Best Online Bachelor’s in Film Programs
Updated June 2, 2023
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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
These rankings include
#1 Best Online Bachelor’s in Film Programs
Arizona State University-Skysong
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Arizona State University-Skysong, located in Scottsdale, enables distance learning across 126 online programs. Undergraduate students can choose from 54 online bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor of arts in film and media studies. Working professionals and busy students will benefit from the program's flexible study options and class customization.
Enrollees complete both foundational and advanced coursework, granting them the knowledge and skills needed to advance in the film field. Degree-seekers can work with their academic advisor to customize their studies through modified courses, electives, minors, and concentrations.
A bachelor's degree connects graduates with numerous job opportunities and a higher earning potential. The median salary for graduates six years after their degree completion is $42,200, according to the college. Interested applicants should consider that the average cost for tuition and fees is $14,568 after aid. Before applying, prospective students should connect with the film department to learn more about admission requirements and application materials.
Arizona State University-Skysong at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 44,167
Total Online Programs: 126
Online Bachelor's Programs: 54
Admission Rate: 64%
Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available
#2 Best Online Bachelor’s in Film Programs
The University of Montana
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
The University of Montana supports flexible distance learning opportunities across 16 online programs. Undergraduates can choose from two online bachelor's programs. Learners seeking competitive and flexible study in film can explore the bachelor's in studio art. This program offers customization to help students earn a degree that meets their needs.
Throughout their coursework, students gain industry-relevant knowledge through general and advanced classes. Degree candidates can individualize their studies by choosing electives, minors, and concentrations.
The benefits of a bachelor's degree are varied, from increased job opportunities to higher earning potential. The college notes a median salary of $33,900 for graduates six years after finishing their studies. Though degree costs vary, undergraduate students pay an average of $14,731 per year in tuition and fees. To learn more about admission requirements and financial aid opportunities, prospective students should contact the film department.
The University of Montana at a Glance:
Online Enrollment: 3,057
Total Online Programs: 16
Online Bachelor's Programs: 2
Admission Rate: 94%
Transfer Credits Accepted: Data not available
Online Bachelor's in Film Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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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.
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Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%
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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.
Film and Video Editors
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.
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.
Producers and Directors
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: sturti | E+ | Getty Images
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