The Program in Film & Media Studies offers a Master’s degree designed to provide 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 training and explore film and electronic media as evolving global phenomena. The degree will advance a student’s scholarly understanding of all forms of the moving image and their artistic, cultural, industrial, philosophical, political, and social implications. In addition to providing knowledge, the degree will emphasize multiple approaches of academic study of the subject that may lead to curating, researching, teaching, and other professional activities centered on film and other moving image media as key aspects of visual culture centrally implicated in debates about culture and commerce, art and technology, entertainment and ideology.
The program is now accepting applications from students wishing to start in Fall semester 2016 and who have an undergraduate degree from institutions of higher learning. Students already enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis may wish to consider this program as part of an accelerated A.B./A.M. option. Washington University students who are admitted in the combined A.B./A.M. program may have up to sixteen hours of course credit in film and media studies at the 400 level considered for application to A.M. degree requirements. Current Washington University undergraduates who are currently seniors may apply to this program as a combined A.B./A.M. degree until August 15, 2016 for a start date in the master's of fall 2016. Students who are not seniors but are interested in considering the combined degree should consult with the Director of FMS, Prof. Gaylyn Studlar.
II. Advantages of this degree program
We are committed to providing students exposure to film and electronic media and to past as well as emerging forms of moving images. Our curriculum also emphasizes the regional, national and transnational reach of moving image industries. This M.A. program offers the advantages of small class size and an extraordinary level of faculty attention. Our approach to film and media education gives students a secure analytical and historical foundation for future Ph.D. work or potential flexibility to enter a number of professional environments that require expertise in moving image media including but not limited to film. Thus, while providing substantial knowledge in the discipline of Film & Media Studies, completion of this master’s program would prepare those who complete its requirements for continuing work towards the Ph.D. degree at the same time that it would offer foundational preparation for those interested in administrative, archival, curatorial, or writing careers focused on all forms of the moving image.
III. Program Requirements
Course of Study
Students must fulfill the basic requirements for the M.A. degree as set forth in the Graduate School catalog. In addition, M.A. candidates must take the course of study described below that consists of 36 hours of credit and a comprehensive examination.
There is one course of study for the M.A. in FMS. There is no thesis option in this degree. Students complete 36 semester hours (12 courses) defined by the three areas listed below. During their final semester of course work, the student takes a comprehensive written examination and meets with the examining committee for an oral defense. The examining committee will consist of the DGS, the student’s advisor, and one other faculty member, core or affiliated in FMS. These exams are based on reading and screening lists as well as on course work. 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 he/she must complete his/her examinations by April 7 of the spring semester. All coursework should be completed by the end of the semester in which the examination is scheduled. The student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (“DGS”) in their first semester in the program to obtain the Master’s students’ reading and screening list and consult regularly with their advisor. Students entering the program from outside the university should expect to take two years to finish the Master’s degree if they take nine hours per semester, less time if they take more.
Area I: Required Courses (15 hours total)
The requirements for Area I may be fulfilled through the following course work:
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 and Visual Studies
FILM 503: Seminar in Television Studies (rotating topics) or FILM504: 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 cinemas or television studies course offered in FMS.
Area II: Electives (18 hours)
In addition, during their matriculation, students must take 18 hours of credit at the 400 or 500 level to satisfy electives for the Master’s in Film & Media Studies. In choosing electives, students may select any 400 or 500 level FMS course not used for Area I. In addition, they can select up to six hours in FILM 500: Independent Study that is in a study area of film and media not ordinarily covered by regular course offerings. Any FILM 500 must be approved by the DGS. Six hours 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. Sample elective courses offered by FMS include:
FILM 422: Film Stardom, Performance, and Fan Culture
FILM 432: Global Art Cinema
FILM 450: American Film Genres
FILM 451: American Television Genres
FILM 452: Advanced Screenwriting
FILM 4529: Seminar in Cultural Theory
FILM 454: American Film Melodrama and the Gothic
FILM 456: Soundtrack Studies: Music, Voices, Noise
FILM 458: Major Film Directors (rotating)
FILM 460: Taboo: Boundary and Transgression in American Cinema
FILM 485: Visualizing Orientalism: Art, Cinema, and the Imaginary East, 1850-2000
FILM 505: Travel in Space: Contemporary Cinemas of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China
Area III: Practicum in Film & Media Studies
Students must complete one course (3 credits) that consists of professional experience that brings to bear academic knowledge and skills associated with the study of FMS. Every student presents written proposal/plan to the DGS and to the faculty mentor/advisor they select for their practicum. Both faculty must give permission to 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 work 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 in St. Louis. The practicum may also consist of archival or curatorial work in film, television or other forms of the moving image (such as digital art) at an archive, museum, or other non-profit organization (such as a film festival), in which 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 or 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, bibliographic information addressing one area of research in the field, etc. The practicum student might participate in other activities related to moving image exhibition or archival preservation or to grant application writing. The practicum may also be oriented towards 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-sight 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 advisor will award the grade for the practicum.
Area IV: Mentored Teaching Experience
Believing that graduate education should foster a range of skills, including verbal skills and the ability to organize presentations about the subject, FMS requires every AM student to have three semesters of Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) within FMS, including participation in at least one FMS course in which the student leads an undergraduate discussion section. The course number for MTE is LGS 600 (pass/no pass). For returning AM students (who started the program in fall 2016), two MTEs in FMS will be required. One must involve leading a discussion section in an FMS undergraduate course. Only one MTE may be taken in any given semester.
Selection of Candidates and Admission Criteria
Students applying to the Film & Media Studies master’s from outside the university should use the standard Graduate School application form and follow the standard application procedures of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (http://graduateschool.wustl.edu/forms). Graduate Record Exam scores indicating an aptitude for graduate study are required, as well as strong letters of recommendations from at least three instructors who can speak to the applicant’s academic skills relevant to graduate study in film and media studies. All applications 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 of these applicants and a letter of approximately 500 words describing the candidate’s interest in film and media studies and how her/his intellectual background has prepared the applicant for graduate study in FMS. Applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree who show outstanding promise in writing about film and media but do not have formal film/media studies training at the undergraduate level may be admitted. However, such candidates should expect to spend significant time on the reading and screening lists that are oriented toward general knowledge in the field and are required preparation for the comprehensive exam. Students who are currently enrolled as undergraduates at Washington University and are seeking the combined A.B./A.M. degree should use the standard application form of the Graduate School to apply (See: graduateschool.wustl.edu/forms) and consult with the Director of Graduate Studies of FMS about the application process. The current DGS is Professor Gaylyn Studlar who may be reached at email@example.com.
Resources and Support
Students may receive varying amounts of tuition remission and may receive fellowships as well. Students at Washington University who are accepted into the Accelerated A.B./A.M. program will receive a scholarship for 25% of tuition charges for the A.M. year, subject to the standard enrollment and remission policies of the Graduate School.
The Program in Film & Media Studies administers the program. The FMS Graduate Administration Committee reviews all applications to the program and makes recommendations for admission that will then be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences for final approval. It is also charged with monitoring the progress of students and evaluating their performance. Every student will be assigned a primary advisor by this committee when they are admitted, and the DGS and this faculty advisor will be expected to communicate regularly in the mentoring of the student through their coursework and their progress with the reading and screening lists. Beginning with the student’s second semester in the program, the Graduate Administration Committee reviews the progress of each student in the Master’s program each semester. The DGS communicates the faculty evaluation to the student and her/his faculty advisor if he/she is not serving on the Graduate Administration Committee. A committee made up of the DGS, the student’s advisor, and one other faculty member (core or affiliated) will administer the comprehensive examination to students and grade these exams.