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The Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media brings together existing traditions of documentary practice with emerging approaches to create a unique multidisciplinary program. Innovative in structure and approach, the program is the first to offer an MFA degree in documentary media in Canada and is one of a very limited number of such programs offered worldwide.

The program is uniquely multidisciplinary, as it brings together students working in film, photography and new media to explore documentary forms and strategies in the making of new documentary work. Students in the program produce thesis projects exploring compelling subject matter that may take the form of documentary narrative films, print based and interactive photographic books, multi-platform documentaries and gallery-based installations.

Rather than providing a static definition of what documentary is, the program combines studies in documentary production and ideas with explorations in documentary history, the humanities and visual culture to open up possibilities for documentary work created from political, cultural or personal points of view. Students in the program have investigated topics that range from robotics and the limits of human experience to micro-histories of neighbourhoods, investigations of First Nations issues, migration and displacement, environmental issues and contemporary art. Student projects have been undertaken throughout the Americas, as well as in Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The program situates itself in the professional documentary community and is connected to media makers who are shaping the language of documentary media today.  Students in the program connect to the wider community through the annual Doc Now festival, a multimedia festival that showcases the work of the graduating class.

The graduates of the program can be found in diverse occupations including film and television production companies, positions within the creative industries, freelance careers as filmmakers, photographers and new media producers. Other graduates have gone on to further study at the PhD level and careers in the educational field.

The Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media is a full-time, two-year/six-term program that strives to maintain a connection to documentary traditions while encouraging innovative approaches to the making of new documentary works. The program is based in Ryerson University's School of Image Arts. The School is renowned for it’s outstanding programs, faculty and facilities and is an educational leader in the study and production of visual media.

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Student Showcase:

Lindsay Fitzgerald

First Place in TVO Short Docs Competition 

Documentary Media student Lindsay Fitzgerald has won 1st Place in the 2016 TVO Short Docs competition with her film About Employment featuring Yin Brown.  View Lindsay's award winning short documentary.

Congratulations Lindsay!




Alumni Showcase:

Vivian Belik

Featured on CBC Short Docs

Recent Documentary Media graudate Vivian Belik has co-created a documentary film with Naomi Mark about Yuka Honda, a Japanese expat who prepares for a 1000 mile dogsled race to fiulfil her mother's dying wish.

Watch Underdog on CBC Short Docs here:


Alumni Showcase:

Marc Serpa Francoeur & Bob Uppal

Documentary Media Graduates Featured at Hot Docs 2016

The World in Ten Blocks, a documentary installation about Toronto's Bloorcourt neighborhood by Documentary Media graduates Marc Serpa Francoeur and Robinder Uppal will be featured throughout the Hot Docs 2016 festival as part of the DocX program:

Join Marc and Bob for a free live "walkthrough"/discussion of the project at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on May 1st:



Brothers in the Kitchen, Cyrus Sundar Singh

Student Showcase:

Cyrus Sundar Singh

MFA student featured at 2016 Hot Docs  

Documentary Media student and Alan Shepard EDI Award winner Cyrus' Brothers in the Kitchen premieres at the 2016 Hot Docs Film Festival on May 4th. The site-specific documentary-hybrid, performed live inside a fully operational restaurant, recounts the uprising, exodus and survival of Tamil Sri Lankans who fled brutal civil war and sought refuge in Canada and were most often seen working in the kitchens of Toronto restaurants. Incorporating elements of music, poetry and dance - Cyrus' groundbreaking work, a first for Ryerson and for Hot Docs, serves up a feast for the mind, body and soul - stomach included.

Event and ticket information


Alumni Showcase:

Eduardo Lima

Documentary Media Grad wins 2016 Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award

The recipient of the 2016 Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award is Eduardo Lima who graduated from the Documentary Media MFA program in 2011. Lima is a Toronto-based freelance photojournalist who is a regular contributor to Corbis Images and Metroland Media and who has been published in the Toronto Star and Le Monde.  As the recpient of the Tom Handson Photojournalism Award, Eduardo will spend six weeks in Toronto interning with The Canadian Press.



Zanele Muhole

Alumni Showcase:

Zanele Muhole

Outstanding International Alumni Award, Ryerson University 2016

Zanele Muhole is to receive the Ryerson University 2016 Outstanding International Alumni Award.  This award recognizes an international alumnus/na who has demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in his or her chosen profession; shown exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national level; and has contributed to the advancement and continued excellence of Ryerson University.

Alumni Achievement Awards



Photo Credits:

Header: Larisa Kurzemnieks '13, This Way to the Beach
About: Ben Lenzner '11, This Is Just Batting Practice , A Tale About G.I. Joes, Tomato Boxes, Rivers & Reincarnation, video still
Admissions: Ruth Kaplan '10, Some Kind of Divine 
Doc Now: Ken Woroner's exhibition at the RIC, 2013
Alumi: Zenele Muholi '08, Faces and Phases
Student Projects: Saman Aghvami '14, Home

Watch the Doc Media Video

If you are considering applying or simply to learn more about our program, watch a video of the Documentary Media Information Session, November 3, 2015.