Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts / SCHOOL OF THEATER, FILM AND MEDIA ARTS

Learn more about the Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Arts.

About the Program

The MFA program in Film and Media Arts is designed to prepare socially aware, artistically innovative candidates for professional careers in film, video or digital media. The program is characterized by an openness to all forms of media expression, with an emphasis on independent film and video arising out of both an artistic and social consciousness, taught under the supervision of recognized scholars and professionals in the field. Special attention is paid to the contemporary documentary, the independent narrative, video art and installation, and emerging forms and technologies.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 5 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Students complete the degree program through classes offered at convenient times of the day and evening.

Interdisciplinary Study: Although graduate students in the Film and Media Arts (FMA) program are expected to complete most of their coursework in the FMA Department, they are encouraged to explore relevant courses in other departments.

Affiliation(s): The FMA program is associated with the University Film and Video Association, an international organization of university and industry professionals working in the field of media production.

Study Abroad: FMA courses are offered at Temple's satellite campuses in Rome, London and Tokyo where graduate students may choose to complete courses. Graduate students may also choose to complete courses through FMA's Los Angeles Study Away Program.

Ranking: The MFA in Film and Media Arts is ranked among the top 10 film/video programs nationally and is one of the top three programs offered by public institutions.

Areas of Specialization: The MFA degree program offers concentrations for students to specialize in filmmaking, new media or screenwriting. The concentrations are:

  • Cinematic Arts: Narrative and Documentary
  • Media Arts
  • Screenwriting

Job Prospects: The FMA graduate program produces media makers who pursue careers in academia and in the communications and production industries. Many graduates choose to work independently, creating original narrative and documentary films and videos or new media projects.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Non-matriculated students may take up to 9 credits within the department at the discretion of individual instructors.

Financing Opportunities: Applicants to the MFA program in Film and Media Arts are eligible and nominated for Teaching Assistantship and fellowship awards during the application process. Most students accepted into the program receive some form of funding, which can be applied to the full 54-credit program at the rate of up to 13 credits per term. The awards include:

  • Four-Term Teaching Assistantship – FMA departmental awards provide 50% tuition support and a stipend for either terms 1-4 or terms 2-5.
  • Variable Teaching Assistantship – FMA departmental awards offer partial tuition support and a stipend, both with various values.
  • University Fellowship – Recipients of the competitive fellowship awards receive 100% support for three years. Fellowship funding is provided by the Graduate School in terms 1, 2, and 6, with departmental support in the form of a Teaching Assistantship offered in terms 3, 4, and 5.
  • Fulbright Support – FMA accepts international Fulbright Award students, who generally receive 100% tuition and a stipend for three years, with teaching opportunities.

All awards are based on and contingent upon the student maintaining an excellent record of achievement and advancement in the program. Given that the MFA is typically a three-year, six-term program, most students fund their sixth term by teaching as adjunct faculty.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: November 15; October 15 international

Applications are evaluated together after the deadline has passed. Late applications may be considered for admission. To ensure funding consideration, however, applicants must submit an application and all supporting materials by November 15.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university faculty familiar with the applicant's academic competency and/or professionals in the fields of communication or media production.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the appropriate baccalaureate degree at Temple University.

Applicants educated in China should review the information found on the Graduate School website regarding the submission of education documents to Temple University. See The admissions committee for the Film and Media Arts MFA program will review your materials to determine your admissions status provided the required documentation is submitted in support of your application.

Statement of Goals: In approximately 1,000 to 1,500 words, explain your personal interests, educational aims and professional goals, along with relevant biographical information.

Standardized Test Scores:
Applicants who earned their baccalaureate degree from an institution where the language of instruction was other than English, with the exception of those who subsequently earned a master’s degree at a U.S. institution, must report scores for a standardized test of English that meet these minimums:

  • TOEFL iBT: 100
  • IELTS Academic: 7.0
  • PTE Academic: 68
  • Duolingo: 105

Portfolio: A portfolio is submitted as evidence of creative potential. This usually includes a completed film or videotape accompanied by a cover sheet to explain the applicant's role in the project, including production date, running time, relevant credits, and the conditions and constraints under which it was produced. Other exceptional creative work in writing, art, music, still photography, computer arts, criticism or research scholarship might be appropriate. Such work also may be used to supplement a film or video exhibit. Portfolio materials should be submitted as an online link.

Resume: Current resume required.

Transfer Credit: The Film and Media Arts MFA program accepts graduate credits completed in coursework related to the program. Acceptance of transfer credits is determined solely by the FMA committee. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 11.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 54, with 12-13 required credits and 41-42 concentration-specific credits

Core Courses
FMA 5242Videography4
FMA 5670M.F.A. Colloquium (2 terms)2
FMA 5671Film Theory Seminar 13
Select one critical studies course from the following:3-4
History of Documentary Film
Time-Image Arts/Cinema Praxis
Anthropological Film/Media
Topics in Film Study
Documentary Arts and Visual Research
Topics in Media Studies
Historical Film Research
Critical Studies Seminar
Seminar: International Film
Advanced Topics in Media Arts Studies
U Penn Critical Studies
Methodologies and Praxis
Total Credit Hours12-13

With permission from the Graduate Program Director, Media Arts students may substitute a graduate-level arts- or media-theory course for FMA 5671.

Additional course requirements for each of the three concentrations are identified in the following course grids:

Cinematic Arts: Narrative and Documentary

FMA 5241Cinematography Workshop4
FMA 5361Writing for Media I4
FMA 9245Thesis Development Workshop4
FMA 9246Thesis Production Workshop4
Electives 125-26
Total Credit Hours41-42

May include up to 6 thesis credits taken with the student's thesis committee chair. 

Media Arts

FMA 5674Media Arts Thry-Practice4
Select one content-design and writing course from the following:4
Writing for Media I
Video Game Theory and Writing
Documentary Workshop
Interractive Narrative
Documentary Arts and Visual Research
Select three media arts courses from the following:12
Audio Production and Aesthetics
Animation Workshop
Video Game Theory and Writing
Experimental Methods
Digital Animation
New Technology Laboratory
Interractive Narrative
Digital Post-Production
Electives 121-22
Total Credit Hours41-42

May include up to 6 thesis credits taken with the student's thesis committee chair. 


FMA 5241Cinematography Workshop4
FMA 5361Writing for Media I4
FMA 8362Joint Writing Workshop 14
FMA 8363Joint Writing Workshop 24
Select one from the following: 4
Serial Writing
Writing for Media II
Electives 221-22
Total Credit Hours41-42

May include up to 6 thesis credits taken with the student's thesis committee chair. 

Culminating Events:
Faculty Reviews:
At the end of both the first and second years, students formally present their work to the FMA faculty, who review and evaluate students' work and progress in the program.

Comprehensive Examination:
The MFA program in Film and Media Arts requires a Comprehensive Examination in addition to an MFA thesis. The program is committed to synthesizing theory and practice, allowing students to develop aesthetically and conceptually as makers. The MFA candidate forms a committee of three FMA faculty members (or two FMA faculty and one outside approved member) and works with the committee to design customized areas of inquiry that embody their interests in film studies, media theory or any other field of knowledge relevant to them and their work. Typically, after completing 38 credits of coursework, students write and defend the examination questions, which include two essays and a research-based expanded artist statement.

Thesis Proposal and Defense:
A thesis is a completed stand-alone work that can be:

  • a complete sound, film or video production;
  • a feature film script; or
  • a completed work in an alternative media form, such as computer-generated media, interactive media, installations or newly emerging technologies.

Students develop their thesis project proposal, treatment and/or script during their fourth semester and form a thesis committee at that time, selecting a thesis chair. The thesis committee may comprise FMA faculty entirely or two FMA faculty and one outside member. The student then proposes an MFA thesis. The MFA thesis committee evaluates project proposals individually for rigor, scope, length and other specific criteria prior to the start of production. 

A thesis project must be completed by the date set annually by the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts and Temple University. While it is common and expected for students to develop thesis projects into works for professional public audiences that might entail additional changes after graduation, such as professional color correction, the thesis work must be complete and presentable. Rough versions and drafts with placeholders are not considered complete thesis projects. Upon completion of the MFA thesis, the committee and student hold a public screening or reading of the work.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Film and Media Arts Graduate Admissions

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts/School of Theater, Film and Media Arts

2001 N. 13th Street, 127 Presser Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6016


Fax: 215-204-4957

Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


James Short

Recruitment Coordinator

Graduate Program Director:

Sarah Drury


Chet Pancake