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Film Studies Certificate

Contact: Catherine Portuges, Director
or Nancy Inouye, Chief Undergraduate Adviser
Office: 129 Herter Annex
Phone: 545-3659

The Faculty

The Committee of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies administers the program and advises students in the Certificate in Film Studies. Committee members are: Chair: Catherine Portuges (Comparative Literature), Barton Byg (German and Scandinavian Studies), Anne Ciecko (Communication), Laszlo Dienes (Comparative Literature), Patricia Galvis-Assmus (Art), Bruce Geisler (Communication), Susan Jahoda (Art), Don Levine (Comparative Literature), Patrick Mensah (French and Francophone Studies), Martin Norden (Communication), Roger Rideout (Music), Shawn Shimpach (Communication), Jacqueline Urla (Anthropology). Associated faculty: Ernest Allen Jr. (Afro-American Studies), Edwin Gentzler (Comparative Literature), Gilbert McCauley (Theater), Julian Olf (Theater), José Ornelas (Spanish and Portuguese).

The Certificate in Film Studies

The Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies offers a certificate to undergraduate students as a complement to their academic major. Any undergraduate formally enrolled at the university may apply to this program, which provides a coherent course of study in film and video as contemporary art forms. Film Studies offers between thirty and forty courses each semester that explore the dynamics of screen representation in topics including media and culture; race, nation, and ethnicity; gender and sexuality; film styles and genres; production and distribution; and technology and new media. Since the program began in 1991, Film Studies graduates have used the Certificate to compete successfully for admission to prestigious film schools and graduate programs; for positions in film and video production; for employment in film and video distribution and exhibition, in digital and new media; and as editors, producers, actors, and independent filmmakers.

The program offers practical experience through internships with public television and independent production companies, and other external opportunities for advanced work in theory, history, criticism and related aspects of studies in the moving image.


A student who wishes to obtain a certificate in film studies must apply to the program by making an introductory appointment with the Chief Undergraduate Adviser. The program requires a minimum of six approved courses (eighteen credits) in film and video, and from at least three different departments in order to ensure the interdepartmental and interdisciplinary nature of the certificate. These eighteen credits are drawn from five categories of courses, including:
1. An introductory course in film
2. Theory or history of film
3. Genre, auteur, national or global cinema
4. Upper-level seminars
5. Electives (courses in film or video production strongly encouraged)


Certificate students must maintain a GPA of 2.500 or higher in all approved film/video courses; no courses with a grade lower than C will count toward the Certificate; no courses taken Pass/Fail may be counted toward the minimum requirements. At least four courses (12 credits) must be taken at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Transfer credits from other institutions, including the Five Colleges, and course substitutions must be approved by the Chief Undergraduate Program Adviser. Some Continuing Education courses may also count toward the Certificate.

Note: Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in the program in their freshman or sophomore year. A short advising appointment is recommended each semester to ensure a coherent plan of study. In order to be awarded the Certificate, students must fulfill all criteria and submit a transcript to the Film Studies office or verification of grades in their final semester before graduation. Students who complete the 18-credit minimum before their final semester are encouraged to continue to avail themselves of the rich film study opportunities on campus and throughout the Five Colleges.

The Courses

A list of each semester’s film and video courses as well as archives of previous years’ offerings can be found on the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies website. Students should visit the Film Studies office for information about course categories.