Although prospective film students likely already know this, UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television has seen some of the world’s most influential directors and actors pass through its halls.
The history of UCLA TFT goes back to 1941, when the University of California, Los Angeles first began offering its students the option to study drama through its English department.
1947 saw the establishment of the Theater Arts department under its first chair, Kenneth Macgowan.
Following this, William Melnitz became the chair in 1953, and the department was moved under the umbrella of the UCLA College of Fine Arts in 1960, with Melnitz becoming its first dean.
The College of Fine Arts was dismantled in 1987 and was re-established as the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television three years later in 1990.
By the end of the 20th century, the school’s Film and Television Archive had become the second largest repository of media in the nation, only bested by the Library of Congress.
Dean Teri Shwartz’s 2009 to 2019 tenure brought an approach to the school’s leadership grounded in an interdisciplinary view of the arts and media and focused on humanistic narratives and a consciousness of the value of diverse perspectives and responsibility to society.
The school’s rich legacy and connections to top figures in the world of media and entertainment have attracted its current 692 students as they study to become part of the next generations of renowned actors, producers, and directors to bring drama and entertainment to the world.
UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television is 14%.
Collegevine.com’s list of the 15 best film schools for 2019 shows only two other film schools with a lower acceptance rate than UCLA TFT: the University of Southern California, with an acceptance rate of 11.4%, and Columbia University, with a rate of 5.3%. These statistics alone show that UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television is among the most selective film schools.
The school’s graduate-level film and television program sees an average yield, or enrollment rate, of 65%, while the school’s graduate-level theater program sees an average enrollment rate of 66%.
Petersons.com lists the total number of students enrolled in UCLA TFT as 345, composed of 48% male students and 51% female students.
The same data show that 15% of film school students are from countries outside of the United States.
Although the school’s comparatively selective admissions process may tempt some to apply to film schools with higher acceptance rates, many prospective film students will see the highly selective nature of the admissions process as a challenge they wish to meet.
UCLA Film School Ranking
Hollywoodreporter.com’s 2022 ranking of the 25 best film schools in America placed the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater, Film, and Television at number 9, coming in ahead of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and just behind Loyola Marymount University.
The list of the best schools in 2022 for film, video, and photographic arts provided by collegefactual.com places the program at UCLA just behind Hamilton College and above New York University at number 17.
Other sources give UCLA TFT a much higher ranking. Film-colleges.com places the school at number 2 on its list of the best film schools to attend in the United States, using 66 factors to arrive at the placement.
The blog at collegevine.com gives UCLA’s film school the same second-place ranking, with the University of Southern California taking the top spot and Chapman University taking third place.
Metaflix.com gives UCLA TFT another excellent ranking, placing it in the third spot, behind only USC and NYU and beating out Columbia University and the American Film Institute in the website’s 2022 rankings.
The title of Best Affordable MFA Film School in 2022 was awarded to UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television by filmschool.org.
With so many organizations awarding high honors to UCLA TFT, it’s no wonder that prospective students face such a selective admissions process to earn the opportunity to study at this highly ranked film school.
Whether one aspires to be an actor, producer, or director, listing UCLA’s film school as one’s alma mater is sure to gain notice when applying for any position.
UCLA Film School Requirements
Given such prestigious rankings and its comparatively low acceptance rate, anyone considering submitting their application to UCLA TFT should expect that they will be required to demonstrate a high level of achievement.
For students seeking an undergraduate degree and applying while in high school, the School of Theater, Film, and Television requires a GPA of 3.0 for residents of California or a 3.4 GPA for those applying from outside of the state.
These students must submit a regular application to UCLA as well as a supplemental application to the film school.
Applicants must pay all application fees in addition to providing two letters of recommendation and various essays and writing samples.
The writing samples required are a personal essay, a life challenge essay, and a critical essay or a creative writing sample.
Students seeking admission into graduate programs at the film school are expected to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and hold an accredited bachelor’s degree.
Further requirements include a statement of purpose and three letters of recommendation.
Submitting GRE scores is optional, according to the program’s website.
Applicants must submit specific examples of their work, depending on their area of focus.
Theater program applicants may be required to interview, audition, submit resumes, or submit examples of their work, depending on their area of focus.
All applicants, regardless of whether they seek admission to the Graduate Program in Theater or the Graduate Program in Film & Television, must submit transcripts from their undergraduate degree programs.
UCLA Film School Notable Alumni
The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television has produced many notable alumni who have impacted the entertainment and media world.
From actors and writers to producers and directors, alumni from the school have achieved national and international renown.
Corey Allen, one of the actors in the classic 1955 film, Rebel Without a Cause, graduated from the school with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1954, only a year before the release of the film.
The star of the film, James Dean, also attended the school for a time before dropping out to focus on his career.
The highly acclaimed Francis Ford Coppola also hails from UCLA’s film school, having received his MFA from the school.
Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter for Milk and J. Edgar, graduated from UCLA TFT with honors.
Noted comedian and actor Jack Black briefly attended the school before dropping out to pursue his career.
Jack Black is not the only famous musician to have attended the film school; Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, members of the Doors, also attended the school.
Producer of the Shrek franchise Aron Warner is yet another noteworthy graduate from UCLA’s film school. Famed comedian and television pioneer Carol Burnett attended the film school at UCLA before launching her television career.
These alumni represent only a fraction of the incredibly talented and influential actors, writers, directors, and producers who have honed their craft while studying at UCLA’s film and theater programs.
Admission to this famed film school is sure to help propel the next generation of entertainment figures into the limelight as well.
Should You Attend UCLA’s Film School?
Part of one of the most highly ranked and esteemed public university systems in the United States, the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater, Film, and Television has been a pillar of American entertainment and media since its inception.
Consistently ranked among the top film schools in the country and known for its highly selective admissions process, UCLA TFT attracts some of the best and brightest prospective film students from across the country and around the globe to apply for acceptance to the institution.
Although some may be intimidated by the idea of undergoing its review process, others will remain undaunted and study in the same halls as previous entertainment industry icons did.
The patience, talent, and diligence required to excel in the film school have undoubtedly contributed to the stellar careers of many of its alumni, the list of which is nearly too long to count.
For those applicants who have brought the same outstanding qualities to their academic and professional achievements, gaining admission into the school will serve as a badge of honor and further prepare them to emerge as part of the next generation of influential writers, actors, directors, and producers who will create the next classic works of film, television, or drama.
As students weigh the choice of which film school to attend, they must consider what achievements and works they can bring to the school and what the institution has to offer them in return.
The school provides many benefits, so it is no surprise that so many students seek admission to UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.