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Developing the Documentary

Students enter the program with a project idea to work on throughout the two years. At the start of the first year, students will identify advisors that they would like to work with who will support the content and medium of their project. Throughout the first year, students develop skills, a body of research, and familiarity with theory to support the project. In the last quarter of the first year, students take SOCD 201C: Project Planning to work through the specifics of their documentary.

During the summer between the first and second year, students record, shoot, and document the materials of their project. The second year is concentrated on post-production and editing of the work to develop a cohesive documentary piece; for video projects, the final piece will be about twenty minutes long.

A total of 72 credits is required to complete the master’s degree in social documentation, comprising a combination of seminars on social documentary and social science research designed specifically for the SocDoc students, other courses on campus selected by students individually on the basis of relevance to the proposed project, and cohort courses focused on conceptualizing, executing, and completing the students’ social documentary master’s projects.

Upon graduation, this documentary piece will serve as a “calling card” and finished product. Alums have been able to access finishing funds and see their videos play in film festivals, win awards and gain distribution, while photography alumns have a book, exhibition, and journalism to their credit. Alums in radio and creative non-fiction have gone on to work in these and related fields.

Full details of the requirements of our MFA can be found in the program handbook linked below, as well as the program statement.

PDF icon 2023-24 SocDoc MFA Handbook PDF327.8 KB