Academic Program
Film Studies Center

Graduate Program | Graduate Courses || Recent Courses | Dissertations || Undergrad Courses | Undergrad Program || Summer Courses

Department Chair:
Yuri Tsivian
CWAC 254, (773) 702-0254

Director of Graduate Studies::
Tom Gunning
CWAC 264,

Program Coordinator:
Noah Minnick
G-B 418, 834-1077

General Information

The Department of Cinema and Media Studies offers a Ph.D. program that focuses on the history, theory, and criticism of film and related media. Faculty are drawn from a wide range of departments and disciplines primarily in the humanities. In addition to offering its own doctoral degree, the Department offers courses and guidance to students who specialize in film and related media within departmental graduate programs or might be pursuing a joint degree.

Centering on the cinema, the graduate program provides students with the critical skills, research methods, and an understanding of the debates that have developed within cinema studies as a discrete discipline. At the same time, the study of cinema and related media mandates an interdisciplinary approach in a number of respects. The aesthetics of film is inextricably linked to the cultural, social, political, and economic configurations within which the cinema emerged and which it in turn has shaped. Likewise, the history of the cinema cannot be separated from its interaction with other media. Just as it is part of a whole new culture of moving images and sounds that includes television, video, and digital technologies, the cinema draws on earlier practices of instantaneous photography and sound recording and, in a wider sense, those media that are more often described as the fine arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, theater, and music). Finally, the interdisciplinary orientation of the program entails an emphasis on the diversity of film and media practices in different national and transnational contexts and periods and thus an understanding of the cinema as a historically variable and rich cultural form.

The Film Studies Center, located on the third floor of Cobb Hall, serves as a resource for course-related and individual research and as a forum for cinema and media-related activities.

CMS Graduate Student Handbook

Application and Financial Aid

Applicants to the Department of Cinema and Media Studies are not required to have an undergraduate degree in film studies or in a related area, but it is recommended that students have had background in the field prior to applying to the program. Along with the application form, applicants have to submit a writing sample, GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores from the general examination, and three letters of recommendation. Foreign applicants have to submit TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores in addition to the material above.

Admission to the Departmest is competitive. The University of Chicago offers generous fellowship support to applicants admitted to our doctoral program. For further information, please refer to the Grants and Fellowships page for Prospective Students on the divisional web site. Financial aid is awarded generally for four years if the student makes satisfactory progress in the degree program.


For application forms and information on financial aid, please contact:

Office of the Dean of Students
Division of the Humanities
The University of Chicago
1115 E. 58th Street
Walker Museum, Suite 111
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-1552
Online Application
Application FAQs

For further information on the program and degree requirements, please contact:

The University of Chicago
Department of Cinema and Media Studies
5845 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 834-1077
Degree Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy

Students are expected to complete sixteen courses during their course of study, of which a minimum of eleven have to be listed among the offerings of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies. These Cinema and Media Studies courses will include:

  1. Three required courses originating in the department:

    • CMST 40000 Methods and Issues in Cinema and Media Studies: an introduction to research methods, key concepts, and theoretical approaches, using case studies to introduce students to debates and issues in the field;

    • CMST 48500/48600 History of International Cinema: a two-quarter survey course that is designed as both a beginning-level graduate and an upper-level undergraduate course.

  2. Eight elective courses in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies.

  3. A sample program for students entering the Department without previous graduate study in Cinema and Media Studies would consist in the following:

    • First year: A total of seven courses: the three required courses; a minimum of two elective courses cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two further elective courses.

    • Second year: A total of six courses: a minimum of four elective courses cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two further elective courses. Of these six courses, three must be designated as advanced courses.

    • Third year: A total of three courses; at least one Ph.D. research seminar cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two elective courses.

Students entering the department with an M.A. from another institution or another program may ask to be exempt from some of these requirements. Such requests will be handled on an individual basis. Students wishing to waive requirements must get the approval of their adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Fields Examination: Students entering the Department without previous graduate study in Cinema and Media Studies are expected to take their Fields Examination by the end of the third year; students entering with an M.A. may be encouraged to take the examination earlier. Fields Examination policy.

Foreign Language Requirement: Given the highly international nature of the field of cinema and media studies, proficiency in two modern foreign languages has to be demonstrated by earning High Passes on the University's Foreign Language Reading Examinations. The first of these two languages must be either French or German, and proficiency should be demonstrated by the beginning of the Autumn quarter of the student's second year. The second language will be chosen in consultation with the graduate advisor, and proficiency must be demonstrated before the student will be permitted to take the Fields Examination.

Teaching: We will make every effort to assure that all students who apply for a course assistantship have at least one quarter of supervised teaching during their years in the program, and more if specified by the terms of their award package. Further information on teaching in CMS and other opportunities to teach at the University of Chicago can be found in the CMS Graduate Student Handbook (under construction).

Dissertation Proposal: Before being admitted to candidacy, students must write a dissertation proposal under the supervision of the dissertation committee.

Dissertation: Upon completion of the dissertation, the student will defend it orally before the members of the dissertation committee.

Graduate Program | Graduate Courses || Recent Courses | Dissertations || Undergrad Courses | Undergrad Program

FSC Homepage

Univ. of Chicago | Admissions | The College | Humanities/Graduate Admissions | Social Sciences
Library Catalog | Library Film Resources | Film Groups | Chicago
Direct queries about Cinema and Media Studies to
Direct queries about the Film Studies Center to
Modified July 11, 2005