Media with Impact
The AU School of Communication MFA in Film and Media Arts prepares you to be a compelling visual storyteller. You will learn the skills you need for a career creating meaningful stories that inform and inspire action in film, video, and game design.
You will concentrate your studies in one of four areas: Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking; Political, Cultural and Social Impact; Art in Entertainment; or Games and Interactivity. Our program includes courses in media studies, history, and theory that complement the production courses, including those in advanced-level fiction, documentary, scriptwriting, producing, and new media topics. Our students use American University's state-of-the-art film, video, and digital equipment to build skills in film and video production, script writing, computer animation, digital imaging, sound production, and digital media design. You will also take a seminar in teaching philosophy, skills, and techniques that prepare you to teach at the university level.
The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis until programs reach capacity.
While an undergraduate degree in one of our visual media is desirable, applications from candidates who have majored in other fields also will be considered. Your essay demonstrating a serious commitment to a career in this field will be essential, along with the other required application materials. If you have prior experience in visual media, you should submit a portfolio illustrating relevant professional work.
Our Film and Media Arts MFA program is a full-time program, but it can be completed part-time. Students are generally expected to complete the 54-credit-hour program within 36 months. First-year students are required to attend our Film & Media Arts Boot Camp in August before their first semester. Boot Camp teaches you the essential building blocks for production. Focusing on a digital skill set, you will work on practical exercises to get up to speed with equipment and learn about the expectations of the programs in SOC. Substitutions for Boot Camp are possible.
Always Creating: A Filmmaker's Perspective
Sydney MaHan is the graduate student speaker for 2021 commencement. During her time at AU, she directed and edited this short documentary about fellow SOC Alum Robert Boyd. MaHan has completed several film projects, including working with Smithsonian Gardens, an arm of the Smithsonian Institution, on their HABITAT and Her Story exhibits. Her work can be found on her website.
Boyd, a recent CEF graduate who was the '20-'21 FRONTLINE fellow at SOC's Investigative Reporting Workshop has been awarded the Fulbright-National Geographic Fellowship, an opportunity which provides training, mentorship, and editorial direction for projects and the associated blog.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between the MA in Film and Media Production and the MFA in Film and Media Arts?
Our MA in Film and Production Media is a 36-credit, 24-month program that will help you build a solid professional skill set in film, video, and digital media. You’ll acquire professional competencies in scriptwriting, cinematography, lighting, sound recording, and editing, while also learning the historical, conceptual, and aesthetic foundations and frameworks of the art form and the industry.
Our MFA in Film and Media Arts is a 54-credit, 36-month terminal degree that prepares you to teach at the university level. The focus is more on how meaningful stories are constructed, in an artistic sense, for public knowledge and action. You will also focus your studies in one of four concentrations: Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking; Political, Cultural and Social Impact; Art in Entertainment; or Games and Interactivity.
What equipment will I need to own for this program?
The Film & Media Arts division of American University's School of Communication is a leader in visual storytelling and integrating the latest and evolving technologies into production and distribution.
As a result, we are pleased to partner with Apple to provide you with recommendations for your laptop needs. Remember that we have an all-digital tapeless production workflow, which means that the central tool for managing media is your computer. Read about the specific computer requirements for this program.
Can I place out of introductory classes if I have more advanced experience?
Applicants with prior experience in visual media, who wish to be considered for a substitution of the required COMM-610 Principles of Video Production and/or COMM-663 Techniques and Aesthetics of Editing courses, should submit a written request illustrating relevant coursework or professional experience. Those requesting a substitution of either or both of these required courses will be required to take and pass an exam. Students granted substitutions for either, or both, of these required courses take advanced coursework in order to fulfill those academic credits. It is up to the discretion of the faculty committee to allow students to proceed to fall courses even if they pass either, or both, of the required bootcamp courses.
What special programs do you offer that will allow me to gain recognition and experience?
The School of Communication offers a number of opportunities for hands-on learning that also allow you to showcase your own work. The Visions Awards celebrate the best in student visual work — documentary, fiction, digital and new media, screenwriting, and photography. Our partnership with the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague helps students develop their skills and portfolios in photography and super 16mm or 35mm film. The Center for Environmental Filmmaking inspires a new generation of filmmakers and media experts committed to using media to drive environmental change. And our Center for Media & Social Impact empowers media that matter as an innovation incubator and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact.