2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Feb 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog

Film, MFA

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Kara Herold, Program Coordinator
102 Shaffer Art Building, 315-443-1033, kherold@syr.edu


Gabrielle Demeestere, Joe Gabriel, Kelly Gallagher, David Hicock, Alex Mendez-Giner, Soudabeh Moradian, Nancy Keefe Rhodes, Sandy Siquier, Mišo Suchý, Stewart Thorndike, Matthew Warne


The M.F.A. in film is an advanced degree for filmmakers, earned in preparation for a professional career. The program emphasizes two things equally: creative production in dramatic, experimental, and documentary forms, and film studies (notably theory, criticism, and history). Production courses and academic courses are integrated throughout, and this intense mingling of theory and practical application results in a lively interchange of ideas and a viable transferring of ideas into action.

The program meets professional and educational needs in experimental and dramatic film production. The complementary curriculum structured for the degree in film is unique, and courses are offered throughout the year, including some summer sessions.

A minimum of 60 credits is required in film, including a thesis film and project paper. Prerequisites for all students are two semesters of film history, one semester of film theory, and one semester of 16mm film. Candidates must also take whatever undergraduate courses are needed to correct deficiencies in their previous training. No entrance exams are required, but applicants must submit a portfolio and arrange for a personal interview with the program head if applying for a fellowship or assistantship. Phone interviews may be acceptable when circumstances warrant. A residence of three years is normally required to complete the program.

The film production facilities include 4K cutting edge digital film cameras, digital RAW-enabled recorders, professional film lenses, Super 16mm analog film cameras, a large array of location lighting including state-of-the-art HMI, Flourescent and LED lights such as Arri M18 HMI, Arri Skypanels, Joker HMI Fresnels, and Kino-Flo Banks, among many others. We also have professional mounting gear, a studio dolly, car mounts and gimbals.

Our non-linear editing facilities are 4K ready, equipped with the Adobe Creative Cloud, Da Vinci Resolve, and other professional software.  Our color grading facilities are equipped with a Flanders Scientific broadcast monitor and professional grading controls. We also have two top-notch sound mixing studios as well as a lighting studio and green screen.

M.F.A. degree candidates are required to produce three films; the third film is their thesis project. All M.F.A. degree candidates are required to screen and discuss their work at an annual portfolio review and in original graduate student showcases.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Conceptual Skills: Demonstrate a broad set of skills in Film that allow a student to understand abstract ideas and complicated processes while also think creatively

2. Critical Thinking: Analyze theoretical, critical and historical thoughts and concepts clearly and effectively through film

3. Professional Practice: Demonstrate professional practice skills through projects in Film

4. Filmmaking Proficiency: Produce quality films that demonstrate a cohesive and compelling production, appropriate to the medium while effectively managing the resources and logistics to produce a film

5. Technical Skills: Demonstrate technical proficiency involving process or technique knowledge in film production and directing

Program Requirements

Major Studio: 24 credits

Studio Electives: 12 credits

Art History or related academics: 9 credits

Free Electives: 6 credits

Final Presentation: 3 credits

Total Credits Required: 60

Length of Residency: 3 years

Degree Awarded: MFA in Film

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