The Masters in Film, Video, and Digital Imaging has three tracks: Production, Screenwriting, and Critical [Moving Image] Studies.
Those in the Critical Studies (also referred to as Moving Image Studies) track write research theses examining problems in the theory and history of moving images. The M.A. in critical studies can be pursued as an end in itself (for example, working educators in English and the humanities who find themselves increasing working with moving images in their disciplines), but is often the stepping stone for pursuing the doctorate.
These are designed to be 2- to 2 1/2-year programs, depending on whether the student takes courses during the summer. Two-year assistantships are competitively awarded to the top candidates in our applicant pool. (See the assistantship page for details.) Graduates with an MA in Communication with one of these specializations might go on to work in many different aspects of media production and writing, media marketing, media management, media archiving, media policy-making, and some might choose to earn a doctorate and ultimately teach film and television at the university level.
Our MA track in Moving Image Studies is designed for students wishing advanced credentials in film and media studies, whether as a stepping stone to the doctorate or as an entrée into a career in the media sector. We strive to produce students who understand the ways in which the mediascape is profoundly changing in the age of the digital image, and we give our students the opportunity to explore not only film and television theory and history, but also new media, gaming, and the increasingly transmedia environments that all of these forms move within. The types of thesis projects our MA students work on range from, for example, a study of the aesthetics of “mumblecore” in relation to new readings of Bazin and realism, to a study of the online fan communities of American television series circulating in the People’s Republic of China. An MA student in this track generally takes four semesters of coursework, followed by a semester to write his/her thesis, which develops a sustained argument concerning a carefully chosen moving-image object or body of work, historical development, industrial practice, theoretical problem, or other critical issue.
Our MA track in Film, Video, and Digital Image Production provide students with hands-on experience in the production of moving-image works. Students produce creative theses (film, video, or new media works). The curriculum builds the student’s technical expertise in all areas of digital production, from editing and cinematography to sound design and new media programming; while at the same time encouraging students to use this technical expertise to develop a strong and original aesthetic voice. Working with award-winning filmmakers on our faculty, production students may choose to specialize in narrative fiction, documentary, or experimental work in their second-year and thesis projects. Because we understand that the circulation and distribution of moving images has been profoundly changing in the past decade, we encourage students to think not only of traditional venues (such as film festivals) for the exhibition of their work, but also of the new opportunities for exhibition that the web has opened up. Students are encouraged to cultivate their individual aesthetic voices as moving image artists over a period of five semesters (not including summers), and also to understand the social and industrial context in which their creative work will be produced and exhibited.
Not all of our graduate students in the film and media production track have had film/video experience or a film or communication degree when they join the program, and for that reason, the first year’s production curriculum is designed to train graduate students with a variety of types of experience. Our production curriculum teaches not only software expertise, though you will gain that, but also the creative and conceptual side of things, beginning with the very first semester’s courses. Generally, the first-year curriculum consists of core courses on media expression, editing, cinematography, and film/media theory, and the second year students take a range of courses related to their specific interests, which might be anything: our students have focused on sound design, documentary, web series, experimental film, fiction and genre film, special effects, and many more.
Our MA track in Film, Video, and Digital Image Screenwriting emphasizes the narrative aspect of moving image works, with a core curriculum that includes Screenwriting I, Screenwriting II, and Adapting Literature to Film. Students produce a feature screenplay as the creative thesis, which they develop in a workshop setting, presenting scenes in each class session for discussion and analysis.
Note: We admit students in spring and fall semesters for the Moving Image Studies track, but only in the fall semester for the Film, Video, and Digital Image Production and Screenwriting tracks. The upcoming deadlines are October 15 (for spring admission) and March 15 (for fall admission).