How Long Is Long Enough (for film school)?


New Member
I'm currently deciding between grad school television programs.

My goals (for now, at least) are in showrunning, and LMU's Writing and Producing for Television program and BU's Television MS with a focus in Writing/Producing seem to be the best fits. My issue with both however is lengths. At just 3 semesters, BU seems like there isn't enough time to cover all the material and take advantage of all the resources it offers. Whereas, LMU's program is 3 years long (6 semesters), and I worry that that may drag and/or be steal time from postgraduate endeavors.

From my own observations, BU's and LMU's programs seem to follow a similar trajectory: theory, then craft (writing/producing), then practice: (thesis/internship), just at a 1:2semester ratio.

While I'd love to hear school-specific opinions, I feel like to make it useful to more of us: How long is long enough (for film school)?

Thanks in advance,
Hi Eric,

Not sure there's much of an answer there. Since film school isn't necessary, there's really no "enough" to be had. I think your instincts are right in examining the curriculum. Most programs are at least 2 years, so try and figure out what BU is either skipping over or condensing. Being in LA gives LMU a big advantage in my eyes as well.

I wouldn’t worry about extra semesters in terms of stealing time from your post-grad endeavors. If you’ve got endeavors worth tending to in the industry, drop out and tend to them. Some programs will let you take a leave of absence if necessary. If you find a job that you feel could really help launch you, there’s no reason to stay in school unless you believe it will make you considerably better suited for your aspirations in the long run. Only you can decide that, however.

Think about how much you know now and what things you need to improve/learn. Figure out which program fits best with that. I wouldn’t worry too much about the length as much as the opportunities afforded by each.

Money is the only real reason I would consider program length, and only you can decide that.

Hope that helps.


New Member
Thanks a lot for the response. Sorry I did not respond sooner. For anyone else interested, these are the ideas I considered in the fray. It all stems from my own naivete, so feel free to correct any false assumptions.

I spoke to representatives from both schools to ask about the reason for their lengths. These are condensed ideas of what they told me.
At BU (1.5 years), their focus is on getting you out into the field as soon as possible as many young writers want to do. They encourage the use of summer to pad your education and maximize the thesis, which is started early in the second semester. They also offer the option of using an additional semester (a fourth) to finish work on the thesis project. The third can be spent in LA (taking classes and interning) or in Boston, though obviously most take the opportunity to get that Hollywood exposure. Most hands-on experience is gained through extracurricular assignments (in BU's case, Hothouse Productions)

LMU's program seems to hold its students' hands more, not in a bad way. The courseload seems to offer more focused classes, which could be good or bad. For example, where as BU offers classes like Writing the Spec Script, LMU offers Writing the Comedy Spec, Writing the Drama Spec, and there is a similar situation for the universities' classes on pilot. Semester work also seems more discrete. For example, the first semester is mostly theory, while BU covers the same topics, but in a more blended distribution (production class and theory, then production and writing) I never heard if internships are required at LMU, but from what I've read pretty much all students pursue them. I just get the idea that you are doing less at one time. The entire third year is reserved for thesis work, which also includes a video project in addition to the usual written one, and industry-focused classes. One cannot discredit the benefits of being LA, but they aren't everything, and they've been talked to death in other corners of this forum.

So how long is too long? Since film school is, let's be honest, unnecessary, I guess it depends on what the draw of attending a school is for you. Theoretical Study? Safe, Hands-on Practice? Resources? Contacts? Name Recognition? You don't need 3 years to get a resume booster. These programs aren't created flippantly, so each offers a full-course education.

So maybe, how short is too short? I think it takes a person (or at least myself) a while to adjust to my environment. That includes the idea of grad school, the new city I'm in, and all the people I'm coming into contact with (teachers, students, the bureaucracy). While many factors attributed to me finally choosing LMU, only one swayed me in the question of length of time in school. I opt for the longer because, ideally (in my mind), your classmates are going to be going into the trenches with you after graduation. They are your best bet for creative partners or at the very least, commiseration partners. Same goes for teachers, They all want to help you (or so they say), but you're more likely to form a more personal bond and remember you if they have to deal with your shit for 3 years instead of 1.

tl;dr: longer school means more time to form stronger interpersonal relationships
Sounds like you thought through this very methodically and intelligently, and I can't disagree with any of it.

Best of luck at LMU!

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