Best film Schools in California

20 Best film Schools in California with Key Facts

California produces some of the best movies, video games, and television shows in the United States every year, and it is also home to some of the best film schools in the world.

The best film schools in California are those known for encouraging innovation and creativity among students and helping them master the art of filmmaking.

These film-producing schools have been noted for their world-class facilities and innovative approach to teaching the subject matter.

If you’re serious about becoming a filmmaker, writer, or actor, one of these schools may be the perfect place for you to study!

About California Film Schools

Film studies have grown in popularity in recent years, so the world of film schools has expanded significantly.

Many universities now offer bachelor’s degrees and/or master’s degrees in film, in addition to various film-related certificates and minors.

California offers some of the easiest film schools to get into when it comes to studying film at any level, there are many great film-producing locations too, making it a great place to study filmmaking.

California also has a vibrant film industry, providing students with ample opportunities to learn from professionals and gain real-world experience.

This article will walk you through all you need to know about the best film academies in California and how to get into these schools so you can kickstart your career.

How To Get Into Film Schools in California?

Many students dream of attending one of these film academies but don’t know where to start.

In order to get into a film school, you have to, first of all, do some research about the school and then take a look at your own qualifications.


Learn about the different schools and what they have to offer, find out their acceptance rate, and what kind of requirements they have for applicants.

Take a look at your own qualifications:

Do you have the grades and test scores that the school is looking for? If not, don’t despair!

Advantages of attending the Film Schools in California?

There are a number of advantages to attending film school in California, here are a few;

The state is home to some of the most prestigious film institutions and academies in the country, this means that students have access to top-notch facilities and instructors.

Additionally, California is a major hub for the film industry, so attending school here gives students the opportunity to network with professionals and make connections that can help them get ahead in their careers.

What are the best film schools in California?

Best film Schools in California

Here is a list of the top California film schools to get into:

  • Los Angeles Film School
  • American Film Institute Conservatory
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
  • Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
  • Santa Monica College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • California State University, Northridge
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Emerson College, Los Angeles
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1. Los Angeles Film School

Founded in 1999, the Los Angeles Film School is one of the most prestigious and well-known film schools in the country.

It is a for-profit 4-year college in Los Angeles, California offering associate and bachelor’s degrees in Film, Audio, Animation, Music, Graphic Design, and Entertainment Business.

The film programs at the LA Film school focus on:

  • Animation and computer animation
  • Visual effects, and
  • Instruction in the business of the film and TV industry.

It might interest you to know that the Los Angeles film school is not hard to get into because it has a 100% acceptance rate.

You can also pursue an online degree program in this school from the comfort of your home.

The online or in-campus major in visual effects is a 36-month course that will develop your storyboarding, composting, scene finishing, and other animating skills.

As one of the best film schools in the world, students can expect to take classes such as directing, cinematography, and screenwriting, and will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

With an understandable yearly tuition fee ranging from $33,100 – $42,500, if you’re looking to break into the film industry, this is definitely the place to be.

Contact details:

Address: 6363 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, United States.

Phone: +1 877-952-3456.

Related Rankings:

2. American Film Institute Conservatory

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute Conservatory is one of the top film schools in Los Angeles with a less than 1% acceptance rate, it’s also one of the most selective.

The AFI Conservatory is a not-for-profit 4-year private film school that has produced a lot of popular filmmakers, such as Robert Richardson and Caleb Deschanel.

You can pursue a master’s degree in Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting.

However, in acceptance, preference is given to applicants or students with no associate fellows or no undergraduate degrees, and a certificate of completion will be issued after passing through the requirements.

Students can choose from any of the programs below;

  • Directing
  • Editing
  • Screenwriting
  • Cinematography
  • Film production, and
  • Production designing.

American Film Institute Conservatory is one of the best film schools in California because students can connect more with their instructors, with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1 and an average annual tuition of %65,800.

Contact details:

Address: 2021 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States.

Phone: +1 323-856-7600

3. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)

Based in Santa Clarita, the California Institute of the Arts is a private art university that was founded in 1961 and is located in Valencia, CA.

It is also one of the top film institutions in California offering both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

Students can have access to over seventy-degree programs in arts, including BFAs, MFAs, and doctorates in Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater.

Some of the reasons people choose this film school is because it has full production facilities and it has a 27.4 acceptance rate.

Completing a film program takes about 4-5 years with an annual tuition fee ranging from $45,030 to $53,466.

Contact details:

Address: 24700 McBean Pkwy, Valencia, CA 91355, United States.

Phone: +1 661-255-1050.

4. Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Located in Orange County, the Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is one of the best film colleges in California and was set up in 1996.

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Chapman University offers both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in:

  • Film Studies and Production
  • Film and Television Producing
  • Production Design
  • Screenwriting
  • Documentary Filmmaking.

If you are within the region, this is one of the recommendable film schools in Orange County, California with an annual tuition fee ranging from $52,340 – $57,214.

Contact details:

Address: 283 N Cypress St, Orange, CA 92866, United States.

Phone: +1 714-997-6765.

Related Ranking:

5. Art Center College of Design, Pasadena

Art Center College of Design is a private institution that is located in Pasadena and was founded in 1930, this institution is known for its top-notch film programs.

As one of the top film colleges in California with a high acceptance rate of 76.1%, students can choose from any of the programs below;

  • Directing
  • Editing
  • Animation
  • Television and cinematography

The school has amazing instructors and offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in various fields.

As an extracurricular activity, students can acquaint themselves with other related skills here such as;

  • Advertising
  • Media design
  • Production, and
  • Digital interaction.

These skills help increase confidence and productivity, the tuition fee at the Art Center College of Design ranges from $42,500 – $51,360.

Contact details:

Address: 1700 Lida St, Pasadena, CA 91103, United States.

Phone: +1 626-396-2200.

6. Santa Monica College

The next on our list of the best film colleges in California is Santa Monica College, a public, community college in Santa Monica, California.

The film programs here give students hands-on instruction in filmmaking/digital video production.

It takes two years to finish a film program in this college, after which students can transfer credit to any other higher institution to complete their degree in film-related programs.

Contact details:

Address: 1900 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, United States.

Phone: +1 310-434-4000.

7. Loyola Marymount University

We can not be talking about the best film schools in Los Angeles and not mention Loyola Marymount University.

Loyola Marymount is a Jesuit college in Los Angeles that was founded in 1865, this university has good film programs for film enthusiasts.

Students can choose from any of the following programs;

  • Screenwriting
  • Film & television production
  • Film, television & media studies
  • Animation
  • Writing and
  • Recording arts.

Another reason students choose this school other than their amazing instructors is that the school has a good reputation and students can leverage that connection to advance in their careers.

Loyola University offers hands-on training and has a tuition fee ranging from $42,576 to $46,136.

Contact details:

Address: 1 Loyola Marymount University Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90045, United States.

Phone: +1 310-338-2700.

8. California State University, Northridge

Northridge’s School of Arts, Media, and Communication is one of the most well-rounded and comprehensive arts programs in the CSU system.

The California State University at Northridge is one of the most affordable film schools in Los Angeles, California with a tuition fee ranging from $6,875 – $7,017.

The school offers both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, and students can choose from any of the programs below;

  • Film production
  • Screenwriting
  • Television production (narrative and documentary)
  • Media theory & criticism
  • Emerging media production and management. 

CSUN has famous and notable alumni to its name, alumni include Paula Abdul, Leland Sklar, Andy Summers, and Lyman Bostock.

Contact details:

Address: 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330, United States.

Phone: +1 818-677-1200.

Related Ranking:

9. University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara is a public research university and one of the best coastal colleges in California.

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It is also regarded as the best film school in Santa Barbara offering both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in film and media studies.

Students can choose from any of the programs below;

  • Screenwriting
  • Directing
  • Film tech
  • Acting, and
  • Production.

Contact details:

Address: Santa Barbara, CA 93106, United States.

Phone: +1 805-893-8000.

10. Emerson College, Los Angeles

Emerson College is one of the top film colleges in Los Angeles for aspiring filmmakers offering the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Media through the Department of Visual and Media Arts.

Aside from film programs, students also receive training and skill acquisition programs to build their confidence and productivity, such programs include, training in;

  • Business management
  • Marketing, and
  • Communication.

Programs like these give graduates an edge to join the professional world immediately upon completing the programs in this school.

Contact details:

Address: 5960 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, United States.

Phone: +1 323-952-6411.

Other Top California Film Schools include;

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Occidental College
  • San Francisco State University
  • Woodbury University
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Laguna College of Art & Design
  • Columbia College Hollywood


There are many film institutions in California that can help you pursue your dreams of becoming a filmmaker.

You can apply to as many as possible to increase your chances of acceptance, you should also make sure you have the requirements for eligibility.

We wish you the best in your career!

Film Schools in California | FAQs

What are the best film schools in Los Angeles?

The best film schools in Los Angeles are those institutions with the best programs, and facilities and which students can leverage from their connections, they include;

  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Emerson College, Los Angeles
  • California State University, Northridge
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • American Film Institute Conservatory
  • Los Angeles Film School

What are the best film schools in San Diego?

Here is a list of the best film schools in San Diego for aspiring filmmakers;

  • MediaTech Institute
  • University of California – San Diego
  • San Diego State University – School of Communication
  • San Diego City College
  • University of San Diego

What are the best film schools in San Jose?

  • Country Day School Costa Rica
  • University Of Costa Rica Rodrigo Facio Campus
  • Universidad Veritas
  • Universidad para la Paz
  • University of Science and Technology
  • United World College

What do film school students learn?

Students at film academies in California learn the basics of filmmaking, including directing, writing, producing, cinematography, and editing.

They also learn about the history of film and the different genres that exist, they are taught how to analyze films and understand the elements that make a good film.

Lastly, students learn about the business side of filmmaking, such as distribution and marketing.

What do film students need?

To be a film student, you’ll need passion, creative vision, and the ability to work hard.

Of course, you’ll also need to attend a great film school too.

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