Documentary Arts and Visual Research PhD

The Documentary Arts and Visual Research PhD in Temple’s School of Theater, Film and Media Arts offers students with an MFA in Film and Media Arts the opportunity to pursue a defined research agenda for doctoral work. Part of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts’ dual degree program, this doctoral program helps you form practical and theoretical expertise to critically examine perspectives and topics relevant to alternative and traditional forms of cinematic arts. You’ll apply the technological artistry skills developed in the MFA program to create visual research projects and posit research questions related to documentary arts.

The integrative curriculum is designed to give you the experience necessary to lead research in

  • academia,
  • cultural institutions and foundations,
  • documentary production,
  • emerging media technologies, and
  • research institutions.  

Through coursework that facilitates applied and creative research approaches, students work with experienced, interdisciplinary faculty to investigate and answer questions of the technological age. You’ll develop an understanding of how media technologies have shaped paradigms of cultural and political organization, as well as cognitive, personal and physical self-understanding.

The Documentary Arts and Visual Research PhD is part of the Film and Media Arts Department’s dual degree program. Students who have earned an MFA in Film and Media Arts are eligible for the Documentary Arts and Visual Research PhD. As part of the three-year, full-time doctoral program, you’ll select an interdisciplinary elective in diverse fields such as as anthropology, geography, media studies, humanities and visual ethnography, for a comprehensive, in-depth research experience in the evolving world of visual media. Upon completion of the required courses and electives, students work with advisors to complete a final dissertation.

A film student setting up equipment on a film set.

Classes & Curriculum

The 37-credit program is designed to be completed in three years on a full-time basis. Coursework is tailored to give you opportunities to critically examine research questions based in analysis, field-based research and history of nonfictional forms in emerging technologies, film and media arts.

Required courses include

  • Art-Culture-Technology Seminar,
  • Documentary Arts and Visual Research, and
  • Film History and Theory.

Available electives include

  • Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication;
  • Media Arts Theory and Practice;
  • Seminar: Problems, Period, Style; and
  • Time-Image Arts.

All doctoral candidates research and create a final dissertation project, which must employ the latest visualization technologies.

Learn more about requirements for the Documentary Arts and Visual Research PhD program.

Tuition & Fees

In keeping with Temple’s commitment to access and affordability, this Doctor of Philosophy offers a competitive level of tuition with multiple opportunities for financial support.

Tuition rates are set annually by the university and are affected by multiple factors, including program degree level (undergraduate or graduate), course load (full- or part-time), in-state or out-of-state residency, and more. These tuition costs apply to the 2023–2024 academic year.

Pennsylvania resident: $1,169.00 per credit
Out-of-state: $1,565.00 per credit

You can view the full Cost of Attendance breakdown on the Student Financial Services website.


Additional Program Information