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Graduate Degree Programs in Film Directing Overview

Majors Overview February 11, 2016

This article talks about graduate degree programs in film directing and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Graduate Programs in Film Directing

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Film Directing programs focus on blending a sense of social responsibility and creative and artistic freedom with the utmost artisanship standards. Program coursework in interdisciplinary film directing MFA programs combines subjects from world cultures, art history, philosophy, and literary theory. Films are typically worked on by students at every stage of the program’s coursework. Students complete these intensive programs in 2-3 years that involve hands-on film-making work, study, and research.

Enrollees are likely to benefit from synchronizing their film studies with an area of specialization, such as European, American and World film, the history of early cinema or theories of aesthetics. Over the whole duration of the program coursework, dissertation, and examinations, their film specialty is connected by students with the methods and instruction related to their discipline.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Applicants would benefit from having prior experience in making and directing a film.


Program coursework may cover the completion of a collaborative short film during the first year of the program. In the majority of these programs, enrollees are required to produce a thesis, often in the form of a 30-minute film. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Post production fundamentals
•Editing, sound, and production planning
•Visual and narrative studies
•Film’s relationship with culture and society

Job and Wage Outlook

Producers and directors are expected to see job growth of nine percent, over the 2012 – 2022 decade. The job prospects are likely to be better for film directors with experience working on movie sets (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, producers and directors brought in an average annual wage of $69,100 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates may pursue continuing education by earning a doctorate. They may also complete educational and outreach programs as offered by organizations like the Actors’ Equity Association, the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the National Association of Schools of Theater.

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