Film Schools in New York State: Rochester Institute of Technology

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RIT School of Film and Animation

The Rochester Institute of Technology may not be the first place you think about when considering top film schools, but its School of Film and Animation has come in on a variety of top film school list such as the graduate listing in U.S. News and World Reports. The school itself, along with a number of other technical art programs, focuses on the technology as much as the art. Along with a vibrant undergraduate program of film students and specific “craft trackers,” the Master’s of Fine Arts graduate film program allows student filmmakers to hone their focus in on independent projects while also acquiring very technical and professional skills. RIT itself is a little less known than other top film programs like AFI or NYU, and its location in Rochester, New York is a slight bit different for most people. This does lower the cost and lighten up the admissions difficulty, but you still need to have a full package when applying to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s graduate film school. Here are some tips for applying to RIT’s School of Film and Animation.

Graduate Admissions

Like many other top film schools, such as Loyola Marymount University, Rochester Institute of Technology requires you to apply through the regular graduate school channels. This means that you are going to have to aptly include all the standard things that you would expect when applying to graduate school. Complete the RIT graduate school application, include two copies of each transcript from each undergraduate institution you attended, and include two or more letters of recommendation. In this case it is almost always a good idea to include three to four letters of recommendation, but only if all of them are very strong. You will also need a personal statement that is going to outline why you are applying to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation, and this should not be short cutted in any way. Like always you need to include a thorough background, but Rochester Institute of Technology is likely going to want a clearer outline of educational background and objectives. You will not be forced to submit GRE scores for admitance to RIT’s film school.


The Rochester Institute of Technology does not require that you submit a portfolio of work for admission into their graduate film school, and they do not require this for undergraduate film students either. They clearly label that not all portfolios will be reviewed as this takes a large amount of time. In this way they do align themselves with much of the admissions process of USC and UCLA. Portfolios are usually looked at when trying to decide about a difficult candidate, such as one with a different background or less than stellar academic record. If you have had less than defining background in film or video then this is going to be of extra importance. Every application should include this as long as they have work they are proud of and will impress actual experienced filmmakers. The film school is incredibly specific about the formats they will receive, but those worked out in standard DVD authoring should work fine. Do not send any video pieces that are longer than fifteen minutes as they will not get watched and this will work against you.


Rochester Institute of Technology tends to be much more generous with awarding scholarships to new graduate students in the Master’s of Fine Arts program than other schools. This is determined often by financial need and professional background, all of which is determined during the application process. Make sure to be clear about these things through all materials to assist in the scholarship process once you are admitted to the film schoo.