Applying to, and going through, the Doctoral Program in Film and Media Studies

A Combined Degree

From start to end, ours is a combined doctoral program.  Whether entering through the Film and Media Studies (FMS) portal or through that of the other department, candidates submit a single application to the Graduate School which then distributes copies to the two relevant admissions committees.  Those committees then consult one another before final selections are made.  Applicants must show background, aptitude, and interest in both disciplines.  In the past dozen years, three to five applicants have been selected annually out of the one hundred or more who apply to FMS in combination with one or another of its ten allied units (African-American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Literatures, English, French, German,  History of Art,  Italian). Matriculation occurs in Fall term only.

At every stage the student’s plans and progress are monitored by two Directors of Graduate Study (DGS).

Stage 1: The first years are dedicated to taking a range of courses and seminars, of which FILM 601 (Films and their Study) and FILM 603 (Film Historiography) must be taken in consecutive Fall terms.  For the other course requirements, please see the page related to the chosen combined program.

Stage 2: In the third–occasionally the fourth–year, the student advances to candidacy, a process that includes passing through four gates: 1) an internal FMS requirement involving foundational texts and films in the discipline, to be completed by October of the third year; 2) a language requirement internal to each distinct combined program; 3) a qualifying examination over several areas or subfields; 4) the presentation and ratification of a dissertation prospectus. For all but the first of these gates, students follow the protocols that FMS has established with each unit.  These generally follow the norms that exist in those units, modified to some extent for combined candidates.  Please see the page on this site that lists the regulations drawn up in relation to each specific Program.

Stage 3: All candidates teach under supervision for at least four terms, generally in years three and four (for History of Art, years two and three).  An additional two terms teaching is guaranteed in the sixth year if the dissertation is demonstrably on track to be completed by the following summer. The expectation is that at least half of the assignments of each candidate will be in FMS and will include one experience as an assistant in FILM 150 (Introduction to Film).

Stage 4: The dissertation is meant to be completed in years five and six. With the assistance of a full year fellowship that may be taken when the candidate and his or her advisor(s) find it most strategic, all students should have graduated after year six, and some have been able to do so a year earlier.  Uniquely, the FMS Program holds an obligatory 60-90 minute “Defense of Method” in the semester preceding the expected deposit of the dissertation.  One DGS, the advisor, and prospective assessors read at least 80% of the projected finished work which is sent them two weeks before this oral event.  The candidate‘s brief presentation of goals and methodology is followed by questions and advice from the faculty to help bring the dissertation to its best form.  In the several months between this defense and final deposit, mistakes in content or style are patched and the dissertation’s framework is strengthened.  Should the work that remains demand more than two semesters, this defense must be repeated. 

The protocols drawn up with each of the ten participating academic units are quite similar to one another, but need to be scrutinized.  Please consult the pertinent pages on this site as well as the website of the other department. Official questions regarding Graduate School policies should be addressed to the assistant or associate dean.  The policies themselves are viewable here.