Program Summary

The Department of Visual and Media Arts offers the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Media Art. This program provides students with the opportunity to develop as creative professionals and media artists, working with image and sound to entertain, inform, persuade, and challenge, using both traditional and emergent media forms. Students develop an understanding of the disciplines of film, video, audio, and interactive and multimedia production, bringing this understanding to bear on works of film and media art. Students study the history, theory, and critical discourse that provide the foundation of their work, so as to understand the context of their creative output and be able to evaluate its effectiveness. Students have the opportunity to acquire specialized skills, demanded by the collaborative nature of much production work. Cultivating the creative vision of each student is the primary focus of the program.

The MFA in Film and Media Art is a terminal degree for students who wish to pursue careers as media production professionals and artists, and/or who want to teach at the college or university level. Students are able to explore a variety of media production genres—narrative fiction, documentary, experimental, web-based interactive, multimedia installations—with a degree program that provides foundational knowledge in the use of media technologies, criticism and theory, and in media business, while offering a set of courses of advanced training and mentorship in their specific area of interest.


Degree Requirements 

The Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Art requires the successful completion of 64 credit hours, including 8 credit hours for completion of the MFA thesis project. Students must matriculate full time. The expected schedule is 12 credits per semester for the first four semesters and 8 credits in the fifth and sixth semesters. Students are expected to complete the degree requirements within three years. Students may not extend their matriculation in the MFA program past five years.

Required Courses (12 credits):

Number Course Credits
VM 600 Producing Strategies for Modern Media 4
VM 613 Foundations of Image and Sound Production 4
VM 641 Introduction to Theory 4

Choose two of the following (8 credits):

Number Course Credits
VM 610 Media Pedagogy 4
VM 655 Topics in Media Studies 4
VM 664 Studies in Documentary History and Theory 4

Choose one of the following (4 credits):

Number Course Credits
VM 605 Graduate Writing the Short Subject 4
VM 606 Writing for Interactive Media 4
VM 640 MFA Production Workshop* 4
  A Production Elective in Film and Media Art 4

*VM 640 MFA Production Workshop (4 credits - Must take twice for 8 credits, may take for an additional 4 credits as an elective)

In addition, students are required to attend the MFA Colloquium regularly each semester. All students in their first and second years must present their work for portfolio reviews that typically take place at the end of the spring semester. Students admitted with Advanced Standing must present their work for portfolio review at the end of their first year only.


Studies Electives (8 Credits) Samples:

  • Media Ethics
  • History of Documentary
  • Avant-Garde/Experimental
  • Global Asian Cinema
  • African Diaspora Films

Production Electives (24 Credits) Samples:

  • Fundamentals of Directing
  • Directing Actors
  • Cinematography
  • Installations
  • New Media
  • Producing
  • Documentary
  • Advanced Classes in Cinematography
  • Documentary
  • Production Workshops (8 credits/2 semesters, with a third semester optional in lieu of a production elective)

VM 698 MFA Thesis Project (8 credits)

The MFA thesis project is required for graduation. Students will earn 8 credits for the MFA thesis project, typically 4 credits during the fifth or next-to-last semester and 4 credits during their sixth or final semester.

Each student will present an MFA thesis project proposal to be reviewed and approved by the student’s thesis project committee. The MFA thesis project proposal must be approved by the end of the fourth semester.

Each student will choose an MFA thesis project committee in consultation with the graduate program director. An MFA thesis project committee will be composed of two faculty members (one serving as chair and primary advisor to the thesis project). The student must consult regularly with the committee throughout the thesis project’s production.

Upon completing the MFA thesis project, the student will participate in a review by their faculty committee (analogous to a dissertation defense). This review will determine if the student’s work meets the standards originally set forth in the student’s approved MFA thesis project proposal, and if not, what actions need to be taken to complete the MFA thesis project as proposed.

Upon final completion of the MFA thesis project, a public screening of MFA works for the year will be held with a question and answer session. The public screening will be the last requirement for the MFA thesis project and will serve as a celebration of the students’ achievements.

Sample Curriculum Maps

Students Starting in Phase 1 (64 credits/6 semesters)

Example: Student with an undergraduate degree in Literature interested in exploring narrative fiction production.

  • Semester 1 – Foundations of Image & Sound Production, Writing the Short, Narrative History (Required)
  • Semester 2 – Basic Cinematography, Producing, Studies Elective
  • Semester 3 – Fundamentals of Directing, TV Writing, Advanced Editing
  • Semester 4 – Directing Actors, Sound Design, MFA Production Workshop
  • Semester 5 – Thesis Project, Studies Elective
  • Semester 6 – Thesis Project, MFA Production Workshop

Students Starting in Phase 2 (52 credits/5 semesters)

Example: Student with a B.A. in TV journalism and freelance work producing videos for online marketing, wants to pursue documentary production.

  • Semester 1 – History of Documentary (Studies Elective), Basic Cinematography, Adv Editing
  • Semester 2 – Documentary Production Workshop, Motion Graphics, Visual Ethnography (Studies Elective)
  • Semester 3 – Adv. Documentary, New Media Workshop, MFA Production Workshop
  • Semester 4 – Thesis Project
  • Semester 5 – Thesis Project, MFA Production Workshop

Students Starting in Phase 3 (40 credits/4 semesters)

Example: Student with a BFA in Film/TV/Media Art and professional production experience, with proposal for thesis project in augmented reality/interactive media.

  • Semester 1 – Advanced New Media Projects, Writing for Interactive, Studies Elective
  • Semester 2 – MFA Production Workshop, Adv. Cinematography, Computer Animation
  • Semester 3 – Thesis Project, Sound Design
  • Semester 4 – Thesis Project, MFA Production Workshop