Program Contacts

Shauna Meador, MFA: Department Chair
Telephone: (501) 450-3162 | Email:

Bruce Hutchinson, MFA, PhD: Graduate Program Coordinator
Telephone: (501) 450-3419 | Email:

[1] Objectives

The MFA degree is recognized as a terminal degree in the area of film production. The Film program emphasizes full-time, professionally oriented study and is aimed toward students wishing to work professionally in the motion picture and related fields or wishing to teach at the university level.

[2] Program Admission Requirements

In addition to the graduate school application and fee and transcripts, students applying to the MFA program in Film must also submit the following:

  1. A statement of purpose that explains the student’s background, why the student wants to attend the Film program at UCA, what they hope to accomplish, and why they think they can be successful (2-pages)
  2. A current résumé or vita
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. A 2–3 page creative film scenario writing sample based on a provided prompt
  5. Supplemental (highly recommended): A portfolio of creative work, either visual (video or film work, photographs) or written (screenplays, stage plays, or fiction)

Students are not required to submit GRE scores.

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 supporting materials, including relevant course syllabi. Thesis hours may not be transferred.

Students admitted with a completed MA or MS degree in film production (or closely related area) may transfer up to 18 hours of graduate course work, 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 supporting materials, including relevant course syllabi. Thesis hours may not be transferred. In accordance with the Graduate Bulletin, a minimum of 24 hours credit in residence at UCA is required.

[3] Degree Requirements

The Master of Fine Arts in Film is a three-year, 60-credit-hour terminal degree. The program emphasizes storytelling and production through a series of courses and the thesis project. In addition, students are required to take courses in history and theory to create a well-rounded education. Students are expected to take 12 credits a semester in fall and spring of the first two years of the program.

[3.1] Courses

The student is required to complete 48 hours of course work before beginning the thesis project.

Required Courses

Production Block (12 credit hours)

FILM 6300 Production Project (repeatable)

Storytelling Bock (12 credit hours)

FILM 6327 Storytelling 1: Introduction to Visual Narrative
FILM 6326 Storytelling 2: Directing the Motion Picture
FILM 6363 Storytelling 3: Short Film Writing
FILM 6360 Storytelling 4: Screenwriting

Studies Block (12 credit hours)

FILM 6316 Film Theory
FILM 6317 Cognitive/Ecological Theories of Cinema
FILM 6340 History of American Cinema
FILM 6341 History of International Cinema

Electives (12 credit hours)

FILM 5305 Production Design
FILM 5311 Cinematography
FILM 5320 Film Editing
FILM 5354 Animation for Visual Effects
FILM 5355 Visual Effects Compositing
FILM 5363 Audio Production and Design for Film
FILM 5373 Documentary Production
FILM 5380 Seminar in Film Studies
FILM 5V90 Internship (variable credit: 1–3 credit hours)
FILM 5392 Topics in Film Production
FILM 6390 Directed Study in Digital Filmmaking

Thesis (12 credit hours)

FILM 7V80 Thesis (variable credit: 1–6 credit hours)

Substitutions may be made at the discretion of the student’s advisor and/or committee.

[3.2] Comprehensive Examination

The student must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the thesis committee before beginning the thesis project (usually spring semester of the second year). The comprehensive examination will cover history, theory, and production practices.

[3.3] Thesis Project

The thesis project will take the form of a short, narrative, fiction film, the approximate length of which will be determined by the student’s thesis committee.

Students are expected to complete all coursework and pass the comprehensive examination before beginning thesis hours.

By the end of the fourth semester of study (48 credit hours completed) the student will submit a script and production proposal that must be approved by the thesis committee. The script details the student’s proposed film and provides the opportunity for review and feedback from the committee. The production proposal will provide the student’s vision for the film.

The script and proposal will be submitted to the committee in a formal meeting. Graduate students are required to present their script and proposal orally to their committee, providing members the opportunity to evaluate the student’s knowledge and understanding of the proposal as well as the student’s ability to reason and present logical explanations to questions related to the completion of the proposed film.

Students typically enroll in six hours of thesis credits per semester in their third year. Students must complete 12 hours of thesis work to graduate.

The completed thesis project will include the following elements:

  1. A completed short, narrative, fiction film
  2. A copy of the production proposal, with a new, added Conclusions section
  3. The final shooting script in proper script format
  4. A production book containing all relevant pre-production and production paperwork, including, but not limited to, script breakdown sheets, story boards, shooting schedule, element lists (props, costumes, etc.), and all necessary release forms (actor, location, music, etc.), as well as creative documents, including shot lists, set plans, and script analysis

When the thesis project is completed, an oral examination of the candidate will be held. The oral examination is principally a defense of the thesis. This provides an opportunity for the student to present his/her work to the committee formally and for the committee to indicate its acceptance or to require further work.

[4] Graduate Courses in Film (FILM)

Follow this link for FILM course descriptions: course link.