Master of Arts in Cinema Studies

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Admission to the Program

The School of Cinema accepts new M.A. students for the fall semester only.

The graduate admission application to San Francisco State University is a two-part process. Part One is the university application submitted to the Division of Graduate Studies. Part Two is the academic department application submitted to the Graduate Coordinator for your intended degree program. You must submit Part One and Part Two of your graduate admission application simultaneously by deadline to be considered for admission. Applicants may only apply to a single graduate program per application term.

Part One:
  1. Apply online through CSU Mentor for a Graduate Program. The Office of Graduate Admissions no longer accepts paper applications to graduate programs.
  2. Pay the 55.00 USD application fee. We recommend that you pay online by credit card at the moment you submit your application. If you selected the option to pay the application fee by check or money order, make the check payable to “San Francisco State University”
  3. Send all required documents noted on your online SF Gateway Portal “To Do List” to the Division of Graduate Studies:

             Graduate Admissions
             San Francisco State University
             1600 Holloway Ave., ADM 250
             San Francisco, CA 94132

Part Two:

Apply to the School of Cinema's M.A. in Cinema Studies Program. The application can be found on the School of Cinema website—see Applying to Graduate Program(s).

Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last two years of undergraduate study. Applicants with degrees in areas other than film or media who show exceptional potential will be considered for admission to the program if they have completed at least three courses in cinema or media history and theory.

The admission materials specifically requested by the School of Cinema include:

  • A one to two page Résumé summarizing the applicant’s education, awards or recognition, work experience, languages, and special skills.
  • A Background and Research Interests Statement (two single-spaced pages maximum). Applicants should describe how their past academic work has prepared them for graduate work. Non-film/media majors should describe an aspect of work done in their major area, and discuss how they plan to develop these (or other) research interests as a graduate student in the MA in Cinema Studies program.
  • An example of academic writing (6 - 12 pages) that illustrates the applicant’s ability to make and support a thesis as well as familiarity with scholarly form and expository style. Papers from the film and media disciplines are preferred, but other academic work is acceptable.
  • A thesis proposal (two pages maximum). Applicant should describe the general area or, if possible, the specific topic, and should address the following: What is the issue? What will your perspective be? What importance does this topic have for film study in general? (This topic need not be binding; it helps the School determine if resources match the applicant’s needs.)
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s scholarship and potential for success in a graduate program. (Note: the School does not provide an official recommendation form.)
  • Unofficial transcripts.
  • The GRE is NOT required.

All prospective M.A. students may contact the School’s graduate office about specific questions. Write:

Graduate Committee
School of Cinema
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
Additional information and application forms are available on the School of Cinema website:

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

First level proficiency is assessed by means of written work completed in CINE 700 for an overall grade of B or better.

Level Two

Second level proficiency is assessed by means of the thesis proposal.

Advancement to Candidacy

Prior to admission, M.A. candidates should have successfully completed three undergraduate film studies courses beyond the introductory level. Deficiencies will be identified on admission to the program and should be completed as soon as possible. All deficiencies must be satisfied prior to advancement to candidacy.

Required Courses for M.A. in Cinema Studies

All students must complete at least 30 units. Upper division courses not used to satisfy graduate admission deficiencies are acceptable as electives on approval by a graduate advisor.

Cinema Studies (M.A.) — 30 units

Core Requirements (6 units)

CINE 700Introduction to Graduate Studies3
CINE 898Master's Thesis3

Electives (minimum 24 units)

Chosen from the following:

CINE 720Critical Paradigms and the Cinematic3
CINE 721Cinematic Documentary3
CINE 722Independent Cinema3
CINE 723Cinema Forms and Aesthetics3
CINE 727Cinematic Styles, Forms and Movements3
CINE 728Cinema Histories3
CINE 741Cinema and the City3
CINE 743Sexuality in the Cinema3
CINE 747Post-colonial Cinema3
CINE 748Cinema and Cultural Studies3
CINE 749Critical Practices3
CINE 820Seminar in Critical Theory3
CINE 821Seminar in Documentary Cinema3
CINE 823Curation and Cinema3
CINE 852Directed Experience in Film Education3
CINE 897Research Projects in Cinema Studies3
CINE 899Independent Study3

Not all courses will be offered each semester; please check the Cinema website for schedule information for the relevant semester.