Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • solidify skills for work in the discipline, including researching and writing a book-length study, public presentations, publishing, grant applications, etc.;
  • gain confidence and fluency working with concepts of film and media theory and learn to synthesize, adapt, contextualize, and critique theoretical approaches;
  • acquire and mobilize advanced primary research skills and deepen ability to work with models and methods of film historiography, and to articulate historical sources with theoretical approaches;
  • acquire and mobilize advanced understanding of the discipline’s history and current status;
  • acquire and mobilize advanced discipline-level knowledge in historical periods, global variations, diverse forms, and learn to take a position in the future development of film and media studies;
  • learn the fundamental skills for undergraduate-level teaching in film and media studies; and
  • deepen professionalization skills in order to explore film and media-related career possibilities within and beyond academia (for example, in media and arts organizations, publishing, teaching, archives, film programming and festivals).

The Doctor of Philosophy program in film studies requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, of which 39 s.h. must be earned at the University of Iowa after a student has received their M.A. degree. Semester hours are earned through coursework, and eventually work focused on the completion of a dissertation. Students must earn a minimum program g.p.a. of 3.25.

The program's coursework is broadly concentrated in film history and film theory, with specific courses offered on a wide range of topics. With the regular consultation and guidance of a faculty advisor and committee, students formulate and pursue a plan of study during their first year in the program, prepare and conduct a written and oral comprehensive examination typically in their second or third year, write and present a dissertation prospectus to a carefully selected committee, and complete a dissertation in an area of advanced, original research that is defended orally in a meeting with the student’s committee prior to final deposit. A detailed summary of the requirements for the Ph.D. in film studies is available on the Department of Cinematic Arts website.

The Ph.D. with a major in film studies requires the following coursework.

Core Requirements

All of these (must be taken at the University of Iowa):
CINE:5500Success in Graduate Studies (consult advisor)1-3
CINE:5673Advanced Film Theory (taken twice for 3 s.h. each)6
CINE:5675Advanced Film History (taken twice for 3 s.h. each)6
CINE:7615Film Studies Seminar3
CINE:7700Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Preparation3
Seminar course numbered 7000 or above

Distribution Requirements

2 s.h. in each of these three areas:
Production, documentary, animation, or experimental film2
U.S. cinemas2
World cinemas2

Students also are required to participate in one year of supervised teaching or in independent research. They should consult their advisor for additional requirements.

A faculty committee chaired by the head of film studies evaluates applications to the Ph.D. program. Application materials should include undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts, a personal statement, a writing sample, three letters
 of recommendation, test scores, and samples of creative work when relevant. Admission decisions are based on the full range of
 an applicant's accomplishments and evidence that the applicant will fit the elements of the program and thrive in the department.

Previous experience in the area of film studies 
is desirable but not required. Applicants usually enter the program with a B.A. in film studies, an M.A. in film studies from the University of Iowa, or an M.A. in an unrelated field.

All applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website. Information about the application process is available on the Department of Cinematic Arts website and the Graduate Admissions website.

The Ph.D. program in film studies has an impressive job placement record, with graduates located in faculty positions at major research universities and prestigious liberal arts colleges throughout the world. Graduates are, through their published research, visible and productive contributors to film studies and related disciplines, and many have served in leadership positions within professional organizations such as the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

Within the program, faculty mentor students toward professional careers by supervising their development as both effective teachers and scholars. Regular workshops offered on topics such as journal and conference submissions, job interviews, and related topics help prepare students for careers within and beyond academia. Students also are regularly advised on applying for grants and awards to facilitate their advanced research, whether conducted in Iowa or elsewhere.

The Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.