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Critical Media Practice

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Questions about these requirements? See the contact info at the bottom of the page. 

The Critical Media Practice (CMP) secondary field is for students who wish to integrate media creation into their academic work. CMP reflects changing patterns of knowledge dissemination, especially innovative research that is often conducted or presented using media practices in which written language may only play a part. Visual, aural, tactile, interactive, material, and performative media have relationships to the world that are distinct from exclusively verbal sign systems and are able to reveal different dimensions of understanding. They are inherently interdisciplinary and frequently engage a broader audience than the academy alone. 

Students interested in creating original interpretive projects in still or moving images, sound, installation, internet applications, or other media in conjunction with their written scholarship may apply to pursue the CMP secondary field. It connects students with courses, workshops, and advising on various forms of artistic production. Critical Media Practice is overseen by the Film Study Center


Applications for admission to the Critical Media Practice secondary field may be submitted to the CMP Program Coordinator twice a year on November 1 and April 1 or the first weekday following each deadline. Students must have successfully completed at least one core CMP course before applying, have lined up an initial CMP advisor, and submit a link to a media project they created. Students’ departmental advisors must also agree to and sign the application. 

Admission to CMP is based on demonstrated ability in media practice; engagement with artistic methods and processes; and appropriateness of media-based approaches for the students’ research interests. Students will be notified of admission before the end of the semester in which they apply. 

Course Requirements

Students must receive grades of B+ or above in four courses related to Critical Media Practice. At least three of these classes must be drawn from the Core list of CMP courses or from the Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies studio, photo, or film/video production course list. The fourth class may be an outside Elective, but only if the student gets the instructor’s written approval to submit an original work of media in partial satisfaction of the course requirements. 

Capstone Project

CMP students produce a capstone media project that complements their doctoral dissertation. It may consist of a film or video, a sound work, a series of photographs, an internet project; or a series of objects, an installation, or a performance in which media play a key role. The capstone may grow out of a class project but must be approved by CMP as having made substantial progress beyond the form it took in the class. Alternatively, the capstone can be an entirely original project independent of coursework but connected to the student’s dissertation. 

Students are required to submit a CMP capstone proposal, signed by their CMP Faculty Advisor and their Departmental Advisor, to the CMP Program Coordinator at least three semesters prior to graduation. 

Students select a faculty committee of two to evaluate their capstone projects: one member drawn from the list of CMP Affiliated Faculty and one from the student’s dissertation committee in their home department. Capstone defenses ideally occur at least a semester before graduation. Students are required to present their capstone work-in-progress at the CMP critique twice a year starting in the Spring semester of their G3 year. 

Students are encouraged to exhibit their CMP works on and off campus. 


Each semester in which students complete a class they must update their CMP academic progress form, which will be assigned to them when they are accepted into the program. At the end of their studies, students must submit the PhD Secondary Field Application to both the registrar’s office and the CMP Program Coordinator and an archival copy of their capstone project (including 2-3 high-resolution stills). Once the CMP Director of Graduate Studies approves this documentation, CMP will notify the registrar of the student’s successful completion of CMP secondary field requirements. 

Equipment and Technical Support

While media production courses at Harvard are generally supported by other equipment pools, CMP has a limited amount of equipment available for CMP work created outside of courses, including capstone projects. This includes digital still and video cameras, 16mm film cameras, microphones, and sound recorders; basic equipment for video installation work; and edit stations for post-production in 16mm film, digital video, audio, and hypermedia. All equipment is managed by the Film Study Center and shared among its fellows and CMP students. 

CMP also offers technical support through individual demonstrations and occasional workshops.

Contact Info

Film Study Center (emailweb; phone: 617-495-9704)
Harvard University
24 Quincy St.
Cambridge MA 02138 

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