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Discover the Best Film Schools in Chicago 2023

Discover the Best Film Schools in Chicago 2023

The best film schools in Chicago are known for offering world-class education with mentorship support from their expert faculties. Hence, if you are considering which city to study courses in filming and videography, studying at any Chicago University is a no-brainer.

Typically, Chicago is known for its extensive art and cultural offerings. Consequently, the city is surrounded by art galleries, parks, museums, etc.

Similarly, the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 12% increase in total employment from 2021 to 2031. In addition, they anticipate 9,400 job openings in the film and video industries.

These are indicators that the film and video industry will have a positive career outlook in the next decade. Therefore, if you are passionate about studying film and videography, but you’re skeptical that there will be a space for you in the industry. We indulge you to feel free and pursue your passion.


To guide you on how to start your career in the filming industry, we’ve put together this post. This piece discusses the benefits of pursuing a career in the film industry, the best film schools in Chicago, and how to become a film producer.

What are the benefits of Studying in Chicago?

Studying in Chicago has many perks, including the ability to participate in the city’s rich and diverse sports activities, an affordable cost of living, and cultural diversity, among others. Below we dive more into the benefit of studying film and video in Chicago.

#1. Diverse Academic Opportunities

Studying in Chicago will provide you with numerous options, including the University of Chicago, Columbia College, and DePaul University, as well as the University of Illinois at Chicago. Not only that, but most Chicago colleges offer online learning if you want more flexibility. Hence, if you have a very busy work schedule, you can enroll in any of its online courses and receive a full degree upon completion.

#2. Sports and Social Activities

When studying in Chicago, there is no room for boredom. Throughout the year, the city hosts a slew of sporting events. The city also hosts numerous events such as TED Talks, TEDx, trade shows, conventions, concerts, and music festivals. Whether you’re a student-athlete or a socialite, Chicago is a great place to be.

#3. Affordable Living 

Although Chicago is the third-largest city in the U.S., it is much more affordable than other major cities. According to Statista, Chicago is more affordable than New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix. 

#4. Cultural Diversity

According to the United States Census Bureau, Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Unfortunately, the city is still heavily segregated. Multicultural students, on the other hand, can seek out diversity in neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, and Pilsen. There is also a sizable Polish community in the city. Because of Chicago’s cultural diversity, there is a thriving art and food scene for students to enjoy.

#5. Public Transportation

Chicago has the second-largest public transportation system in the United States, which includes trains, buses, and bicycles. The city is designed with pedestrians in mind, with easy street numbering systems and designated pedestrian walkways. Thus, to travel easily in Chicago, you do not need to own a car. In addition, Chicago is home to O’Hare International Airport, the world’s second busiest.

#6. Arts and History

Chicago is a theater capital with historical and artistic landmarks. The city has something for everyone, from museums to art. Therefore, if you enjoy the arts and want to study in an environment that will keep feeding your eyes with its richness. Then you should think about enrolling in one of the best film schools in Chicago, that we’ll be listing out.

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What are the Benefits of Going to Film School?

A film school diploma is valuable because no matter what type of work you pursue in the industry, there will always be something for you. The film has been the primary medium for storytelling, depicting and exploring the world, and engaging and shaping the human senses and emotions for more than a century and across many cultures.

We live in an era when the media and filmmaking are being revolutionized, and these revolutions are spawning new forms of moving image culture.

Thus, the majority of the film and media studies curriculum offers a framework within which college students can approach the development of film and associated media from a range of historical, theoretical, and critical vantage points. Additionally, students can examine how specific forms, techniques, and styles are used in cinema to produce meanings through filmmaking programs.

Best Film Schools in Chicago 

Below are our top picks of the best film schools in Chicago:

#1. Columbia College Chicago

Columbia College Chicago is the first on our list of best film schools in Chicago. Since its founding in 1890 as the Columbia School of Oratory, Columbia College Chicago has been committed to training the best in the performing arts, using new media and cutting-edge technology.

Additionally, the 35,500-square-foot Media Production Center, which CCC erected in 2010, is among the best illustrations of its future-focused philosophy. The soundstages for film production, a motion capture studio, computer labs, animation studios, a fabrication shop, and classrooms are all available at the Center.

Furthermore, the Center’s quality has received national recognition, with the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarding it the Distinguished Building category and the US Green Building Council awarding it LEED Gold certification. Interestingly, the school collaborates with YouTube and the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California to form the YouTube Creator Institute for students.

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#2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a public land-grant research university located in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system, with a large student population.

Furthermore, according to the Best College ranking, UIUC is ranked #44 out of 2,241 schools nationwide, indicating that UIUC is a fantastic place to study. In the most recent year, about 8 film, video, and photographic arts students graduated from UIUC.

Therefore, if you are a student interested in film, video, and photographic arts. You should look into the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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#3. DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts

The School of Cinematic Arts at DePaul University not only tops this list of best film schools in Chicago. It’s also in the upper portions of rankings from industry magazines, like The Hollywood Reporter. 

In addition, students develop their filmmaking abilities in a professional setting, utilizing tools that are comparable to those used in high-profile network programs. These tools give students first-hand exposure to the equipment and set-ups that every contemporary filmmaker uses. 

In addition, professors act as mentors, encouraging students to experiment and become comfortable with the instruments of their profession so they are completely equipped for any difficulties they may encounter in the future.

Finally, its alumni include Alexis Auditore, Director of Physical Production at Marvel Studios Streaming, Saint Frances, director Alex Thompson, Grey’s Anatomy and The Blacklist director Daniel Willis, and Nickelodeon animator Chaz Bottoms.

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#4. Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Southern Illinois University is another highly esteemed University among the best film schools in Chicago. SIU is a public research university in Carbondale, Illinois, founded in 1869. The Southern Illinois University system’s oldest and most prestigious campus is located here.

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The university also has a sizable student body, as a result of which it accepts students from all 50 states and more than 100 other nations. In the most recent data year, SIUC awarded this degree to roughly 30 film, video, and photographic arts students. Also, graduates of the film department who begin their professions in the first few years of their employees earn an average of $20,390.

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#5. University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Moving Picture Arts program offers a distinctive minor that complements majors in any subject. Hence, by enrolling in Moving Image Arts courses taught by academics from throughout the University in a range of subjects, students can engage in discourse with others about their work.

Consequently, courses in the Moving Picture Arts Minor cover both theoretical and practical topics, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Courses with a greater emphasis on the application include Communication Technologies, which explores the evolution and societal effects of communication technologies such as print, broadcast, cable, satellite, computer, and internet.

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#6. College Of DuPage

Since its inception, the College of DuPage has worked to be a hub for the best teaching, learning, and cultural experiences by offering accessible education at a reasonable price.

In addition, after the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the College of DuPage is the second-largest supplier of undergraduate education in Illinois. More than 20,000 students are enrolled at DuPage.

In addition, students can study everything they need to know about film and video production through the DuPage Film/Video and Motion Picture/Television Home programs. Whether you are just starting in your film career or at any level, DuPage provides all the courses and resources you may need.

Similarly, the college provides more than 60 academic and pre-professional clubs, cultural and ethnic clubs, clubs based on religion, honors societies, clubs for the musical and literary arts, clubs for politics, and clubs focused on community service.

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#7. University of Chicago 

One of the reasons the University of Chicago ranks among the best schools in Chicago is that it has maintained its highest standards over the years. As a result, the University of Chicago is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious universities.

Since 1995, the department has approached cinema and media with the same academic rigor that has made the University famous. This scholarly focus spans the Department, from its cinema studies major to those learning the practical aspects of filmmaking.

Similarly, the Department of Cinema and Media Studies sees cinema as a way to analyze broader cultural trends, from early innovations like the magic lantern and photography to contemporary internet-based hypermedia.

Also, students gain knowledge about everything from the artistic and aesthetic facets of global media to the historical and theoretical understanding of motion pictures as a mass phenomenon.

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#8. Northwestern University 

While almost every film school provides students with the chance to polish their technical abilities and develop an awareness of media history. Northwestern University also has generously funded research centers, which is why it is a renowned tier-one research institution.

Furthermore, Northwestern University’s Department of Communication’s Radio/Television/Film section studies the development, theory, and history of media, including film, broadcast television, alternative media, and new, internet-based technologies.

Also, students are taught professional production and post-production techniques in the labs and classrooms of the building. The University recently upgraded Louis’s sound studios for music, voice-overs, and Foley effects. These upgrades improve a space that already has a black-box theater and professional-grade sets for lighting exercises and filmmaking. Thus, students will receive experience using cutting-edge industrial machinery in the building’s lobby. 

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#9. American Academy of Art, Chicago

The American Academy of Art College is a private art school in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1923 to educate students about fine and commercial art. It typically has between 400 and 500 students enrolled.

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Consequently, the AAA provides every curriculum in the arts that you could imagine, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography that encompasses the usage of video and audio recordings in the arts. The BA in Art Direction is a practical course of study for people who desire to work in media management and advertising.

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#10. Bradley University Peoria

Bradley University is the last on the list of best film schools in Chicago. Founded in 1897, Bradley University enrolls over 5,000 students who are pursuing degrees in more than 100 undergraduate programs and more than 30 graduate programs across five colleges. 

The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and 22 specialized and professional accreditors. It also offers outstanding arts and film courses. 

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How Can I Start a Career in Film Production?

The following are steps in becoming a film and video producer:

#1. Get Experience in Film or Theater in High School

When it comes to the filming industry, experience is key. Thus, it is advisable to enroll in drama, cinema, and theater classes in high school. Also, students can start working in theater or cinema at their high school or in the local community as an actor or writers.

#2. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

Following the completion of high school. Students must have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to film or broadcasting. Your bachelor’s degree in film production or a related field will equip you with the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to perform all of the professional functions of filmmaking. Similarly, you will be using job tools such as cameras and film editing software, as well as learning all aspects of film production.

#3. Gain Experience

A bachelor’s degree in some aspect of filmmaking is unlikely to land you your dream job. This field heavily favors those with years of experience. Hence, you should look for niches within the field that will allow you to learn a variety of skills to improve your job prospects.

#4. Complete a Graduate School Program (Optional)

Although obtaining a graduate certificate in theater or film production or a Master of Fine Arts degree is not required, doing so can help you further your profession and gain additional knowledge. Typically, a master’s degree in film production gives students a solid foundation and training in both the business and financial aspects of making movies as well as their creative side. Other classes you might study in a graduate filmmaking degree include; commercial production, sophisticated script editing for screenwriting, and documentary production.

FAQs About the Best Film Schools in Chicago 2023

Is filmmaking a good career option?

As we earlier said, the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) projects a 12 % employment growth from 2021 to 2031, for those in the filming and video industry. Therefore, filmmaking is a promising career path.

What is the Cost of Attending a Film School?

Well, it depends on the school. However, the average cost of attending a film school at a prestigious university is up to $100,000.

Can you make a living in the film industry?

Yes, there are numerous career paths or side hustles that pay well in film production. Thus, you can earn money in filmmaking via traditional positions, freelance filmmaking, social media, and other means.


Studying in Chicago will be an all-shade of fun, adventure, and unforgettable learning experience. Therefore, if you are considering pursuing a career in film and video production in the country. You can kickstart your career by enrolling in any of the best film schools in Chicago that we highlighted in this post. We wish you a successful career.


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