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

The department's production studio features equipment and cameras for students, plus 50 digital editing stations equipped with FinalCut Pro editing software. Intermediate and advanced classes are offered, and class sizes are typically small.

Cinema students also participate in workshops with nationally recognized documentary and feature filmmakers who visit campus. Visitors usually are on campus to screen and present work, conduct workshops, and meet with students for three to six days. However, some visitors teach production courses for an entire semester. 

Recent guest educators include feature filmmaker Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Crumb) and documentarian Sarah Price (American Movie, Yes Men). The Headroom Screening Series also brings a number of experimental film artists to campus each year, most recently Deborah Stratman, Vanessa Renwick, Mary Helena Clark, Julie Perini, John Gianvito, and Kevin B. Lee. 

Course Work

The Cinema BA is a well-rounded degree that encompasses critical reading, viewing, and writing about media, the history and theory of film, and the development of technical and aesthetic proficiencies in film and video production. Students choose electives from film studies, production, and screenwriting to create a program of study that fits their interests and career goals. 

The curriculum 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. 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 program 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 requirements 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 more than 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

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 to student 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, narrative fiction, and documentary filmmaking. 


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 a specific career, but it does provide a solid foundation for entry into these fields.

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.

Our graduates also have found work in San Francisco, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle and countless other cities, with jobs in distribution, programming, documentary research, education, and related fields.  


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