Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies (MA)
Program Coordinator: Assistant Professor Jillian Baez
Center for the Arts 1P, Room 232C
(See section Graduate Courses in Selected Disciplines for cinema and media studies courses for teachers.)
The Master of Arts Program in Cinema and Media Studies at the College of Staten Island is uniquely situated in the most vibrant media capital in the world. Our select and markedly international student body thus has direct access to New York City's extraordinary media archives, museums, theaters, galleries, and libraries, enriching and extending what is learned in the classroom.
Students accepted into the program undertake a challenging two-year curriculum that spans core knowledge in media history, theory, criticism, to develop research, writing, and media-making skills in preparation for careers in academia, the arts, or media-related professions.
Students are encouraged to work one-on-one with members of an engaged, diverse faculty composed of active distinguished film scholars and historians, and prominent film, video, and digital media artists. In addition, our students have the rare opportunity to combine coursework in both theory and practice, completing either a written or media production thesis, with resources including a digital media lab and a television studio.
Our growing program is intended to usher cinema and media studies into a new era of global intellectual and creative exchange.
Cinema and Media Studies Admission Requirements
Applicants to the program are expected to have the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in a liberal arts and sciences major and to have completed with a B average the undergraduate courses required for the Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies or Bachelor of Science in Communications at the College of Staten Island, or their equivalent. Applicants must also submit a one- to two-page statement of intent detailing interest in the field, background in film and media studies, and/or research interests; a 10- to 12-page writing sample (a short critical essay on a film topic or other related media); and three letters of recommendation.
The priority deadline for receipt of applications for admission for the fall semester is April 15. Late applications for fall semester will be accepted until May 1. The priority deadline for receipt of applications for the spring semester is November 15. Late applications for spring semester will be accepted until December 1. The department admissions committee will give full consideration to applications received after these respective dates, spaces permitting.
Cinema and Media Studies Degree Requirements
36 credits in graduate cinema and media studies courses that must include the following core requirements*:
History of Media
Film and Media Research Analysis
Studies in Film and Media Theory
All remaining credits are to be fulfilled, following advisement, through electives offered in the graduate program in Cinema and Media Studies.
*Students who choose to complete a written or production thesis must apply to the departmental graduate studies committee for approval. Please see Options A and B below for thesis procedures and guidelines.
Note on production courses: A maximum of nine credits in film or media production may be counted toward the degree, with the approval of the candidate’s graduate advisor. Graduate independent study in film or media production is only granted with permission of the instructor and program coordinator.
Note: Students who elect Option A or B below should maintain a 3.7 GPA or higher. Satisfactory completion of one of the following three options:
Option A: Written Thesis
Topics suitable for the master’s thesis span the entire range of cinema and media theory, history, and practice. Possible topics include studies of media producers, history of media production and its institutions, media and spectatorship, ideology and production of film and media works, and media in relationship to issues of race, gender, class, and nation. The thesis length should run approximately 70-80 pages. Whenever possible, the topic of the thesis should extend or at least reflect the candidate’s graduate coursework. Candidates should be aware of the following steps to be taken in completing the thesis option:
Written Thesis Procedures and Guidelines
- Each candidate is strongly advised to take CMC 705 (Film and Media Research Analysis) before undertaking the MA thesis. The course prepares students for the process of researching and writing the master’s thesis. The student may also prepare the thesis proposal with faculty supervision through CMC 894 (Independent Study) or independently. All CMC 894 Independent Study credits are subject to approval by the graduate coordinator and/or department chair. The student should undertake the thesis proposal under the supervision of the faculty member. The student’s selection of a thesis advisor is subject to approval by the departmental graduate studies program committee.
- Each candidate must submit a comprehensive proposal to the departmental graduate studies committee before beginning the actual thesis. The committee must approve this proposal and may request revisions and/or a meeting with the candidate to discuss it. If the committee does not approve the thesis proposal, the candidate is required to take the MA comprehensive examination. A student seeking to appeal the committee's decision regarding the thesis may appeal in writing to the departmental graduate studies coordinator.
- Each candidate must suggest a thesis committee comprised of three members of the full-time faculty of the Department of Media Culture; composition of this committee is subject to approval by the departmental graduate studies program committee. The faculty advisor acts as the chair of the thesis committee and will direct the researching of the thesis and preparation of the manuscript through CMC 799 (Thesis Research), which may be repeated once for credit (maximum 8 credits). The other two members of the thesis committee will evaluate the thesis proposal, the completed thesis, and suggest revisions. The thesis committee may request to meet with the candidate at any time during the process.
- A copy of the completed thesis is submitted to each member of the thesis committee. Successful completion of the MA thesis requires the approval of all thesis committee members, who will sign the signature page if the thesis is satisfactory. The candidate will then submit two copies of the approved thesis (with signature pages) to the CSI Library for binding and cataloging. MA theses are available for consultation in the CSI Library and through interlibrary loan. The student will submit a third copy to the Department of Media Culture.
Option B: A Production Thesis (Original Film/Media Work or Feature-Length Screenplay)
For this option, students may submit an original film or media work or a feature-length screenplay. Students who elect this option must also fulfill the requirements of Option C, item (1), Film and Media History. The examination will be a take-home exam and must be completed in five days. Students choosing the production thesis option may, under the advisement of the graduate faculty, need to complete an undergraduate production course(s).
Production Thesis Guidelines:
- A film or video production thesis, whether undertaken in the fictional, nonfictional, or experimental genres, should run 20 to 45 minutes in length when complete. Alternatively, the thesis may consist of a feature-length screenplay. Ideally, the thesis project should emerge from the candidate’s prior coursework in production, including screenwriting courses. Production thesis candidates should expect to be proficient technically, having fully developed the appropriate range of production and post-production skills before undertaking the thesis itself. For the screenplay option, candidates should demonstrate deep grasp of the basic principles and narrative strategies of screenwriting. The process, as described below, should be closely followed.
- The candidate must submit a comprehensive thesis proposal to the graduate studies committee before beginning the actual thesis. This proposal should be in the form of an extended research-based written treatment. If the production thesis will take the form of a finished film or video, the proposal should contain, at minimum, a description of the project, a specific timeline for the stages of production and post-production, and an account of the research undertaken for the project’s development, where appropriate, including a bibliography of consulted sources. If the production thesis will take the form of a screenplay, the proposal should contain a detailed treatment of the proposed final screenplay. The student should plan to prepare the thesis proposal with faculty supervision through CMC 894 (Independent Study). All CMC 894 Independent Study credits are subject to approval by the departmental graduate coordinator and/or department chair.
- The candidate must suggest a thesis committee comprised of three members of the full-time faculty of the Department of Media Culture. The composition of this committee is subject to approval by the departmental graduate studies program committee. The chair of the committee directs and monitors the stages of thesis production through CMC 799 (Thesis Research), which may be repeated once for credit (maximum 8 credits). For a film/media project, before completion of the production thesis, two informal reviews take place. First, the candidate must submit to the thesis committee an emended proposal, which fully details the style and mode of production and provides as much as possible a shooting script. Second, a rough cut of the film or video must be made available to the committee at an early stage of post-production. In both instances the committee will have an opportunity to suggest revisions and improvements before the thesis can be completed. For a feature length screenplay, the candidate must submit a draft script for review before moving onto writing the final script. A copy of the competed thesis in the form of a DVD or VHS dub is to be submitted to each member of the thesis committee. Successful completion of the MA production thesis requires the approval of all thesis committee members.
Option C: Examinations
This option consists of a comprehensive take-home written examination. This examination will be divided into two parts:
- Film and Media History: this section includes the following subject areas: periods, genres, authorship, international cinema, and media practices.
- Film and Media Theory: this section includes critical and theoretical writings on cinema and media, including such theoretical models as formalism, semiotics, psychoanalysis, gender and feminism, and cultural studies approaches.
- Each section will comprise two questions. Students must answer one question in essay form from each section.
- The examination will be taken only upon completion of coursework. It will be given once a year, in May. Applications to take the examination must be made no later than March 15 of the year the examination is to be taken.
- The questions on the examination will take into account the specific areas of knowledge covered in the required core seminars and selected elective courses. Selected bibliography as well as a list of media works will be made available to the students once the department receives notice of application for the exam. Answers to the questions should each be ten double-spaced, typed pages minimum. Completed examinations will be due ten days after issuance.
- A failed examination can be retaken the following year provided that the student retakes CMC 700, CMC 710, or other appropriate coursework approved by the departmental graduate coordinator. If the student fails in both attempts, the students will not be able to complete the degree program.
The complete examination will be read by members of the graduate Cinema and Media Studies faculty who may request a meeting with the candidate to discuss it. When the faculty approves the examination, it will be retained in the Department files, although the candidate may retain a copy.
Maintenance of Candidacy
To maintain candidacy for the MA degree, full-time students must maintain a B (3.0) average in each 12-credit semester. Part-time students must maintain a B average in each successive 12-credit sequence of courses taken.
Note: All candidates should be aware that they must pay the maintenance of matriculation fee during any semester in which they are not enrolled, unless they are not using College facilities (including the Library and screening facilities) during this period. In this case, they may pay the reinstatement fee and the maintenance fee for the semester in which they are graduating. If the candidate has not paid for each semester, the reinstatement and maintenance fee for one semester may be paid, provided that the candidate has not used the College facilities and that the request is supported by a written statement from the committee chair.