Application Process

Application Process


UPDATE: We will not be accepting applications for the Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking for Spring 2021. Read full statement here.

Who Should Apply

Individuals in the Institute come from such diverse backgrounds as broadcasting, law, psychology, literature, science, anthropology, museum studies, and education. You do not need media experience, technical expertise, or a theoretical background in film in order to be considered for the Institute.

What all participants share, however, is a passionate 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.



You must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education.

We do not require the GRE for admission.

Process for non-GW Students

To complete your application, follow the application process for the Columbian College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You will apply online for the “Spring 2020” semester at the Foggy Bottom Campus.


With your application you must submit these materials DIRECTLY to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences:

  1. Two letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional sources
  2. All college or university transcripts.  You must submit every university transcript even if only one class was taken for credit from an institution.
  3. Three Personal Statement Essays of no more than 350 words each.
  4. A resume or CV


Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 107
Washington DC 20052 

Special Instructions for International Students

All international students who are citizens of countries where English is not the official language will be required to take the TOEFL exam. This is a university requirement and it cannot be waived no matter how competent an English writer and/or speaker the applicant is.

The minimum TOEFL score for admission is 100 on the Internet-based test or 550 on the paper-based test.

Please note that student visas are not available for certificate programs. So international students requiring a visa should not apply to this program.  

Process for Current GW Students

Graduate students who successfully complete the full nine credits will receive the certificate in Documentary Filmmaking in conjunction with their Masters Degree. GW students must take both SMPA 6230 and SMPA 6231 in sequence. 


Your completed application will include:

  1. Signed Petition for Admission to the Certificate Program
  2. Filled out Registration Transaction Form, ready-for-approval and signature
  3. Three Personal Statement Essays of no more than 350 words each.
  4. A resume or CV


Please have your Director of Graduate Studies sign The Petition for Admission to the Certificate Program prior to submitting your application materials. When you have all of these documents completed, bring them to 519 MPA. If no one is in, slide your application materials under the door. 

Essay Requirements

You are required to submit three essays. Each essay has a 350 word limit.

1. Why do you wish to be a member of the Institute? What unique experience or attributes would make you an asset to a documentary production team? (Note that selection is based on a variety of criteria – not only on your past academic or professional experience, but also your personal interests, travel experience, and world-view.)

2. Because the members of each Institute collectively produce a short documentary film, we are interested in learning more about your ability to work with others. Please carefully describe a significant experience in which you had to depend upon others and work in a group in a highly collaborative and intensive circumstance.

3. Filmmaking is not a linear process and usually emerging filmmakers find themselves on uncharted and difficult roads in launching their careers.  Describe a circumstance in which you had an “epic fail,” recount what you did to overcome that failure, and what you learned from that experience.

Apply Online Now!