USC Cinematic Arts - Film and Television Production (MFA)

4.75 star(s) 4.75 Stars (4 Member Reviews)
Degrees Offered
3 Year M.F.A.
Concentrations
Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Film & Television Production, Producing, Sound Design
Yearly Tuition
$30k to $40k
Tuition Detail
$35,214
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Film School details

Application Deadlines
Fall Admission Deadline: November 15th
Spring Admission Deadline: August 15th
Acceptance Rate
Lowest Accepted GPA
Earliest Int. Notification
January 3
Earliest Interview
January 18
Earliest Decision
January 25
MFA students learn in the most state of the art facilities rivaling the most advanced production companies in the world. You'll hone your talent as a media-maker in six specialties- Producing, Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, and Sound-while also learning the newest cutting-edge technologies that are changing the professional production process, preparing you for all future forms of media production.
School URL
https://cinema.usc.edu/production/index.cfm
Minimum GPA (according to school)
No Minimum GPA Requirement
GRE Required?
No
Portfolio Required?
Yes
Film Copyright
School
Letters of Reference Req.
3 (1 from and academic reference)
Internship Opportunities
Yes (required)
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 We are not responsible for missed deadlines or rejected applications due to out of date information on this page.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 reviews

Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • Students are among the most motivated and productive
  • Atmosphere of collaboration emphasized both in student populations and in curriculum
  • Professors who would be consider diamonds in the rough are more common here
  • More opportunities to be on set or to work on a film than you know what to do with
  • Editing facilities are top notch
  • This is small and ultimately not very important, but I was surprised about the kind of clout going to SCA gave me within the school. There is a sense of pride that goes along with it.
  • Self motivated and disciplined students never fail to find a plethora of opportunities
  • Sound and Producing department faculty are among the best in the nation
Cons
  • Students are selected by less tangible standards than necessarily the commercial quality of their work, their resume or their film literacy. The gap in initial competency among students can cause some friction.
  • For a school that claims to focus on industry practice, the opportunity to work on anything even approaching industry scale work is few and far between. Even advanced classes can sometimes have a more Guerilla feel.
  • Since films are thought of mainly as a form of practice, not enough time or emphasis is given for the preproduction phase
  • Sound and Production Design are disciplines get little emphasis.
  • One can spin their wheels and go unnoticed if they don't self promote
Ultimately the school lives up to its ranking. It's not a conservatory. Perhaps it should be, but beyond that claim it shouldn't be judged against other conservatories.

Furthermore, the student network is among the most ambitious and collaborative. The attitude among the student population is the reason I decided to go to this school and I haven't regretted it.

If you aren't disciplined and self motivated you can end up getting a little overlooked at the school but with a 3 year program, there is plenty of time to self correct.
Affordability
2.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Facilities
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
2 members found this helpful.
  • Love
Reactions: Chris W
Reviewed by
Admitted Applicant
Pros:
  1. Really strong alumni network.
  2. Reputation and Prestige (World renowned).
  3. Opportunities to pitch to studio executives.
  4. Job opportunities/internships other than DP or directing in Hollywood.
  5. Surrounded by faculty who currently work in Hollywood.
  6. Student assistantships with hourly pay with sign on bonus of up to 5k.
  7. Scholarship opportunities for students who get their 1st or 2nd year films into good film festivals.
Cons:
  1. Tuition fee: ~40k/annum ( total cost for 3 years might extend up to 200k because of self-funded films).
  2. Self-funded films except for 546 course (top 10 students of 60). Thesis is also self-funded.
  3. Can make only one top tier film festival worth movie in 546 course as a director (Unless you self-fund the films you make in intermediate directing, directing techniques, advanced directing or making media for social change courses).
  4. International students should be prepared to go back if they do not get their movies into top tier film festivals (which makes you eligible for O1 visa : click here for more details).
  5. No high end equipment for directing courses other than thesis or a 546.
Bottom line: Tons of opportunities to work in Hollywood but may be not as a DP or a Director (Unless you're a Ryan Coogler :D).
Alumni Network
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Facilities
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
3 members found this helpful.
BigAbe00
BigAbe00
International student here. Do you know if I would be eligible for an O1 Visa if my short film gets into a top tier film school? Or do they only consider feature films as Visa worthy?
Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • USC SCA has a ton of resource.
  • Amazing faculty, equipment, infrastructure and amazing classmates aka future collaborators.
  • Plus being a part of USC, there is just a ton of advantages in itself.
  • Even the campus is breathtaking, which means you got a ton of shooting spots!
Cons
  • Not everything will be given to you, some expect that, but do know that you need to put in some effort too.
I have finished my first semester and it has lived up to my great expectations. The semester just blew past me. There was so much to do and so much to learn! I just can't wait for the next semester to begin.

USC School of Cinematic Arts IS definitely the best film school.
2 members found this helpful.
  • Like
Reactions: sharkb8
Chris W
Chris W
Do you have an update for this review?
sharkb8
sharkb8
Sibi is one of my Student Instructors. It's funny to come back to this site and see his name but actually recognize it now. I'll ask him to update his review next time I see him. Also I'll offer my own review at the end of this semester (I'd be amazed if it isn't 5 stars).

Latest questions

When will cinematography students learn how to shot with the film? when will production students have courses of their selected area?
sharkb8
sharkb8
I believe either Intermediate or Advanced Cinematography class has a project shot on film. Both classes happen in your 2nd or 3rd years of the MFA program, depending on when you want to take them.

Production students choose their own classes after the first two semesters. For instance, I'm taking a lot of producing and directing classes now that I'm in my 2nd year.
Hello,

As a future applicant I have a question regarding the admissions. In my undergraduate degree I switched from Computer Science to Business and my GPA has suffered a lot during this process. Although in my last semesters I got better GPA scores my cumulative ended up 2.4 (on a 4 scale). I pursued my studies and took a Management masters degree and graduated with a much better GPA. I wanted to know whether this could boost my chances for getting accepted to USC Film and Production or is my undergraduate GPA still a major drawback? Is it common for Business students to apply for a MFA degree or is it more common to have an arts bachelors degree for a higher chance to get accepted?
sharkb8
sharkb8
Little known secret. Grades barely matter. The USC application is hugely dependent on your Personal Statement

If you come across as someone new, unique, and individual, you are the sort of person a film school wants, because you have perspectives that can translate into movies. Your personal statement is where you communicate what makes you stand out from the crowd.

The Masters degree is a big positive for you. Try to include those numbers wherever you can. The undergrad GPA is annoying, but it shouldn't knock you out.

Also, it's normal for students with 0 film production experience to get into USC. My cohort had people with backgrounds in architecture, acting, communications, finance, game design, theology, history, philosophy, and many more, none of whom had a film production degree.
Hey guys. I have a specific question regarding the Directing/Film Production MFA program.

My ultimate goal is very specific and obvious - I want to shoot a feature movies. But not a huge-blockbuster-Hollywood type of movies, but rather a movie that would someone classify as indie. Existential horror or maybe some provocative cinema or both - with visual and narrative experiments etc. In the perfect scenario of my future I'm working with A24 entertainment company on my own feature film - something like Hereditary, Lighthouse or even Lars von Trier-type of cinema.

And in a few articles I found a disturbing information about the USC that it's not actually a place for "future indie filmmakers" and I'm wondering why would someone say that. I heard that AFI is a better place for my goals but I did not apply to it because they require two films and I had only one. But it's not a case - I know that USC is one of the best (if not the best) film schools in the world, so why how it can actually be a bad choice for someone who maybe wants to make "indie" films? I hope that it's not true and, if anyone knows, someone can help me understand what is the actual difference between the programs and why USC sometimes referred to as a place that I would not fit in with my specific goals.
One member found this helpful.
Avec Love
Avec Love
This is a pretty common myth about USC. It doesn't really matter what type of movie you want to make. The program at USC is not about what kind of art you should make or what space you should work in - it's about how to actually get that project made.

The student population has a bad wrap for only being interested in "Big Hollywood Blockbusters", some people are interested in that - but overall I find people's interests are pretty eclectic. A majority of the professors work on independants and a majority of student directors go on to do either Television or Indie work.

Furthermore, I'd consider A24 a commercially successful distribution company - being that USC's focus is "industry", that is WELL within USC's wheelhouse. After all, "Industry" and "indie" are not mutually exclusive.

Beyond that, plenty of students here are fans of A24's output and I'd say their mindset is not so far off from your own.
1 members found this helpful.
OzymandiasVII
OzymandiasVII
Thanks so much for such a detailed response!

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Reviews
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Rating
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