Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » Current Students » Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

MA in Cinema and Media Studies

The MA degree may be earned in one of four ways:

  1. By completion of 8 half courses and a Major Research Paper (MRP) of 40-50 pages. The majority of students in the Cinema and Media Studies MA will be expected to elect this option.
  2. By completion of 8 half courses and a Research Creation major research project supplemented by a support paper of approximately 20 pages
  3. By completion of 8 half courses and a Field Placement major research project supplemented by a support paper of approximately 20 pages.
  4. By completion of 7 half courses and a Thesis (80-100 pages). MA Students will be granted permission by the Program to pursue a thesis option on the basis of a rigorous and well-structured thesis proposal.

Students should consult with the Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Program Director (CMS GPD) in order to determine which model best suits their interests and abilities. Students wishing to complete the degree under option 3 or 4 must make certain that they have the supervision in place as well as the research tools to complete a rigorous Field Placement capstone or Thesis.

Please see the Graduate Program course offerings. Note that the list of courses offered varies each year.

  • Film 6220 3.0 Methods and Research in Film Studies
  • Film 6230 3.0 Contemporary Cinema & Media Studies Theory
  • Film 5400 3.0 Graduate Seminar

Graduate Seminar (FILM 5400): All first-year students in the Cinema and Media Studies, Production, and Screenwriting graduate programs are required to attend Grad Seminar. The Seminar presents opportunities for interdisciplinary discussion, gathering students for workshops on professional development (e.g., grant writing, applying to conferences and festivals), and screenings and presentations by faculty and visiting artists, filmmakers, and scholars. All second-year students will present a detailed and developed synopsis of their Thesis/MRP project at a Graduate Symposium to be held during the fall term of their second year of study.

MA students may take up to a total of two half courses from outside the Graduate Program in Film. Students should consult the York University website for cognate departments such as Communication and Culture, Humanities, Social and Political Thought, English, Art History & Visual Culture, Dance Studies, Digital Media, Theatre & Performance Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Studies, among others. Permission of the instructor and Graduate Program Director is required.

The MA requires full-time residency of FIVE terms or part-time residency of TEN terms.

MFA in Film

Our graduate production area features a team of award-winning faculty members whose expertise, and on-going research/practice spans Fiction, Alternative and Documentary filmmaking. We are dedicated to helping our students achieve their highest creative potential.

The principal goal of our program is to immerse students in a program of study that best meets their overall academic, creative and professional goals. The required courses are intended to enhance the range and depth of a student’s skills and knowledge. The program is committed to providing the opportunity for students to enhance their experience by choosing from a selection of elective courses.

All those earning an MFA Degree must complete 7 half courses and a Thesis, consisting of a creative work on film, video, digital and a written component.

Please see the full list of Graduate Program in Film course offerings. Note that the list of courses offered varies each year.

Production students must complete at least one Cinema and Media Studies 3.0 credit course. This course may include Film 6230 Contemporary Film Theory or Film 6210 Theoretical Issues.

Required Courses:

  • FILM 5010 — Production or FILM 5080 — Directing Short Narratives
  • FILM 5400 — Graduate Seminar

Our highly motivated and award-winning Screenwriting faculty (whose awards range from the Governor General’s Award to multiple Gemini nominations for both writing and directing, and a Canadian Screenwriting Award) have an industry profile and guide students through an intensive immersion in the craft and art of writing dramatic screenplays.

All those earning an MFA Degree must complete 7 half courses and a thesis screenwriting project.

Screenwriting students must complete at least one Cinema and Media Studies 3.0 credit course. This course may include Film 6230 Contemporary Film Theory or Film 6210 Theoretical Issues.

Required Courses

  • Film 5110 3.0 — Graduate Screenwriting
  • Film 5130A 3.0 — Selected Topics in Screenwriting
  • Film 5400 3.0 — Graduate Seminar

1 or 2 pages max that list password-protected Vimeo or Youtube links to 3-6 of your previous works. Each link should be accompanied by a brief paragraph description, indicating: title, length, genre/form, your role (typically writer/director), the origin of the work (Was it made in school? Arts council $? A commission? Did you have editorial/creative control?). Also, include a one-line description of content, and a brief reason for inclusion -- for instance, how it relates to your thesis proposal, or your development as an artist, etc. e.g. “Though the acting is weak, the visual style is a good example of how I’ll approach my thesis.”

(MFA applicants who intend to specialize in Screenwriting should list your writing samples (scripts, etc.) here—and then post the writing samples in Written Work (see below).

Portfolio must be a page of links—no DVDs, drives, etc. Works should be complete works (not excerpts). You can indicate specific scenes/sections that you’d like the committee to screen (e.g. “please go to the ten min. scene starting at 24 min. 30 sec.”) Total amount of work that you want the committee to review should be about 30 min. (e.g. yes, you can submit four features, but then suggest the sections you wish us to view). Works can be fiction, doc, experimental, and/or documentation of transmedia works, with you typically performing the key authorial/creative role (if not, explain why you are including). Commercial works (promos, ads, music videos, commissioned docs, etc.) may show your craft, but don’t tell us much about you as an artist/storyteller—so if you include them, tell us why. Fine to include rough-cuts, works-in-progress (indicate this clearly). Fine to include footage which may become part of your thesis proposal. OK to include works that you have shot, acted in, edited, etc. for others—but do tell us why it was relevant to include them in your application. Fine to include work which is outside the specialization of your thesis proposal—again, tell us why (e.g. you have five years extensive background as a fiction writer/director, but you want to come into the MFA to make an experimental doc, etc.)

MBA/MA | MBA/MFA Joint Program

MBA/MFA/MA Program—Option 1
Year 1: MFA/MA Core Requirements
Students take the core course requirements in their Fine Arts area. In addition, students will take GS/ARTM 6301 3.00 during the Winter Term of their first year of study for degree credit in Fine Arts. They may also take ARTM 6300 3.00.

Year 1 Required Course:

ARTM 6301 3.00 ISSUES IN ARTS & CULTURAL MANAGEMENT

Year 1 Recommended Elective:
ARTM 6300 3.00 CULTURAL POLICY

Year 2: MBA 1 Requirements
MBA 1 Core Courses (27.00 credits of the Required Foundations of Management 5000 level Core Courses)
3.00 credits of Schulich electives
Students may also take a course in their Fine Arts field for degree requirement in the MFA or MA

Year 2 Summer (optional)
Students generally undertake an internship after completing their second year in the program, (and having fulfilled their 5000 level core MBA requirements).

Year 3: MFA/MA and MBA Requirements
Students will complete the requirements in both programs during this final year of study.

  • MBA 2 Core Courses (6.00 credits)
  • 6.00 to 9.00 credits of Schulich electives
  • The balance of required courses in the student’s fine arts specialization in either the MFA or MA streams in the Arts, Media, Performance & Design in the Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Students will also complete their Master’s Research Paper (MRP) or thesis and the balance of their course requirements in each program over the two terms

MBA/MFA/MA Program Option 2: Schulich Start
Year 1: MBA 1 Requirements

  • MBA 1 Core Courses (27.00 credits of Required Foundations of Management 5000-level core courses)
  • SB/ARTM 6301 3.00: Issues in Arts and Cultural Management
  • Students may also take a course in their Fine Arts field for degree requirement in the MFA or MA

Year 1 Required Course:
ARTM 6301 3.00 ISSUES IN ARTS & CULTURAL MANAGEMENT

Year 1 Summer: optional
Students may choose to undertake an internship after completing their first year in the program.

Year 2: MFA/MA Core Requirements

  • Students will take the core course requirements in their Fine Arts area.
  • In some cases, students may take Strategic Management (SB/SGMT 6000 3.00) and may complete their Strategy Field Study (MGMT 6090 0.00 and MGMT 6100 3.00) in this year of study.

Year 2 Summer (optional)

Students may choose to undertake an internship in this term, if not already completed.

Year 3: MFA/MA and MBA Requirements
Students will complete the requirements in both programs during this final year of study.

  • Students should take MBA 2 Core Courses (6.00 credits) in the Fall term, if not already completed
  • 6.00 to 9.00 credits of Schulich electives
  • The balance of required courses in the student’s fine arts specialization in either the MFA or MA streams in the Arts, Media, Performance & Design in the Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Students will also complete their Master’s Research Paper (MRP) or thesis and the balance of their course requirements in each program over the two terms.

For more information please visit the Joint degree page on the Schulich website.

PhD in Cinema & Media Studies

Total course requirement: 18 graduate credits (six 3.0-credit courses).
Required courses:

  • FILM 7000 — Key Concepts in Cinema and Media Studies (3.0)
  • FILM 7020 — Advanced Methods and Research in Cinema & Media Studies (3.0)
  • Students may count a maximum of two 3.0-credit course as an elective outside the Program towards their degree requirements. Extra courses may be counted upon appeal to the Graduate Program.
  • Students may count a maximum of two 3.0-credit independent study courses towards their degree requirements (FILM 5600, FILM 5700, FILM 5800). The Graduate Program must approve these courses.

For a list of other courses offered in the Graduate Program in Film, please visit the Courses page.

The objectives of the comps are to equip students with the specialized knowledge they need to undertake research for their doctoral dissertation and to prepare and qualify students to teach at the university level.

Each doctoral student is responsible for forming a Comprehensive Exam Committee (comps committee) composed of three faculty members, normally in PhD1, and no later than the end of term 4 (Fall PhD2).

Students are expected to complete the comprehensive exam (comps), normally by the end of PhD2, and no later than the end of term 7 (Fall PhD3). The required Essay comp shall normally be submitted by the end of term 5 (Winter PhD2); students in each cohort are urged to form writing groups to meet this deadline.

Students must complete three comps, including at least one 3000-word Essay (plus endnotes); the remaining two comps will be chosen from the following options:

  • Recommended: A Dissertation Proposal (see guidelines in PhD Handbook)
  • A Syllabus for an advanced undergraduate course
  • A second or even a third 3000-word Essay (plus endnotes)
  • A Prototype (this option is available only to students undertaking research-creation dissertations)

There are multiple combinations of these options open to students, the configuration of which must be discussed with the comps supervisory committee. The student will work closely with the comps committee to build reading lists for each of the three areas they have selected. The written/prototype sections are defended in an oral examination, adjudicated on a pass/fail basis. Should the student fail the comps, the student will have two terms to resubmit the comp materials and retake the oral examination.n the area or might be of specific relevance to the student’s future dissertation work.

Detailed information on the Comprehensive Examination can be found in the PhD Handbook.

Students shall submit a dissertation proposal, including Ethics Approval (if applicable), for approval by their dissertation committee, the Program, and FGS normally no later than two months after completion of the comprehensive examination.

Dissertations will be evaluated by standard FGS humanities oral defence procedures. When the Supervisory Committee is satisfied that a dissertation is ready for oral examination, it will send a signed oral defence examination notification form to FGS. The Supervisor, working in conjunction with the GPD, will form an examination committee according to the standards of the FGS. A complete copy of the dissertation shall be sent to all members of the oral examination committee at least four weeks before a scheduled oral defence date.All York FGS procedures for dissertation examination shall apply.

Every year the Graduate Program in Film hosts OPEN MEDIA LAB, a Research and Creation events where doctoral students, faculty, visiting artists and scholars present their research. Students in the CMS PhD program have the option of developing a Research/Creation dissertation. Students working toward a dissertation in Research Creation may count a maximum of two Studio courses toward their degree requirements. For more information please see the FGS Guidelines on Complex Electronic and Multimodal Theses & Dissertations. All theses and dissertations must contain a written component. Theses and dissertations may, however, include other components in addition to the written component. Students producing a multimedia thesis/dissertation should consult with the Theses Canada Portal (www.nlc-bnc.ca/thesescanada) on the Library and Archives Canada website for advice on formats supportable for preservation. However, a student may work in or submit work in an unsupported format as part of the oral exam as long as the work is readily accessible by the exam committee and the student submits a written component.

A multimodal thesis/dissertation in Cinema and Media Studies is a work in which a key component is a media work, installation or film. A Research/Creation dissertation in Cinema and Media Studies must clearly demonstrate how the media work is implicated in and contributes to the exploration of a set of conceptual and theoretical concerns raised by the written component of the dissertation. The balance between the written and media component of a Research Creation dissertation will be determined by individual committees with the understanding that the written component will remain a significant aspect of the work. Students working toward a dissertation in Research Creation must provide a detailed outline of the logistics and equipment needs as part of their thesis proposal. Access will be determined in negotiation with the Studio Manager and is dependent on Studio priorities.

Learn More

The Graduate Program in Film at York is an exciting environment to pursue innovative, socially engaging, career-ready education. Contact our Graduate Program Assistant to learn more.