Master in Motion Pictures & Television

Academy of Art University

Program Description

Master in Motion Pictures & Television

Academy of Art University

The School of Motion Pictures & Television's MFA program offers advanced, multifaceted study of the film arts. Areas of emphasis include story structure, cinematography, directing, editing, and various producing aspects. Students produce a reel of work that reflects their refined talent and professional readiness.

MFA Motion Pictures & Television Unit Requirements

  • Major 27 units
  • Directed Study 18 units
  • Graduate Liberal Arts 12 units
  • Electives 6 units

TOTAL 63 units

MFA Motion Pictures & Television Degree Requirements

  • Successful completion of Final Thesis Project
  • Minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA
  • Minimum grade of C in all required 63 units

MFA Program Learning Outcomes

Graduate students will meet the following student performance criteria:

MFA Thesis Project

  • Propose a thesis worthy of the MFA degree
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the thesis
  • Complete an approved body of work which represents an advanced level of achievement in their area of focus (cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design, or screenwriting)


Apply their specialty skills to communicate stories and ideas effectively in films


Conduct necessary research for film projects.

Communication Skills

  • Explain their projects and thesis proposal clearly and specifically to a review committee, using professional terminology.
  • Produce comprehensive Midpoint and Final Review Books that include all required elements for their focus area.

Collaboration Skills

Demonstrate evidence of working in creative teams on multiple projects.

Professional Readiness

  • Create a compelling demo reel or portfolio to market themselves for industry opportunities (as appropriate to their professional goals).
  • Develop marketing plans for their careers.

Specialty Skills: Cinematography

  • Work effectively with various film and digital cameras, lenses and accessories.
  • Design and execute creative lighting schemes and choices that serve the story.
  • Apply principles of composition and camera movement to enhance the story (working with the director).

Specialty Skills: Directing

  • Guide a crew in preproduction, production, and postproduction to execute effective choices that serve the story.
  • Elicit engaging and believable performances from actors.

Specialty Skills: Editing

  • Demonstrate proficiency in the technical skills involved in editing.
  • Creatively problem-solve to assemble scenes and sequences that generate interest and emotional impact.
  • Organize the proper workflow and demonstrate basic trouble shooting skills and professional responsibility.
  • Apply high level analytical skills to make creative decisions about such areas as editing for performance of an actor, genre cutting and stylistic elements.

Specialty Skills: Producing

  • Acquire or originate and develop material on two approved projects, acting as creative producer; OR
  • Assemble the creative team and produce 6 television spec commercials for multiple professional clients in close collaboration with the School of Advertising; OR
  • Assemble the creative team and produce 3 spec music videos for professional recoding companies and their contract performers.
  • Supervise complex film projects from development through exhibition, ensuring delivery requirements have been met.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with negotiating film contracts (for actors, crew, locations, equipment, lodging, transportation, and catering).
  • Demonstrate understanding of the legal aspects of film production, including copyrights, trademarks, music licensing, working with minors, unions, finance and distribution.
  • Demonstrate understanding of film marketing including market research, target audience, promotional tie ins and product placement, press kits, and social marketing. Supervise appropriate publicity campaign.

Specialty Skills: Production Design

  • Competently communicate design concepts through basic drawing skills and visual presentations
  • Collaborate with the cinematographer and director to develop a cohesive visual style
  • Assemble and lead art department crews
  • Effectively manage department budgets
  • Design effective sets and locations including creating and dressing sets, choosing locations, and selecting and managing props
  • Supervise day to day operations of the art department, set decorations, props, and locations; oversee costume, hair, and make-up design to support the “look” of the film set design, locations, props, costuming, hair/make-up to ensure visual continuity in the film
  • set design, locations, props, costuming, hair/make-up to ensure visual continuity in the film

Specialty Skills: Screenwriting

Write shorts and features that demonstrate compelling story and character development. Pitch their stories effectively.

Visit to learn more about total costs, median student loan debt, potential occupations and other information. Accredited Member WSCUC, NASAD, CIDA (BFA-IAD, MFA-IAD), NAAB (B.ARCH*, M.ARCH), CTC (California Teacher Credential). Acting degree program is currently not offering online courses. **B.ARCH is currently in candidacy status.

All international students will require a VISA to enter the US and an OPT application to extend their stay after graduation. Selecting a STEM approved program allows for the benefit of being able to apply for an extended 24-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) stay to work in the country after graduation.

The following Academy majors qualify for the 24-month STEM Extension: Advanced Architectural Design; Advertising; Advertising & Branded Media Technology; Animation & Visual Effects; Architecture; Architectural Design; Art Education; Communications & Media Technologies; Game Development; Game Programming; Graphic Design; Graphic Design & Digital Media; Industrial Design; Interior Architecture & Design; New Media & Web Design. For more information on approved STEM programs, how to apply, and more common questions about studying as an international student at the Academy of Art University, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page here.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 21, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus or Online
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
Full time
982 USD
USA - San Francisco, California
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
USA - San Francisco, California
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
per unit - 3 units per class.