Moving Image Studies

School of Film, Media, and Theatre – College of the Arts – Georgia State University

Ph.D. Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Do you accept only communication majors into your program?

Answer: No.


Question: Will I need to take the GRE?

Answer: Yes. All applicants must submit GRE scores. An applicant who has taken the GRE previously may submit prior scores, if those scores are relatively recent (within a few years). A prior graduate degree (M. A., M. F. A., or otherwise) does not exempt an applicant from the GRE score requirement.


Question: How can I submit my transcripts and letters of recommendation? Can I send directly to the department?

Answer: Transcripts and letters of recommendation (if sending in hard copy) should be sent directly to the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Graduate Services. Do not send these to the Communication Department. The CAS Office of Graduate Services address is:

Office/Delivery Address (FedEx, UPS, etc.)
Office of Graduate Services
College of Arts and Sciences
75 Poplar Street, Suite 800
Haas Howell Bldg.
Atlanta, GA 30303
Mailing Address (U.S. Postal Service)
Office of Graduate Services
College of Arts and Sciences
P.O. Box 3993
Atlanta, GA 30302-3993


Question: Can I email my electronic transcripts or transcript PDFs to the graduate directors?

Answer: No. Do not send your transcripts to the graduate directors. Electronic transcripts must be submitted directly by the institution to the Office of Graduate Services at: artsandsciencesgrad@gsu.edu. This email account is for institutional use only.  Please direct any questions to the appropriate Academic Advisor.


Question: Can I submit my recommendation letters via email? Can my recommender submit my recommendation letter via email?

Answer: No. Neither the department nor the graduate directors can upload hard copy or PDF recommendations into the application system. Add your recommenders’s names and contact information (e-mail address) to your online application. This prompts the system to send your recommenders an e-mail containing a link, which the recommender must use to upload/submit a recommendation letter for you. If your recommender must send a letter in hard copy, use the address above to send to the Office of Graduate Studies. Only recommendation letters uploaded to the online application (via link sent to recommender) or mailed directly to the Office of Graduate Studies will be accepted and attached to your file for review. Again, the department cannot accept recommendation letters in any way, shape, or form.


Question: What are the admission requirements?

Answer: In addition to the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Communication has the following requirements:

  • Acceptable scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE exam. Currently the median combined verbal plus quantitative score for our doctoral students is around 1200. The minimum score for consideration for admission (combined verbal and quantitative) is 1100, with a verbal score of 560 or higher. On the new GRE scale, a typical minimum verbal score would be 157, and a quantitative score of at least 145, with a combined total score of at least 303.) Our applicants typically average higher than these minimums.
  • A high standard of overall undergraduate and M.A.-level achievement, including a 3.5 GPA.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for doctoral academic work.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges/ universities the applicant has attended.
  • Personal statement of educational, research, and career goals. The personal statement is generally 1 to 2 pages (single spaced), in essay form, which gives the admissions committee a sense of who you are, your intellectual formation and interests, and your reasons for wanting to pursue the doctorate in Moving Image Studies in our department.
  • A writing sample. Generally this is a researched, critical essay of standard article length (about 20 pages double-spaced).

Question: Where can I apply? Do you take paper applications?

Answer: You can access the online application system here. We do not accept paper applications.


Question:When can I apply for admission?

Answer: For the Ph.D program, you can apply by the following deadlines:

  • December 1 (to be assured of consideration for admission and funding)
  • February 10 (to be considered for admission, but not funding, which will be offered to top applications received by the earlier deadline). NOTE: this deadline has been extended – it was formerly the first of the month.

Question: My grade point average is low. My GRE scores are lower than your requirements. Should I still apply?

Answer: Yes. In the case of an application with GRE scores or GPA lower than our recommended minimum scores but still in the ballpark of those numbers, it may be that a very strong, specific statement of purpose and/or compelling recommendation letters will sway the committee to consider such an application for admission. If all other aspects of your application are strong, do consider applying.


Question: How should I explain my low GPA / low GRE scores?

Answer: The statement of purpose is the part of the application where you get to your spin on all the other official documents. If there’s an obvious liability in some part of your application, here is where you address it.

(For example, someone with a low GPA might explain if it’s the case that there was some crisis during one year that threw the entire GPA off, but that in the three other years, the GPA remained stable and good. Or if freshman year was spent looking for the right major, and then the student got serious after becoming a major, the applicant might can talk about that here, pointing out how the GPA improved after the freshman year).

The statement of purpose is also your chance to fill in the blanks left in those official documents. You might use it to discuss experiences you’ve had that prepared you well for graduate school and make you a good fit for our program, but which might not be reflected in your transcript. Basically, we’re looking to hear what led to this point where you’re applying to the program, and what you want out of the program. We look to see if we can provide the kinds of things you’re looking for, and so the more we know about what you want to do, the better the decision we can make.

Question: How much is it to attend graduate school at Georgia State?

Answer: The cost changes per year. Consult this site for more information about the current costs per credit hour.


Question: Do you offer financial aid to graduate students?
Answer: Financial aid is available in the form of doctoral assistantships, which are available on a competitive basis to full-time students. In order to be considered for an assistantship, we require that your application be submitted by December 1, 2015. Students awarded an assistantship generally have a teaching assignment (for which they teach break-out sections of a large lecture course) and a research component, for which a student would be assigned to a faculty member in need of research assistance or to a department-wide project.

Question: I am interested in Production. Do I need to send you a portfolio?
Answer: For people who want to focus on Digital Production, an optional (but very valuable) portion of the application is a portfolio of creative work. You may includes URLs for your online portfolio somewhere in your CV or statement of purpose, as there is no place to upload creative work in the online application.

Question: Do you have to have had film/video experience or a film or communication degree to get into the program?

Answer: No.  In fact, some successful students have come from other disciplines (biology, architecture). We do want to see that you’ve done something creative before, and the medium doesn’t particularly matter. We’ve had people provide their photography, short stories, screenplays, URLs of their graphic design work, computer games they’ve designed, photographs of their sculptures or drawings, video of their acting performances or plays they directed, as well as film/videos they’ve made.  Basically we’re looking for evidence of your creativity.

Question: Should I get a Ph.D. in communication to study health communication or should I go for the degree in Public Health?

Answer: (This answer is provided by Dr. Holley Wilkin, an associate professor in our department.) It is really about what research questions interest you the most. You will want to come to a communication program if you are more interested in interventions that involve media, entertainment, new technology, etc. You are generally not going to get that in a public health program. A lot of my work is interpreted as “fitting in public health” so if you are interested in community-based work, then it may fall in either department. As part of our program, we encourage you to take classes in other departments, so you can take public health courses and at GSU earn a certificate in public health. Also, if you already have an MPH and are interested in work that falls on the intersection between the fields, then a communication program may be better for you for a more balanced education–unless your passion falls in the types of classes you took as an MPH student because that is a pretty good sign that is the better area for your PhD.
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