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Visual Communications Building
Room 202
P.O. Box 173350
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-3350
(406) 994-2484

Dennis Aig, Film Options Administrator
Vicki Miller, Student Coordinator

Department Head
Dr. Walter C. Metz
(406) 994-7588


    • Metz, Walter. Ph.D.
    • Aig, Dennis. Ph.D.
    • Tobias, Ronald. MFA
    • Savoie, Phil. MS
    • Lipfert, Theo. MFA

Degrees conferred

M.F.A. in Science and Natural History Filmmaking

The graduate program in Science and Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University is the first program of its type in the world and remains the largest and the most well-known. Students in the program have had their work broadcast in many major venues such as The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The Science Channel, CNN, Sixty Minutes II, Larry King, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News.  They have produced films for the National Park Service, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, NOAA, NASA, and such non-profit organizations including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and the Nature Conservancy.  Students’ work have appeared in major museums, schools, and cultural venues too numerous to count.    Our students literally travel the world with explorers and scientists to make films from the Pribilof Islands to Easter Island, the Galapagos, Australia, Japan, Mongolia, Africa, Chile, and under the sea as well. 

Our mission is to provide new generations of filmmakers with formal education and experience in science, engineering, or technology who have the knowledge to create accurate and interesting programs that advance the public understanding of science.

Candidates for the MFA take courses that include the history and theory of science and natural history film, as well as extensive work in film and video production, including cinematography, sound, production management, editing, and writing.  The intent of the program is not to prepare students to be cinematographers, editors, sound recordists or writers, but to educate producers and directors who understand the complete production process.


We seek candidates with at least an undergraduate degree in biological or physical sciences, engineering, technology, or the social sciences, and preferably with some research experience. Candidates are not expected to have any formal education or experience in filmmaking.

We also seek candidates with degrees in other disciplines who have at least a minor (or equivalent thereof) in any of the fields mentioned above. A minor is construed as at least thirty hours of concentrated study. Applicants with film experience may be exempted from some or all of the production classes at the discretion of the program director.

Program Requirements

 The curriculum consists of a minimum of sixty semester credit hours of study and thesis film. To graduate, you should complete the course of study in good academic standing and produce and defend a thesis film within four years of your admission to the program.

MTA 504 Film and Documentary Theory 2 Credits
MTA 505 Survey of Science and Natural History Filmmaking 3 Credits
MTA 506 Form and Theory of Science and Natural History Filmmaking 3 Credits
MTA 510 Production Technique I-Lecture 4 Credits
MTA 511 Production Technique I-Lab 2 Credits
MTA 512 Production Methods and Studies I 2 Credits
MTA 515 Production Technique II - Lecture 4 Credits
MTA 516 Production Technique II - Lab 2 Credits
MTA 517 Production Methods and Studies II 2 Credits
MTA 518 Non-Fiction Writing 3 Credits
MTA 552 Advanced Production Practices I 6 Credits
MTA 553 Advanced Production Practices II 6 Credits
MTA 572 Thesis Prep 1 Credit
MTA 590 Master's Thesis 12 Credits
MTA 580 Summer Workshops 1 Credit (On Demand)

Financial Assistance

Depending on the availability of funds, a limited number of teaching assistantships and research assistantships are available each year.

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