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How to Apply

Applications may be submitted via the Application for The Graduate School portal. The deadline for all applications is January 15. All documentation required in the application must be submitted in the portal. The program will not accept any mailed or emailed documents. 

Application Prerequisite / Eligibility:

Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (or international equivalent) is required.

A Complete Application for Admission Consists Of:

One copy of each of the following:

  • Unofficial transcripts from all higher education institutions attended. (Submission of official transcripts will be required upon successful admission to the program.)
  • Three letters of recommendation. We prefer recommendations be submitted via your online application, but recommenders unable to submit online may mail them to our office. Mailed letters of recommendation must be signed across the sealed envelope flap.
  • A one-page single-spaced Statement of Purpose. Why this program now? What do you hope to learn?
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.

In addition, please individually label and upload the following (into the section for Writing Sample) on the Online Application:

  • A production sample that includes up to 10 minutes of material. You may submit documentary, experimental, or fiction work, or a combination of the three. The material may comprise complete works or excerpts from one or more works — whatever gives us the best sense of your potential. Upload your material to either Vimeo or YouTube and copy and paste the video URL into the document. Please make sure that your video is set to public or unlisted or alternatively, if you send a private link, make sure to provide the password. If you are submitting an interactive piece such as a game or website, and the work does not adhere to a linear model, we will play or view for a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • A short written summary describing your sample material. Please indicate your role(s) in each component of the work sample (director, producer, cinematography, sound recordist, editor, etc).
  • A one- to two-page single-spaced synopsis of a documentary or documentary-based project you would like to pursue while in the program. You will NOT be required to make this proposed documentary while at Northwestern.
  • A short critical reflection on a film, work of art, or conceptual orientation relevant to your development as a filmmaker, and with which your proposed documentary/documentary-based project is in dialogue: Why is this work meaningful to you?

For nonnative speakers: the TOEFL or IELTS (not less than two years old). The minimum score for the TOEFL is 600 paper / 250 computer / 100 Internet and 7.0 for the IELTS.

The MFA in Documentary Media does not require English language testing scores from those who have earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.

Nonnative MFA applicants wishing to be considered for appointment as a teaching assistant must submit a minimum score of 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or 26 on the TOEFL speaking section, taken no more than two years before consideration for appointment. The TSE is not required for admission.

Note: The GRE is not required.

We look forward to receiving your application!

If you have questions, please contact us at or 847-491-5954.