MFA in Film and Television Production

MFA in Film and Television Production

NOTE: The MFA in Film and Television Production accepts applications for admissions for the fall semester only: The application deadline for application to the web portal is Feb. 1st.

This graduate program is designed for candidates who have the creative/artistic potential, discipline, and organizational skills to complete original, provoking, and significant narrative, documentary or digital production work at a professional (or near professional) craft level during their course of study in the program. While previous academic achievement is desirable, such accomplishments are only one indication of a candidate’s potential for success. Beyond the general University application, these guidelines indicate the additional materials that applicants must provide to the department. These materials must be received by March 1, and are submitted online at Interfolio

Review the Graduate Degree Learning Outcomes

How to Apply

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the requirements outlined below that applicants for graduate study at SDSU submit scores for the GRE are suspended for the Fall 2022 admission cycle.

The Fall 2023 application deadlines are

    • Apply to the university using CalState Apply.
    • Please note: After you apply, you will receive your SDSU Red ID—Your Red ID is required to submit your program application.
    • Create an Interfolio account and complete the program application. Here, you will submit materials required by the program—e.g., essays, writing samples, letters of recommendation.
    • These materials must be received by April 1, and are submitted online at Interfolio.
  4. Personal Statement: A short (2-3 pages) essay (separate from the application form) detailing your creative and career goals, and how you think this program will benefit you.
  5. A resume to include any film and/or video production experience you have had. (Note: if you come from a discipline other than media, we strongly advise you to acquire basic training either in community college media courses or one of the many intensive media production training programs offered across the country. At minimum, you will need to provide tangible evidence of your craft skill level).
  6. A story treatment for a short film, either narrative or documentary. This should not be for a blockbuster productions, but rather to give us an idea of the kind of film you would like to make as a graduate student.
  7. Three letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional sources who can speak to your ability to achieve artistically and creatively in Media Production. These letters may be included in your application in sealed envelopes, signed over the seal by the respective writers.
  8. Creative samples fo your work. Film and video work that you have had a major role in are preferred (writer/director, cinematographer, editor, sound designer, production designer). Credits must be clearly indicated. Even though long work may be submitted, expect that about 10 minutes of the work provided will be viewed, so cue, or specify appropriate cueing, where necessary. Other creative samples might include a sample of original textual work (play, story, or screenplay for writers/directors) or visual material (drawings, storyboards, designs, or studio photography that may reflect lighting, framing, or composition skills).You may also submit scripts, treatments, artwork, or any other example you think would help us evaluate your potential as a film maker to the additional documents section of the application.
  • The best way to submit your video work is though a link to a website such as Vimeo or YouTube. Please make sure any necessary passwords are included with the link. You may also upload files directly to the Interfolio site, but make sure you are aware of the format and file size requirements as outlined on the site.
  • If the applicant prefers they may send a hard copy of the work on DVD or USB flash drive directly to:

David Morong, Graduate Advisor
School of Theatre, Television, and Film
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182-76013.

NOTE: If you are an international student, there are several additional procedures you will need to complete, including:

  • A phone or skype interview (short list candidates only) to determine English skill level.
  • Achieving a TOFEL of at least 550 (paper-based), 213 (Online), or 80 (Internet-based).
  • Providing proof of degree awarded in your first language
  • Completing a Financial Statement.
  • The SDSU Graduate Admissions Office will evaluate your transcripts.


The SDSU website has a very clear checklist of the application procedure here: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for this application.

NOTE: The School of Theatre, Television and Film requires a Minimum grade point average of 3.0 (when A equals 4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted (this calculation may not include lower division courses taken after award of a baccalaureate degree).

Once the file is complete the School of Theatre, Television and Film will make an admission recommendation to the Graduate Admissions Office, who will render final approval. If the recommendation is for admission, and the student has a deficient GPA, a letter of support from the Graduate Advisor must accompany the Department Recommendation form stating the reason for the exception. If approved, you will be accepted on a provisional basis. Graduate Admissions will send you official notification as to your admission or denial at a later date. With rare exceptions, Graduate Admissions accepts the recommendation of the Graduate Advisor.

Information about all state, federal, and institutional aid programs is available from the Financial Aid Office. Call (619) 594-632 for more information.

Please note that the CalState Apply application deadline is March 1st. Ideally, all materials should be received by this date, but as is often the case, some items, such as GRE scores or recommendation letters trickle in a bit late. So, the absolute deadline by which all materials (GRE scores, resumes, applicant statements, etc.) must be received is April 1st.


For international applicants for whom English is not their first language, a TOEFL paper score of 550 (80 for internet-based) or higher is required. Students who reach our short list can expect to be interviewed by phone or skype before a final decision is made. In the case to international students for whom English is not their first language, this interview also serves to determine oral language proficiency.

Applicants from other disciplines or with no Formal Training: 


Occasionally, students from other disciplines or academic backgrounds other than television and film inquire about application to the TFM Program. For these students, it should be pointed out that a critical component in the application package is the portfolio – the strongest evidence you can offer of your artistic, creative and craft potential. The selection committee looks specifically for originality of concept and treatment, ability to shape narrative material with skill and nuance, and the level of craft skill. The TFM Masters Program seeks applicants whose aspirations and talents fall under the rubric “Independent Filmmaking.” While the portfolio most often takes the form of film/video sample, some submit screenplays, storyboards or other evidence of skill and creativity with respect to the moving image; but it
should be stressed that we prefer evidence of motion image art.

It is highly recommended that the prospective applicant with no formal media training be able to demonstrate experience or familiarity with the production process. Most successful applicants coming from other academic disciplines have worked on a film or TV crew, or have enrolled in a special course or courses in a community college or a professional training program. Appropriate courses might include courses in film production, video production, non-linear editing, lighting, audio production, or courses in directing for the camera. Such courses generally afford the applicant an opportunity to produce a respectable portfolio piece that can be included in the TFM application package.

David Morong



It should be emphasized from the outset that the TFM Graduate Program stresses hands-on creative endeavor in the context of independent filmmaking. Ultimately, it is the student’s artistic achievement that will determine success in this program. All incoming TFM Graduate Students start in the fall semester with the same curriculum, and thus form a tightly knit group. The collaborative alliances students form in the first two semesters are very likely to extend through their graduate careers (and beyond) and strongly influence the success of their creative work in the program. These alliances are not necessarily limited to other graduate students; there are many talented and industrious undergraduates who support crew production.

Overview of the Curriculum

Your production work will be linked to the courses you take, with several independent or “Special Studies” courses available to you. Over the course of your graduate studies, you are required to take a total of 54 graduate units (18 3-unit courses), culminating with a directed thesis project (TFM 790). You may, of course, take more than 54 units, but only 54 will count towards your degree (you, with the advice of the Graduate Advisor, will designate which 54). Graduate courses are considered those with a 601level catalogue number or higher. Courses with a 500 level number are advanced undergraduate
courses. You will be allowed to take certain 500 level classes for graduate credit. This is an attractive option for most of our graduate students since many of these undergraduate classes offer valuable craft skill content. As you will learn, you can use various “clerical workarounds” to take additional lower division undergraduate courses (those with numbers below 500). Moreover, you are allowed to take up to six Special Studies courses (3 TFM 798 courses and 3 THEA 795 courses) for graduate credit (see “electives” below). Finally, you may take up to three courses in departments outside the School for Masters credit. As you can see, we offer an unusually flexible “elective-heavy” curriculum designed to support ongoing creative productivity.

To check the current course offerings, go to

Just select the appropriate calendar and click 
on it. Under “Class Schedule” in the upper left corner of the page, click on the department you would like to see. (TFM or THEA, for example). To see our program listings, go to “TFM.”

Normally, TFM graduate students are expected to take 9-12 units per semester (3-4 classes) in order to graduate in three years. In their third year students may take only 6 units, in order to concentrate on their thesis project. TFM graduate students may extend beyond the expected three years in order to complete thesis projects. Although technically you are allowed up to six years to complete your program of study and your thesis project, going beyond a third year is strongly discouraged.

Degree Requirements:

Specific Requirements for the Master of Fine Arts Degree

Candidates for the Master of Fine Arts degree in film and television production must complete 54 units of coursework to include the following:

1. Core preparation courses comprised of fifteen (15) units, Television, Film and New Media 601,610, 605, 625, and 670.

2. Six (6) units of production electives selected from TFM 522,540,621,627, and 662.

3. Nine (9) units of critical studies electives selected from TFM 530, 563, 571 and 573.

4. Nine (9) units of Capstone Project Preparation. TFM 675 and 790.

5. With approval of the graduate adviser, fifteen (15) additional graduate units in Television, Film and New Media, Theatre, and other departments.


6. No more than nine (9) units of electives outside the School of Theatre, Television, and Film

Core Preparation

- TFM 601 - Business Aspects of Film, 3 units
- TFM 605 - Seminar: Production for Television and Film, 3 units
- TFM 610 - Seminar in Writing for Television and Film, 3 units
- TFM 625 - Seminar: Writing Short Narrative and Documentary Films, 3 units
- TFM 670 - Seminar: Midway Review Production, 3 units

Production Electives

Select 6 units from the following:

- TFM 522 - Advanced Film and Television Cinematography, 3 units
- TFM 540 - Documentary Production, 3 units
- TFM 621 - Sound Design for Film, 3 units
- TFM 627 - Film Editing and Postproduction, 3 units
- TFM 662 - Scene-Based Film Production, 3 units

Critical Studies Requirement

Select 9 units from the following:

- TFM 530 - Selected Topics in Genre Studies for Television and Film, 3 units
- TFM 563 - Documentary: History and Theory, 3 units
- TFM 571 - Selected Topics in Director Studies, 3 units
- TFM 573 - Selected Topics in History of Film, TV, and Media, 3 units

Capstone Experience Preparation

- TFM 675 - Seminar: Research and Bibliography in Media Production, 3 units
- TFM 790 - Portfolio/Examination Preparation, 6 units


Select 15 units from the following:

- TFM 522 - Advanced Film and Television Cinematography, 3 units
- TFM 550 - Art Direction for Television and Film, 3 units
- TFM 551 - Production Design for Television and Film, 3 units
- TFM 559 - Digital Design for Film and Stage, 3 units
- TFM 560 - Advanced Film, 3 units
- TFM 561 - Advanced Television, 3 units
- TFM 563 - Documentary: History and Theory, 3 units
- TFM 590 - Directing for Film and Television, 3 units
- TFM 596 - Selected Topics in Television, Film and New Media, 1-4 units
- TFM 621 - Sound Design for Film, 3 units
- TFM 627 - Film Editing and Postproduction, 3 units
- TFM 662 - Scene-Based Film Production, 3 units
- TFM 499 - Special Study, 3 units
- TFM 610 - Seminar in Design Aesthetics for Theatre, Television, and Film, 3 units

*May be repeated once for credit

+May be taken for a total of 9 credits

For additional curriculum details, please consult the following:
Graduate Bulletin

For more information, contact the Academic Advisor:

David Morong