7 Online Film Schools You Should Know
Online film school has never been more popular. While traditional brick and mortar colleges and universities still hold appeal, many prospective students either aren’t interested in going to one or they simply might be unable to due to outside commitments or responsibilities.
And that’s why online film school has become an essential part of today’s higher education for aspiring filmmakers.
From the comfort of their own homes, students can explore the medium and grow their skillsets within it. And given how easy it is for most people to get online, remote learning can extend beyond the home to the train, office or anywhere else with internet access. This benefit, coupled with the many colleges and universities that have come to recognize how remote learning can accommodate a large demographic, has resulted in a wide variety of online film school options from which students can choose.
These seven colleges and universities feature prominent online film school programs:
- Academy of Art University
- Arizona State University Online
- Full Sail University
- The Los Angeles Film School
- National University
- New York Film Academy
- UCLA Online Extension
1. Academy of Art University
Based out of San Francisco, Academy of Art University offers an online Motion Pictures & Television degree or MPT degree. As their website states, this program can prepare students “for a career as a motion pictures and television professional.” Given the broad nature of the program, it might be the perfect fit for someone who wants a wide-ranging education rather than more specialized training.
One reason why online film school continues to grow in demand is because the colleges and universities that offer it strive to provide an experience that mirrors traditional higher education, and Academy of Art University is no different. Among the benefits that the school touts for its online film students is access to and instruction from the same Teachers whom its onsite students learn from.
2. Arizona State University Online
Arizona State University’s online programs have been designated as among the best in the United States, making ASU a strong online film school option. At this school, prospective students can earn an online Bachelor of Arts in Film & Media Studies.
Like Academy of Art University, the degree offered through ASU gives graduates a well-rounded background in film that they can then apply to the specific field of their choice. However, for those wondering exactly how they can transfer their education to the real world, Arizona State University offers some insight into the career paths their alums have taken. The site mentions that their graduates have gone on to become “creative executives, Producers, Managers, and Writers.” They also work in “story and production development, exhibition, distribution and film, and television.”
3. Full Sail University
Full Sail University, established in 1979, puts a strong focus on the arts, and unlike other online film school options, has several programs from which prospective students can choose. The school currently offers a Bachelor’s in Digital Cinematography, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment and even a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Each of these programs is more specific in nature than those offered by either Academy of Art University or Arizona State University. So while other facets of the film industry might be discussed on occasion, those who decide to move forward with an online undergraduate or graduate degree through Full Sail University should already have a strong interest in either digital cinematography or creative writing.
Given that some individuals may recognize only after completing a more general degree the specialty they want to pursue, these particular degrees might also suit those who have already received their bachelor’s in another field.
4. The Los Angeles Film School
As its name implies, The Los Angeles Film School specifically guides students for a future career in the industry. And like Full Sail University, it offers several online film degree options. Individuals can choose from among its Bachelor of Science programs in Digital Filmmaking, Entertainment Business, Graphic Design or Animation. (The Los Angeles Film School also provides an Associate of Science in Music Production.)
Like those offered through Full Sail University, The Los Angeles Film School programs are highly specialized. Students may become better acquainted with other aspects of the film industry while in school, but they should be prepared to immerse themselves largely in the specialty for which they are enrolled.
One unique aspect of this particular online film school is that it is based in the heart of the entertainment industry. Though students are still learning remotely, this particular school may appeal to those who ultimately want to live and work in Los Angeles. Especially as online film schools generally allow for more schedule flexibility, students here can potentially network with their fellow students or even begin to work in the industry as they complete their degrees, giving them a head-start on their careers.
5. National University
Just south of The Los Angeles Film School is National University in San Diego. However, like Arizona State University, NU is a school that offers degrees and programs across the spectrum of different fields. Unlike any of the other online film school options mentioned thus far, though, National University provides interested students with a Master of Arts in Film Studies. Film studies students largely learn about the history and aesthetics of film, which can make this degree attractive to those who want to one day teach or become a Film Critic.
NU also offers several other undergraduate and graduate options. Prospective students can work towards their Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design, Bachelor of Arts in Film Arts or Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Through its diversity of programs, National University gives students who both are looking for a more generalized film education or specialized training the chance to earn their degree online.
6. New York Film Academy
Though called the New York Film Academy, this higher learning institution has locations not only in New York City but also Los Angeles and Miami. And like many of the other online film schools already mentioned — among them Academy of Art University, Full Sail University, and The Los Angeles Film School — New York Film Academy specializes in the arts. However, what sets this school apart from the rest is its online option that may cater better to students who aren’t looking for a long-term educational program.
Specifically, New York Film Academy offers non-degree 15-week online courses in screenwriting. So for those who simply want to be held accountable to a consistent writing schedule or freshen up on their screenwriting skills, this may be the right choice. Currently, the school provides six program options: Screenplay Story & Structure Workshop, Screenplay Workshop, Screenplay Rewrite Workshop, Television Spec Workshop, Television Pilot Workshop, and Television Rewrite Workshop.
7. UCLA Online Extension
Another option for individuals who want to further their education without a multi-year commitment towards getting an undergraduate or graduate degree is UCLA Extension. As its site states, UCLA Extension can help students upgrade their “current skills — or explore entirely new areas of interest.” And for those pursuing a career in entertainment, this online film school has nearly two-dozen different courses to give them a professional edge.
UCLA Extension truly offers a spectrum of courses for students. Some provide extremely specialized instruction, such as “Copyright Law in the Entertainment Industry” and “Audio Recording Theory,” while others offer a more broad education like “Story Analysis for Film and Television” and “The Language of Filmmaking.” And given the lesser time and financial commitment, it could be an ideal option for those who are uncertain of the path they want to take and would like to try out different specialties.
To further ease the educational experience for students, most UCLA Extension courses have open enrollment. Plus, once a course is completed, students have access to the large UCLA Alumni Association, which boasts of many high-profile film professionals.
Other Online Film School Options
Outside of the online film schools mentioned above, those interested in exploring or furthering their education of the entertainment industry may want to research their local community colleges or even independent businesses that offer film-related classes. Though they might not provide degree options, they may still fill the need of students who are looking for less intensive program options.
Regardless of the online film school, the decision to do a degree program or even just a course is not one that should be taken lightly. Each option is a commitment of time and financial resources, so before enrolling, prospective students should do their own research. Though remote learning can be incredibly convenient, students should make sure the program fits in with their career aspirations. By talking to the admissions office, school instructors and even former students, individuals can get a better feel for the type of education they’re potentially investing a considerable amount of money and energy into.
Another facet of online film school that prospective students should consider is that of time management. Yes, remote learning largely gives individuals the opportunity to study around their particular schedules, but students will still be held accountable even outside the classroom. Brick and mortar schools come with an inherent structure, which can be helpful to some students. So for those opting to learn from home, it’s essential that they create a structure for themselves that allows for consistent and uninterrupted learning.
That being said, online film school can be an excellent choice for a variety of reasons, including schedule flexibility and potential lower cost of learning. And as the above options demonstrate, prospective students now have more choices than ever before to get the education they want that will set them upon a successful film career path.
Are there online film schools that offer scholarships?
Yes! If you visit the Financial Aid/Scholarships pages of the schools listed in this blog, you’ll see that some of them do offer scholarships for their online programs. Full Sail, for example, definitely does.