Film & Media

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

PhD in Film and Media

Students in the Film and Media PhD are encouraged to situate moving images within the larger theoretical and analytical frameworks of a range of other disciplines. They integrate the traditions of history, law, literature, cultural studies, gender studies, and political theory to the newer disciplines of film studies and digital media, applying the tools of post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, new historicism, media archaeology, Frankfurt School, feminist theory, queer theory, post-colonialism, and critical race theory. Many combine their degree study with a campus designated emphasis (graduate “minor”) in New Media, in Critical Theory, or in Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Designated Emphasis in Film Studies

PhD students at Berkeley outside the Department of Film & Media may add a Designated Emphasis in Film Studies to their major fields. The designated emphasis provides curricular and research resources for students who want to concentrate on film and media research within their respective disciplines and have their work formally recognized. Designed to bring together faculty and students from different departments, the program provides a unique contliext for rigorous cross-disciplinary thinking and promotes innovative research in the theory and history of cinema and media studies.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Designated Emphasis Program

Applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral program at Berkeley and must have completed either FILM 201, offered each fall semester, or FILM 200, taught every spring.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


FILM 200Graduate Film Theory Seminar4
FILM 201Graduate Film Historiography4
FILM 203Film Studies Proseminar2-4
Film Electives: Graduate seminars (4 courses)16
Outside Field Electives (2 courses) 8

Designated Emphasis Requirements


A minimum of three graduate seminars in Film Studies must be taken at Berkeley. Independent study courses are not acceptable to fulfill this requirement.

Required courses
FILM 200Graduate Film Theory Seminar4
FILM 201Graduate Film Historiography4
FILM 240Graduate Topics in Film (or a graduate seminar cross-listed with Film and Media)4

Qualifying Examination (QE)

A member of the Graduate Group in Film Studies must be a formal member of the PhD qualifying examination committee. If applicable, the Film Studies Graduate Group member in the student’s home department will serve in this function. A member of the Graduate Group may also serve as the outside member of the qualifying exam committee. A Film Studies topic must be included as a subject on the qualifying examination.


A member of the Graduate Group in Film Studies must be a formal member of the dissertation committee. The dissertation must contribute to the study of film and moving-image media.

Degree Conferral

Upon completion of these requirements and the dissertation, the student will receive a designation on their transcript to state that they have completed a “PhD in [major] with an Emphasis in Film Studies.”


Film and Media

Contact Information

Department of Film and Media

7408 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1415

Fax: 510-642-8881

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Prof. Mary Ann Doane

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

7407 Dwinelle Hall

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