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Merrill College Launches Documentary Master’s Concentration

By Josh Land

The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism will launch a documentary master’s concentration beginning in the 2024-25 academic year. The Fall 2024 application deadline is Jan. 17.

“Documentary films are powerful vehicles for distilling complex social issues through character-driven, cinematic storytelling,” said Dean Rafael Lorente. “When pursuing a documentary master’s at Merrill College, students will develop strong filmmaking skills and have the opportunity to collaborate with distinguished faculty who stand among the nation's top long-form storytellers, investigative journalists and data journalists. Upon graduation, students will be ready to thrive as independent documentary filmmakers or video journalists.”

The four-semester Master of Arts program is flexible and geared toward applicants from a wide range of disciplines and professions who have a deep appreciation for documentary film and its vital role to an informed democracy.

At the completion of the program, students produce a 30-minute documentary short ready for distribution at film festivals or that they can adapt into a feature. In their first two semesters, students will receive intensive training on cinematography, film editing, documentary theory and research methods.

In the last two semesters, students will focus on completing their thesis film, with mentorship from a committee of three faculty members. In addition to the core curriculum, Merrill College students have the opportunity to take cutting-edge courses in data journalism, animation and investigative reporting.

Students will also be encouraged to take advantage of the broad graduate course offerings in other departments at UMD to enhance their knowledge and further hone their filmmaking craft.

The accomplished documentarians on the faculty include Senior Lecturer Josh Davidsburg, whose first feature-length documentary, “Queen of the Capital,” screened at film festivals across the country; Associate Professor Krishnan Vasudevan, whose 2022 feature documentary debut, “One Driver, One Mic,” was an official selection at the 2023 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival; and Broadcast Lecturer Alanna Delfino-Kopania, an award-winning cinematographer and video journalist who co-produced “Queen of the Capital.”

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