Awarding of the M.A. Degree

All graduate students, whether arriving with a B.A. or an M.A., have been admitted as doctoral students; the faculty expects that all students entering the program plan to complete the Ph.D. at UC Irvine. However, the program does award an M.A. en route to the Ph.D. for those students admitted initially with a B.A. only.


Quarter of MA Advancement: Paperwork due to VS staff by end of week 6 of Winter quarter.
Quarter of MA Conferral: MA paper due to VS staff by Friday of week 1.

Final Deadlines:

Submission and approval of the M.A. paper is a prerequisite for enrolling in VS 298 Preliminary Exam readings. Normally, the M.A. paper submission and approval process should have been completed by Spring quarter of the second year for students entering the Ph.D. Visual Studies Program without an M.A.

* NOTE: The "Advancement to Candidacy/Final Report for the Masters Degree" paperwork needs to be completed and turned in to VS Staff by the end of week 6 of the quarter PRIOR to the quarter the student wishes their Master's to be conferred.

Guidelines for fulfilling the M.A. requirements
  • By the end their first year, all students entering without an M.A., in consultation with their advisor, should select one of their completed research papers that they would like to refine and expand for their MA paper.
  • The student must have completed the required Visual Studies courses (with the exception of 297), and any number of electives. Additionally, the language requirement must be fulfilled in order to be granted an M.A. degree.
  • The student will enroll in 4 units of VS 296, Directed Reading during the fall quarter of their second year for the purpose of revising the essay under the supervision of a faculty advisor.
  • The VS Director will ask each student to name their advising faculty member. In addition to this advisor, the VS Director will assign two faculty readers to each student, taking into account both requests from the students and the need to balance workload across the Visual Studies faculty.
  • Final essays will be due to the VS staff person by Friday of the first week of winter quarter. Papers will then be distributed to the student's advisor and assigned additional readers.
  • Each advisor and reader will write up an evaluation of the essay, which will be placed in the student's file, and which must be made available to the student within three weeks of the essay's submission to the program.
  • The three involved faculty will discuss each essay and its evaluations, as well as assess the overall academic performance of each student petitioning for an M.A. degree.
  • The committee will assess whether or not the student has satisfied all requirements for the M.A.
  • Those students who have satisfied the M.A. requirements, but whose committees assess their work as not meeting the standards for Ph.D. study, will receive a terminal M.A. degree.
  • The M.A. paper must be accepted by the faculty committee prior to enrolling in Preliminary Exam Readings (staring spring of the second year).
Guidelines for filling out the form
  • Complete the form the quarter PRIOR to the quarter you wish your M.A. to be conferred.
  • List your required VS classes in the first column. List any other elective courses in the second column.
  • Check the "non-thesis" option.
  • Gather signature of primary advisor.
  • Submit to VS staff person by end of week 6 of the quarter.
  • VS Staff will be responsible for gathering the VS Director's signature as well as filling out the rest of the form and submitting it to Graduate Division. The form returns to Graduate Division after you have satisfied the language requirement and the M.A. paper has been approved.
  • You will receive a formal letter notifying you when you have first advanced to candidacy for the M.A., and then again when the degree is conferred.
Guidelines for writing the MA Paper
  • The MA paper must present a substantial and original argument that contributes to the study of visual culture.
  • It must demonstrate a command of the relevant literature;
  • It must present adequate evidence to support its claims;
  • It must be clearly written in an appropriate academic style;
  • It must be formatted according to MLA or Chicago Manual of Style guidelines;
  • It must be between 6,000 and 10,000 words including notes, and excluding bibliography.