Documentary Studies


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A film by one of our Documentary Studies MA students, Margo McClellan:

Documentarians creatively make nonfiction stories. Whether it’s a story about historical events and people or the events of our times, documentarians produce stories that give shape and meaning to our understanding of culture, social life and history. 

Our graduate program at Northern Arizona University's School of Communication provides a solid grounding in communication and the theoretical, critical, and practical traditions that inform documentary work. Students engage in intensive research and fieldwork, professional production skills in storytelling, and learn to critically analyze media in terms of both content and craft.   

The program is ideally suited to prepare graduate students for today's world of cutting-edge multimedia journalism, documentary work, as well as preparation for PhD programs in cinema and media studies. It also provides the foundations to start a business doing production in a variety of formats.

NAU is set in the midst of the striking and diverse Southwest. With its manifold Native American communities, environmental issues, high desert landscapes, canyons and mountains (including the Grand Canyon and other national parks), NAU's Colorado Plateau setting provides a rich palette for the next generation of documentary storytellers.

This is the only Master's level Documentary program in the Southwest.

Students in this program will:

  • Engage a theoretical and historical understanding of documentary as rooted in the traditions of creative storytelling and social critique.
  • Apply heightened skills of observation, critical thinking, and creativity in telling stories about untold, under-reported, and under-represented issues and peoples. 
  • Create and distribute a variety of documentary projects in different forms at an advanced level.
  • Realize that production tools and techniques are a means to author a unique point of view shaped by the documentarian's philosophical sensibilities and ways of perceiving the world.
  • Gain tools for creating their own production business.

Documentary Studies Faculty

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William Carter
Documentary filmmaking, photography, journalism


Toni DeAztllan-Smith, MJ
Documentary filmmaking, journalism

Peter Friederici, MS
Science and environmental writing; oral histories

Janna Jones, PhD
Cultural studies, cinema history, documentary and social change

Kurt Lancaster, PhD
Documentary production, DSLR cinema, cinema raw, and multimedia journalism.


Harun Mehmedinović, MFA
Creative interests include film directing, writing, and photography

Mark Neumann, PhD
Audio documentary and cultural studies