Prospective Students and Parents


The VCUarts Cinema program teaches narrative filmmaking and emphasizes a collaborative filmmaking environment that replicates the industry standard. Students create 20-40 minute short films all on 35mm film with crews of 25-70 students. The filmmaking process from screenwriting and story development to editing and marketing is entrusted to students, with faculty supervising as Executive Producers.

The program encourages academic well-roundedness, and requires students to pursue either a second major or two minors.

Typically, we do not allow students to choose a second major in fine arts and design.  To see our core curriculum and some sample second major & minor combinations, visit our Curriculum Map.


To apply, we will review your GPA, test scores, references and personal statements. We also require an additional writing sample, the Film Concept Essay. It should be 200 words or fewer describing a story that you would like to tell on film. This essay is used to assess your creativity in narrative storytelling, your understanding of story structure, and to get a sense of your unique voice.

Passion for filmmaking is a must! Use all elements of the application to demonstrate an enthusiasm for narrative storytelling.

To see the full process for applying to VCUarts Cinema, please visit How To Apply


If you are interested in transferring and are concerned about how your credits will transfer, you can compare your transcript against VCU’s course equivalency tables.  The core Cinema classes cannot be covered by courses you’ve taken at other institutions.  However, courses you have previously taken may cover your general education requirements, or count towards your second major or double minor.

How to Apply

Admission to the Cinema program is highly competitive. We look at GPA, SAT or ACT scores, advanced placement courses, and an essay demonstrating a strong interest in both filmmaking as well as other fields.

Since we are focused on narrative filmmaking, we evaluate your film concept essay by how well you craft a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

VCUarts offers several programs of study that are involved with film. The Cinema program delves into classical filmmaking and narrative storytelling. Our program teaches the methods of producing film as both a creative individual and as a member of a film crew. If, however, you are interested in animation and experimental video, see the Kinetic Imaging BFA. For documentary and narrative film, see the Photography & Film BFA.

How to Apply Guide

Visit Campus

The Cinema department offers several open house events for prospective students and their families to tour our facilities and speak with faculty and current students. If you would like to schedule a separate tour, please see the Visit Campus page.


Virginia Commonwealth University
The Depot
814 W. Broad St
Richmond, VA 23284-2519

Contact Us

Phone: 804-828-7919
Toll-free: 1-866-534-3201


What is the difference between Cinema and Photo/film?

VCUarts has two filmmaking programs. The Photography & Film BFA degree emphasizes the film as a fine art. Photo/Film students write, direct, shoot, and edit individual and small group projects using various formats. The goal of the concentration is to cultivate a refined vision and singular voice. The Cinema BA degree offers students the opportunity to create narrative films in a collaborative environment using professional equipment and undergoing intensive preparation for employment in the professional movie making industry.

What is the Art Foundation Program?

All fine arts (BFA) students are required to take elementary classes in every medium before applying to their desired majors. Since Cinema is not a BFA degree, Cinema students do not enroll in Art Foundation.

What if my high school GPA/SAT score isn’t very high?

We carefully consider every application. While academic excellence is highly valued, low test scores will not immediately eliminate your chances of getting in. If test taking is not a strength of yours, it’s okay. Convince us you have what it takes to be a filmmaker.

What do you look for in the essay?

This should be a short synopsis of a film you would like to make. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. We assess the applicant’s ability to articulate who you are, what your interests are, and why you want to be a filmmaker.

Do I need to own a camera?

No. All equipment that you will need for class projects, etc will be provided by the program. The only tool you’ll need is a laptop computer!

What kind of computer should I get?

It’s up to you. We recommend Macintosh, primarily because the studio workstations used for editing are Macs.

Do I have to pay for filmmaking materials?

No. VCUarts Cinema is one of the only undergraduate programs in the United States that does not require students to buy their own filmmaking materials. Your tuition and student fees cover all filmmaking expenses.

What if I have no filmmaking experience?

No filmmaking experience required! Many students enter the program with no on-set experience. All you need is a love for film and an enthusiasm to learn!

Have another question?

Email us at with your program inquiries and admissions questions!