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Director’s Welcome

Since its inception, our MFA in Documentary Media program has championed innovative expression and bold exploration of the medium’s possibilities beyond the lines of genre. Media arts have always tended towards hybridity, defying efforts to erect walls between documentary, narrative, and interactive modes.  Accordingly, we embrace the commingling capacity of the “art of the real” to foster exciting new forms of media production.

Though young, our program has already become a leader in the field. Our students have screened their award-winning works at prestigious festivals like Sundance, Locarno, IDFA, Hot Docs, Visions du Réel, RIDM, Camden, True/False, San Francisco, and New Directors/New Films, among many others. Our growing community of alumni are directors, producers, cinematographers, sound recordists, editors, and instructors who have premiered new works at major festivals, worked on Academy Award-nominated features, received commissions from broadcasters like National Geographic, enjoyed the support of funding agencies like Sundance, and joined the faculty at top institutions such as Dartmouth and CalArts. Our program provides a strong foundation that merges practice with theory to nurture the unique vision and voice of each member. Immersed in a small student cohort environment, our internationally diverse students forge lifelong creative collaborations and professional relationships.

Built on six core courses over two years of study, we challenge students to create original works that often traverse the supposed lines separating documentary from other modes of address. In addition, students build skills from a range of electives available within our department and across the wide course offerings at Northwestern.  They also enjoy career-launching connections and mentorship via one-on-ones with visiting artists, internships across the globe, and our Northwestern board of film professionals.

All students are awarded $5,000 to help finance thesis works. What’s more, starting with the 2022 admissions cycle, all MFA students who are accepted into the program will receive full funding for both years, including full tuition support and a generous stipend each quarter. MFA students will also gain valuable teaching experience as teaching assistants for undergraduate courses and/or develop research skills as a graduate assistant to a faculty member. Additional funding in past years has also been provided by the Hoffman Documentary Media Graduate Scholarship Fund, the Time Warner Foundation’s Next Generation Grant and Northwestern’s Graduate School.

If your goal is to expand your artistic training and your professional network in a supportive program that embraces experimentation and creativity, then Northwestern’s MFA in Documentary Media program is the place to be.

We’re happy to answer any questions that you might have, and we look forward to receiving your application.


J.P. Sniadecki
Director, MFA in Documentary Media