Why study film and media?

The Department of Film and Media Studies unites the inquiry of the academic with the practice and technique of the artist. Scholars and filmmakers work and study together in an environment of mutual encouragement and collegiality.

The affiliation of the Department with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of the Arts reflects a liberal arts perspective towards the study of film and media as well as hands-on production elements. We see film and media as ways of ordering, clarifying, and understanding human experience.

We are humanists, sharing the general goal of discovering and putting into communicable form hypotheses about human beings and the world as they interact with it. We are scholars and practitioners, and our work includes the creation of film and media, teaching, and scholarship. As a result we serve our disciplines, the University, and the surrounding community in our capacities as teachers, scholars, and artists.

Discover how film and media can change your life. In KU Film and Media Studies you’ll find a community that shares your passion for film and media and is dedicated to helping you succeed in today’s changing media landscape. You’ll find your place here within the School of the Arts’ creative community.

The Ph.D requires 60 credit hours of course work that strengthens methodological, historical, and theoretical grounding.  Students must also write and defend a dissertation that must constitute a palpable contribution to knowledge in the candidates chosen field in order to complete their degree.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admissions

 A full list of application materials and deadlines is available on The Department of Film and Media Studies admission pages. The Department of Film and Media Studies does not admit new students for the Spring or Summer terms. 

The completed application should be submitted online.

Contact Information

University of Kansas
Department of Film and Media Studies
1300 Sunnyside Ave Ste 230
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: 785-864-1340
Email: film@ku.edu 

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. is an academic degree, but students are expected to complete 6 hours in film and video production.

To be admitted, a student ordinarily is expected to have a Graduate Record Examination score of at least 160 (verbal), 144 (quantitative), and 4.5 analytical writing. The applicant also must have a grade-point average of at least 3.2 for undergraduate and at least 3.5 for graduate work and a master’s degree acceptable to the graduate faculty. Deficiencies in background may require make-up work.

Ph.D. Degree in Film and Media Studies

The degree requires 60 hours not including language proficiency. Please meet with your advisor or graduate director each semester to assess your progress.

Core Requirements

24 hours of core courses are required. Doctoral students in film and media studies must take a core of courses aimed at strengthening methodological, historical, and theoretical grounding. 1 course must be taken in non-Western/indigenous film; 2 graduate-level production courses are required, and 2 courses in FMS 902 Film Seminar are mandatory.

Elective Requirements

9 hours of electives are required. Elective courses focus on the academic study of history, international cinema, popular culture, and film criticism. These courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s special interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Production Requirements

6 hours of production courses are required. Production courses give students an understanding of the production process in making film, video, or animation pieces. On graduation, doctoral students can perform as competent artisans in addition to research scholars. Production courses are selected with a graduate advisor to reflect the student’s specific interest. The advisor may increase the number of hours, depending on the student’s academic needs.

Secondary Field Requirements

9 hours of secondary field courses at the graduate level from outside the Department of Film and Media Studies, are chosen to assist the student in writing the dissertation. They are related to the student’s proposed area of specialization. Examples include English; history; women, gender, and sexuality studies; American studies; education; and social welfare.

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship Requirements

KU requires all doctoral students to meet the Research Skills requirement before proceeding to comprehensive exams. Compliance with this policy requires all graduate students to receive training in responsible scholarship pertinent to the field of research and obtain research skills pertinent to the doctoral level of research in their field(s). Research Skills requirements may be satisfied by taking either FMS 902 : Research Methods and Applications of New Media or FMS 902 : Visual Methods. Students may also elect to demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language for conducting research.

Comprehensive Examination

2 publishable papers are due at the time of the examination. The examination includes written responses to questions in history, theory, production, and literature/criticism, followed by an oral examination.


18 hours of dissertation credit are required. The finished dissertation must constitute a palpable contribution to knowledge in the candidate’s chosen field. After its completion, an oral defense must be held no less than 4 weeks before the graduation deadline. The exam committee must meet Doctoral Student Oral Exam Committee composition requirements.

Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies Program of Study

FMS 800Introduction to Graduate Study in Film/Media3
FMS 801Professional Development Seminar3
FMS 862Survey of Film and Media History3
FMS 863Survey of Documentary and Experimental Film and Media3
FMS 865Film and Media Theory3
FMS 902Film Seminar in: _____3
Select one graduate-level non-Western/indigenous film course3
Select 9 hours of the following in consultation with the advisor:9
Graduate Seminar in: _____
Development of African-American Images in Film
Asian Film
Development of American Popular Culture in the: _____
Film Seminar in: _____
Investigation and Conference (for Doctoral Students)
Others to be added from semester offerings at the graduate level
Select two of the following:6
Problems in Basic Screenwriting
Problems in Basic Video Production
Graduate Seminar in: _____
Problems in Intermediate Screenwriting
Problems in Intermediate Video Production
Intensive Film Project Seminar
Practicum in Film