Frequently Asked Questions



Q: May I apply to your M.A./Ph.D. program if I only wish to earn an M.A. degree?
A: No, we do not have a stand-alone M.A. program. The M.A. is earned only at the end of two years in a five-year program leading to a Ph.D.


Q: I am interested in concentrating on screenwriting and on film and video production. Do you offer such courses?
A: There are opportunities to take production courses in our undergraduate program for graduate credit and to work on productions in our graduate courses as well as production opportunities in other departments on campus. Nevertheless, we do not offer an M.F.A. degree and our M.A./Ph.D. and Ph.D.-only programs are strongly oriented toward critical thinking and writing in film and media history, theory, criticism, analysis, and aesthetics. In short, we are a critical studies not a production program.


Q: I have already earned an M.A. degree in film and media. Will this fact shorten my time in your program?
A: You may wish to consider our Ph.D.-only program. If you qualify, it will shorten the normative time to earn a Ph.D. degree from five years to four. In some cases, we may ask for additional material, such as syllabi. We do welcome advanced students with an M.A. degree in film and media and we will allow you as much course credit as possible. It is not easy to be admitted directly into the Ph.D.-only program, so you may want to be certain you qualify before applying.


Q: It appears from your website, and I've been told, that although some background in film and media is preferred for those admitted to the program, the lack of one would not be a barrier to me. I am wondering what strategies I could employ to demonstrate that I'm prepared and capable of studying film and media.
A: We do indeed encourage applications from persons who do not have a specific background in film or media. We are seeking talented students with a wide range of interests who are committed to original thinking and to making a difference in the world. A student's academic background may lie in any one of many disciplines: for example, the social sciences (law, economics, history...), foreign languages, humanities, the arts. What is important to us is a student's talent and desire. Thus the required writing sample need not concern film or media. All students applying to our program will be evaluated as to their background, if any, in the study of film and media. The faculty will work closely with students who are accepted into the program to ensure that they receive the appropriate supplemental material so that a student will gain the necessary confidence working with the techniques of critical thinking in film and media. For example, TA assignments may be made in such a manner as to provide needed background for a graduate seminar. In some cases, a student will be required to take supplemental courses.


Q: Is a B.F.A. adequate for a student who may wish to pursue a Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies, or is a B.A. necessary?
A: A B.F.A. is adequate preparation to apply to our program.


Q: Regarding funding, is there a separate application that I need to fill out?
A: No, new graduate students receive their funding primarily from their home academic department. You do not need to apply separately for a teaching assistantship in one of our courses.


Q: How long after taking the GRE does it take for you to receive the score, and what is the minimum acceptable score?
A: It will take at least three weeks (and no more than six weeks) for us to receive your GRE score. There is no minimum score. Remember to use the University code of 4835. A department code is not required. The score must have arrived on campus by the December 1 deadline. If you retake the GRE, the most recent score is the one that is considered, even if you do worse on it than on the earlier test.


Q: It is my understanding that the Statement of Purpose should be a detailed description of my creative/academic background, outlining the experiences that have led to my desire to attend a film and media studies Ph.D. program. However, the format of the Statement of Purpose, as given on the Graduate Division website, seems quite formal. I was hoping to let a bit of my personality surface in a less formal manner in this section, as opposed to the more strict scholarly tone of the other parts of my application.
A: The Graduate Division has prepared their statement prompt to apply to all prospective students in all departments and we can't add to it or change it, much as we might wish to. However, by all means be creative; let your personality show in both the Statement of Purpose and the Statement of Personal Achievements/Contributions. You should write about yourself in the way that best fits you. Be honest and creative, but be sure to include a resume.