Master's Certificate

The Film Studies Program provides an interdisciplinary curriculum, with courses (concerning cinema, television, video, and photography) offered on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. These classes treat the media as both artistic and cultural discourses, and address issues of history, theory, ideology, and aesthetics. Production courses in cinema, photography, and video are offered at the undergraduate level and, occasionally, through graduate Directed Study. The program draws on faculty from the Departments of English, Fine Arts, Slavic, German, French and Italian, Studio Arts, East Asian, and Psychology, among others. It offers an undergraduate major and minor (certificate), as well as two graduate certificates (master's and doctoral).

Course Work

Four film studies courses (12 credits) including:

  • Core Course: Film History/Theory (ENGLIT 2451)
  • Three Electives (one outside home department)

Research Paper

(For students beginning in the Fall of 2006)

The MA Certificate requires a research paper in the field of Film Studies (approx. 25–30 pp. in length) to be written for and evaluated by a Film Studies faculty member who teaches one of the seminars that the student takes for his/her Certificate requirements. The procedure for so doing is as follows:
At the beginning of a Film Studies course that counts for the Certificate the student will inform the faculty member teaching the course that he/she wishes for his/her seminar to count as well as the official Research Paper for the Certificate Program.  The faculty member will then require of the student something more ambitious than the normal seminar paper (see Guidelines for Certificate Research Paper) and meet with the student over the course of the term to advise him/her on it. At the end of the course the student has two options: (1) to submit the Certificate Research Paper for both the course and Certificate requirements or (2) to submit a paper that satisfies the course requirements and continue to work on the expanded Certificate Research Paper over the following semester.  The paper should be turned in for the Certificate requirement no later than at the end of the semester following the course in which the paper was conceived.


The research paper that qualifies for the MA and/or PhD Certificates in Film Studies should go beyond the average seminar paper for a course, though (as per above) it should begin as such a seminar paper in conjunction with a member of the Film Studies faculty.  In essence, the research paper should aspire to be one publishable in an academic journal (though there is no requirement that it actually be published).  Such a paper might go beyond a standard seminar paper in any or several of the following ways: (1) have a demonstrated original point of view or approach to a given topic; (2) articulate a clear and demonstrated argument about a topic that clarifies important issues in media studies; (3) involve substantial research with primary sources; (4) forge new theoretical or historical terrain; (5) consider hitherto ignored media texts.  It will be up to the Film Studies instructor/advisor to determine how the paper might meet some of the above standards.

(For students beginning prior to the Fall of 2006):

Students beginning prior to the Fall of 2006 have two options:

  1. To follow the guidelines above for the MA Certificate Research Paper
  2. To follow the earlier guidelines (below) for the MA Certificate Research Paper

Research Paper Requirement
The MA certificate requires a research paper in the field of film studies (approx. 25–30 pp. in length) to be evaluated by a three-person committee comprising Film Studies Program faculty appointed by the director (including at least one person in and one person outside the student's home department). If the student has worked with a Film Studies faculty member on an earlier version of the paper, that faculty member should be on the committee. Guidelines will be provided for the research paper, and it is advised that students discuss this requirement with an advisor or the program director well in advance of submission.

Additional Conditions

  • Only one directed study courses (supervised by film studies faculty) can be counted toward the master's certificate.
  • All courses must be passed with a B or higher.
  • Students should notify the program director of their intention to file for graduation at the beginning of their final semester.


The film studies program director will advise students and keep records. A Graduate Steering Committee will be constituted to deal with ongoing curricular and administrative issues and to evaluate special students.

Film Studies Guide to Research: A guide to finding materials in the University Library System (.doc)

Interfolio: Graduate student job file service

Graduate Dean

Film in Pittsburgh

Original sign for John Harris’ historic nickelodeon (1905)

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