Media Studies PhD Program Information

Individuals interested in a doctoral media studies program can pursue a Ph.D. in Media Studies or a Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies. Explore each program, common coursework and job opportunities.

Essential Information

While both of these programs are research intensive, doctoral programs in film and media studies tend to focus more closely on cinema than the more broad media studies doctoral programs. Foreign language proficiency may be necessary for film and media studies, and students may be asked to teach undergraduate classes for media studies programs. Most programs culminate in a dissertation.

Students seeking admission to the media studies programs should already hold a Master of Arts degree and should be prepared to submit a statement of purpose along with other application materials. Interested candidates for the film and media studies program must typically have a master's degree. Additionally, applicants are often required to submit a writing sample. Both programs may require GRE scores, reference letters and resumes for applicants.

Ph.D. Degree in Media Studies

Media studies doctoral degree programs are humanities-based. Students must generally complete a minimum of 48 credits beyond a master's degree for completion of a Ph.D. program. Doctoral degree programs in media studies are intended to prepare students for roles in higher educational institutions; consequently, students are required to participate in instructional or research assistantships. Ph.D. students focus on one topic for their dissertation and often specialize in a second area of interest. In addition to courses of interest for their dissertation, students often take courses in:

  • Foundations of media
  • Society and media
  • International issues in media
  • Cultural and racial topics in media

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Ph.D. Degree in Film and Media Studies

At the doctoral degree level, film and media study students learn foundations and theories in cinema and media. Film and Media Studies programs at this level develop intense research and critical-thinking skills. Ph.D. seekers take a comprehensive knowledge and skills assessment before being able to participate in dissertation preparation. Once they've completed core classes, they are prepared to develop a topic, research it and take a unique stand on its relevancy in the film and media industry. Coursework leading up to the dissertation may include:

  • Styles of film
  • Teaching television and cinema
  • Modern broadcast media
  • History of European film
  • Foundations in American cinema

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Beginning in 2014 and ending in 2024, overall employment of professors was expected to rise by 13%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( As of May 2015, post-secondary communication professors brought in a median annual income of $63,410.

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in film and media studies may find work as:

  • Film studies professors
  • Writers
  • Scholars
  • Directors
  • Producers

Students interested in studying and researching different aspects of the media can pursue a Ph.D. in media studies or film and media studies. Most graduates will work as professors in the field, where they can expect positive job growth.

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