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Director’s Welcome

The MFA in Documentary Media program looks to refresh the canons of Documentary, to expand definitions, cross pollinate with fiction and genre conventions, explore opportunities to transcribe non-fiction practice across convergent media forms, and to innovate discursive practice in media.  As the program approaches its tenth year, the work that our students and faculty do is more vital than ever.  Our alumni have gone on to successful careers in producing, directing, cinematography, editing, sound design, and academia.  They occupy positions at top institutions like Dartmouth and California Institute of the Arts.  Their award-winning films have screened globally at top festivals like Sundance, Locarno, Hot Docs, True/False, Visions du Réel, San Francisco and Camden.  They have collaborated on Academy Award nominated films, and they have received commissions and awards from the Sundance Institute and National Geographic. 

Our curriculum consists of six core courses that introduce students to contemporary documentary practice across mediums, genres, and critical strategies.  These courses are augmented with a set of electives taken from across the department and university that align with students’ custom educational path.  Students develop a self-directed practice through interactions with internationally acclaimed artists, global internships and Northwestern’s extensive international alumni network within the film/tv industry.  Our faculty reflect the interdisciplinary nature of our curriculum, with faculty active in anthropology, graphic novels, animation, installation, devised narrative, fiction, performance, experimental film, sonic arts, as well as traditional documentary techniques.

All students accepted to the program are given a full tuition waiver and a stipend for living expenses during the academic year.  Students are additionally given a production grant of $5,000 to help fund the cost of their thesis project.  Additional funding is available through the Graduate School.  Student stipends assist in developing teaching skills through positions as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses and/or research experience as graduate assistants to faculty.

The Documentary Media program at Northwestern is an incubator for new forms, novel aesthetic practices, and innovative approaches to non-fiction.  We’re happy to answer questions, and we look forward to reviewing your application.


Eric Patrick
Director, MFA in Documentary Media