FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What makes the AFI Conservatory different from a university program?
A: Each and every program is unique. AFI is based on a Conservatory model, which focuses the educational experience in a hands-on production environment. For example, during the first year, each Directing, Producing and Cinematography Fellow (student) has the opportunity to make three narrative projects; Editors work on up to six projects; Production Designers work on up to four; and Screenwriters write at least one of the narrative projects produced as well as commence work on a feature screenplay. The AFI Conservatory focuses training in the moving image arts.
Q: How long is the Conservatory program?
A: The Conservatory program is a full time, two year Master of Fine Arts degree program in six different disciplines. Fellows can expect to graduate after finishing their thesis requirements within two and a half years after starting the program.
Q: I do not have a Bachelor of Arts degree. Would I still be considered for admission?
A: Yes, you do not need a B.A. to apply to the AFI Conservatory. Upon successful completion of your program's requirements, you would be awarded a Certificate of Completion. Click here for Certificate of Completion gainful employment disclosures.
Q: My degree is unrelated to film, will I still qualify to study at the AFI Conservatory?
A: Although it is not required, applicants are recommended to have demonstrated experience and/or educational background relating to the discipline to which the applicant is applying. For example, Producing applicants may have a background or degree in business or economics and Production Design applicants may have a background or degree in architecture, theatre arts, graphic or fine arts, all of which are applicable to the desired discipline of study.
Q: May I apply to more than one discipline? Is it possible to enroll in more than one field of study?
A: The AFI Conservatory is designed for those who want to advance their craft in a specific discipline. Most applicants are committed to only one discipline, but yes, you may apply to more than one area of interest. You must submit a separate application (including a discipline-specific narrative statement, submission materials and application fee) for each discipline to which you wish to apply. Due to the collaborative nature of the program, successful applicants will be accepted into only one discipline. It is suggested you do not apply for more than three disciplines in the same academic year.
Q: What submission materials are best to send with my application?
A: While each program will require examples of work specific to the chosen discipline, film submissions should be no more than 15 minutes in length for Directors and 20 minutes in length for other disciplines (40 minutes total between the two samples), and personally demonstrate individual talent and ability. The AFI Conservatory focuses on narrative filmmaking; samples should also be narrative in format. Producer submissions can include a PDF of treatments or screenplays (20 pages maximum) that they feel best displays their narrative talent. Production Designer submissions should present at least 75% of their work in their submitted portfolio. Screenwriters can send a script as a T.V. pilot or as an animated series, as long as they show narrative ability and it is the best demonstration of their talent.
Q: I want to apply to the AFI Conservatory now, but I am only 19.
A: Our program is very rigorous. The average age of Fellows is 27, and almost all have previous professional experience or an undergraduate degree in filmmaking. The maturity of the class guarantees their ability to collaborate and succeed with little introductory training. Also, due to the AFI on-set production insurance coverage and the lack of campus housing, adults are preferred. In order to work on an AFI production, all volunteers and crew members must be 18 years of age due to insurance requirements. The ideal applicant is at least 21 years of age.
Q: How many individuals apply and how many are accepted?
A: The AFI Conservatory receives hundreds of applications each year. Enrollment is limited to 140 Fellows — 28 Cinematographers, 28 Directors, 14 Editors, 28 Producers, 14 Production Designers and 28 Screenwriters.
Q: I’m confused by the narrative statement. How should I write it?
A: We break down what the narrative statement should be about in the admissions requirements page on our website. That is a just a template for you to use so you can write your statement. This is the place where you should tell us about yourself so we can get to know you, your passion for filmmaking, and what makes you unique. You can address each area of the narrative statement separately, or you can blend it all together into one statement. Just make sure it’s no longer than 3 pages.
Q: Can I submit two scripts that are within the 20 page limit?
A: No. Please follow the instructions for the required supporting materials for the Screenwriting discipline. Only one script sample can be submitted as part of the 20 page example. You can submit a screenplay that is less than 20 pages. The title page and a one page synopsis does not count towards the 20 pages. Only those materials will be reviewed by the Admissions committee, and the Admissions committee will not review a project that is longer than the recommended length.
Q: Can I submit an additional movie or production stills? Can my films be longer than the required length?
A: No. Please follow the required supporting materials for each discipline. Only those materials will be reviewed by the Admissions committee, and the Admissions committee will not review a project that is longer than the recommended length. Please cut down any samples to fit within those time constraints, and please only submit one video sample per link.
Q: Can I send my transcripts before my application's deadline date?
A: Of course! You can request your official transcripts to be sent to AFI before the deadline. We hold all transcripts received. Transcripts are needed for any school that you list on your application. Please note, transcripts have to be manually uploaded by the Admissions staff to your application after it has been submitted. Please allow the Admissions office at least one week to do so. Please note, official e-transcripts often have a time sensitive encryption on them. Please refrain from sending official e-transcripts to our Admissions office before you submit your application.
Q: Is the online application all that is due on the deadline dates? Can I submit supporting material after the deadline?
A: Everything except transcripts, recommendations, and TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants) are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on each discipline's deadline date. The online application, the application fee, your narrative statement, your resume, and the discipline specific supporting materials are all due on the deadline. Transcripts, recommendations letters, and TOEFL/IETLS scores for international applicants can be received after the deadline, but we ask we get them in a timely manner so we can get your application into review as soon as possible. Please note, your recommenders will not receive a link until your application has been submitted and received by the Admissions office, and your application can not be reviewed until we receive all materials.
Q: I’m having trouble uploading my documents. Can you help?
A: Applicants usually have trouble uploading documents when the document is not in PDF format and when there is a special character in the title. Please make sure the documents are in PDF format, and that there are no special characters in the title, including apostrophes and commas. Keep your document name as simple as possible. Also, the Empower application system works best using either Safari or Firefox browsers. We do not recommend using Google Chrome.
Q: Are scholarships and Financial Aid available at the AFI Conservatory?
A: The AFI Conservatory offers scholarship support to first year Fellows which is renewable in the second year upon satisfactory academic progress. For more information, please see the Scholarships page. Applicants are encouraged to actively explore all funding options and to research outside (non-AFI) scholarships, even before acceptance into the school, and to develop a plan to support the costs of graduate study for the duration of the program. Many outside scholarships can take up to one year to process. Applications for these scholarships should be submitted in advance of desired entry into the program. Please consult the Scholarships page for a list of outside scholarship opportunities.
Generally, Federal Direct student loans will make up the majority of aid eligibility at the AFI Conservatory. Typically, the Federal Direct Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan have been the foundation of aid offered to graduate students. The Financial Aid page can provide more information on these loans.
Q: How do I apply for scholarships and Financial Aid at the AFI Conservatory? How do I know I am eligible?
A: All applicants for admission may apply for AFI scholarships. If you wish to apply for AFI Scholarship funds, you must submit the AFI Conservatory scholarship application. Download the pdf application, complete it and the required essay(s), and you will be asked to upload it in pdf format within the online application. Only those scholarship applications uploaded through the admission application will be accepted. The scholarship selection is determined by the AFI Conservatory Financial Aid and Awards Committee with advisement from select scholarship donors on a case-by-case basis. Outside (non-AFI) scholarships are also available for graduate study. Applicants must research these opportunities individually. Deadlines to apply vary. Please see the Scholarships page for more information.
To be eligible for Federal Direct student loans, applicants must either be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and among other federal requirements, must not have a current federal student loan default on record. The Financial Aid page can provide more information on these loans.
Q: What are the deadlines to apply for scholarships and Financial Aid and when will I hear if I am awarded anything?
A: You must apply for AFI Scholarships within the admission application. Applicants will generally be notified of financial aid the month following acceptance into the Conservatory if not with their offer of admission.
Q: I want to be considered for a scholarship. Can I submit the scholarship application after my discipline's deadline?
A: No. In order to be considered for either a merit or financial based scholarship, you must upload the scholarship application as part of your online application. International and domestic applicants can apply for an AFI scholarship. The scholarship application and the essay should be attached in the same document. You can either merge them together in a PDF, print out the documents and scan them in together as a PDF or use an app on your phone.
Q: Does the AFI Conservatory accept international applicants and what is required?
A: About a third of our Fellows are international and are from all over the world. Our international admission requirements only differ in providing English proficiency — a TOEFL or IELTS score is required. Please refer to the admissions requirements for international applicants. Also, if transcripts are submitted, applicants must include an original (no copies) plus an official English translation (if applicable). Please refer to the transcripts section of the admissions requirements.
Q: I applied last year and was not accepted to the AFI Conservatory. Should I reapply?
A: Yes, and you are encouraged to do so. It is strongly recommended that you reapply only if you have new work to submit and if your experience or submission materials have enhanced your qualifications.
Q: I've heard conflicting information about Fellows transitioning into the second year. Is it true that AFI only allows a small fraction of its first year students to continue to their second year?
A: At the end of the first year, all Fellows are provided with an "end-of-year" portfolio review, which provides an overall evaluation of the Fellow's work during the first year. All Fellows are reviewed within their disciplines by the Senior Filmmakers-in-Residence and faculty. Fellows are evaluated on the basis of the quality of the work completed during the reviewed period, attendance and participation in the program, collaboration, professional attitude and creative potential. As with other graduate-level programs, continuation is based on the faculty's overall evaluation of progress and potential; a Fellow will be invited to continue in the MFA/Certificate program by decision of the faculty.
Q: Does the AFI Conservatory have rolling admissions entry for Spring? Can I apply after December 1?
A: We only accept applications for Fall entry. Applications completed earlier have a better chance to be considered for scholarships and a position in the class, but each discipline has its own deadline for admission.
Q: Does the AFI Conservatory accept Veteran Administration's benefits?
A: Yes, the AFI Conservatory welcomes Fellows who receive VA education benefits. Eligible service members are encouraged to visit the VA website at: http://www.gibill.va.gov or by phone at 888–442–4551 to learn more and to begin the application process. Fellows must apply for VA education benefits and also be admitted to the AFI Conservatory before Certification of Enrollment will be granted. After being admitted to the Conservatory, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) should be presented to the School Certifying Official (SCO) in the Office of the Registrar.
Depending upon the service member's Chapter of eligibility, funds are dispersed either to the Fellow or directly to the AFI Conservatory (for service members with Chapter 33/Post–9/11 GI Bill, payments for tuition and fees are paid directly to the school. Benefits paid under most other Chapters are dispersed directly to the Fellow).
Fellows must remain in good standing to continue receiving VA education benefits. Unsatisfactory (failing) grades in courses required for degree completion, and/or disciplinary/dismissal actions rendered against the Fellow are reported to the VA and may result in loss of education benefits.
Please refer to the VA website for information about your eligibility under the following Chapters: Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) Chapter 32, Chapter 33 (Post–9/11 GI Bill), Chapter 35, Chapter 1606 Montgomery GI Bill–SR, and Chapter 1607. Currently, the AFI Conservatory does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program in connection with Chapter 33 benefits.
Q: May I visit the AFI Conservatory?
A: Yes, you are welcome to visit the campus and we offer campus tours on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. The AFI Conservatory campus tours consist of an overview of our Master's film school programs. Guests get to see the facilities and get a better understanding of the six disciplines and what it offers to prospective candidates who are interested in Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. You may e-mail the Admissions Office at CampusTours@AFI.com to RSVP. Regular office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the academic year.