Program Overview

One of the Top Ten Documentary Film Programs in the Nation

Program overview


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


The annual January through June Institute for Documentary Filmmaking is the central educational offering of The Documentary Center. This six-month advanced nine-credit program leads to a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking.

6 month program

A six-month, nine-credit program leads to a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Filmmaking.

Program Overview Docuwood

D.C. is the hub for non-fiction filmmaking in the U.S. Major production companies - including National Geographic Television, WETA, and more - are located within the DC metropolitan area.

Program Overview Internships

All students are eligible for hands-on internships during the first four months of the Institute and are highly sought after by production companies large and small.

There are no other intensive graduate documentary filmmaking programs in the nation like the Institute for Documentary Filmmaking at the George Washington University (GW). For 30 years, we have been the only institution that offers this type of concentrated, intensive training and education in nonfiction production. The Institute for Documentary Filmmaking has been ranked one of the top ten documentary programs in the nation.

Held in “Docuwood” - The Epicenter of U.S. Documentary Filmmaking

Our location adds to your unique experience in the Institute. Washington, D.C., is considered the “Docuwood” of filmmaking: PBS, Discovery and National Geographic are all based in Washington, D.C., as does an entire industry that supports these nonfiction giants. Our students regularly intern for these and other esteemed non-fiction production entities and these organizations frequently provide professional development and networking opportunities for our students. Our students also benefit from access to the largest historical collections in the world at the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution in your everyday work that no other location or program can offer.

Welcoming Students From Diverse Professional and Academic Backgrounds

Individuals who attend the Institute come from such diverse backgrounds as broadcasting, law, psychology, literature, science, anthropology, museum studies, and education. Many participants do not have any media or filmmaking backgrounds, while others have extensive experience in these fields, so prior technical experience is not a requirement.

What all participants share, however, is a strong 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.