Program Timeline

The doctoral program in Cinema and Media Studies typically involves a minimum of two years of coursework, fulfilling language requirements, comprehensive examinations in three fields, a dissertation prospectus, and a dissertation. Following their coursework, students also learn to teach by serving as a course assistant for faculty-taught undergraduate courses, taking the department’s pedagogy course, and serving as the instructor of record in their own undergraduate course. After advancing to ABD status, students will focus on researching and writing their dissertation. 

Course Requirements

Students are expected to complete seventeen courses during their scholastic residency, of which a minimum of twelve courses must be listed or cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. All courses taken to fulfill requirements must be taken for a quality grade  courses taken Pass/Fail will not be counted towards requirements. 

  • CMST 40000: Methods and Issues in Cinema and Media Studies
  • CMST 48500: History of International Cinema, Part I
  • CMST 48600: History of International Cinema, Part II 
  • CMST 69900: Pedagogy: The Way We Teach Film (offered in alternating academic years) 
  • Five electives courses that either originate in or are cross-listed with CMS
  • Three advanced-level CMS seminars (60000-level)
  • Five electives courses that can originate in other departments and may or may not cover cinema related subjects.

Language Requirement

Given the highly international nature of cinema studies, students must demonstrate proficiency in one modern language in addition to English. The language should be relevant to the student's area of research and may be a programming language. If a student is working primarily on English-language media, they are encouraged to gain proficiency in French and/or German. This requirement can be fulfilled either through coursework or University-administered language exams. Students interested in fulfilling this requirement through a programming language should get in touch with the Director of Graduate StudiesLanguage courses are not counted toward fulfilling coursework requirements and must be completed before a student will be permitted to complete their Fields Examinations. 

Fields Examinations

By the end of the third year of the program, each student should have taken their Fields Examinations. All coursework and foreign language requirement must be completed prior to taking the fields examinations. The purpose of these examinations is to ascertain a student’s readiness to proceed from advanced formal coursework to devising a dissertation project, and they are comprised of five parts – three written exams (one for each field list), a syllabus for an undergraduate course, and an oral exam.

Advancing to Candidacy

Upon successful completion of all coursework requirements, the relevant language requirements, and the comprehensive examinations, each student will organize a dissertation committee and prepare a dissertation prospectus. Upon approval of the prospectus by their committee, the student formally advances to the status of PhD Candidate and ABD status.