A great film can enrich our understanding of others and ourselves. With one of the following 5 Best Ph.D.'s in Film Studies, students can explore the visual and meaningful magic of movies.

A film can pull us into bygone eras and fantastical realms while also revealing profound truths about humanity. It can stir up emotion, provoke thought, and provide an escape from the daily grind. With one of the following 5 Best Ph.D.'s in Film Studies, students can take a scholarly approach to film critique, theory, history, production and beyond.

The following five doctoral programs provide students opportunities to conduct original, fascinating research in the most intriguing aspects of the film world. The following programs allow students to explore the behind-the-scenes, aesthetic, historical, theoretical, and symbolic elements of film through both universal and unique perspectives.

Individuals with doctoral degrees in Film Studies may go on to work as film critics, film professors, producers or directors. While doctoral degrees are largely research-based, students' analysis may provide strong theoretical foundations for film production. According to the most recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, motion picture producers and directors made a 2018 median salary of $71,680 per year.

Employment for producers and directors is experiencing a projected growth rate of 12 percent. The growth of the film industry reflects the growing consumption of and demand for motion picture entertainment. Degrees in new media may also be useful as media platforms evolve and websites such as YouTube become increasingly popular and lucrative.

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 5 Best Ph.D.s in Film Studies 2020 for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20%
  • Continued Enrollment: 20%
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page.

Here are the 5 Best Ph.D.'s in Film Studies 2020 for 2019 – 2020!

#5 – University of Pittsburgh

Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies

Pittsburgh, PA

Website

The University of Pittsburgh offers an interdisciplinary program leading to a Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies. The degree program examines the aesthetics, history, and theory of new media. Students must choose to join an associated department such as English, History of Art and Architecture, or Slavic, and must take required courses from that department. Exam structure differs by the department, but all structures include at least one component focused on Film and Media Studies and a second component in the departmental concentration area. Students must also teach at least one film-related course at Pitt. The degree program culminates with doctoral dissertation work.

Pitt is assumed to have begun as a preparatory school in a frontier log cabin. The school was officially chartered in 1787 by Pennsylvania state legislature. It has since undergone fires, relocations, and name changes, and is now a state-related university. In addition to its main campus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the university operates four campuses throughout Western Pennsylvania. Its historic Pittsburgh campus is centered around the Gothic Revival Cathedral of Learning and features several buildings of the Schenley Farms Historic District. A top-ranked research university, Pitt is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 70 in National Universities, No. 55 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 26 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $22,848

#4 – Ohio State University

Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre

Columbus, OH

 

Website

The Ohio State University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre. The program is designed for aspiring theatre critics, scholars, and teachers. Qualified applicants will have a substantial undergraduate and graduate background in theatre-related fields, as well as demonstrated interest in theatre production and scholarship. Each degree candidate works with an adviser to design a program of study including general courses and specialized courses relating to theatre studies. The curriculum covers areas such as ancient and modern Greek theatre, contemporary performance arts, and women and theatre. The program also offers production training opportunities in acting, design, directing, and dramaturgy. The doctoral department has close ties to the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, a significant archive of theatre studies materials.

OSU was founded in 1870 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, it is a flagship public research university with land, sea, and space grants. Located in Columbus, Ohio, the OSU campus is the third-largest in the United States. The university is a member of the Association of American Universities and is counted among the nation's "Public Ivy" institutions. The university's marching bands, concert bands, and choirs are noted for their nationally recognized performances. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Ohio University at No. 56 in National Universities, No. 18 in Most Innovative Schools, and No. 17 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,042

#3 – University of Iowa

Ph.D. in Film Studies

Iowa City, IA

Website

The University of Iowa offers a Ph.D. in Film Studies through its department of Cinematic Arts. The program encourages independent, interdisciplinary, and international study. The degree requires at least 72 hours of study beyond the undergraduate level, including four credit hours of dissertation. Each student must complete at least two credits each in the areas of European cinema; production, documentary, animation, or experimental film; U.S. cinema; and world cinema. All students must also complete at least one year of independent research or supervised teaching, as well as a written and oral comprehensive exam.

Established in 1847, UI is the oldest and second largest university in Iowa. The flagship public research university is a space-grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. Its campus sits on the banks of the Iowa River in Iowa City, Iowa. The campus is centered around the Pentacrest, a collection of four buildings in the Beaux-Arts, Collegiate Gothic, and Greek Revival architectural styles. The university is noted for its prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, The Hanson Center for Technical Communication, and its extensive library system. U.S. News & World Report ranks UI at No. 89 in National Universities, No. 88 in Best Value Schools, and No. 38 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,845

#2 – University of California, Berkeley

Ph.D. in Film & Media

Berkeley, CA

Website

The University of California, Berkeley offers a Ph.D. in Film & Media. The program accepts approximately 25 students to start in the Fall semester each year. Students can choose a designated emphasis in Critical Theory; New Media; or Women, Gender and Sexuality. The curriculum integrates history, law, literature, politics, and religion into the study of film studies and digital media. Courses examine film and media through the lenses of psychoanalysis, feminist theory, queer theory, and more. The degree program also incorporates a component of digital media production. The program culminates in doctoral dissertation work. Students are expected to complete the degree within seven years.

Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is the flagship institution of the University of California system. The public research university is a member of the Association of American Universities. It is also counted among the nation's "Public Ivy" universities. The university is noted for its student-led Free Speech and Anti-Vietnam War movements. It has also played a significant role in nuclear physics, with a Berkeley physicist leading the development of the atomic bomb. Other Berkeley developments include 16 chemical elements, the polygraph test, and the wetsuit. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 24 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 22 in National Universities, and No. 2 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,178

#1 – University of California, Los Angeles

Ph.D. in Cinema & Media Studies

Los Angeles, CA

 

Website

The University of California, Los Angeles' Ph.D. in Cinema & Media Studies is Grad School Hub's top-ranked Ph.D. program in film studies for 2020. The program is offered through the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and explores new media as forms of art and communication. The core curriculum consists of three courses: Contemporary Film and Television Criticism, Historiography, and Theory and Method. Students also complete a teaching practicum, research design, and independent study. The program also includes comprehensive exams and doctoral dissertation work. Students have opportunities to engage in research through 35mm classroom screenings, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and nightly cinematheque programming. Graduates of the doctoral program typically go on to seek teaching and research-based positions in colleges or universities.

Established in 1881, UCLA is the third-oldest campus in the University of California system. Originally a teacher training school, it is now a public land-grant research university. It is a member of the Association of American Universities and is counted among the nation's "Public Ivies." Situated in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, UCLA is a prime location for film studies. Due to its proximity to Hollywood, the university has served as a backdrop for numerous movies and TV shows, including Legally Blonde, Erin Brockovich, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alumni in the entertainment world include director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Ben Stiller, James Franco, and Carol Burnett. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University at No. 23 in Most Innovative Schools, No. 19 in National Universities, and No. 1 in Top Public Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,760