University of South Carolina


Film and Media Studies: What to Expect

Students will be able to enhance their creativity, global understanding and critical thinking skills with a major in Film and Media Studies. The Film and Media Studies major at Carolina is devoted to the critical study of media culture and includes the usual core strengths of a liberal arts education. As a Film and Media Studies major, you will develop an array of critical skills necessary for actively interpreting and productively engaging film and media culture from essential media literacy skills to advanced research methods in historical and textual film and media analysis. By working closely with Program faculty, majors may also undertake undergraduate research on almost any aspect of media culture--from early Hollywood to contemporary Asian cinema and European television, from home movies and experimental films to selfies and social networks, from problems of industrial organization to questions of genre development and social habit.

You will pursue additional skills through your minor, which you can choose from an array of disciplines from across the University. A popular minor for Film and Media Studies majors is Media Arts, the media production degree in the School of Visual Art and Design. You will enjoy a variety of teaching styles in the Film and Media Studies Program, including lecture, discussion, and viewing film and media works.

As a Film and Media Studies major, you will also have the opportunity to get involved in Columbia’s local film culture, which is anchored by the Nickelodeon Theater and Film Society and its unique media literacy programs, part of the Helen Hill Media Education Center. You may choose to volunteer, intern, or even work at the theater or HHMEC to gain experience in film programming, film festival operations and the teaching of media literacy skills to young people.

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Film and Media Studies:

  • Introduction to Film and Media Studies
  • Film and Media History
  • Film and Media Theory and Criticism
  • Topics in Film and Media Histories (recent topics include: Tarantino; Hong Kong Action Cinema; The Teen Film; Art and Cinema; Surveillance; Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s)
  • Documentary Film and Media Studies
  • Courses in Media Arts and Theater

On average, there is a 30 to 1 student-faculty ratio in major-specific courses. Students in the Film and Media Studies program frequently comment that they enjoy many opportunities to interact with faculty one-on-one. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Film and Media Studies major, you may choose to get involved with Carolina Production on campus. You can gain experience in programming film and media events such as film festivals, topical screening series, or other cultural events. You can also find a community of other people who are enthusiastic about various facets of film and media culture. You can also find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates go on to pursue graduate degrees in Film Archiving, Film and Media History and Theory, and Film and Media Production at premiere institutions including New York University, the American Film Institute, and Emory University.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Film and Media Studies students often choose to pursue their own research on topics in film and media history with an independent study. Students have also pursued internships in the area of film archiving with USC’s Moving Image Research Collections, a film archive with many unique collections and holdings.

Career Opportunities

Film and Media Studies majors gain communication and analytical skills that are crucial for almost any progression as well as specific knowledge and skills beneficial to careers engaged with a range of media forms and technologies including film, television, the Internet, and mobile imaging. Many graduates also choose to pursue further academic research and college-level teaching in Film and Media Studies. Others are employed in media work in the fields of archiving and library and information science, business, and education.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

After watching “Ratatouille” in a movie theater, English major and Film and Media Studies minor, Adam Habib, knew what career path he wanted to take. “I was stunned by the camerawork and the lighting,” he remembered. “Before that, I don’t think it had occurred to me that animated movies could have camerawork, much less that it was a job I might pursue.” Adam is currently employed as a Technical Director Resident for Camera and Staging at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California. Working with the Director of Photography and the story artists, Adam composes the characters and the camera to communicate an idea and an emotion to the audience. He also tries to anticipate some of the issues other departments will face in realizing the shot as it moves through the production pipeline. “I open a new shot on my computer in the morning, and in a few months that shot, after a lot of work by many more people, will end up on thousands of movie screens around the world.” For Adam, this is one of the most exciting parts of his career. His time at USC helped prepare him for his current position. “My professors inspired me with their passion and intensity, and I benefited from their connections across the film industry. My classmates also made a big impression. My roommates, whom I met on my first day at Carolina, were film students, and my first taste of filmmaking was helping them with their projects. I might not have gone down this road if it weren’t for them,” he said. Adam also has some advice for current students who are majoring or minoring in Film and Media Studies. “Try not to get bogged down in gadgets and the technical aspects of filmmaking,” he said. “They’re distractions from the real challenge, which is being able to look at the world with honesty and insight.”

About the Film and Media Studies Program

The Film and Media Studies Program has grown steadily since the major was unveiled in 2001 and has quickly become among the most popular of interdisciplinary majors in the College of Arts and Sciences. The program is currently strategizing the best ways to develop graduate-level education as the program continues to grow. The program has several unique resources including opportunities for production and collaboration in media arts, the remarkable film and television archival collection of Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC), and faculty’s ongoing involvement in the Orphan Film Symposium.

Additional Resources
Film and Media Studies Website
Moving Image Research Collections Library at USC
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin