The admission process of the AFI Conservatory provides for careful review of all applications. The process is complex and relies both on traditional screening and ranking devices, as well as subjective judgment of the applicant's potential by the members of the Admissions Committee, which comprises both faculty and alumni.
Criteria for selection include:
- A demonstrated passion for narrative filmmaking
- A demonstrated desire to collaborate with other artists in a rigorous Conservatory environment
- The ability to commit full-time (often seven days a week) to the program
- Preferred age of at least 21 years
- All applicants are asked to submit samples of creative work, a narrative personal statement, documented prior educational experience (official academic transcripts), two letters of recommendation and a résumé of life and work experience as evidence to demonstrate their potential to be successful candidates for the AFI Conservatory program.
To ensure that no single viewpoint or perspective dominates the selection process, several reviewers examine each application before an admissions decision is made. If an application is reviewed positively, the applicant will be contacted for a requisite personal interview. Upon completion of all interviews, the Admissions Committee makes decisions regarding acceptances, communicated through written electronic correspondence.
The online application for the AFI Conservatory must be filled out completely and submitted online with the appropriate application fee paid. Applications will not be processed without a completed application form and submission of a non-refundable application fee. Applicants are expected to exercise their judgment in selecting the most appropriate examples of their work or creative experience. The applicant's role in the production of the submitted materials must be clearly and accurately identified.
Applicants whose records satisfy all AFI Conservatory requirements for admissions, and have been approved by the Admissions Review Committee are granted full admission status.
Applicants who have been recommended as admissible by the faculty and approved by the Admissions Review Committee, but have an incomplete dossier, may be given provisional admission. An example of this "incomplete" category would be applicants who are required to take Avid Media Composer or other preparatory classes prior to the start of the academic year. Accepted candidates with provisional admissions will be advised of their application deficiencies and must fully satisfy these deficiencies by the first day of the first fall term, or their admission will be revoked.
Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from a U.S.-accredited academic institution or a bachelor's degree equivalency document (if the program was completed outside of the U.S.) to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree. If an applicant has exceptional talent and ability, as determined by the Admissions Review Committee, but does not have an undergraduate degree or equivalency, that applicant may be admitted as an "Associate Fellow." Associate Fellows are required to meet all the requirements and obligations of degree candidate Fellows. Associate Fellows may be awarded a Certificate of Completion if they satisfy all of the requirements of the AFI Conservatory program within their respective discipline. There can be no change of program status from certificate to degree after the completion of the first term of attendance. There will be no retroactive awarding of the MFA degree once a Certificate of Completion is officially awarded. It is the responsibility of the applicant to obtain the equivalency document, and it is recommended to have the document before entering the AFI Conservatory.
Applicants who are recommended by the Admissions Review Committee as alternates within a discipline are not to be considered admitted. They are considered for admission on a space-available basis, subject to the approval of the Admissions Review Committee or its designee.
Appeal of Admissions Decision
As described above, the selection process for the AFI Conservatory is complex and involves decisions and judgments regarding creative potential and commitment. These judgments are based on professional expertise and experienced knowledge of the AFI Conservatory program and are not subject to appeal except in cases where issues of process and specific factual error occur; the Conservatory will consider appeals solely on these grounds. Appeals should be addressed to the Vice Dean, Enrollment Services and should specify the factual basis of the appeal and all related information. The Dean and the Conservatory policies committee, which governs the academic affairs of the AFI Conservatory, will consider appeals.
Because enrollment numbers must be limited due to curriculum resources and needs, and admission is allowed for fall term enrollment only, appeals must be submitted within thirty days of the original notification of the applicant's admission status.
Due to the concerns of safety and security in a highly interactive and demanding AFI Conservatory environment, AFI reserves the right to deny admission to persons convicted of felony crimes, particularly violent crimes. Crimes include, but are not limited to, homicide, manslaughter, rape, robbery, assault and burglary. The AFI Conservatory will give consideration to the nature of the criminal activity and its potential relationship to the campus and production environment, the elapsed time since the crime was committed and the rehabilitation efforts of the applicant.
The selection process is dependent on the credibility of the material submitted. Fraudulent application materials, or their representation, shall be grounds to have any admissions decision rescinded or, in the case of a Fellow already in attendance, for immediate dismissal. The Admissions Office shall conduct an initial review of a suspected fraudulent application. The individual Fellow involved will be contacted and asked to present an explanation of the issues of concern. If the Admissions Office is not satisfied that the issues in question are resolved, the matter will be considered by the Dean, who may convene the Conservatory Policies Committee, which shall make the final determination and propose a course of action.
Notice of Non-Discriminatory Policy
The AFI Conservatory admits individuals of any sex, race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, disability, medical condition, age, marital status or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities accorded or made available to Fellows at the Conservatory. The AFI Conservatory does not discriminate based on any of these; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in our educational programs. Prohibited sex discrimination includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Notification of Admissions Decisions and Information
All admission materials must be received by the deadlines stated on the Conservatory's website in order to be processed and reviewed. It is the responsibility of applicants to ensure that all materials are properly submitted to the AFI Conservatory, and to keep the AFI Conservatory and its Office of Admissions advised of current address and telephone contact information.
Only official communications through the Office of Admissions should be considered official and valid regarding the admissions process. Only admission letters signed by the president and CEO of the American Film Institute or the Dean of the AFI Conservatory shall be considered official.
Proof of English Competency
The exceptional interactive and collaborative nature of the moving image arts and the production process make English language comprehension and communication skills essential to the program. All applicants for whom English is not the first language, with the exception of those who have completed a degree at an accredited academic university in an English-speaking country where English was the language of instruction, must provide proof of English proficiency. International applicants who cannot demonstrate English language competency will not be admitted to the AFI Conservatory.
Applications will not be reviewed without a qualifying score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Applicants must submit a TOEFL score of at least 100 (internet-based), 250 (computer-based) or 600 (paper-based) or an IELTS score of 7.0. The TOEFL and IELTS are administered by the Education Testing Service (ETS). Submitted test scores must be from tests taken within 24 months of submission. It should be noted that the final level of English language competency as it relates to admission into the AFI Conservatory is determined by and is at the discretion of the Admissions Review Committee. Applicants may be exempt if an undergraduate degree program that includes English Composition and Literature or its equivalent, or two semesters of non-remedial English Composition and Literature, or an intensive English program (minimum one year) with results that equal the TOEFL or IELTS requirements, has/have been successfully completed in the United States or other English-speaking country. A master's degree program will not be considered for an exemption unless it includes the above English courses. Please visit our International Applicants page for more information about requesting a test exemption.
The Admissions office will retain admissions records for those not accepted for a period of three years, after which said records will be destroyed. Records shall be maintained, and access managed, in a manner consistent with appropriate regulations.
Only official transcripts, either hard copy or digital, sent directly from the institution attended (or in their original sealed envelope if collected by the applicant) can be accepted. Applicants must have transcripts sent from all undergraduate institutions previously attended. International transcripts not submitted in English must have a certified English translation. Applicants who claim an equivalency undergraduate degree must provide an official equivalency from an accredited evaluating agency.
Transfer Students and/or Credit(s)
Due to the unique nature of the AFI Conservatory production-based and collaborative program, the Conservatory does not accept transfer students for admission. Accepted applicants must enter as a first year, first term Fellow with the intent to attend full-time for the duration of the program. Institutional review to be exempt from a particular course in which a Fellow has previous knowledge and experience is considered by requesting credit for prior learning from the AFI Conservatory's Registrar's Office. In such a circumstance, if accepted to the Conservatory, transfer credit(s) from other accredited graduate level programs are considered on a discipline-specific basis, but not automatically accepted.