"What kind of degrees do you offer?"

We currently offer a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Film & Photography and an MFA in Science and Natural History Film.

"I read on the internet that film school is a waste of time and money. What do you think?"

There is a lot of discussion online about "film school," some of it is helpful, some of it not. Even the term "film school" is confusing: it can describe a range of programs from for-profit schools, to community colleges, to universities. We offer a four-year accredited BA or BFA degree from a public, land-grant research university. If you look at the characteristics of people who are successful in the film industry, you will usually find they have a combination of skills, connections, and positive attitude. We can teach you the skills, and your classmates and alumni become your industry connections. The attitude is up to you. 

"What kinds of films do students make?"

Students make short narrative, documentary, and experimental films. Many of our students are interested in "indie" narratives. Docs are also really popular right now.

"Do students get to blow stuff up or crash cars in their films?"

Um, no. However, one of our alumni is the Special Effects Supervisor for the ABC TV show "Criminal Minds." He blows stuff up for a living. Info about his career is here. If you just want to see the exlposions, go here

"How many professors are there?"

There are 9 full-time tenure-track faculty and 5 non-tenure track instructors. All of our faculty are working filmmakers whose work is shown at major festivals and via broadcast and streaming. 

"What are the facilities like?"

Awesome. We have 16mm film cameras, HD handi-cams, HD ENG-style cameras, and 4K cameras that record in ProRes. We have sets of prime lenses, plus zooms. We use industry standard audio recorders and microphones. We have tungsten, LED, and fluorescent light kits. We have grip gear. We use iMacs and Mac Pro (Trashcans) for editing. We use Adobe Creative Cloud, DaVinci Resolve, and Avid Pro Tools software. All our gear and rooms are well-maintained and staffed. 

"What equipment is available for checkout? Do I need to buy a 4K camera?"

No, you never need to buy a camera to be successful in our program. Our Equipment Checkout is staffed with a full-time and part-time manager and student workers. We provide different levels of gear depending on the courses you are enrolled in. You will get your hands on a camera within your first two weeks of your freshman year. Seniors shooting their thesis films are using professional equipment worth tens of thousands of dollars. Yes, it is insured. 

"What expenses are there outside of tuition?"

All freshmen are assessed a lab fee of $100 per semester. All film majors, once accepted, pay a standard fee of around $320 per semester for access to equipment and labs. Many students finance their thesis films using Kickstarter or Indiegogo. 

"What equipment will I need to buy for my first year?"

None. A laptop would be helpful, but not required. You could probably get away with using a cheap Chrome-book for writing and internet research. You will have access to editing labs starting in your first semester.  If you are going to purchase a laptop, we would recommend a Mac. We don't want to get into that whole Mac vs. PC debate, but with a Mac there are more people who can help you if you get stuck. Plus, PCs are terrible. 

"Will I need to purchase my own digital camera?"

No. You can if you want to, but it would be best to wait until your second or third year. Cameras change really fast, and you *must* use the camera we provide for your first film class. We do that so that students are working on a level playing field. 

"What about film? I heard film was dead. Is that really true?"

The death of film has been greatly exaggerated. Most student projects are shot on digital, but we are still really into 16mm film. As good as digital is, film is still the gold standard. We support both film and digital. 

"Are scholarships available?"

Yes. There are university-wide scholarships that you may be eligible for. The Office of Admissions has more information. There are competitive scholarships, grants, TA opportunites available to advanced film students. Details are announced during the school year and students are encouraged to apply. 

 "What is the "gate" for the film program?"

The film program has enrollment controls (a "gate") so we can keep our classes small and can make sure everyone has the equipment they need to be successful. Typically we take 48 students after the Freshman year to move on in the program. 

"How is the gate decided?"

In the Film Program we decide who passes the gate based on GPA in film-related Freshman classes. That means if you are also taking a core class or an elective and don't do well, you are not penalized. Students also submit one of their class projects in case we have a tie. It is important to keep this in perspective: in 2017 we had 48 students apply for 48 spots.  If you don't make it your first year, you can re-take your film classes and apply the next year. Our recommendation is to not get too stressed about the gate: If you work hard in your classes, you will most likely pass through the gate.

"My buddies and I made an awesome snowboard video. Can I use that for the gate application?"

No. Not even if it is "lit." Or has "sick air." 

"Can I double major? Or do a minor? Any thoughts on this?"

Yes, it is very possible to double major or add a minor. We see a lot of students who add a business minor, or a foreign language. Other students double major in Engineering and Film. Some of our students do both Film and Photography. An advisor can help you with this decision. 

"How much interaction is there between photography and film?"

The answer to this question is, "Lots." As of 2011 the curricula in both Photography and Film have become integrated with a common first year and the ability to take either film or photo classes at any time if prerequisites are met.

"I see you have internships; are they required?"

Internships are not required, but strongly encouraged. You get real world experience and great connections in the field. We get a lot of requests for students to help with projects. Many of these can be structured as internships. 

"Are there film courses offered in the summer?"

Yes. We don't offer every course in the summer, but usually there is a mix of required classes and "special topics" courses.

"What about study abroad?"

We don't have an official exchange program, but many of our students have arranged study abroad by working with our Office of International Programs. We can help you figure out which classes from a foreign institution will "count" toward your degree. We strongly support students studying abroad!

"I studied video in community college or another university... do my credits transfer?"

Maybe. It depends on what was covered in the class. It really helps if you have a syllabus from the course. We can help you figure this out. Sometimes we can count courses from another school as electives if they don't match our required courses. Your advisor will meet with you and help you with the process of transferring credits. 

"I have 2 years of college under my belt already; how quickly can I move through the film program?"

This depends on whether you have taken film courses or not. Your previous courses may count toward your film degree. If not, they might count for core, or electives. Come talk to an advisor and we can help you figure it out. 

"What kind of jobs can I get with my film degree?"

Many of our graduates move to LA or NYC to work in the film industry. We offer a trip to LA every Spring where we introduce our seniors to the alumni working in the business. Our students have a reputation for hard work, technical skills, and positive can-do attitudes. That said, you should be very realistic about how competitive the film industry is. There are no recruiters from Hollywood coming to campus. (Not just our campus -- any campus!) Getting your first job may not be that hard, but it can take 10 years to "move up" into a position with more responsibility. Many of our students work in film related industries once they graduate. We have many alumni who work on internet-based media projects, in non-scripted television, and in executive level positions in the entertainment business. 

"Why would I choose Montana State University's film program over others?"

We have happy people with great gear in an awesome location. Our program has a great mix of hands-on production with history and theory. 

"How do I know your program is the right one for me?"

It is best to come for a visit -- we can arrange a tour of our facility where you can talk with our current students. You can make arrangements to visit through the Office of Admissions (1-888-MSU-CATS) or by emailing We look forward to meeting you in person!