Majors & Programs

Film and Media Art (MFA)

We have a passion to create.

Create, challenge, inspire, and inform through art and expression in our Film and Media Art (MFA) program. Here, you’ll work with image and sound, and traditional and emergent media forms. You will develop an understanding of film, video, audio, and interactive media production—and you will channel this understanding into the creation of multimedia works. To ensure that creative, talented students at every stage of development find a place in our program, we give you the opportunity to apply into the three-phase curriculum at whichever level best matches your experience.

In this program, you will:

  • Explore a variety of media production genres and develop expertise in the use of media technologies, criticism and theory, and media business;
  • Learn from faculty members who are themselves working artists (and whose ranks include Guggenheim and Fulbright fellows) and build a network of creative partnerships that will inspire and support you in your artistic career; and
  • Use our state-of-the-art facilities and immerse yourself in your specific area of interest, producing an ongoing body of work within a collaborative, creative environment.

Whether you want to explore film, documentary, fiction narrative, experimental media, installation, interactive art, or sound design, we will give you the tools, skills, and experience you need. Cultivate your creative voice and share it with the world.

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Program Summary

Our unique program provides students of all levels with the opportunity to develop as engaged and versatile creative professionals and media artists. Students will work with image and sound to entertain, inform, persuade, and challenge, using both traditional and emergent media forms. They will develop an understanding of the disciplines of film, video, audio, and interactive media production, bringing this understanding to bear on traditional and convergent media works.

Our program has three distinct entry points and varies in length from 2-3 years depending on which phase of the program you begin in. This approach allows us to welcome creative students at any stage of development. Once you are admitted to the program, the Graduate Program Director will work with you to create a custom curriculum based on your unique needs.

There are 3 distinct phases to the program to help students acquire the specialized skills and creative resources required for the collaborative nature of production work. Students in the Film and Media Art program study the history and critical theories that provide the foundation for their work, so as to understand the context of their creative output and to be able to evaluate its effectiveness.

Students will have the opportunity to apply for advanced standing during the admissions process. Advanced standing will allow a student to begin the program in either Phase II or Phase III.

Phase I – Foundational (6 semesters; 64 credits)

Most students will begin the program in this phase. It builds a solid foundation in the first semester in theory and history and an intensive introduction to writing and production skills in a variety of media platforms.

Phase II – Intermediate Practitioner (5 semesters; 52 credits)

After meeting with the Graduate Program Director, students will develop a customized plan of study that allows for artistic exploration while developing the technical proficiency to undertake their thesis project.

Students will begin to focus in one or more areas of media production, computer animation, documentary, experimental media, fiction narrative, installation, interactive art, and sound design or an individualized hybrid form.

For example, a student pursuing professional and artistic development as a documentary filmmaker could take the History of Documentary seminar and the Documentary Workshop and Advanced Documentary courses. Electives and directed study in advanced production (e.g. cinematography, producing, editing and interactive media) are also available, so the aspiring documentarian could also opt to take courses in interactive media and computer animation.

Phase III - Advanced practitioner (4 semesters; 40 credits)  

Students in Phase III come ready to begin working on their thesis project. Students meet with their program advisor to select courses that support their thesis work as well as their specific learning needs. In addition, students concentrate on developing their artistic vision through the thesis proposal process while building new skills and learning advanced production techniques. The MFA Production Workshop is a key component to the program and provides students with support in producing an ongoing body of work within a collaborative, creative community. In the MFA Production Workshop, students present works-in-progress to their peers and faculty for critiques.

Once you have completed your thesis project, all students take part in a public screening of MFA works for the year. This is the last MFA requirement and a celebration of student achievements.
 

While many of our students begin the program at Phase I, we recognize that not all students require all the foundational classes in media production and theory that are built into the curriculum. To ensure that students of all levels find a place in our program you have the opportunity to apply for advanced standing during the application processes.

To help you determine if you would qualify for advanced standing, please take a look at the profiles provided below. Please note that these are just samples of typical profiles and if your background is not explicitly described below we will work with you throughout the application processes to ensure that you begin the program at the appropriate phase.

Students who start in Phase I:

  • Undergraduate degree in the arts, communications, humanities or social sciences (e.g. performing arts, graphic design, journalism, literature, psychology, etc.) and took one or two introductory classes in screenwriting, film/TV production and/or media studies.
  • Undergraduate degree in an unrelated field of study such as business or engineering but discovered a passion for visual storytelling in a summer media program, a semester abroad or through professional opportunities and want to develop your skills as a media artist.
  • Graduated from an undergraduate degree program in a related field several years ago and want to brush up on foundations prior to beginning thesis work.  

Your portfolio should give evidence of your potential for creative media-making and critical thinking and demonstrate some effort to use the tools for expression. The primary focus should be on original work or visual art for which you are the primary creator, with your contribution(s) clearly stated in the credits or work description

Students who begin the program in Phase I are required to take 64 credits/6 semesters for full-time.

Students who start in Phase II:

  • You have a BA in a related field such as: Film/TV Production, Media Arts, Fine Arts, Theater Arts, Journalism. Your portfolio should demonstrate your creative inspirations and aspirations, as well as technical proficiency in one or more media modes.
  • You have an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field but have been working professionally in commercial media production and you want to develop your own artistic vision and the advanced technical skills to express it. Your portfolio should demonstrate production experience and basic technical proficiency, and indicate your creative potential as a media artist.

Students who begin the program in Phase II are required to take 52 credits/5 semesters for full-time.

Students who start in Phase III:

  • You have a BFA in Film/TV/Media Production and/or some professional production experience. Perhaps you’ve been teaching film studies or production part-time and you want a terminal degree. Your portfolio includes work that demonstrates technical proficiency and artistic potential, and you have excellent references from both academic and professional contacts. You have some specific ideas about the thesis project you want to pursue.  

Students who begin the program in Phase III are required to take 40 credits/4 semesters for full-time.
 

At the end of each year in the program, students participate in a formal portfolio review of their class and creative works or works-in-progress by the graduate program director and a committee of department faculty members who teach in the MFA program.

The portfolio review provides the student with formative feedback from the faculty. In consultation with the Graduate Program Director, they plan the coming year’s coursework to address weaknesses and build on strengths. 

Detailed Curriculum

View degree requirements, sample curriculum maps, and more.

Careers & Connections

As a student in our program you will form new friendships, creative partnerships, and professional connections that will last a lifetime. The MFA in Film and Media Art is designed to help you build those connections throughout your studies. Students are encouraged to seek out faculty mentors through their classes and creative interests. Mentoring provides growth opportunities, from guidance on academic projects and advanced technical skills to internships, job references, festivals, exhibitions and grants.

All MFA students meet monthly for the MFA Colloquium. This is an opportunity to interact with industry professionals, media artists, and faculty in both formal and informal settings. Students nearing completion on their thesis projects may screen their work-in-progress for feedback from students at all levels; local professionals provide insider perspectives on current trends in topics such as production design, casting, copyright and virtual reality. The colloquium is vital to the development of media artists and provides an excellent networking opportunity. 

Faculty

Your Graduate Program Director, Michael Selig, will serve as your primary faculty advisor, guiding you on course selection to ensure that you are on the path toward achieving your learning objectives and on track to satisfy the program requirements. Your program director will work with you one-on-one to build a custom curriculum tailored to suit your education needs and set you up for success for your thesis project. You will also receive program and department news from your program director along with any on- and off-campus opportunities that might be of interest to you.

Learning extraordinary things from teachers who are themselves working artists—and whose ranks include Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Directors Guild nominees and recipients, as well as Guggenheim and Fulbright fellows—you'll be surrounded by talented people who constantly nudge, challenge, inspire, and support your creative growth.

Your Graduate Program Director