Best Film schools in southern California|Tuition, Scholarships & Acceptance rate

There are several film schools in southern California. Make no doubt about it: filmmaking is a labyrinth and one in which it’s easy to get lost without a signpost or two.

As a matter of fact, filmmaking is a very strange art form. Before we head on to the film schools in southern California, it is very essential, that we know what filmmaking is.

Therefore, I will advise you to read carefully in order to pick very valid points.

A must check Production Stages in Filmmaking.

What is Film making?

In my previous articles; best filmmaking schools in Canada and best film schools in London, I took my time to explain some very important things which I considered very vital for prospective students to succeed in the industry.

However, filmmaking can be said to involve the culmination of not just creative prowess but technical expertise and applying them in the various discrete stages of film production.

Filmmaking involves the following:

  • Screenwriting
  • Casting
  • Shooting
  • Sound recording
  • Pre-production
  • Editing
  • Screening
  • Distribution

6 Advantages of attending a filmmaking school?

You can be a filmmaker without attending a film school, but you might need a film school to make you a better filmmaker. Here are some of the advantages of attending film schools in southern California.

  • Filmmaking is a communal craft
  • Connections
  • Hands-on training
  • On-Hand access to equipment
  • Competitive edge
  • Clears the fog

Filmmaking is a communal craft

This simply means that filmmaking is not easily executed by a single person just like the way writing and drawing can.

Filmmaking is much easier when you are not on your own. Therefore I think there’s no better place to get acquainted with like-minds people practising the act, than in film schools in Southern California.

Collaboration is key in most perfect film projects and inarguably, you can improve your chances of meeting such people with who you can collaborate within film schools in Southern California.


One of the best things you will gain from attending any of the film schools in Southern California is its ability to help you make very strong bonds with others who are working hard to get ahead in the industry.

You can agree with me that the ties you make while studying, often plays a greater part in your career after graduation.

During your period there, you are sure to build a list of solid connections. Trust me, having the skills, as well as the connections, can pay dividends.

Hands-on training

This can be referred to as experiential learning. It is learning by doing.

This type of training is very effective for filmmaking and it is such that you can only get it from any of the film schools in Southern California rather than learning on your own.

With hands-on training, you are sure to become a good filmmaker faster than you thought possible.

On-Hand access to equipment

Not having the necessary equipment or not working with the recent technologies might prevent you from making the best movie.

Therefore in most film schools in California, you can find some equipment that wouldn’t have been easy for you to purchase as a novice or as a beginner.

Filming equipment can be a real barrier to entry given that not everyone has $20k Red cameras and professional editing suites in their homes as standard.

Competitive edge

The entertainment industry is such a cutthroat, therefore anything that helps put you a step ahead of the competition is worth it.

Given that your portfolio is usually the one and only shot you’ll get at making a lasting impression, having a degree from a renowned film school can be worth its weight in gold.

Clears the fog

As someone who wants to succeed in the industry, you might need some guidance in order not to make some avoidable mistakes.

Being surrounded by like minds in an environment overseen by people who have gained ground in the industry can help you figure out the best path to take in order to succeed.

How much does film schools cost?

It all depends on the institution of choice. For instance, the annual cost for a four-year bachelor’s degree in the American Film Institute (AFI) and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), is $35,000.

Also, the average tuition and fee for an undergraduate in-state public university is $6,185.

At the same time, the out-of-state students will pay an average of $16,640 per year.

It is important to also note that the annual cost of obtaining a masters degree is almost the same as obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

There are other additional costs to consider which are dependent on the school. So, choose any of the schools and check out their costs on their official website.

How long does it take to graduate from a film school?

In as much as it can take less than a year to complete some programs in some film schools in southern California, nonetheless, to obtain a bachelor’s degree or masters degree, you should be expecting 4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 2 to 3 years for a master’s program.

Acceptance rate in film schools

Most applicants often ask about the acceptance rates of schools.

While that is a valid question, it is necessary that each school have their acceptance rates. This is where giving straight answers becomes a problem.

Universities might be a bit tight in acceptance, but other film schools in southern California that are solely into filmmaking have a very flexible acceptance rate.

For instance, the Los Angeles Film School admissions are not selective with an acceptance rate of 100%.

The regular admissions application deadline for The Los Angeles Film School is rolling.

However, The AFI Conservatory has a less than 1% acceptance rate and is considered to be one of the best film schools in the world as 81% of alumni are top creative professionals; the school has produced 149 Academy Award Nominees and around 30 Academy Award-winning alumni.

So you can agree with me that we can’t generalize on the acceptance rate of the film schools in southern California. It depends on the institution.

List of film schools in Southern California

  • The Los Angeles Film School
  • USC School of Cinematic Arts
  • Film Connection Film Institute
  • UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
  • California Institute of the Arts

USC School of Cinematic Arts

Tuition for undergraduate students: (12-18 units per semester): $60,446

Tuition for Graduate students:(taking 10 units per semester) : $43,280

You will agree with me that everywhere you look these days, there are screens that need content.

The Division of Film & Television Production teaches students how to make compelling, in-demand content for screens of every size-whether it’s IMAX or a hand-held device.

Students in this school, therefore, become adept at the tools of the trade, from light kits, cameras, and editing software to the newest cutting-edge techniques and technologies which have been proven over the years to have become a major game-changer in the professional production process.

They are known to be the only media school in the world to teach all the major disciplines of the Cinematic Arts.

Students in this institution take classes in 7 divisions that cover the breadth of film, television, and interactive media.

This is one of the film schools in southern California that has the aim of retaining students who are passionate about creating media that can move and inspire audiences.

The School of Cinematic Arts offers scholarships and financial aid to help undergraduate and graduate students pay for their cost of education.

These scholarships are based on merit and there are awards available based on the field of study.

In general, SCA awards are modest in amount and can range from $1,000 to $25,000. Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply.

The Los Angeles Film School

Tuition for Cinematography and Film production: $80,750

Tuition for Film/Video and Photographic Arts: $56,900

This is one of the best film schools in California that has been ranked among the elite film schools across the country five years in a row because of its film program.

They were named as the top film school in 2021 by TheWrap. They have Campus and online degrees.

Campus degrees:

Animation – Visual Effects
Animation – Game Art
Audio Production
Entertainment Business
Film – Production
Film – Cinematography
Film – Directing
Film – Producing
Film – Associate Degree
Music Production

Online degrees:

Animation – Character Animation
Animation – Environment & Character Design
Animation – Visual Effects
Audio Production
Digital Filmmaking
Entertainment Business
Music Business
Graphic Design
Media Communications
Music Production
Writing for Film & TV

The Los Angeles Film School is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). ACCSC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.

Approximately, 80% of their students receive some form of financial aid during their stay in the institution, which makes them unique when compared to all the film schools in southern California.

There are federal grants up to $6,345 per award year, however, the student must maintain academic progress and meet the eligibility requirement.

Dependent and independent students may borrow up to $3,500.00 in their freshman academic year, $4,500 in their sophomore year, and $5,500 in their junior and senior year (pro-rations may apply). 

There are various scholarship options for their students and are awarded according to a number of factors.

Film Connection Film Institute

Tuition fee:

Film Connection for Film Production & Editing:

Total Cost: $13,040

Film Connection for Cinematography:

Total Cost: $12,750

The Film Connection offers specialized training for a real film production company.

The beautiful thing about this institution is that they pair you with an experienced mentor who will work with you in your film career interest.

They train you in the following areas to become perfect:

  • Sound
  • Cinematography
  • Casting director
  • Film Directing
  • Film producing
  • Screenwritting
  • Acting
  • Location managing

Film connection equally provides an affordable, unique education model coupled with mentor-based internship programs that can be engaged in remotely or in-person.

There are scholarships and grants for their students to make the cost of education affordable.

The RRFC Military and Family Scholarship gives the applicant access to reduced down payment from $3,800 to $2,000, plus $2,000 off total tuition.

Read more about their scholarships.

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

This film school in California offers BA, MA, MFA and PhD programs in Theater, Film, Television and Digital Media as well as in a wide range of specialities and concentrations, from Cinematography and Documentary to Musical Theater and Animation.

The UCLA Film and TV Internship Program is open to enrolled students from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and the College of Letters & Sciences.

Only juniors, seniors and graduate students are permitted to take film and television internships.

Each year, more than 300 financial awards are handed out to students totalling nearly $1 million. This when considered makes them outstanding even when compared to most film schools in southern California.

The Scholarships and awards are so much that we won’t be listing all of them. However, to find out more about these scholarships and Grants, check here.

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California Institute of the Arts

This is one of the film schools in California that is renowned internationally as a game-changer in the education of professional artists.

They have over 70 comprehensive degree programs in the visual, performing, media and literary arts. Here are a few of their programs:

Applied Arts
Creative Writing
Costume Design
Film and Video​
Film Directing
Production Management
Scene Design

See the full list.

Students at the California Institute of the Arts paid $51,466 in tuition and fees for the 2019 – 2020 academic year, before corrections for financial aid.

Due to price increases from time to time, the full cost of a four-year degree is estimated to be $226,956, and the full expense of a two-year degree would be likely $109,095, which doesn’t include additional expenses

They offer numerous scholarships to their students. Check out the full list of scholarships offered at CalARTS.

Conclusin on film schools in southern California:

Make no mistake: Your future depends on you and the choices that you make.

We have seen so many graduates from various film schools graduating with thousands in debt. To me, that is not a good way to start a career in this highly competitive industry.

Ensure to go for the best, however, such schools must be offering some form of financial assistance to their students. Was this article on the film schools in southern California helpful? leave a comment below, let us know what changes to make.

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