Bachelor of Arts in Film vs BFA in Film: Which Is Best?

February 4, 2015

An amazing creative path in filmmaking can start with a great education, and prospective undergraduate students have more than a few options to choose from. However, the decision of which film degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Film or a BFA in Film, is a huge one (and, of course, it is not one that should be taken lightly.)

One of the biggest crossroads at which prospective film students find themselves involves the differences between the BA and BFA film programs. If you’re currently asking yourself “BA vs BFA Film: which is best for me?”, read on as we discuss the distinctions between these two popular filmmaking degrees.

Bachelor of Arts in Film vs BFA in Film

Both the BA and BFA film degrees are designed to give students of the craft a deep understanding of what goes into creating a movie masterpiece, as well as how the industry as a whole operates. With this in mind, does it particularly matter which one you choose?

In one sense, not particularly; both are recognized qualifications and will set you up for success following graduation. But if you’re a very motivated student who wants to dig a little deeper and get more out of your time at film school, you’ll probably fare better embarking on a BFA in film.

Benefits of Choosing a BFA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as the name implies, provides a slightly more in-depth study of the craft (as a whole) and as a result, is more intensive.

This is evidenced by the fact that a BFA degree can take longer to complete than the BA equivalent – usually four years vs. three years – though it should be noted that BFA Film degrees can be completed in three years when done on an accelerated basis (i.e. three semesters per academic rather than two).

BFA Filmmaking degrees

One of the added benefits of undertaking an accelerated BFA degree is, of course, the time saved; you’ll be able to start your creative goals a year early. A natural follow-on from this is the financial benefit of saving on tuition and living expenses which would have been otherwise used up by a fourth year of study.

Other considerations that should be made when weighing up your options include:

  • Will you be able to work with numerous film formats, e.g. 16mm, 35mm, HD and RED Dragon?
  • Does the course structure only cover a single aspect of the filmmaking process, or will you get the chance to master screenwriting, directing, producing, and editing for a more well-rounded understanding?
  • Does the film school location allow for a variety of shooting locations?
  • Is the program solely grounded in academic/theoretical study, or will you be learning through actually making films during the course of the year?
  • Will you graduate from the program with a polished and usable portfolio of completed film work that you can use to gain future creative projects?

Our own BFA in Film program – conducted at our Los Angeles campus – is worth checking out since it ticks all the right boxes in terms of offering a well-rounded learning experience. Students will also delve deep into liberal arts and science courses to help supplement the core understanding of the filmmaking process; students won’t simply learn how to shoot film, but will also gain an in-depth knowledge of how and why certain techniques are (and have been) used.

Learn Filmmaking and Essential Creative Skills at NYFA

Interested in more than just film? NYFA’s BA in Media Studies Program ensures students are well-versed in critical studies, communication and marketing, and interactive narrative.