Frequently Asked Questions

What Are You Looking For In The Production Sample?

Your “voice.” The ability to surprise. To emotionally engage. We are looking for maturity of subject matter, understanding of character, playfulness with form. Ambition, sensitivity, passion. In short: Potential. You may submit up to 10 minutes of material (either fictional or documentary). Include written summary description for all samples submitted.

Do I Have To Be Proficient Or Knowledgeable In Film/Video Production or Interactive Media To Apply To The Program?

Some previous experience with film/video or interactive media production certainly is a plus, but we are as interested in your imagination, inspiration, and perception as we are in your technical training to date.

Can The Production Sample Be Longer Than 10 Minutes?

Nope. It’s got to be 10. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we can only view 10 minutes from everyone with written summary. You may submit any combination of complete works or excerpts that you want; one complete work; a few complete shorter works; excerpts from several works; still image documentation from one or several installations. Just keep your total under 10 minutes. The one exception: If you are submitting an interactive piece such as a game or website, and the work does not adhere to a linear model, send the piece or link and we will play or view for a maximum of 10 minutes.

What Are You Looking For In The One-Page Statement Of Purpose?

We are looking for a deeper understanding of your background and goals as a mediamaker. You may also address what you hope to learn in this program and/or what you will bring to your peer group. We are looking for YOU in your statement. Don’t write what you think we want to read, write who you are.

Is There Anything Else You Can Tell Me About The Essay Questions?

Choose the one you're most excited to write. Mostly, we just want to see how your mind works and how you view media critically.

Will I Be Able To Take Classes Outside Of Media Production?

Yes. One of the unique features of this MFA program is that it allows students to focus on and/or discover research interests that will help guide and shape the media work they make. As a graduate student, you will be able to (and are encouraged to) take advanced classes through Performance Studies, Art Theory and Practice, Art History, History, Journalism, Theatre, Gender Studies, Screen Cultures, Writing for Screen and Stage, and Media, Technology, and Society. Examples of such classes include Performance of Nonfiction, Theory and History of Documentary and Ethnographic Film, Black Visual Culture: Race and Representation, Gender Sexuality and Film, and American Cultural History. Note: Admission to all classes is at the discretion of the instructor or program director, and classes must be approved for graduate credit.

Will Any “Specialized” Media Production Courses Be Offered?

Yes, a variety of “topics” courses are offered every year. Some examples of past courses include Documentary of Place, Interactive Comics, Computer Animation, Making Reality TV, Webisodes, Directing Actors for the Screen, and SFX Cinematography.

Who Will My Teachers Be?

Depending on the classes you elect to take, your teachers will most likely vary each quarter. Northwestern teachers are working mediamakers with a wealth of experience and anecdotes. They understand the craft and business of media production as well as the life of media producers.

I've Heard Of Something Called The "Northwestern Mafia"... Is There Really Such A Thing?

Well, not in the literal sense, but Northwestern alumni are known for their generosity, warmth, and willingness to “give back.” Other qualities Northwestern alumni are known for: helping new arrivals to LA or NY find jobs or even apartments; recommending their peers and colleagues for jobs, grants, fellowships; building a strong sense of community; adhering to the belief that “when one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

Is The GRE Required?

No. Mediamakers can be unconventional. Some don’t test well but still have tremendous potential. We emphasize the production sample, statement of purpose, and essay question over tests.

How Much Is Tuition? How much financial assistance can I expect?

Our tuition next year will be approximately $50,000. Financial assistance includes substantial tuition reduction for the first year of enrollment, approximately 10 percent. You are guaranteed at least one quarter of teaching, teaching assistantship, or research assistantship during your second year of enrollment. When you are TAing, you do not pay tuition.

Other Questions

Email docmedia@northwestern.edu or call 847-467-4696. We look forward to speaking to you.

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