Film and Media Arts

MFA-PhD Dual Degree Program (DAVR)

The MFA-PhD Program in Documentary Arts and Visual Research (DAVR) is a unique dual degree program in theory and practice for students who have completed a MFA program, have well defined goals, and wish to expand their theories and methods of inquiry through doctoral level research.

The MFA-PhD combination offers MFA graduates the opportunity to use their creative education to take on the intellectual challenge of our technological age: the expression of ideas, once communicated entirely by written means, through multiple forms of media. The intertwining relationships of theory and practice are at the heart of this interdisciplinary program. Students enter with both a professional mastery production in cinema and media arts or a related field as well as strong scholarly skills, so they can create ground breaking work that moves fluidly between creative and critical approaches to images and the stories they tell.

The program emphasizes the integration of theory and practice using visual technologies and contemporary research methods. Doctoral projects may draw from multiple disciplines and research methods in the arts, humanities and sciences, and the projects may take many forms, such as those of critical, digital and visual research in the humanities, interactive and emergent forms of writing and cross-disciplinary visual ethnography.

The program aims to prepare students for advanced career opportunities in academia, research-based documentary production, cultural institutions/foundations, research institutions, arts curating, emerging media technologies and industries and critical writing where both interdisciplinary and applied perspectives are invaluable.

Admission to this highly competitive program is based on a students’ record in both creative production and scholarship, the strength of the student's proposal and synergy of the research with that of faculty in the institution. Ideal students have developed a professional level of technological artistry in sound and image production and have a clearly defined research agenda for the doctoral work, Students who have not completed an MFA in Film and Media Arts or closely related field and who are interested in beginning the full MFA and PhD sequence should apply first to the MFA program. Because of the specific nature of this program, interested candidates from other institutions should first contact the program director to determine if their MFA education will provide sufficient preparation. 

The DAVR program builds upon Department of Film and Media Arts' rich offerings in emerging, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural documentary arts. Students work with leading faculty in theory and practice. The program is directed by Dr. Roderick Coover, who has been a pioneer of visual research, interactive documentary cinema and visual ethnography since the 1990s. Dr. Paul Swann's scholarship focuses on documentary film history, the international culture trade, and media in the city. Dr. Chris Cagle publishes books and essays in documentary theory and practice. Additionally, many of the program's practice-oriented faculty, including Professors Warren Bass, Rea Tajiri, David Parry, Peter D'Agostino, Sarah Drury, LeAnn Ericksen, Eran Preis, Jeff Rush and Michael Keutemeyer, make documentary works or works integrating documentary praxis. Students also have opportunities to work with faculty in related departments both within the Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts and beyond.

If you have any questions about the program, please contact the Dr. Roderick Coover at

For more information about the application process and financial aid, visit FMA Graduate Admissions area.

NOTE: The program is designed for students seeking to integrate production and theory who will have finished their MFA degrees in film or media arts by the end of the summer before the PhD program begins. Students who have not yet completed an MFA should apply to MFA program and will then apply to enter the PhD joint degree program in their third year. Students with MFA's in universities other than Temple should first contact the MFA-PhD program Director, Dr. Roderick Coover, at to assure that their graduate work will prepare them for this degree."


The DAVR program is design to coordinate with a Temple University MFA degree or an appropriate MFA from another institution (with specific approval from the program director). The Temple Univeristy MFA program in Film and Media Arts is a three-year program, which includes two years of coursework, a comprehensive examination and a thesis project. The student who goes on to pursue a joint PhD-MFA in Documentary Arts and Visual Research applies in the third year of the MFA program and is only admitted with successful and timely completion of the MFA thesis project. The program is designed to enable the growth doctoral dissertation projects that employ latest visualization technologies in research projects.

The DAVR program requires a minimum of 37 credits of coursework and tutorial mentorship beyond the 48-credit terminal master's degree. Because of the specific nature of this program, interested candidates from other institutions should first contact the program director to determine if their MFA education will provide sufficient preparation. 

Required Courses

FMA 8462 Documentary Arts and Visual Research

FMA 8671 Film History and Theory

FMA 8468 Art, Culture and Technology Seminar

FMA 9346 Methodologies & Praxis

FMA 9345 Advanced Topics in Visual and Critical Theory

FMA 9994 Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Study

FMA 9998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal

FMA 9999 Dissertation

Approved FMA Electives

FMA 5674 Media Arts Theory & Practice

FMA 5672 History Of Documentary Film

FMA 8244 Experimental Methods

FMA 8673 Time-Image Arts/Cinema Praxis 

FMA 8675 Seminar: International Film

FMA 8670 Topics In Media Studies

FMA 8673 Historical Film Research

FMA 8870 U Penn Critical Studies   

Approved Interdisciplinary Electives

ANTH 8408 Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication I

ANTH 8409 Approaches in the Anthropology of Visual Communication II

ARTH 8440 Seminar in Problems, Period, Style

DANCE 9801 Dancing the Popular

ENG 9300 Seminar in Critical Theory

MUSIC STUDIES 8749 Current Topics in Musicology and Theory

MUSIC STUDIES 8743 Seminar in Stylistic Analysis: Music and Meaning

PDS 8501 Theories of Visual Representation

Students can apply to take other courses around the university if the work contributes to their research agenda. Students should work with their advisors, the program director and topic specialists to structure the coursework. Students who have previously taken FMA 8462, FMA 8468 or FMA 8671 will be required to substitute a graduate-only, non-production courses with approval required from the student's advisor and the program director.

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