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What will I learn?

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy with an emphasis in Critical Studies is administered through the Graduate School. The PhD program is tailored to the individual student's particular needs and interests. The overall course of study will be designed by the student, the student's designated adviser and, following the screening procedure, the student's qualifying exam committee chair.

The PhD in Media Arts and Practice program offers a rigorous and creative environment for scholarly innovation as students explore the intersection of design, media and critical thinking while defining new modes of research and scholarship for the 21st century. Core to the program is its transdisciplinary ethos; after completing foundational course work, students design their own curricula, drawing on expertise across all divisions and research labs within the School of Cinematic Arts.

Course Requirements

Each PhD candidate must complete 68 units beyond the bachelor's degree, 43 of which must be at the 500 level or higher. (Up to 30 units may be transferred from graduate work completed at other institutions.) Dissertation units are not counted toward the 68-unit total. The required units will include seven to 12 courses in cinematic arts and 8 to 16 units in the minor area. The minor will be chosen by the student in close consultation with the adviser and will be in an academic field which supports the student's dissertation topic. Each student must complete the following course work toward the 68 unit total:

CTCS 500, CTCS 506, CTCS 510, CTCS 587, CTPR 507. These courses should be taken before the screening procedure.

Two of the following: CTCS 673, CTCS 677, CTCS 678, CTCS 679, CTCS 688. These courses should be taken before the qualifying examination.

Which department am I in?

USC School of Cinematic Arts

Study options

Full Time (64 units beyond the bachelor's degree)

Tuition fees
US$57,256.00 per year
Start date

Expected January, August 2023


University of Southern California

University Park Campus,



90089, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants must have a Bachelor degree earned at an institution recognized by the Ministry of Education.

For international students

A bachelor's or master's degree in media arts, or a closely related field, is required for admission to the PhD program.

Applicants to doctor's programs who have attained an Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 100, with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or an IELTS score of 7, with no less than 6 on each band score.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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