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It’s one thing to love a great movie—it’s another thing entirely to have an appreciation for the history of cinema and the styles and filmmakers that have made it great. A graduate program in Film/Cinema Studies will expose you to the entire spectrum of the Cinema world, from its humble beginnings to its glorious future. You’ll learn about different periods and genres that have made the film industry so far-reaching. (Think horror or science fiction movies are a waste of time? They’ve actually contributed in their own way to the development of the movie industry.) You’ll learn about the filmmakers whose visions have transformed the field—what made their ideas work, and why those ideas have turned out to be significant. You'll also study the contributions that various writers, technicians, and actors have made to the field.

Your work in Film/Cinema Studies will go far beyond the entertainment aspect of film. You’ll learn how film has affected and been affected by our culture, and the significance film has had on our society. You’ll learn how film has struggled with censorship and controversy. You’ll study film as an art form. And as with any program of art study, one of the most important components of the program is exposure to that art—so much of your time will be spent viewing, analyzing, and discussing great films of the past and present.

Degree Information

There are many options available to students wishing to pursue graduate work in Film/Cinema Studies. Some programs offer a M.A. in Art History with a concentration in Film/Cinema Studies, while others offer a M.A. in Film/Cinema Studies itself. Students wishing to earn a Ph.D. in Film/Cinema Studies can do so at some schools. Master’s degrees are often available in related fields such as Archiving and Preservation. Students who wish to not only study film filmmakers but become filmmakers themselves might choose to pursue an M.F.A.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • What is your main area of interest? Are their faculty members known for being experts in that area?
  • How often do directors, actors, screenwriters, or other industry insiders visit the program? How connected is the program to the local or national film community?
  • What are the research interests of the faculty and other graduate students?
  • What are the thesis requirements? Is there an opportunity to submit a creative thesis if you choose to do so?
  • Does the program fit with your post-graduate career goals?

Career Overview

Graduates of Film/Cinema Studies go on to pursue a variety of careers. Often, they become film critics for newspapers or magazines, a career that utilizes their broad background of film history, genre, and theory. Graduates also become active in film distribution, marketing, and production—movies are big business, and plenty of opportunities are available for students who have both general and specialized knowledge of the field. Some graduates become managers of film programming for museums, schools, and universities, or organizers of film festivals. While some students choose to become filmmakers, the field is highly competitive, and a Film/Cinema Studies graduate program may not provide the necessary practical or technical skills. Still others go on to pursue teaching and/or research careers.

As with most liberal arts subjects, Film/Cinema Studies prepares students to be good communicators, critical thinkers, and good analysts. These skills are certainly useful in the Cinema world, but also far beyond it.

Career/Licensing Requirements

There are no specific licensing requirements for a career in Film/Cinema Studies.

Salary Information

Because there are so many different career paths graduates of Film/Cinema Studies programs can take, it is difficult to estimate a starting salary. Most graduates in the field of liberal arts can expect to earn salaries in the range of $20,000-$35,000, though this can, of course, vary widely. Students who wish to become filmmakers can expect sporadic salaries, and may earn their income from another source, such as temp work or waiting tables.

Related Links

The Oscars
Find out all you want to know about the Oscars at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences website.

American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is dedicated to advancing and preserving the art of the moving image. Affiliations include the AFI Conservatory, the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, and the AFI's National Center for Film and Video Preservation.

Society of Cinema Studies
The Society of Cinema Studies is committed to the scholarly study of film, television, video, and new media. Check out their site for information.


  • The Silent Movie Era

  • Basic Video Production

  • Feminist Film Theory

  • Film Genre

  • Film Theory

  • History Of American Film

  • History Of Television

  • International Cinema

  • Modern Media

  • Narrative In Film

  • Problems In Movie Narrative

  • Script Writing

  • Writing About Film