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MFA Documentary Film and Video

doc film students with cameras and in class


White Earth by J. Christian Jensen (Class of 2013).


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.

Program Overview

The MFA 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.

Size of the Program

The Department admits 8 students each year to this program.

Time to Completion

Two years; students are required to be in residence at Stanford for the full two years of the program.

Financial Aid

Documentary Film graduate students normally receive some amount of fellowship support. Work-study funding is also sometimes available for qualified students. If admitted, you will be notified of any tuition fellowship we are able to offer for your first year of study. Additional information about graduate financial aid, including a student budget and tuition calculator are available at

More Information

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