PhD Requirement Manual

Please note that this manual is currently unofficial pending faculty review.

The PhD in Media Study is a practice oriented degree with the expectation of a final dissertation submission consisting of a fully realized professional project and a rigorous historically and theoretically grounded written component. The project and the written component taken together are expected to make a significant contribution to the field through innovation in theoretical framework, technique, historical analysis, and creative production of works that operate in a “more than discursive” manner. That said, it is understood that each student will come with a varying degree of background, interest and expertise across these domains. Thus, the expectations and evaluation of each student will vary in weight across the spectrum of the written and the made work.  While the configuration of practice will vary with each student’s research agenda, in all cases we expect practice to be put into action in such a way that it produces knowledge and insights that text-centric activities alone cannot create. It is expected that students take on the challenge of defining their own place within different practice oriented methods and approaches.

Credit Distribution Requirements

Course credits required for graduation must be distributed as described below. There is some latitude in how a particular course might fit into this scheme. A student may apply to have suitable courses not previously listed as “production” or as “media history/theory/interpretation” accepted for credit in these categories. Students must first consult with their faculty advisor in this regard. 

Note regarding credit distribution: It is the intention of the department to switch most or all of its classes to 3 credits apiece beginning in the Fall 2021 semester. This may complicate accumulating the exact number of credits in each category. In the event that a targeted number of credits cannot be met exactly, it must be exceeded. The additional credit will count as elective. 

8 Production credits for those starting prior to Fall 2021

12 Media Theory and History credits for those starting prior to Fall 2021

8 PhD Seminar Credits for those starting prior to Fall 2021

38 elective credits for those starting prior to Fall 2021 (includes 8 additional Media Theory and History credits)

6 Dissertation/Project Credits for those starting prior to Fall 2021



There are several key moments of evaluation and forward progression over the course of the PhD student’s matriculation:

End of first semester (Graduate Seminar I); First Year Review; Qualifying Exam; Doctoral Defense.

At each juncture, the faculty will evaluate the practice and the critical context for the practice in varying percentages.

Faculty teaching PhD Seminar I evaluate the end of first semester presentation

The entire DMS faculty evaluate the First Year Review.

The Qualifying Exam is evaluated by the Qualifying Exam Committee; the final Defense is evaluated by the Doctoral Committee.

The Director of Graduate Studies may observe the Qualifying Exam and doctoral defense and evaluate (approve / deny) the final submission of project and dissertation.

Within these expectations, we recognize a broad diversity of student profiles that can include, but are not limited to:

-   the maker’s maker

-   the theorist / historian (primarily discursive and critical where actual production is in supporting role)

-   the technical innovator

-   the tinkerer / hacker

-   the situated ethnographer

-   the social / tactical media practitioner

-   the collective / organizer / networker

-   the media activist

-   the community engaged maker

-   the hybrid