In this article, we profile the top 15 master’s degree in film studies online programs of 2020.
Students who enjoy losing themselves in a good book or film, or spending hours watching a new Netflix series, may be attracted to the movie industry as a career path. Online master’s in film studies programs offer a comprehensive look at the film industry and draw students that want to turn their hobbies into a lucrative career. Thankfully, master’s in film studies online programs are available from accredited and affordable institutions.
Top Affordable Online Master’s Degree in Film Studies Programs Methodology
We reviewed approximately 45 accredited colleges and universities listed by the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator and reputable online sources that offered master’s in film studies online programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: accreditation (regional and national), institution and/or program rankings with U.S. News and World Report, and affordable graduate tuition and fees. Since online film studies programs are limited, our focus was as much on quality as affordability. However, we ranked our selected schools according to raw affordability.
Below are the resulting selections for our top 15 online master’s in film studies programs of 2020.
#15 – The New School
Online Master’s in Media Studies
New York, New York
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $47,926
The New School in New York City offers master’s in film studies online programs ideal for busy students balancing life obligations with education. This 39-credit media studies program offers a lot of flexibility. Students may enroll on a full-time or part-time basis and take classes on campus or completely online. On average, completion time is just two years. While the program does not exclusively cover film, media components like documentary studies and media history are explored. Some of the online classes offered include digital cinema production, documentary studies, media analytics, media history and criticism, sound studies, and transmedia and digital storytelling. The New School’s reputation is a good one. Not only is the institution fully accredited, but ranked with U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #153 in best national universities.
#14 – Wake Forest University
Online MFA in Documentary Film
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $39,200
Wake Forest University’s online master’s in film studies programs include the MFA in documentary film. This fully immersive and rigorous two-year degree offers online classes for aspiring documentary filmmakers. Courses begin in the summer each year and cover topics like advanced documentary field production, documentary history, fundamentals of editing, law and ethics, and social media and marketing in the creative arts. The program also offers access to internships with some of the leading documentary production houses and media organizations in the United States. Wake Forest University is a top-ranked institution. The 2020 rankings with U.S. News and World Report include #27 in best national universities and #25 in best value schools.
#13 – Savannah College of Art and Design
Online Master’s in Photography
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $38,975
For individuals seeking a master’s degree in film online program from a quality institution, Savannah College of Art and Design offers a unique degree. The online master’s in photography is a comprehensive degree program that covers documentary photography and production, as well as ideation and experimentation in film and documentary studies. The 45-credit hour degree can be completed online as part of SCAD’s award-winning eLearning program. Online courses cover topics like documentary photography, studio craft, and the business side of marketing photography. SCAD is a fully accredited private institution that has received recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
#12 – Emerson College
Online MFA in Writing for Film and Television
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $31,264
One of the top master’s in film studies online programs on our list is the low-residency writing for film and television MFA at Emerson College. While not fully online, the program offers a mix of online workshops and six-day residency visits that alternate between Boston and Los Angeles. Students enroll in one online topic course per semester to aid the skills learning in the writing workshops. Topic courses include film genres, television genres, the writer’s room, and writers in development. Emerson College is a top-ranked and fully accredited private institution. In fact, Emerson ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 8th best regional university in the North.
#11 – Academy of Art University
Online MFA in Motion Pictures & Television
San Francisco, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $26,292
Looking for a master’s degree in film online degree? The Academy of Art University in San Francisco offers affordable options. The online MFA in motion pictures and television program offers an advanced training in areas of film and TV production. Classes are delivered online and set up to accommodate busy and working students. Some of the online courses cover topics like directing actors for motion pictures, editing concepts, film language studio, and movement – creating physical character. The Academy of Art’s online MFA is one of the few on our list that emphasize an in-depth training for future directors or producers. In addition to its strong reputation for offering quality film programs, the school has earned recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West.
#10 – Quinnipiac University
Online Master’s in Interactive Media and Communications
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,730
Another accredited and affordable online master’s in film studies program is the master’s in interactive media at Quinnipiac University. This fully online media program prepares students to design, produce, and manage a wide range of content capable of reaching an expansive audience. Coursework covers the foundation of media and communications often seen in the film industry. Course topics include digital audio, digital media, social media marketing, and web design and development. Regardless of career aspirations, students graduate with a strong and robust portfolio, which makes them marketable and employable. Quinnipiac University ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 153rd best national university in the country.
#9 – Southern New Hampshire University
Online Master’s in Screenwriting
Manchester, New Hampshire
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810
Southern New Hampshire University’s master’s degree in film online programs include the screenwriting graduate degree. This fully online Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing has a concentration in screenwriting, which is ideal for those considering film school or a career in the writer’s room. Admission requires no GRE or GMAT and can be completed in just 15 months. By taking two courses per ten-week term, students earn their degree efficiently. Online courses include graduate studies in literary theory, screenwriting thesis writing, story and concept, and studying the craft. SNHU is known for its wide array of online degrees. Also, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 92nd best regional university in the North and #1 most innovative school in the country.
#8 – Regent University
Online MFA in Film and Television
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,952
The master’s degree in film online program at Regent University is a terminal degree designed for professional writers. The focus is on how to write for film, stage, and television, presented from a Christian worldview. Courses are delivered online and taught by Regent’s experienced faculty. These courses include feature film scriptwriting, playwriting, writing for television, and writing the short film. Courses typically run eight weeks in length and move along at a fast and rigorous pace. Regent University ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 281st best national university in the country and the 49th best top performer on social mobility.
#7 – National University
Online Master’s in Film Studies
La Jolla, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,480
National University’s master’s in film studies online program includes four-week classes that immerse students in the study of movies, the film genre, theory, and how to direct. Students focus on one topic at a time, one month at a time, as they make their way through coursework online. The rigorous pace of classes ensures students finish their degree faster than most traditional film studies programs. Some of the required courses cover topics like film genre studies, film history, great directors, and world film. In addition to the quality programming offered at National University, the school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the West.
#6 – Tiffin University
Online Master’s in Film Studies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,000
The accredited and affordable master’s in film studies online program at Tiffin University offers online courses that explore film from the early days of Hollywood to contemporary cinema around the world. Online courses are taught by qualified and experienced Tiffin faculty. These courses move at a rigorous pace to allow for a quick completion time. The average degree completion for a full-time student is 1.5 years, while the average part-time students takes 2.5 years to earn the degree. Online courses cover topics like classic Hollywood cinema, cult and independent film, documentary film, film censorship, and teaching college art. In addition to offering affordable film programs online, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 114th best regional university in the Midwest.
#5 – Arizona State University
Online Master of Advanced Study in Film and Media Studies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,608
Arizona State University’s online master’s in film studies program is designed to equip students with the creative and analytical skills needed to become professionals and scholars of the film and media industry. A total of ten courses are required to complete the 30 total credit hours. Courses run 7.5 weeks and are taught by the same ASU professors who instruct on campus. Faculty consist of Fulbright American scholars, Guggenheim fellows, and Nobel laureates. Popular courses cover topics like crime and violence in American film, film analysis, Hollywood film historiography, media industries, and special topics in film. ASU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 117th best national university in the country.
#4 – University of Georgia
Online MFA in Narrative Media Writing
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,168
For students seeking a low-residency master’s degree in film online program, University of Georgia has unique and affordable options. The low-residency MFA in narrative media writing prepares graduates for writing nonfiction books, screenplays for major motion picture and television companies, and teaching writing at the university level. Two areas of concentration allow students to tailor their degree toward personal interests or career goals. These concentrations include narrative nonfiction and screenwriting. The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Also, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 50th best national university.
#3 – Northern Arizona University
Online Master’s in Communication – Documentary Studies
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,121
Northern Arizona University offers online master’s in film studies that emphasize communication and the creation of documentaries. The documentary studies emphasis prepares students with tools in nonfiction storytelling and multimedia journalism. Graduates feel prepared to start their own media businesses or continue on to earn a PhD in cinema or media studies. The program may be completed entirely online or by taking on-campus courses. Northern Arizona ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #293-#381 in best national universities and #224 in top performers on social mobility. Several online graduate programs have also earned top rankings.
#2 – Asbury University
Online MFA in Film/TV Production
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,990
Asbury University’s online master’s in film studies is an online MFA program that costs less than $10,000 per year. The affordable film degree teaches students to present compelling productions, such as film and TV production, live production, and web production. Online courses cover a variety of film and media topics, such as design for film and TV, editing practice and theory, media ethics and criticism, producing the film, and sound for picture. Asbury, a private institution, ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 9th best regional university in the South. Additional rankings include #23 in best value schools.
#1 – Stephens College
Online MFA in Television and Screenwriting
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,865
Stephens College offers a master’s in film studies online program that is ideal for working individuals an online MFA. The program’s focus is on television and screenwriting. The degree takes two years to complete. Four ten-day workshops in Hollywood and online courses make up the program. Also, as ongoing mission of the college, the program is dedicated to increasing the impact of women and under-represented voices in both film and television. Some of the online courses include history of screenwriting, writing the screenplay – first draft and revision, and writing the spec – one-hour drama. Stephens College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 66th best regional university in the Midwest.