Question regarding application to grad school at the same university as undergrad study

q64

Well-Known Member
Hello all. Long time lurker.

I am interested in applying to USC SCA production program for BFA degree. After I complete my undergrad, I am interested in pursuing MFA in production at USC SCA. But according to an alumni, this is heavily discouraged because preference is given to applicants with different areas of studies, and from different schools. And undergrad applying for the same discipline at the same school (production for both undergrad and grad at SCA) is a no-no.

Is this true?

Thanks in advance!
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
No reason to do both. They're the same. See our interview with USC:

How to get Into USC Film School: Advice from an Admissions Committee Member

How to get Into USC Film School: Advice from an Admissions Committee Member

Considered by many to be the best film school in the world, it’s no wonder why the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) is so sought after by prospective undergraduate and graduate students alike. However, the film school’s prestige can often make the application process particularly stressful and...

Could you give us a little more insight into the different programs offered at SCA?

Sure. I think they're all equally well known . . . There's the Peter Stark producing program. That one, I would say, is a mix between filmmaking as an art combined with, I believe, an MBA. So it's combined with business classes and it tends to be for people who want to go into the producing side of things. Hence the name Peter Stark Producing program. That's a two year program.

There's the production program. It’s both MFA and BFA. In the production program, you learn everything. And as a grad student, outside of doing a PhD, it's the longest program. It's three years typically, but people who choose to do a thesis project often end up taking longer than three years.

There’s a screenwriting program which is just screenwriting. You don’t go and make an actual film, but you spend it making your scripts. There’s an animation program, a gaming program, media studies . . .

So the programs that you just listed seem to primarily be MFA programs… for the undergraduate students: are the programs different?

No, all of them except for the Stark [Producing] Program are both. They have a master’s version and an undergrad version. In fact, it’s a pretty similar education and curriculum for both.

How do the Masters and Bachelors program compare in regards to rigor, workload, etc.?

I'd say they're both about the same intensity. In fact, sometimes the undergraduate program is a little more intense because they have all of their other [GE] classes as well. They go through pretty much the same stuff overall. Honestly, if you take one, there's not much of a reason to take the other, you know? I would say maybe the grads are privy to a few extra things than the undergraduates. Besides that, they have very similar values and sometimes you'll even have mixed classes between the two.
 

q64

Well-Known Member
No reason to do both. They're the same. See our interview with USC:

How to get Into USC Film School: Advice from an Admissions Committee Member

How to get Into USC Film School: Advice from an Admissions Committee Member

Considered by many to be the best film school in the world, it’s no wonder why the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) is so sought after by prospective undergraduate and graduate students alike. However, the film school’s prestige can often make the application process particularly stressful and...

Could you give us a little more insight into the different programs offered at SCA?

Sure. I think they're all equally well known . . . There's the Peter Stark producing program. That one, I would say, is a mix between filmmaking as an art combined with, I believe, an MBA. So it's combined with business classes and it tends to be for people who want to go into the producing side of things. Hence the name Peter Stark Producing program. That's a two year program.

There's the production program. It’s both MFA and BFA. In the production program, you learn everything. And as a grad student, outside of doing a PhD, it's the longest program. It's three years typically, but people who choose to do a thesis project often end up taking longer than three years.

There’s a screenwriting program which is just screenwriting. You don’t go and make an actual film, but you spend it making your scripts. There’s an animation program, a gaming program, media studies . . .

So the programs that you just listed seem to primarily be MFA programs… for the undergraduate students: are the programs different?

No, all of them except for the Stark [Producing] Program are both. They have a master’s version and an undergrad version. In fact, it’s a pretty similar education and curriculum for both.

How do the Masters and Bachelors program compare in regards to rigor, workload, etc.?

I'd say they're both about the same intensity. In fact, sometimes the undergraduate program is a little more intense because they have all of their other [GE] classes as well. They go through pretty much the same stuff overall. Honestly, if you take one, there's not much of a reason to take the other, you know? I would say maybe the grads are privy to a few extra things than the undergraduates. Besides that, they have very similar values and sometimes you'll even have mixed classes between the two.
Hello. Thank you for the quick reply!

I thoroughly read the interview before I applied to SCA. And I did notice the portion of the interview where MFA and BFA programs are compared.

However, I actually would like to do both, as long as SCA doesn’t mind. And from what I hear, MFA program is somewhat more valuable for building meaningful connections in the industry. So I was wondering whether there have been precedents of students earning both BFA and MFA in production at SCA?
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
However, I actually would like to do both, as long as SCA doesn’t mind. And from what I hear, MFA program is somewhat more valuable for building meaningful connections in the industry. So I was wondering whether there have been precedents of students earning both BFA and MFA in production at SCA?
Again no need to do both. They're pretty much the exact same education wise from what admissions at USC and others have said. If you think the MFA program is more valuable to you then I recommend holding off on going to USC until graduate. Maybe do a degree in writing or some other creative art for undergraduate somewhere else. Or even anything else that interests you so that you have more ideas to create stories with - as that really is what filmmaking is.

Maybe our USC forum moderators @Frankie Bones and @Zion843 can also weigh in.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
Or do USC film undergrad and go for an MFA elsewhere if you want to broaden your scope that way.
 

q64

Well-Known Member
Again no need to do both. They're pretty much the exact same education wise from what admissions at USC and others have said. If you think the MFA program is more valuable to you then I recommend holding off on going to USC until graduate. Maybe do a degree in writing or some other creative art for undergraduate somewhere else. Or even anything else that interests you so that you have more ideas to create stories with - as that really is what filmmaking is.

Maybe our USC forum moderators @Frankie Bones and @Zion843 can also weigh in.
Thank you!

I also had the impression that MFA program has heavier focus on thesis project, so that would prove more beneficial
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
When I was at BU for film undergrad I was told there was no point in going to MFA film there. Only exception was maybe for screenwriting and one of my classmates did that. I don't think she's working in film anymore though. (I graduated in 1999)
 

q64

Well-Known Member
Or do USC film undergrad and go for an MFA elsewhere if you want to broaden your scope that way.

I wouldn’t have minded doing undergrad at Chapman but I missed the deadline for production program. I also applied to UCLA and NYU.
 

q64

Well-Known Member
When I was at BU for film undergrad I was told there was no point in going to MFA film there. Only exception was maybe for screenwriting and one of my classmates did that. I don't think she's working in film anymore though. (I graduated in 1999)

Would you say it is almost stupid to do both at the same university? Would that be how SCA would view my plan...? Lol
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
From everything I've been told there is no point in doing both undergrad and grad for film both at USC. Unless maybe if you're doing Stark as that actually is different.
 

Frankie Bones

USC Forum Moderator
Staff member
For what it's worth, I don't know of anyone in my cohort in the MFA program who also did their BFA in Production at USC as well. Not sure if that means there's an implicit rule you can't do both a BFA and MFA in Film/TV Production but maybe it's something you could ask the admissions office. I suspect if you go there undergrad and do a BFA in Film/TV Production you will be strongly discouraged from doing an MFA there (at least not in the same program). But I definitely think you should ask admissions. I do think there are Tisch film/tv undergrads who do the MFA program at USC and vice versa, so my sense is if you still want an MFA, you will probably be encouraged to expand your horizons by going to another school (AFI, UCLA, Tisch).
 

q64

Well-Known Member
For what it's worth, I don't know of anyone in my cohort in the MFA program who also did their BFA in Production at USC as well. Not sure if that means there's an implicit rule you can't do both a BFA and MFA in Film/TV Production but maybe it's something you could ask the admissions office. I suspect if you go there undergrad and do a BFA in Film/TV Production you will be strongly discouraged from doing an MFA there (at least not in the same program). But I definitely think you should ask admissions. I do think there are Tisch film/tv undergrads who do the MFA program at USC and vice versa, so my sense is if you still want an MFA, you will probably be encouraged to expand your horizons by going to another school (AFI, UCLA, Tisch).

Thank you so much for the insight!

I already emailed the office before I joined filmschool.org, but won’t hear back from them until Jan 4th... I was feeling anxious about it so I made a post here lol

Do you also TA for ungrads for MFA program? From your observation, would you say MFA is better for meaningful connections (within the industry and building teams with your classmates) than BFA? And would you say filmmaking exercises are more, well, intricate and helpful for your craft compared to 290 and 310? I’m aware that not all students get to direct the projects, but I hope to make as many films as possible while at USC, either for BFA or MFA, or both.
 

Frankie Bones

USC Forum Moderator
Staff member
Thanks!
Alas I do not TA for any undergrad or grad classes. I know very little about the undergrad program other than some of their courses are virtually identical to grad level ones.
 
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