Best Online Bachelor’s in Film Programs 2021

| TBS Staff

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An online film degree is an excellent option for students who want to turn their love of movies into a career. With digital streaming platforms disrupting legacy distribution models, the film and television industries have grown enormously in recent years as global demand for professionally produced entertainment surges.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% increase in demand for camera operators and film editors by 2026. A bachelor’s degree qualifies graduates for entry–level positions in areas like producing and directing. An undergraduate film degree is also an ideal starting point for students interested in the academic or technical sides of the movie industry.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Film Programs

Arizona State University-Skysong true View School Profile $$ Scottsdale, AZ 14% 55% 97% Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Founded in 1885, ASU offers an online bachelor of arts in film and media studies. Students complete courses in just 7.5-week terms.

Students complete courses such as an introduction to film and media studies, film and media history, television studies, and race and gender in the U.S. media.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students must also meet one of the following requirements: top 25% high school class ranking, minimum GPA of 3.0, minimum ACT score of 22 (SAT 1120) for in-state students, or minimum ACT score of 24 (SAT 1180) for out-of-state students.

The University of Montana true View School Profile $$ Missoula, MT 46% 50% 26% University of Montana is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

A public university founded in 1893, UM offers an online bachelor of arts in media arts. Students can complete the program 100% online.

Required courses include the creation of media stories, Photoshop art and design, and Illustrator vector and layout. Learners gain a foundational understanding of emerging digital technologies and digital design applications.

Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to qualify for admission. Students must also submit standardized test scores (waived through 2022).

Best Online Bachelor's

Online Bachelor's in Film Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

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Featured Online Bachelor's in Film Programs

Choosing an Online Program in Film

Most online film programs focus on production or theory. Production–oriented programs teach students about the technical side of filmmaking, covering topics such as camera operation, sound recording, film and video editing, production design, and budgeting.

In the film and TV production industry, most professionals specialize in an area, such as cinematography, lighting, editing, or sound recording. Many online film bachelor’s degrees include flexible elective requirements that allow learners to focus their studies on one or more areas of interest. For example, a student planning to become a camera operator may take an intensive series of electives that cover basic, intermediate, and advanced topics in cinematography. This specialization would help the student prepare for an entry–level position in the camera department of a professional film shoot.

Theory–focused programs explore topics such as film history, film criticism, and the social impact of film. These programs appeal to students with an academic or intellectual interest in film as a cultural phenomenon. Theory–oriented programs also provide a strong educational background for students interested in film development, acquisition, distribution, and other business–oriented aspects of the entertainment industry.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Film Program?

Because of the variety of specializations available to students in online film studies degree programs, curricula vary significantly. However, students in both production–oriented and theory–oriented programs gain an understanding of certain fundamental concepts. The foundational courses below are common to most online film programs.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Film

  • Introduction to Film History: Most online film school degrees begin with an overview of movie history. These courses cover the development and emergence of motion picture technology. Students examine the first century of filmmaking milestones, focusing on noteworthy films, filmmakers, and cinematic movements.
  • Narrative and Non–Narrative Filmmaking: While most people associate filmmaking with the commercialized entertainment industry, film has rich non–narrative tradition. This course introduces students to the many auteurs who have explored film’s formal characteristics purely for artistic expression.
  • Film Theory and Criticism: Movies can profoundly affect viewers, creating powerful intellectual and emotional responses. This course explores how movies achieve this effect and why some films are more effective than others. Students discuss whether films can be judged according to an objective set of criteria or whether evaluating a film must always involve a degree of subjectivity.
  • Business of Film: More commonly found in production–oriented programs, film business classes introduce the basics of film financing models, budgeting, and distribution channels. Students gain foundational knowledge to prepare for careers in the entertainment industry, and emerging filmmakers learn to consider the practical aspects of the creative process.
  • Film Technologies: Tech courses focus on classes of filmmaking equipment, such as cameras, lights, sound recording devices, or special effects technologies. Students learn about the proper setup, calibration, use, and maintenance of these tools and learn how to utilize technologies to achieve specific stylistic effects.

Careers with a Bachelor’s in Film

Online film degrees prepare learners for career opportunities in the practical, technical, and creative sides of filmmaking. In the film and television industries, demonstrable skills tend to impact career opportunities more strongly than formal education. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for most entry–level careers in the industry.

true Film and Video Editors $58,210 13%

Editors play a key role in post-production. They work in editing bays to assemble raw footage into the polished scenes that comprise a finished film or TV show. These professionals need detailed technical knowledge of computer hardware and editing software, which students gain while completing a production-oriented online film bachelor’s degree.

true Camera Operator $58,210 13%

Camera OperatorCamera operators work closely with creative leads, known as cinematographers, to achieve the desired look, tone, and mood of a film or TV production. Under the direct supervision of the cinematographer and/or director, camera operators draw on film school training to calibrate and physically operate the camera equipment used to capture individual scenes.

true Producers and Directors $71,620 12%

Producers and DirectorsProducers acquire and develop source material, secure financing, and serve as the lead point person on business aspects of film and TV projects. Directors specify creative and dramatic visions for the finished product and work on set to provide cast and crew members with detailed instructions. These competitive positions require knowledge of the creative, historical, and practical aspects of filmmaking.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Header Image Credit: Mike Kemp | Getty Images

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