In the vast international arena of film and television production, creative opportunities abound for students who combine artistry and creativity with a solid education in film theory, criticism, and production techniques.

A degree in cinema can be the foundation for a future career as a filmmaker, location manager, editor, camera assistant, writer, producer, casting agent, researcher, or educator.

Why Study at Iowa

Through the Department of Cinematic Arts, cinema majors at Iowa receive a comprehensive four-year liberal arts education with an emphasis on studying film and video production, screenwriting, and the theory, analysis, and history of filmmaking.

Cinema production classes focus on fiction, documentary, or experimental film and video, digital animation, and an introductory course on the modes of film production. The department's production studio features cameras and equipment for students, plus 50 digital editing stations equipped with FinalCut Pro editing software. Classes are offered at the intermediate and advanced level, and class sizes are typically small.

Cinema students also participate in workshops with nationally recognized documentary and feature filmmakers who visit campus. Recent guest educators include feature filmmakers Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), Andrew Smith (The Slaughter Rule), and Jon Jost (Homecoming); documentarians Sarah Price (American Movie, Yes Men) and Camille Billops (String of Pearls); and film artists David Gatten, Su Friedrich, and Nathaniel Dorsky.

Course Work

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in cinema features interdisciplinary study of film, the production of creative work in film, video, and interactive multimedia, and courses about historical, critical, and theoretical issues in filmmaking.

The curriculum includes courses in:

  • Film analysis
  • Critical reading and viewing
  • Modes of filmmaking
  • A criticism and theory course
  • An advanced film studies or production course

See Cinema in the UI General Catalog to learn more about course work for the cinema degree and graduating with honors.

Minor in Cinema

See Cinema in the UI General Catalog for more information.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities and Study Abroad Programs.

Cinema students may be interested in several of the Living Learning Communities in the UI residence halls.

Campus Resources for Cinema Students range from equipment check-out options to the Student Video Productions student group, local film festivals, the department's Aperture weblog, and the university's Bijou Cinema.

In addition, the university's Institute for Cinema and Culture sponsors major film retrospectives, proseminars, and national conferences on a broad spectrum of film matters. It also provides a bank of film information and film materials.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

The department is housed in the Becker Communication Studies Building and the Adler Journalism and Mass Communication Building, where film students at Iowa enjoy a remarkable number of resources and a high level of technical support.

Field equipment available for student use includes 16mm cameras, DV camcorders, lighting packages, field audio recorders, tripods, a Mathews doorway dolly, and a 20-foot jib arm.

For post-production, the department offers 16mm editing stations and FinalCut digital video editing stations (some optimized for animation and advanced sound mixing). There is also a 16mm JK optical printer, an Oxberry animation stand, and a large soundstage to support shooting on sets with additional space for blue screen composite work.

Film and video production faculty are award-winning artists who work in audio production, video installation, documentary filmmaking, and narrative fiction.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Because the film and television industries include a wide array of jobs, the cinema degree is not a direct track to any one specific career, but it does provide a solid foundation for entry into this field.

Iowa graduates have found work on sets in Hollywood and New York as location managers, editors, camera assistants, writers, producer’s assistants, location managers, and casting agents, among other jobs.

Our graduates have also found work in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and countless other cities, with jobs in distribution, programming, documentary research, and education, to name a few examples.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Cinema (BA)
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan