How to Choose Your Classes for Master's of Fine Arts Programs in Film Production

Page content

Film School Coursework

Most film production Master’s of Fine Arts programs are very specific in coursework, built around large project and a thesis work, and is usually on a “track” formula that dictates much of the coursework you will need to complete. This may actually make the choosing of courses a more complicated process, though much more important than in more conventional academic degrees. The reason that your coursework in graduate film school is going to be dictated this way is that your skillset and portfolio is going to determine your employability much more so than your academic credits, so you need to choose classes that are going to allow you to complete projects and gain skills in the areas that you are going to focus on. Here are some tips for selecting your classes in your film production Master’s of Fine Arts program.

Specify Your Career

It is going to be important to know how you want to enter the film industry. This can be a little more complicated than it sounds as a large population of regular film school students are strictly looking at being directors or similar positions. The film director is one of the most difficult positions to reach and unless your films get picked up right from the film festival circuit no one will become a major feature filmmaker right after college, so there needs to be some sort of starting points. If you want to come in doing camera work and focus in on geing a Director of Photography then you should go into camera choreography courses and try to get your hands on as many professional situations with that video equipment as possible. Many people will want to work in post-production as this is the most stable type of work, and often the best paid. To do this you need to make sure that you get the post-production process down, learn all the techniques from video editing to color correction, and learn all the major programs like Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Avid, Photoshop, and Color. Find courses that will meet these needs on an advanced level and then also participate with other projects in this mold. Becoming a producer is equally difficult, but production managers, unit production managers, produciton coordinators, and other positions are a more direct line there. You can focus in on film business classes and those that focus in on the mechanisms of the film industry as a whole.

If you are dialing in to being a full filmmaker then you need to find more classes that will allow you to have finished products afterward. These will allow you to have a larger film reel and portfolio and also to submit to film festivals and distribution outlets. This is especially true if you want to focus on screenwriting and television writing as you will need actual scripts to show to agents and production companies. You should also try to take these courses that will make you focus on different types of film projects, such as commercial, music video, non-profit, promotional, and experimental videos.


You are likely going to be paying a flat rate for all the credits you take per term between twelve and eighteen. You will usually only be required to take around fourteen credits per term, but you can fit in more courses for free if you actually go up to eighteen each term. This is going to be important as graduate film school is expensive and you need to get as much out of it as you can. Film Internships are very important and can usually be used as a course, but this will take away from the other courses you can take so only use a film internship for credit if they require credits to take the position.

This post is part of the series: Making it Through Film School

Here are a few tips for working your way through your Masters of Fine Arts degree in film production.

  1. Tips for Completing a Masters of Fine Arts Program in Film Production
  2. Tips for Selecting Classes in a Film Master’s Program