Film MFA Program


The M.F.A. program is a three-year, full-time program. Students complete two years of full time course work before they begin a narrative thesis project in the third year. The program at UCA focuses on creating independent writer/directors who are equipped to create projects from inception through distribution. Our program features extensive hands-on experience meaning our graduates are also comfortable with being on-set, crewing, and working with equipment. Though we offer both documentary and experimental courses, the essence of our program is narrative.


  • One of the lowest tuition rates in the country for both in-state and out-of-state tuition
  • Highly competitive, accepting no more than ten new students each year.
  • Small class sizes mean an intimate program, with lots of contact with faculty.
  • The latest in digital filmmaking technology.
  • Dedicated, award winning faculty.
  • 24/7 access to production facilities, including dedicated editing suites, sound recording booth, two sound stages with green screens, and computer labs.
  • A structured curriculum allows students to build up their knowledge and focus on taking classes, not planning class schedules.
  • Every student directs their own thesis project
  • Strong working relationship with the Little Rock and Hot Springs Documentary film festivals.
  • Graduates employed across the country from New York to New Orleans to Los Angeles
  • Graduate assistantships available for qualified students

Tuition and Fees

With a tuition of approximately $3500-$4500 per semester for in-state or $6000-$8000 per semester  for out-of-state, the MFA program at UCA is one of the most affordable options available in the country. For more information on current tuition rates click here. Students from states bordering Arkansas pay in-state tuition rates. In addition, any out of state student who chooses to live on campus is also eligible for in-state tuition.

Financial Aid

Students may be eligible for graduate assistantships. Information about other forms of financial aid, including loans, may be obtained from UCA’s Financial Aid Office, 501- 450-3140. Students receiving graduate assistantships and other forms of financial aid should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine their combined financial package.

Graduate Assistantships

To qualify for an assistantship, a student should have achieved an excellent academic record and completed substantial course work in the major field. The number of graduate assistantships offered is based on available funding. Students interested in a graduate assistantship should complete a graduate assistantship application and submit it with the graduate school application.

Transfer Hours

In accordance with the guidelines established in the Graduate Bulletin, up to 15 hours of graduate work from an accredited institution may be accepted at UCA, subject to approval by the graduate dean and the department chair. All transfer hours must be in courses for which an equivalent exists at UCA. Students may be requested to provide support materials, including relevant course syllabi. Thesis hours may not be transferred.


To inquire about on and off campus housing arrangements, please visit the UCA Housing Page. There are many housing options available for Graduate Students including on-campus apartments and family housing units.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you accept students without a film background?
Yes we do. However, the program can be more challenging for students with no film background. We highly recommend the resources listed below in the “Resources for Students without a Film Background” section below. Students with a limited film background may also find those resources useful.

Do I need my own equipment?
No. The Film Program offers a wide range of equipment for checkout for graduate students. From cameras, to audio equipment to lighting, everything students need to shoot their films is provided.

Do I need my own computer?
While we provide editing suites and computer labs that meet all post-production needs, we highly recommend every student have their own laptop (or at least tablet) for regular class use. Though students may use Mac or PC products, the computers in the building are Mac. Additionally, we recommend that each student own their own external hard drive.

What software do I need?
The program uses the following software which you can access on program computers or download and install on your own computer. Some may also be available online through a browser. We try to choose high quality programs that have free or low-cost options.

Screenwriting: Arc Studio Pro
Pre-Production: Scenechronize, Shot Designer
Post-Production: DaVinci Resolve

Additionally, we recommend or often use the following:

Vimeo,, and Shot Deck

Does the program fund my films?
At this time no. While we have had grants in the past to provide some funding for student films, at this time, students are responsible for funding their own films and thesis projects?

Does everyone make a thesis film?
Yes! Every student writes and directs their own thesis film. While there is no minimum or maximum runtime, most thesis films run 15-20 minutes. Budgets vary widely, but including post-production and festival entries, budgets generally run between $5000-$15,000.

Besides graduate assistantships are there any additional scholarships or fellowships?
At this time, the program has no additional funding. However, students can look for additional university-wide scholarships through the Financial Aid Office.

Resources for Students without a Film Background

We accept a variety of students with different experiences. Some have little or no knowledge of the filmmaking process. Others already have an undergraduate degree in film or on-set and/or professional experience. While our courses are designed to cater to these diverse backgrounds, we highly recommend that those with no background prepare for entry into the program by doing the following:

  1. Purchase and review the text Voice and Vision by Mick Hubris-Cherrier. This is the textbook we assign for our undergraduate production courses.
  2. Learn basic screenwriting formatting and style:
    1. Sign-up for Arc Studio, an online screenwriting platform with free basic access (you can get sign-up for free pro access once you have a UCA email address)
    2. Watch the following Arc Studio tutorial video
    3. Watch the following screenwriting tutorial videos
  3. Learn basic editing on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. All of the following can be found on Blackmagic’s excellent training website.
    1. Download the free version of the software
    2. Watch the two Davinci Resolve introductory videos
    3. Under Training Books, download The Beginner’s Guide to DaVinci Resolve and the accompanying tutorial files and complete the tutorials in the beginning guide
    4. You may if you choose, watch, read and complete additional tutorials in editing, audio, and color.

For more information: 

Bruce Hutchinson
Director of Graduate Studies
Film Program
Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing