Film Studies

MA in Film Studies


About the MA Program

The Department of Film Studies offers a two-year Master of Arts degree in the history, theory, and aesthetics of cinema. Our comprehensive curriculum provides advanced classes in film style and aesthetics, historiography, global cinema, and film production. Students work closely with faculty to develop individualized courses of study that support their research agendas and career goals, culminating in Master's theses. Applied learning experiences, an important part of the program, offer opportunities for teaching, festival programming, conference planning, film production, curatorial practice, publishing, film education, and professional writing.


Degree Requirements (39 total credit hours)


The program consists of 39 hours, distributed as follows. No more than nine credit hours can be taken from cross-listed 400/500 courses.

  • FST 500 Introduction to Film Study and Production (6 hrs)
  • FST 505 World Cinema (3 hrs)
  • FST 540 Film Theory (3 hrs)
  • FST 569 Seminar in Film Studies (6 hrs)
  • FST 570 Historiography (3 hrs)
  • FST 579 Studies in Film History (3 hrs)
  • FST 589 Studies in Global Cinema (3 hrs)
  • FST 595 Thesis I (3 hrs)
  • FST 596 Thesis II (3 hrs)
  • FST 598 Applied Learning (3 hrs)
  • Production Elective, 3 hours selected from:
    • FST 501 Advanced Practicum in Cinematography (3 hrs)
    • FST 510 Screenwriting (3 hrs)
    • FST 516 Advanced Practicum in Film Production (3 hrs)
    • FST 518 Screenwriting II: Writing the Feature Film (3 hrs)
    • FST 519 Screenwriting III: Film Adaptation (3 hrs)
    • FST 522 Digital Visual Effects (3 hrs)
    • FST 531 Editing (3 hrs)
    • FST 535 Cinematography (3 hrs)
    • FST 536 Sound Recording and Design (3 hrs)
    • FST 537 Producing (3 hrs)
    • FST 551 Directing the Narrative Film (3 hrs)
    • FST 552 Directing the Documentary (3 hrs)
    • FST 553 Directing the Experimental Film (3 hrs)

The Faculty



The MA in Film Studies matches students with faculty mentors based on educational interests and career goals. Students in the program take courses with internationally recognized film scholars and award-winning filmmakers. Faculty scholars represent a broad range of specializations in film history, film aesthetics, and international cinemas, and examine a variety of film cultures, historical periods, and production modes (documentary, narrative, non-industrial, and experimental film). The department's film production faculty teach narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated filmmaking to students in the MA program, including courses in screenwriting, directing, editing, sound design, cinematography, and producing.

Visit the UNCW Film Studies faculty page to learn more about the scholars and filmmakers who serve the MA program in Film Studies »

Career Information


The MA program in Film Studies offers an intensive learning experience that trains students for a wide range of professions, as well as preparing students for PhD study. Students gain practical experience in organizing and programming events, conference planning, film curating, research, and writing commentary and criticism about moving images and film industries. Film Studies faculty involve MA students in research and publication activities, teaching students to prepare manuscripts for publication and perform archival work. Faculty may also co-author projects with graduate students, engage students as editors, and collaborate with students on curatorial projects. These applied learning opportunities help our graduates develop the expertise they need to become professionals in their chosen fields.

The MA program also includes film production, in collaboration with students and faculty from the MFA in Filmmaking,  deepening their knowledge of screenwriting, production, development, editing, cinematography, and marketing. Students also benefit from our wide-ranging internship program at local, national, and international film agencies.

Film Culture


Joining the Film Studies MA program at UNCW puts you at the heart of a dynamic film environment. Wilmington is an established arts community, home to the EUE/Screen Gems studios, the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, the non-profit documentary organization Working Films, multiple independent filmmaking companies, and the renowned Cucalorus Film Festival. The city also features an excellent art museum, an historic downtown, live theater, music, a diverse artistic community, and direct access to stunning oceanfront landscapes.

The UNCW Film Studies program provides numerous opportunities to broaden your experience with hands-on learning activities. Internationally recognized faculty mentor students in their research and publishing, and the department provides MA students with opportunities to organize film festivals and conferences, program film series, and work as research assistants, manuscript editors, and film curators.  Film Matters, a global film studies journal published by Intellect Press, is based in our department, offering a suite of professional opportunities in film studies publishing. The department also hosts Visions, our annual film festival and conference, managed, curated, and hosted by UNCW Film Studies students.

UNCW is a thriving interdisciplinary hub, offering Film Studies MA students the opportunity to partner with students in 24 other graduate programs, including the highly ranked MFA program in Creative Writing, as well as undergraduate students in Film Studies, Studio Art, Digital Arts, Music , and Theater.

Resources & Facilities


 Front Office Facilities

  • 175-seat high-definition digital movie theater with 7.1 surround sound, as well as 3-D projection.
  • Black Box Studio with set, lighting grid, and power box company.
  • Sound isolation booth / audio recording station.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Pro Tools, and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve software.
  • Equipment room with a full range of camera, lighting, grip, sound recording, field mixing, and field monitor equipment.

Back Lot Facilities (opening in 2020)

  • 70-seat theater with 4K digital projection, 16mm movie projection, and surround sound.
  • 4000 square foot with lighting set, lighting grid, cyclorama and company power box.
  • Expanded equipment room with loading dock.
  • Sound recording and mixing studio.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud suite, Avid Media Composer, Pro Tools, and Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve software.
  • Outdoor screening and activity area. 

The William Madison Randall Library houses a collection of more than 468,000 monographs, 30,000 e-books, 105,000 bound periodical volumes, and over 30,000 journals. The collection includes 143 film journals and access to several film-related databases, including Project MUSE, International Index of Performing Arts, and the Film and Television Literature Index. Randall Library also offers a large collection of moving image media, including 34,000 videos (Blu-ray, DVD, & VHS), including over 10,400 narrative feature films, 2,400 foreign films, 9,500 documentaries, and 315 short film collections.

Applied Learning


An MA in Film Studies at UNCW opens up a host of professional opportunities, taking your studies from the classroom into the world. Applied learning opportunities include:

  • Filmmaking collaborations

  • Research collaborations with faculty

  • Publishing and graphic design work in both digital and print media

  • Conference planning and event management

  • Teaching and teacher training at the university level

  • Film commentary, professional cinephilia, and film criticism

  • Curatorial work, programming, and hosting film series

  • Community outreach and cultural ventures

  • Professional advancement in education

  • Training in archival and historical practices

  • Internships in Critical Studies and Film Production

Visit the Film Studies Department


To schedule a tour of our facilities, call 910-962-7502 .

Take a virtual campus tour at https://uncw.edu/admissions/virtualtour.html

Visit the UNCW admissions website to register for a campus tour. Directions to the UNCW Film Studies Department:  Interactive and printable campus maps and directions .

Frequently Asked Questions


Who should apply to the MA in Film Studies?

The MA serves students and scholars with a passionate interest in film study seeking an advanced education. Applicants to the program may be pursuing careers in education, film, or film-related disciplines or preparing for doctoral study in film studies.

Can I apply even if I did not major in film studies in college?

Yes. Applicants from any discipline may apply.

If I already have an undergraduate degree in film studies, what will the MA offer me that I did not get an undergrad?

An MA is a professional degree. Students in the MA program not only advance their film studies education; they also learn to transform their education into a vocation.

What does my MA in Film Studies qualify me to do?

Students with an MA in Film Studies are likely to pursue new careers - or advance existing careers - in K-12 and community college education, film curation, writing about film (journalism, film reviewing and commentary, festival writing, etc.), publishing , archiving and preservation, movie production, and film development. Graduates are also qualified for doctoral study in film.

What is the difference between UNCW's MA in Film Studies and its MFA in Filmmaking?

The two degree programs are integrated, and students work together on projects such as film productions, conference and festival planning, and other hands-on activities. However, the programs have different focuses and timeframes. The MA in Film Studies is a two-year program focusing on the critical study of cinema, although it also involves a production component. The MFA in Filmmaking is a three-year program focusing on film production, although it also involves a critical studies component.

Can I earn an MA in Film Studies and an MFA in Filmmaking at the same time?

The Department of Film Studies is currently proposing a joint degree plan that would allow students to complete both programs simultaneously and, at the end of four years, earn both an MA and an MFA degree. Students interested in pursuing both degrees are encouraged to contact MA Coordinator Mariana Johnson at johnsonm@uncw.edu.

How many students are admitted to the MA program?

The department admits up to 12 qualified students each year for a total of approximately 24 students in the MA program at one time. 

What is the typical class size?

Graduate film studies courses typically enroll 8-12 students, except for FST 500 Introduction to Film Study and Production, which enrolls 12 MA and 12 MFA students. Cross-listed graduate/undergraduate courses enroll a maximum of 20 students.

What are the degree requirements?

The MA program consists of 39 course credit hours. You can find the full degree requirements in the UNCW graduate catalog.

What teaching opportunities are available?

The department offers a limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships to qualified applicants. GTAships involve intensive training in film studies teaching, under the mentorship of department faculty, and GTAs teaches a variety of courses over two years, including courses in film aesthetics, film history, and other subjects.

What are the out-of-state tuition-remission opportunities?

The department offers a limited number of tuition remissions for students who do not officially reside in North Carolina, allowing such students to pay the lower in-state tuition. Students from out of state should contact the Graduate Coordinator about tuition remission opportunities.

Application Information


Applicants seeking admission to the Master of Arts Program in Film Studies are required to submit the following to the Graduate School before the application can be processed.

  1. An application for graduate admission.
  2. Official transcripts of all college work (undergraduate and graduate).
  3. A 2-3 page Statement of Purpose that explains the candidate's educational or professional goals.
  4. An example of the candidate's academic or critical writing in film studies or a related field.
  5. 2-3 letters of recommendation.
  6. Resume or Curriculum Vitae.

An applicant must have successfully completed an undergraduate degree (BS, BA, or BFA). Submission of the materials above does not guarantee admission to the MA program. All application materials must be received by the published deadline. All interested applicants will be considered for graduate assistantships, which will be awarded on a competitive basis.

Accepting applications September 15, 2019. Final application deadline is February 15, 2020.