The Student Academy Awards (SAA) recognizes and honors student filmmakers who demonstrate excellence in the creation of motion pictures. By awarding these outstanding achievements, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences strives to support and inspire emerging filmmakers and to foster growth and education in the art and science of motion pictures.

Student Academy Awards Website

Frequently Asked Questions

Qualifying Film Festivals

Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals (which include cash grants of $5000, $3000 and $2000 respectively) may be awarded in each of the categories (Narrative, Documentary, Animation, or Alternative/Experimental)

PLEASE NOTE: the Student Academy Awards no longer distinguishes between domestic (U.S.-based) schools and international (non-U.S.-based) schools for submission rules. All eligibility requirements and all submission processes apply to all entries regardless of where the school is based. All students with eligible films may submit their films directly to the competition without having to go through their school.

Please note: the Student Academy Awards no longer distinguishes between domestic (U.S.-based) schools and international (non-U.S.-based) schools for submission rules. All eligibility requirements and all submission processes apply to all entries regardless of where the school is based. All students with eligible films may submit their films directly to the competition without having to go through their school.


The director(s) of a submitted film must be a student who was enrolled (full-time or part-time) in a degree-granting program at an eligible school when the film was made.


1. Domestic (U.S. based) schools must be accredited by one of the following agencies:

a. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

b. New England Association of Schools and colleges

c. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

d. Northwest Accreditation Commission on Colleges and Universities

e. Western Association of Schools and Colleges

f. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

2. International (non-U.S. based) schools must meet the following criteria

a. Schools must be accredited by the responsible governing body in their country.

b. Programs must offer associates, bachelors or graduate degrees.

c. Animation Training Programs do not have to provide college degrees but may offer a certificate to its students upon completion of the program.

d. Program must be either a non-profit educational organization or a government sponsored educational institution.


Provided you meet the eligibility requirements listed above:

1. Projects that are undergraduate intermediate level or capstone films, or graduate school second year or thesis films are automatically eligible for entry. Students may submit these films directly to the competition.

2. Films that are not automatically eligible can become eligible if:

a. They are selected through the school waiver process OR

b. The film gains eligibility through the film festival qualifying process. (See Submission Process section for more details about both options.)

3. A film must have been made as part of a student’s coursework or graduation requirement.

4. All films must be no longer than 40 minutes including opening and closing credits.

5. Student directors are only allowed to submit one film per competition year.

6. Films must have been completed and submitted for final credit/grading between June 2, 2022 and June 1, 2023, and within one year of the student’s graduation date, with one exception:

a. Films eligible through the “festival qualifying process” are allowed two years from the date of their completion to qualify.

7. Do not submit works in progress. Films may not be altered once submitted for Student Academy Award consideration.

8. Films cannot have been entered in any previous SAA competitions. NOTE: Making changes to a film submitted in a previous year, even significant changes, does not make the film eligible again.

9. Films submitted for consideration for the main Academy Awards competition (regardless of the outcome) are not eligible for entry into any subsequent SAA competitions.

10. Films (including any still images posted to FilmFreeway) must not display any festival laurels or awards won.

11. All films submitted must be in English, subtitled in English, or dubbed in English.

12. Advertising films, promotional films, and films made as works for hire are not eligible.


1. The SAAs honor up to three credited directors. If your film has more than three directors, please submit the names of up to three who are the most responsible for the creative direction of the project. If there are any credit discrepancies or controversies, the Academy will insist that credits be settled before the film may be considered for an award. The Academy will not be bound by any contract or agreement relating to the sharing or giving of credit and reserves the right to make its own determination of credit for purposes of SAA consideration.

2. Entry forms and films must be submitted digitally via

3. Films must be viewable on FilmFreeway. Enable your privacy settings to allow your film to be embedded on FilmFreeway.

4. You must supply your faculty adviser name and email. They will be contacted to verify your film and student status.

5. Each film must be submitted to one category only. If a film is determined to be in an incorrect category, it will be reassigned to the correct category.

6. Films advancing to the semifinal round of judging may be asked for additional formats such as a DCP or HD quality digital file. Any hard media provided will be returned to the entrant after the competition ends.

7. Failure to satisfy all the entry requirements will result in disqualification.


If the film meets the automatically qualified criteria from above, the film can be submitted directly to the competition by the student without taking any other steps. If the film does not meet the automatically qualified criteria, it must qualify for the competition in one of two ways: through school waivers or through film festival qualifying.


Each eligible film school is allowed up to three waivers that can be used at its discretion to award eligibility status to a student film that is not automatically eligible but is deemed of such high quality that it deserves SAA consideration. Each school will determine the process it uses to award the waivers. Schools must notify the SAA office as to which films have been awarded waivers before those films can be accepted into the competition.


Films that are not automatically eligible can also gain eligibility by being selected in competition at three film festivals from the SAA Film Festival Qualifying list. Students have a two-year window in which to qualify through this option. For example, non-graduating students who complete their project before June 1 of this year will have until June 1, 2025 to meet the ‘film festival qualifying’ requirement to gain eligibility for the competition. (See the Qualifying Film Festival list for eligible film festivals.)


1. Student Academy Award participants may only promote their status in the competition within the explicit guidelines provided by the Academy.

2. Promoting any film entered into the SAA competition to Academy members (either by the filmmaker or by a third party, sometimes referred to as campaigning) while the SAA competition is active is not allowed and will be considered cause for disqualification.


1. Student Academy Awards medal-winning films are eligible for entry into the following year's Academy Awards competition, provided the films satisfy all criteria for the Academy Award category for which they are entered.

2. If the eligibility and/or category of any entry is questioned, the Academy reserves the right to make a determination as the SAA Executive Committee may deem appropriate at its discretion.

3. The Academy reserves the right to amend or modify any procedure, process, or rule, as may be considered necessary by the SAA Executive Committee for the proper conduct of the Student Academy Awards or to adhere to any standards set forth by the Academy.

4. The Academy is not responsible for late, missing, or damaged entries.

5. The decisions of the Academy regarding any matter relating to the SAA will be final and binding in all respects.

Overall Rating
  • Shuhao Tse

    The journey of participating Student Academy Awards was incredible.

    November 2022
  • Welf Reinhart

    The student academy awards have always been my dream. The week in L.A. was fantastic. The team of the SAA (Sean, Hector, Chris, Michael, and many more) is incredibly nice and they do such a great work to connect filmmakers and present their work. - Thank you for all of that!

    October 2022
  • Sujin Kim

    They are creating a miracle.
    The best film competition that I ever participated in as a filmmaker.

    October 2021
  • German Golub

    Highest quality organization level out in the field. People are clear in communication and needs, but also listen and care about your needs. 5 stars from bottom to top.

    October 2020
  • Luce Grosjean

    Such an important step for a director career to be selected to the SAA !!!

    July 2020