Graduate Admissions

Cinema Art + Science - Directing MFA

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Enrolled Part-Time?
This is an intensive, hands-on filmmaking program. The first five semesters require 12 or 9 credit hours of study, which is considered full time. Students may go part time in the final semester of the program.
When Do Classes Meet?
In the first year, students will generally have class four days/week. On some days, there may be an evening class after one of the daytime classes. There are no weekend courses, but students are expected to be working over the weekend on pre-production, production and post-production.
How Is the Program Structured?
This 52-credit MFA program focuses on the role of the writer/director in film/video production over the course of two years, beginning with an intensive 6-credit summer semester starting in August.
What Kind of Background Does a Successful Applicant Typically Have?
The MFA Program in Cinema Art + Science - Directing is looking for talented individuals who have stories to tell and the creative vision and the desire to express them. We are looking for artists who will create work that is authentic, diverse, and invokes the human experience.  We also look for qualities such as commitment, maturity, tenacity, self-awareness, and the ability to collaborate.  We welcome people from other fields; filmmaking experience is not necessary. The required creative submission may be from artistic disciplines other than filmmaking--including creative writing, photography, graphic and fine arts, performing arts.
Are There Any Program-Specific Scholarships Available?
The department awards MFA students the Lumiere Award (a stipend for first year students) and the Rosebud Award (partial tuition waivers for continuing students). These awards do not require a special application and are appointed by graduate faculty members. Cinema Art + Science also offers project-funding reimbursement award called the Production Fund. This resource is dedicated to assisting advanced projects that are being produced by undergraduate and graduate students. The maximum award per project is $3,000.

For a complete listing of College-wide scholarships, click here.

Who Are the Core Faculty?
For a listing, click here.
What Facilities Are Available to Your Students?
Cinema Art + Science students have access to our state-of-the-art professional production studios, the Media Production Center (MPC). Designed for form, function and sustainability, this 35,500-square-foot South Loop facility includes:
  • Two professional soundstages (7,300 square feet and 2,200 square feet) which allow Cinema Art and Science students to experience the culture of high-end studio film production both by observation from soundstage bleachers and eventually by hands-on participation
  • A 2,000-square-foot Motion Capture Studio for the creation of 2D and 3D film and gaming allows students to better understand and visualize human movement using sophisticated 12-camera motion capture technology at professional industry standards. The Motion Capture Studio was designed to integrate state-of-the-art learning technologies with the study of 3D computer animation, digital filmmaking and game arts.
  • An animation lab and a high-tech set of classrooms, provides students with industry-leading technology for development of computer-aided design and animation
  • Four “wired” classrooms with fiber optic technology to link the soundstages and Motion Capture Studio to classes, including the camera-eye-view, so that students can learn from the processes being conducted elsewhere in the facility in real time
  • A fully equipped, 2,000-square-foot Production Shop with loading dock for the design, construction and delivery of set pieces


  • Our Post Production facilities include Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Studio suites, several Mac labs, Avid Xpress Pro suites, Symphony Nitris, 35mm KEM, and an advanced graphics lab. Other software includes:  Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.  We also have a Machine Room for several formats for digitizing and duplication, a telecine, and Assistant Editor facilities.
  • Our Post Production Sound Facilities include a fully equipped Foley and ADR stage, 3 Surround Re recording stages (5.1 compatible), a 15 workstation Pro Tools lab, 4 Edit / Mix suites (5.1 compatible), an Adv. transfer suite with multiple Time coded machine mediums, an integrated Machine room that interconnects between the entire facility and the 6th floor Picture Post Machine room, a large SFX library server providing SFX and Music to nearly 26 workstations.
  • We have a Documentary Center, a Screenwriting Center, and a 260-seat theater for special events and screenings.
  • We have many film and digital video camera packages and a full range of lighting and grip equipment that includes tungsten, Kino, and HMI lights.
Who Are Some Noteworthy Alumni?
  • Navid Mcilhargey received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago. After interning at Jodie Foster’s Egg Pictures, he moved to Los Angeles where he started in the mailroom at United Talent Agency. He moved on to Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios company in 2000, and eventually oversaw White Chicks, Peter Pan, and developed the upcoming Zoom’s Academy, Black Water Transit and many others. He started with Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures in 2004 and has developed many large scale sci-fi and action scripts including Echelon Conspiracy (Dark Castle Entertainment), Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla (Warner Bros.) and Ritchie’s recently announced The Gamekeeper (Silver, Warner Bros.).
  • As Executive Vice President, Documentary Films, Columbia MFA graduate Diane Weyermann is responsible for Participant Media’s documentary films. Participant's latest documentaries include the Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for “Superman" and Lucy Walker’s Countdown to Zero”. Other projects include CASINO JACK and the United States of Money, the Oscar®-nominated Food, Inc., the Emmy-nominated Pressure Cooker, Climate of Change, Standard Operating Procedure, Chicago 10, Angels in the Dust, Jimmy Carter Man From Plains, Darfur Now and the Oscar®-winning An Inconvenient Truth.  Prior to joining Participant in October 2005, Weyermann was the Director of the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program. During her tenure at Sundance, she was responsible for the Sundance Documentary Fund, a program supporting documentary films dealing with contemporary human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and freedom of expression from around the world. She launched two annual documentary film labs, focusing on the creative process--one dealing with editing and storytelling, and the other with music. Diane was also part of the Sundance Film Festival programming team, where she was instrumental in creating a platform for international documentary work and responsible for programming the documentary content of the Filmmaker Lodge activities. Weyermann’s work in the documentary and international fields extends many years prior to Sundance. She was the Director of the Open Society Institute New York's Arts and Culture Program for seven years. In addition to her work with contemporary art centers and culture programs in the Soros Foundation network, which spans over 30 countries, she launched the Soros Documentary Fund (which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund) in 1996. Since the inception of the Fund, she has been involved with the production of over 300 documentary films from around the world.
  • Hank Chilton has worked with Nip/Tuck since 2004 as Writer, Story Editor, Co-Producer, Supervising Producer, and most recently as Director.
  • Maura Corey has worked as an Editor for several television series such as What I Hate About Me, The Biggest Loser, and America’s Got Talent. She has been nominated for Emmys in 2001, 2003, and 2005 for various editing projects for the Annual Academy Awards.
  • Marisol Torres’ debut feature Boricua screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2004 and was distributed by Universal.  Marisol made a documentary in Iraq in 2005 and directed episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Law and Order from 2005-2009.

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