University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


Film MFA - Film, Video, Animation & New Genres

MFA Degree Admission
MFA Degree Curriculum
MFA Degree Facilities

The Graduate Program in Film, Video, Animation & New Genres at UWM is interdisciplinary, hands-on, and non-commercial in spirit with a commitment to the intensive production of high-energy media artwork. We have a dedicated, internationally recognized faculty for a small and mutually supportive group of 14 graduate students. The Film Department encourages works which demonstrate a personal commitment to the art of media making, projects marked not so much by any particular style but rather by the questions they explore. The Master of Fine Arts in Performing Arts - Film is designed for graduate students who have already produced film or video and who would like to increase their film/video skills while creating a larger body of work. It is the goal of the program to assist each graduate student in completing a number of accomplished works rooted in a developed sense of community, culture, and self.

(still from a live performance by Emir Cakaroz entitled "Dancing on the")
(photo credit: Dick Blau)

The Department of Film Video, Animation & New Genres maintains artistic and intellectual connections within the University that include partnerships with the Departments of Art and Design, Music, Dance, History, Architecture, Anthropology, English, the Center of 21st Century Studies, the Center for International Education, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The Film Department also works closely with such campus cultural institutions as the UWM Union Cinema and Inova (the Institute for Visual Arts). Regional partners include the Milwaukee Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and Chicago’s Video Data Bank.

For nearly 20 years, the UWM Union Cinema, an art house cinema with nightly screenings, has been managed and programmed by graduate students in Film. There are two annual cultural events, the Milwaukee LGBT Film & Video Festival, the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival and the monthly screening series at Woodland Pattern Book Center all originate from the Film Department and often include graduate student participation.

The Film Department frequently invites visiting makers, theorists, and curators to share their work with the Department, as teachers and as visiting artists.

MFA Degree Admission

The application process is two-fold.

  1. Apply to the UWM Graduate School by January 15th (extended date).
    • Attain a copy of all your transcripts (no GRE is required) and send to:

      Graduate School
      University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
      PO Box 340
      Milwaukee, WI 53201
      Phone: 414 229-6569
    • Fill out application form
    • Provide appropriate application fee
  2. Apply to the Department of Film, Video, Animation & New Genres by January 15th.
    • Film Application items to be sent by email to
      • Portfolio of previous work in film and/or video, performance or new media: email online links (Vimeo, Youtube, etc.) with passwords (if applicable). You may send several shorts or longer works. Whatever you think best represents your creative interests and production. Be sure to state exactly what your responsibilities were in each work.
      • Fill out the Film Applicant Form
      • Current curriculum vitae
      • Fill out the TA Applicant Form
    • Film Application items to be sent via regular mail:
      • Submit three letters of recommendation (no special form needed). These should be submitted on official letterhead by mail, separately or together. All letters are to be sent to the below address by January 15th:
        The Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres
        University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
        Director of the Graduate Program in Film
        PO Box 413. Milwaukee, WI 53201 USA

International Students

All students who speak English as a second language are also required to take the TOEFL test unless your bachelor degree was earned within two years of your enrollment at UWM; and you must have attended this institution a minimum of 2 years.

If your country does not have Vimeo or Youtube, then sending a written (and data file) application to the above address is fine. Here is a link to international requirements:

Transfer of Credits

With the approval of the Department of Film graduate program and the Graduate School, an applicant from another institution may be permitted to transfer up to 19 credits toward the total of 48 graduate credits required for the MFA degree.


The Film Department is part of a small and dedicated filmmaking community. We have tried to offer Teaching Assistantships to those whom have been accepted into the graduate program. The Assistantship covers tuition ($23,000) and offers an approximate $7,650 stipend. In addition we apply for UWM Chancellor Awards to offer additional financial support. The Teaching Assistantships are guaranteed for only one year, but we have never not awarded one a second year.

If you feel you qualify for an Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship or a Graduate School Fellowship (which is highly competitive,) you should notify the Film Department prior to December 15th.

For further information:

Until January 15th, contact Cecelia Condit, Director of Graduate Studies in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres, as Cecelia will be on a spring sabbatical.
Film Department Office:
(414) 229-6015

After January 15th, contact Steve Wetzel, Assistant Director of Graduate Studies in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres.


MFA Degree Curriculum

Photo credit: Dick Blau.


The distribution of coursework required is as follows:

12 credits in Graduate Film Studio/Seminar
12 credits in Complementary Studies (G or U/G courses)
9 credits in U/G or G Film Courses
6 credits in Professional Practice
6 credits in Graduate Thesis Studio
3 credits in Film Studies*

*Students electing the Film Studies option for complementary studies will have this course counted as one of the four necessary to complete the 12-credit complementary studies requirement. They must then increase their U/G or G Film courses by 3 credits to 12.


The minimum Film-MFA degree requirement is 48 graduate credits, (18 cr required, 30 cr elective). It is recommended that students earn 12 credits each semester through full-time attendance on campus.

Graduate Seminar - Film 710, 712, 714 (9 credits required-12 credits maximum)
The Graduate Seminar provides students with the opportunity to interact and respond to each other's works-in-progress on an ongoing basis. With faculty guidance, students help each other to articulate, refine and write about the ideas and meanings of their present work and to begin preparing for professional practices as artists. As such, the class features visits and presentations by established local, national and international artists, curators and critics working in the areas of film, video and new genres. Visits to museums, galleries, screenings and other events also constitute a significant part of this course.

MFA Thesis Project (9 credits) Graduate Thesis (9 credits) - Film 730 (3 credits), 732 (6 credits)
The graduate thesis is a substantial, year-long capstone project, (or group of smaller projects), worked on with the guidance of the student's major professor.

Film MFA Elective Courses (30 credits)
With assistance and approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and their Graduate Advisor, entering students will design an individualized program of study based on the following elective courses.

Graduate Media Arts Workshop I/II - Film 720, 722 (maximum of 9 credits)
Class focuses on conceptualization and production of student-initiated media arts projects. May be retaken to maximum of 9 credits. Prerequisite: grad student film or consent of instructor.

Graduate Studio - Film 900 (maximum of 12 credits)
Offered once a year, Graduate Studio is an ongoing critique of individual studio research in any media. Emphasis is on developing and maintaining an interdisciplinary dialogue and approach to personal artistic practice. Studio research, individual, and group critiques are required. Like Graduate Seminar, Graduate Studio centers on critique and contemporary art practice. It often features visits and presentations by national and international artists, curators and critics. Graduate Studio differs from Graduate Seminar in that it is open to graduate students from other departments in the Peck School and encourages students to collaborate with each other and to experiment with artistic disciplines other than screen-based media.

Department of Film Electives (maximum of 30 credits)
These are U/G and G classes in film, video & new genres that are regularly offered by the department, including topics such as 16mm film and video production, screenwriting, lighting, cinematography, audio production, animation, installation, performance and physical computing.

Complementary Studies (maximum of 12 credits)
These are graduate courses offered outside the Department that are relevant to a student’s proposed course of study. In the past, students have taken Complementary Studies credits in creative writing, theory, art history, architecture, etc. Occasionally, there are courses within the Department of Film that are closely allied to an area of complementary study, such as courses in audio, and they may be counted toward fulfillment of the Complementary Studies option. Students interested in Complementary Studies are encouraged to discuss their options with the Director of Graduate Studies and their major professor before enrolling in these courses.

Professional Practice - Film 700 (maximum of 9 credits)
Professional Practice is an internship or project done in connection with a media-related enterprise to develop specialized skills and practical experience in the field. It may also be carried out with a non-profit agency, using media as a form of community. Enrollment in a Professional Practice course must be endorsed by the student's faculty advisor and approved by the Director of the Graduate Program.

Examples of recent past professional practice projects:

  • Assisting the director of the Fall LGBT Film Festival
  • intern for the Milwaukee International Film Festival
  • PR/media for community organizations
  • intern with DocUWM
  • assisting the instructor of Film 302 Video in the Schools

... Internships at MoMA and more ...

Independent Study - Film 799
There may be times when you will need to take an independent study with a professor for a special project. A maximum of 9 independent study credits within the Film Department may be counted toward your degree. Seek approval from the professor and enroll with an add/drop form.


Major Professor as Advisor / Graduate Reviews / Open Critiques
During their first year, each student chooses a Major Professor from the Department of Film graduate faculty to advise and supervise their studies. At the end of the second semester, students present their current projects to their selected faculty review committee, which includes their major professor and two additional members of the graduate faculty. A Graduate Review is scheduled each semester thereafter. In addition, each student electing to pursue the option of Complementary Studies will include a faculty member from that discipline on his/her review committee.

Additionally, Open Critiques are held in mid fall and mid spring. Each graduate student has an hour to present work and get feedback from all the faculty and graduate students. 2nd year graduate students show their work during the fall semester and 1st year graduate students present their work in the spring.

Complementary Studies and Complimentary Studies Advisor
A graduate student enrolls in 12 credits of Complementary Studies in their area of interest. Complementary Studies classes must be overseen by a professor/instructor on the faculty at UWM. For example, if your Complementary Studies area is History, grad level courses in the History Department are taken and a course of study is pursued with a faculty member from History. We recommend taking one complementary studies course per semester to ensure that this component is completed by the end of the MFA.

Graduate Reviews
Graduate Reviews are required each semester (except for this first; this is optional) that you are enrolled in the Graduate Program in Film at UWM. MFA candidate work is reviewed by the Graduate Committee. This committee is composed of your Major Professor, two other Film Department Faculty of your choice (Grad Seminar Professor that semester has the option to attend), and your Complementary Studies Advisor.

Thesis Presentation
Upon recommendation of the major professor and advisory faculty, the student presents a thesis exhibition program of work executed since admission to the program. The exhibition may be held either during the semester in which the student completes coursework for the degree or during the following semester.

Graduate students must receive a B or better in all courses in order to receive credit towards the MFA. It is recommended that MFA candidates complete their course work and thesis in two years, enrolling in 12 credits per semester. The process of graduating includes submission of a graduation application (with an application fee), overview of coursework done to ensure compliance with curriculum requirements, and the final review and approval of the thesis by the Graduate Committee and Major Professor. Students must inform the Graduate School of their intention to graduate no later than the second week of the semester in which they wish to graduate. The university's window for completing an MFA is 7 years.


MFA Degree Facilities

The UWM Film Department consists of two facilities. Mitchell Hall is a handsome building located on the active UWM campus and is home to the majority of the Department's classes. It contains our in-house 16mm black & white reversal film processing, our equipment checkout room, the faculty and graduate student offices and the intimate Cinema. One mile south of the UWM campus is the Peck School of the Arts Kenilworth building, a beautifully renovated facility which offers studio space for graduate students and faculty. There are editing rooms for both film and video, audio recording and mixing facilities, and lighting and animation studios. Graduate students have twenty-four hour access to both facilities.

For more information be visit our Film Facilities page.