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Admission Requirements

The Film & Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz welcomes applications to its Ph.D. program. We seek applicants who challenge the boundaries of critical studies and media production.

Using critical practice as a fundamental approach, projects can employ a diverse set of methods including those of cultural dissent, cultural studies, documentary, ethnography, feminist studies, historiography, media cultures, narrative, platform studies, psychoanalysis, queer epistemology, the reinvention of the archive, reverse anthropology, science studies, software studies, transnational and postcolonial studies.

Research within the program spans a large number of topics including avant-garde and experimental film and video; silent and classical cinema; digital, electronic, and new media; documentary; gender and sexuality; international cinema; participatory culture; public media art; race, ethnicity, nationality, colonialism and their intersections.

The flexibility of the program allows students to work closely with their advisers and the director of graduate studies to craft a personalized course of study that advances their intellectual and professional goals.

For additional questions, please contact Graduate Program Coordinator,


Required Materials

The following items are needed to apply:

  • Online Application
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal History Statement
  • Portfolio of Work
  • Writing Sample
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores, if applicable


Please see the Graduate Divison website for more information on official requirements.

The FAQ page also has more information.

It is important to note that in light of California's elimination of affirmative action as an admissions criterion, the Film & Digital Media Department reaffirms its commitment to the principles of affirmative action. These principles mean a commitment to diversity, equal opportunity, and outreach to underrepresented communities. Further, this commitment underlines our understanding that the very fabric and quality of our scholarship depends on the representation and interplay of diverse experience and perspectives. So defined, affirmative action is reflected in every aspect of the Film & Digital Media program, including scholarship, teaching, admissions, hiring, and the process of departmental governance.

Duplication of Higher Degree
It is the policy of the Santa Cruz campus to prohibit the pursuit of duplicate advanced degrees. However, applicants may petition the graduate dean for an exception to this policy if the degree sought is in a field of study distinctly different from the field in which the original advanced degree was attained. In order for a student who already holds the doctorate to be admitted or readmitted to work toward a second Ph.D. all of the following conditions must be met: (1) The applicant must petition the graduate dean in writing prior to the application deadline for the program in question.
(2) The department sponsoring the program to which admission is sought must support the applicant's petition.
(3) The department must present the graduate dean with a clear and complete outline of the program required for the degree sought, and must explain the intellectual separateness of the proposed program from that completed by the applicant in attaining the earlier degree.

The graduate dean will review all materials submitted and decide whether or not to admit the applicant, consulting with the Graduate Council when appropriate. Admission to a Ph.D. program after a professional doctorate is not subject to these restrictions.

International Applicants
Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must take the TOEFL or IELTS English Language exam.  Please find information about minimum scores at the UCSC Graduate Division website, and note that there are different requirements for admission to the program and for serving as a teaching assistant.  Eligibility for teaching assistantships may be confirmed after the admission process and prior to entry.
Please be advised that UCSC greatly values the participation of scholars from diverse nations and cultures in our graduate programs, and we therefore actively solicit applications for admission from foreign applicants. However, because many of the financial aid programs available to UCSC students are restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, it is strongly recommended that international applicants seek scholarship support from their own governments and local organizations or societies.

All Applicants
Every applicant is urged to be certain that all parts of the application are complete when it is submitted and that it is sent in well before the deadline. If a file is incomplete, it may not be considered in a timely fashion. You will be notified by email whether or not you have been admitted for graduate study at UCSC after all reviews are complete. Under no circumstances will UCSC give out this information over the phone. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the United States are signatories, admitted applicants have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of fellowship offers.

Questions about the program or the application process should be directed to:

Graduate Program Coordinator Film & Digital Media Department
University of California Communications Building, Room 110
1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Voice: (831) 459-3445
Fax: (831) 459-1341