Cinema BA

Our Mission

VCUarts Cinema is one of 20 American film schools recognized by the International Association of Film and Television Schools (CILECT). The program strives to produce classically informed, technically proficient, and academically empowered graduates.cilect_logo

The Cost of Shooting on Film

VCUarts Cinema is one of the only film schools in the world shooting 35mm film at the undergraduate level. We believe working with film instills in our students a physical and mechanical understanding of motion picture photography that is highly valuable and nearly impossible to replicate on a digital camera. VCUarts tuition covers all filmmaking expenses. The university pays for every aspect of the process, from film developing to actors’ fees.

How We Work

VCUarts Cinema is a 3-year and 8-week undergraduate film program. Our program matches film theory education with practice in filmmaking to prepare students to work in the film industry immediately upon graduating. In a  more traditional film school, students check out a small amount of equipment, create small teams and everyone creates their own projects. In these instances, students are responsible for providing the budget for their projects. These are more frequent but on a smaller scale.

In VCUarts Cinema, there are less frequent projects, but they are on a larger scale. We seek to replicate the environment of a professional film set in terms of both staffing and protocol.  Students work on crews from 25-75 people, in all of the different departments from Camera to Craft Services. Faculty act as executive producers and work alongside students from development to post.

As there are less frequent projects, the program provides the budget for the films that are associated with coursework. Costs include film stock, processing, props, wardrobe, rentals, location fees, additional personnel (SPFX, Stunts, Animal Wranglers etc). We employ a casting director as an adjunct and hold real casting sessions. We pay the actors, and any travel and lodging they may need.

Double Major/Double Minor

All Cinema B.A. candidates must complete a second major OR two minors outside the School of the Arts. This is a non-negotiable requirement.

Students typically employ 3 schools of thought in choosing their second major/double minors:

  • I am choosing something to complement my film education  (i.e. Media Studies)
  • I have another interest (i.e. Sociology)
  • The back-up plan (i.e. Accounting)

Our Curriculum Map shows schedules from alumni who represent each of these schools of thought in choosing their other areas of study.

N.B. Students with a double major will get one degree, a B.A. in Film, earned when the student completes all required courses and earns 120 credits. Dual degree students will get two degrees, a B.A. in Film and a second degree (either B.A. or B.S.), earned when the student completes all required courses for both degree programs and earns 150 credits.

Cinema Electives

In addition to the required courses, several optional electives are offered through the Cinema department each year. These classes cover specific areas of interest such as screenwriting and expanded film theory. Elective course offerings change every semester and courses are added/removed based on student interest.

Elective courses offered in the past include:

  • CINE 491 – Special Topics, Directing
  • CINE 491 – Special Topics, Advanced Editing
  • CINE 491 – Special Topics, Advanced Screenwriting II
  • CINE 496 – Advanced Screenwriting
  • CINE 497 – Expanded Cinema
  • CINE 495 – Cinema as Art

See our course offerings for descriptions of these electives.


Summer Intensive

Cinema B.A. candidates must complete two required 15-credit Summer semesters, one after their second year and one after their third. It’s everyone’s favorite time of year! CINE 390 & 490 are 8-week production intensives where students form crews of anywhere from 50-70 people to make 4-6 short films on 35mm.

All crew positions, from writer and director to grips and PAs, are filled by students. See the video above to get a full picture of the Summer Intensive Experience.

Tuition for summer semesters are comparable to Fall or Spring semester tuition.

Honors College

Participation in the VCU Honors College is encouraged, but not required. You do not have to be in the honors college to graduate with honors.

For specific questions about honors curriculum, housing, and admission, see their website.

Transfer Students

On a case by case basis, transfer students can enter the program in Year Two. These students will be required to take an independent study section to make up for Year One courses concurrently with the second year courses.

There is no course equivalent for Cinema core courses accepted for credit toward the Cinema B.A. Film/media courses from other institutions will transfer as art electives. To see how your other courses will transfer, visit the VCU Transfer Center course equivalence table.


Open studio workshops are held every Friday. Students learn and create with full access to film equipment and computer software. Guided workshops led by select upperclassmen, adjuncts, and guest speakers cover material ranging from camera operation, location sound, grip and electric, production, and post production.

Since VCUarts Cinema does not offer “breakout” courses (i.e. Sound 101, Camera 101), this is where students have the opportunity to get familiar with the gear before the Summer Intensive. Students who regularly attend workshops are best prepared for on-set work within the program and paid work outside the program.