Film (BFA)

Film BFA Degree Program

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film degree program at University of the Arts School of Film challenges traditional ideas about how moving images are created, inspired by the work of cutting-edge practitioners in the field, including our own faculty. Among our faculty are an Academy Award–nominated independent filmmaker and award-winning television producer; a narrative filmmaker whose last feature was a New York Times Critic’s Pick; and an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose most recent films were selected for the 2020 and 2021 Sundance Film Festivals. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8:1, you’ll have mentoring and individual attention as you develop your creative voice.

An Unmatched, Well-Rounded Education

This four-year Film degree program offers a behind-the-camera experience unlike any other. Our unique, interdisciplinary courses give you the opportunity to collaborate with students across the university, including actors, screenwriters, composers and other student artists. You can also choose to major in one of our unique hybrid majors, such as Film and Animation or Film Design. 

We'll Prepare You for This Competitive Industry

There are no limits to the career options you’ll have with a degree in film—our programs are designed to teach you how to reach your individual goals. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film prepares students for careers in film via internships and networking events with alumni and professionals working locally and across the U.S. Our graduates become directors, editors, cinematographers, art directors and photographers, working in the region and around the world. If you’re interested in filmmaking and all that is involved with it, look no further than UArts.

The filmmaking world has been upended in recent years, with indie auteurs being tapped to make Hollywood features and the world of streaming media opening up the possibilities for experimentation in style and form. At UArts, we look for filmmakers who are open to exploration and risk-taking, who want to develop a unique creative vision and collaborate with others trying to do the same. —Film Program Director Mike Attie



Still from Film student Xenia Matthews '21 Senior Thesis Project, A FEW THINGS

Jenna Cohen '21 Senior Thesis Project

"This project, although experimental, has a woven narrative of mental illness and how dangerous it can become (especially during periods of isolation)."

UArts Film 50th Anniversary Reel

Made by Alena Popolo BFA '20 (Film)


Whether your medium is animation or digital video and film, the Film bachelor’s degree program is dedicated to helping you bring your ideas to life. You’ll work closely with award-winning faculty and other creative students to develop your skills, understand the rich history of your medium, and express your personal vision as you immerse yourself in a challenging and rewarding career.
At UArts, students have three ways to study film.
The Film major provides you with an environment where traditional ideas about moving images are challenged. You’ll get hands-on instruction with all types of camera equipment and have the opportunity to explore fiction, documentary, experimental and hybrid forms of filmmaking. 
The Film + Animation major allows you to take classes in both disciplines to create work that is hybrid in nature, combining animation and film techniques in innovative ways.
The hybrid Film Design major draws from classes in the Theater Design and Technology and Film programs, so you can explore the creative and professional aspects of production design for film including lighting, set design, costumes and props.

About the Film Curriculum

You’ll learn about every aspect of the business from active professional filmmakers, including an Oscar nominee and directors whose work has screened at festivals around the world. You’ll use the same equipment used by professionals, including Black Magic and Canon cameras and a full array of support gear, lights and audio recording tools. Our facilities include multiple editing labs, individual edit suites and a black box studio, but our students often find their inspiration on the streets of Philadelphia, the setting for films like Creed, Glass and Silver Linings Playbook.

In addition to creating your own films, you’ll do an internship, possibly on a film or TV show being shot in our city, or in New York, Los Angeles, or abroad. Students have numerous opportunities to explore the industry outside our city, including a trip to the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina, or by enrolling in the Business of Hollywood class that takes students to Los Angeles for a week to meet alumni working in the field. 

Film students can take advantage of frequent screening events and seminars with visiting artists. Past guests have included Sam Feder (director of Netflix’s Disclosure), Kirsten Johnson (director of Cameraperson and Dick Johnson is Dead), Isabel Sandoval (writer/director of Lingua Franca) and Ron Yerxa (producer of Nebraska and Little Miss Sunshine).

Graduates of our program earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Film. A BFA program offers an intensive, studio-based experience with longer class periods, extensive workshopping from faculty and more film-related course offerings. 

Graduates of the Film program will

  • Express a developed personal, artistic vision.
  • Demonstrate technical and aesthetic proficiency in creating films.
  • Acquire professional film skills in a collaborative environment.
  • Develop an understanding of professional practices in the field of film.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze various historical and cultural contexts in film.
Sample Courses in the Film Major

Credit Requirements: 120
Major requirements: 63 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits
Critical Studies: 30 credits*
Free electives: 15 credits*

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First Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
The Art of Cinema (3c)
Art of Sound (3c)
Video Production (3c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Writing for Film (3c)
Perception of Time (3c)
The Art of Editing (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Second Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Film Theory (3c)
Cinematography (3c)
Sound Design (3c)
History of Narrative Cinema I (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Intro to Documentary (3c)
Color and the Lens OR Interactivity (3c)
History of Narrative Cinema II (3c)
Directing Actors for the Screen (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Third Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Junior Production Workshop (3c)
Nonfiction Film Workshop (3c)
World Cinema History (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Narrative Production (3c)
Experimental Video (3c)
Film Forum: Selected Topics (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Senior Thesis I (3c)
Writing for Directors or Film Studies course* (3c)
Internship (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Senior Thesis II (3c)
Independent Strategies (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Explore the Full Film Curriculum

Faculty Spotlight

In University of the Arts’ Film program, you’ll learn about every aspect of the business from active professional filmmakers, including an Oscar nominee and recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Pew Foundation fellowships, whose work has been screened on PBS, at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at festivals around the world.

Mike Attie in a brown blazer and a blue vee neck shirt standing in front of a brown wall with a projection on it
Mike Attie

Film (BFA)
Program Director; Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow
headshot of Jennica Carmona seen smiling at the viewer. She has long curly black hair and is wearing a crimson embroidered top with short sheer sleeves.
Jennica Carmona

Film (BFA)
New York City–based Puerto Rican filmmaker, actor and activist
A closeup of Kyle Crichton in a blue shirt against a blurred background
Kyle Crichton

Film (BFA)
Has led postproduction on documentary films that have premiered at Sundance, Toronto and San Diego film festivals, as well as DOCNYC
Headshot of Chris Mason Johnson
Chris Mason Johnson

Film (BFA)
Most recent film as writer-director was a New York Times Critics Pick
headshot of Priyanjali Sen, seen against a background of leabes and wearing a yellow shirt dotted with small blue flowers
Priyanjali Sen

Visiting Professor of Film and Media Studies
Ben Wolf standing in front of a film festival backdrop and dressed in a white collared shirt and a dark gray suit jacket
Ben Wolf

Adjunct Professor

Film (BFA)
Producer, cinematographer and director who works across a range of genres and styles

Student Spotlight

A boy in a red beanie looks through a camera lens.
Jesse Derocco

BFA '21

Film (BFA)
Black and white image of a smiling girl with bangs
Andjela Preradovic

BFA '21

Film (BFA)
Side view of a boy looking through binoculars at a body of water.
Lucky Marvel

BFA '22

Film (BFA)
A boy with brown hair smiles.
Dennis Tobin

BFA '22

Film (BFA)
Close up of boy with dots drawn on arms and face. Hands are placed with palms facing outward next to face.
Daniel Rosendale

BFA '23

Film (BFA)

Alumni & Careers

Our alumni are employed in a variety of roles in numerous Hollywood films, as well as highly acclaimed TV shows. They work for prestigious companies including Adult Swim, Bravo Network, Cartoon Network, Disney, HBO, Higher Ground Productions, MTV, NBC, NFL Films, Nickelodeon, Nike, Pixar, The Travel Channel, Sony and more. Other graduates freelance their skills, work in production and design firms or manage their own production companies.

Caitlin Riggsbee headshot
Caitlin Riggsbee

BFA '17

Film (BFA)
Research associate for company that produces PBS show 'Finding Your Roots'
Headshot of Vanessa Martino, seen in partial, serious profile against a dark background. Vanessa's golden hair curls down her shoulders.
Vanessa Martino

BFA '14

Film (BFA)
Editor; post-production assistant on HBO series 'Vinyl'
Andrew Wheeler adjusting film camera on location
Andrew Wheeler

BFA '01

Film (BFA)
Director of Photography on feature films, commercials, music videos (Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino)
headshot of xenia matthews wearing a white turtleneck and glasses. matthews is bathed in blue light, while the background is a vivid fuchsia and red
Xenia Matthews

BFA '21

Film (BFA)
Maker of film Ourika, produced by Blackstar Philadelphia Filmmaker Lab

Here are a few movies, TV shows, video games, and music videos our alumni have worked on.


Equipment & Facilities


Media Resources

The School of Film’s Media Resources department serves students’ technology needs by lending equipment, managing facilities, providing one-on-one consultation and conducting instruction and training workshops. Students have the opportunity to check out professional production equipment ranging from analog film cameras to the latest digital cinema cameras used on major productions, as well as sound and lighting equipment for all production needs.

Facilities available to students include

  • A film studio featuring high-quality projection and surround sound.
  • Private recording studio with a dedicated vocal booth for ADR and Foley audio recording.
  • Private film editing suites featuring full production software.
  • An editing lab with high-quality projection and surround sound.
  • Interactive classrooms and computer labs boasting multi-user flat screens and projection systems with dedicated sound.

Center for Immersive Media

UArts’ new Center for Immersive Media is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction.

The space includes

  • Optical motion-capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • A four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station;
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and
  • Two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more

Lightbox Film Center

Lightbox Film Center is Philadelphia’s premier exhibitor of film and moving image art, delivering enriching programs, screenings and artist talks year-round. Screenings and events are free for UArts students.

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2024 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2023

Fall 2024 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2024

We cannot accept spring 2024 applications after Jan. 8, 2024, and cannot accept fall 2024 applications after Aug. 16, 2024.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcript

  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college transcript(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available

Your portfolio

A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission.

Learn more about portfolio requirements. 

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Nearly 80% of UArts undergraduate, full-time students are eligible for some type of need-based aid, and 98% of students who are eligible receive financial aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. 

All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about tuition and financial aid.

We encourage students to complete the FAFSA by March 15, if possible.

Many students and families have encountered technical challenges while trying to complete the FAFSA this year. If this is the case for you, continue to utilize the FAFSA support resources until your issue is resolved. UArts will ensure that all admitted students who file the FAFSA are eligible for the same institutional funding to support your costs.

Learn more

About the School of Film

University of the Arts’ School of Film strongly believes in creative collaboration, self-expression and professional preparation through its programs in Animation, Film, Film and Animation, Film Design, Game Art, and Screenwriting.

It also offers minors in

  • Animation,
  • Film,
  • Film and Media Studies,
  • Game Art, and
  • Screenwriting.

The School of Film prepares students for careers in the film and entertainment industries via internships, networking events and an on-campus series with professional alumni. Our graduates become directors, editors, animators, game artists, cinematographers, art directors and screenwriters, working in the region and around the world.

Learn more about the School of Film.


Frequently asked questions about the Film BFA program

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What can you do with a Film degree?

A Film degree is a great way to open yourself up to the many different positions and career paths in the field of entertainment. You can work as a film director, cinematographer or film editor. Additionally, this program will provide an effective background for related positions like screenwriter, producer or production assistant.

What degree do you need to be a film director?

Though there is no specific degree requirement to become a film director, many aspiring directors pursue a Bachelor’s degree in film studies, film production or a related field to gain a solid understanding of the art and craft of filmmaking. However, practical experience, networking and building a strong portfolio of work are equally important for aspiring film directors.

Are there online opportunities to complete a Film BFA?
There are no online options for completing the Film BFA degree at UArts.

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