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Expand on your current training and experience or take your education in a new direction with a master's degree in art & design with a specialization in film & television. Whether you've been away from school for years or you're headed directly from a bachelor's degree program, campus-based and online master's degrees in film & television offer graduate-level training in the field that inspires you.

Earning an MA or MFA in Film & Television

From writing to production, directing to design and animation, master's degree programs in film & television help you take a focused look at the training that drives your career future. A master's degree generally requires one to three years of full-time study after you've earned a bachelor's degree, though some Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in writing could allow students to teach, study, or use film equipment as students for four or five years.

The program you choose helps dictate how much time you spend in school. That's one more reason why learning more about Master of Arts (MA) and MFA degree programs in film & television is a crucial step to your degree process. Earn a master's degree online, or choose from one of the many on-campus programs offered nationwide.

How to Apply for an MA or MFA in Film & Television

The application process for MA and MFA programs in film & television begins long before you fill out your first letter of intent. Follow these simple steps and you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect master's degree program.

Step 1: Match a Degree to Your Priorities

Determining your goals with the degree is your first step toward picking a program that works for you. Consider the differences between master's degree options in film & television:

  • Master of Arts (MA): Typically known as an academic or professional degree, the MA degree in film & television offers theory, history, and academic coursework. Creative courses like writing may be included along with a creative thesis, but the MA is largely appropriate for theorists and professionals.
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA): Generally considered an artistic degree, the MFA includes studio courses on writing, directing, and other specialties. Theory courses may also be required, but creative work is the focus of an MFA in film & television. The MFA is a terminal degree, meaning that graduates may go on to find work teaching in universities and community colleges.

Make the most out the time and energy you spend in school by choosing the degree type that fits your needs. Even if you're looking for a mix of artistic guidance and professional training, you can find a master's degree in film & television that works for you.

Step 2: Choose a Specialty

After you've picked a general category, it's time to learn more about the different specialties you may choose among. Go for a general MA or MFA in film & television, or choose a program that offers coursework and guidance tailored to your goals. Neither path is objectively better; some students may choose a general degree to earn a broad-based education, or specialize in one form of writing, directing, or theory.

Film & Television MFA Program Specialties

Known as an artistic degree, the MFA helps focus your craft as you gain practical knowledge about the industry. Here are just a few of the potential specialties you may find while researching potential MFA programs:

  • Production/directing
  • Animation
  • Creative writing: fiction
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Documentary film
  • Digital arts and new media
  • Television production

Look for other unique MFA programs that may meet your needs. For example, an MBA or MFA program in film & television producing offers a targeted education for those looking for a business career in the entertainment field.

Film & Television MA Program Specialties

Though the MA is considered a more theory-based and academic degree than the MFA, master's degree graduates in film & television often also go on to work as artists in the industry. Here is a sampling of potential MA program specialties:

  • Film studies
  • Animation
  • Documentary film
  • Feminist film studies
  • New media
  • Radio, film & television
  • Screenwriting
  • Media studies

Choosing among the hundreds of MA and MFA degrees in film & television may seem daunting, but narrowing your choices should be simple. Consider your ideal career path in the industry, and align your degree goals with those dreams. Because of the sheer number of different film & television master's degree programs, you're more likely to find your niche.

Step 3: Choose Between Campus-Based and Online Master's Degrees

The choice between an on-campus and an online MA or MFA in film & television is a personal one, requiring you to consider your needs as a student as well as your learning style and preferences. An important part of your school search is the choice you must make in your preferred academic style. Consider the benefits and challenges of both types of degrees:

  • Online master's degrees offer convenience, life balance, and the freedom to log on from anywhere in the world. Interact with professors in different countries, network globally, and don't worry about relocating your family or career for the sake of a degree. An online degree may be perfect for a working professional looking for a degree.
  • On-Campus master's degrees are often preferred by those completing artistic or academic degree programs. An emphasis on mentorship, teaching, and one-on-one work all make this style of education appealing for students willing to travel and meet classroom attendance requirements.

Low-residency MFA programs are another option for film & television students looking for a mix between the convenience of an online degree and the focus of a campus-based program. Students spend most of their education studying online, taking a few weeks or months out of the year to travel to a campus and work with professors and students. This hybrid degree is a popular option among MFA degrees.

Step 4: Get the General Details of Potential Programs

After you've considered specialization, educational methods, and other basics of your degree, it's time to consider the basic details of your potential programs. After you've determined that a program is fully accredited, think about what sets each individual program apart from the others.

The Importance of Accreditation

Ensuring a school's accreditation is an essential part of your degree research. Accreditation is the process in which a third-party agency determines the academic rigor and quality of a degree program. The Department of Education maintains a list of accredited institutions online.

Film & Television MA and MFA Degree Program Perks

All MA and MFA programs give students a chance to hear feedback on their writing, production, animation, or directing work from professors and peers with a real interest with and connection to the industry. Certain schools work to attract students by offering specific perks limited to their program. Perks might include:

  • Employing actors to give readings of your play or screenplay drafts
  • Special guest talks open to students by speakers, agents, writers, and producers
  • Connecting online with industry members in your field anywhere in the world
  • Scholarship, teaching stipends, or other funding options limited to master's degree students

Learn more about the perks offered by specific schools by researching those schools. WorldWideLearn.com makes it simple to make contact with the master's degrees you're looking for. Check out the Campus-Based and Online Master's Degrees in Film & Television page for resources, potential schools, and ways to connect.

Step 5: Browse Helpful MA and MFA Degree Resources Online

Find the best fit academically and artistically by researching schools before you apply. From top lists to accreditation, the Web can help you start your research. Use these resources as you begin your search for the best MA and MFA program for you:

  • Top lists. U.S. News and World Report maintains a list of the Best Fine Arts Graduate Schools. Multimedia and visual communications schools are ranked along with graphic design.
  • Insider articles. The Independent, a publication dedicated to independent filmmakers, ranks their Top Ten Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers. The site includes links to programs that made the cut.
  • Government advice. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a list of accredited institutions. Search by location, city, school name, or accrediting agency. For more information on accreditation, see WorldWideLearn.com's Accreditation Answers page.
  • Resource guides. Downloadable guides mean you can learn more about going back to school without leaving your desk. See WorldWideLearn.com's guide, The Insider's College Guide for Working Adults, designed for working adults making the transition back to school.

Step 6: Focus on the Best Campus-Based or Online Master's Degree Programs

What type of filmmaking equipment do your potential schools have? Is the faculty list a who's who of directors and writers? Again, the importance you place in certain aspects of your MA or MFA program may determine your happiness with the degree process. Zero in on the best MA or MFA programs in film & television by considering the most important aspects of each school:

  • Faculty. Consider working with certain faculty members, but don't stake your entire application on the presence of one instructor; you should still be satisfied in your degree program even if the faculty list changes.
  • Reputation. A school with top rankings and a high reputation in the industry may offer valuable networking experience along with your degree. Of course, higher reputations often come with higher tuition costs.
  • Funding. Look for programs that offer scholarships, stipends, and other funding options to students.
  • Requirements. Different master's degree programs may vary in everything from application materials to coursework requirements. Look for programs with requirements that offer a welcome challenge.
  • Facilities. In technical MA and MFA programs, like MFA programs in filmmaking, the materials a school offers can make the difference between hands-on learning and book-based theory.

Begin the Application Process for an MA or MFA in Film & Television

After you've narrowed down your potential programs to a short list of the strongest candidates, it's time to begin the application process. All schools are different in this regard, but you should be prepared for all of the following possibilities:

  • Prerequisites. Most MA and MFA programs require that students have completed a bachelor's degree program, and exceptions are few and far between. Some programs may require students to complete certain coursework prior to enrollment. Work experience may also be considered.
  • Entrance exams. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are popular requirements. Study for the GRE, and your score could offer a convincing additional argument to admissions boards.
  • Recommendations. Personal and professional recommendations are an important part of many application packages.
  • Miscellaneous. Be prepared to write a statement of intent, include college transcripts and work history, and provide essays and other paperwork proving your interest and credibility.

Earning an MA or MFA in film & television means much more than a simple graduate degree. It's your chance to network with professionals in your field, plan a career, and learn more about the industry that inspires you. Put your professional skills to the test, and build a foundation for your future success in the film & television industry.


  • Best Fine Arts Graduate Schools U.S. News and World Report
  • Film Studies at Emory University
  • MBA/MFA in Film and TV Producing at Chapman University
  • Top Ten Academic Programs for Documentary Filmmakers The Independent
  • U.S. Department of Education Accreditation Search

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