Established in 1997, the Film and Television Production MFA with an emphasis in Cinematography offers comprehensive training in the aesthetic, technical and organizational aspects of cinematography. Program graduates develop a combination of creative vision and skills in emerging technologies that prepare them to be among the most versatile and innovative cinematography professionals working today.

MFA: Film and Television, Area: Cinematography


Please note: We are currently undergoing a comprehensive curriculum review. Specific requirements for Cinematography students are currently being revised and will be updated as we complete our process of curriculum review.

Students in the Cinematography specialization share substantial parts of their curriculum with Production Directing students and complete all general MFA degree requirements. Cinematography students are required to photograph a minimum number of projects, including MFA thesis films during their time in the program. They also enroll in Directed Individual Research Projects exploring various aspects of cinematography. Students who elect the thesis option write a research paper of relevance to contemporary cinematography and photograph a short project that makes an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

Cinematography Specialization Courses

Available courses may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Introduction to Cinematography
  • Intermediate Cinematography
  • Advanced Cinematography
  • Digital Cinematography
  • Lighting for Film and Television
  • Motion Picture Lighting
  • Cinematography and Directing
  • Emerging Techniques and Technologies in Cinematography
  • Digital Workflow
  • Postproduction Pathways
  • Digital Manipulation on Set and Post
  • Directed Individual Research

Seminar courses in Cinema and Media Studies may include:

  • 203 Film and Other Arts
  • 204 Visual Analysis
  • 206A European Film History
  • 206B Selected Topics in American Film History
  • 206C American Film History**
  • 207 Experimental Film
  • 209A Documentary Film
  • 208B Classical Film Theory **
  • 208C Contemporary Film Theory
  • 209C Fictional Film
  • 209D Animated Film
  • 217 Selected Topics In Television History **
  • 217A American Television History**
  • 218 Culture, Media and Society
  • 219 Film and Society
  • 220 Television and Society
  • 221 Film Authors
  • 222 Film Genres
  • 223 Visual Perception
  • 224 Computer Applications for Film Study
  • 225 Videogame Theory
  • 246 Electronic Culture
  • 270 Film Criticism
  • 271 Television Criticism
  • 276 Non-Western Film
  • 277 Narrative Studies
  • 298AB Special Studies (topics vary; consult with graduate counselor)

Please note that not all courses are offered every quarter. Students should consult the registrar's schedule for available courses and class times.

**These courses are sometimes taught as a core course for M.A. students and may not be available to MFA students in any given quarter.

Courses and Projects by Year


The first year of the program is designed to establish foundational skills in all aspects of the art and technique of filmmaking.


Cinematography students take classes in intermediate cinematography, lighting for film and television, cinematography and directing, advanced cinematography, and digital cinematography, among other courses. Students may also take diverse electives such as film and television critical and historical studies, screenwriting, directing actors, makeup fundamentals, production design, etc. Individual Directed Research Projects are encouraged. These courses afford the student an opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty mentors, allowing the student to pursue targeted interests in aesthetic or technical subjects. Cinematography students also serve as the director of photography on projects written and directed by students specializing in the Production/Directing MFA specialization.


Students who enter a third year of study in Cinematography complete a Thesis project in the form of an academic research paper, coupled with a creative or technical project on an aspect of cinematography of interest to them. Combining a written document with original photography, students may create a research project that contributes original knowledge to the field.

All MFA programs in Film, Television and Digital Media are full-time programs. The department admits new students only once each year for the Fall Quarter and the next application period is for Fall 2024. We will be publishing the Fall 2024 supplemental requirements by September 15, 2023.

We do not accept films, DVDs or CDs.

Applicants must submit all required application materials to be considered for admission.

Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2023

By the time of entrance, MFA applicants must:

  • Have at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Satisfy the University of California’s Graduate Admission Requirements.
  • Complete equivalent to a 4-year U.S. bachelor’s degree.


Please complete all of the following steps:

Step 1: Online

  • Complete the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
    • MUST be paid and completed online by November 1, 2023.
    • Indicate MFA, Film and Television, Production/Cinematography as the program.
  • Upload the Statement of Purpose.
    • Submit a 1-2 page document.
  • Upload a Personal Statement.
  • Upload an Essay on Cinematography as Storytelling.
    • Submit a 2-4 page document.
  • Upload Unofficial copies of all Transcripts.
  • Submit Three Letters of Recommendation
    • Enter the Names and Emails of all recommenders into the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.

Step 2: Mail

  • Mail an Official copy of all Transcripts from each Undergraduate and Graduate institutions attended.
    • Note: Community College transcripts are not necessary.
  • Request that all Test Scores be sent directly to UCLA.
    • Only test scores taken by December 31, 2023 will be accepted.
    • The GRE UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409.
    • Note: The GRE is not required for MFA applicants.

Mailing Address

Please send all applicable materials to:

Graduate Film Admissions: Cinematography
UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
103 East Melnitz Hall, Box 951622
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622

Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2023


For more information on requirements and applying to UCLA as an international student, visit

English Proficiency: Any international applicant whose first language is not English must certify proficiency in English when applying to UCLA, and, if admitted, upon arrival. Such applicants must submit scores received on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as part of their application. The UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409. Only test scores taken by December 31, 2023 will be accepted For more information about this requirement, visit International applicants who have received a bachelor’s degree from an American institution are not required to take the TOEFL.

Academic Records: Although the Application for Graduate Admission enables applicants to upload an unofficial copy of their academic records, all applicants are required to submit official records from each academic institution attended. For more information about this requirement, visit

Undergrad Degree Requirement: Applicants must complete equivalent to a 4 year US Bachelor’s Degree. International students who hold three-year ordinary pass degrees, or who hold professional diplomas in accounting, business, librarianship, social work, physical education, health education and so on, or four-year degrees, diplomas or higher certificates from technical, vocational or post-secondary specialized schools are NOT eligible for graduate admission. For Academic Requirements by Country or Educational System, visit:

Proof of Funding for Visa: U.S. immigration law requires that international applicants, if admitted, show documented evidence that sufficient funds to cover all tuition, fees, transportation, and living expenses are available for the first year of their studies at UCLA. This must be proven before a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS2019) for a visa can be issued. For more information about this requirement, visit


For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents interested in receiving financial aid in the 2024-2025 year, note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline for UCLA is March 2, 2024. Applicants must complete the FAFSA by this date if they want to be eligible for all awards, work-study, and scholarships that UCLA offers. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities.


For non-US Citizens or non-Permanent Residents who are approved to pay in-state tuition because they graduated from a high school in California; they will need to complete the California DREAM application by the March 2, 2024 deadline. The DREAM application can be accessed at If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities.

Please visit the FAQ page for additional information, call 310-206-8441, or email

** Please do not contact the department to check on your application, as we cannot update you on your application status or materials.

For Prospective Students:

For Current Students:

Film, Television and Digital Media Counselor: Laura Campbell

Film, Television & Digital Media Staff

Film, Television & Digital Media Faculty