VCU Bulletins

Media, Art, and Text, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Garberson, Dr. Eric G.
Director, MATX Ph.D. Program
(804) 828-7295

Didato, Thom
Graduate Programs Adviser
(804) 828-1329

Admission requirements summary

Media, Art, and Text, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

of entry:

Fall only

Jan 15

Special requirements:
Additional materials to be submitted directly to Thom Didato. For specific instructions please see

VCU’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in media, art, and text is a joint endeavor of the Department of English, the School of the Arts and the School of Mass Communications. The program emphasizes the historical and theoretical foundations essential to the scholarly study of media, both old and new, broadly defined. It provides an intellectually stimulating environment that encourages students to work both collaboratively and independently, as well as across and between disciplines and media. Students maintain a base in their primary area of research, which is usually but not always the field in which they have done prior graduate work.

Student learning outcomes


The 42-hour curriculum comprises 36 hours of course work and a minimum of six hours of dissertation research. Course work includes a core of four required courses taken during the first two semesters by all incoming students. Three doctoral seminars provide a shared historical and theoretical foundation for the study of media, art, and text, while a workshop offers the opportunity to develop and expand professional and/or creative skills relevant to the student’s career goals and research focus. In addition, all students will take a research methods course in a field relevant to their anticipated area of dissertation research.

Beyond the core, students select 21 hours of elective credits from course offerings in disciplines relevant to their research interests and career goals. The program offers a topics seminar focused on the history, theory or practice of media, art, and text. Independent study and internships are also available as electives. While enrollment in courses with the MATX prefix is guaranteed to matriculated MATX students, enrollment in other graduate courses is subject to the conditions established by individual units.

Together the core and the electives support the interdisciplinary work of the dissertation, which is an original scholarly examination of some aspect of media, art, and/or text. It may include work in media other than text. It is supervised by a committee consisting of four or five members drawn from disciplines relevant to the research topic.

Core courses (12 credits)
    MATX 601 Texts and Textuality
    MATX 602 History of Media, Art, and Text
    MATX 603 History of Interdisciplinarity and Multimedia
    MATX 604 Workshop
Methods course (3 credits)
Electives (21 credits)
Dissertation (6 credits minimum)

Degree requirements

Credit requirements

Students are required to complete 36 credit hours in core and elective courses and a minimum of six credit hours of dissertation research. Core courses are offered through the MATX program. Additional elective courses are drawn from seminars offered through MATX and approved courses in participating units.

Grade requirements

To graduate, degree applicants must achieve an overall grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale with a grade of C in no more than two courses. The GPA for graduation will be based on all graduate courses attempted after acceptance into the program.

Requirements for admission to candidacy

Before beginning formal dissertation research, students must complete all 36 hours of required course work, both stages of the e-portfolio and the requirements described below. Upon completion of these, the student will apply for degree candidacy.

Dissertation committee

The dissertation committee consists of the director (who must hold a Ph.D.) and three or four additional members whose scholarly knowledge and interests are relevant to the project. The committee must have at least one member from each of the sponsoring units (Department of English, School of the Arts, School of Mass Communications). All must be members of VCU’s graduate faculty. Appropriate faculty from outside VCU may serve on committees (but not as director) with the approval of the MATX director and the graduate dean. It is the student’s responsibility to assemble the committee, in consultation with the dissertation director. Committees will not be appointed by the program.


Work on the e-portfolio will begin in MATX 604 in the spring of the first year. There are no technical specifications, and content will include, but is not limited to, work done in the first two years in the program. It will take the form of a website and must demonstrate the technical skills (Web design, audio, video, etc.) relevant to the student’s work on the dissertation and the career sought after VCU.

Submission is a two-stage process:

Each submission is graded pass/fail and may be repeated once. A second failure results in automatic termination from the program.


Candidates must demonstrate competency in a skill or technique relevant to the dissertation research or planned professional career. The dissertation committee approves and administers the competency portion. Graded pass/fail, the test may be repeated once.

Bibliography exam

On a reading list of 20 to 30 sources relevant to or supportive of the dissertation topic. The dissertation committee approves and administers the bibliography exam. Graded pass/fail, the test may be repeated once.

Dissertation prospectus and prospectus defense

The prospectus is a 15- to 20-page document that indicates the significance of the proposed research, gives a short review of relevant literature, states the research question, specifies the proposed methodology and indicates how the project lays the foundation for the anticipated academic or professional career. It also includes a work plan for the completion of research and writing, as well as a complete bibliography. The prospectus is defended orally before the dissertation committee, which may accept, reject or require revisions. The defense may be repeated once.

Dissertation and dissertation defense

The dissertation is an original, interdisciplinary and scholarly examination of a topic relevant to an aspect of media, art, and/or text. It may include work in media other than text. Given the varied nature of doctoral research, there is no set time frame for completion of a dissertation. It is expected, however, that the dissertation will be completed about two years after attaining candidacy. The dissertation will be defended orally before the dissertation committee. Successful defense of the dissertation completes the requirements for the degree.



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Last update: 9/10/2013

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