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The following sections outline the typical shape and major steps of a UM graduate career in FTVM

First Year Review

Students are required to submit first year review materials by early September in the fall of their second year. Materials must include one representative writing sample, two faculty letters of assessment, an unofficial transcript and a self-evaluation that reflects upon the student's first year activities (both academic and professional), the strengths and weaknesses that the student sees in his/her development as a member of an academic community (scholarship, coursework, collegiality). The self-evaluation should also indicate the student's goals and needs for the upcoming year. By the end of September or early October, students will receive feedback on review in a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies and their advisor. The self-evaluation component of the review will be repeated annually and submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Second-Year Review

Students should submit a self-evaluation by the first week of fall term in their third year of study. The self-evaluation should reflect on the student's second-year activities (both academic and professional), the strengths and weaknesses that the student sees in her/his development as a member of an academic community (scholarship, coursework, and collegiality). It should also indicate the student's goals and needs for the upcoming year. By mid- or late September, students will receive feedback on the review in a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies and their advisor(s).

Comprehensive Exams

By the end of their third year, all students must pass comprehensive exams in (1) theory, (2) historiography and (3) one other pertinent area of study before being able to advance to candidacy. For this purpose, and in consultation with her/his advisor and the Graduate Chair, each student must form a committee of three faculty, at least two of which must be members of the core FTVM faculty, and one of which may be an affiliated member or a member from a department/discipline relevant to the student’s expected dissertation project.
Departmental reading lists are available for the exams in theory and historiography, respectively. In consultation with their committee, students will customize each of these lists for their exams, explaining their approach in a 2-page rationale for each list. The third list, to be designed in consultation with the advisor, will be based on an area of study pertinent to the student’s proposed dissertation topic. Here, too, the student supplies a 2-page rationale. All three lists are due by the end of the term preceding the exams.

Students may take their exams on any three consecutive weekends during the semester prior to the end-of-the-term study period. For each individual exam, they will receive two questions at noon on Friday, and need to submit a 10-12 page essay (plus endnotes) answering one question of their choice by the following Monday at noon. Approximately one week after submitting their third exam, students will meet with their committee to discuss the results. If a student does not pass an exam, he or she can retake it only once during the summer following the third year. If a student fails any exam a second time, he or she may be granted a Masters in the Department of Film, Television, and Media as a terminal degree contingent upon fulfillment of the program’s coursework requirements.


By the end of the term that follows the completion of Comprehensive Exams, students must submit a formal written dissertation proposal, 25 pages in length. The dissertation proposal should provide an overview and analysis of the field(s) to which the candidate's scholarship will contribute, identifying major debates that characterize the field. It should clearly identify the topic and argument of the dissertation, its organization, the methodologies to be used, and a research plan (including archives to be consulted and a timetable). It should also indicate how the dissertation would constitute an original and scholarly contribution to the field.

In preparation for the prospectus examination, candidates should submit a dissertation committee roster to the Graduate Studies Committee no later than two months after the successful completion of Comprehensive Exams and at least one month before the oral defense. The dissertation committee should be constituted of at least four members one of whom should hold an outside appointment in a cognate field related to the student's dissertation topic. The prospectus examination is configured to assess the project's merits and to provide students with faculty feedback on areas to be further refined while researching and writing the dissertation. Each candidate will give a 20-minute presentation of his/her prospectus for the dissertation chair and committee members. This will be followed by a discussion of the prospectus, when the entire committee members can ask questions of the candidate. After a deliberation period, the committee will inform the candidate of their decision on the prospectus examination and provide additional comments on the proposed dissertation project. If the committee agrees that the candidate has met all expectations for the prospectus, he or she will pass the defense. If one receives a conditional pass, minor revisions must be made and the revised prospectus must be submitted to and approved by both the dissertation chair and the Director of Graduate Studies. If major revisions are required of the prospectus, candidates will be advised to resubmit the prospectus after meetings with his or her dissertation chair and committee. A second prospectus defense can be scheduled following the next comprehensive examination period.


After a candidate passes the prospectus examination, he or she will be required to map out a research and writing schedule on the Grad-Tools website. In addition to noting the regularly scheduled meetings with their dissertation chair(s) and/or committees, candidates will track their movement towards benchmarks of the dissertation process (developed, in accordance with guidelines from Rackham and formulated under the supervision of the chair of his/her committee. The dissertation committee, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies, will be able to access and monitor the candidate's progress on Grad-Tools.

After all members of the committee have approved the dissertation draft for defense, candidates will be given a public forum to defend their dissertation with their committee. Candidates are expected to complete the dissertation by the end of their twelth term or sixth year of enrollment. [Candidates should consult Rackham for deadlines on conferral of degrees.]