Assistantships, Production Grants & Stipends

A limited number of funding opportunities are available for qualified CDM graduate students. Assistantships are tuition and/or monetary awards based on academic merit, experience in the field, and recommendations. An assistantship typically requires the recipient to perform some service for CDM such as tutoring, grading or lab support.

CDM Awards Three Kinds of Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships

Intended for any degree-seeking (PhD, MS, MA and MFA) graduate student in CDM. A graduate assistantship may include tuition awards for one or more courses per quarter and a small stipend (not sufficient to satisfy the financial requirement for a student visa). Full graduate assistant awards require that the student works 20 hours per week and include two course tuition waivers. Partial awards require that the student works 10 hours per week and include one course tuition waiver.

MFA Assistantships

Intended for any CDM degree-seeking MFA student. An MFA assistantship may include tuition awards for one or more courses per quarter and a small stipend (not sufficient to satisfy the financial requirement for a student visa). Most graduate assistant awards in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) include one course tuition waiver and require that the student works 10 hours per week. Most assistantships are quarterly and may be renewed.

Ph.D. Stipends


Intended for full-time students pursuing a PhD at CDM. All PhD stipends include tuition awards for two courses per quarter plus a living stipend (sufficient to satisfy the financial requirement needed to obtain a student visa). This award requires that the student works 20 hours per week (typically, tutoring or lab support). PhD stipends are primarily intended for new PhD students starting in the fall quarter, and the award decisions are made at the same time that fall quarter admissions decisions are made. However, current PhD students without funding may also apply.

Types Of Duties

Masters’ students are typically assigned tutoring, grading or lab support. Doctoral and MFA students may be involved in tutoring, technical support, lab management, research, producing videos for CDM, stage management, screenwriting conference, film festivals, animation projects or work at Cinespace Studios. Students must re-apply quarterly or yearly.

Graduate Assistantship Application Process

You may apply only if you are a degree-seeking student. Your status is considered "degree-seeking" if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have been admitted as a PhD student at CDM
  • You are pursuing an MS, MA or MFA and you have completed all introductory courses, if required, in your declared program.

Newly admitted students should contact an advisor in the CDM Academic Success Center to discuss the introductory course requirements for their program of study, if applicable, prior to submitting an application for graduate assistantship.

Part 1: Online Application

The application is closed. Notifications regarding your application will be sent no later than June 30th.

Part 2: Recommendations

All applicants must request two recommendations, preferably from CDM faculty. CDM faculty MUST submit their recommendations online. Students should request recommendations verbally or through e-mail and should give the faculty member appropriate lead-time to submit the recommendation before the deadline. If a faculty member has not confirmed that he or she will submit a recommendation, the student is urged to seek another faculty recommendation.

Part 3: Interview

After you have submitted your application, you may be contacted and invited for a short interview with a faculty committee. The goal of this interview will be to assess your technical expertise and communication skills. The interview process is typically utilized when selecting students for tutor positions.

Application Period and Deadlines

The application period for graduate assistantships opens April 1st and closes April 30th. To be considered for an assistantship, the online application AND all letters of recommendation must be submitted by the time the application closes.

The application is now closed. Notifications regarding your application will be sent no later than June 30th.

MFA Assistantship Application Process

You may apply only if you are a degree-seeking student and meet the following criteria:

  • You are an MFA student at CDM and have completed 24 credit hours toward your MFA by the first day of the quarter you are to begin your assistantship. Credit hours earned as an MS student apply.
  • Your cumulative GPA is 3.5 or higher.
  • You have a faculty sponsor.
  • Must be currently enrolled.

Students awarded an MFA assistantship will receive funds quarterly during the application periods specified below.

Note: Most assistantships are quarterly and may be renewable but not guaranteed. Therefore, students must re-apply each quarter.

  • Fall:Apr. 1st – May 2nd
  • Winter:Sept. 15th – Oct. 15th
  • Spring:Jan. 1st – Feb. 2nd

After submission of the application, students may be contacted and invited to interview with a faculty committee to discuss the request. The interview may be necessary to assess your technical expertise and communication skills.

Note: Notifications for Fall assistantships are made after July 1st.

Notifications for Winter and Spring assistantships are made within a month prior to the start of the quarter.

Note: Application period opens April 1st and closes May 2ndPlease visit myCDM to begin the application

MFA Production Grant

MFA Production Grants are intended for students pursuing an MFA at CDM. These grants are used to offset costs related to completing student thesis films. The grants are restricted to projects that have already begun or have finished production, and are to be used primarily for post, sound mix, score and music, color correction, or festival entry fees.

MFA Production Grant Application Process

Only degree-seeking students who meet the following criteria may apply:

  • You are an MFA student at CDM in the Thesis Phase of the program.
  • Have a minimum 3.5 GPA.
  • Must be currently enrolled.
  • In post-production phase of their thesis.

Application Materials

  1. A short narrative describing the status of the project including:
    1. Your vision and inspiration for the project and synopsis of the film.
    2. Cast and crew list.
    3. Work completed to date.
    4. Work still to be completed.
    5. A specific dollar amount requested and how the grant money will be utilized.
  2. A detailed budget of the film. Include a budget top sheet and budget narrative.
    1. The budget narrative should specify in detail the need for each line item and justification of cost.
  3. An online link (such as Vimeo) to select footage from the film. This can be raw footage, a rough cut, a trailer, or a finished film.

Production grant applications are reviewed twice a year. To be considered for a production grant, the application materials must be submitted by the dates specified below.

  • Fall:Sept. 15th – Oct. 15th
  • Winter & Spring:Jan. 1st – Feb. 2nd

After submission of the application, students may be contacted and invited to interview with a faculty committee to discuss the request. The interview may be necessary to clarify issues regarding the application.

The MFA production grants are extremely competitive. The review committee rejects many excellent student proposals due to the high volume and quality. The selection process includes assessing a student’s vision, creativity, ingenuity, technical and narrative execution, and overall promise of the project as a representation of our program. The decisions are based on the merits of each application and the quality of the filmmaking. Prior to the start of each quarter, students will be notified via email of the result of their grant application.

PhD Stipend Application Process

If you are applying to the PhD program, you should submit a separate application form requesting financial aid. The stipend application form must be submitted by the January deadline for fall admission. Notice that only applicants for fall admission will be considered for financial aid.

Current PhD students without a PhD stipend can apply for financial aid by submitting the stipend application form before the January deadline for fall quarter admission. In addition to the stipend application form, the continuing PhD students should also submit:

  • A resume summarizing the research activities and experience to date.
  • 3 recommendation letters, including one from the PhD thesis advisor.
  • A personal statement describing accomplishments during the years the student has been in the program and the student's research plans for the following years.
  • And a list of publications and conference presentations.

Students awarded a PhD stipend will receive funds for a maximum period of five years, including periods funded by other grants.

Application Review and Notification

The assistantships, production grants and stipends are extremely competitive. The review committees reject many students who have high (or even perfect) grade point averages simply due to high volume and quality. Therefore, the selection process tends to focus on the student's technical expertise and/or potential as a tutor. Weight is given to excellent letters of recommendation that explicitly discuss the student's technical expertise and/or potential as a tutor. Prior to the start of the upcoming quarter, students will be notified via email of the result of their application.