The cornerstone of the Center for Documentary Studies’ Continuing Education program is the Certificate in Documentary Arts. Enrollment in the certificate program is not required for students to take CDS courses; however, working toward a certificate provides a more formal process for involvement and for reaching specific goals. No prior educational specialization or expertise is required for enrollment in the program. Certificate students receive special invitations to events and other unique opportunities at the Center for Documentary Studies.

The certificate program establishes a process for engaging and empowering already motivated people to do the work they care about. Specific project goals, integral to the certificate program, create better opportunities for the successful completion of this work. In addition, certificate students can become part of a vibrant program with interested, supportive colleagues. Students are encouraged to think broadly about their projects. While most are photo, audio, or video projects, students have also completed multimedia projects, websites, books, and installations.

Two approaches to earning a Certificate in Documentary Arts are available. The traditional track is best for local students who are able to attend on-site classes at CDS. This track may take up to four years to complete. A two-year distance track, designed for students who live outside the area but who need the support and mentorship that the certificate program provides, is also available. Certificate graduation ceremonies are held in December and May and include public presentations of student projects.

We’ve listed the certificate requirements for each track below.

Certificate in Documentary Arts requirements, on-site track:

Students have four years to complete the following course requirements as well as a documentary project for public presentation.

• Introductory Seminar in Documentary Studies or Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, during which students draft a project proposal with a timeline for completion. This course can be taken at any time in the first year.

• Approximately four electives in any media (for a minimum of 112 total class/credit hours), while conducting fieldwork and putting together a rough draft of final project

• Advanced Projects course, during which students develop their projects over six weeks with the instructor in a small-group setting. This class may be taken more than once.

• Final Seminar in Documentary Studies, during which students refine and polish their projects. The course culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts. Students must receive permission from the director of Continuing Education to enroll in the Final Seminar.

Certificate in Documentary Arts requirements, distance-learning track:

Students have two years to complete the following course requirements as well as a documentary project for public presentation.

• Intensive Introduction to Documentary Studies, during which students draft a project proposal with a timeline for completion. This course can be taken at any time in the first year.

• Elective courses totaling at least 50 class/credit hours. These electives can be a combination of online courses, summer institutes, or weekend workshops.

• Two Doc U Arts sessions. Each year, a Doc U Arts session will take place over a long weekend in February. 

• In September of the second year students will begin a seven-month mentorship with an instructor (chosen by CDS) to refine and polish their final projects. The $1,200 fee covers eight virtual sessions, to be arranged by the student and instructor.

• The certificate program culminates with a public presentation and graduation with the Certificate in Documentary Arts. 

 
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