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Top 10 Online Film Schools

Top 10 Online Film Schools: What to Look for When Comparing the Best

Compare The Top 10 Online Film School for a Successful Career in the Film and Television Industry

Table of Contents

In this article, we will review and compare the top 10 online film schools—why you should consider an online film school, what features to look for and, finally, we’ll compare the top 10 online film schools to help you decide which is the best for advancing your career.

 

For creatives pursuing a career in the film and television industry, it can be perplexing to know exactly which path to take. Where do you start? How do you break into the industry? How do you make connections? When it comes to filmmaking, in particular, some of the most common questions filmmakers ask is whether or not they should go to film school — and how do you choose a film school that will actually be advantageous for a career in the industry? Many filmmakers have been to film school, yet still find themselves looking for continuing education to advance their career even further.

Why Online Film School?

In filmmaking, there seem to be two sides—those who believe these skills should be learned in a classroom and those who believe you can hone your talents with self-education and online tutorials. Online film school offers the best of both worlds. You get all of the benefits of film school, combined with the benefits of remote learning, typically at a lower cost and time commitment. Even if you’re not looking for a degree or certificate, online film school provides a filmmaking network that could become invaluable to your career.

Online film school offers a unique opportunity to make connections, learn from professionals and receive expert guidance without having to uproot your entire life to attend in-person classes. Whether you are just starting out or already have a career and are looking to develop new skills, most online film schools offer the flexibility to attend classes wherever and whenever you want, via pre-recorded videos or live Zoom-style meetings.

If you are a filmmaker trying to decide if you should enroll in an online film school and wondering if it will help your career, the answer is YES! Because the combination of training and mentoring is powerful – whether you’re just starting out or are already at mid-career. The opportunities and possibilities afforded to film school students are endless, and online film school makes this easier than ever. Now, the question is, what do you look for in an online film school and how do you choose the best one for you?

 

What to Look for in an Online Film School

When looking for an online film school, the options can be overwhelming. Do you need to choose a college program? What about those celebrity-taught programs? Will one film school make me more hirable than another? Here are some important qualities to look for when choosing an online film school!

Relevance

Are the courses and content offered relevant to your needs, interests and aspirations? Is the curriculum up-to-date with today’s industry standards? Does the school regularly update its curriculum as technologies and business models evolve? Is it focused on practice – or is it mainly about theory? Choose a film school that has an adequate focus on what you’re interested in, challenges you and helps you develop new skills that are current, actionable and hirable. 

Qualified and Experienced Faculty

There’s a famous line about teaching, which says, “Those who can’t do, teach.” When it comes to film school, that shouldn’t be the case! Some online film schools, such as MediaU, offer courses taught by currently working professionals with very impressive credentials. Before choosing an online film school, look into the qualifications of the faculty, check out their credits, and avoid those without real industry experience. Choose a school with faculty who have been in the film industry and have experience working for major studios, streaming platforms, and also in the independent media world.  

Affordability

When choosing an online film school, you may or may not be limited by cost, but affordability is something that you should definitely consider. What is the cost versus benefit? Are there scholarships available? Will you have to take out a student loan? Many online film schools are much more affordable than a brick and mortar school, while offering even more real-world advantages than a traditional classroom setting. 

Combination of Live and Pre-Recorded Sessions

One of the advantages of remote learning is that you can learn at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want — IF you choose a school with flexible options. Even though virtual learning is commonplace now, many schools require class attendance at a specific time via live Zoom-style classes, just as if you were attending in-person. Choose an online film school with a combination of live and pre-recorded sessions, so you can gain the benefits of live training and interaction when your schedule allows, while also enjoying the flexibility of pre-recorded sessions which provide the opportunity to learn any time of day or night.

Accelerated Learning

When evaluating online film schools, take a look at how quickly you can finish the material and apply what you’ve learned to your career. Are the courses filled with needless filler information to keep you paying over time, or does the curriculum dive right into materials that are useful and applicable to a career in the industry? Choose an online film school that offers accelerated learning so that you spend less time studying and more time succeeding in your career.

Guidance and Mentoring

Does the online film school you’re considering properly prepare you for life outside the classroom? Do you have the opportunity to interact with faculty and mentors, or are you presented with a video and left to fend for yourself? Make sure you choose an online film school that offers you guidance, interaction, and mentoring so that you can put your skills into motion and get the attention you need in order to have a successful future in the film industry.

Responsiveness

As with any industry, the film industry is constantly changing — therefore, your needs will change, too. When you’re choosing an online film school, take a look and see if the school is set up to adapt to your individual needs and career aspirations. Is your education confined to the pages of a textbook, or does the film school adapt to your current needs and goals? Choose an online film school that will answer your specific questions, give you specialized information and will grow with you throughout the course of your career. 

Industry Partnerships

Film school may offer opportunities that extend beyond the classroom by helping you form connections in the industry. Some online film schools even partner with production companies, distributors, and film festivals, helping you get your foot in the door and your movie noticed! When looking into an online film school, research the school’s partnerships in the industry to explore all of the benefits you may gain from enrolling in that particular program.  

Meaningful Credentials

Not all online film schools are equal when it comes to credentials. Whether you are seeking a degree, certificate or continuing education, be sure to research what is being offered, and choose an online film school that will give you some form of credibility and add value to your resume.

 

Comparison of the Top 10 Online Film Schools

Now, let’s get down to the best online film schools that will help you reach your career goals in the film and entertainment industry.

MediaU ranks #1 in Top 10 Online Film Schools

1. MediaU

Hey, we wouldn’t be writing this if we didn’t think we were #1 in the top 10 online film schools? Though still in our early stages, MediaU has launched multiple in-depth courses designed to accelerate careers and broaden your knowledge of the entertainment industry. Beginning with the flagship “Marketing and Distribution Roadmap for Independent Filmmakers,” these accelerated online courses are designed to equip you with up-to-date skills that you can put into action immediately, so you can break into the industry, get hired and get your films noticed. 

Classes are offered in a combination of live and pre-recorded sessions so you can learn wherever and whenever you want. And, when it comes to qualifications, the faculty at MediaU is unmatched — you’ll be learning from pros who are in the industry, doing the work at major Hollywood studios such as Netflix, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. The mentors at MediaU are there to guide you and answer your questions along the way.

Planned offerings include everything from quick master classes on specific filmmaking topics to full-blown courses covering everything you need to know about the industry. Instead of a tuition-based model, courses are individually priced and are incredibly reasonable, beginning at only $59, with courses earning you a certificate of completion. There are no eligibility requirements for enrollment and while priced very affordably, MediaU does partner with companies and foundations to award scholarships that help select students build and grow their careers in the entertainment industry.

MediaU also offers some mind-blowing networking opportunities in the industry, including access to actual hiring managers and a partnership with Slamdance Film Festival. With many courses offering free updates to the course material for a year after you receive your certificate, MediaU makes sure that you’re at the top of your game. By becoming a founding member of the MediaU community, you will have a leg up on the competition as we strive to have a profound impact on your professional journey. 

Pros:

  • Career-oriented training and mentorship
  • Learn from working Hollywood professionals
  • Combination of Live and Pre-recorded Videos allow schedule flexibility
  • Opportunities to network and connect with influential people in the industry
  • Reasonably priced, with courses starting at only $59


Cons:

  • Course options are limited while many are still in development
  • Not the best option for those seeking a traditional education
NYU Tisch - Top 10 Online Film Schools

2. NYU Tisch School + Yellowbrick

Ranked one of the top film schools by the Hollywood Reporter, NYU Tisch School of the Arts has partnered with Yellowbrick to offer one online course – it’s called Film & TV Industry Essentials. Taught by some big names in Hollywood, this course features five modules that cover most of the major career paths in the business, with all lessons available as pre-recorded videos on-demand.

This course’s modest $999 price tag is a steal when compared to tuition at brick and mortar schools, but while the program offers a comprehensive curriculum taught by reputable personalities in the industry, what you see is what you get — the lack of any course updates, individualized attention, interaction with faculty, or networking opportunities for career advancement are a huge downside.

Pros:

  • Learn from big names in Hollywood
  • Comprehensive curriculum
  • Pre-recorded videos allow schedule flexibility  


Cons:

  • While offered through NYU, no actual college credit is earned.
  • No individualized attention or interaction with faculty
  • No career guidance offered
Arizona State University - Top 10 Online Film Schools

3. Arizona State University Online

For those seeking an online option to earn a four-year film school degree from a reputable University, Arizona State University offers a complete online Bachelor of Arts program in Film and Media Studies. Tuition costs range between $561–$661 per credit hour, setting you back more than $60,000 for the full degree program. With a wide curriculum, covering all areas of the film industry, this program features 39 classes at 7.5 weeks per class, requiring the hefty time commitment that you would expect of a university — although the online program offers the flexibility of studying from home, without the requirement of attending any in-person classes. 

Pros:

  • Earn a four-year film school degree online
  • Flexible home study options
  • Individual attention and feedback from faculty


Cons:

  • Must apply for admission and meet GPA requirements
  • Requires a large time commitment
  • Full degree program will set you back more than $60,000
University of Phoenix ranks in our Top 10 Online Film Schools

4. University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is a pioneer in online learning, and while they don’t offer a complete online film degree, they do offer an excellent Introduction to Film Studies course. With an estimated tuition cost of $1,194, the five-week course dives into film theory and teaches students to analyze and view films critically — a great option for those seeking a solid understanding of film concepts and film language, but not designed for practical how-to-do-it training.

Pros:

  • Good introductory course for beginners
  • Earn college credit


Cons:

  • Online course options do not offer any practical training 
  • No career guidance or networking opportunities
  • Expensive tuition
Full Sail University - Top 10 Online Film Schools

5. Full Sail University

Full Sail University’s online bachelor’s degree program in Digital Cinematography gives students the opportunity to engage with peers and make connections through their immersive online platform. Beginning with theory, and moving into the creative process of creating a film from start to finish, Full Sail University’s Digital Cinematography program is a great way for undergraduates to start their filmmaking journey and receive the hands-on attention and guidance from faculty that you would expect from a university. Full Sail also has an animation program that is well-regarded in the industry. Averaging $758 per credit hour, a film degree at Full Sail University will end up costing about $94,000, although financial aid can cut these costs significantly.

Pros:

  • Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in only 29 months
  • Great option for students to get a well-rounded film education 


Cons:

  • Faculty may not have as much current industry experience as other options
  • Averaging $758 per credit hour, a film degree at Full Sail University will end up costing about $94,000.schoolImg { height: 600px !important; overflow: hidden !important; }
Masterclass - Top 10 Online Film Schools

6. MasterClass

If you’re looking to see what well-known, heavy-hitters in Hollywood have to say, then you can’t go wrong with MasterClass. While MasterClass offers classes in every category under the sun, there are a good deal that are focused on the film and entertainment industry, taught by celebrities such as Martin Scorsese and Shonda Rhimes. MasterClass courses are all pre-recorded and viewable on-demand, and most include downloadable worksheets and materials to enhance the experience. Operating under a subscription-based model, MasterClass is very affordable–-starting at $15/month–-although this requires a yearlong commitment, billed annually. However, as exciting as it is to learn from celebrities, MasterClass offers no real credentials upon completion or any personalized experience to help you further develop what you’ve learned or ensure that you’re able to apply it in the real world. 

Pros:

  • Learn from big names in Hollywood
  • Learn about specific career paths
  • Subscription-based model makes the pricing affordable, starting at $15/month


Cons:

  • Master Classes are designed to get your feet wet, but do not tie together a full, comprehensive curriculum
  • No feedback offered
  • No career guidance on applying or implementing what you’ve learned
  • No networking opportunities
New York Film Academy - Top 10 Online Film Schools

7. New York Film Academy

Listed as a top film school by Variety, New York Film Academy offers online workshops in filmmaking, cinematography, screenwriting, producing and much more. Depending on how deep you want to delve into the material, each topic is offered in different variations, ranging from one-week to 15-week workshops. With online lectures, guided exercises, class discussions and at-home projects, each workshop is an immersive learning experience, with class sessions meeting at set times each day. Online workshops range anywhere from $475 all the way up to $3,800, depending on the topic and the length of the program, so it can be a bit pricey for content that does not earn students any credentials worth noting.

Pros:

  • Film school with an excellent reputation
  • Workshops are immersive and collaborative


Cons:

  • Lack of pre-recorded material makes it prohibitive to those with inflexible schedules
  • Pricey for content that does not earn students any credentials, ranging anywhere from $475 all the way up to $3,800
  • No ongoing career guidance or networking opportunities
UCLA Extension - op 10 Online Film Schools

8. UCLA Extension

The southern branch of the University of California, UCLA has a great fine arts program with classes in digital film and media. If you want to expand your filmmaking skills, with the flexibility of remote learning, UCLA offers online extension courses and certificate programs, including everything from filmmaking and cinematography to screenwriting and producing. Ranked the #1 public university, UCLA has an outstanding reputation and a knowledgeable faculty. Individual courses average around $699, with certificate programs averaging $3,000 to $4,000. 

Pros:

  • Good option for developing specific film industry skills
  • Good option for those seeking continuing education credits


Cons:

  • No ongoing career guidance
  • Does not offer any networking opportunities
  • Courses are only offered at specified times 
Emerson College - Online Film Schools

9. Emerson College

Frequently ranked among the Best Film Schools by the Hollywood Reporter, Emerson College’s Department of Visual and Media Arts offers a couple of online non-credit certificate programs for the film & television industry, as well as an online MFA in Writing for Film and Television.

Emerson’s Certificate program offers a variety of courses, each focusing on a specific topic, ranging from Documentary Production to Screenwriting. Different courses are offered at various times of year, with costs starting around $250 going up to $500 or more, depending on how intensive each course is. With lessons presented in live, zoom-style sessions, schedule flexibility may be a limiting factor as these are not courses that you can take at your own pace.

Emerson’s MFA in Writing for Film and Television is one of the only online master’s programs currently available in the industry, however while 100% of the classwork is online, there is a one week residency requirement at the beginning of each semester. This is a great opportunity to earn a master’s degree in screenwriting remotely, however, if you can meet the admission requirements and handle the $54,000 tuition.

Pros:

  • Wide range of courses from a reputable college.
  • Certificate courses are moderately priced.
  • Master’s in Writing For Film & Television program is one of the only online MFA programs available in the industry.


Cons:

  • Courses aren’t available year round
  • Limited to live Zoom-style training, not good for inflexible schedules
  • No ongoing career guidance
  • Master’s program is expensive
op 10 Online Film Schools - Top 10 Online Film Schools

10. Academy of Art University

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is a private art and design school with programs in animation, visual effects, motion pictures and television, among others. Their online program offers a Motion Pictures & Television degree that might be the perfect fit for someone who wants a wide-ranging education. With a faculty that includes Academy and Emmy Award winners, Academy of Art University delivers a great curriculum and offers guidance to help its students further their careers beyond the classroom.

Pros:

  • Provides an experience that mirrors traditional higher education
  • Combination of live and pre-recorded sessions
  • Instruction from reputable industry professionals


Cons:

  • Online degree is limited to a generalized education versus specialized training
  • One of the most expensive options on the list, with expenses for full-time students estimated at over $29,000 per year
Top 10 Online Film Schools Conclusion

Conclusion

With so many learning options available, it’s easy to say that the top 10 online film schools list isn’t one-size-fits-all. After comparing some of the best options available, any one of these would be a great choice — the number one choice, however, depends on your individual situation, needs and goals.

If you need a broader film school education and learn best in a more regimented, traditional way, perhaps a degree-seeking program from a reputable university would be best for you. However, if you are seeking more than a degree and college credits, many of the other options could be better suited for helping you establish a successful career.

MediaU plans to take the best parts of all of these online film schools and create an entirely new curriculum. New courses in development will offer useful, cutting-edge content that you can’t find anywhere else, and upcoming partnerships will give students a leg up on the competition when applying for jobs. With MediaU’s focus on career development and current, applicable training, MediaU is an excellent option that will give you the real insider information and industry connections you need.