• UWM Film Graduate Program

Intensive Arts Program

Our graduate program is interdisciplinary, hands-on, and non-commercial in spirit with a commitment to the intensive and rigorous production of creative time-based art. We have a dedicated, internationally-recognized faculty for a small and mutually supportive group of 10-14 graduate students each year. We encourage works that demonstrate a personal commitment to the art of media making, projects marked not so much by any particular style, but rather by the questions they explore. It is the goal of the program to assist each graduate student in completing a number of accomplished works rooted in a developed sense of community, culture, and self.

Graduate Portfolio


4-5 Teaching Assistantships are awarded each year, which include tuition remission, an annual stipend, and affordable state health coverage through the University. In addition, graduate students are offered studio space at our Kenilworth Square East building for a small annual fee. More information can be found on our Scholarships & Aid page.


We maintain artistic and intellectual connections within the university, including partnerships with the departments of Art & Design, Music, Dance, History, Architecture, Anthropology, English, the Center of 21st Century Studies, the Center for International Education, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Regional partners include the Milwaukee Film Festival, Wisconsin Film Festival, Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and Chicago’s Video Data Bank.

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Specific degree information can be found in the UWM Academic Catalog along with credits, courses, admission and program requirements.

MFA – Cinematic Arts

MFA Degree Curriculum

Major Thesis Advisor / Graduate Review / Mid-semester Critique:

  • During the first year, each student chooses a major thesis advisor from the department’s graduate faculty to advise and supervise the student’s studies. At the end of the second semester (and every semester thereafter), students present their current projects to a selected graduate review committee. This committee includes the student’s major thesis advisor and at least two additional members of the graduate faculty. Additionally, we encourage students to seek professional relationships with faculty from other departments who can then be invited to take part in the graduate review committee.
  • Another formal opportunity for sharing work is mid-semester critique, held over the course of several evenings every year in mid fall and mid spring. Each graduate student has an hour to present work and get feedback from the entire graduate student body and graduate faculty. 2nd-year graduate students present during the fall semester, and 1st-year graduate students present in the spring. Each student presents twice at mid-semester critique during her or his tenure.

Thesis Presentation:

  • Upon recommendation of the major thesis advisor and the graduate review committee, each student, at the end of the 2nd year, is required to present work as part of a thesis exhibition program at the Union Cinema. This exhibition is typically near the latter part of May.


  • Graduate students must receive a B or better in all courses in order to receive credit towards the MFA. It is recommended that MFA candidates complete their course work and thesis in two years, enrolling in 12 credits per semester. The process of graduating includes submission of a graduation application (with an application fee), overview of coursework done to ensure compliance with curriculum requirements, and the final review and approval of the thesis by the graduate review committee and major thesis advisor. Students must inform the Graduate School of their intention to graduate no later than the second week of the semester in which they wish to graduate.

Select students can earn a third year of MFA study

Third Year Residency: Honorific award for students who have both produced creative work at a very high level and have completed strong thesis work.

Third Year Union Cinema Programming: For more details on both third year options, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program, Jesse Mclean, mcleanj@uwm.edu.


Profile Picture

Ben Balcom

MFA, Film | 2015

"Beyond what I knew was happening in Milwaukee, there’s a pretty significant amount of nationwide micro-cinemas and alternative screening rooms that I see Microlights as a real part of. Microlights is a little node on a much larger network and that network is still blossoming." Ben Balcom on his micro-cinema, Microlights.

Careers in Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

3D Modeler
Adr Editor
Advertising & Sales
Aerial Cinematographer
Art Director
Arts Administration
Assistant Director
Best Boy
Boom Operator
Broadcast Producer
Camera Operator
Casting Director
Character Rigger
Client Services Supervisor
Compositing Artist
Creature Designer
Development Executive
Digital Account Executive
Digital Imaging Technician
Digital Media Product Developer
Dolly Grip
Drone Operator
Dubbing Mixer
Educational Video Director/Producer
Electronics & Sensor Designer
Elementary/Secondary School Teacher
Entertainment/Studio Executive
Festival Director/Programmer
Field Segment Producer
Film Archivist/Processor/Writer
Foley Specialist
Forensic Animator
Image Librarian/Archivist
Interaction Designer
Jimmy Jib Operator
Key Grip
Lighting Designer/Technician
Line Producer
Location Manager/Scout
Medical Animator
Motion Capture Engineer
Motion Graphics Designer/Producer
Multimedia Artist/Journalist/Producer
News Producer
Photo Asset Manager/Instructor/Editor
Photographic Labs/Image Producer
Post-Production Supervisor
Press Agent
Producer (Television & Film)
Production Designer/Manager
Programming & Software Designer
Prop Maker
Properties Producer
Public Relations/Publicist
Puppet Fabricator
Reality Programming Director
Recording & Mastering Engineer
Rights & Clearances
Rotoscope Artist
Script Editor/Supervisor/Writer
Set Constructor/Designer/Director
Social Media Specialist
Sound Designer/Editor/Mixer
Steadicam Operator
Still Photography
Stop Motion Animator
Storyboard Artist
Studio Merchandiser
Talent Producer
Technical Illustrator/Writer
Texture Artist
University Administration
University Faculty
Visual Effect Specialist/Supervisor
Wardrobe Supervisor
Web Producer
Webisode Writer/Researcher


Graduate Faculty: Film

profile photoBen Balcombrbalcom@uwm.eduMitchell B73C

Assistant Professor, Film

profile photoDick Blaudickblau@uwm.eduKenilworth Square East 491

Professor Emeritus, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

profile photoCarl Bognercrlelbog@uwm.eduMitchell B69A

Senior Lecturer, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Director, MKE LGBT Film/Video Festival

profile photoPortia Cobbpcobb@uwm.eduMitchell B73A

Associate Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Director, Community Media Project

profile photoCecelia Conditccondit@uwm.eduMitchell B83B

Professor Emeritus, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

profile photoLori Felkerfelker@uwm.eduMitchell B83

Assistant Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Director, Milwaukee Underground Film Festival

profile photoKelly Kirshtnerkirshtne@uwm.eduMitchell B73B

Associate Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

profile photoJesse McLeanmcleanj@uwm.eduMitchell B83B

Associate Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Director, Film Graduate Program

profile photoSteve Wetzel(414) 391-2955swetzel@uwm.eduMitchell B83C

Associate Professor, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Department Chair, Film, Video, Animation and New Genres

Department Faculty & Staff