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School of Dance, Film, and Theater

MFA in Film

The three-year M.F.A. sequence moves from foundation building in the 1st year, to growing levels of specialization in the 2nd year, and culminating in the thesis work of the 3rd year. In the 3rd year, students may opt to direct his/her own thesis film or commit to a non-directing track. The track options are Cinematography, Post-Production, and Screenwriting, each requiring specific course work and portfolios.The M.F.A. requires 90 credit hours and students are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average in all coursework.





The 1st year of study is viewed as core curriculum and is required of all M.F.A. students. A unified yearlong course of study has been established to serve as the foundation for the developing filmmaker. A logical progression of interlocking courses in production, screenwriting, sound, directing, editing and film studies has been designed. Our faculty understands how they (and their courses) fit in the big picture of developing students who are becoming comfortable with the technical, practical and creative aspects of filmmaking. On a practical level, where possible, assignments in one class pertain to work in another.

Each student is required to create a 1st Year Portfolio of creative work:

  • FILM #1 - narrative -16mm
  • FILM #2 – narrative - 16mm
  • Observational documentary - High Definition video

In the first year, each student pays a $300 lab fee per semester to cover the primary production costs of all projects. Students have been able to finish their 1st Year Portfolio on time and with tremendous personal savings compared to making a single longer film in their first year. Generally, we find that work created in the first year shows continuous growth and indicates that a solid foundation has been laid for future projects. This curriculum allows risks to be taken, but within a model that sets students up for continuing development.





From the structured design of the 1st year boot camp, in the 2nd and 3rd years, the program moves to a period of greater freedom of choice, personal responsibility and creative achievement. Specialization classes in the various film crafts (cinematography, directing, screenwriting, sound design, and editing) are offered.

Where the 1st Year Portfolio was created under defined guidelines as part of a core curriculum, the 2nd Year Portfolio and the thesis film assumes that the student now has the training and the craft to move in artistic directions of his/her own choosing. A system where students in the 2nd and 3rd year discuss and consult on their creative work with the faculty is firmly in place.


MFA 2nd Year Portfolio:
In their second year, working with professors and advisors, students design projects that focus on their emerging areas of interest and specialization. Students on the directing track usually make one short film in their second year.


Thesis :
In the third year, students work with a thesis committee and chair to create their most advanced work of the program, the thesis project. A student on the directing track will make a thesis film.

M.F.A. specialization tracks:
As an alternative to the thesis, a student may select one of the three non-directing tracks - Cinematography, Post-Production, Screenwriting - and meet the requirements for the M.F.A. degree.