10 Best Film Schools In California | How To Get In

This article contains the top film schools in California that you can enroll in and acquire the necessary skills and experience needed to change narratives in the film industry, and most importantly contribute positively to society.

Just like the Canadian film schools, schools that offer filmmaking programs in California have a high reputation for producing awarding-winning graduates in the filmmaking sector.

These schools take you by hand and help you kickstart your dreams of becoming a screenwriter, costume designer, sound editor, cinematographer, or any other career role in the film industry.

I remember vividly conversing with someone about college majors that pay well, and I mentioned a film degree. He looked surprised. As a matter of fact, it sounded to him like a weird degree to get in college, but he was not well informed.

The popular question of is getting a film degree worth it?” is now dying as those in the filmmaking industry are breaking odds and contributing positively to society. According to the motion picture association, in 2018/2019, the Canadian government recorded a GDP of about $12.8 billion generated by the film industry.

This alone is enough to tell you that the filmmaking industry has come to stay. Now, there are various degree programs offered by film schools such as fast-track one-year programs, BAs, BFAs, Mas, MFAs, PhDs, and many others.

Even after you graduate from any of the film schools, it is advisable that you upgrade and sharpen your skills from time to time by enrolling in some of the online filmmaking courses, or participating in free acting classes held online.

Upon your graduation from film school, you are open to many job opportunities such as working in journalism & advertising brands, production studios, visual effects companies, and many others.

Let’s now see what it takes to enroll in any of the film schools in California. You can also look up our article on film schools in London if you are interested.

Is California A Good Place To Study Filmmaking?

Yes, of course. There are 101 reasons why you should study filmmaking in California. Some of them include;

  • California houses top entertainment brands that are globally recognized and has big studios like Paramount Studios, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and many others.
  • The film schools located in California dish out quality training, and the facilitators are top industry experts.
  • Students from California film schools easily get internships or part-time work on TV show sets, and studios as Hollywood is in the center of California.

Cost Of Film Schools In California

The cost of enrolling in top schools offering film programs in California is about $35,000 to $70,000 depending on the school, state of the student’s residence, and the type of program enrolled in.

How To Get Into Film Schools In California

Here are the steps by which you can enroll in film schools in California.

  • You must fill out the application form and submit it.
  • You must pay the application fee if required.
  • You must have completed your high school education from an accredited institution.
  • You must present your transcripts and documents from past institutions attended.
  • You may be required to take an English proficiency test if the English language is not your native language.
  • You must have your recommendations and a well-written essay.

Without further ado, let’s delve properly into the best film schools found in California.


Film Schools In California

Below are the various top-performing film schools situated in California. I will be listing and explaining in order for you to get a broader view of them. Do pay close attention.

It is important to note that our data is gotten from deep research about the topic on sources like leverage edu, and individual school websites.

  • University Of California, San Diego
  • University Of California, Davis
  • University Of Southern California
  • University Of California, Santa Barbara
  • University Of California, Irvine
  • University Of California, Santa Cruz
  • University Of California, Riverside
  • San Francisco Film School
  • Los Angeles Film School
  • University Of San Francisco

1.      University Of California, San Diego

The first on our list of best California film schools is the University of California, San Diego. It focuses on helping students acquire adequate training in filmmaking, photography, and videography.

Students explore programs such as film scripting, media and film studies, production of films, interactive media, etc., and these courses are being taught by industry experts.

The tuition fee is about $18,700.

2.      University Of California, Davis

The next on our list is the University of California, Davis. It is located in Davis, California, and focuses on providing adequate filmmaking training for undergraduate, graduate, and professionals respectively.

The school is among the best educational institutions in the United States and has been consistently ranked among the top-tier universities in both national and international rankings.

The tuition fee is about $44,406.

3.      University Of Southern California

The University of Southern California is located in Los Angeles, California. The school is one of the famous film schools located in California and focuses on equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in areas such as photography, video, cinema, etc.

The students are also encouraged to gain deep knowledge in business and communications which is a key factor in building a career in the film industry.

The tuition fee is about $57,256, and the duration is 4 years.

4.      University Of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara is another popular film school in California that aims at giving students in-depth training in video, photography, and film. The school is located in the suburb of Santa Barbara.

Aside from the quality education provided, UCSB has a community that welcomes individuals of different calibers- religious, political, social, ethnic, etc.

The tuition fee is about $44,145, and the duration is 4 years.

5.      University Of California, Irvine

Another one of the top California schools that offers film programs is the University of California, Irvine. It is located in Irvine, CA, and aims at adding value to the lives of people by providing top-notch academic programs.

The school was established in 1965 and offers many other subjects aside from cinema and film studies. The tuition fee is about $40,000 to $60,000 depending on the course you enrolled in.

6.      University Of California, Santa Cruz

This school is among the top film schools found in California. It focuses on equipping students with knowledge in film production and studies (history, criticism & theory).

The courses are taught by world-class faculty with a curriculum that meets the regional and state industry requirement. The production classes explore areas such as 16mm film, sound design, screenwriting for games, VR, and many others.

The tuition is about $7,200 for in-state, and $19,000 for out-of-state.

7.      University Of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside is also one of the best California film schools. it is located in Riverside CA and has a high academic standard as well as a great student population. The school equips those who are interested in getting a BFA or MFA in filmmaking.

The students explore programs across areas such as television and film production, production designing, screenwriting, etc. It is also important to note that practical sessions are incorporated into the curriculum for better training.

The tuition fee is about $14,024

8.      San Francisco Film School

San Francisco Film School is formerly known as the SF School of Digital Filmmaking. The school provides online, onsite, and hybrid programs respectively for those interested in film making industry.

The programs offered include Applied Science in Digital filmmaking which is for those who want to pursue a career in the television & motion industry, writing & editing, producing, cinematography, and directing. The duration of this program is about 16 to 24 months.

There are also short certificate professional courses in digital filmmaking and customized continuing education programs. The tuition fee depends on the program you enrolled in.

9.      Los Angeles Film School

Another excellent film school in California is Los Angeles Film School located in Hollywood, California. It offers a wide range of associate and bachelor’s degree programs in the entertainment sector.

The school awards successful students some degrees such as Associate of Science in Film, B.S in film production, B.S in digital filmmaking, B.S in writing, etc.

The students explore courses across film producing, film directing, cinematography, screenwriting, and many others.

10.  University Of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is also another top film school in California that focuses on equipping students with adequate filmmaking training. The school has a high reputation for producing graduates who are changing the narrative in the film industry.

The students explore courses on film production and studies. The tuition fee is about $44,066.

You can visit the school through the link here


At this juncture, I can say that you have gotten enough details on the best film schools located in California. I do hope you make the most out of the information provided.

Do take a look at the frequently asked questions below to get more insights.

Film Schools In California- FAQs

Here are the frequently asked questions about film schools in California. I have highlighted and answered the vital few. Go through them carefully.

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