Documentary Studies

What do Man on Wire, An Inconvenient Truth, The Fog of War, The March of the Penguins, Born into Brothels, and Bowling for Columbine have in common? They are all Academy Award winning documentaries. They are all powerful and compelling stories based on real life ideas and issues and people, and they move us and enlighten us in ways that fiction film does not.

Have you ever looked at the photographs of Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, or Henri Cartier Bresson? Have you visited Check them out, and be prepared to be blown away.

The Documentary Studies Specialization will prepare you to be a part of the tradition, history, theory, and production of Documentary forms and modes of expression. That means film, video, audio, web, photography - any medium with which you can examine the wonder and complexity of the real world.

Our focus is on bringing high level production and analysis together to produce theoretically informed work. Students will gain a cutting edge understanding of the challenges of representing reality. We will screen the best works of the present and the past, work in teams to create short and long form documentaries, and interact with the best of contemporary documentarians. Graduates of the specialization will be prepared for success in the world of the documentary, whether it is in Journalism, Public or Cable Television, or Independent or Feature films.


The Specialization in Documentary Studies is jointly administered by the Department of Media and Informationwithin the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Letters. The Department of Media and Informationis the primary administrative unit. The specialization is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor's degree programs at Michigan State University. Students in the Department of English; the School of Journalism; the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media; and the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures may find this specialization of particular interest.

Prerequisite Courses

There are no prerequisite courses for this specialization.

Application process

Students who are interested in the specialization are eligible to apply if they are in good academic standing. Applications will be reviewed prior to annual enrollment.

Schedule an appointment with a CAS advisor to discuss the Documentary Studies Specialization

Apply today for the Documentary Studies Specialization
Deadline to apply: February 21, 2014

Program Requirements

Once accepted to the specialization, students will meet with the Documentary Studies Specialization advisor to plan future enrollment. With the approval of the department that administers the student's degree program, courses that are used to satisfy the requirements for the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the bachelor's degree. The student's program of study must be approved by the student's academic advisor for the specialization.


Stratton Lee, III

Documentary Studies Advisor
189 Communication Arts and Sciences Building

Bob Albers

Documentary Studies Program Coordinator
267 Communication Arts & Sciences

Share via these networks: