Master of Fine Arts Program

Candidates requesting consideration for admission to the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Science and Natural History Filmmaking (SNHF) Program in the School of Film and Photography (SFP), will need to be ready to submit the materials below during this online application process. If sending any hard-copy documents (e.g., official transcripts) please send to: School of Film and Photography, Montana State University, Post Office Box 173350 or Visual Communications Building #202, Bozeman, MT 59717-3350 . Applications are currently open and due by the end of January 2017.

Applicants to the SNHF program need no formal filmmaking training to apply.  Our students represent a wide variety of backgrounds, including the sciences, engineering, medicine and law.  Our graduates come from throughout the United States and the world.  It is preferred, but not required that they have undergraduate or graduate training in science. Commensurate academic or work-related experience with science or science-related projects will also be considered. These fields include but are not limited to biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, earth sciences, computer and technology science, environmental sciences, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, sociology, health sciences, and other related fields. Some research experience is preferred. Candidates are not expected to have education or experience in filmmaking although applications from filmmakers with science backgrounds or science production experience will be given full consideration.

The following materials are required to complete your application: 

  • Application and payment of a non-refundable application fee of $60.00. The fee must be paid before the application will be processed.
  • A Resume. The document should summarize your education, awards or recognition, work experience, foreign language proficiencies and any other special skills.
  • A Personal Statement. (Maximum of 750 words). This short essay should discuss your personal goals in wishing to become a science/natural history filmmaker. You are encouraged to address your experience and your creative/intellectual influences along with your career aspirations. This essay is a critical part of your application. The committee will read it carefully and weigh it heavily in making an admission decision.
  • Official transcripts. Transcripts from all universities attended must be submitted directly to MSU from the university(s) you have attended, however un-official transcripts can be uploaded by the student during this online process. If sending electronic transcripts, please sent them to: snhf@montana.edu.  Applicants who are undergraduate alumni of MSU do not need to submit official transcripts.
  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores. SNHF requires all applicants to have official scores sent to MSU (use code 4488). Minimum scores for the GRE are: 150 Verbal, 150 Quantitative, and 4.5 Analytical Writing. Prior to August 1, 2011, the scores would be: 550+ Verbal, 600+ Quantitative, and 4.5 +. If you have significant deviations from the preferred scores in any area of the exam, please discuss the reasons for your performance in your Personal Statement.
  • Three (3) letters of reference. During this online process, applicants will be asked to provide information about their references. The electronic process will prompt each reference to submit a signed reference letter. The letters should be written by people who are in a position to adequately assess your potential as an SNHF filmmaker. The letters should address your academic or professional accomplishments; your ability to collaborate with others; your written, spoken and (if relevant) media communication skills; and your potential to creatively solve both theoretical and practical problems.
  • International students: in addition to the above, international applicants will be required to submit the following*:
    --  English proficiency scores:  TOEFL score of 80 (internet-based) or 213 (computer-based) or 550 (paper-based) or IELTS, minimum score of 7.0 necessary for applicants who are not U.S. citizens and not from countries where English is the official language. This requirement is waived if the applicant has earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution in the U.S.
    --  Evidence of financial support.
    -- Proof of funds (if self-funded)
    -- Copy of applicant’s passport
    -- Degree certificates as well as an English translation for all non-English academic transcripts and credentials. Photocopies can be used to initiate the application process, however official transcripts/credentials are still required upon admission.
                                                                   *See International application process.
  • OPTIONAL: You may also include a sample of your scientific research work results and/or any film, video or still photography work you have completed previously. Supporting materials will not be returned to the applicant.

 Incomplete applications cannot be considered.

Application Guidelines

The Admissions Committee, which is composed of SNHF faculty, a currently enrolled SNHF graduate student, and a leading member of the MSU science faculty, will evaluate your application with particular attention to your potential to become a filmmaker with competence in both science and filmmaking. There are no deferred admissions. If you decline an offer of admission and wish to enroll in the SNHF at a later date, you need to submit a new application. Please note that the admissions committee may consider previous admission attempts as part of their decision.

Students may also schedule a private visit in either Fall or Spring. While the Program believes visiting the program is an invaluable opportunity for prospective students, it is not required for application or admission to the SNHF.

Applications are currently closed and will re-open in the late summer 2017. Please check back for further updates.


Contact Information

For more information about the Graduate Program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, please email snhf@montana.edu or call 406-994-5884.