All Film and Electronic Media candidates will choose a concentration and complete 6 credit hours in their chosen area starting in the spring of their first year.
If you’re interested in the sustainability of the natural world and related issues—climate disruption, wildlife, environmental justice, overconsumption, biodiversity loss, animal rights, food and agriculture, and a huge array of related topics—you’ll want to choose the Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking concentration.
This concentration is based on the conviction that films and new media are essential educational and policy tools in the struggle to protect the environment and wildlife. You’ll produce media that focus attention on the need to conserve the environment in a way that is effective as well as ethically sound, educationally powerful, and entertaining.
Our students augment their production skills with internships at film and broadcasting companies, nonprofit and advocacy organizations, and government agencies. They go on to find fulfilling careers as producers, directors, editors, cinematographers, educators, marketers, distributors, and outreach specialists at networks such as Discovery and National Geographic, at film companies like JWM and Story House, at nonprofits including the National Wildlife Federation and the National Audubon Society, and at federal agencies like the Department of the Interior and NASA. Some of our graduates have even started their own for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
If you see media as a tool for public knowledge and action; if you want to frame issues to engage, inform, and equip audiences for civic participation and social action; if you believe in the power of media to express identity and build community, the Political, Cultural, and Social Impact concentration is for you.
You’ll have opportunities to produce work that ranges from short-form public education, museum exhibition, and advocacy campaign videos to feature-length films and television specials to new-form interactive transmedia productions.
Our students gain valuable experience through internships at our own Center for Media & Social Impact and Investigative Reporting Workshop, and a diverse range of other media organizations including The Washington Post, the National Museum of American History, The Daily Show, the Newseum, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, Univision, PBS, Women in Film and Video, and the Ad Council. We have alumni working in production, promotion, development, and management at documentary production companies, television stations and cable channels, nonprofit and advocacy organizations, government agencies, national unions, and professional associations as assistant and associate producers, producers, directors, editors, writers, set designers, and cinematographers.
If you're seeking an immersive understanding of the relationship between the building blocks of cinematic storytelling and the business of show, or if you want to learn how the commerce of creativity determines success in the marketplace, the Art in Entertainment concentration will appeal to you.
In this concentration, you'll gain deep knowledge in both the production and aesthetics of films and television. You'll master the tools of the craft such as screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, and editing, while approaching stories as art. At the same time, you'll gain an understanding of the business side of the motion picture industry and explore newer forms of storytelling through game design and rapidly evolving internet platforms.
You can gain the necessary credentials to advance in this highly competitive industry through internships with companies that are leaders in their fields. Our students have found positions with Discovery and National Geographic, as well as Showtime, DreamWorks, Josephson Entertainment, Participant, Wolf Productions, Vertical Ascent, NBC Drama, and Disney Interactive, to name just a few. You’ll be able to put your experience to the test in editing, production management, research and development, publicity, marketing, and more. Or you might choose to leverage your own entrepreneurial dreams as a writer, director, or producer in your own company.
If you want to stretch your capacity as a game designer, developer, or administrator, the Games and Interactivity concentration is what you're looking for. This concentration melds the practice of interactive media with the power of playful engagement. You'll be able to apply your own media making experience and topical interests, whether in politics, science, art, history, marketing, or international studies.
The cross-disciplinary course of study integrates classes from our Film and Media Arts and Game Design programs. You'll master professional skills in photography, sound, story development, editing, emerging media, and digital production and deepen your knowledge of media history and theory and your understanding of industry trends. Our students spend a substantial amount of time and effort implementing games through participation in the School of Communication's Game Lab Studio and through independent creative work.
Our Games and Interactivity concentration will prepare you for a career in a variety of business, educational, and creative contexts within the creative economy.
The Mavis and Sidney John Palmer Scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding graduate student in the School of Communication with an interest in environmental, natural history, or wildlife filmmaking. Scholarship recipients are selected by a faculty committee based on an essay detailing the student's aspirations and interest in the field. Named for the parents of Professor Chris Palmer, the scholarship was established in 2013 by Professor Palmer and his wife Gail Shearer.
Center for Environmental Filmmaking Scholars are chosen annually in order to further the Center's mission to produce the next generation of environmental and wildlife filmmakers. Scholars are selected during the second year of their graduate program, when they have accumulated at least 18 credit hours and are about to embark on their thesis projects.
The Center for Environmental Filmmaking Challenge Prize is an annual competition open to School of Communication second-year graduate students who have overcome (or are overcoming) challenges and adversity in their lives such as poverty, marginalization, racism, or personal tragedy, and who plan to use environmental and wildlife media to influence personal behavior or public policy and make the world a better place.
The Neel Foundation Scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding graduate students in Film and Media Arts whose focus is documentary filmmaking to assist them in completing their films to the appropriate level for them to use in their portfolio of work or enter them in film festivals. This scholarship has been established in honor of Professor John Stephen Douglass.
The Pedas Family Foundation Fund provides scholarship support deserving second- or third-year graduate students with demonstrated financial need and in good academic standing who are studying Film and Media Arts.
Shayla Racquel, SOC/MFA '16
I want the Baby Boomers and millennials to recognize we need each other.
From short films to web series, Shayla builds her stories around everyday life events. She explores what makes us different, but more important, what brings us together. Sometimes that's life milestones, while other times it's a common cause or fight. Inspired by a conversation with her grandmother, her current project is a dialogue between two generations of African Americans and their unique approaches to activism.
MFA in Film and Electronic Media
Our faculty have won Oscars, Emmys, Peabody Awards, and more!
Our MA in Film and Media Arts is a 36-credit, 24-month program that will help you build a solid professional skill set in film, video, and digital media. You’ll acquire professional competencies in scriptwriting, cinematography, lighting, sound recording, and editing, while also learning the historical, conceptual, and aesthetic foundations and frameworks of the art form and the industry.
Our MFA in Film and Electronic Media is a 54-credit, 36-month terminal degree that prepares you to teach at the university level. The focus is more on how meaningful stories are constructed, in an artistic sense, for public knowledge and action. You will also focus your studies in one of four concentrations: Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking; Political, Cultural and Social Impact; Art in Entertainment; or Games and Interactivity.
The Film & Media Arts Division of American University's School of Communication is a leader in visual storytelling and integrating the latest and evolving technologies into production and distribution.
As a result, we are pleased to partner with Apple to provide you with recommendations for your laptop needs. We have an all-digital tapeless production workflow, which means that the central tool for managing media is your computer. Read about the specific computer requirements for this program.
If you have prior experience in visual media, you may be able to waive the required Boot Camp courses: Principles of Video Production and/or Principles of Photography. You will need to submit a written request illustrating relevant coursework or professional experience, and you will be required to pass a waiver exam. Waiving these requirements does not reduce the number of credit hours needed to graduate. Students granted waivers for either or both of these required courses take more advanced coursework to fulfill the necessary academic credits to complete the program.
The School of Communication offers a number of opportunities for hands-on learning that also allow you to showcase your own work. The Visions Awards celebrate the best in student visual work—documentary, fiction, digital and new media, screenwriting, and photography. Our partnership with the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague helps students develop their skills and portfolios in photography and super 16mm or 35mm film. The Center for Environmental Filmmaking inspires a new generation of filmmakers and media experts committed to using media to drive environmental change. And our Center for Media & Social Impact empowers media that matter as an innovation incubator and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact.