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Graduate Program

Requirements

Students pursuing a doctoral degree in visual and cultural studies (VCS) are required to fulfill 90 credit hours of study, including 60 credit hours of coursework (normally 15 classes) and 30 credit hours in PhD research.

Coursework is composed of:

  • The Colloquium in Visual and Cultural Studies (required for first-year students)
  • Four core courses in critical theory
  • Four core courses in visual studies
  • Six electives

Coursework normally requires five semesters of study. Students are required to take a language examination, usually in a language that will be relevant to their research, and it must be successfully completed before the qualifying examination.

After completing the 90 credit hours of study, students take the qualifying examination. Under the supervision of a faculty committee (two from the VCS program and at least one from outside the program), students prepare for their qualifying examination.

Preparation includes:

  • An outline of their dissertation project, a summary of what will be covered, and a description of each chapter
  • A comprehensive bibliography, divided into sections representing the main body of literature that have informed the student's thinking
  • A draft chapter of the dissertation

The student then meets with the faculty committee to discuss their dissertation project, previous coursework, and general reading. Following the completion of the examination, students present their work to the other graduate students in a special seminar.

Students work closely with their advisor and other committee members on the research and writing of their dissertations, submitting draft chapters regularly in order to get feedback and suggestions. Work on the dissertation may take two or more years after the completion of the examination, depending on whether the student can work full-time on it or not.

Master's Program Requirements

Students are normally admitted to the VCS program only for the PhD. However, in some circumstances students will earn a terminal master's degree. For the master's degree, students take 40 credit hours of study (usually ten courses), as follows:

  • The Colloquium in Visual and Cultural Studies
  • Three core courses in critical theory
  • Three core courses in visual studies
  • Three electives

In some circumstances, students will be permitted to work toward the master's degree by taking 30 credit hours of study (seven or eight courses) and writing a thesis. In this case, the breakdown of courses is:

  • The Colloquium in Visual and Cultural Studies
  • Two or three core courses in critical theory
  • Two or three core courses in visual studies
  • One or two electives
  • Master's thesis