The Hollywood Reporter's Ranked List Of The Top 25 Film Schools In The US

The Hollywood Reporter released its annual ranked list of film schools and colleges known for their film programs, giving a glimpse for those weighing their options.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

In the years The Hollywood Reporter has been ranking film schools — this is the eighth list, determined by extensive interviewing and research — the magazine has never received a straight answer to one very straightforward question: What is the purpose of film school?
Pretty much every institution on this list sees it differently. For some, like No. 6 Wesleyan (up from No. 9 last year), where modern film studies was all but invented in the 1960s (by cinema scholar Jeanine Basinger, who’s getting her own building on the campus next year), it’s all about history, subtext and auteur theory. For others, the focus is hands-on experience, providing students with access to everything from old-fashioned 16mm cameras to state-of-the-art 3D VR labs to the jumbo-size greenscreens at University of Texas (down one place to No. 12 this year). Still, there is one purpose that academics at just about every type of school — from tiny rural colleges to lofty big-city conservatories — agree on. “We can be the sandbox that everybody experiments in,” says Susan Ruskin, new dean of No. 4, AFI (down from No. 3 last year). “We can say [to the studios], ‘Come play with us, because this is the generation that is going to be creating content.'”

1. USC, Los Angeles

The recent college admissions scandal wasn’t a great look for USC, but at least the film school escaped relatively unscathed, with nobody’s parents getting arrested for bribing or cheating their way in. In fact, dean Elizabeth Daley had a terrific year — terrific enough to land the 90-year-old institution at No. 1 for the seventh year in a row — as she reeled in yet another fat donation ($20 million from a trust in honor of late Columbia Pictures TV president John H. Mitchell, on top of that $10 million check George Lucas wrote in 2017) and launched a slew of new programs (like a podcasting seminar taught by The Producer’s Guide‘s Todd Garner). Universal chief Donna Langley joined the school’s board this year, West Wing producer John Wells (class of ’82) brought his popular Writers Guild showrunning class to USC and a slew of graduates ended up at the Oscars, including class of 2011’s Ryan Coogler for Black Panther and class of 2016’s Rayka Zehtabchi, who won for best documentary short. “I mean, she just got out!” says Daley. “But there were USC alums from every generation at last year’s Academy Awards.” Daley also instituted a new mandatory class in diversity, but progress in that area already can be seen on USC’s Exposition Park campus. Producer Melissa Rosenberg (Marvel’s Jessica Jones) says that when she graduated from the producing program in 1990, she was one of only four women in a class of 25. The incoming producing-class ratio is 17 females to seven males. Still, Rosenberg returns to school two or three times a year to give female students encouragement. “I like to let them know that, yes, it is possible.”

TUITION $57,256 (undergrad); $35,214 to $51,622 (graduate)
ALUMNI Robert Zemeckis, Doug Liman, Tim Story, John Singleton, Shonda Rhimes

2. NYU, New York

This fall, NYU is going Hollywood, opening its first permanent L.A. campus — a hub of classrooms and dorms near the La Brea Tar Pits — which should heat up its long-simmering rivalry with USC. But part of the allure of this renowned 54-year-old auteur factory has always been its hipster home base — Greenwich Village — which tends to attract more indie-minded artists. “Of course, NYU might not have the [facilities of] USC, because we don’t make those big-budget Zemeckis films,” Spike Lee (class of ’82) snarkily told The Hollywood Reporter during a roundtable before winning his first Oscar this year. “We just [have] Martin Scorsese.” But now, NYU, where Lee serves as artistic director of the Graduate Film Program, will soon open the doors on facilities that indeed rival USC’s; a performance center is being included at the 181 Mercer St. building (projected to be complete in 2021) that will be the largest structure on NYU’s campus.
TUITION $55,928 (undergrad); $60,766 (graduate)
ALUMNI Alec Baldwin, Elizabeth Olsen, Miles Teller, Dee Rees, Rachel Bloom

3. UCLA, Los Angeles

Terri Schwartz’s term as dean is coming to an end, and UCLA hasn’t yet announced if her contract’s being renewed. But a recent $20 million donation from the Mitchell trusts (the same fund that gave $20 million to USC) counts in her favor. Half the money will go to scholarships, the other half to fund the UCLA Film & Television Archive, the largest university-based media library in the world. And the school continues to churn out class after class of top-notch screenwriters, most recently Pose creator Steven Canals (’15) and Gaia Violo (’15), whose student project Absentia became an Amazon series. Add up the worldwide box office grosses for films that UCLA grads had a hand in making during the past year — A Star Is BornThe Lego Movie 2and Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse, to name a few — and you’re talking nearly $6 billion. But beyond all that, Love & Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythewood (class of ’91) offers another reason for attending: “I was never afraid to try. It was an incredibly safe space to fail.”
TUITION $16,246 (undergrad, in-state); $46,000 (undergrad, out-of-state); $29,520 (graduate, in-state); $41,765 (graduate out-of-state)
ALUMNI Ava DuVernay, Alex Gibney, Marielle Heller, David Koepp, Frank Marshall

You can find the full list at

Written by Jake Fruia

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