The Department of Cinematic Arts and the Department of Journalism and Media Management propose a 54-credit, two-year, MFA degree in Documentary. This new interdisciplinary degree will provide students with skills in non-fiction creative storytelling and knowledge in advanced production and distribution delivered across a range of platforms.

Admission Requirements

A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Portfolios are welcome but not required. (Samples of certain work products are required when submitting an application.)

Curriculum Requirements

Required Coursework
JMM 628Seminar in Visual Storytelling3
JMM 641Advanced Audio Video Narratives3
NEW JMM COURSE: Documentary Photography (Still Photo/Multi-Picture Package)3
NEW JMM COURSE: Public Affairs Research and Reporting3
JMM 614Law and Ethics in Journalism and Media Management3
CCA 658Documentary Production (Cinematic Documentary Production)3
CCA 602Global Issues and Filmmaking3
CCA 629Nonfiction Film (Studies in Documentary)3
NEW CCA COURSE: Writing for the Screen through Editing3
CCA 670The Independent Producer3
Select one course from:3
Introduction to Editing
NEW CCA COURSE: Sound Production and Location Sound
Electives (9 credits) 1
Choose at least 3 credits from CIM, JMM, or IM departments from the list below. 23-6
Seminar in Documentary Production
Introduction to Editing
Science Documentary: Autism
Motion Graphics and Compositing
Advanced Cinematography
Advanced Editing
Sound Design
NEW CCA COURSE: Sound Production and Location Sound
Television News Reporting
Reporting and the Internet
Interactive Storytelling
Travel Writing
NEW JMM COURSE: Documentary Photography (Still Photo/Multi-picture Package)
Building Virtual Worlds
Augmented Reality
Immersive Storytelling
Innovation Design
Internet and Media Activism
Choose three to six credits elective from outside of SoC (course by approval) 23-6
(Examples include Africana Studies, Anthropology, Education, Latin American Studies, Marine Science, Nursing and Health Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, History, Gender and Sexuality Studies.)
Choose one of the combinations below:
Motion Picture Internship
and Internship in Journalism and Media Management
Advanced Projects and Directed Research
and Advanced Projects and Directed Research
Non-ETD Thesis or Project6
MFA Thesis
Multimedia Project
Total Credit Hours54

No elective from above list may be repeated.


Though encouraged to take these electives outside the School of Communication, a student has the option to fulfill one or more of these electives within the the SoC, pending approval of advisor and program director.

Sample Plan of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredit Hours
CCA 658 Documentary Production (Cinematic Documentary Production I) 3
CCA 629 Nonfiction Film (Studies in Documentary) 3
JMM 6## Documentary Photography (Still Photo and Multi-Picture Package) 3
JMM 628 Seminar in Visual Storytelling 3
 Credit Hours12
JMM 641 Advanced Audio Video Narratives 3
JMM 6## Public Affairs Research and Reporting (NEW) 3
CCA 6## Writing for the Screen through Editing (NEW) 3
CCA Elective ((e.g., CCA 620 Cinematography; CCA 630 Introduction to Editing; CCA 6XX Sound Production and Location Sound) 3
 Credit Hours12
CCA 794
CCA 609
Motion Picture Internship
and Legal Aspects of Motion Pictures (Or CCA 799 & JMM 699)
 Credit Hours6
Year Two
CCA 602 Global Issues and Filmmaking 3
CCA 670 The Independent Producer 3
SoC Elective 3
SoC Elective or outside SoC Elective 3
 Credit Hours12
JMM 614 Law and Ethics in Journalism and Media Management 3
3rd Elective (Outside SoC) 1 3
CCA 815 or JMM 815 MFA Thesis
or Multimedia Project
 Credit Hours12
 Total Credit Hours54


There is great urgency to make sense of and accurately communicate the state of our world, to illuminate and explain humanity's most pressing challenges: climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, health care, immigration, gender and racial equality, human rights, and the sustainability of cities and communities. Students are increasingly drawn to documentary as a form of communicating powerful stories while addressing concerns that they care most deeply about. The documentary is a powerful medium that broadens horizons, introduces new ideas, inspires questioning and critical thinking, and takes viewers to unusual places. It has the capacity to transform lives and move people to action for the social good.

By virtue of its commitment to community engagement and distinctive location, the University of Miami is well positioned to offer an interdisciplinary graduate documentary program. This is an ideal home to nurture the next generation of visual storytellers. The aspirations and priorities identified by the University, ranging from environmental sustainability to health care to hemispheric activities, will naturally attract those pursuing a documentary degree.

The MFA in Documentary directly supports the University of Miami’s mission to “strive to transform the world in positive ways through innovative education, impactful research and scholarship, and the translation of knowledge into solutions.” It reinforces our core commitment to the “freedom of inquiry-the freedom to think, to question, to criticize, and to dissent.”


  • Deliver a comprehensive graduate educational experience in Documentary, grounded in a journalistic framework, and provide skills in advanced research and production techniques.
  • Prepare students to enter a rapidly changing business and distribution marketplace for documentary content in many forms and over multiple platforms.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate a depth of knowledge in the legal, historical, theoretical, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions of documentary.
  • Students will understand and display mastery of advanced research skills and video production techniques.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the marketplace for documentary distribution.
  • Students will be able to apply skills, strategies and processes critical to both traditional and independent production: self-distribution, creative packaging and promotion, and incorporating an entrepreneurial orientation.