The Best Film Schools in New York

Lights, camera, action! 

Students dreaming of a future career in film and television flock to New York in droves each year to actualize this aspiration. 

Due to New York’s pulse on all things entertainment, fashion, and art, the state is perfect for students wanting to enter these industries as well. In fact, more than 100,000 New Yorkers are employed in the film and television industry.

With more than 20 institutions offering film degrees across the state of New York, there is no dearth of options for aspiring filmmakers. 

Those wanting to be in the middle of the action may gravitate toward the bustling campuses of New York University or the Fashion Institute of Technology. 

On the other hand, Syracuse University and Ithaca College, which are located in upstate New York, offer stellar programs within a slower-paced environment. 

Whether students want to be behind or in front of the camera, these film schools offer a breadth of insight into the industry at-large. 

Here are 10 of the best film schools in New York. The schools on this list were chosen as they are regularly selected among the top film schools in major publications, including Niche,, and others.

Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)

Rochester Institute of Technology
Stilfehler, Rochester Institute of Technology 76, CC BY-SA 4.0

The School of Film and Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology is a burgeoning filmmaker’s dream. 

This program prepares students to pursue a career in an array of sectors in film, including motion picture, television, and non-broadcast. 

Additionally, the school offers Toon Boom technology—a premier animation and storyboarding software—for animation enthusiasts. 

After graduation, many students go on to work in media’s biggest companies, such as Walt Disney, Sony, Dolby, and Lucasfilm. Film credits for alumni include Frozen, Rogue One, The Simpsons, and more. 

In fall 2022, the School of Film and Animation program launched “Study Away: LA,” which gives a small cohort of students the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles getting involved in hands-on projects while enrolling in two courses. 

Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY)

Pratt Institute
Jim.henderson, Higgins Institute Pratt jeh, CC BY-SA 4.0

Pratt’s BFA in Film has clear objectives for graduating students: 1) plan and executive all phases of the filmmaking process, 2) analyze cinematic projects historically, theoretically, or culturally, 3) display technical and aesthetic competency, 4) convey creative and conceptual ideas. 

The foundation of the Pratt BFA is built upon students having a strong understanding of film. As first-year students, Film majors enroll in Film Fundamentals and Technical Practices along with filmmaking in Fiction I, Nonfiction, Expanded Cinema, and Fiction II.

As seniors, students produce their own film, which is screened publicly in New York. 

One of the program’s most popular extracurriculars is Film Cult, which hosts weekly film screenings and regular discussions with leading filmmakers. 

Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, NY)

The Film and Media degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology is a unique collaboration between the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Art and Design. 

Students interested in Film and Media can pursue this subject area as an AAS (Associates of Applied Science) or as a BS (Bachelor’s of Science). After attaining a degree from the Film and Media program, alumni enter a myriad of fields: advertising, edition, feature films, and more. 

In the AAS and BS programs, students learn the intricacies of filmmaking along with narrative, documentary, experimental, and video installation. 

After completing the senior thesis film project, students have their work showcased at FIT’s annual film festival. 

Upon graduating, alumni have a demo reel that demonstrates a student’s talent and extensive skill set, giving them an edge for jobs in the film industry.

Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY)

Ithaca College Park School of Communications, Ithaca College
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Park School of Communications, Ithaca College, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ithaca College offers a Film, Photography, and Visual Arts major at its Roy H. Park School of Communications. 

This degree is suitable for those hoping to develop a range of skills across photography, film, video, and fine arts.

During the first year, students will take classes in photography and film production, allowing students to work in darkrooms, video editing stations, television studios, and more. 

For those wanting to get a taste of a West Coast lifestyle, Ithaca College offers a Los Angeles program, where students can pursue semester-long internships while taking classes from L.A.-based Ithaca College affiliates. 

Many graduates go on to enter the fields of art and production after leaving Ithaca College. 

Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University is no stranger to accolades. 

The film program is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the United States (The Hollywood Reporter) and top 30 in North America (Variety). 

It’s easy to understand why the film program at Syracuse is widely regarded as one of the best: students can participate in study abroad programs in Prague and Bologna, attend Sundance and other prestigious film festivals, and study under professionals at the forefront of the film industry. 

For the Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, the degree program is structured to ensure that each student learns the minutiae of filmmaking. 

First-year students are expected to take a film history class and complete a film production course, while the second year focuses on essential filmmaking skills. Upper-level students have greater flexibility over their academic pathway to suit their professional interests.

For those seeking graduate studies, the College of Visual and Performing Arts offers a three-year film MFA program

The New School (New York, NY)

The film program at the New School is housed under the School of Media Studies, which offers a Master of Arts in Media Studies and a Master of Science in Media Management. 

Both programs are interdisciplinary in nature and equip students with a spate of skills across media, such as media theory, media business, and media technology. 

For those focused on film specifically, the Master in Media Studies is the best fit!

The Master of Arts in Media Studies is two years, and is offered in a full-time and part-time format. Moreover, students can elect to complete the degree on campus or remotely. 

Those who earn a Media Studies degree are not just limited to film. In fact, alumni go on into film, marketing, media management, media advocacy, media research, and education. 

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Vassar College Center for Drama and Film
Collin Knopp-Schwyn, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, May 2014, CC BY 4.0

Tucked away in the idyllic hills of the Hudson Valley, Vassar College is one of the first liberal arts colleges to develop a robust film major.

The foundation of the Film Department at Vassar rests upon a firm understanding of film history and theory

As students progress in the program, they grapple with film history, theory, fiction, and non-fiction production, and screenwriting for shorts and feature films. 

On the production front, students work in 16mm filmmaking, video production, animation, digital media, and more. 

Vassar students have access to top-notch internships in New York, Los Angeles, and other film industry hubs. Previous places students have interned at include Paramount Pictures, BBC, Comedy Central, MTV Networks, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the American Pavilion at Cannes, among many others. 

Fordham University (Bronx, NY)

Housed in Lincoln Center, Fordham University’s Film and Television program has a mission to produce well-rounded filmmakers. 

Students don’t just learn about cutaways, ambient lighting, and aperture here. Instead, Fordham—adhering to its liberal arts approach—requires students to explore theology, philosophy, history, mathematics, and languages along with its film curriculum. 

Due to the extensive nature of a Fordham education, students are prepared to tackle an evolving media environment. This is why many current students successfully secure competitive internships at The Late Show, The Tonight Show, Nickelodeon, CBS, and more. 

Additionally, alumni are equipped to not just enter the film industry but other industries as well upon leaving Fordham. Recent graduates have gone on to pursue careers in global sourcing, marketing, communications, film, and more. 

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University Hall
Beyond My Ken, 2014 Columbia University Earl Hall from north, CC BY-SA 4.0

Five Columbia filmmakers won prizes at Sundance 2023, including the Festival Favorite Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, and the NHK Award. 

In 2022, seven Columbia filmmakers were chosen to join the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) programs. In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter named Columbia’s Film program #5 in the nation. 

At Columbia University School of the Arts, students can earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing. 

Furthermore, the School of Arts offers a Master’s in Film and Media Studies. On the filmmaking track, students can pursue one of three pathways: Screenwriting & Directing, Creative Producing, and Writing for Film & Television. 

For undergraduate students, the School of Arts has a Bachelor’s-level Film and Media studies major

One can find Columbia Film alumni across the media industry, including actor James Franco, director James Mangold, and actor Lin Shaye. 

New York University (New York, NY)

In 2023, NYU’s film programs were named #2 in the United States by Niche. Moreover, nine alumni from NYU’s film programs were nominees for the 2023 Academy Awards.

At NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, students can earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Film & Television and Film, respectively. In both programs, students will receive a liberal arts education, preparing them to take on an array of industries after graduation. 

In the film realm specifically, students are exposed to the conceptual and production aspects of film, cinematography, and video. 

Furthermore, students can take classes that focus on acting, directing, writing, producing, film editing, sound mixing, and more. 

As graduation nears, students attend “The Senior Colloquium: Exit Strategies,” a series of lectures that covers all things media related, such as copyright, set protocols, digital technology, pitching stories, and more. 

Additionally, Tisch offers a robust career development center to ensure students can seamlessly transition from Tisch to the world.