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“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

Communication and Culture students examine the social, political, and economic dimensions of such issues as globalization, deregulation, privacy and security, convergence of communication industries, cross-cultural communications, and new media. While the disciplines of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies provide a core set of tools for analysis and scholarship, the curriculum reflects a commitment to interdisciplinarity and innovation in graduate-level pedagogy. Our program allows master’s and doctoral students alike to engage in self-directed projects under the supervision of our research-intensive faculty members. Students are encouraged to pursue innovative, contemporary methods and analyses.

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 focus on the confluence of media and culture and their relationships within social systems.

Keywords include: visual culture, sexuality and gender, theory and philosophy, culture in the city, modernism, everyday culture, and more

Politics and Policy (P&P)

Research and seminars in this stream focus on 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.

Keywords include: globalization, the political economy of media, communications law, arts and cultural policy, media democracy, broadcast management, and more

Technology in Practice (TinP)

Research and seminars in this stream focus on the development, application, and influence of historical, current and emerging communication technologies in cultural production, both personal and organizational.

Keywords include: narrative film, the sociotechnical, digital technology, photographic vision, media production, activist video, media ethics, and more

"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


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.)


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.


  • 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


  • 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

The Program is a Joint Degree between York University and Toronto Metropolitan University

  • Students are formally registered at one of the two institutions – this is your “home school”.
  • Fees are paid to only one university. The tuition fees are the same.
  • Students have access to the academic resources of both universities.
  • The classes are scheduled at either university and composed of both TMU and York ComCult students and faculty.
  • Research supervisors can come from ComCult faculty at either university.
  • Scholarly and social activities take place at both universities
  • The Graduate Student Association is shared across the two universities
  • The degrees granted to students in the program are joint Toronto Metropolitan University/York University degrees.

The MA takes two years to complete. The PhD generally takes four years. In some circumstances students may require more time to complete their program requirements. In these circumstances, students must still meet all requirements within the maximum allowable time to completion:

  • Master’s program (full-time): three years
  • Master’s program (part-time): five years
  • Doctoral program: six years

Students admitted to graduate programs are required to maintain continuous enrolment, including payment of applicable fees, in every fall, winter, and spring/summer term of their program until all requirements of their program have been met, unless they have been granted a leave of absence or have withdrawn from the program.

Yes, but there are certain challenges that applicants need to be prepared for:

  1. maintaining motivation for 3-5 years to complete it; and
  2. the challenges of courses being held more frequently during day times, including twice a week over spring-summer terms, sometimes in the evening and never on weekends.

The part-time option is only recommended for students with VERY flexible employers who can fit the daytime classes into their schedules.

Prospective students interested in doing a part-time ComCult PhD will need to apply through York University.

No. All courses are taught Monday to Friday, in a classroom or lab setting, either during the day or in the evening.

Some courses are offered in the evenings, but most are offered in the day times.

Courses are generally scheduled in 3 hour blocks per class over a normal 12-week term in both the Fall and Winter terms. The Spring/Summer term is broken into two 6-week sessions, but the term (Spring/Summer) is considered one university term.

Master’s students may find a Field Placement during the 3rd or 4th term of the program, as part of their course credit in the program. Students find their own placement based on their research or career interests. The field placement is supervised and graded by a faculty member.

No. To enroll in Communication and Culture courses at TMU you must be:

  • formally registered in the ComCult program at TMU or York, or
  • an Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (OVGS) (with permission), or
  • a visiting scholar on a Letter of Permission, or
  • a graduate student at TMU (with permission)