Graduate Admissions

Cinema Art + Science - Directing MFA

How To Apply

When applying to the CINEMA ART + SCIENCE - Directing MFA program, you will need to submit the following materials:

  • ONLINE APPLICATION, with application fee
  • SELF-ASSESSMENT ESSAY in which you should address the following:

Your essay should be a concise, truthful, and in-depth investigation of your need to work in a personal medium. The Graduate Faculty Admissions Committee in Cinema Art + Science considers this essay the most important document in your application so it should not be a self-promoting autobiographical account. The focus should be on particular motives, attitudes, and biases that lie behind your urge to create. You should also attempt to define what special interests and strengths you would bring to the program.

  • TWO LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION (Note that recommenders are notified via email once the online application process has begun.)
  • An OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT  from any and all colleges/universities attended
  • WORK SAMPLE: Your work sample will consist of two parts:
    1. Creative Portfolio: Strong work samples contain visual or written materials that demonstrate the potential for successful creative work in Cinema Art + Science. Work samples should exhibit the applicant's creativity, talent, visual storytelling skills, personal themes and depth of content. Work samples/portfolios may include, but are not limited to:  films, videos, sculptures, paintings, drawings, graphic art, photographs, scripts, treatments, poetry, short stories and/or expository writing.
    2. Visualization Project: Construct a narrative story in 8-12 frames; you can draw the pictures, shoot them with a still camera, copy them from the Internet, use a still from a video. The source is not important. What is important is that you use the pictures to tell a clear, cohesive story with a beginning, middle, and end.
      • Use your discretion with explicit imagery; projects will be shared with faculty reviewers.
      • Do not use more than two frames per 8.5x11 page.
  • CINEMA ART + SCIENCE THESIS STATEMENT: Because the Cinema Art + Science - Directing program requires that each student successfully complete pre-thesis projects and a major (up to 10 minutes in length) MFA thesis project, the program requires applicants to include a separate thesis statement in their materials. This is a brief description of an idea you have for a film or a video project that might eventually serve as your graduate thesis. The statement should also include your feelings about why you are compelled to tell the story. It should suggest your creativity and talent, and the potential to develop personal subject matter in the medium. (It will not be binding since your ability to conceptualize such projects will develop through the course of study). The thesis statement should be submitted as a separate sheet (appx. one page) that is typed, double-spaced and labeled: "Cinema Art + Science Thesis Statement." These submissions give the departmental Faculty Admissions Committee an opportunity to assess your maturity, talent, sense of personal viewpoint, initiative, experience, and ability to communicate your ideas—all of which are important for your success in the program.

WORK SAMPLE AND THESIS STATEMENT SUBMISSION METHOD: Your Creative Portfolio Visualization Project, and Thesis Statement can be submitted to us online at* For good image quality and fast upload, your image files should be sized around 1024x768 pixels at 72 dpi. Permitted file types and size limits are:
  > IMAGES: .jpg, .png, .gif — 5 MB per file maximum
  > VIDEO: .mov, .wmv, .flv — 60 MB per file maximum
  > PDF DOCS: .pdf — 10 MB per file maximum

Our Slideroom portal offers additional instructions for submitting work. For technical assistance, visit SlideRoom Support.

*SlideRoom charges users a $10 transaction fee. By using SlideRoom, applicants avoid the expense of copying and mailing their work samples and avoid the risk of corrupted files, lost mail, broken discs, or cross-platform issues. Additionally, applicants can rest assured that the Graduate Committee on Admissions will experience their portfolio exactly how they intended.

PLEASE NOTE: For those who reach the final stage of the admissions process, an interview may be required, usually in March. The department will contact those selcted for the interview directly. All students who are accepted into the Cinema Art + Science – Directing MFA  program are required to complete a three-week pre semester in August.

Cinema Art + Science believes that those undergraduate students who have already completed significant coursework in Cinema Art + Science with Columbia College Chicago's faculty are best served by continuing their graduate study in a new and different academic setting. For this reason, the MFA program in Cinema Art + Science does NOT consider applicants with ten hours or more of Cinema Art + Science coursework from Columbia College. Any exception to this policy would be determined by Graduate Steering Committee of Cinema Art + Science.

International Students

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS must submit all of the above materials, as well as an official TOEFL score and a credential evaluation. Additional documents are required of admitted students. Please visit our International Students page for more information.