Degree Requirements of The Global MFA in Cinematic Arts
Maharishi International University’s Global Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Cinematic Arts is a 72-credit hour terminal degree in the applied arts of digital media conception and production.
The degree is offered online around the world by MIU and its affiliated faculty. The degree is completed through MIU with credit-transfer approvals of up to 36 credit hours from an approved graduate school in your home location. You may apply to join our Global MFA from anywhere in the world, and attend courses synchronously (being part of a live class experience) or asynchronously (observing the recorded version of the same classes). You will also be invited to join us, at your option, in Fairfield, Iowa for occasional course offerings that will take place in a traditional classroom setting.
David Lynch is not a professor at MIU and has no responsibilities regarding the university and its curriculum, professors, and budgetary processes. Students will not have interaction with him during their enrollment. His creative vision and his insight on the primacy of consciousness in creativity and film guides and inspires this unique degree path. We study his films, his paintings, and all of his cross disciplinary art, encouraging our students to undertake their own unbounded journeys in creativity.
While studying at MIU, all students are expected to complete course offerings in theory, aesthetics, and the science and technology of consciousness, as well as required thesis credits.
Courses undertaken through the DLGSCA and its approved partners include traditional offerings in cinema aesthetics and production, thesis work, approved internships, and independent studies. The required coursework also includes classes in the science and technology of consciousness. Transcendental Meditation is central to our approach to creativity and to the working philosophy of the School.
Our American and international students are encouraged to complete up to half of the degree requirements at an approved university of their choice in their home territories, anywhere in the world, then transfer these credits to MIU's David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts. All transfer credits are subject to approval by the Program Director for the Global MFA.
All students interested in the degree path are encouraged to contact the Global MFA Program Director directly to discuss the individualized paths that may be taken to the degree.
MIU provides expedient review of transfer credits and a one-to-one dialogue with students about individualized paths to the MFA in Cinematic Arts. We can help you at all stages.
MIU provides institutional guidance to international students in admissions and, for those desiring to live and undertake part of their studies on the MIU campus in Fairfield, assistance in securing visas for their time in the United States. MIU's campus provides residence and meal options to all students, including orientation days at the beginning of each semester.
Each student will be individually mentored by the Global MFA Program Director or an assigned faculty member and must (a) complete a minimum of 15 credits in courses under Maharishi International University faculty, (b) secure and complete an internship with an approved site supervisor, (c) propose and complete a thesis project approved and overseen by a committee of three, at least two of whom must be MIU faculty or affiliated faculty. A total of 72 credits are required for fulfilment of degree requirements.
Please note that the curriculum and courses offered are each subject to change and improvement to best serve our students. Students will be apprised of these changes in advisory meetings and the program website will be updated to reflect them. Students are also invited to make suggestions for the program during the course of taking the required Survey of the Global MFA.
Instruction in English
The international language of cinema is English, and this Global MFA program will have many faculty who are English speakers. They will lecture in English. Where warranted, lectures may be simultaneously translated by a Graduate Assistant or by other means.
Online aspects of instruction in some courses will be conducted using Zoom and the Canvas learning management system. It will include, for example, Discussion Forums in which students may post short essay responses to the questions given by the professors. Students must post their responses in English, so students who draft their responses in languages other than English will need to use translation software or translation services, at their own expense, to prepare the English version for posting.
Some class assignments may involve research using sources outside of the required texts and readings. Students who want to use English-language sources must be able to read the sources in English or be assisted by their own translation software.
Students must submit their class assignments in English, either as the original language of composition or with the assistance of a translator or translation software. If a professor receives an assignment that is not sufficiently comprehensible in English, the professor will return the assignment to the student to seek assistance for improved translation.
For these reasons, students who have a good ability to read, write, and understand English will find it much easier to gain the full benefits of this Global MFA program. Proficiency in English will give applicants an advantage in the admissions process.
Graduation Requirements for the Global MFA in Cinematic Arts
Please note that the curriculum will evolve from one year to the next, and this will entail course changes. Students will graduate under the terms of curriculum of the catalog in place in the year of admission, with approved substitutions provided as needed.
In consultation with the Global MFA Program Director, the student is guided through the options available to attain the aggregate of 72 credits required for her MFA.
Waivers to required courses (identified below), based on previous professional experience or exceptional circumstances, will be permitted only by petition to the Global MFA Program Director.
Required Courses taken through MIU
DLCA 500 Survey of the Global MFA in Cinematic Arts (2 credits)
DLCA 510 The Creative Process (1 credit)
DLCA 511–515 Creative Intelligence Seminar (minimum of 1 credit per semester, may be taken up to 4 times)
DLCA 720 – Capstone Development (3 credits)
Selective Courses taken through MIU
DLCA 519 - The Films and Philosophy of David Lynch (3 credits)
DLCA 580 - The Business of Delivery and Distribution (3 credits)
DLCA 656 - Documentary Filmmaking (3credits)
DLCA 675 - Producing: Low Budget Filmmaking (3 credits)
DLCA 701 - Producing: Transnational Cinema (3 credits)
Study Abroad Options
DLCA 708 - Study Abroad: The Cannes Film Festival residency* (2)
DLCA 709 - Study Abroad: The Toronto International Film Festival* (2)
DLCA 710 - Study Abroad: Sundance and Los Angeles residency* (2)
* this course option requires payment of supplemental fees
Elective Courses taken through MIU (not required; 9 credits maximum)
Up to 9 (nine) credits in graduate level courses taken on campus in other disciplines at Maharishi International University may be undertaken and counted toward the total credits allowable for graduation.
Students are encouraged, in the spirit of the work of David Lynch, to undertake courses in other fine arts disciplines, such as painting.
Note: while the provision of the elective category is intended to allow flexibility in the degree path, students are not required to choose courses outside the curriculum of the Global MFA in Cinematic Arts.
On a limited basis and solely with approval of the advisor, MFA students may also undertake a registered Independent Study in lieu of a regularly scheduled course:
DLCA 690 Independent Study (1-9 credits after first year)
Required Internship in Cinematic Arts (6–15 credits)
All students are required to undertake internships in the minimum aggregate of 6 credits (equivalent to 6 weeks of full-time work).
The student must identify a field-related internship topic or project and secure the commitment of an on-site supervisor for the project. The student will submit to the Global MFA Program Director a petition for the internship that states the educational objectives of the internship and identifies a full-time faculty member who will be the internship evaluator. In special circumstances, the internship may be conducted at an on-campus location. Upon approval of the faculty evaluator and submission of the Internship Petition, the student may register for DLCA 692/792 Internships.
DLCA 792 Internship (6–15 credits). May be repeated for credit.
Required Thesis (9–15 credits)
In the thesis/project, the student actively participates in an aspect of the design, production and/or delivery of a film project undertaken at a graduate standard. Project scope and duration must be approved prior to registration by the faculty advisor. For thesis credit, the student must serve in one or more of the following roles:
*American students wishing to study screenwriting exclusively are strongly advised to apply for MIU's MFA in Screenwriting.
Credit for any other function on a thesis project will be permitted only with the approval of the Global MFA Program Director.
The student selects a Thesis Committee consisting of a thesis chair and two additional faculty members, then develops a proposal acceptable to the committee. The faculty chair must be drawn from full-time faculty; the other committee members may come from part-time faculty and may include an external evaluator, subject to the chair’s approval.
Students are strongly encouraged to provide their own equipment, including cameras and computers for editing. Our approach to production is egalitarian. You may work, for example, with the camera you have available to you, from the ostensibly "high end" (Alexa, RED) to all other available options (Steven Soderbergh has, for example, recently directed two feature films on mobile devices). MIU equipment cannot be provided for production work outside the Iowa campus. It is recommended that thesis projects undertaken on campus at MIU are rooted in screenwriting, producing (production development), or editing of a work filmed prior to arrival at MIU. Approvals for production theses started and completed on campus at MIU will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The thesis project is a significant piece of work. Except in special circumstances subject to rigorous approval, the thesis registrant’s role in the related production(s) may not be a shared credit. The function must be clearly defined in writing and approved by the faculty advisor prior to registration. Students are otherwise encouraged to collaborate with their classmates, colleagues in their workplaces, and with the community as subjects, cast, and crew in the making of thesis projects.
As students proceed through their own thesis work, and that of their classmates, they register for the following courses as appropriate to their role in the project at that time. At the end of the program, each student will exhibit their film and defend it in an oral examination.
DLCA 730 Thesis Screenwriting (1–15 credits)
DLCA 740 Thesis Pre-Production (1–6)
DLCA 750 Thesis Production (1–15)
DLCA 760 Thesis Post-production (1–15)
DLCA 790 Thesis Exhibition (1 credit)
Students may register for capstone courses only after the committee has approved the student’s proposal. The student then completes the thesis project/production with the guidance of the thesis chair. An 8-10 page paper taking the form of a production diary must accompany all projects submitted for evaluation. The purpose of the accompanying paper is to speak reflectively on the student’s experience of the production process and to facilitate insight into the experience that cannot be observed through reviewing the thesis project in itself.
Upon completion of the thesis requirement, a student will possess either a) a portfolio of work carried out in the disciplines of screenwriting, producing, cinematography, and editing, with other subjects to be considered by the Global MFA Program Director, or b) a thesis film in which the student has functioned as auteur – the writer, director, and editor.
Each credit of DLCA capstone work must be substantiated by at least 45 hours of project-related work with periodic supervision and feedback from the faculty.