Columbia University School of the Arts

The Columbia University School of the Arts, also known simply as the School of the Arts or as SoA, is the graduate school of the university that offers programs in the fine arts. It offers the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in Film, Visual Arts, Theatre and Writing, as well as the Master of Arts (MA) degree in Film Studies. It works closely with the Arts Initiative at Columbia University (CUArts) and organizes the Columbia University Film Festival. Founded in 1948, the school is located in Morningside Heights, New York.



A world-renowned film school, the Film Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts in New York City offers Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees with concentrations in Screenwriting/Directing and Creative Producing. The program also offers a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Film Studies.

The select MFA program accepts only 6% of applicants, having an annual incoming class of 65 out of the 1000+ applicants. The film program accepts 46 out of approximately 700 applicants. It is considered one of the top film schools in the world.[1]


The Theatre Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts in New York City offers Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degrees in Theatre with concentrations in acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, stage management, and theatre management and producing. The playwriting concentration is heralded by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage and Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang.

In 2018, applications to the acting concentration doubled with the installation of former Yale School of Drama acting professor Ron Van Lieu. The acting concentration has emerged as one of the highest ranked graduate acting programs in the world [2] and is helmed by casting director James Calleri.

The Theatre Program also offers a Ph.D. and joint J.D./M.F.A. degree in association with Columbia Law School.

Visual Arts

In the Visual Arts Program, students work in the fields of painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, digital media, drawing, performance, and video art.


The program offers degrees in creative writing, with concentrations in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. One of its more notable features are "master classes", four-week courses for writers (as opposed to critical scholars) "designed to stimulate provocative discussions about literary craft and artistic choices". Master Class faculty have recently included Helen Vendler, Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead, James Wood, Richard Ford, Han Ong, Susan Choi, and Jonathan Ames. The writing division also employs prestigious writers as seminar and workshop instructors; these have recently included Zadie Smith, Gary Shteyngart, Nathan Englander, Myla Goldberg, Adam Haslett, Jessica Hagedorn, Phillip Lopate, Marie Howe, Eamon Grennan, Paul LaFarge, David Gates, Francisco Goldman, Darcy Frey, and David Ebershoff.


According to the Proposed Manhattanville Academic Mixed-Use Environmental Impact Statement, Columbia intends to expand, as-of-right, its presence in Manhattanville by adaptively reusing Prentis Hall for the School of the Arts. Columbia currently owns and occupies Prentis Hall, 628–644 West 125th Street, with approximately 91,000 gross square feet (gsf) of academic space. By the 2015 analysis year, Prentis Hall may be enlarged to include an additional floor of approximately 17,000 gsf of additional academic space.[3]

Notable alumni and attendees




Visual Arts


Notable faculty

See also


  1. Appelo, Tim (27 July 2011). "The 25 Best Film Schools Rankings". The Hollywood Reporter.
  2. Abramovitch, Seth. "Top 25 Graduate Schools for an Acting Degree, Ranked". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6/10/2019. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. Proposed Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development Environmental Impact Statement Draft Scope of Work
  4. Naficy, Hamid (2012). A Social History of Iranian Cinema. 3: The Islamicate Period, 1978–1984. Duke University Press. p. 64. ISBN 0822348772.

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