Master of Fine Arts Documentary

This demanding MFA program equips aspiring documentary filmmakers with both a deep understanding of the documentary genre and strong skills in film production. The curriculum integrates knowledge of documentary’s history, styles, traditions, affinity for research and development, and varied approaches to storytelling and production with high production values, effective post-production, and the ability to take creative work to its audiences.

Degree Requirements

Study in Chicago

We see the world as your stage and we love our location. Chicago is home to one of the most involved and connected documentary communities across the nation and DePaul’s faculty has deep connections with production powerhouses like Kartemquin Educational Films (The Interrupters, Hoop Dreams, Life Itself), The Kindling Group (Radical Grace, The Calling, @Home) and Towers Productions. Come tour our urban campus to see for yourself the unique advantage we have in bringing the industry to you.

  • Brenda Robinson

    Brenda is an entertainment attorney and producer. She has acted as production counsel and executive producer for numerous documentary and feature film projects as well as scripted and unscripted television programming. Brenda is also a partner in Gamechanger Films, an equity fund and content development company that finances and produces feature films and television series by women and diverse storytellers.

  • Dana Kupper

    Dana has traveled the globe as a documentary cinematographer, working on such highly regarded films as the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself and American Creed. Her work has won a Best Cinematographer award at Sundance and has aired nationally.

  • Susanne Suffredin

    Susanne is an editor and filmmaker whose 30-year career spans nonfiction, narrative, and commercial genres with a keen emphasis on long-form documentaries. Her work has screened at major festivals including Sundance and Cannes and includes titles like Hoop Dreams and Count Me In.

DOC NYC Documentary New Leader

Anu helping a student

Associate Professor and Documentary Co-Chair Anu Rana was selected for DOC NYC’s Documentary New Leaders initiative, which honors individuals whose efforts and fresh thinking on distribution, sales, festivals, and marketing bring greater inclusion and equity to the field. This program is co-presented by A&E.

two ladies on stage conversing  

Verité Conference

Each year for two days, documentary filmmakers gather at the School of Cinematic Arts to teach free masterclasses on the technical, creative, and ethical aspects of their work, as well as participate in professional panels and screen their films.

using an digital camera  

Production Resources

Student resources, including our Production Office and equipment Centers housed at both the Loop Campus and DePaul Cinespace Studios, are the gateways to film and television production needs like cameras, casting, or permits.


Big Shoulders Film Festival

The annual Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival, held at the CDM Theater in downtown Chicago, is dedicated to presenting the work of innovative student filmmakers from around the world. DePaul students actively participate in organizing the festival, selecting the films, and hosting the event.


Study Abroad: Bollywood

Offered biennially, this three week Study Abroad program allows students to study India and its culture through documentary filmmaking. Students collaborate with an NGO under the guidance of filmmakers located in the heart of Bollywood and create an original visual media project while exploring the Taj Mahal, the palaces and forts of Jaipur, and the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri.

film crew filming on beach  

Project Bluelight

Project Bluelight is a professional, educational, and community outreach program where students receive hands-on experience in motion picture production. One of the most recent projects, A Place to Call Home, focuses on the work of Depaul USA to create awareness and understanding of the challenges of the chronically homeless and the importance of providing permanent supportive housing to this population most in need.

interviewer with 2 guests 

Visiting Artists Series

This series brings innovative practitioners and industry leaders to the DePaul campus for film screenings, on-stage conversations, and professional panels. Students are given the opportunity to have direct and meaningful contact with established and emerging innovators and professionals in the field.

Application Deadlines

Enrollment QuarterDomestic Student DeadlineInternational Student Deadline
Fall (Priority Deadline)December 15December 15
Fall (Final Deadline)May 15May 15

Admission Process

The graduate application process involves completing an online application, sending in your transcripts and submitting any supplemental material (e.g., letters of recommendation, certifications, etc.). To learn more about your program specific requirements, visit our Graduate Admission page.

Admission Requirements

Contact Graduate Admission

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