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The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking

A Graduate Certificate Program

The annual January through June Institute for Documentary Filmmaking is the central educational offering of The Documentary Center and is both a theoretical and hands-on exploration of the documentary form.  The six-month program leads to a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking.

For the 2017 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking, November 1 is the priority deadline for applicants who wish to enroll in the tuition payment plan. Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals in the Institute come from such diverse backgrounds as broadcasting, law, psychology, literature, science, anthropology, museum studies, and education. Many participants do not have media or filmmaking backgrounds, while others have extensive experience in the these fields.  

What all participants share, however, is a commitment to creating non-fiction stories and developing their expression in a visual form.  Moreover, each member of the Institute must have a demonstrated ability to work collaboratively, as this course – as well as all filmmaking – is a highly interactive, interpersonal experience.

The Institute Experience

The Institute is divided into two parts:

  • Courses and lectures on the conceptual issues in filmmaking as well as technical workshops (January - April)
  • Capstone project: students work as a group to develop and produce a short documentary film  (May - June)

We offer a total of nine graduate credits for this program.  Participants who successfully complete the full program with a grade of "B"average or higher will earn the Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking.

Interested? Find out more details.

Webinar Recording: 2016 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking

In this 30-minute webinar Nina Seavey, Director of the Documentary Center at George Washington University, will tell you more about the 2016 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking.

In this intensive 6-month accelerated graduate certificate program you will:
• Learn to tell a compelling non-fiction story
• Receive a theoretical background and hands-on training in documentary production
• Gain skills in screenwriting, storyboarding, cinematography, lighting, sound, and editing

Apply Now!

Thinking of applying to the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking? Visit our application process page to find out more.

Student Testimonial

"The Documentary Institute changed my idea of storytelling. The heart of the program is learning how to form a compelling story, which was an important foundation as we went through the stages of learning to be filmmakers. For students who are looking for an intensive, accelerated overview of documentary filmmaking, this program is very helpful. Students come away with a basic understanding of everything needed to start making documentaries."

— Caitlin Carroll, Class of 2011

Washington's Best Film Award

Presentation (by Ted Leonsis & Mayor Vincent Grey) to "Released to Life" - A film by the 2011 Institute for Documentary Filmmaking