Hello everyone--

    I'd just like to reiterate what David Tetzlaff said in his message, if
only as a fair warning to Kelly Shindler and others out there looking to
move from the undergrad to grad level of film studies.  The M.A. is not a
terminal degree, and most programs want to see evidence of your commitment
to their Ph.D. even if you are just coming out of a B.A. program.
Personally, I got lucky in getting an M.A. and getting accepted into a
different Ph.D. program elsewhere, however, I can tell you that many Ph.D.
programs questioned why I did not originally pursue my grad studies in their

    One of the not-so-veiled secrets of the grad school business is that
Masters degrees provide a lot of cash flow-- especially at programs that
invite many students to pursue an M.A. and then admit very few (if any)
students to the Ph.D.  Beware of schools like this.  If you want to be a
film academic, as David suggests, you must go for the Ph.D. anyway.  If
you're just going for the M.A., you may have a second chance later, but
you're also taking a very big risk.

    At any rate, I would not be discouraged, since there are many ways to
become involved in film studies that don't even require a Ph.D.  Yet if you
do want to be a film professor, the doctorate is an essential necessity (and
lately it seems you also need a book contract and a half-dozen published
articles, and an Oscar-winning film would help).  Cast your application net
wide and see what you find, and ask everyone you know in the film realm all
the questions you can think of.  Don't let anyone tell you that there's one
finite solution to becoming involved in film studies-- after all, you can
even be a film professor without a Ph.D. at community colleges, and slowly
but surely some high schools are hiring film teachers.

    I'd be curious to hear the experiences of others on this list who can
comment on the M.A. vs. Ph.D. issue.

Dr. Timothy Shary
Assistant Professor of Screen Studies
Traina Center for the Arts
Clark University
Worcester, MA  01610

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite