» Documentary Filmmaking Graduate Application

How to Apply

In order to apply to the MFA Documentary Filmmaking program, you must submit the required application materials, including a Creative Supplement. Create an account to begin your application.

Application Requirements:

  • Statement of Intent: Submit an essay expressing your reasons for wanting to join the MFA Documentary Program. What are your personal and career goals, and how will this particular degree from Chapman University help you reach those goals? Your essay should be double spaced, size 12 font, and 1-2 pages in length.
  • Resume
  • 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Creative Supplement

Other Required Materials:

  • Official copy of your undergraduate transcript from your degree granting institution
  • International Students: Please see "International Applicants" tab below for additional requirements

No additional information should be sent to Dodge College or the Office of Admissions outside of what is required on the application. Any outside work sent to either office will not be reviewed as part of the admission process.

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+ - Creative Supplement Requirements

Please note that you may only submit Creative Supplement materials for your 1st choice major selected on the application. No other materials will be reviewed as part of the application process.

The requirements below are for students applying for Fall 2020

Creative Portfolio List

Upload a one (1) to two (2) page list of activities that demonstrates your creative potential in documentary filmmaking, focusing on creative accomplishments. Include in this list specific items that you could submit, if requested, to Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Each listing should include a brief description of the work and your role in its creation.

Example of Portfolio listing (use this format):

Title: Roger's Car
Position: Writer/Director
16 minutes, Video 2005. Valley College
Log line: Unusual circumstance allows a sixteen-year-old to get his first car. I wrote this story for a creative writing class and produced the film with the help of my friends.

Documentary Program Essay:

In no more than two (2) pages, please explain what kind of stories you want to tell through documentary filmmaking, and why? As an example, describe a documentary topic you would like to explore in depth, including at least three (3) scenes you would hope to include in the film, and explain why you would want to make a film on this particular subject.

Production Sample:

Submit a sample of your narrative and/or documentary production work. This submission can be no longer than ten (10) minutes. You can submit two shorter pieces, one complete piece, or a portion of a longer film, as long as the total submission is no more than ten (10) minutes long total.

If you don’t have a production sample to show, then please submit a representation of your creative work by choosing one of the following options: short story, script, news story, photos (up to 10 images).

+ - Deadline

All application and supplemental materials must submitted electronically by the deadline below. Late applicants will be reviewed on a space available basis.

Graduate Application Deadline:

December 1, 2019

Please note: We do not accept applicants for the spring semester.

+ - Notification

Decisions will be released by the end of April.

+ - Tuition, Fellowships & Financial Aid


The cost of tuition for MFA Documentary Filmmaking in the 2018-2019 Academic Year is $45,124. For MFA Documentary Filmmaking students, tuition is a flat rate charge for all classes taken during the year or over the summer. There is also an additional lab fee of $375 per semester. You can visit the Business Office for more specific details on tuition.

Dodge College provides $4,000 towards the budget for documentary thesis films made in the second year.


Dodge College offers fellowships to a select number of students each year. These fellowships are awarded based on the talent shown in the application materials submitted; there is no separate application process for fellowship consideration. Preference for fellowships is given to students who apply by the December 1st deadline. If you are awarded a fellowship, you will likely be notified at the time of admit. Some fellowships are awarded after the time of admit, and notification will come directly from Dodge College.

Financial Aid

All other financial aid is awarded through the Financial Aid Office. This funding usually contains mainly student loans. You will receive your “financial aid package” from the Graduate Financial Aid Office after you have been admitted. Please contact their office directly with any questions at gradfinaid@chapman.edu.

+ - Official Copy of Degree Granting Undergraduate Transcript

You also need to send in an official copy of your degree granting undergraduate transcript. This should be mailed to:

Office of Graduate Admission
1 University Drive
Orange, CA 92866

+ - International Applicants

Language Test

Since our program is taught completely in English and the experience working on film sets will require a strong understanding of the English language, we require all our students to have strong English language skills. Chapman does not have an ESL program for international students on campus – international students who are non-native English speakers need to demonstrate English proficiency at the time of admission.
  • Applicants who have completed their undergraduate degree at an institution where English was not the sole language of instruction must submit minimum scores from one of the following English language exams:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): 600 (PBT) or 100 (iBT) 
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 7.0
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE Academic): 68
    • Cambridge English Advanced Exam (CAE): Level C1

Official Transcripts

While unofficial copies can be used to evaluate and review an application, official copies of all documents will be required upon acceptance. 

  • Your application requires official transcripts in both the native language, and in English. If your university does not provide translations of your transcript, you will need to have your transcript translated, line-by-line and word-for-word exactly. You will need to submit bot the official transcript and the official translation.
  • If your university only provides one official transcript, we will accept an official photocopy for evaluation purposes only. You will need to take your official transcript and have several certified copies made, and translated into English if needed. These documents should be stamped by the legal notary who made the copy and or translation. We do not accept uncertified copies directly from students.


Once your transcripts are received, Chapman University will conduct an in-house evaluation of your credentials to determine your U.S. equivalent GPA.

  • While we do accept WES confirmations of your transcript’s validity, we do not accept WES grade conversions and evaluations to determine your U.S. GPA.

Supplemental Application

  • The International Supplemental Application is the financial certification form that provides comprehensive information about your passport, I-20 requirements, and financial support for your studies. This form is required for F-1 student visa applicants.
  • Should you be admitted into our program, you will be sent information on how to access the Supplemental Application.
  • If you hold a U.S. passport, or are a permanent resident, you do not need to submit this document. You will apply as a domestic student. 
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