Administration & Academics





While students will take most or all of the courses required for the completion of their major within SOFA, it is just one of the schools within the College of Art and Design, which is just one of the colleges within RIT.

Below is the organizational structure as it applies to SOFA, including the academic program and plan codes used by the Student Information System (SIS)—RIT’s online registration and database software.







Academic Program

Academic Plan

Academic Sub-Plan

(3D Animation)
Motion Picture ScienceBSMotion Picture Science (MPS)DIGCIME-BS

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Major, Degree, and Program

SOFA offers a unique combination of high quality instruction in motion picture arts and sciences through two majors: film and animation and motion picture science.

Students may earn a graduate Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) or undergraduate Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in film and animation or an undergraduate Bachelor’s of Science (BS) degree in motion picture science.

SOFA manages its offerings through four programs: graduate film and animation (more commonly referred to as MFA), and undergraduate film production (also referred to as film or live action), animation, and motion picture science (also referred to as MPS).

An administrative director heads the school but each program has its own coordinator, either a graduate director (for the MFA program) or a program director (for each undergraduate offering).

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SIS Academic Program, Plan, and Sub-Plan

The administrative program designations above should not be confused with the academic program codes used by SIS. If a form requests your “academic program” it is asking for a SIS code—which indicates whether a student is a graduate (GIAS) or undergraduate (UIAS) in the College of Art and Design.

Academic plan codes are derived from the major and degree. FILMAN-MFA and FILMAN-BFA are the plan codes for film and animation. DIGCIME-BS is the plan code for motion picture science (formerly known as digital cinema).

Film and animation is further divided into academic sub-plans. MFA sub-plan codes include: PRODTN-GR (production), SCRIPTWT-GR (screenwriting), ANIMA-GR (animation), and 3D ANIMA-GR (3D animation). BFA sub-plan codes are PROD (film) and ANIMA (animation).

Change of Program/Plan (COP)

Students who wish to change their academic program, plan, or sub-plan must ask their academic adviser to complete a Change of Program and/or Plan Application Form and submit it to the senior staff assistant. Permission to change is determined on a case-by-case basis and, if granted, may require additional coursework and extend the time it takes to earn a degree.

Undergraduate students who wish to switch to motion picture science should contact the motion picture science program director to set up an exploratory meeting.

Undergraduate students who wish to switch to film and animation must have a 3.0 grade-point average (GPA) and apply by the first Friday of March in their first year of study at RIT. Students may be asked to write an essay and/or submit a portfolio of creative work. A committee of SOFA directors will review the applications and make a final determination.

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Double Major and Dual Degree
(Undergraduate Only)

RIT permits undergraduate students to pursue double majors or dual degrees. In a double major, students complete two different majors in the same baccalaureate degree type. An example of a double major is motion picture science and imaging science (a relatively popular combination since they share some of the same degree requirements)—both lead to a single BS degree. In a dual degree, students complete two different majors that lead to two separate degrees, such as a BS in motion picture science and a BFA in film and animation (another relatively popular combination). Interested students should ask their academic advisor to complete a Double Major Authorization Form or Dual Degree Authorization Form, as appropriate. Those interested in a SOFA BFA and BS dual degree must also be accepted into the added program as described above in Change of Plan.

Since the film BFA program and animation BFA program are both in the film and animation major and BFA degree, they cannot be combined as a double major or dual degree. However, film students may use their electives to take animation courses, and vice versa.

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Students have two resources for help with planning their schedule of courses at RIT.

Each student is assigned an academic adviser in the College of Art and Design Student Services as their primary adviser. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their academic adviser each semester prior to registering for classes and whenever they have questions. Academic advisers can help students integrate and interpret all of the information available to them and ensure they are meeting all of their degree certification requirements.

A faculty adviser is also assigned to each incoming student. Students are encouraged to meet with their faculty adviser for career advice and questions about SOFA, such as choosing elective courses best suited for their career goals. Students may opt to change faculty advisers as they develop in their career path. Any full-time SOFA faculty member may be asked to be a faculty adviser. If the faculty member agrees, the student will need to let their current adviser know and submit a Faculty Adviser Form to the senior staff assistant. If a faculty adviser is away on sabbatical or otherwise temporarily unavailable, their student advisees do not need to officially change adviser. Any willing faculty member can serve in the faculty adviser’s place during the absence.

The Film, Video, and Animation Student Association (FVASA, pronounced “ph-vasa”) plays an important role in SOFA, including connecting first-year students with upper-class mentors—an excellent source of non-academic advice that students should not miss.

Confidentiality and Reporting

Under Title IX, instances of gender discrimination, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual violence revealed to staff and faculty, including academic advisers and faculty advisers, must be reported to RIT’s Title IX coordinator for official investigation. Students wishing to discuss such issues without committing to official action should contact one of these confidential resources:

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Planning Sheet

Students entering after 2015 have a single planning sheet for tracking degree requirements. Those entering in previous years have an unofficial SOFA planning sheet for tracking their SOFA degree requirements and an official College of Art and Design planning sheet, which tracks all degree requirements and is used for degree certification.

Each degree requirement on a student’s planning sheet must be met as specified (although not necessarily when specified, see below) unless modified by a Course Substitution Form signed by the student’s graduate director or program chair—regardless of whether or not the change being made is specifically permitted in this handbook.

The degree requirements in place when a student enters SOFA will generally apply, unchanged, to that student until graduation. Each sub-plan (or plan in the case of motion picture science) and year of entry has its own SOFA planning sheet. Since our programs continually evolve, students might have different requirements from those preceding or following them. Accordingly, other students are not a reliable source of academic advising.

To ensure students graduate on time, courses listed with a specific course number on the SOFA planning sheet should generally be taken during the year and semester listed. When varying from the planning sheet or scheduling courses not listed with a specific course number (which generally allow for more flexibility), it is important to know which courses have prerequisites and when they are typically offered. While some courses are offered every semester, and some are only offered every other year, most are offered once per year (either fall or spring). The Course Catalog provides information on prerequisites and when courses run, however, it can sometimes run behind program changes. As such, students can also check when courses ran in the previous academic year or check with the graduate director or program chair.

General Education, Wellness, and Writing Intensive (Undergraduate Only)

SOFA planning sheets note general education, wellness, and writing intensive (WI) requirements for undergraduates. General education requirements include foundation courses, perspectives, immersions, and general education electives.

The writing intensive requirement for BFA students is fully met through the WI courses specified on their planning sheet. BS students entering 2014 or later must choose one course that is designated as a WI course (for efficiency, preferably one that also fulfills a perspective or immersion requirement) in addition to those specified on their planning sheet.

Immersion and Minor (Undergraduate Only)

The immersion requirement is comprised of three related courses outside of a student’s major. Minors are similar to immersions but require five courses. Immersions are declared with the academic adviser and the Immersion Authorization/Change Form. Minors can also be noted on the SOFA planning sheet but, unlike an immersion, are optional and must be approved by a minor adviser with a Minor Authorization/Change Form. Immersions and minors can be separate or, in many cases, an immersion can be extended into a minor. Since the goal of both an immersion and a minor is to provide exposure to an area of study outside the major, students may not pursue an immersion or minor too simale to their major. For instance, BFA students may not select an immersion or minor in College of Liberal Arts (COLA) film studies or visual culture. However, courses listed under COLA film studies or visual culture may still be taken as open electives.

History and Aesthetics

History and aesthetics (H&A) courses cover the history, aesthetics, theory, and/or criticism of an art form rather than the practice of that art. While students must take at least one SOFA H&A, they are encouraged to explore other arts. The full list of approved H&As is available on the H&A Course List.


SOFA/College of Art and Design electives are graduate or undergraduate courses students can select to customize their major. SOFA planning sheets only list the electives from that planning sheet’s plan or sub-plan, but any SOFA or College of Art and Design course can serve as a SOFA/College of Art and Design elective. However, there are also COLA, College of Engineering (COE), and College of Science (COS) courses that might be appropriate for some students, depending on their major. Courses outside of the College of Art and Design require a Course Substitution Form.

Free electives are unspecified courses that can be taken anywhere at RIT, including SOFA.

Craft choices/electives (BFA Film only) provide deeper knowledge in certain disciplines. Two are required from the list included on the SOFA planning sheet.

Workshop Courses (Undergraduate Only)

Workshop courses are discussed in detail in the BFA section.

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Independent Study

SOFA-599 SOFA Independent Study and SOFA-799 Film and Animation Graduate Independent Study are generally meant to provide students the opportunity to study topics not covered in existing courses, including workshops. Students should first identify an area they wish to study, and then seek a qualified faculty member to mentor them. The SIS Course Catalog listings have additional important information as does the College of Art and Design Registration Policy. The College of Art and Design Independent Study Form can be downloaded and filled out electronically.

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During the enrollment period, if a desired class fills up before students can register, those students should put their names on that class’s SIS wait list. Entry from the wait list is first-come-first-serve and automatic if a slot opens up. This also helps the school know if additional seats or a new section of a course are needed. Students unable to enroll in a required SOFA course when scheduled on their SOFA planning sheet should put their names on the wait list and then contact their academic adviser and the class instructor.

SOFA places restrictions on its courses to help ensure only eligible students can register. These can be based on course prerequisites as well as student major and year-level classifications. Students who believe they are eligible for a course but cannot register for it should contact their academic adviser and the class instructor. There are also courses that require all students to contact the instructor for permission to enroll. Restrictions are included in the course information on SIS.

To the extent possible, students should avoid registering for more than one production or more than one writing course per semester, as these are especially time-intensive outside of scheduled class meetings.

Additional information is available in the College of Art and Design Registration Policy.

Retaking and Repeating Courses

Students may retake a course if it will result in a different project or outcome, or repeat it to get a different grade.

Students may generally retake production and writing project-based courses for the purpose of creating new projects. Courses eligible for retaking should be designated as such on SIS. If not, a student’s academic adviser can complete the Adviser Interview Form, explaining that the course will have different content. The second completion will count as additional credit toward graduation and points toward the GPA.

Registering a second time for courses not eligible for retaking will result in the new class counting as a repeat. Graduate students need permission from the graduate director prior to repeating a course. If repeated, a student only receives credit toward graduation for it once. Furthermore, for undergraduates, upon the second completion only the second grade will count toward their GPA—whether it is higher or lower than the grade earned the first time. For graduate students, all attempts at the course are counted toward their GPA.

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All accessibility procedures related to deaf and hard-of-hearing students cross-registered in RIT programs apply to those who have been admitted into SOFA.  As per RIT policy, no un-captioned content will be subject to testing.

Students, whether deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing, will be responsible to manage the captioning of any short film to be submitted for screening at SOFA events, including the end-of-the-semester screenings. Student shorts screened in class may also be required to be captioned based on accessibility needs of the classroom.

All students are required to take SOFA-205/605 Basic Sound Recording. Class projects are group-based and hearing loss will not interfere with successful course completion. Other sound-dependent production and theory courses require individual course work. As such, students with a hearing loss should consult with the course instructor prior to registering for sound-dependent elective courses to ensure that a successful outcome is possible.

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Leave of Absence

Students who are not registered for classes (including a thesis, internship, or co-op) must register for a leave of absence (LOA) or risk needing to be re-matriculated (meaning they would have to reapply for admission to RIT). Generally, a maximum of three LOA terms (including summer but excluding intersession) may be taken. The administrative chair must approve LOA requests for undergraduates. The graduate director approves requests for graduate students. Students considering a LOA should consult with their academic adviser first.

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Internships and Co-Ops

In an internship, a student pays for and earns college credit while working part-time or full-time in their field. Internships can be, but generally are not, paid. In a co-op students do not pay for or earn college credit, although they may be eligible for full-time equivalent student status. Contact the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services for exceptions but co-ops must generally be full-time (35 hours or more per week) paid positions in a student’s field and are not eligible for unemployment benefits. By comparison, a normal job does not earn credit, provide student status, or need to be in a student’s field. Jobs can be part-time or full-time, must be paid at least the minimum wage, and are eligible for unemployment benefits. More information about the differences between internships and co-ops can be found here.


Internships allow students to gain practical experience by working in a professional environment, which is highly sought by employers. They give students a chance to confirm that their career choice is actually right for them, and to learn more about how to break into their chosen field. Internships also allow students to begin building the professional network vital to beginning and advancing their career. By enrolling in SOFA-498 Film and Animation Internship or SOFA-698 Film and Video Graduate Internship students can earn credit toward their degree. A maximum of 6 internship credits can be counted toward SOFA electives.

Students are strongly encouraged to procure at least one internship while at SOFA. Even minor internships earlier in their education can help students grow professionally and qualify for more significant internships before graduating. Graduating without at least one good quality work experience in their field puts students at a competitive disadvantage in a very competitive industry!

As such, all students should attend the Internship Spectacular, a fall event where students share their internship experiences from the previous summer and faculty offer advice on finding and thriving at an internship. Internship advice is also available from SOFA Resources.

MFA students who wish to intern during what would have been a thesis semester are advised not to register for thesis credit in that semester.


Co-ops also provide work experience benefits. However, they are generally not authorized for undergraduates during the regular academic year because of the demands of the SOFA curriculum. MFA students in good standing can register for SOFA-699 Film and Animation Co-Op—although not while registered for any credits, including thesis credits. The College of Art and Design approves only one co-op per student per semester.


An internship or co-op must be approved prior to class enrollment. Internships require students to submit an Internship Application Form to the person indicated in the internship SIS Course Catalog description. These descriptions also include additional important information students must know.

Co-ops require students to consult with their graduate director or program chair and register with the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services.

Students completing their degree requirements by the summer following their final academic year can still participate in that spring’s commencement ceremonies. Similarly, whether completing their degree requirements in the fall or spring, students may enroll in internships or co-ops up until and including the summer following commencement provided they request that College of Art and Design Student Services delay the certification of their degree. This can be an excellent way for students who have not secured employment to ease into the job market.

Internships and co-ops are approved based on:

  • Appropriateness and value of the internship or co-op to the student’s field of study
  • Nature and caliber of the company
  • Qualifications of the student’s supervisor to ensure the experience is meaningful



Students can research entertainment industry companies and productions through The Studio System, a professional database. To access it, students must email their full name and year of graduation to using their RIT email address. RIT can only have five simultaneous log ins! Please log out when not actively searching the database.

The Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services can assist students with internship, co-op, and job related issues while at RIT and throughout their professional career. Students are encouraged to make an appointment with the film and animation program coordinator as soon as they are ready, but no later than the fall of their next to last year.

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International Students

International students may have additional restrictions for a LOA, internship, or co-op. They should meet with International Student Services (ISS) prior to pursuing those options.

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