The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Cinema and Media Studies - PhD

Division: Humanities 
Degree Type: PhD 

Program Description

The history of film in Chicago dates back to the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, when on the grounds of the Midway Plaisance - within sight of the newly established University of Chicago - visitors saw their first moving images. Motion pictures have been an intellectual and cultural concern at the University ever since - from the Chicago School sociologists and psychologists who studied the effects of movie-going on children, to the decades of students who have made Doc Films the oldest and most ambitious student-run film society in the country. Recently, film and visual media have assumed even more prominence at the University through the groundbreaking scholarship of faculty in cinema and visual culture and the establishment of the Department of Cinema and Media Studies.

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  • Department of Cinema & Media Studies 
  • The University of Chicago 
  • Gates-Blake 418 
  • 5845 South Ellis Avenue 
  • Chicago, IL 60637 
  • PHONE: (773) 834-1077 
  • FAX: (773) 702-9042
  • Website:

Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Department of Cinema and Media Studies admits applicants only for the Ph.D. degree, and does not offer a stand-alone MA program.  If you are If you are interested in pursuing an MA focusing in Cinema and Media Studies, we encourage you to explore the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH).  

Application Requirements

  1. Three letters of recommendation (if not submitted electronically)
  2. Official transcripts from all postsecondary institutions previously attended
  3. 15-20 page writing sample (10-15 pages for applications to MAPH)
  4. Personal statement (if not submitted online in the general application)
  5. Official copies of GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS scores ordered by the applicant and sent directly to the University of Chicago by the testing service
  6. Photocopies of GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS scores (or provide scores in the online application) are also recommended
  7. Application fee

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

A sample program for students entering the Department without previous graduate study in Cinema and Media Studies would consist in the following: 

  1. First year: A total of seven courses: the three required courses; a minimum of two elective courses cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two further elective courses. 
  2. Second year: A total of six courses: a minimum of four elective courses cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two further elective courses. Of these six courses, three must be designated as advanced courses. 
  3. Third year: A total of three courses; at least one Ph.D. research seminar cross-listed in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies; two elective courses.

Students are expected to take their Fields Examination by the end of the third year.

Given the highly international nature of the field of cinema and media studies, proficiency in two modern foreign languages has to be demonstrated by earning High Passes on the University's Foreign Language Reading Examinations. 

We will make every effort to assure that all students who apply for a course assistantship have at least one quarter of supervised teaching during their years in the program, and more if specified by the terms of their award package.

Before being admitted to candidacy, students must write a dissertation proposal under the supervision of the dissertation committee.

Upon completion of the dissertation, the student will defend it orally before the members of the dissertation committee. 


Costs & Financial Aid

To be considered for University fellowship support, simply check the appropriate box in the Financial Data section of the online application for admission and you will automatically be considered for all University fellowship funds for which you are eligible. There is no separate application form for University fellowship support. Applicants are considered for all fellowship aid available at the time of the admission decisions. An applicant's aid package will not be reconsidered after admission, even if other admitted applicants to the University of Chicago decline their fellowship award offers.