Interdivisional Program in Media Arts and Practice
Doctor of Philosophy in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts and Practice)The degree of Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in Media Arts and Practice is administered through the Graduate School. The Ph.D. program is tailored to the individual student’s particular needs and interests. The overall course of study will be designated by the student, the student’s designated advisor and, following the screening procedure, the student’s guidance committee chair.
AdmissionA bachelor’s or master’s degree in media arts, or a closely related field, is required for admission to the Ph.D. program. In addition to submitting an application to USC Graduate Admissions, applicants for the Ph.D. must submit the supplemental application and materials to the Media Arts and Practice Division. For specific instructions, contact the School of Cinematic Arts Office of Admission, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211, (213) 840-8358, or online at cinema.usc.edu/imap.
Course RequirementsEach Ph.D. candidate must complete 64 units beyond the bachelor’s degree, exclusive of CNTV 794 Doctoral Dissertation. (Up to 28 units may be transferred from graduate work completed at other institutions.) At least two-thirds of the units applied towards the degree (including transfer work and not including CNTV 794) must be at the 500 level or higher. The required units will include 9 to 14 units in cinematic arts and 8 to 16 units in a minor area. The minor will be chosen by the student in close consultation with the advisor and will be in an academic field that supports the student’s dissertation topic and project. Each student must complete the following course work:
(1) CNTV 600 (4), CNTV 601 (4), CNTV 602 (4), CNTV 603 (1-1). These courses should be taken before the screening procedure.
(2) At least 8 units in theory based course work within Cinematic Arts.
(3) At least 14 units in practice-based course work within Cinematic Arts. Courses outside of Cinematic Arts will be considered for approval by the student’s advisor. The above courses should be taken before the qualifying exam.
(4) At least 4, but no more than 8 units of CNTV 794abcdz Doctoral Dissertation.
Screening ProcedureThe Graduate School requires that programs administer an examination or other procedure at a predetermined point in the student’s studies as a prerequisite to continuation in the doctoral program. The screening procedure in the School of Cinematic Arts is designed to review the student’s suitability for continuing in the chosen Ph.D. program. Two separate screening procedures will measure a student’s progress at two points in their work toward the degree. The first screening will occur no later than the end of the student’s third semester of graduate course work beyond the master’s degree or after 46 units of graduate work beyond the bachelor’s degree. The second screening will occur no earlier than one-half of a semester following the first screening. The screening procedure process will include the following steps:
(1) First screening. Prior to the first screening, the student will select a faculty advisor and formulate a provisional course of study. The student will also select a subcommittee of media arts and practice faculty to review his or her work. At the first screening, the student will be interviewed and his or her progress in the program will be reviewed by the faculty to determine if the student will be approved for additional course work. Following a successful first screening, the student, in consultation with the faculty advisor, will formally establish a five-member guidance committee. The composition of the guidance committee will be as specified by the Graduate School (see here). For the Ph.D. in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts and Practice), the committee is ordinarily composed of four cinematic arts faculty members and an outside member from the candidate’s minor area.
(2) Second screening. Working closely with the faculty advisor and guidance committee, the student will prepare to present his or her dissertation project proposal to a subcommittee of media arts and practice faculty. This will be a formal written proposal detailing the proposed topic, four fields for examination derived from the general dissertation topic area (complete with bibliographies, filmographies and mediographies for each area). Formal presentation of the dissertation project proposal will occur no later than the end of the semester prior to taking the qualifying examinations. The guidance committee must approve the dissertation topic. Once the dissertation topic has been approved, the student will complete a Request to Take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination form available from the program coordinator.
Guidance CommitteeFollowing a successful screening procedure, the student, in consultation with the guidance committee chair and the media arts and practice faculty, will formally establish a five-member guidance committee. The composition of the guidance committee will be as specified by the Graduate School (see here). For the Ph.D. in Cinematic Arts (Media Arts and Practice), the committee is ordinarily composed of four cinematic arts faculty members and an outside member from the candidate’s minor area.
Foreign Language RequirementThe cinematic arts faculty will advise each student as to whether or not a foreign language is required. This requirement is determined by the student’s dissertation topic. The requirement must be met at least 60 days before the qualifying examination.
Dissertation Proposal PresentationWorking closely with the guidance committee chair, the student will prepare to present his or her dissertation proposal to the full faculty. This will be a formal written proposal which will include a statement of the proposed topic, four fields for examination derived from the general dissertation topic area (including a field from the minor area), a detailed bibliography and an appropriate and comprehensive screening list of prior work in the field of inquiry. Formal presentation of the dissertation proposal will occur no later than the end of the semester prior to taking the qualifying examinations. The guidance committee must approve the dissertation topic. Once the dissertation topic has been approved, the student will complete a Request to Take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination form available from the program coordinator.
Qualifying ExaminationsWritten and oral examinations for the Ph.D. are given twice a year, in November and April. Questions for the written portion of the examination will be drafted by members of the guidance committee who will also grade the examination. The qualifying examination comprises four examinations administered one day each for four days over a five-day period. The oral examination will be scheduled within 30 days after the written examination. All guidance committee members must be present for the oral portion of the qualifying examination.
Admission to CandidacyA student is eligible for admission to candidacy for a Ph.D. degree after: (1) passing the second screening procedure; (2) presenting the dissertation proposal and having it approved; (3) satisfying the language requirement, if applicable, (4) completing at least 24 units in residence; and (5) passing the written and oral portions of the qualifying examination. Admission to candidacy is by action of the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Programs.
Dissertation CommitteeThe dissertation committee is composed as specified by regulations of the Graduate School (see here). A dissertation based on original investigation and showing technical mastery of a special field, capacity of research and scholarly ability must be submitted.
CNTV 794Registration for dissertation units, CNTV 794ab, in the two semesters following admission to candidacy is the minimum requirement. These units cannot be applied towards the required 64 unit total. The student must register for CNTV 794 each semester after admission to candidacy until the degree requirements are completed. No more than 8 units of credit can be earned in CNTV 794.
Defense of DissertationAn oral defense of the dissertation is required of each Ph.D. candidate. The dissertation committee will decide whether the examination is to take place after completion of the preliminary draft or the final draft of the dissertation. The oral defense must be passed at least one week before graduation.
PoliciesThe following policies apply to each student admitted to the Ph.D. program.
Residency RequirementsAt least one year of full-time graduate study (24 units excluding registration for CNTV 794) must be completed in residence on the main USC campus. The residency requirement may not be interrupted by study elsewhere. Residency must be completed prior to the qualifying examination.
Grade Point AverageAn overall GPA of 3.0 is required for all graduate work. Courses in which a grade of C- (1.7) or lower is earned will not apply toward a graduate degree.
Leave of AbsenceA leave of absence may be granted under exceptional circumstances by petitioning the Graduate School the semester before the leave is to be taken.
Change of CommitteeChanges to either the guidance or dissertation committee must be requested on a form available from the Graduate School.
Completion of All RequirementsEverything involved in approving the dissertation must be completed at least one week before graduation. Approval by the dissertation committee the Office of Academic Records and Registrar, and the thesis editor must be reported on the triple card and submitted to the Graduate School by the date of graduation.
Time LimitsThe maximum time limit for completing all requirements for the Ph.D. degree is eight years from the first course at USC applied toward the degree. Students who have completed an applicable master’s degree at USC or elsewhere within five years from the proposed enrollment in a Ph.D. program must complete the Ph.D. in six years. Extension of these time limits will be made only for compelling reasons upon petition by the student.
When petitions are granted, students will be required to make additional CNTV 794 registrations. Course work more than 10 years old is automatically invalidated and cannot be applied toward the degree.