The Program

Residence and Academic Standing

  • Two years of enrollment for full-time study are a minimum requirement, with a minimum of at least fourteen courses completed with no grade lower than B.


  • A minimum of fourteen courses must be completed no later than the end of the second year.  Normal progression would include eight courses in the first year and six courses in the second in order to provide adequate preparation time for the general examination as well as course work in neighboring fields of study.
  • Of these fourteen courses, two are required: AFVS 270, the Proseminar in Film and Visual Studies: History and AFVS 271, Proseminar in Film and Visual Studies: Theory.  The Proseminars will normally be taken in the first year of study.
  • At least seven of the fourteen courses must be at the 200 level.
  • In addition, at least seven of the offerings must be chosen from a list of courses approved for credit by the FVS Graduate Committee.
  • The remaining courses (including work in other departments, or transferred from other schools) may be either the 200 or 100 level.
  • One of the non-200 level courses may be taken as a 300-level reading and research course, but not before the second term of residence. Other reading and research courses will be permitted in exceptional circumstances, and with the concurrence of the professor that the work is essential to the student’s program and not covered elsewhere in the curriculum.

Advanced Standing

  • Students entering the Graduate School who have done graduate work elsewhere may apply for transfer of credit at the end of one full term of satisfactory work.
  • The amount and kind of credit shall be decided by the DGS with the advice and consent of the FVS Graduate Committee, but in no case will it exceed six half-courses (24 credits). The decision will be partially based on the nature of students' work done elsewhere and on their record in their first year at Harvard.

Language Requirements

  • Advanced reading knowledge of one foreign language is required.
  • This language must be relevant to the student's program of study.
  • Students must provide evidence of language skills comparable to two full years of university study in one of two ways:
  • a grade of B or better on a proficiency examination administered by the relevant language department, or
  • successful completion (a grade of B or better) of a full second-year or higher course of study taught in a foreign language. Please note that first- and second-year language courses do not count towards the FVS course requirements.


  • No more than one Incomplete may be carried forward at any given time, and it must be made up before the end of the term following that in which the course was taken, even if the student's registration status during that term is leave of absence, unless she or he is given an earlier deadline by the instructor. This policy includes courses in the student’s plan of study taken outside of Film and Visual Studies. Normally, any additional Incompletes will be considered "permanent" and may not be completed at a later date.
  • Additional courses will need to be taken in place of any permanent Incompletes, unless or until the required number of courses has been completed.
  • Delay in completing the fourteen courses will require postponing the student's general examination until the following year. A student who is still unprepared to take the examination at that time cannot continue in the program.
  • Students may not take an Incomplete in the second term of the second year.

(Non-Terminal) Master of Arts (AM)

  • Students must complete at least eight courses in Film and Visual Studies, maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.5 (B+) in all classes. 
  • Two of these eight courses must be the Proseminars in Film and Visual Studies.
  • Students are also required to have as many 200 level courses as 100 level.
  • No more than one reading course is allowed for credit.
  • Students must have fulfilled the language requirement.


  • In the first year of graduate study, students will be advised primarily by the DGS.
  • After the first year, working with the DGS, the student will identify a faculty member as his/her advisor.
  • The student will then consult that faculty member and the graduate coordinator, Emily Amendola, to confirm this agreement.
  • If a student is unable to identify an advisor by the end of the first year, the DGS will remain his/her default advisor; by the end of their second year, students must have found a faculty advisor.
  • When considering an advisor, students should select a faculty member who would be a likely dissertation director. The dissertation director will take primary charge of advising the thesis, with a second and third reader involved to a greater or lesser degree according to the wishes of the student and the primary advisor.  The dissertation director and advisors will also help students choose and prepare field topics for the general examination.