved reading stories like The Tell Tale Heart and the Oedipus myth, stories which basically every high school American is exposed to at some point. The homework was also pretty mind numbing and reminiscent of high school busy work, which makes you wonder why graduate students are being subjected to it. Furthermore, why are cine students forced to take an acting class their second year?

The only classes that I thought were useful were the ones specific to my discipline--cinematography. And that's the problem with Chapman's MFA program for production-- it should actually be a condensed two year degree like AFI. I would have loved to have taken all the cine classes, ignored the rest, and graduated much sooner and cheaper, but unfortunately that's the con of a curriculum that's predetermined.
Based on my experience of the program it's designed more for students who haven't had much prior production experience.

Unfortunately, I don't think Chapman does a very good job of preparing those students who do have less experience than others. The first semester cine students are required to make a project called a 3-2-1, yet are given pretty much zero instruction in the very basics of lighting. Two cine students dropped out right after the first semester because they realized it makes no sense to pay all that money for lessons that weren't even given. People go to film school to be taught and instructed in an organized way, not to figure everything out on their own. That's what YouTube is for. During the second semester, lighting was finally covered in more detail... after over 20K had already been spent by every student.

The philosophy at Chapman is actually that students are supposed to get most of their hands on practical knowledge by volunteering on student sets. Which is fine. That's why I dropped out. Because why pay money to work on sets when I can work on sets for free without paying? And that's the problem. The students I've worked under certainly know things that I've learned from, but there's no way of knowing what it is you don't know unless you actually have an experienced professor teaching you. Maybe more of that happens in the second year, but I didn't care to risk all that money to find out.

The second, and possibly most important, issue that I believe holds Chapman back is the quality of the students they admit. Networking is a huge part of film school, so if your classmates aren't that special, then you're in trouble. I'm not speaking about my fellow cine students, but mainly the quality of the directing students. Many seemed to have a working knowledge of cinema limited to Marvel and Christopher Nolan. Which I guess is fine if you want to try to make films like those. Others liked to spout trite and poorly reasoned regurgitations of the latest pop woke tropes, which I suppose is also fine if you want to direct Coke commercials. But if you want to make meaningful independent cinema... well, there weren't too many unique, truly authentic voices to be found in that bunch.

I know someone who attends AFI, and based on what I've heard the gulf between the quality of students at AFI and Chapman isn't very close. The resumes of the AFI students knock those of the Chapman students out of the park. Many have already shot, edited, or directed a feature, and many have legitimately impressive connections (connections are definitely not required to gain admission though). If you want to surround yourself with people very likely to be successful, you'll have a much better shot at AFI.

Demographically, most of the students in the whole graduate program (not just MFA cine) are white or international Chinese students. A very small percentage are black, and I'm not really sure what accounts for this disparity other than that Orange County itself has a very small black population, and black students probably prefer attending programs in LA where there is a much bigger local black population. The high number of international Chinese students makes networking somewhat difficult, as there can unfortunately be a bit of a language and cultural barrier. This group is kind of cliquey, probably because it streamlines things for them to work with those who speak the same native language. But they're also very good at connecting with fellow Chinese students at the other big schools like USC and AFI.
Honestly, I don't like referring to Chapman as a film school. They are currently phasing out all their film cameras, and much of the interest and excitement attending students have appears to be focused on digital TV production more than anything else. It is definitely not a cinema lover's school, although I was lucky to meet a few like minded people there. While I was disappointed overall, I'm glad I went for the one year I did. I learned some things I didn't know about cinematography before, and made some connections with people I will be working with in the future. But for those who want the best MFA experience, I suggest looking elsewhere.
3.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
2.00 star(s)
Facilities & Equipment
4.00 star(s)
2.00 star(s)
CineEye does not recommend this film school!
10 members found this helpful.
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It's true that AFI is the cinematographer's school. A friend of mine has lectured at AFI a few times because of his lighting experience, but I wouldn't necessarily discount Chapman from offering exposure to other students that may become successful. It's admittedly frustrating for technically proficient students, especially when seeking a masters in film, to have to take slower steps when ready to run. That certainly wouldn't be the scenario with other art forms such as music - one would certainly expect proficient camera operators just like pianists or composers, but the film industry is weird one. Many successful current directors and cinematographers wouldn't know how to place a light, operate a camera or even write a scene.
Making art never feels like a sport here, which is great.
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Film Production
  • Small, amazing, supportive student body
  • Incredible opportunities to work on great projects
  • Industry grade gear and equipment
  • Everyone is superbly committed to their discipline
  • Stellar producing, editing, sound design, cinematography track
  • Students support one another with scoring great internships
  • Non-competitive environment
  • You can do whatever you want with your film when it's done
  • Films suffer from form over function
  • Prettiest films from any film school, but our stories often suck
  • Weak directing/film studies track
  • Faculty is a mixed bag: The best teachers are adjunct faculty
  • Students don't seem very passionate about WATCHING films
  • Very annoying Thesis Committee approval process that often stifles creativity
  • Almost TOO Hollywood-centric at times.
  • Chapman prepares you for the industry, not auteurship.
  • Little to no collaboration between Screenwriters and Directors. SAD!
I did my undergrad at Chapman, earning a BFA in film production. The MFA production program is also quite good, having pumped out some really prestigious award winning thesis films as of late (ITS JUST A GUN and ROCKET both won the student Academy Award), but the MFA students on average seem a little less committed compared to the undergrads: it really feels like a BFA school more than anything. The Film Studies program is pretty wonky to be completely honest. Many of my favorite teachers aren't there full-time or have been fired as of late. But regarding my BFA in production: It was a great experience overall, especially in my junior and senior year where my workload really picked up and I made a lot of amazing friends that I still creatively collaborate with to this day. Everyone is here to help you. Making art never feels like a sport here, which is great.

Having said that, if you aren't naturally predisposed to putting your blood, sweat and tears into your projects, THEY WILL SUCK. Your teachers can only help you so much (and some teachers are outright buzzkills). The resources are out-of-this-world good, but it's up to you to take advantage of them, learn them, and really be in the thick of it. Students very quickly rise to the the top, so if you aren't on set each weekend you probably won't learn the technical side of things all too well.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is never to forget the importance of watching films. Just because you're in film school doesn't mean the only stuff you should be watching is what the curriculum assigns you. Chapman's biggest misstep is that it never teaches a course on MAKING/WRITING SHORT FILMS, something that's very different from feature films. I highly encourage all new students to an hour or two each day to watch a feature and a short film, it's the best way to learn after doing.

Note for Directing hopefuls: Making film's gets expensive, so obviously it's important to be smart about where and how you spend your money. Because directors usually fund their films entirely, DP's get greedy with fancy lenses and cameras, but don't let yourself be discouraged. Remember that what's in front of the camera is most important (especially your screenplay and the actors performing it). As such, it's essential that you watch films in order to learn how to do this well. Don't let that shiny ALEXA and those anamorphic lenses distract you.

Finally: Chapman has some phenomenal courses in film studies, but they aren't mandatory (teachers that stand out are Kelli Fuery, Ethan Thomas Harris, Andrew Erish, etc.) but many of them are adjunct. It's a shame that directors aren't forced to take these courses, because the thesis films are so aesthetically polished that they ought to be more conceptually daring.

Remember: there is no such thing as a perfect film school. Chapman teaches STYLE over SUBSTANCE so make sure to teach yourself what your classes aren't providing. At the end of the day, it's somewhat of a craft-school, but that's not a bad thing: if you're a director it means you'll work with the most talented DP's, editors, sound designers, etc. you'll ever meet, and if you're any of the aforementioned emphases you're likely to get really good at your job and will be in high-demand post-grad.
5 members found this helpful.
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Chris W
Chris W
Chris W
Chris W
Why did you decide to do graduate and undergraduate for the same concentration?
My experience was a good one overall.
Reviewed by: Alumni
Degree: MA/MFA
Concentration: Producing
  • Great staff -- very approachable, esteemed industry vets / pros
  • Beautiful campus
  • Strong curriculum
  • Meaningful projects
  • Students own their films
  • Money from tuition is allocated toward film project budgets, so you don't have to raise the money
  • Amazing reputation (and growing)
  • Growing alumni base
  • Fantastic facilities
  • Very expensive (though again, a good value in relation to comparable schools / programs)
  • Slightly far from LA (especially dealing with traffic)
  • Small alumni base
  • Chapman Filmed Entertainment seems very cliquey with who they've given opportunities to
  • Classes get cancelled a little too frequently (due to adjuncts having business to attend to)
  • Still fairly new, so a lot of people outside LA/OC don't know about it
I attended Chapman's MFA Producing Program from 2010-2012, immediately after finishing undergrad. My experience was a good one overall. I produced several award-winning shorts and was taught by a lot of leading industry veterans. I met and collaborated with a lot of talented people and have kept in touch with many of them who are doing great things. I received a $4,000 per semester fellowship, which really helped with expenses.

I will say that grad school is sort of what you make it. You can just take the classes and go through the motions to get the degree, but to get hands-on experience, you'll need to put in the work. You'll need to have internships, develop side projects, shoot and edit non school-related projects, and build relationships with classmates that will turn into industry relationships in the future.

It's expensive, but it's one of the most highly-regarded film programs in the world. If you want to work in any facet of the industry, you'll be prepared. If you want to teach, you'll also be prepared. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who isn't completely dead-set on attending one of the bigger name programs just because of the name. Chapman has the same level of faculty, better facilities, and is cheaper than the others, but is just as highly-regarded in the industry.

I had to limit my pros and cons in the above, so here are the rest of the:

-Great location (beautiful area with not too much congestion)
-Great guest lecturers and screening opportunities
-Chapman Filmed Entertainment
-Opportunity to work on as many student projects as you want
-Opportunity to take classes outside your chosen track
-Tuition in reference to comparable film schools (but still expensive)
-Fellowship opportunities to alleviate tuition costs
-Don't need to take the GRE (at least when I went)
-Small class sizes for grad programs
-Always at the top of the "nation's best film schools" lists
-Chapman, in general, has a great university reputation

-Not a ton of internship opportunities through the school (you have to go out and search on your own)
3 members found this helpful.
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Latest questions

Hi everyone! I have just applied to Chapman but I didn't see a page for application fee payment... Should I be worried? How do I pay for it???
I also didn't see the page for application fee payment...Did you resolve it?
I've had the same issue, did anyone figure it out??
What is the difference between the two-year MFA in Film and Television Producing and the three-year MFA in Film Production?
If you apply for the three-year film production program, you must choose one of four areas of study (directing, cinematography, editing, or sound design). The two-year Producing program goes through how to produce film and television projects by emphasizing both the creative and business elements that it entails. Hope this helps!
One member found this helpful.
What's the vibe at Dodge competitiveness-wise? USC SCA is known to be pretty cutthroat competitive where as LMU SFTV actually markets itself as not being so competitive but more of a collaborative environment. Wondering where Chapman/Dodge falls in the mix?
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Alexa P.
Alexa P.
Hey there! We're publishing an interview with the Department of Admissions that answers your question. Stay tuned...

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