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Film/Media Phds Fall 2012

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Hi, is anyone applying for a film or cultural studies Phd for fall 2012? My research interests fall on the cross section of film and communication studies- so I'm applying to both film and media/cultural studies departments. What are you pick of schools?

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Hi Vanilatea and whoever else is reading this topic,

I'm applying to Film Studies PhD programs for fall 2012. I'm currently completing an MA from the University of Hong Kong in Literary and Cultural Studies. I did an undergraduate double major in Film Studies and English Lit.

I'm looking to apply to any Film Studies department that have faculty doing active research on Asian (specifically East Asian) Cinema. I've lived in Asia for the last 4 years and have done numerous research papers specifically on contemporary East Asian directors, and I will probably make that my main research topic.

I took the GRE the two days ago, and they asked where to send my scores, which forced me to suddenly decide my top choices. So thus far, I'm certainly applying to:

UC Berkeley, Brown U, Univ. of Chicago, and UCLA.

Other programs that I'm currently researching:

Yale, Stanford (art history department possibly), NYU, USC, Univ. of Iowa, Harvard, Northwestern, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison, Univ. of Indiana, UC Santa Barbara, Univ. of Texas Austin

I believe that they all might be reach schools because of the intense level of competition and low funding. From the posts I've seen thus far on thegradcafe.com forums, it seems that the greatest numbers of applicants will be people have have been applying for a number of years.

Does anyone else have any recommendations on schools and their programs? UK or Canadian schools?

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: Is it worth it to get a PhD from a non-top tier Film Studies program? I was advised by a current professor that if I'd like to eventually teach and research I must attend a top tier institution or I will be unemployable. Thoughts?

I'm much more interested in critical theory, particularly auteur theory, than history or production, and I'm wondering if my application would be welcome at comparative literature programs and whether other applicants have looked into getting a PhD from programs where they do not have a Film Studies department but are willing to accept people whose primary research interest is in working with film. (I know that the Comparative Literature Department at the University of Hong Kong is such a program.

Thanks so much!

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  • 2 months later...


I'm in almost an identical boat; I'm applying to Comm. Studies, Media Studies, American Studies, and Cultural Studies programs because all of these would give me the ability to research what I'm interested in, albeit from nuanced perspectives that differ. My school list is UNC-CH, CU-Boulder, UT-Austin, Carnegie-Mellon, UF-Gainsville, Northwestern, UM-Ann Arbor, Bowling Green, SUNY Stony Brook, Rutgers, George Mason, and George Washington. I currently hold both a BA and MA in English Literature but have always focused on critical theory and alternative media forms (e.g. I took many courses on film in both undergrad. and graduate school, and wrote my thesis on Samuel Beckett's less discussed Radio Dramas). Don't be afraid to check out mass communications and journalism departments, they may have PhD offerings that would align with your research interests.



Edit: I also hear UMN, Iowa, and several schools in the U.Cal. system have good programs although the research emphases were not a good fit for me.

furthermore, I'd be really interested to hear whether you're doing this to become a professor or you have other goals. I'm personally of the rare breed not counting on a tenure-track position post-doc. Sure, I would love to continue with academia and inspire future students, but I also see that there are many gaps to fill and important influence to exert in non-academic realms.

Edited by agjenkins20
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Hi agjenkins, I'm glad someone else feels the same, i think it's really difficult for the way things are going in our field to follow media/communications/cultural/film studies neat classifications. I've actually been writing to profs in the schools I'm interested in applying, I've picked them based on how many members of the faculty share my interests and might be interested in having me- I'm going to be working on South Asia, and would love to work with people with expertise in the area. I've got a few positive replies, a couple of no replies and one prof suggesting a completely different research track for me! I know most people do a PhD to be professors, but I think five years is a long time- anything can happen. :) So I'm not really sure, I've been working for the past three years- and all I know for now is that i'd definitely be happier studying.

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  • 1 month later...


It sounds like you have a great list of schools. I think it is worth applying to a couple of "non top tier" schools. If you get in to one of these and not to any of the most competitive programs, visit, talk to other grad students and ask them about their experiences in the program preparing for the job market. It might still be worth it if you feel really invested in getting a media Ph.D. and don't want to reapply. When I was applying I did email a couple of professors expressing my interest in the program / their work and asking what courses they are thinking of teaching next year. Most of them wrote back. I don't think it hurts.

When you say you are interested in auteur theory, do you mean you are interested in critiquing auteur theory? I would be careful about how you frame that when you are explaining your project about authorial intentionality to a bunch of media semiotics programs :)

Good luck with your applications!

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Hey everyone!

So, I decided to join this forum in order to respond to this message. I have been reading posts for a while now but have put off signing up because it makes things feel very real. I'm not sure I'm going to get accepted anywhere (seriously) and a part of me is fearful that posting here will somehow jinx my chances. I'm not even a superstitious person...but this whole process has me going crazy.

As for my interests, they are more on the television side of things, but also include film and print media. Needless to say, my applications run all over the map. After months of research, I applied to 11 schools. Exhausting, right?

I'd definitely suggest writing to profs and programs. I wrote to people at nearly 20 schools and it helped narrow down my list. I also wrote to graduate students who study topics similar to what I'd like to explore. One rather lovely professor told me that her school was not a great fit for my interests, even though she personally was interested in my proposed areas of study. One other professor informed me she is leaving the school in December. Had I not e-mailed, I'd have mentioned her in my application and been at a disadvantage for wanting to work with departing faculty. A couple of students also revealed mixed feelings about their schools, which sent warning signals. One student actually ripped his apart and I ended up not applying there (I was already on the fence).

But, given my anxiety, I'd have applied to 20 programs if I could afford it. My references would hate me, of course.

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