September 14, 2011

SocDoc: M.A. in Social Documentation, University of California at Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz

In a few short years, the Social Documentation Program (SocDoc) has become an exciting new center of gravity for emerging documentarians. Established in 2005, it is at the forefront of an innovative discipline that merges the creative and academic elements of documentary practice. The program offers students the chance to develop expertise in the understanding and production of social documentaries in mediums that may include film/video, documentary animation, photography, new digital media, and other genres.


As traditional sources of journalistic investigation and reporting dwindle, untested opinions have begun to dominate the internet and political process. With veracity under attack and audiences left to search for reliable perspectives on the world, SocDoc seeks to train the next generation of documentarians in real-world experience, professional standards, and innovative approaches to documentary, representation, and argument. SocDoc taps faculty across the UCSC campus to provide students with access to expertise that span traditional disciplinary lines, grounding M.A. students in the deepest understanding of subject through advisors in the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions as well as the Arts. Our graduates have earned grants, awards and coveted film festival showcases for their thesis documentaries produced around the globe, in film/video, photography, and digital media.


We don’t just tell a story: our students go beyond the story to place individuals in context and to trace struggles in history, deepening the public’s understanding and awareness, endeavoring to change perceptions in the service of social justice.




Soc Doc students work closely with a faculty of eminent professionals in the documentary field (production, criticism, theory), and draw from the topical and analytic expertise of scholars on the UC Santa Cruz campus.  Our faculty members have exhibited their work or served on juries at the Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto film festivals, the Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art, as well as on television, and have been honored by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies, the Emmy Award, the Peabody Award, the International Documentary Association, and Academy Award nominations among other distinctions.


For more information, please see


Student work examples may be seen at:




The UCSC Social Documentation Program is a two-year, full-time program leading to a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree.


The SocDoc Program has a required core curriculum in documentary production and representation as well as in social-science analysis and research, through which students are expected to design their own course of study to supplement the program’s core courses. To this end, each student is assigned a creative advisor and a substantive advisor from the faculty, both of whom are involved in designing individualized courses of study. Students follow a cohort path of linear learning that ensures cohesion and an esprit de corps with peers to carry into the future.


Upon completion of the Program, M.A. graduates will be qualified to enter documentary-related professions such as documentary directing, producing, editing and research. Degree holders may work within such ventures as public broadcasting, online content creation, the documentary film business; as independent producers, artists and journalists with social-change organizations; or for archival centers, museums, and non-governmental organizations. Alumni may also choose to pursue a PhD in a related field in the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences.




Students are admitted to the program for fall matriculation only.

Online applications are available at UCSC Division of Graduate Studies: (GRE not required)




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