Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies

Students admitted and already enrolled in graduate programs at Penn may apply to the Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies. Students cannot apply for the Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies without having first been admitted to a graduate degree program at Penn.

Programs in humanities around the country often seek job candidates from traditional fields who can also demonstrate pedagogical and scholarly strengths in cinema studies. Responding to these intellectual and professional currents, Penn's Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies aims to prepare students with the skills to research and teach film and media in order to advance their own work and to provide them with clear evidence of their training and abilities when they seek positions at other universities.

Faculty for this program represent numerous departments and research interests across Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences, including: Karen Beckman (cinema, photography, and video; contemporary theory), Stefania Benini (italian cinema), Timothy Corrigan (European and American cinema; documentary film), Julie Davis (Japanese cinema), Peter Decherney (film and media history, new media, media policy), James English (British cinema), John L. Jackson, Jr. (ethnographic methods in media analysis), Michael Leja (mass media, including print culture, photography and early cinema), Heather Love (cinema and gender studies), Catriona MacLeod (German cinema), Paul Messaris (studies of viewers' reactions to movies, visual media, and digital media), Philippe Met (French cinema), Joshua Mosley (Animation), Christine Poggi (futurism, video art), Simon Richter (German cinema), Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw (early American cinema and critical race theory), Michael Solomon (Spanish and Latin American cinema), and Liliane Weissberg (the Frankfurt school).

Students working in this area have a wide range of resources at their disposal, including Penn’s extensive Muybridge archive, the artists’ video collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the large film-related holdings of Penn’s libraries, as well as the important film archives that lie within easy reach of Philadelphia, such as the Library of Congress and MoMA. These students will also be eligible to apply for the paid, year-long internship in film programming at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in which a graduate student programs a film series of films on or by artists, and does research for the museum in film archives such as MoMA. Along with regular appearances and presentations by filmmakers such as Stephen and Timothy Quay, Ross McElwee, Werner Herzog, Mira Nair, Alex Gibney, Frederic Wiseman, and others, Penn and Philadelphia offer graduate students a variety of ongoing intellectual and cultural opportunities to support their work in film and media studies, including those provided by the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Penn Humanities Forum, the Slought Foundation, and the International House film series, as well as the Cinema Studies colloquium, where faculty and students exchange work-in-progress.

For more information, please contact Nicola M. Gentili.

Requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Cinema Studies

Each student applying for the certificate will develop a program of study in conjunction with the director of Cinema Studies. To complete the Graduate Certificate, students would fulfill the following requirements over the course of their Ph.D. work:

  • Four seminars in Cinema Studies. These seminars will introduce students to the major issues and debates in film studies. (They will be listed as a Cinema Studies graduate courses offering and cross-listed with other SAS departments.)
  • A research paper overseen by a faculty member affiliated with Cinema Studies. Normally this paper would develop out of work in a graduate seminar. It might also be a version of a chapter of a dissertation.
  • Attendance at six Penn Cinema Studies Colloquia over the course of graduate study. Colloquia are offered throughout the year, with papers by a film scholar from Penn or elsewhere.
  • Whenever possible, students should gain direct experience as teaching assistants in CINE 101, CINE 102, CINE 103, or other undergraduate film courses. Teaching assistants, supergraders, and graders for these courses will be mentored by faculty in areas of film scholarship and pedagogy. Please contact Nicola M. Gentili to join our roster of teaching assistants and graders.


Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782