Columbia College Chicago

Cinema Art and Science, BA

At Columbia, we teach collaborative filmmaking from day one. As a Cinema Art and Science major, you’ll have access to professional equipment, state-of-the-art production facilities, amazing locations, and talented actors. Working with your peers, you’ll create thought-provoking and emotionally complex films where individual students bring their personal strengths to team-based projects—whether it’s the ability to craft a perfect shot, write a compelling script, or painstakingly edit down to the final cut. By working closely with a diverse group of collaborators, you’ll gain perspective and learn more about yourself as a filmmaker.

What to Expect Your First Year

First semester you’ll take two foundations courses: Cinema Notebooks, a course focused on critical analysis, and Cinema Image and Processing, a hands-on course where you’ll put theory to work making films. Because they’re often taught back-to-back, these foundations courses mirror what it’s like to be on a production set. You’ll spend much of your day learning, working and building relationships with the same group of students.

You’ll also have the opportunity to get on the set of one of the hundreds of films being made at Columbia each year. We highly encourage integration among our freshman, sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students and often host meet and greets so you can network with your fellow students. You’re only limited by your own time, energy and ambition when it comes to working on films at Columbia.

What to Expect Your Last Year

As a senior, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a capstone experience, spend the semester in Los Angeles and/or revisit former work as part of a portfolio review. Senior year is also about building up your professional skill set. You’ll have the chance to take courses only within the major if you’re interested in a particular area of study.

Seniors interested in applying for graduate school should reach out to faculty and staff. We’re here to help with materials and overall preparation when it comes to grad school applications.

We strongly encourage our seniors to find an internship, although one is not required for graduation. See the Internships section for more information.

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs feature a flexible curriculum that allows for exploration and the ability to tailor elective coursework beyond your major. Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs feature more focused required coursework in the major.

If you wish to pursue entry to the Cinema Art and Science BFA program, you must first gain admission to Columbia College Chicago. If eligible, you will be evaluated individually by the department sometime during your first or second year of enrollment.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For more degree requirements and transfer plans, visit the catalog.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Want to see what Hollywood is all about? As a Cinema Art and Science student, you can take part in Semester in LA, an intensive 15-week course that puts you directly in touch with industry professionals and gives you unparalleled experience in the area of your choice. See the schedule for information about this on-site study experience and the types of classes offered each semester.

You’ll also have endless opportunities to engage with our active, passionate film community. Here are a few examples of exciting initiatives that take place outside the classroom:

  • #DocYourWorld—A student-curated festival showcasing documentary works.
  • Cinema Slapdown—One film, two opposing views. Watch a screening of a well-known, polarizing film, followed by a refereed debate between someone who loves the film and another who hates it.
  • FrameWork—A series of student-produced video interviews that allow graduating students to talk about their filmmaking process.
What are my internship options?

Interning is the best way to get industry experience. Most of our internships are located in the Chicago area and in Los Angeles.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.