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cinema/film studies programs that aren't actually cinema/fil


eleanor
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I'm thinking about applying to MA programs for Fall 2011, most likely. My field of interest is primarily film studies and critical theory, but as I am not a film studies major at my current school, I think it'd be in my best interests to look at media studies, visual studies, etc. programs that allow for a heavy film and theory focus. I guess what I'm asking is: Does anyone have any input as to what particular programs I ought to look into? I've done some googling, but I'm wondering if my background would be amenable to some of the more obvious choices: USC, NYU, UCLA, etc. I apologize if this is an inappropriate question, it's just that I'd like some more personal information about this sort of thing than just the google results I'm pulling up. Anyone have any information?

Also I posted this in a livejournal community, too, so apologies if you see this twice.

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I don't think you will have a problem getting into those choices with a non-film BA. Is your major in a humanities field? I received my MA from the University of Arizona's Media Arts program, and several of the grads in my program had BAs in other fields. You should look into UA, Iowa, UT-Austin, the California schools, UCLA, USC, and UC-Santa Barbara.

I am currently looking in Media Studies PhD programs for Fall 2010, but my focus is in television. My current list is USC, UCLA UC Santa Barbara, UT-Austin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, Indiana University, and Northwestern. These are PhD programs, but some have terminal MA degrees. In my experience, there are more options for people with interest in film, rather than television or new media, since many English departments have film studies programs. I would look into English departments, Emory comes to mind. I applied there when I applied to Master's programs, but was not accepted. It seemed like a pretty good program. If you search for "film" in the results section, that should give you a pretty comprehensive list of film programs.

Hope that helps.

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I went to NYU and did the Gallatin program. Gallatin is where you design your own degree. You choose your own classes and take classes in different disciplines and in different schools within NYU. It's a fairly flexible program which allows you to take classes at other universities/institutions on some occasions. A lot of the work you will do there is self study and self designed (basically independent studies). It's meant for people who want to major in something that doesn't exist. I was really interested in dance and film and both the theory and production side of these things and there isn't a program that fit in perfectly with these interests so Gallatin worked for me. If you are sure what you want to do and can't a program that exists, Gallatin may be an option. If you are sure you want to do strictly cinema studies or go get a Ph.D. in cinema studies, beware. It's hard to go from something so interdisciplinary to something so focused. Also, Galltin is NOT for people who don't know what they want to do. You must have a firm idea and be really self motivated and disciplined to thrive in this tough program.

UC Berkeley's program (at least the Ph.D.)is supposedly based in rhetoric and is interdiciplinary but I heard from some student's it's actually really classical. You may want to check it out. I thought I heard someone say DUKE has a program that is really flexible too. Not sure if it was Duke though.

Ask professors, make some calls to some faculty at some schools and see what they have to say. Best of luck.

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Anyone have any thoughts on the comparative lit program (film track) at Univ. of Washington, Seattle? I know they also have a PhD certificate in cinema studies starting this fall. What's the difference between the PhDcertificate and a regular PhD?

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Don't go to NYU or any private university for an MA unless you don't have to pay (and you probably will). No matter how much you love critical theory (and I take it you mean this broadly, i.e. just not Frankfurt School shit?), do not go for any of the sexy MA programs that cost a billion dollars like MAPH at Chicago. The publics like those already mentioned on here will prepare you just as well (if not better) for a Ph.D program. If that's not your objective, there's little reason to do an MA in any humanities field given the time and money you'll invest that could be spent in other ways.

I didn't see Indiana's Culture & Communication Department mentioned yet -- they have excellent film/media faculty and they fund their M.A. students. You have to teach public speaking (and no, nobody who is accepted has a background in public speaking), but at least you don't have to pay. University of Oregon has a film studies track in their English Department that will get you an M.A. Finally, Georgia State has a Moving Image Studies M.A. track in the Communication Department with some very good faculty (if you like cognitive stuff or affect, Greg Smith is there). I don't know about funding, but it will surely be cheaper than going to NYU/Columbia/Chicago.

You also might look into the Visual Studies programs at UC-Irvine and Rochester. They are both MA/Ph.D programs, though-- no terminal MA. The Rhetoric (Film Track) program at Berkeley has already been mentioned, and you'll obviously get all the critical theory you want there. Someone mentioned Duke -- the department which has film faculty is Literature. They have a bunch of film superstars (Jane Gaines!), and you can wipe the drool from Jameson's mouth for your critical theory fix. And there's always Modern Culture & Media at Brown. Just don't put all your eggs in those baskets...and again, those are all Ph.D programs with no terminal M.A (you're more than welcome to apply to them right out of college, though). Not sure if that's helpful at all.

Maybe you didn't intend for your original post to be read this way, but it sounds like you're saying that you think you should look into programs that don't have "film" or "cinema" in the title because your B.A. isn't in film studies...even though that's where your interests lie for graduate school. Apply to programs that can support what you want to study; don't worry about the title. They won't care that your degree is in Biology or Business Administration if you can demonstrate in your SoP that you have a good reason to be going to graduate school for Film Studies.

PM me if you want a longer rant about the public/private/funding/grad school in the humanities issue. There is also great advice regarding the last issue elsewhere on these forums, as you are probably aware. Read (Harvard Literature/American Civilization Ph.D) William Pannapacker's article "Grad School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go." Oh, and disregard nearly all of this post if you are independently wealthy and don't have to worry about money. Good luck!

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Finally, Georgia State has a Moving Image Studies M.A. track in the Communication Department with some very good faculty (if you like cognitive stuff or affect, Greg Smith is there). I don't know about funding, but it will surely be cheaper than going to NYU/Columbia/Chicago.

Thanks for this tip. The website says that while Doctoral students are prioritized, MA students do receive research assistanships which have a tuition waiver and at least a $5,500 stipend.

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I don't think you will have a problem getting into those choices with a non-film BA. Is your major in a humanities field? I received my MA from the University of Arizona's Media Arts program, and several of the grads in my program had BAs in other fields. You should look into UA, Iowa, UT-Austin, the California schools, UCLA, USC, and UC-Santa Barbara.

Re: Arizona--how represented is film studies in the media arts department? It seems to be a lot of TV work....

I want it to be good as I'm kind of in love with Tucson.

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I'm kinda in love with Tucson too, but sadly I had to leave. The department is actually pretty split in terms of faculty working in either television or film studies. I focused on television, and felt very supported, but there were other students that focused strictly on film and had their research supported. There's been quite a bit of faculty movement since I left, so I can't say that this is still the case. Do you live in Tucson now? If so, you should set up a visit. They're pretty open to prospective students visiting.

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I didn't see Indiana's Culture & Communication Department mentioned yet -- they have excellent film/media faculty and they fund their M.A. students.

Thanks for mentioning IU's Communication & Culture MA program. I looked at their website and it gave me goosebumps -- it's so nice to see detailed descriptions about their program, professors, and everything else.

Has anyone heard good things about King's College London's Film Studies program?

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I'd like to apply to some programs in the second tier or whatever, too--these all seem like great programs, and programs I certainly have a shot at getting into, it seems, but what are some mid-range programs? I'll use the word "program" again.

Thanks guys for all your help!

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Brown's Media Culture & Modernism program might be a good fit, and they have both an MA and a PhD route.

The Brown Modern Culture and Media website indicates that they offer only a PhD.

With regards to eleanor's "second tier" question--what do you mean? Up a tier or down a tier from Iowa, UT-Austin, UC-Irvine? Also, from what I've found, 'tiers' in this field are elusive because of the heterogeneity of the programs--some are within English departments, some with theatre, some in comm, etc--and because of the lack of any extant USNews-style rankings.

As far as I can tell, out of those mentioned above, Oregon's film-friendly English department and Georgia State's Moving Image Studies are less blisteringly competitive than the very very elite schools like Brown, NYU, UCLA, USC, Columbia, and Wisconsin. You might check out U of Kansas' Film & Media Studies as well. They have MA and PhD tracks and some good faculty, depending on your interests.

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I can't believe it's already application season again!

I'm back, because I failed epically last year, haha. For that reason, I am looking for all of the advice I can get. Last year, I applied to Wisconsin-Madison (MA/PhD), NYU - Tisch (MA), IU (MA), and Northwestern (MA/PhD), and was only accepted to NYU. I had strong numbers (3.95 GPA in a Film/TV program at a top-20 national university, and a 1460 on the GRE (710 Verbal, 750 Math, 5.0 Writing), so I'm assuming something went wrong with the "soft" components of my application -- my writing sample, letters of recommendation, my CV, personal statement, etc. I also feel like a 5.0 on the writing component of the GRE is fairly weak, but I don't want to jeopardize my other scores by trying again.

I'm primarily interested in television and cultural studies -- stardom, fandom, the work of Henry Jenkins, television aesthetics and narration, etc. (I would probably do well to refine those and present them coherently, ha.)

I'm also fairly particular about where I'd like to live, though I know that my chances of having control over that aspect of my life upon graduation are infinitesimally small. That being said, I've narrowed my list of schools for this year to the following:

- Reach schools: Brown, UMASS, Michigan, Northwestern (I'm determined to get into Northwestern at some point in my life! Haha).

- Schools I'm reasonably sure I could get into: Syracuse

- Backups: UW - Milwaukee, DePaul University

Does anyone have any kind of numerical data on how many students any of those programs accepted last year?

Anyway, I'm looking for any and all suggestions on how to strengthen my applications for this cycle. I'm meeting with my undergraduate professors in the upcoming weeks to brainstorm, but I'm antsy to get started. Would anyone be willing to share their personal statement with me, or give me an overview of what was covered in it? I really feel like my statement last year tanked my applications. I'm also planning on refining my writing sample(s), or perhaps writing a new paper or two. I was also thinking about releasing my letters of recommendation to a professor, to make sure they're working to my favor!

Beyond that, I have some more specific questions.

1) Is it worth it to reapply to schools you've been previously rejected from?

2) Should I be applying to terminal MA programs, or MA/PhD programs? (i.e., is there a type of program I'm more likely to be accepted into?)

3) Do MA/PhD programs generally require interviews?

4) Are there any other schools I should be applying to?

That should do it! Haha. Any insight any of you could provide would be great.

Thanks so much!

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This is my first year applying to film and media studies MA/PH.D. programs, but from the info Ive gathered from this site and others, I would seriously consider broadening your range to include more schools.

If you're interested in television studies, you'd want to check out USC's Cinematic Arts program. Faculty include television people like Ellen Seiter and Marsha Kinder, and , as of this year, Henry Jenkins. I think UC - Santa Barbara' s program also has curricular strengths in Hollywood/American film and studies of fandom and stardom, as does U Iowa's program. U Texas at Austin appears to be very much oriented to a cultural studies approach and would def be able to support you in studying all of the areas of concentration you mention here. If, like me, you hold only a B.A., you'd have to go through the M.A. program which I've heard is normally unfunded. Of course, faculty like Janet Staiger and Thomas Schatz are a big draw so it may be worth it.

Brown, on the other hand, appears very theoretically focused and holds to certain approaches (psychoanalysis, post-structuralism) that schools such as Texas and Wisconsin have traded-in for cognitive approaches and reception studies. That said, I am applying to all of the schools I listed above and plan to somewhat tailor each Sop to the theoretical and critical bents of each school.

Northwestern conducts interviews sometime in the early spring, but i haven't heard of any other schools doing the same. I think their cohort is usually composed of 4-5 students but I could be very wrong. Anyway, I hope this helps, and good luck!

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Does anyone have any kind of numerical data on how many students any of those programs accepted last year?

Check out the web page for the program. Lots of schools publish this information. You could also email the program and inquire. The biggest thing, which I'm sure you've heard, however, is fit. Some schools might only accept 5% of their applicants, but your interests might match up perfectly. Other schools might accept 35%, but you might not have matching interests. This is where the SoP comes in. That is your chance to prove to the school that you have done your research, and you will succeed there, not just because you are smart and hard working, but also because you make sense within their program.

I'm also planning on refining my writing sample(s), or perhaps writing a new paper or two.

My $.02 is that refining an existing writing sample is always time better spent than writing a brand new paper from scratch. You *definitely* don't need two writing samples, so focus all your energy on making the existing essay as strong as possible. I'm planning on digging back into mine, doing a bit more research, and generally slashing parts of it to bits.

I was also thinking about releasing my letters of recommendation to a professor, to make sure they're working to my favor!

This. LoRs are NOT held in as high regard if you don't release the recommendation. If you don't think a professor will give you a shining LoR, then find someone else. It is always a terrible idea to retain the rights to see your letter.

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Media and Cinema studies are really competitive fields so don't be discouraged. Continue to apply to schools again and again and don't give up.Your stats look really good so getting into NYU was a real accomplishment that's a tough school. I would expect you to get into anymore than one or two being that this field is so competitive. It's not like undergrad you get into a lot of places. One school is good enough, let alone NYU!

My advice:

-If you don't have an MA yet, just apply to the MA first. Schools want to see you can write a thesis before a dissertation. Writing a thesis is hard so who knows, maybe you'll be burned out after that and not want to do the PhD. Get a regular MA not a terminal one. A terminale one won't get you far especially if you want to teach. Just get the regular MA and who knows, maybe down the line you could get the Phd if you wanted, not so with a terminal MA. I think there maybe a stereotype going around that people with terminal MAs weren't good enough to get into a PhD program or were lazy. This isn't true but who knows, it could come back to haunt you one day.

-Apply to more schools. My research indicates 3-26 students are excepted (on average about 6-12) for all these programs yet about 150 people apply. This year, with the economy tanking, the numbers look worse.

-I understand your dilema about location. You and I are in the same boat. I'm obsessed with going to West Coast schools however, I'll apply to all schools everywhere...I can decided later if I'll actually go or not. Unless you spent some time in some place, it's hard to tell what you like and don't like. Who knows, maybe you never thought you could live in say, San Francisco, but once you go you love it....that's what happened to me.

-SOP is the most important part of your ap. Make it sound professional and like you are really dedicated to research and are focused on one idea that is similar to what someone in their department is working on. Email or call that person in the department whose interest is similar to yours and connect with them. Kiss ass a little if you have to yet still be yourself. I think it was your SOP that prevented you from getting into more places. Again, you have to be a match with the school you are applying to. You might be really great with italian cinema but if you go to a school that focuses on women in film or whatever, you'll have no chance there.

-Publish papers and present at conferences. Present yourself as a serious and sophisticated academic. Your SOP should really be an outline for your dissertation idea. Personal stories and extra curriculuars are for freshman. Tell them your idea for your plan of study and sell yourself.

-Make your CV look like you are obessed with film, media, whatever it is you want to study. Take off any little jobs not related to your studies (like that camp counselor position...unless it's related to your field)...basically, keep it streamlined.

-Choose a really good writing sample you already wrote in undergrad or grad school.

-Consult your professors on everything.

Good luck.

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Thanks so much to everyone who replied -- I really think your advice will be invaluable as I begin to prepare my applications. I'm definitely going to broaden the list of schools I'll apply to, and I'm also going to work on refining my personal statement.

I do have one more question I thought of over the weekend -- I graduated in May of 2008 and have taken some time off to work. I've stayed on at my undergraduate school in a more or less administrative capacity that has little to do with academia (besides the setting, obviously) or my field of interest. Should I address the reasons I took time off in my personal statement? The real reasons I took the time off are because I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue long-term, and needed an influx of cash. I only anticipated taking one year off, but after last year's disastrous application cycle, I decided to stay on for one more year.

Any insight into this matter would be greatly appreciated. And thanks again everyone for the advice! Good luck all around. :)

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Should I address the reasons I took time off in my personal statement?

Lots of people take time off (myself included!) for a variety of reasons. The adcom will not care why you took time off, or even that you did. (Although, some say they prefer students who have taken time off because they are a bit more focused, but that is debatable and will not get you into a program.) The adcom will care that you will succeed as a scholar. I plan to address the ways in which I've continued my work as a scholar while outside the structure of school/academia.

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