the student writes, directs and leads a crew of peers in producing. This is a fairly common “thesis” at most of the top film schools.
Graduate schools vary greatly however. Some do a similar ‘short film’ approach while others encourage the students to make a feature film. There are some programs, such as Columbia University’s Masters Program that are actually more than two years and that combine directing along with writing into an overall Graduate thesis involving the creation of feature length scripts and films that can be entered into competition.
The goal of undergrad and grad programs differ as well. While both types of programs can train the ‘technical’ skills of an aspiring cinematographer or cameraman for instance, graduate programs tend to groom their students to make films that can be entered into the festival circuit