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Programs

“This program has enabled me to tap into a unique community of passionate scholars and creative thinkers who have sharpened my research and artistic practice.”

Dave Colangelo, PhD graduate

Students in the Communication and Culture program delve into the multifaceted dimensions of contemporary society, analyzing crucial issues such as globalization, deregulation, privacy, security, convergence of communication industries, cross-cultural communications, and the advent of new media. Grounded in both Communication Studies and Cultural Studies, the curriculum is designed to equip students with a foundational toolkit for analysis and scholarly exploration.

Our approach extends beyond traditional boundaries, embodying a strong commitment to interdisciplinarity and pedagogical innovation at the graduate level.

Our program offers master's and doctoral students the opportunity to pursue self-directed projects, guided by our research-intensive faculty members. We actively encourage students to explore innovative, contemporary methodologies and analytical approaches in their research endeavors.

Master of Arts (MA)

The objectives of the MA program include:

  • Designing and conducting research that sheds new light on issues and problems in theory, empirical studies, and professional practices.
  • Reporting research in variety of conventional and non-traditional research and creative methods.
  • Participating in course-based seminar discussions with faculty, to delve into the implications of current and emerging themes of interest.
  • An option of undertaking field placements (with public, private or community organizations) that provide the experiential-learning opportunities commensurate with the standards of a graduate course.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The objectives of the PhD program include:

  • Providing experience and training in advanced research, and developing critical and analytical skills.
  • Preparing candidates for a career in teaching, or research in cultural industries or nonprofit organizations.
  • Providing a broad knowledge of the fields of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies with an emphasis on two of the program’s three fields (Media and Culture, Policy and Practice and Technology in Practice).
  • Facilitating the acquisition of autonomy in conducting research, through the dissertation as well as such avenues as conference papers, scholarly publications, policy consulting, and creative exhibitions.
Program Components Expected Duration Maximum time to completion
MA Coursework and Independent Research Project (Thesis, Major Research Paper, or Project-Paper) 2 Years
3 Years
MA (part-time) Coursework and Independent Research Project (Thesis, Major Research Paper, or Project-Paper) 4 Years 5 Years
PhD Coursework, PhD Qualifying Examinations ("Comps"), and Dissertation 4 Years 6 Years

Thinking across boundaries: ComCult Areas of Study

MA and PhD students pursue their coursework and research by majoring and minoring in two of the three research streams or Areas of Study. While there is some interdisciplinary overlap between and among these three streams, the streams are meant to help you identify key research interests, make relevant selections of coursework, and identify key faculty supervisors.

Stream Description and Keywords
Media and Culture (M&C)

Research and seminars in this stream explore the intersection of media and culture within societal frameworks. Courses include environmental communication, material culture, cinematic representations of space, performing arts' impact on local communities, posthumanism, philosophical underpinnings of culture, modernist cultural salons, and cultural perspectives on sexuality, gender, and non-human animals.

Themes: Visual Culture, Sexuality and Gender, Material Culture, Cinema and Space, Performing Arts, Posthumanism, Modernism, Environmental Communication, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, Critical Perspectives, Postcoloniality, Sound Studies, Marxism, Popular Culture, Asian Studies, Cultural Identities, Digital Media, Contemporary Cultural Issues, Everyday Culture, Postcolonialism, Cyberculture.

Politics and Policy (P&P)

Research and seminars in this stream delve into the critical role of the state and civil society in the development of communication systems, the production and distribution of culture, and issues of societal power. The courses in this stream provide a multidimensional understanding of the interactions between politics, policy, media, culture, and society.

Themes: Globalization, Political economy of media, Communications law, Arts and cultural policy, Media democracy, Broadcast and digital management, Armed conflict and peace, Media activism, Content producers, Aesthetics, Continental philosophers, Political arrangements, Intellectual property rights, New social movements, Telecommunications industries, Information technology, Cultural products, Cultural policy, Social policy.

Technology in Practice (TinP)

Research and seminars in this specialization delve into the development, application, and impact of historical, current, and emerging communication technologies in cultural production at both personal and organizational levels. The courses explore various theoretical frameworks and critical perspectives to comprehend the multifaceted nature of technology and its intersections with culture.

Themes: Philosophy of Technology, Visual Culture and Representation, Sociotechnical Perspectives, Digital Learning and Gamification, Body and Identity in Technology, Cinematic Technologies and Innovations, Media History and Evolution, Contemporary Communication Technologies, Language and Narrative Evolution, Social and Cultural Implications of New Media, Media Production and Activism, Artistic Expression and Critical Theory, Ethics in Media and Journalism, Representation of Race and Gender in Digital Technology, Design, Technology, and Social Communication.

"Going through the Communication and Culture program has equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to think critically."

Emma Colucci MA Graduate

ComCult is for students from diverse humanities, social sciences, and arts backgrounds. Our student cohorts have included BAs and BFAs, mature students working as industry professionals or entrepreneurs, and more. Students are able to build on their academic or professional backgrounds in cultural and communication theories - Marx, Fanon, Foucault, McLuhan, Gramsci, Adorno, Habermas.... on topics such as the meaning of culture, subjectivity and identity, constructionism, commodification, the culture industry, hegemony, public sphere, modernity and postmodernity, colonial and post-colonial theories, citizenship and civil societies, and rhetorical, semiotic, phenomenological, cybernetic, sociocultural, and critical traditions.

Following their coursework, students will be required to complete a independent research component that incorporates their acquired theoretical knowledge, skill and expertise. Students have the option to complete:

Final Project

Description

Arts-based Project and Paper

A research-creation MA Project, which blends creative work with a scholarly reflective analysis. MA Projects have included research-creation work in design, creative writing, visual arts, performing arts, film, performance art, media and electronic arts, and a range of other creative forms that complement a scholarly research essay. The paper (approximately 30 pages) must be a contextualization of your project, reviewing the objectives, relationship to your academic program, contribution to theory or professional practice, and relationship to the relevant literature. It must also set out in detail how the project was made, what was learned, and, if appropriate, how it has been received.  To pass the project-paper requirement, your examination committee must pass both the written paper and your performance in an oral examination. (Read more.)

Major Research Paper

The Major Research Paper (normally 40 to 60 pages) should be a sustained exploration of a theoretical or empirical question. The paper may take the form of a critical review of the literature in a field, an exploration or synthesis of various points of view in a subject area, or a pilot study for a larger project. Alternatively, the Major Research Paper may be a research project that is narrower in scope, less sophisticated in methodology, or less complete in data gathering than would be required for a thesis.  The standard of evaluation is that of an article in a refereed academic journal.  (Read more.)

Thesis

A thesis (normally 100 to 120 pages) embodies the results of your original research and exposes your work to scholarly criticism. To pass the thesis requirement, your examination committee must pass both the written thesis and your performance in an oral examination. (Read more.)

Experiential Learning: Combining theory and practice

There are numerous experiential learning opportunities available to ComCult students. Generally, these take the form of:

Field placements or internships

Past students have worked with broadcasters (public and private), non-profit organizations, media start-ups, artist-run centres, film festivals, and more. (Also see a partial list of recent field placements.)

Research opportunities

There are a number of funded assistantships available across TMU for ComCult students. While these aren’t a guarantee of funding, past TMU ComCult students have been successful in securing positions with researchers from the Faculty of Arts, The Creative School, and the Ted Rogers School of Management, particularly (but not exclusively) with the Infoscape Research Lab, the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (MLC), the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), and more.

Teaching assistantship opportunities

ComCult students may also apply for Teaching and Graduate Assistantships (TAs and GAs) with schools and faculties across the TMU campus. Again, while these are not a guarantee of funding, they afford students rich experience as markers and tutorial assistants in diverse academic settings.

Program milestones

  1. Completing your coursework
  2. Participating in an optional field placement
  3. Establishing your supervisory committee
  4. Preparing a final project proposal (thesis, project-paper, or major research paper)
  5. Completing your final project, writing the paper, and, for a thesis or project-paper, defending the work.

Coursework

  • CC8906 Communication and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • CC8902 Research Methodologies
  • CC8905 MA Research Specialization and Practice
  • Five credits from Group I, II or III
    • at least one from each group
  • Final Project, select one from the following
    • Major Research Paper PLUS one additional credit from Group I, II or III, or
    • Master's Thesis, or
    • Master's Project & Paper

MA full-time pathway

Fall - Year 1 Winter - Year 1 Spring/Summer - Year 1
  • CC8906
  • Elective 1
  • Elective 2
  • CC8902
  • Elective 3
  • Elective 4
  • CC8905
  • Elective 5
  • Elective 6 (MRP students only)
Fall - Year 2 Winter - Year 2 Spring/Summer - Year 2
  • Proposal and Research Ethics approval (if applicable)
  • Work on final project
  • Work on final project
  • Thesis defence (Thesis and Project-Paper only)

In my dissertation I examined the individual, interpersonal, and social scales of home, and these also make up the global scale. More broadly, the coursework, comprehensive exam preparations, and my doctoral research at ComCult gave me the opportunity to explore the idea of scholarship. I discovered the freedom to look across disciplinary boundaries as well as beyond a canon, beyond expected creative works and theoretical approaches.

Aleksandra Bida, PhD Graduate

The four-year PhD Program is research-oriented and is designed to provide advanced training for candidates intending to pursue careers in policy, research, and post-secondary teaching.  

Our doctoral program offers specialization in three Areas of Study: Media and Culture, Politics and Policy, and Technology in Practice.

PhD candidates must complete six one-term courses, including the PhD Required Courses as well as elective courses in a major and minor field. Students who do not have adequate background in Communication and Culture Studies may be required to take the MA level course: CC8906: An Interdisciplinary Approach, in addition to the other doctoral courses. Upon completion of the courses, candidates must pass a Comprehensive Examination and present an acceptable Dissertation Proposal.

Program milestones

  1. Completing your coursework
  2. Establishing your supervisory committee
  3. Passing your PhD Qualifying Examinations - also known as "Comps" (written and oral examination)
  4. Preparing and defending your dissertation proposal
  5. Completing the research and writing
  6. Defending the work

Coursework

  • CC9904 Perspectives in Communication and Culture
  • CC9900 Advanced Research Methodologies
  • CC9906 PhD Field Seminar: Disciplinary Practice
  • Three credits from Groups I, II, or III
  • PhD Qualifying Examinations
  • Dissertation

PhD Pathway

Year 1 - coursework Year 2 - comps Year 3 - dissertation Year 4 - dissertation
  • CC9904 Perspectives in Communication and Culture
  • CC9900 Advanced Research Methodologies
  • CC9906 PhD Field Seminar: Disciplinary Practice
  • Elective 1
  • Elective 2
  • Elective 3
  • PhD Qualifying Examinations
    (aka Comps)
    • by end of August Year 2
  • Fall - Proposal and Research Ethics approval (if applicable)
  • Begin work on Dissertation
  • Work on Dissertation
  • Dissertation Defence


 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Joint Degree Program?
The Joint Degree Program is a collaborative effort between York University and Toronto Metropolitan University, offering students the opportunity to pursue a degree that involves formal registration at one of the two institutions, known as the "home school."

What does "home school" mean?
The "home school" is the institution where students are formally registered and from where they receive their degree upon completion of the program.

How are fees handled in the Joint Degree Program?
Students pay tuition fees to their designated home school, and the tuition fees are the same for both universities.

How are classes and resources shared between the two universities?
Students have access to academic resources and classes at both universities. Classes are scheduled at either university and are composed of both TMU and York ComCult students and faculty.

Can I have research supervisors from either university?
Yes, research supervisors can come from ComCult faculty at either Toronto Metropolitan University or York University.

How long does it take to complete the program?
The Master's program typically takes two years, while the Ph.D. generally takes four to five years to complete. However, some students may require additional time to fulfill program requirements.

What is the time limit for program completion?
For Master's programs, full-time students have a maximum of three years, and part-time students have up to five years. Doctoral programs have a maximum completion time of six years.

What is 'continuous registration'?
Continuous registration mandates that students remain enrolled, including payment of fees, during each term (fall, winter, and spring/summer) until all program requirements are met, unless a leave of absence is granted or the student withdraws from the program.

Can I pursue the Master's program on a part-time basis?
Yes, part-time study is possible. However, applicants should be prepared for challenges such as maintaining motivation over 3-5 years and dealing with course scheduling that may interfere with work schedules.

Is the doctoral program available on a part-time basis?
Prospective students interested in pursuing a part-time ComCult PhD should apply through York University.

Can I register for graduate courses before formal admission to the program?
No, enrollment in Communication and Culture courses at TMU requires formal registration in the ComCult program at TMU or York, or specific permissions granted for visiting students.

Are courses available online or during weekends?
No, all courses are conducted in a classroom or lab setting from Monday to Friday. Some courses may be scheduled in the evenings, but the majority are during the day.

How are courses scheduled during the terms?
Courses are typically scheduled in 3-hour blocks per class over a 12-week term in both the Fall and Winter terms. The Spring/Summer term is divided into two 6-week sessions.

Are placements or internships offered in the program?
Master’s students may undertake a Field Placement during the 3rd or 4th term as part of their course credit. They are responsible for finding placements aligned with their research or career interests.