Cinematic Arts B.F.A

Would you like to create a feature film in collaboration with a professor and team you selected? Working with this group from pitch to screening of your project. Are you ready to bring your story to life and view your production on the Indiana University Cinema big screen? If so, you may be interested in the Bachelor of Fine Arts Cinematic Arts Major. This competitive application based major will allow you to do that and so much more.

The B.F.A. Cinematic Arts major is one of several degrees offered by The Media School of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students pursuing the degree have the opportunity to learn from instructors who are professionals in film and television production and film history. They work with award-winning producers and filmmakers, audio engineers with music industry experience, and internationally recognized film scholars.

The flexible design of the Cinematic Arts major incorporates foundational, theoretical, and skills coursework. The major includes coursework in film theory and industry and production. 

Theory and Industry courses introduce you to the content of being a film consumer and critique. Learning the aesthetic and technical basics of cinematic production. Courses focus on contemporary industry practices, visual theory, cinema history and seminal films, global trends and platforms of distribution. Allowing students to fully understand the industry and market. 

Hands-on Media Production courses teach techniques for creating products using emerging technology for use in cinema and some broadcast television. You learn the professional practice and techniques of image capture, manipulation, finishing, and distribution. Learning the technical skills to write, direct, shoot, edit, post-produce and distribute a short film.

The Media School also offers certificates in Journalism, New Media and Interactive Storytelling, in addition to ten undergraduate minors:

  • Black Cinema and Media Studies
  • Fashion Media
  • Film Production 
  • Game Design
  • Global Media
  • Media and Cinema Studies 
  • Media and Creative Advertising
  • Media and Diversity
  • Media Law and Ethics
  • Media Persuasion
  • Media, Sex and Gender
  • Music Scoring for Visual Media (for Media majors only)
  • Public Relations

Check your bulletin for more information about these certificates and minors.


Getting started

Your starting point with the Cinematic Arts Major is an introductory course offering an overview of 21st century media and production design, MSCH-C101 and MSCH-C 223.

The B.F.A. requires at least one class in each of three areas:

  • Managing Media – media history, economics, law and policy
  • Thinking Media – critical thinking about media and its impact on culture, race, gender and other topics
  • Making Media – skills and technical knowledge

You customize your Media School experience by selecting from a variety of Production Electives allowing you to graduate as a specialist in the field.

The production courses start with introductory coursework that gives you a foundation in the studio and field. In the studio, your lab is the state-of-the art TV Studio 5. You gain experience as a director, audio operator, camera operator, floor manager, technical director, and in other positions.

In field production, you work with professional field gear. You learn HDV camera operation, non-linear digital editing, advanced multi-media software, and audio acquisition. By the end of your introductory coursework, you will have gained experience in the planning, shooting, and editing of video programs in the studio and field.

Tracks and concentrations

Students majoring in Cinematic Arts must complete Theory and Industry, Production and Thesis Courses. Contact the academic advisor to discuss the major in detail.

Upper level coursework

Students majoring in Cinematic Arts must complete Theory and Industry, Production and Thesis Courses. 

  • Theory and Industry courses are a particular set of courses to teach students how to be film critics and properly evaluate production details. They help you build the skills associated with a critical understanding of film, television, digital, screen and aural media. You learn to interpret and evaluate mediated information from a critical perspective.
  •  Production courses help you build the skills associated with the creation of film, television, digital, screen and aural media. These include courses in scriptwriting, sound design, studio and field production, documentary filmmaking, multimedia storytelling, production management, and more. You learn the technical and aesthetic skills to bring your story to life.
Thesis courses taken in the final year, in the classes students will form a team and create a full feature film from idea to screening with the help of a faculty mentor. These courses will prepare students to be prepared and competitive in the job market beyond graduation.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one third of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates. Cinematic Art major students often complement the major with coursework in School of Art, Architecture and Design, Informatics, Business, Marketing, Spanish, History, Political Science and Music.


Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Cinematic Arts, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals. 

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.

Additional resources and opportunities may be found in collections of documents and artifacts from broadcast, film and specialty archives. Some material is already online:

The Black Film Center & Archive is the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people.

The Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive is one of the world's largest educational film and video collections. The archive contains items spanning nearly 80 years of film and television production.

The Indiana University Cinema is located in the heart of the Bloomington campus and provides unique and enriching cinematic experiences. Each semester, it screens more than 120 film titles and hosts dozens of filmmakers and scholars.


The Media Scholars honors program provides enhanced opportunities for competitively selected incoming first-year students, offering honors coursework and multiple travel and professional development opportunities as students pursue their undergraduate degrees.

The Hudson and Holland Scholars Program recruits students from under-represented minority backgrounds who display outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and commitment to social justice.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.


Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:


In the fast-paced world of media, experience sets you apart. Internships are no longer optional for students studying media today.

It is very common for students pursuing careers in media to complete multiple internships before or shortly after graduating. The Media School website offers several helpful resources for thinking ahead to this very important form of preparation for your professional life:

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their first-year.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.


Foreign language study

In an increasingly global world, familiarity with a second language is often a necessity, as well as a marketable skill.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. 

The Media School also offers international Field Experience courses. These are semester-long classes that include a short-term travel component, ranging in length from one to four weeks. The trips provide students with the hands-on application of classroom concepts in a unique context abroad.

The College of Arts and Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversations with Cinematic Arts faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.


Student groups

Student associations that can enrich your academic and professional experience include:

Other opportunities for involvement include:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.


Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. Members of the Media School Student Services team work hard to provide all majors with valuable and enjoyable service learning opportunities.

The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.


Professional organizations

The following are just a few of the professional Cinema and Media Arts organizations:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.


Build your skills

Through the major

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in CInematic Arts provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Critical thinking and analysis: ability to evaluate and analyze mediated information, applying a variety of theoretical and historical concepts and critical techniques.
  • Technical proficiency: develop and practice skills essential to careers in motion picture production for cinema, television and aspects of interactive games and the web.
  • Creative Collaboration: create original works that demonstrate skills learned in hands-on production courses, including cinematography, editing, scriptwriting, audio design, and more.
  • Multi-platform storytelling: identify and employ emerging technologies to create products for multiple purposes on distinct platforms for a variety of audiences.
  • Knowledge of film, television, and digital media history: understanding of the theoretical, critical, and historical aspects of cinema, television, digital, and aural media, as outlets for aesthetic expression, political mobilization and cultural circulation across a global framework.

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path: 

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically 

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills 
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events. 

Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Cinematic Arts majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Media provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

The job market

Media is a fast-paced world, and you need to be career ready. The best way to set yourself up for success is to complete at least one internship, if not more, before you graduate.  Internships give you hands-on experience that will not only supplement your resume and interview but also allow you to explore the ever-changing field of media.

Students from IU get jobs and internships with many top tier companies related to media, including those in the advertising, broadcast, communications, magazine, newspaper, nonprofit, online/multimedia/film, political, and public relations sectors. Check out particular entry level job and internship locations on The Media School's Careers and Internships page.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Cinematic Arts faculty, the academic advisor, career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates with this degree.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these: 

Idealist provides opportunities around the world, giving you a chance to immerse yourself in a new setting while developing your skills. Opportunities are constantly changing, based on the evolution of the media field.

Talk with your career coach and search online for experiences tailored to your media interests.


Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Bachelor of Arts in Media with a Cinema and Media Studies concentration will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in film, production, digital media, advertising, management, policy, and culture.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!


Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts and Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Media School attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Passion for visual storytelling, cinematography, and movie making technology
  • Fascination with the history of film, television, and digital media
  • Desire to write film, television, and other types of media criticism
  • Curiosity about the narrative, documentary, experimental film and web series production process
  • Aptitude for dramatic or nondramatic scriptwriting
  • Interest in the analysis and study of film and other media
  • Motivation to develop imaginative sound design for radio, video, and interactive media
  • Appreciation of the creative collaborative process

Learn more

Contact a Media School academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the

College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.


Department website

Advisor email address

Department website
Advisor email address