M.F.A. Documentary Film

Situated in the Department of Art & Art History as part of Stanford’s program in Film and Media Studies, the Master of Fine Arts program in documentary production provides a historical, theoretical, and critical framework within which students master the conceptual and practical skills for producing nonfiction film and video.

  • The M.F.A. degree is designed to prepare students for professional careers in film, video, and digital media. Graduates are qualified to teach at the university level. The philosophy of the program is predicated on a paradigm of independent media that values artistic expression, aesthetics, social awareness, and an articulated perspective. Students become conversant with the documentary tradition as well as with alternative media and new directions in documentary. In addition to the training in documentary production, students graduate from the program with substantive research skills in film criticism and film analysis. The non-production courses provide an intellectual and theoretical framework within which creative work is realized. The dual emphasis on production and theory classes fully prepares the student to undertake an academic position that typically requires the teaching of both film studies and media production.


    The Hollywood Reporter recently listed Stanford as one of the "Top 25 Film Schools of 2013".  In an article appearing in Frontrunner Magazine, Leslie Tai ('13) talks about her Spring film Grave Goods.  The School of Humanities and Sciences has featured graduate students Rebekah Meredith ('11) and Maria Fortiz-Morse ('10) talking about the program.  Jan Krawitz, director of the program, was interviewed for the article "Should Aspiring Documentary Filmmakers Go To Film School?" on the POV website.  Also, here is an article written by the San Francisco Film Society about the program and the 2010 Fall MFA Screening.


    Campus Visits


    In the Fall, we hold several informational meetings so that we can familiarize you with the documentary program and answer any questions you might have. We understand that for many applicants a visit is not feasible, so please be assured that those applicants who we do meet are not privileged in the application process.

    During the visit, you can meet with faculty members, have a tour of the facilities, and view recent student work. Prospective students should plan to be here for 2 1/2 hours. These visits may occur before the application or once you have applied, but must be scheduled in advance.  Please follow this link to sign up for an available date.


The French Ambassadors of King Henry II at the court of the English King Henry VIII

Oil on canvas

Holbein, Hans the Younger (1497-1543)

Photo credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

J'al des papillons noir tous les jours

Silk, paper, plexiglass, lights, electronics, 2800 bug pins

Gail Wight

Off the Charts: the Song-Poem Story

A film by Jamie Meltzer

Courtesy: Joshua Forney

Nesting Nautilus


Laser-cut plywood

John Edmark