M.F.A. in Science and Natural History Filmmaking

The Master of Fine Arts Program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University is the largest and best known of only three programs in the world dedicated to this unique and rewarding field of filmmaking.  Students in the program have had their work broadcast on many major channels and programs such as The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The Science Channel, CNN, Sixty Minutes II, Larry King, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News.

Students have produced films for the National Park Service, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, NOAA, NASA, National Geographic, Discovery, and such non-profit organizations as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, the Field Museum and the Boston Museum of Science.  Students’ work has also been featured in numerous festivals internationally.

Our students have won EMMYS, been awarded Fulbright scholarships, a Fred Rogers Scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Webby awards, and many other honors. The students have documented the work of explorers and scientists on every continent in the world. The graduate student podcast and website TERRA: THE NATURE OF OUR WORLD  (http://www.lifeonterra.com) attracts and distributes some of the world’s leading science and conservation productions to more than 100,000 viewers a month and has won three Webby awards.

Our mission is to provide filmmaking knowledge to students with formal education and experience in science, engineering and technology so they may create accurate, innovative, and exciting programs that advance the public understanding of science.

Candidates for the MFA take courses that include film and video production, the history and theory of science and natural history film, cinematography, production management, editing, and writing.  All students must also work at one or more production internships during their time as MFA students.

Program Requirements

The curriculum consists of a minimum of sixty semester credit hours of study, written thesis, and thesis film taken over a minimum of three years. To graduate, a student should complete the course of study in good academic standing and produce and defend a written thesis and thesis film.

FILM 504Film and Documentary Theory3
FILM 505Crit Apprch Nat Hst Filmmaking3
FILM 506Crit Approach Sci Filmmaking (Delete course)3
FILM 510Fundamentals of Filmmaking3
FILM 513Advanced Cinematography3
FILM 515Science and Natural History Film Prod.3
FILM 517Production Management3
FILM 518Writing for Documentary and Non-Fiction Film3
FILM 519Post Production Workflow3
FILM 521Interactive Documentary3
FILM 523Second Year Film Prep2
FILM 524Research Methods (Delete Course)3
FILM 525Second Year Film Prod3
FILM 526Alternative Nonfiction3
FILM 533Adv Prob TV and Internet Prod (Change title to Web-Based Documentary)1-3 Max 9 credits, May be repeated
FILM 560Post Production Meets Info Design (Change title to Post Production Workflow)3
FILM 581Special Professional Proj1-3 Max 9 credits, May be repeated
FILM 590Master's Thesis1-15
FILM 592Independent Study1-3
FILM 598Professional Internship (Graduate Internships are 1-6 credits)1-6
  • FILM 592 Independent Study - 1-3 Credits,  Max. 3 credits May be repeated
  • FILM 598 Professional Internship  - 1-12 Credits, max 12 Credits,  credits, May be repeated
  • FILM 591 Special Topics - 1-4 cr., Max. 12 credits, May be repeated
  • FILM 581 Special Professional Proj - 1-3 Credits, Max 6 credits, May be repeated
  • FILM 590 Master's Thesis - 1-15,  May be Repeated