When USC Is Out of Reach: 8 Film School Alternatives in L.A. and NYC

6:45 AM 8/15/2019

by Mia Galuppo

If an elite film institution isn't an option, you can still receive top training at one of these industry-adjacent programs, from Pepperdine University to City College of New York.

Students at L.A. Film School.
Students at L.A. Film School.
Courtesy of subject

USC, NYU and AFI are not always the right options for all aspiring directors and studio execs. Still, in major entertainment hubs New York and Los Angeles, these film programs — that can be found across community colleges, state schools and private universities — offer courses on everything from preproduction to navigating distribution.  

  • Cal State Los Angeles

    The East Los Angeles school offers both undergraduate degrees and MFAs in television and film production and writing. The low price tag — $8,000 — means there might even be money left over for a first feature.

  • L.A. Film School

    Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the for-profit college offers associate and bachelor degrees out of its campus on Sunset Boulevard as well as online degrees in digital filmmaking and animation. The school has awarded $1.5 million to female students with its Women in Entertainment scholarship.

  • Pepperdine University

    The film studies program in Malibu offers majors and minors as well as an MFA in Writing for Screen and Television. Courses range from cinematography and editing to Japanese film and Italian neorealism.

  • Studio School

    The five-year-old for-profit school (formerly known as the Relativity School) offers concentrations in its BA and BFA programs in a wide range of disciplines that include production design, casting, sports media and marketing.

  • City College of New York

    The only public institution in New York City to offer a BFA in film and video, it has a two-year program that includes film theory, directing, editing and screenwriting, culminating in a thesis short film, fiction screenplay or critical research paper.

  • New York Film Academy

    Sherab/Alamy Stock Photo

    The flexible school offers BAs, BFAs and AFAs in a variety of disciplines, including documentary and screenwriting, from campuses in New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Australia. Speakers have included Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino and Ron Howard, and alumni work at Netflix, Bad Robot and MGM.

  • The New School

    The university offers a film production certificate as part of its Schools of Public Engagement, which covers directing, cinematography, editing and producing and is open to anyone with a high school diploma.

  • Rutgers University

    A BFA from the New Jersey university covers everything from storyboards to postproduction. The school houses the Documentary Film Lab, which incubates doc features in conjunction with researchers and scientists.

    This story first appeared in the Aug. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.