Program Coordinator: David Sanders

For questions about this program, please contact Beverly Peterson.

Documentary: The Big Picture

What do Catfish, MTV’s True Life, ESPN’s 30 for 30, and Frontline have in common? They’re all examples of the types of documentaries you will be exploring in this program. Non-fiction programming in the form of news journalism, real-life storytelling, and info-tainment, not to mention reality–television, seems to be dominating our 21st century air waves.  Real-life stories — about people, cultures, and discoveries — connect us interculturally and enhance our appreciation of the world.

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Television and Digital Media, Documentary concentration fosters a theoretical and practical understanding of the art of storytelling through narrative development and advanced production techniques, taught within the context of a broad-based, liberal-arts education. Whether your ultimate goal is in the realm of theatrical, experimental, film, video or transmedia production, this program is designed to equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to become an effective producer. Coursework is complemented by hands-on production, elective courses and internship opportunities, all of which allow you to cultivate broad areas of expertise as you develop a personalized approach to non-fiction filmmaking and/or video production.

What You Will Study

The Documentary concentration includes the study of investigative research and technological methods, as well as writing-skill development – all of which are critical to producing meaningful documentary works. Coursework progresses to the exploration of field-production techniques including lighting, audio, interviewing, location scouting and editing. Projects include smaller-scale studies as well as full-scale documentaries which may be suitable for student film-festival submission or dissemination through the Internet, social media sharing and/or viewing on mobile devices. You will be encouraged to develop multi-platform projects that complement electives chosen from the School’s Television, Filmmaking, Communication Studies, Electronic Journalism and Audio program curriculum areas.

Students in the Documentary concentration are also encouraged to pursue related Minor courses of study in areas such as Film Studies, Anthropology, Business, or International Studies to further enhance their knowledge base. Internship experiences in media industries, moreover, provide opportunities for applying skills and learning from mature practitioners.

The curriculum for the BA in Television and Digital Media, Documentary Concentration is comprised of 120 credits (3 cr. per course) and includes five areas of requirement:

  1. Documentary courses (15 credits) — sequential instruction specific to the major-concentration
  2. Common-Core School Curriculum (18 credits) — a broad foundation for understanding all communication and media disciplines (required of all students in the School of Communication and Media)
  3. Major Elective courses (15 credits) — further development of major-related expertise
  4. General education courses (45-48 credits)  –  exploration of studies that comprise a liberal arts education – e.g. in writing, humanities, math, and the natural, social and computer sciences (required of all University students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree)
  5. Free electives (15-24 credits) — exploration of additional areas of interest or inclusion of a Minor

For complete course requirements and descriptions, go to:

Careers in Television and Digital Media – Documentary

Below is a sampling of career titles which support Documentary productions:

  • Executive Producer
  • Production Coordinator
  • Documentary Research Assistant
  • Director
  • Cinematographer/Videographer
  • Film/Video editor
  • Investigative Reporter
  • News Writer
  • Sound Mixer/Recordist
  • Background Researcher
  • Photographer
  • Production Manager
  • Location Scout
  • Narration Script Writer

Visit the links below for additional professional and career-related information:

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