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Certificate Program

In the course of one academic year, students in the Certificate Program take part in the staff's daily activities and in the meticulous research and discovery of new and lost treasures. They receive training in all archival practices, including but not limited to: curatorial duties; access procedures and understanding the nature and purpose of copyright laws; inspecting, repairing, measuring, and shipping nitrate prints; and organizing and managing climatized vaults. Students discover that "cataloging" a film means more than browsing through reference books. They study film-related ephemera as diverse as scripts, magic lantern slides, posters, stills, and orchestral scores from silent films. They learn to evaluate the quality of laboratory work, to explore the possibilities and the limits of electronic and digital technologies, and to confront the paradoxes and hardships of video preservation.

Students have the opportunity to organize a preservation project and learn how to create a budget and craft the persuasive narratives that are necessary for a successful grant application. They are taught to calculate the costs of film processing, to distinguish the differences between a wide array of soundtrack systems, and to recognize the distinctive characteristics of an original Technicolor print. They learn to develop and organize a film programming schedule, thus gaining an opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have learned to the general public. In short, students learn the importance of mastering routine assignments, the challenge of working hard to meet deadlines, and the painstaking steps involved in bringing moving image masterworks to life, such as Intolerance (1916), The Lost World (1925), and Becky Sharp (1935).

Tuition & Financial Aid +

Tuition for one year is $12,000 (USD).

Payment Schedule
A non-refundable registration fee of $750 (USD) is due upon acceptance into the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation Certificate Program. The full tuition fee for the academic year is due September 30. Requests for payment in installments will be considered on a case-by-case basis. There is an additional $100 fee for all applicants who pay by installment.

Payments are due in cash, traveler's checks, or personal checks in US currency. Payment with credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) is subject to a 5% surcharge. Checks in non-US currency will not be accepted. Checks should be made payable to "George Eastman Museum" and mailed to the address below. A charge of $25 will be added to the tuition fee for every returned check.

Financial Aid
Before registering, students must demonstrate that they have the financial means necessary to complete the course. 

Students enrolled in the certificate program are not eligible for in-school loan deferments or financial aid. 

The Diedrea D.Tisdale Memorial Scholarship

The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation is proud to announce that it can now provide a full tuition scholarship for a Black student applying for the certificate program. To be considered for The Diedrea D.Tisdale Memorial Scholarship (hyperlink: https://www.eastman.org/george-eastman-museum-offer-new-scholarship-empower-future-black-students) please indicate, in your cover letter, your interest in the scholarship.

Apply +

Application Procedure

Please read the following notes carefully before submitting your application.

  • The minimum educational requirement for admission is an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience.
  • Due to the structure of the course, part-term registrations are not permitted. Class enrollment is limited to ensure maximum exposure to the preservation activities and optimize the efficiency of the learning process.
  • Classes are conducted in English. The ability to speak, read, write, and comprehend English is mandatory. TOEFL scores are required for applicants who are not native English language speakers.
  • Applications for admission are accepted in accordance with our non-discrimination policy.
  • Activities in a film archive include lifting heavy materials (film cans), working in below-average temperatures (collection storage vaults), and limited exposure to chemical agents (e.g., the by-products and fumes resulting from decomposing nitrate and acetate film). While the school ensures that all precautions are taken to prevent harmful consequences from such activities, the museum is not responsible for any injury resulting from careless handling of film or film-related material.
  • Applications will not be processed until all materials have been received.
  • Applicants to the Selznick Graduate Program in Film & Media Preservation must submit a completed application no later than January 15 of the year in which September admission is sought. Late, or incomplete, applications will not be accepted.
  • The applicant will receive written notification of the Selznick School Admissions Committee's decision by April 15.

IMPORTANT: Upon receipt of the signed enrollment agreement a place will be held for the student. The school will not guarantee a place without receipt of the signed agreement.

The application includes the following material:

  1. Standard application form (download here)
  2. A cover letter of application and intent that specifies goals and ambitions in the preservation field, written and signed by the applicant.  Also, to be considered for The Diedrea D. Tisdale Memorial Scholarship (hyperlink: https://www.eastman.org/george-eastman-museum-offer-new-scholarship-empower-future-black-students) for Black students please indicate, in your cover letter, your interest in the scholarship
  3. A curriculum vitae or résumé
  4. A completed application form
  5. Three letters of recommendation two personal and one professional (download form here)
    • Personal references: Letters from two individuals whom the applicant has known as a friend, employer, or teacher for two or more years.
    • Professional reference: One letter from someone who has observed the applicant's interest in film archiving and skills related to preservation work.
  6. A non-refundable $70 application fee is required from all applicants. Checks should be made out to "George Eastman Museum."

Course Structure +

The academic year for the certificate program runs from September to June and is divided into four quarters. Comprehensive written exams are held at the conclusion of each quarter.

The curriculum consists of instruction and applied knowledge acquired through six modes of learning:

  1. Plenary sessions taught by staff and covering a variety of topics, including archive management, ethics, history, organization and preservation. Some sessions are held in conjunction with the University of Rochester.
  2. Guest lectures from adjunct faculty in various specialized fields throughout the academic year.
  3. Rotations scheduled with individual staff on a sequential basis. Each student spends a minimum of one week per quarter with a staff member responsible for a specific area or duties within the George Eastman Museum Moving Image Department. Students share all aspects of the staff member's daily activity and assist with routine assignments. The rotation method allows students to work with every member of the Moving Image Department staff, thus acquiring the skills necessary to fulfill the major assignments in a modern film archive. Departmental areas to which students are assigned include: curatorial management and administration, film preservation, digital restoration, film print handling and inspection for theatrical and small gauge formats, cataloging, programming, vault management, film projection, and photo and paper collections processing and archiving.
  4. Team projects are assigned throughout the year. Examples include the preparation of grant applications, film print selection, collection inventory, preliminary cataloging, and basic collection and vault management.
  5. Field trips to archives, film laboratories, research centers, manufacturing plants, and archival facilities are scheduled during the spring quarters.
  6. Individual projects to encourage specialization and provide students the opportunity to complete a professional film archive assignment, involving the inspection, processing, and preservation management of a discrete moving image or other type of collection.

The certificate program features a team of specialists in the field of moving image archiving and provides prospective film archivists with comprehensive knowledge of the theories, methods, and practices of motion picture preservation. The curriculum covers all aspects of motion picture archiving, from laboratory techniques to management and access. Topics addressed in the program include:


  • Typology of Moving Image and Sound Archives
  • George Eastman Museum, FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives), and the Film Archiving Movement
  • Regional Film Archives
  • National Film Archives
  • International Film Archives


  • Museum Studies
  • Terminology
  • Preservation Principles and Rules
  • Ethical Issues in the Preservation of Audio-Visual Materials
  • Film Historiography and Preservation


  • Basic Film Handling
  • Film Examination
  • Film Formats
  • Film Treatments
  • Digital Laboratory Work
  • Print Identification
  • Archival Projection
  • Technical Selection
  • Techniques for Film and Video Restoration Projects


  • Basic Film Structure
  • Polymer Degradation
  • Cellulose Nitrate and Its Preservation
  • Polyester
  • Other Audio-Visual Media
  • Vinegar Syndrome


  • Humidity, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) in Media Storage Vaults
  • Specialized Archive Buildings and Their Specifications
  • Film Storage Conditions
  • Video Preservation and Storage
  • Laboratory Structure and Organization
  • Basic Film Processing Theory
  • Color Film Preservation
  • Color Film Duplication
  • Step Printers/Continuous Printers/Optical Printers
  • Preservation of Sound Recordings
  • Electronic and Digital Imaging Techniques


  • Organization of a Moving Image and Sound Archive
  • Budget
  • Fundraising
  • Grant Writing
  • Project Management
  • The Work of the George Eastman Museum
  • Selection and Acquisition of Films and Television Programs
  • Curatorial Issues
  • Staff Training
  • Health and Safety

Activities and Services

  • Cataloging and Inventory
  • Computerization of Records
  • Viewing Services
  • Donor Access
  • Stock Footage Services
  • Programming
  • Historical Research
  • Film Stills, Posters, and Papers
  • Special Collections

Legal Issues

  • Copyright & Intellectual Property
  • Insurance on Archival Holdings
  • Legal Deposit of Films and Video
  • Acquisitions, Deposits, and Donations

Facilities & Resources +

Research Collections
Students have access to the vast moving image, photography, and technology collections of the George Eastman Museum for use in scholarly research. In addition to holding one of the largest archival film collections in North America, the motion picture department also contains more than 3.5 million paper items, including production stills, scripts, posters, and other ephemera available to students.

Books on film history and preservation are loaned to each student for the duration of the academic year. These books are also available for purchase at a discounted price in the museum store. Handouts will also be provided.

Rush Rhees Library
Rush Rhees Library contains close to 42 miles of shelving. There are hundreds of lockers and carrels available to students, plus 55 private studies available to researchers and there are about 100 microcomputers (PC and Macintosh) for student use. The Rush Rhees stacks contain the vast majority of film-related texts and research material on the University of Rochester campus.

Video and Audio Resources
any lectures held at the school have been recorded and are available to students through arrangement with the school administrator. The video archive includes recordings of conferences, seminars, workshops, and symposia related to motion picture preservation. A searchable database has been created for the collection of more than 650 titles. In certain cases, special screenings of these tapes are organized during plenary sessions. Videotapes are not available for loan and may not be duplicated or made available outside the museum. The motion picture department also holds a wide range of audio materials. These include more than 70 one quarter inch, reel-to-reel audio interviews conducted with famous directors, actors, and film industry professionals by George Pratt. The department also preserves collections of audio materials relating to Burton Holmes and James Sibley Watson Jr., and more than 250 musical audiotapes produced by James Card to accompany silent movies.

Film Preservation Services
Based in the museum's digital laboratory at the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, NY, George Eastman Museum's Film Preservation servies provides high-quality digital services to cultural institutions and commercial enterprises. 

The Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center
The museum's storage facilities for nitrate era films are among the best in the nation. These nitrate vaults are located near Rochester in the Louis B. Mayer Conservation Center. This facility (with a constant temperature of 40°F [4.4°C] and 30% relative humidity) consists of twelve vaults comprising a total capacity of more than 26 million feet of nitrate film. Climate control is regulated electronically and monitored through a computer system in the museum's main building.

The Moving Image Archives
Safety film preservation masters and research access copies are stored in the 1989 building of the George Eastman Museum in vaults that are maintained at 40°F (4.4°C) and 30% relative humidity. The total capacity of these vaults is more than 100 million feet of film. Another vault is dedicated to paper-based collections, which includes movie stills, posters, scripts, film scores, correspondence, ephemera, pre-cinema artifacts, and other film-related papers.

The Moving Image Study Center
Located in the museum's 1989 building, the study center is equipped with all the viewing facilities necessary for scholarly access to prints from the collections. The study center provides researchers with four flatbed viewing tables (two for 16mm prints, two for 35mm), a screening room, and equipment for several video formats. Screenings can also be scheduled in the Dryden and Curtis theaters.

The Dryden Theatre
The 500-seat Dryden Theatre is the premier exhibition space for the art of cinema as championed and interpreted by the George Eastman Museum. Presenting film screenings every day of the week, the Dryden is devoted to showing all films in their original formats, thus honoring and reproducing their historical and aesthetically supreme modes of exhibition. It is one of the very few theaters in the world equipped for the projection of original nitrate film that also makes nitrate film screenings part of its regular program.

The Curtis Theatre
The Curtis Theatre seats up to 80 and is equipped with 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8mm film projectors and multi-standard video projectors. The Curtis Theatre is used mainly for lectures, seminars, workshops, and other educational activities.