Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to complete the program?
The program is designed for the typical graduate course load, two courses per semester (8 units), which can be completed in two years (four semesters). In this time, you will complete 30 units: 24 units of content classes and the final 6 in a capstone course in the form of a creative project or a traditional thesis. You can find suggested plans and course descriptions on our Curriculum page. Students may take additional electives as desired.

Can I take more courses in a semester?
Given the amount of reading and number and depth of assignments involved, we do not recommend taking more than two courses per semester. However, students will have the opportunity to complete additional elective graduate coursework during Winter and Summer Intersessions.

When are classes offered?
Classes will normally be offered in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate full-time work schedules.

How does this program fit my specific interests?
We offer two tracks, Film Studies and Digital Media. The Film Studies track gives students the tools to understand film as a mode of communication and as a distinct art form. The Digital Media track is designed to give students experience in production.

The Digital Media track sounds interesting. Will I get to make my own film?
Yes! If you pursue the Digital Media track, you will have the opportunity to make your own short film or complete your own screenplay as your final creative project.

Can I take classes in both Film Studies and Digital Media?
Yes. The program is uniquely designed to allow students to take at least one introductory graduate course in digital filmmaking during their first year. Students then have the option of pursuing either the traditional Film Studies track or the track in Digital Media to engage in advanced coursework in these areas. You can even pursue both tracks; however, this would delay your graduation date as extra time would be required to complete the coursework.

Will I have the chance to complete a film-related internship?
Yes. Our program will actively work to place you in film-related internships during your second year in the program. Internship possibilities include working with local filmmakers on film and digital media projects; helping to program and run local film festivals; and working with local arts and cultural centers, including museums and film institutes.

Who teaches the classes?
Our courses are taught by film and digital media scholars from across campus and the larger community with a variety of areas of expertise. Brief faculty bios can be found on our Faculty page.

How much does the program cost?
Program classes are offered at a per-unit fee, currently $550, payable at time of registration. Each four-unit class costs $2200; two classes in a semester come to $4,400. The total for the 30 units is $16,500.

Is financial aid available?
Yes, federal and State aid are available. See the SSU Financial Aid website at www.sonoma.edu/finaid for details. The State priority deadline is November 30 and the Federal deadline is March 2. You may also want to check with your employer about educational benefits, and veterans can check with the SSU Veterans’ Affairs office.

How and when do I apply to the program?
Applications will be accepted starting October 1 for the following Fall semester, with a January 15 priority date for financial aid and scholarship consideration, and a March 30 deadline. Applications may be accepted after that date on a space-available basis. Application materials and instructions can be found on our Admissions page.

What are the basic requirements to apply?
You must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a grade point average (GPA) of at least a B (3.0) over the last 60 units/90 quarter units. Strong candidates with a GPA of 2.5 or above will be considered.

Can I be working on my requirements at the time I apply?
Yes, as long as your degree is awarded by the end of the Spring semester/quarter preceding enrollment. If you still have work in progress, you will be given conditional admission contingent on completing your degree.

Do I need to have completed undergraduate coursework in Film Studies?
No. While any previous coursework encompassing film or media is valuable, it is not required. Similarly, while completion of either a minor or a BA in Film is great preparation for the MA, neither is required to apply to the Master’s program. The courses in the first semester of the MA are designed to ensure that all students gain an equal footing in the basics of film history and theory, regardless of their academic background.

Can I transfer in previously completed coursework?
Yes. You can transfer up to 9 units of previous coursework focused on film studies upon approval by the Faculty Director. The remaining 21 units must be completed in the program. In order to be considered, a course must be graduate level, or an upper-division (Junior or Senior) class taken either for Provisional Graduate Credit in the last semester of your BA program or after completion of your BA. In addition, no course older than five years can be considered as there is a 7-year limit to applicability of units to a graduate program.

What can I do with an MA in Film Studies?
The MA in Film Studies serves as excellent preparation for a career in the film and television industries, allowing graduates to collaborate with filmmakers on larger projects including documentary features. MA graduates who complete the Digital Media track will have the knowledge and expertise to work on exciting new media projects that combine online platforms with real-world social concerns. Graduates will also be qualified for careers in film programming and exhibition, including film festivals. There are over a dozen major film festivals in Northern California alone. Having an MA in Film Studies will help prepare you to work at such venues. The MA in Film Studies also provides excellent groundwork for a future academic career, whether in Film or a related area of study.