Graduate Program FAQs
*Please also see the FAQs at the School of Graduate Studies website.
About the Cinema Studies Institute (CSI)
"How many graduate applications does CSI receive each year?"
In 2020-2021, CSI received approximately 80 doctoral applications and 110 MA applications. Approximately eighty percent of the doctoral applications were from international students.
"How many places are there in the graduate program?"
The exact number varies from year to year, but typically 4-6 new doctoral students and 10-12 new MA students join CSI each year.
"Does CSI admit international students?"
Each year CSI admits at least one, and sometimes more, international students to the PhD program. Due to our current structure for financial support, we are not able to consider international MA applicants. We will re-assess this decision in 2025.
"Does the Institute offer part-time programs?"
Both the MA and PhD programs are full-time. No part-time options are available.
"How long does it take to complete the program?"
The MA program is 12 months in duration. The fall and spring terms are dedicated to coursework; the summer term is dedicated to completion of either a major research paper or an internship.
For the PhD program, CSI does everything possible to facilitate completion of the program within 4-5 years. Six years is the maximum length permitted, after which students must apply for a formal extension in order to remain in the program. The maximum number of extensions permitted is four.
"Does CSI offer training in film and media production?"
No, both the MA and PhD programs are dedicated to the critical study of cinema rather than training in filmmaking as a practice.
"When is the application deadline?"
We generally begin accepting applications in mid-October for the following academic year. The deadline is the middle of December.
"Is there an application fee? Can I obtain a fee waiver?"
Yes, there is an application fee of $125 CAD. No, the application fee cannot be waived.
"How many reference letters do you accept?"
Although the system allows for 5 referees to be indicated, please ONLY request 3 letters.
"Why can't I upload documents? Why haven't my referees seen an email from the university requesting a letter?"
The application fee must be paid before certain document slots are opened, and before the referees are contacted. Please pay the full application fee to activate these functions.
"Is the GRE an application requirement?"
No, this is not one of our admission requirements.
"Does the department admit students to a January session?"
No, both of our programs begin in September.
"Can I complete a collaborative specialization while at CSI, and how do I apply for a collaborative program?"
CSI participates in collaborative specializations with Diaspora and Transnational Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Sexual Diversity Studies. Please see the website of the collaborative program you are considering and review the application requirements detailed there.
"What factors are considered in admitting or refusing an applicant?"
At a minimum, eligible candidates must have achieved the equivalent of an B+ standing in their final year and meet the English language requirements. Other factors include the quality of the academic references, the writing sample, the letter of intent, the interest and availability of appropriate supervisors, background in cinema and media studies courses, and evidence of language proficiency.
We do not consider portfolios.
"If I do not have a degree in Cinema Studies, am I still eligible to apply?"
Yes, you may still apply, but you should have significant training in cinema and media studies. For applicants to the MA Program we require the successful completion of 6.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) in cinema studies or a cognate discipline. For applicants to the PhD program, we require a MA degree in cinema and media studies or a cognate discipline that is deemed appropriate to the intended area of research.
"How can I improve my chances of admission if I do not have a strong background in cinema studies?"
In such cases, we recommend that you take several fourth-year courses offered by your local universities as a non-degree student. Succeeding in these courses will demonstrate that you are capable of succeeding in our MA program.
"Should I contact potential faculty supervisors before applying?"
You may contact individual CSI faculty to discuss potential topics of research and the possibility of supervision, but doing so is not required. If you do, please research our faculty to see whose research interests align with yours and contact two or three faculty members at most.
"If I am applying from another country, how do I compare my grades and degree(s)?"
Students applying with degrees completed in other countries sometimes have difficulty assessing their credentials. The University of Toronto has an equivalency list, which can help with a basic assessment, available at the SGS Portal.
"How do I know whether my application has been received?"
You can check online to see the status of your application. The online admissions system will only show your documents as being "received" once your documents have been manually processed, NOT when they arrive in the system. Documents will be processed in the order they are received.
"Can I receive feedback on why my application was not successful?"
It is not uncommon for outstanding applicants to be refused admission. Admission to our program is very competitive, and meeting or exceeding the admission requirements does not guarantee admission. We cannot provide individualized feedback on your application, but we recommend that you review each component of an unsuccessful application carefully in order to assess its relative strength and the way it complements other materials in the application. For example, does your letter of intent provide a clear and compelling statement regarding your background and/or interests, and their fit with CSI’s program? Are the intentions in that letter evident in any other materials in the application? Is your writing sample adequately focused on the study of film and media? If so, does it work in tandem with your letter of intent to communicate your investment in a particular area of inquiry? Are your letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your strengths in adequate detail? Does one (or more) of them provide context for the writing sample?
Tuition and Fees
"How much is tuition?"
See the web page dedicated to Student Accounts for detailed information about tuition and other expenses.
"Does the Department offer financial support to graduate students?"
All MA and PhD students are offered a base funding package of tuition plus a stipend of $20,000 for one year (MA) or four years (PhD); this amount may be supplemented by internal and/or external awards. Fifth-year and sixth-year doctoral students are eligible for the Doctoral Completion Award, the value of which varies from year to year. Additionally, MA and PhD students in years 1-4 may be eligible annually for a Faculty of Art and Sciences program level fellowship; further information can be found on the web page dedicated to Program Level Fellowships.
All students are encouraged to apply for external awards (SSHRC, OGS, Vanier) and CSI provides resources in support of external award applications. Other potential sources of funding can be found on the web page dedicated to Scholarships and Awards.
"What other sources of financial support are available for graduate studies?"
Canadian students should consider applying for OSAP, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, various SSHRC programs, SGS University Wide Awards, and Restricted Departmental Awards. Deadlines are as early as October of the year preceding registration. International students should seek financial support from their home countries and should also apply for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.
For Registered Students
"What are the important dates I need to be aware of?"
The School of Graduate Studies publishes a list of important dates for the current academic year.
"When will I determine my selection of courses?"
Our Graduate Program Assistant will guide you in course selection starting in June. You may begin to sign up for courses electronically, on the university’s system (known as ACORN), in the second half of the summer. Students interested in taking graduate courses offered by other Departments should consult with the Graduate Coordinator, and will sometimes need to complete an Add/Drop Course(s) form.
"Is there graduate student housing?"
There are residences on campus dedicated to graduate students generally. Please visit Student Life’s web page dedicated to Housing to learn about various housing options. You should apply for admission to a graduate residence as early as possible.