CIMS MA and PhD applications begin from Monday, October 16, 2023.


Applicants to our graduate degree programs should apply online through ApplyWeb.

In addition to your application form, we ask that you attach the following materials and supporting documents to your application.

A personal statement. This statement should a) tell us your reasons for applying to graduate school in film and media studies, b) describe the research area or areas of study and debate in which you are interested, c) address your particular interest in our Cinema & Media Studies program, (d) detail your achievements, contributions and relevant academic experience.

Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

This statement should be approximately 1,000 words long.

A scholarly writing sample. For MA applications the writing sample is 10-15 pages, while for PhD applications it is 15-20 pages. This should be double-spaced and should reflect your ability to write about film and media in relation to historical narratives, socio-cultural contexts, and theoretical issues. Papers that experiment with form and style are welcome. We prefer a single, 20-page paper over two shorter papers that add up to 20 pages.

Three letters of recommendation. These should be written by professors who know your work and can attest to your academic ability including your competence and potential to excel in graduate studies. While we prefer academic references, applicants who’ve pursued non-traditional paths are welcome to submit other professional references that address skills and accomplishments applicable to graduate study. Personal references are discouraged.  Applicants should use the ApplyWeb system to submit the names, titles, and contact information of their recommenders, each of whom will receive an emailed invitation to submit a letter on the applicant's behalf. If you or your recommenders have any difficulties with this system, please email Davor Svetinovic, Graduate Coordinator of Cinema & Media Studies, for assistance troubleshooting. Please do not submit more than three recommendation letters.

Electronic versions of your academic transcripts. These do not have to be official transcripts, but can be either a pdf downloaded from your student portal or a scanned copy of a paper transcript. If accepted, you will need to provide a final, official paper copy of your transcript before you matriculate.

Proof of English proficiency. Applicants with citizenship or permanent resident status in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand are not required to provide this, and their applications will automatically waive the requirement. Citizens of other countries may satisfy this requirement by either 1) submitting proof of having graduated from an institution where English was the primary language of instruction to the Graduate Coordinator (in most cases, your transcripts will suffice), or 2) submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores. Our TOEFL code is 2986. IELTS scores must be sent via mail to:

Davor Svetinovic, Graduate Coordinator
Department of Cinema & Media Studies
University of Pennsylvania
3340 Walnut Street
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104

The University of Pennsylvania only accepts hard copies of IELTS scores.

Questions about individual cases should be directed to with any inquiries.

CIMS MA and PhD applications close on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

The PhD in Cinema and Media Studies is a program in the School of Arts and Sciences. Those interested in the doctorate offered by the Annenberg School for Communications should consult its program directly.