General Guidelines

General guidelines for graduate work in Film Studies:

Local Resources: A new student's first semester in Iowa City and at the University of Iowa is an ideal time to discover the various opportunities offered by this extremely rich intellectual and artistic community. These include not only courses in a wide spectrum of departments, but also academic lectures and discussions, campus art events, or off-campus opportunities.

Lectures and Special Events: The department regularly sponsors lectures and screenings by local and visiting scholars and filmmakers. These offer an exciting opportunity to find out what is going on in the field and provide important contributions to each student’s graduate education and professional development. Graduate students are thus expected to attend these special events as often as possible.

Listservs and Official Correspondence: All new graduate students automatically receive a University computer account and will have their names added to relevant listservs. In addition, students should rely on UI e-mail for all official UI and department correspondence.

Advising: All students have a personal advisor throughout their University of Iowa Film Studies education. An initial advisor will be appointed by the Head of Film Studies. With the agreement of the current advisor, students may change advisors or committee members at any point (using the form available on our website). Students are expected to meet with their advisor at least once each semester to ensure proper registration in graduate level coursework, including relevant course offerings in areas outside your program of study.

Course Offerings: Courses at several levels are offered each semester. Courses numbered 5000 and above are restricted to graduate students. Graduate credit is not given for courses numbered under 3000. Note that some courses open to graduate students are offered during the summer and other sessions, including courses in languages and literatures other than English and other areas of interest to graduate students.

Graduate Independent Study: Students may request to take an independent study for course credit with an appropriate faculty member when regular course offerings do not address a desired topic, or when a student wishes to pursue focused and guided study of a specific topic that regular coursework does not allow or facilitate. Since faculty members rarely agree to conduct independent study courses unless they are already familiar with a student's skills, work habits, and interests, students should request an independent study only when they have already worked successfully with a professor in at least one previous course. Independent studies are often restricted to one credit (for substantial reading, viewing, or research) or two credits (when, additionally, substantial written work is included) and are normally (though not always) graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. There are restrictions as to the number of credit hours of Independent Study allowed towards the degree.

After a student and faculty member have agreed to work together in independent study, an Independent Study Agreement form must be prepared. This should be done in the semester before the independent study will take place. This written agreement should provide justification for undertaking an independent study, a summary of the work to be performed, a semester schedule, and clarification of the basis for determining a final grade. Once approved, the student will register for the course and a copy of this signed document will then be placed in the student's academic file.

Incompletes: Grades of Incomplete are granted only in exceptional cases and only under the condition that a clear, signed contract between student and instructor be completed and deposited in the student's departmental file. The contract must stipulate the work to be completed, the length of the extension granted, and the sanctions for not meeting the new deadline. The due dates for making up incompletes may not exceed College limits, which require submission of work three and one-half weeks prior to the close of finals week of the next semester. Individual faculty often contract for shorter extensions only.

Grading Practices: Most University of Iowa courses are graded on an A-B-C-D-F scale; + and - grades are regularly used. Anything below a B is an inadequate grade for graduate work. A few courses are graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory; these S/U courses do not figure in the calculation of your grade point average, and thus should not take up too large a proportion of your overall curriculum.

Normal Progress: To hold a teaching assistantship or fellowship, a student must be making normal progress in their program of study. This includes completing the required coursework, maintaining the required cumulative GPA on graduate work taken at the University of Iowa, and performing assigned assistantship duties satisfactorily. Courses graded Incomplete are not counted. Failure to meet these requirements may result in non-renewal or cancellation of an assistantship or fellowship.

In the spring semester each year, faculty meet to review the progress of all graduate students. In preparation for this meeting, students are expected to contact their advisors to report on their academic progress and to announce significant achievements (publications, conferences, film and video productions, etc.) for the previous academic year.

Language Study: Given the program’s emphasis upon the study of film in an international context, foreign language acquisition is considered to be highly advantageous. Up to six hours of study in languages and literatures other than English (in courses numbered 3000 or above, as per Grad College regulations) may be counted toward the FS MA degree.