In the “city that never sleeps,” there exist countless opportunities to chase your dreams and make it big. In addition to being home of many show sets, A-List superstars, and endless production executives, it’s also home to some of the best film schools in the world. Whether you hope to work in production or your talents lie behind the computer designing graphics, there are excellent programs found everywhere you look in New York. There are so many choices, it’s overwhelming so to help, we thought we would share our feedback on how the best schools in New York stack up beside each other.

Ranking Criteria for Best Film Schools in NY

Like any school ranking, this one is highly subjective. Despite our best efforts to create an impartial scoring system based on real numbers, we’ve already made peace with the fact that our list is going to stir-up debate around the methodology and our inherent biases.

Here is a quick summary of what we looked at: tuition rates (undergraduate, graduate and average), community of notable alumni, acceptance rate, graduation rate and website quality (program information, and prospective student resources). If you’re a math geek or disgruntled alumni, and you’re not satisfied with these vague explanations we’ve provided the full formula at the bottom of the page.

Tuition: Yearly cost of the core film school program for New York residents
Quality: Student resources such as the teachers, equipment and facilities
Alumni: The quantity and quality of the school’s graduates
Intangibles: School location, reputation and overall quality of life

#10 New York Film Academy - Battery Park

Undergraduate Tuition: Varies by Program
Admission Rate: 100%
Graduation Rate: N/A
Notable Alumni: Jessica Lee Rose, Camilla Luddington, Analeigh Tipton

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

You may have seen this school, different location on a different article discussing the top 10 film schools in Los Angeles. This location of New York Film Academy (NYFA), located in Battery Place right by Battery Park, has had mixed reviews by students who have gone through their various programs that last anywhere from eight weeks to two years and their workshops that last anywhere from one week to twelve weeks. NYFA boasts diversity, with many international students from France, Brazil, China, and more, allowing students to not only have the chance to collaborate professionally but also culturally. Due to the large variety of feedback in regards to program offerings and workshop offerings at this school, it is extremely difficult to judge this school, resulting it falling lower on our list.

#9 Pratt Institute

Undergraduate Tuition: $51,754
Admission Rate: 50%
Graduation Rate: 67%
Notable Alumni: Robert Redford, Betsey Johnson, Jeremy Scott

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

In the past couple of years, Pratt Institute has seen tremendous growth, bringing to it where it ranks as one of the top film schools in New York. With a new film school area built that generated high levels of excitement back in 2015 to the new resources that come with that new space, Pratt Institute often reminds people of a growing college. They also have many working professionals as professors, providing students with the viewpoint of someone in the industry and the connections to potentially reach out in the future. Described as “Innovators who learn to foster a creative vision,” Pratt students have the exposure to bountiful resources from their new recording studio to their color grading and post-production studio and speak highly of the campus.

#8 Bard College

Undergraduate Tuition: $54,210
Admission Rate: 56%
Graduation Rate: 78%
Notable Alumni: Robert Redford, Chevy Chase, Tom Ford

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Described as academically stimulating, with professors that are raved about, Bard college joins our list as one of the top film schools in New York. A relatively small liberal arts college, Bard offers a Film and Electronic Arts program which is relatively structured through each year having a different emphasis on different elements of film-making. Despite the structured goals of every year, students are still encouraged to explore their creative passions, with focuses ranging from animation, documentary filmmaking, and more.

#7 Rochester Institute of Technology

Undergraduate Tuition: $44,130
Admission Rate: 57%
Graduation Rate: 28%
Notable Alumni: Jim Hasman, Brittney Lee, Greg Smith

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Placing as number seven on our list is Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. Students attending RIT can receive a Bachelor’s of Arts in Film and Animation, a different spin in our list of film programs. Known for being production heavy, especially towards the beginning of the program, students at this college have the chance to create a strong portfolio with various short films and animations. There is no debate that this degree is production focused, rather than screenwriting or any other discipline, which suits some wants exceptionally well and leads others to look at other programs. The student life is positively discussed, with a highly individualistic and artistic culture among the students.

#6 School of Visual Arts

Undergraduate Tuition: $39,900
Admission Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 55%
Notable Alumni: Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Next on our list is the School of Visual Arts, a for-profit arts college in the heart of New York City. The thing that stands out the most about this college is the amount of professors who work in the field, providing valuable insight and opportunity to all of the students. Their alumni network is strong and expansive with 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, creating a highly influential artistic community. Researching this college however, their website is incredibly untraditional and is less appealing than would be expected from an arts school despite their quality of education and courses. Further, their campus reflects NYU’s in that there doesn’t really exist a “campus,” rather buildings more integrated into the city.

#5 Vassar College

Undergraduate Tuition: $56,130
Admission Rate: 25%
Graduation Rate: 92%
Notable Alumni: Meryl Streep, Lisa Kudrow, Anne Hathaway

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Constantly regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges but often forgotten in the film world is Vassar College. Overall, Vassar College’s strengths lie in their community, in their individualism, and in their professors and class sizes. Specifically in regards to Vassar’s film program however, the program is a mix of film studies and film production, with more emphasis on film studies. While the curriculum encompasses technical courses as many do, the resources Vassar has in regards to film studies and history is their most competitive feature. With a library of 13,000 feature and documentary films and a constant stream of guest speakers, there is no doubt Vassar provides their students with the best resources they can. A large reason Vassar isn’t ranked higher is due to some negative student life factors reported, such as a dislike for the area surrounding the campus, crime, and the expense.

#4 Syracuse Institute

Undergraduate Tuition: $51,853
Admission Rate: 47%
Graduation Rate: 79%
Notable Alumni: Betsy Johnson, Jim Brown

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

With a focus on the filmmaker as an individual and with a strong undergraduate program and master’s program, Syracuse comes in as a top film school on our list. There is a heavy emphasis on independent film-making and scholarship and being within this program guarantees you will come out with experience and individualism. They offer many opportunities to gain professional work experience with summer and semester programs in not only New York City but in Los Angeles, London, and more. Further, being a smaller university, students have a better opportunity to not only make lasting connections with their peers, but with faculty and alumni.

#3 Ithaca College

Undergraduate Tuition: $43,978
Admission Rate: 71%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Notable Alumni: David Boreanaz, David Muir, Robert Iger

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Coming in at number three is Ithaca College, often described as a pioneer in the film industry. In the past, this college has been a leader in exploring silent film, computer graphics, and music synchronization, and students describe the atmosphere as innovative and driven. They further emphasize leveraging alumni and connections, pushing many students into the world with successful networking abilities alongside strong production and film-making experience. There is a lot of work being done with technology at this university; this program is definitely technology and production heavy with a simple goal of helping students find their creative passions.

#2 Columbia College

Undergraduate Tuition: $57,208
Admission Rate: 5.50%
Graduation Rate: 95%
Notable Alumni: Kathryn Bigelow, Lisa Cholodenko, Joy Every

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★

Columbia is not only one of the top ranking schools in the country, but, according to our numbers, one of the best film schools. With both undergraduate and graduate programs, students at Columbia can choose from a variety of different courses that let them explore their specific interests from technology to culture. Students have the control to customize their course plans and select twelve required courses with an advisor, producing very individualistic and independent mindsets. From Columbia, many students are offered internship opportunities from notable companies and the alumni network is not only large but well accomplished; to attend this film school is to make leaps and bounds towards your future.

#1 New York University

Undergraduate Tuition: $56,924
Admission Rate: 19%
Graduation Rate: 85%
Notable Alumni: Robert Redford, Chevy Chase, Tom Ford

Tuition: ★★★★★
Quality: ★★★★★
Reviews: ★★★★★
Alumni: ★★★★★
Intangibles: ★★★★★

Though this list was supposed to showcase the extensive amount of quality film programs, the top ranking school is still the predictable one - though for good reason. Despite some amazing contenders, there is no denying the quality of NYU Tisch. From the high-quality resources such as cameras and dark rooms offered to the students to the incredibly strong and extensive alumni network, students are given everything they need to flourish and are encouraged to have a community mindset, allowing Tisch to continuously grow. Students also have the opportunity to work with those who have already created a successful career in their field, such as James Franco, and the staff and faculty are always willing to lend a helping hand in reading a script, reviewing a student film, and more. The tuition is high but the quality of this education and opportunity is well-worth the money.

“The most important thing is to pick up a camera and make a film. Even if you don’t have money, get your friends, even if it is the worst piece of crap, it still will have your name saying 'Directed by' and for everything after that you are a director.”

- James Cameron

Final Words

So, that brings us to the end of our list; now you’ve heard our opinion on the different film schools in New York, and hopefully it will help inform your choice in choosing a place to go to school. However, if none of these school appeal to you, there are plenty of other options for film school or for other programs beyond film. Another option is that you could also just skip film school altogether and begin your career early.

The biggest thing to remember about the film industry is to be flexible - your future is ever-changing and very few people end up in a place they imagined they would while they were in high school or college. Opportunities arise, plans and interests change, and going with the changes can often result in success beyond you’ve ever imagined. That being said, it is good to have some semblance of a path you hope to take or a goal you hope to reach in regards to the near future, and I hope that hearing about the wide range of schools in New York alone for film will help in crafting your future.


NOTES: The ranking formula is a fraction where numerator consists of the sum of 1) tuition (avg. from Niche figures 2) website quality evaluation (subjective; 10 points max) 3) overall Facebook rating (# of reviews * rating) 4) overall Niche rating (# of reviews * rating) MINUS 1) position in the Niche general rating of colleges and 2) position in the Niche film colleges. The term of the fraction is the product of 1) acceptance rate and 2) graduation rate.

FOLLOWING RESERVATIONS SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED: 1. Wherever an establishment is not ranked in the 1st Niche rating, its position is equaled to 800 (a number larger than any other college’s position. 2. Whenever an establishment is not ranked in the 2nd Niche rating, its position is equaled to 158 (because that list has only 157 colleges in it) 3. Whenever Facebook rating is not available it is equaled to 0. 4. American Film Institute Conservatory cannot be calculated due to insufficient data. However, additional subjective research showed that this establishment is ranked highly in the community.