In the MFA programs offered at Columbia, we believe that there is no substitute for the powerful mentorship that occurs when artists established in their careers guide artists at the beginning of theirs. We treat filmmaking not only as a creative pursuit with a heritage in both the narrative and visual arts, but also as a technology and a business. Our students thrive in an intensely creative environment filled with hands-on experience, one-on-one faculty guidance, and the support of a community of talented peers. The strength of our school is a comprehensive, collaborative curriculum that provides a foundation in all aspects of filmmaking. Students form creative partnerships that often extend into professional life, and access a group of artists dedicated to bringing fresh stories to the screen and varied approaches to the medium. The MFA curriculum nurtures storytelling and helps students to explore, refine, and celebrate their vision.  


The two MFA programs in filmmaking, Screenwriting/Directing and Creative Producing, share a common first year. The course of instruction combines producing, directing, and writing with technical training and history and theory to provide students with a deep understanding of all the principles and practice of dramatic filmmaking. All the courses within this unique, integrated curriculum focus on film as a medium for the telling of stories.

Our faculty draws upon veteran and rising practitioners in film, television, and new media. MFA student work regularly wins awards and recognition for its combination of technical excellence, visual originality, and outstanding storytelling. Our alumni produce, write, and direct work that sets the standard for independent cinema as well as ground-breaking Hollywood filmmaking.


The mission of the Film MFA in Screenwriting/Directing is to rigorously train storytellers in film, television, and digital media.


The course of study at our film school includes two years of creative workshops and related courses, followed by one to two years of thesis and Research Arts work. Students are immersed in the principles and working methods of a variety of genres and dramatic forms. Through multiple exercises, short films, and script projects (both short and feature-length), they are encouraged to explore their understanding of the medium, with the ultimate goal of establishing each student’s personal voice.


Students in the Creative Producing MFA concentration share the first-year curriculum and some of the second-year electives. In bringing these programs together, the faculty actively encourages the development of professional collaborations that last throughout film school and beyond, and fosters the environment of mutual support that we believe is essential to the creation of film.


Creative Producing


The Film MFA Program in Creative Producing is a three-year program that takes advantage of Columbia’s unique geography at the center of the independent film world, with the mission of creating the next generation of producers.


The program emphasizes the role of the producer as the creative force behind a project, requiring business skills, the ability to form creative collaborations and an understanding of an ever-changing marketplace.


Our faculty consists of working producers in film, television, and digital media, who bring to the program a wealth of day-to-day practical knowledge in all areas of producing film and television including script development, finance, physical production, distribution, and new technologies.


Students share a common first year with students in the Screenwriting/Directing MFA program, reflecting the faculty’s belief that the best training for producers includes work in all of these disciplines. It also builds friendships and professional collaborations that last throughout the program and beyond, and fosters the environment of mutual support and respect that we believe is essential to the creation of film.