Undergraduate FAQ

Prospective Students:

Is there a film department at the University of Pittsburgh?

Film Studies is not a department at Pitt.  It is an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental program that offers a major and minor in Film Studies through the Department of English.

What is an interdisciplinary program?

This means that the courses one takes for the major are given by faculty in a variety of different departments. Nonetheless, they all count for a major or certificate in film studies. 

If I want to major in film studies at Pitt, do I have to submit a portfolio or special application to the Film Studies Program?

No. Admission is handled entirely by the admissions office and not the Film Studies Program. Once at the University, you can declare a film studies major.

I am interested in beginning in a film academic community. Can you tell me more?

For first term freshmen entering in a fall term who are interested in film and film production, we highly recommend the How to Make a Movie Academic Community.  The nineteen students registered for this community take three courses together: Seminar in Composition: Film (required composition course), Motion Picture Fundamentals (fulfills the Creative Expression general education requirement), and the one credit course Introduction to the Arts and Sciences (a specialized version of that course geared specifically toward potential film majors and minors).

If I want to visit campus prior to applying to or enrolling at Pitt, what should I do and whom shall I see when I visit?

  1. Go to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid to schedule a visit and for general information
  2. E-mail filmst@pitt.edu well in advance of your visit to set things up.

Ideally, as part of your visit you should do the following:

  • Speak to a film studies advisor or faculty member 
  • Take a tour of Pittsburgh Filmmakers where production courses are given 
  • Take a tour of the Pitt campus

Proceeding in Film Studies:

Am I required to take film production courses as part of the film studies major?

All majors are required to take one basic film production course. Beyond that, it’s at the student’s discretion.

Can I take as many film production courses as I want as a film studies major?

Majors and certificate students will be given an opportunity to pre-register for film production courses and are given enrollment priority.  Only five production courses can count toward the critical studies major but more can be taken as electives outside of the major.  The Production Track builds in a substantially higher number of required production courses.  In general, students do not take more than two production courses per term.

Can I double major in film studies and another field?

Yes. One major must be declared primary and the other secondary and you should be advised by faculty or advisors in both departments or programs.

I know that I want to study film, either as a major or a minor.  Where should I start?

We recommend that you start with Film Analysis, one fo the required courses for the major and minor or a lower level themed course that appeals to you. Taking Film Analysis in the first year and World Film History (the other required course) by the end of the first two years best positions you to pursue your advanced studies.  

Are there film classes that do not count for the major/minor?

Yes.  Seminar in Composition: Film fulfills a composition requirement but does not count toward the major/minor. You can choose to apply either Introduction to Film or Introduction to Visual Cultures for the major/minor, but you cannot do both.

When should I declare my major? How do I declare my major in film studies?

We encourage you to declare as soon as you have decided, so you can be added to distribution lists for the program and so you can have access to all of the program's various opportunities, projects, and events.  To declare, you must go to the Advising Center in 201 Thackeray Hall to fill out an Undergraduate Program Change form.  To be registered for the major for the following term, you will need to declare by the third week of the present term.  After you declare the major, you should schedule a meeting with an advisor to obtain permission to self-register.  Film advisors can be found here.

I see various themed courses under the designation Topics in Contemporary Film and Contemporary Directors.  Can I take more than one of these?

Yes, as long as you do not repeat in the same theme.  For example, you cannot take Engflm 1610 Topics in Genre: 'Superheros on Film and TV' two times.  The various Topics course listings are where less frequently taught topics are listed, so if you see a topic that you are interested in taking, be aware that it probably will not be offered again within a four year span. Be sure to look each term to see what the theme of the course will be!

Why are most film courses three hours and fifty minutes long?  May I screen assigned films independently?

Film courses, with a few exceptions, meet once per week for three hours and fifty minutes to allow for an in-class screening of a feature-length film.  The experience of watching a film together in the same format is essential to an understanding of the reception context of a film as well as the communal aspects of the cinema.     

How do I become an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for a course?

UTAs are frequently used in commonly taught courses (such as Introduction to Film, the film learning community class Introduction to Arts and Sciences, Film Analysis, World Film History, and themed genre classes).  With the exception of Introduction to Film, you need to have taken the course previously and received a B or higher as a final grade.  For Introduction to Film, you may UTA without having taken the course so long as you completed Film Analysis with a B or higher.  Let your professor know if you are interested in being a UTA, reply to the call for UTAs email from the Film Studies distribution list, or email Dr. Dana Och at dana.och@pitt.edu.

I want to study abroad.  Do you recommend it?

YES!  The Pitt-London Film Center provides an excellent opportunity for film majors and minors and students interested in the business and production of film. Contact the Study Abroad office for even more options.

Are internships available in film studies?

We encourage students to do internships during their studies at Pitt. We post internship options on our Web site.  Ellen Bishop serves as our internship advisor. The undergraduate division of the School of Arts and Sciences also has its own internship office.

Planning for your future:

What do people do professionally when graduating with a film studies major?

Film Studies graduates pursue careers in diverse fields, including but not limited to television production, film production, visual arts, advertising and marketing, film exhibition, film or media business, media librarianship, arts management, film and media curatorship, teaching and journalism.

Many students go on to graduate school in a variety of fields: Film history/criticism, filmmaking, journalism, business, law, library science, graphics, and museum studies.

Just a few of our recent alumni are highlighted here, but the Film Studies e-newsletter Backstory also features Pitt Film Studies grads with various occupations after graduation.  Be sure to subscribe!