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.

  • Anu Rana

    Anu is an independent filmmaker, educator, mentor, and program leader who has produced and directed award-winning films internationally. She is the co-director of DePaul’s Collective Futures Lab, on the Steering Committee for the Asian American Documentary Network (ADOC), a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia (BGDM) and the Mezcla Media Collective. Her recent documentary, Musher, premiered at the Oscar-Qualifying Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and is available on PBS, Amazon, and iTunes.

  • 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.

  • Fenell Doremus

    Fenell is an Emmy Award-winning Chicago producer with deep roots in the documentary industry. Getting her start as an assistant editor and post-production coordinator on the critically acclaimed Hoop Dreams, Fenell went on to serve as staff producer at Kartemquin Films for the next eight years. She co-produced the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, broadcast on PBS’ Frontline series. Most recently, Fenell served as consulting producer on the Emmy-nominated Let the Little Light Shine.

  • 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.

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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Ask a Student Ambassador

Colin Lucero-Dixon
MFA in Documentary