The Dissertation

The Dissertation Prospectus

  • After the successful completion of the general examinations, a topic for the dissertation should be chosen in consultation with the student's dissertation director and advisers. Discussing potential topics with several faculty members is advisable before the student begins.
  • A committee should be formed and agreed on no later than January in the third year of study.
  • Once a student has a topic and an advisor, a formal written dissertation proposal is the next step.  Not including the bibliography, the prospectus should be about ten pages (3,000 words) in length, but not more.
  • Students will be expected to have a prospectus approved within five months of passing the general examination in order to maintain satisfactory standing.

The Dissertation

  • After the dissertation prospectus has been approved, candidates work closely with their dissertation director and readers. The PhD dissertation is expected to be an original and substantial work of scholarship or criticism in form and content. The program will accept dissertations on a variety of topics involving a broad range of approaches to film and related visual media. It sets no specific page limits, preferring to give students and directors as much freedom as possible. More detailed information about the dissertation can be found here.


  • Students begin teaching in their third year. Ordinarily they lead discussion sections in Film Studies and AFVS courses.  It may also be possible to serve as Teaching Fellows for studio courses. Preparation for a teaching career is a required part of each student’s training, and teaching fellows benefit from the supervision and guidance of program faculty. Teaching fellows are encouraged to avail themselves of the facilities at the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning.