Program goal

VCU’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in media, art, and text is a joint endeavor of the Department of English, the School of the Arts and the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. The program prepares students primarily to teach at the college or university level, although some pursue careers in related media fields. MATX emphasizes the historical and theoretical foundations essential to the scholarly study of media, both old and new, broadly defined. It provides an intellectually stimulating environment that encourages students to work both collaboratively and independently, as well as across and between disciplines and media. Students maintain a base in their primary area of research, which is usually but not always the field in which they have done prior graduate work.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Develop advanced communication skills in writing, speaking and the use of multimedia
  2. Demonstrate broad knowledge of history and theory as the foundation for interdisciplinary work in a specialized facet of media, art, and/or text
  3. Develop competence in interdisciplinary and disciplinary research methods and responsible conduct of research
  4. Develop specialized knowledge in relevant fields to support dissertation and subsequent research
  5. Demonstrate the ability to conduct independent research and produce new, specialized knowledge within the broad parameters of media, art, and text
  6. Develop a strong basis for ongoing professional practice

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

The MATX student handbook is available online.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
Ph.D.FallJan 2

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission.

  1. Applicants must hold a master's degree (M.A., M.F.A., M.S.) in a relevant field.
  2. Applicants must submit the following, in the formats indicated via VCU's online application portal..
    1. Writing sample demonstrating the ability to write clearly, analyze effectively and conduct original research in advanced doctoral-level seminars – This may be a master’s thesis, a graduate-level seminar paper or a published essay. Submit as a PDF.
    2. Statement of purpose describing the applicant’s interest, motivation and goals in pursuing this degree – The statement should specifically address the importance of interdisciplinarity to the applicant’s academic goals, and it should also offer evidence of preparation for the study of media, art, and text. The applicant should indicate the specific area of study and research to be pursued at VCU and identify faculty who might potentially direct dissertation research. Submit as a PDF.
    3. Academic curriculum vitae or professional resume – List all colleges and universities attended and degrees earned, all professional and academic positions held, all publications and/or exhibitions, technical skills, and any other relevant information. Include URLs for personal and/or professional websites. Submit as PDF.
    4. Letters of recommendation – Provide letters from three present or former instructors or other individuals qualified to evaluate the applicant’s ability to engage in interdisciplinary study at the doctoral level. Have recommenders submit their letters via the online application portal.
  3. Applicants who wish to pursue creative work at VCU must also submit a portfolio. Those with an M.F.A. who do not wish to continue creative work should consult with the MATX director about this requirement. Materials submitted should demonstrate excellence in studio or professional practice and the potential to do graduate-level work in media, art, and text. Portfolios will be reviewed by the MATX admissions committee as well as relevant faculty in the School of the Arts and the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. Please observe the following guidelines:
    1. Those working in 2-D or 3-D mediums should provide 20 images of representative work arranged chronologically, beginning with the most recent.
    2. Those working in sound and time-based media, as well as those in the performing arts, should provide clips totaling no more than 10 minutes.
    3. Those working across media may submit a combination of the above.
    4. The portfolio should include title, date, media and dimensions of each work, as well as a brief statement or other information that will help the admissions committee in its evaluation.

      Small files illustrating 2-D or 3-D work should be submitted in a single PDF. Sound or video files should be posted to Vimeo or Sound Cloud with a functioning link submitted in a PDF with the required information posted to the portal. Portfolio materials may also be posted to a personal or professional website and the link submitted in a PDF posted to the portal.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses and to conduct significant research.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students in the MATX program are required to earn a minimum of 42 graduate-level credit hours beyond the master’s. At least one-half of the credit hours presented for graduation must be at the 600 level or higher. The 42-hour curriculum comprises 36 hours of course work and a minimum of six hours of dissertation research. Course work includes a core of four required courses taken during the first two semesters by all incoming students. Three doctoral seminars provide a shared historical and theoretical foundation for the study of media, art, and text, while a workshop offers the opportunity to develop and expand professional and/or creative skills relevant to the student’s career goals and research focus. In addition, all students will take a research methods course in a field relevant to their anticipated area of dissertation research. Beyond the core, students select 21 hours of elective credit hours from course offerings in disciplines relevant to their research interests and career goals. The program offers a topics seminar focused on the history, theory or practice of media, art, and text. Independent study and internships are also available as electives. While enrollment in courses with the MATX prefix is guaranteed to matriculated MATX students, enrollment in other graduate courses is subject to the conditions established by individual units. Together the core and the electives support the interdisciplinary work of the dissertation, which is an original scholarly examination of some aspect of media, art, and/or text. It may include work in media other than text. It is supervised by a committee consisting of four or five members drawn from disciplines relevant to the research topic.
  2. Grade requirements: To graduate, degree applicants must achieve an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale with a grade of C in no more than two courses. The GPA for graduation will be based on all graduate courses attempted after acceptance into the program.
  3. Requirements for admission to candidacy: Before beginning formal dissertation research, students must complete all 36 hours of required course work, both stages of the e-portfolio and the requirements described below. Upon completion of these, the student will apply for degree candidacy.
  4. Dissertation committee: The dissertation committee consists of the director (who must hold a Ph.D.) and three or four additional members whose scholarly knowledge and interests are relevant to the project. The committee must have members from at least two of the sponsoring units (Department of English, School of the Arts, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture). At least three members of the committee, including the chair, must be full members of the graduate faculty. The committee may also include faculty from other relevant programs and departments in the College of Humanities and Sciences, including but not limited to African American Studies, History, Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and Sociology, as well as the Science, Technology and Society Program. Appropriate faculty from outside VCU may serve on committees (but not as director) with the approval of the MATX director and the graduate dean. It is the student’s responsibility to assemble the committee, in consultation with the dissertation director. Committees will not be appointed by the program.
  5. E-portfolio: Work on the e-portfolio will begin in MATX 604 in the spring of the first year. There are no technical specifications, and content will include, but is not limited to, work done in the first two years in the program. It will take the form of a website and must demonstrate the technical skills (Web design, audio, video, etc.) relevant to the student’s work on the dissertation and the career sought after VCU. Submission is a two-stage process:
    1. Stage 1 (August of the second year): a three- to five-page design rationale for the portfolio site along with a mock-up or rough structure
    2. Stage 2 (April of the second year): a finished, live site accompanied by a five-page statement relating it to the student’s work inside and outside the program and outlining how it uses media techniques to promote a specific professional and/or creative identity (Note: Each submission is graded pass/fail and may be repeated once. A second failure results in automatic termination from the program.)
  6. Competency: Candidates must demonstrate competency in a skill or technique relevant to the dissertation research or planned professional career. The dissertation committee approves and administers the competency portion. Graded pass/fail, the test may be repeated once.
  7. Bibliography exam: Candidates will complete an exam on a reading list of 20 to 30 sources relevant to or supportive of the dissertation topic. The dissertation committee approves and administers the bibliography exam. Graded pass/fail, the test may be repeated once.
  8. Dissertation prospectus and prospectus defense: The prospectus is a 15- to 20-page document that indicates the significance of the proposed research, gives a short review of relevant literature, states the research question, specifies the proposed methodology and indicates how the project lays the foundation for the anticipated academic or professional career. It also includes a work plan for the completion of research and writing, as well as a complete bibliography. The prospectus is defended orally before the dissertation committee, which may accept, reject or require revisions. The defense may be repeated once.
  9. Dissertation and dissertation defense: The dissertation is an original, interdisciplinary and scholarly examination of a topic relevant to an aspect of media, art, and/or text. It may include work in media other than text. Given the varied nature of doctoral research, there is no set time frame for completion of a dissertation. It is expected, however, that the dissertation will take about two years after attaining candidacy, but it must be defended within the eight-year time limit for completion of the doctoral degree. The dissertation will be defended orally before the dissertation committee. Successful defense of the dissertation completes the requirements for the degree.

Curriculum requirements

MATX 601Texts and Textuality3
MATX 602History of Media, Art, and Text3
MATX 603Mass Media3
MATX 604Interdisciplinary Workshop3
MATX 897Dissertation Project6
Select one methods course from List 1 below after consultation with the dissertation committee chair or the MATX director.3
Select elective courses from List 2 below 121
Total Hours42

Elective courses other than those listed may be taken with approval of the MATX program director and the offering department.

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 42.

List 1: Methods courses

ARTH 690Historiography and Methodology of Art History3
ENGL 605Introduction to Scholarship in English Studies3
GSWS 602Feminist Research Epistemology and Methods3
MASC 611Communication Research3

List 2: Recommended electives

ARTH 591Special Topics in Art History1-6
ARTH 690Historiography and Methodology of Art History3
ARTH 722Seminar in 19th-century Art3
ARTH 723Seminar in 20th-century Art3
ARTH 741Seminar in Art and Theory3
ARTH 742Seminar in Trans-millennial Art and Ideas3
ARTH 743Seminar in Art and Representation3
ARTH 791Special Topics in Art History3
ENGL 560Studies in British Literature and Culture3
ENGL 570Special Topics in American Literature and Culture3
ENGL 605Introduction to Scholarship in English Studies3
ENGL 611Authors3
ENGL 614Cultural Discourses3
ENGL 620Intertextuality3
ENGL 624Texts and Contexts3
ENGL 627Genres3
ENGL 629Form and Theory of Poetry3
ENGL 630Form and Theory of Fiction3
ENGL 631Form and Theory of Creative Nonfiction3
ENGL 661Themes in Interdisciplinary Studies3
GSWS 501Feminist Theory3
GSWS 602Feminist Research Epistemology and Methods3
GSWS 620Theorizing Sexuality3
GSWS 624Gender and Cultural Production3
GSWS 691Topics in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies1-3
KINE 591Topics in Contemporary Media3
KINE 690Graduate Seminar4
KINE 695Advanced Sound3
MASC 611Communication Research3
MASC 645Digital Production3
MASC 684Multimedia Storytelling3
MASC 688Converged Media Applications3
MASC 691Topics in Mass Communications1-3
MATX 690Seminar in Media, Art, and Text3
MATX 696Internship1-3
MATX 791Directed Study (may be taken for a maximum of 12 credit hours)1-3

Graduate program director
Oliver C. Speck, Ph.D.
Associate professor, School of World Studies, and graduate program director
(804) 828-0127

Additional contact
Thom Didato
Graduate programs adviser, Department of English
(804) 828-1329

Program website: