The program in Film and Media Studies (FMS) provides students who are interested in the history, criticism and theories of moving-image-based visual culture from the 19th through the 21st centuries an opportunity to extend their formal intellectual development and to explore film and electronic media as evolving global phenomena. The certificate and the master's degree in FMS advance a student's scholarly understanding of all forms of the moving image and their artistic, cultural, industrial, philosophical, political and social implications.
The certificate is by application and is open to PhD students in other academic units. It consists of 15 course units in FMS; 6 units of the certificate may be counted in the student's PhD requirements. The master's degree emphasizes multiple approaches of academic study that may lead to curating, researching, teaching and other professional activities centered on film and other moving image media.
Students already enrolled at Washington University with a major in FMS may wish to consider the master's program as part of an accelerated AB/AM option. Washington University students who are admitted in the combined AB/AM program may have up to 9 units of FMS course credit at the 400 level considered for application to the Master of Arts (AM) degree requirements. Students who are currently enrolled as undergraduates at Washington University and who are seeking the combined AB/AM degree should use the standard application form of the Graduate School to apply.
Students applying to the FMS master's program from outside of the university should follow the standard application procedures of the Graduate School (available on the Graduate School Forms webpage). Graduate Record Exam scores that indicate an aptitude for graduate study are required, and applicants will also need to supply strong letters of recommendation from three instructors who can speak to the applicant's academic skills relevant to graduate study in FMS. Applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree and who show outstanding promise in writing about film and media but who do not have a formal background in film/media studies may also be admitted. All applicants to the master's program in FMS should have a strong academic foundation in critical writing and thinking. At least one writing sample of no less than 3,000 words is required, and the applicant must also compose a letter of approximately 500 words describing their interest in FMS and how their intellectual background has prepared them for graduate study in FMS.
All applicants to the certificate, AB/AM, and master's degree programs in FMS are welcome to consult with the director of graduate studies about the application process.
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Required courses for the graduate certificate: 15 units
Core Courses (9 units):
- Film 501 Advanced Moving Image Analysis and Criticism (3 units)
- Film 421 Film Historiography (3 units) or Film 502 Seminar in History of Film and/or Electronic Media (rotating topics) (3 units)
One of the following theory courses is required as part of the core:
- Film 419 Theories of Mass Media (3 units)
- Film 420 Film Theory (3 units)
- Film 450 American Film Genres (3 units) (genre theory)
- Any 400- or 500-level course in film or electronic media theory
Certificate students also have two electives (6 units) that may be taken at the 400 or 500 level and developed in an advising plan, subject to the approval of the Film and Media Studies (FMS) adviser and of the director of graduate studies (DGS) of the student's home unit.
Two Electives (6 units):
Each 3-unit elective course in FMS must be at the 400 level or higher.
Electives may be courses that originate in FMS, that are cross-listed with FMS, or that are offered in another unit and approved by the student's FMS adviser.
A student may choose to take one independent study of 3 units (Film 500) with an FMS faculty member as an elective. This study should relate to a specialized topic mutually agreed upon by the student, their FMS adviser, and the chair of the graduate certificate program. Although students are expected to benefit from elective courses offered by FMS core and affiliated faculty, they may take other film-related courses offered by other departments and by faculty not affiliated with FMS. To be included in the graduate certificate courses, classes that fall within this category require approval by the student's adviser in FMS and their home unit's DGS.
Course of Study
Students must fulfill the basic requirements for the Master of Arts (AM) degree as set forth in this Graduate School Bulletin. In addition, AM candidates must take the course of study described below, which consists of 36 units of credit and a comprehensive examination.
There is one course of study for the AM in FMS. There is no thesis option for this degree. Students complete 36 semester units (12 courses) defined by the three areas listed below. During their final semester of courses, students complete a comprehensive written examination and meet with the examining committee for an oral defense. The examining committee will consist of the DGS, the student's adviser, and one other faculty member who is either core or affiliated with FMS. These exams are based on reading and screening lists as well as on courses. The student must meet expectations for broad knowledge of the field appropriate for a master's degree student in the humanities. Normally, if the student expects a May graduation date, then they must complete the examinations by April 7 of the spring semester. All courses should be completed by the end of the semester in which the examination is scheduled.
Students should consult with the DGS during their first semester in the program to obtain the master's students' reading and screening list, and they should also consult regularly with their advisers. Students entering the program from outside the university should expect to take two years to finish the master's degree if they take 9 units per semester; it may take less time if they take more units per semester.
Area I: Required Courses (15 units total)
The requirements for Area I may be fulfilled through the following courses:
- Visual Analysis
Film 501 Advanced Moving Image Analysis and Criticism
- Moving Image Theory
Film 419 Theories of Mass Media or Film 420 Film Theory or Film 502 Seminar in Film and Media Theory (rotating topics)
- Historiography of the Moving Image
Film 421 Film Historiography or Film 423 Histories of Media Convergence
- Television & Digital Studies
Film 503 Seminar in Television Studies (rotating topics) or Film 504 Seminar in Digital Studies (rotating topics) or any 400- or 500-level FMS course in television or electronic media
- Cinema and Television Beyond the United States
Any 400- or 500-level national, regional or transnational cinema or television studies course offered in FMS
Area II: Electives (18 units)
In addition, during their matriculation, students must take 18 units of credit at the 400 or 500 level to satisfy electives for the master's in FMS. When choosing electives, students may select any 400- or 500-level FMS course not used to fulfill the requirements of Area I. In addition, students can select up to 6 units of Film 500 Independent Study, which involves study in an area of film and media that is not ordinarily covered by regular course offerings. Any instance of Film 500 must be approved by the DGS. Six units of courses at the 400 or 500 level offered through other departments or programs that are relevant to the degree's intellectual focus may also be taken to satisfy this area with the permission of the DGS.
Area III: Practicum in Film and Media Studies
Students must complete one course (3 units) that consists of professional experience that brings to bear academic knowledge and skills associated with the study of FMS. Every student presents a written proposal/plan to the DGS and to the faculty mentor/adviser they select for their practicum. Both faculty must approve the plan.
The practicum may take a number of forms, but in every case, the experience must be planned in a way that contributes to the student's professional development. It might consist of curating films for a screening or mini-festival accompanied by screening notes, a website, or other forms of writing that enhance the academic value of the event. The student might organize a scholarly symposium or lecture to further the understanding of a particular aspect of the moving image at Washington University. The practicum may also consist of archival or curatorial work in film, television or other forms of the moving image (e.g., digital art) at an archive, a museum or another nonprofit organization (e.g., a film festival) where the student will have an on-site supervisor.
Students interested in combining primary research with their development as a "public intellectual" might write a book proposal and develop a bibliography in anticipation of writing a book. Alternatively, they may develop a website with consistent and significant critical, historical or theoretical usefulness to those interested in film and media studies, such as one that offers critical analyses of current films or bibliographic information addressing one area of research in the field. The practicum student might participate in other activities related to moving image exhibition, archival preservation or grant application writing. The practicum may also be oriented toward teaching, with the creation of a course syllabus and sample lectures delivered by the graduate student in a venue organized by faculty.
Students may initiate other projects, but any practicum requires a faculty mentor and, in circumstances in which there is a collaborating organization, a letter of endorsement of the practicum from the student's on-site supervisor at the organization. This supervisor will also provide a letter upon completion of the practicum detailing the student's work and its quality. The faculty adviser will award the grade for the practicum.