MFA in Film and Media Art


Programme Description

Programme Summary

The MFA in Film & Media Art program seeks talented and ambitious students at all levels offering three entry points.

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.

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

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 Programme Director will work with you to create a custom curriculum based on your unique needs.

We have a place for all creative film and media artist­­s - whether you are new to the field and need to build a strong foundation before beginning your thesis project, or you are ready to dive right into thesis production. Take the next step and apply today!

Curriculum Overview

There are 3 distinct phases of 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 Programme 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 on 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.

Finding Your Starting Point (Advanced Standing)

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 studies 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 for 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.

Last updated Mar 2018

About the School

Emerson College is internationally recognized as the nation’s premier institution of higher learning devoted to communication and the arts.

Emerson College is internationally recognized as the nation’s premier institution of higher learning devoted to communication and the arts. Read Less