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Columbia University

Film and Media Studies Program

New York, NY


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Columbia University School of the Arts, Film and Media Studies

The Master’s Program in Film and Media Studies at Columbia takes up the evolution of cinema as an art, an institution, an object of philosophical study, and an international socio-cultural phenomenon. However, digital image media have altered the conceptualizations of everything. Recently renamed to emphasize both motion picture film and the newest of new media, the Program facilitates exploration from the one to the other and back. It is designed to consider current theoretical approaches and to look historiographically at trends such as the transition from motion picture film to digital media.

Students concentrate in Motion Picture Film and Television or Media Art/Media Theory in their selection of elective courses either inside the School of the Arts or outside in Columbia University Arts and Sciences departments. Electives include: Cinephilia, The Documentary Tradition, Film and Philosophy, Queer Film Theory, The Western, The Blockbuster, Indian Cinema, Cuban Cinema, Chinese Documentary, Cult Film, Visual Bodies: Cinema to New Media, Seriality, Hacking the Archive, Digital Storytelling, Theory and Practice of Documentary Activism,  Sound and Image Theory, New Media Art, Sound Technology. 

Film & Media Studies MA students have a unique opportunity to study motion picture film history and theory as well as new media theory in a world capital of both film and television culture and technological innovation. They are afforded the advantages of research in New York area film and television archives and libraries, including the New York Public Library, The Paley Center for Media, and have held internships at Museum of the Moving Image, Museum of Modern Art, Doc Films, and Film Society of Lincoln Center. 

A few Teaching Assistantships are available. Student Service positions employ students as Programming Assistants and Research Assistants. In the past, paid research projects included Hokum! Filmography of Early Sound-Era Short Subjects and Women Film Pioneers Project.

About Columbia University School of the Arts

Columbia University School of the Arts awards the MFA degree in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing and the Master of Arts degree in Film & Media Studies; it also offers an interdisciplinary program in Sound Art. The School is a thriving, diverse community of talented, visionary, and committed artists from around the world, and a faculty comprised of acclaimed and internationally renowned artists, film and theatre directors, writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, playwrights, producers, critics, and scholars. In 2015, the School marked the 50th Anniversary of its founding. In 2017, the School opened the Lenfest Center for the Arts, a multi-arts venue designed as a hub for the presentation and creation of art across disciplines on the University’s new Manhattanville campus. The Lenfest hosts exhibitions, performances, screenings, symposia, readings, and lectures that present new, global voices and perspectives, as well as an exciting, publicly accessible home for Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery.

The School is an innovative graduate professional school with a tradition of risk-taking, grounded in a deeply intellectual Ivy League university and energized by its location in New York City—one of the great cultural capitals of the world. The study and practice of art-making at the School is an immersive, constantly evolving process. Aspiring, emerging or established, our filmmakers, writers, theatre practitioners and visual artists grow individually through intensive engagement with their craft and lively, often profound exchanges of ideas and work.
From the Sundance Film Festival to the Venice Biennale, from the cover of the New York Times Book Review to Broadway, from America’s most established regional theaters to Europe and Asia’s renowned film and theatre festivals, the success of the School’s faculty and alumni has never before been as prominent and celebrated. Members of the faculty have received the highest recognition in their fields, including Academy Awards, Tony Awards, MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, Guggenheim Fellowships, Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Alumni also claim a record of astonishing success, measured not simply by awards and prizes, contracts and contacts, but by the quality and cultural significance of their artistic achievements. 
Today, the School serves nearly 800 Master of Fine Arts students from 57 countries in the Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing programs, and 40 Master of Arts students in Film & Media Studies. The School’s faculty also teaches more than 1,627 undergraduate students in 120 courses offered each year.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Master of Arts (MA)

Degrees Awarded

Degree Number Awarded
Master's Degrees 13

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available? Yes
Evening/weekend programs available? No
Distance learning programs available? No
Terminal master's degree available? Yes

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirement
Master's Degrees Thesis Required


Acceptance Rate



Application Fee - Domestic
applications accepted?

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline February 4th February 4th No

Entrance Requirements

Exam Details
Master's Degree Requirements Undergraduate transcript, 3 letters of recommendation, autobiographical essay, 2 samples of scholarly writing, graduate transcript (if applicable)

Tuition & Fees

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Financial Support

Financial award applicants must submit: FAFSA
Application deadlines for financial awards February 4
Types of financial support available Teaching Assistantships

Student Body

Total Graduate Students
International Breakout (representing other countries)


Hispanic/Latino 2.86%
Black or African American 0%
White or Caucasian 37%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0%
Asian 5.71%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 2.86%
Unknown 0%


Male (45%)
Female (54%)


Total faculty
Full-time - 8
Part-time - 7
Male (12)
Female (3)

Location & Contact

Address 2960 Broadway, 513 Dodge Hall
New York, NY  10027
United States
Contact Ms. Jane Gaines
Professor of Film in the Faculty of the Arts
Phone: 212-854-2815

Columbia University