By Karina Valdes

The University of Miami School of Communication is broadening its graduate degree offerings with a new Master of Fine Arts in Documentary. Housed under the Department of Cinematic Arts, the two-year, 54-credit degree program incorporates coursework from two departments; Journalism & Media Management and Cinematic Arts. This program is the first in the nation to combine journalism and film into an interdisciplinary program.

“Students will find that our documentary program is quite different than most around the country,” said Christina Lane, associate dean of Graduate Studies. “We offer a joint degree through cinema and journalism, providing students with a wide range of skills. This includes creative storytelling, cinematic approaches, journalistic practices, ethics, and business.”

Students of the program can expect a comprehensive graduate experience in documentary production grounded in journalistic principles and cinematic storytelling that focuses on distribution across a variety of platforms.

“What’s unique about this program is the collaboration between Cinematic Arts and Journalism. Students will have access to both departments and all they have to offer. I have been lucky to teach in both programs and I think the combination of Cinematic Arts and Journalism is the perfect fusion for learning how to create engaging and thoughtful work,” said Jim Virga, graduate advisor for the M.F.A. in Documentary.

The program also gives students the opportunity to explore their interests across the University.

“Students will also be encouraged to make use of all of the resources our University has to offer. There is room for electives outside of the School of Communication so students can focus on a particular aspect of a documentary they are working on,” said Virga.

In recent years, the documentary format has exploded hand-in-hand with streaming services, leaving audiences seeking programming that inspires, educates, and entertains.

“Documentary film is more popular now than it’s ever been. Because of the multiple streaming platforms available to the public there is more space for all types of documentaries with various points-of view. This gives students a chance to tell stories that are important to both our local and our global community,” said Virga.

As the number of platforms streaming documentaries grow, so has the need for filmmakers and visual storytellers. This program is ideal for creatives searching for a way to explore issues of importance to them, while learning how to effectively and ethically communicate their message through film.

“We’ve seen a significant rise in student interest in documentary, especially aspiring filmmakers interested in addressing urgent social issues of our times. Given our School’s great resources, we are ideally poised to support students seeking to make an impact through various documentary forms,” said Lane.

With the School’s location in South Florida, students have a convergence of impactful topics to explore and develop into meaningful documentaries that inspire conversations and engage audiences.

“A great argument can be made that there’s no better place than Miami to make documentary. For anyone with an interest in social justice, the environment, the arts, making a global impact, or simply finding a moving story in one of our many communities, there is so much going on here. And such a need for these stories to be represented with craft, care, and compassion,” said Lane.

Applications are already being accepted for the fall 2022 semester. Register here for a virtual info session on Jan. 21 from 12-1:30 p.m.,