The M.A. in Film Studies prepares students for further study at the doctoral level and/or careers in film criticism, art administration, or archive and preservation work. Completion of the M.A. in Film Studies requires 50 hours of coursework, a successful first-year review and either an approved and defended written thesis or passing of a comprehensive exam. The Film Division encourages M.A. candidates to become actively involved in their field by making public, scholarly presentations and contributing to professional publications.


  • A minimum of 26 credit hours in core courses and a minimum of 15 credit hours in elective courses must be taken.
  • The combined minimum credit hours for core courses, elective courses, and thesis hours are 50 hours.
  • The Director of the M.A. program must approve each student’s planned course registration each term. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule a meeting with the Director of the M.A. program every semester to finalize a plan for course registration.
  • Students are required to take a minimum of five Film Topics electives.
  • When taken in Spring Semester, Film Festival Practicum and Media Arts Management can be counted as one of the five required Special Topics electives. This assumes the student will be fully engaged in the Athens International Film + Video Festival pre-screening process.
  • A student who is teaching a stand-alone class is eligible to register for Teaching Practicum. This does not count as one of the five required Special Topics electives.
  • A maximum of three courses is allowed from outside the Film Division.

Film Studies I, Film Theory I, Film Theory II, Film History I, Film History II, Film Thesis Seminar (two semesters) – thesis track students Film Thesis Seminar (one semester)/Individual Readings (one semester) – exam track students
Film Aesthetics, Experimental Film Issues in Documentary, Film Topics Seminars, Film Festival Practicum, Media Arts Management
Near the end of the Spring Semester, a Faculty Committee evaluates all first-year M.A candidates. The Committee assesses the candidate’s goals for future study as well as what they have accomplished in the program. The Committee’s evaluation functions as the most important feedback a student receives during their first year, giving the candidate an objective sense of their progress and determining their course work for the following year. In certain circumstances a candidate could be advised not to continue with the program.


A schedule for submission of review materials to the Committee will be posted during the Spring Semester. Students will be required to submit:

  • A sample of revised scholarly written work. The written work should be a minimum of 5000 words long and formatted according to MLA standards.
  • A statement (approximately 500 words) describing the progress made in the first year of study, as well as indicating likely areas of research for the second year.
  • Candidates will meet with the Committee and give an oral presentation on the materials submitted. At that meeting, the Committee will present the candidate with an evaluation of their progress and plans.

The M.A. thesis is an original scholarly monograph of at least 50 pages in length. The thesis must be written under the direction of a member of the film studies faculty. In order to insure that the thesis is of current interest to the discipline of film studies, a Thesis Committee selected by the M.A. candidate as well as the Director of the M.A. Program must approve it. Thesis Committees must include the Thesis Advisor, a second faculty member from the Film Division, and a third faculty member from a discipline outside the Film Division.

The variable-credit Written Thesis course hours (usually a minimum of ten) are generally concentrated in the second year of the candidate’s program of study. The Film Division recommends that candidates planning to apply to doctoral programs after receiving their degrees should complete the thesis in Spring Semester of their second year or by the following summer.

  • The candidate chooses a Thesis Advisor to chair the Thesis Committee. The Thesis Advisor must indicate in writing his or her willingness to serve in this capacity. In consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the candidate chooses a prospective Thesis Committee and contacts prospective members to confirm their willingness to serve.
  • In consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the candidate develops a formal Thesis Prospectus, and submits it to the members of the Thesis Committee. The Thesis Committee has the option to approve, to reject, or to request modifications to the Thesis Prospectus. Once the Thesis Prospectus meets the Thesis Committee’s approval, each Committee member, as well as the Director of the Division sign a Thesis Prospectus approval form. The form is then placed on file with the Division, accompanied by a copy of the Thesis Prospectus. The candidate must complete the proposed thesis in compliance with the Thesis Prospectus as approved by the Thesis Committee and Director.
  • The Thesis Advisor determines when the thesis is ready to be presented to the remainder of the Thesis Committee for defense.
  • The formal oral defense of the thesis before the Thesis Committee must be scheduled no later than the eighth week of the final semester of study. It is the candidate’s responsibility to provide each member of the Thesis Committee with a paper copy of the thesis at least a week in advance of the defense. At the defense, the candidate will be asked to provide an opening statement describing the thesis project, and will be required to respond to questions and comments from members of the Thesis Committee. The Thesis Committee will then meet to determine the outcome of the defense, and will immediately inform the candidate whether the thesis is approved as submitted, conditionally approved, or not approved.
  • The candidate completes any requested revisions under supervision of the Thesis Advisor. Once these revisions are approved by the Thesis Committee, the final version of the thesis is submitted electronically to the Head of the Film Division and the Office of the College of Fine Arts (COFA Dean's office, Jennings House) in accordance with their graduation deadlines.
  • The thesis must be properly formatted in accordance with current MLA Handbook. Candidates can access a .pdf document with the Graduate College guidelines for thesis format, as well as College deadlines in the submission process, at the Graduate College’s Thesis and Dissertation Services website:
  • Students are required to submit their thesis electronically. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) process. Theses submitted electronically are processed through the Graduate College and are made available to the public through OhioLink. For further information and training seminars, go to or contact the Graduate College’s Thesis and Dissertation Services office.

Students not planning to go on to a doctoral program immediately after completion of the MA may meet formal degree requirements with course work and a written examination on two areas, which the student selects from one list focusing on film theory and another list focusing on film history. The examination will be administered as a take-home. Students will have from Monday morning at 9:00 a.m. to Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. to complete the examination and are permitted to consult research materials.

Students taking the exam must compile a bibliography of 10 books or 20 articles as well as a 15-movie filmography for each area before their final semester of classwork. In addition, in their final semester, they must register for five hours of Independent Study with their advisor during which they will prepare for the examination. Exams are offered in the last semester of the student’s coursework.

For the MA exam, students choose one area from each list:

  • Film Theory
  • Film Theory, origins to 1965
  • Film Theory, 1965 to 1990
  • Film Theory, 1990 to the present
  • Feminist Film Theory
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Film Theory and Postcolonial Studies
  • Film, Technology, and New Media
  • Genre Theory
  • Marxist Film Theory
  • Narrative Theory
  • Psychoanalytic Film Theory
  • Queer Film Theory
  • Film History
  • U.S. Cinema, origins to 1960
  • U.S. Cinema, 1960 to present
  • European Cinema, origins to 1960
  • European Cinema, 1960 to present
  • Animation
  • Documentary Cinema
  • Asian Cinemas
  • Latin American Cinemas
  • African Cinema

Required Core Course Descriptions
Film Studies I (FILM 5150): Offers an in-depth examination of the various formal dimensions of film introducing selected key events and movements in film history and selected texts in classical film theory. Weekly screenings.

Film Theory I: Survey of classical film theory including Soviet montage theory, realist theory, medium-specific formalism, and early writings on sound cinema. Weekly screenings.

Film Theory II: Survey of post-classical film theory, including semiotics, psychoanalytic, feminist, post-colonial and contemporary film theory. Weekly screenings.

Film History I (FILM 5310): History of international cinema from the origins through 1940. Weekly screenings.

Film History II (FILM 5320): History of international cinema from 1940 to the present. Weekly screenings.

Film History III (FILM 5330): Advanced studies in film history and film historiography. Weekly screenings.


Check the Ohio University Catalog for additional Film Courses