Milestones & Deadlines

Typewriter Keys

The PhD in Media Studies program normally proceeds in the following way:

  1. Completion of an approved program of courses (six courses by the end of the fourth term)
  2. Passing of Core Comprehensive Examination in January of the second year
  3. Passing of Specialized Comprehensive Examination between March and May of the second year
  4. Submission/approval of a thesis proposal
  5. Submission of a PhD thesis is ideally done before the end of the 12th term
  6. Presentation of public lecture on thesis topic
  7. Passing of an Oral Examination of the thesis
Continued funding is contingent on the student passing milestones in a timely fashion.

Core Comprehensive Exam

The first Media Studies comprehensive is a ‘core’ examination on a common reading list of the equivalent of fifty books in total; some readings may be only articles or chapters. The list is reviewed biennially by the Media Studies Examination Committee (MSEC), a subcommittee of the Media Studies Program Committee. The main components include:

  • A take-home exam that consists of two questions and is completed over a seven-day period
  • Examination Committee provides written feedback on each question and assigns an overall pass/fail
  • Students who do not pass the core comprehensive exam are given one opportunity to rewrite their exam at a later date
The comprehensive exam is meant to be independant work. Collaboration with others is not allowed and grounds for failure. Once a student has passed the Core Comprehensive Exams, he/she is eligible to take the Specialized Comprehensive Exam.

See the 2015 Core Reading List (pdf).

Specialized Comprehensive Exam

The second comprehensive is a "specialized" examination, on a list of twenty-five texts to be compiled by the student under the supervision of his/her advisor and two additional faculty members, who will comprise the “specialized examining committee” (SEC). The main components include:

  • Development of reading list by student and SEC
  • Student sends SEC a 10-15 page written rationale for this list, one week in advance of the oral exam
  • Oral exam
  • SEC assigns a pass/fail

Students assigned a “pass” from at least two of the three members of the SEC will pass the exam and may proceed to the dissertation proposal. Students who fail the specialized examination will be asked to respond in writing to at most three questions from the SEC. The student will be given seven days to respond to these questions in writing. If at least two members of the SEC assign a grade of “pass” to the student’s written response, the student will pass the specialized examination and may proceed to the thesis proposal.

Proposal & Thesis

Having successfully completed the comprehensive exam, the student is expected to produce a 20-40 page proposal (plus bibliography) of the thesis research. The proposal normally is due no later than the end of the 7th term. The proposal must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee before work can commence on the thesis.

Thesis and Thesis Examination
Upon approval of the proposal, the student proceeds to undertake the research for the thesis. The completed thesis is approved by the student’s Advisory Committee and the student is permitted to proceed to the examination. For the examination, the student must give a public presentation of the results of the research, following by an oral examination, in accordance with the Guidelines of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS).

Specific dates will vary each year.

Sample Time Frame (Spring):

  • Deadline to Submit a Completed Thesis to FIMS – mid-March
  • Deadline for Thesis Defence – mid-April
  • Deadline for Final Submission of the Thesis – late April

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