Department of Modern Culture and Media

Application Information

Application to the MCM Ph.D. program and application for financial aid is through the Graduate School.

Application Deadline: December 15, 2023

Decisions regarding admission and financial aid are made by mid-March. Applicants must make enrollment decisions by mid-April.

Online Application

Note: Applications cannot be reactivated from one year to the next.

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Admission Criteria

The Graduate Admission Committee weighs a number of factors when considering candidates. The admission committee places great importance on a candidate's personal statement and writing sample. These pieces of writing must show, first of all, that the applicant would like to be a part of and is capable of succeeding in a graduate program whose goal is to train students to produce significant scholarly work in media studies and cultural theory.

We look for applicants who are asking provocative questions about the media and their relation to larger cultural and theoretical issues and who are interested in pursuing these questions in a rigorous intellectual environment. The personal statement and writing sample must also demonstrate that the candidate would fit in well with our program's strengths, and has the skills and abilities required for those who are to be trained in film, media and cultural studies. A candidate's undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate record is also very important in determining admission, as are test scores and letters of recommendation.

Students may be admitted directly from undergraduate programs. Any undergraduate major is acceptable if the applicant has a way of showing good potential in fields of interest to us. Naturally, most of our students have undergrad majors in areas like film, media, cultural studies and the like. We have admitted students with B.A.s in East Asian Studies, English, Art History, and Film and Media Studies.

Application Components

Applicants to the program should submit the application, 3 letters of recommendation, personal statement, writing sample, and transcripts. The TOEFL test is required for foreign applicants, except those who hold (or will receive) a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for applicants to the Graduate Program in Modern Culture and Media. 

The Personal Statement should give the committee a sense of your interests and the trajectory you have taken in life to bring you to the point of this application. Among questions you might address are: Why are you wanting to apply to our program now? What are you hoping to gain by studying with us? What topics or areas of research drive your interests? Why this programin particular? Personal Statements should be no more than 1000 words.

Writing Sample
We have no official requirement regarding the length of the writing sample but we recommend a sample between 3000 and 7000 words. We ask that you send us a piece of your writing so that we can determine from this material if you have the necessary skills to succeed as a graduate student in Modern Culture and Media. Such skills would include an ability to produce a challenging and focused argument or compelling inquiry into something you can show some investment in or toward. Most applicants submit the equivalent of a term paper or seminar paper. You may also submit a chapter or chapters from an Honors Thesis, or a chapter from an M.A. thesis, perhaps with a brief introduction explaining the nature of the thesis as a whole. But again, if it is too long it likely will not be read in full. We do recognize that some applicants may not have had the opportunity to produce work in such formats, and they sometimes submit two or three shorter papers

We prefer writing samples to be submitted with your online application. If for some reason you are unable to send a writing sample electronically, please mail a hard copy to the Brown Graduate School. All material must first be submitted to the Graduate School.

Supplemental Essay
The Graduate School is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive academic community and educating and training a distinguished and diverse cohort of students. Exposure to a broad range of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences is essential to fostering both breadth and depth in intellectual knowledge and is an educational benefit. At Brown, the term “diversity” is used in the broadest sense to encompass many dimensions of students’ backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. Brown welcomes applications to its graduate programs from all qualifi ed individuals, regardless of race, color, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, caste, disability, status as a veteran, language, socio-economic background, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political ideology, or theoretical approach.

In your application, you will be asked to upload a document responding to one of the following prompts (in 300 words or less):

  • Discuss specifi c examples of how your background, knowledge, and life experiences would infl uence your ability to both benefit from and contribute to Brown’s inclusive academic community;
  • Discuss how you aspire to contribute to our mission to promote diversity and inclusion through your research, teaching, or service.

All international applicants whose native language is not English must submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. Brown University requires this exam, except for those who hold (or will receive) a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English.

At Brown, TOEFL requirements are set by the Graduate School, not the individual department, and the Graduate School administers the collection of application materials. Therefore, any questions about waivers should be addressed to the Graduate School.

A non-refundable fee of $75 is charged for processing each application received by the Graduate School. This fee must be paid when the application is submitted. An application will not be processed unless the fee is paid.

Applicants who want to be evaluated by more than one graduate program must submit separate applications to each program for which they would like to be considered. The Graduate School is not responsible for errors made by applicants during the application process. There are no application fee refunds.

Application fee waivers are available under certain circumstances. Applicants to Brown's graduate programs who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and can demonstrate either financial need or participation in certain specialized programs listed on the fee waiver application may apply for an application fee waiver. Please note: application fee waivers are not available for international applicants. 

Contact for More Information

While we cannot interview prospective applicants or schedule individual visits, we do encourage and support visits once someone is admitted, so that the person can make an informed decision about whether to accept our offer.

You are free to meet with any faculty, including the Director of Graduate Studies, during their regular office hours. We do advise you to check with any faculty members before showing up, to be sure there will be no change in their schedules for that week.

You may also email the Director of Graduate Studies directly with questions:

Director of Graduate Studies