Frequently Asked Questions About Admissions

General questions
Questions specific to: MA Program | PhD Program | MFA Film & Media Production Program | MFA Screenwriting Program

 

General UT Questions on How to Apply

Find information from the UT Graduate School about application fees, transcripts, test scores, etc.: https://gradschool.utexas.edu/how-to-apply


Admissions Timeline

Q: What is the timeline for admissions?
A: The admission application for Fall 2022 will open on September 1, 2021, and the application deadline is December 1, 2021. The admissions committee reviews applications after the December 1st deadline closes, and we send admission notifications around February 15th. Between December 2nd and February 15th, we will not be able to offer updates regarding the status of applications. We appreciate your patience as we complete the review process.

 


 

Contacts for Questions Regarding Your Application

Department/program-related questions can be directed to: rtfgradprospectivestudent@austin.utexas.edu. Note: between December 2nd and February 15th, we will not be able to offer updates regarding the status of applications. We appreciate your patience as we complete the review process.

To address specific technical applicaton questions, contacting the UT Graduate School may be more useful . If you can't find answers below or on the graduate school application resources, please refer to email addresses below.
Include your name and UT EID in all correspondence.

For other application inquiries, please use one of the general addresses below (do not send the same email to multiple email addresses):


TESTING: GRE / TOEFL / IELTS

Q: Is the GRE required for admissions?
A: For Fall 2022 admissions, we are suspending the GRE requirement for our admissions processing.  We understand the COVID-19 situation has complicated this testing procedure in many locations. You are welcome to submit the scores if you have them. The GRE requirement may take 72 hours to be removed from MyStatus; there is no reason to reach out in the interim. Our applicant evaluation process is holistic and will consider all components of your application materials. If you opt to submit scores, they must be sent from the testing agency to the University. The code for The University of Texas at Austin is 6882. (Note: scores are sent electronically from the Educational Testing Service (ETS); it can take 3 to 6 weeks after you take the test for the scores to reach us.) GRE scores are valid for a maximum of 5 years.

Q: Are international applicants required to take the TOEFL or IELTS?
A: Unless international applicants are from a qualifying country or they possess a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. institution or a qualifying country, they must submit the required, official TOEFL or IELTS score. Note: The requirement is not waived for applicants who have earned a master's—but not a bachelor's—degree from a similar institution.

Q: I am not sure that I will have the [standardized] exam results by the application deadline. What do I do if I don't?
A: Self report your scores on the RTF online application. The official score will be forwarded to us by the Graduate and International Admission Center when they receive it. If you don't know your score when you complete the RTF online application, enter 000 as the score on the application and email your scores to the RTF Graduate Coordinator as soon as you know them. If you do wish to re-take the exam, you could still apply with the scores you have and update your application when you have new scores.

Q: For international students, what are the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score requirements to apply?
A: From the graduate school:
Minimum score requirements may vary depending upon your major and other considerations such as employment as a teaching assistant. The minimum scores considered acceptable for admission by the Graduate School are:

  • TOEFL: 79 on the Internet-based test (iBT)
  • IELTS: An overall band of 6.5 on the Academic Examination

While we are generally looking for higher than these mininum scores, please note that we assess candidates holistically, taking into consideration all of the application materials collectively.


UT EID

Once you submit your ApplyTexas application for admission, you will receive a UT EID to access MyStatus and to complete other admissions-related processes.

You may already have a UT EID if you have sent the university test scores such as SAT, ACT or GRE. Use the tools listed in the left-hand menu on this page: https://idmanager.its.utexas.edu/eid_self_help/ to find or manage your existing UT EID.

If you do not yet have a UT EID, you will receive it via email no later than 2-3 days after you submit your AppyTexas application. Creating a second UT EID may delay the processing of your application, so you should wait to complete the additional application processes that require a UT EID.


Letters of Recommendation

Q: Who should write my letters of recommendation?
A: For the Media Studies programs, the three letters should come from faculty members who know you well enough to speak to your particular strengths. For the MFA programs, at least one letter should be from a faculty member and at least one letter should be from a former employer or internship sponsor (we would like to hear about your professional experience). The third letter may come from either an academic or professional source.

Q: One of my recommenders would like to mail the letter of recommendation instead of using the online process. Is that okay?
A: Yes, but we highly recommend and prefer that all letters be sent via the ApplyTexas application. If it is sent by mail, please send it directly to the department using the address on the bottom of the website.

Q: Whom can I contact for further L.O.R. questions?
A:  gradref@austin.utexas.edu


Residential vs. Online

Q: Are the graduate programs in-person or online?
A:
Our programs are all typically residential. Due to the pandemic, at present we are offering most courses online; however, as soon as it is safe to do so, most classes, if not all, will likely be held on campus.

Q: Whom can I contact with questions around residency?
A: residency@austin.utexas.edu


Coronavirus

Q: What measures are being taken to address Covid-19?
A: UT's Covid-19 info and resources can be found here.


Statements and Writing Samples

Q: How long should my academic writing sample be and what should it be on?
A: Each degree program has different requirements for academic writing samples, and the MFA in Screenwriting program only requires a creative writing sample. Please check the specific degree program's admissions criteria.

Q: How long should the Statement of Purpose be and what should it say?
A: The Statement of Purpose should be around 2 pages, double-spaced. It should tell us about your background and why you are interested in doing graduate work at The University of Texas. Avoid giving a laundry list of your accomplishments without saying specifically what your most important achievements or interests are. We want to know who you are, what you are interested in, what you can contribute to the program, and what your goals are. If you are familiar with some of our faculty or their work, by all means, mention that, but be sure it is relevant to your program and interests. There are many fine examples of Statement of Purposes available on the web, but remember that your statement should be very personal and show your passion and experience.

Q: My writing samples are in another language. Do they need to be in English?
A: Yes, writing samples need to be in English for the admissions committee to review.


Working

Q: Can I continue to work while I am pursuing a degree in RTF?
A: While many of our students do work, our programs are structured for full-time students in residence. In particular, our MFA programs are intensive and most students find it hard to work more than 10 hours in their first year.

Here are some resources for employment at UT:


Funding Resources

Graduate School Finances
Tuition and Cost of Attendance
Funding for MFA Film and Media Production
Funding for MFA in Screenwriting
Funding for PhD in Media Studies
Financial Aid and Loans


Additional Degrees

Q: May I pursue an additional degree while in the RTF graduate program?
A: We offer several dual degree options in our MA program, and a few of our PhD students have entered into portfolio programs and pursued interdisciplinary degrees. However, students may not pursue another degree while in our MFA programs.


Deferment

Q: If I am admitted to the program, can I defer my enrollment for a year?
A: Each admission pool is unique and we strive to balance our incoming classes carefully. This means that, except for our MA in Media Studies program, in most cases, we do not allow applicants to defer; however, they are welcome to apply again in the future.


Faculty & Students

Q: Can you tell me more about the faculty and grad students?
A: We are very proud of our accomplished, diverse faculty of media scholars and working professionals. Please read more about RTF faculty and graduate students.


Contacts for degree program information

Q: Whom can I contact, if I have any further questions about the degree programs?
A: Graduate Coordinator: rtfgradprospectivestudent@austin.utexas.edu
Graduate Advisor for MFA programs: Richard Lewis
Graduate Advisor for MA & PhD programs: Alisa Perren


Questions about MA program, with a concentration in Media Studies

Q: MA program: What are the minimum requirements for admission?
A: To be eligible for admission consideration, applicants must meet the Graduate School’s minimum requirements: https://gradschool.utexas.edu/admissions/where-to-begin/eligibility-for-admission-consideration. If you have questions regarding your degree accreditation or GPA conversion, please check with the Graduate and International Admissions Center at intladm@austin.utexas.edu.

Q: MA program: What are the available funding options?
A: We do not offer recruitment fellowships or scholarships to MA students. We appoint a limited number of MA students to TA positions; however, TA positions are not guaranteed. In addition to funding availability, factors involved in selecting TAs include prior work experience and skills possessed, existing knowledge of course content, and degree of fit for the particular course. TAs can be employed to work either 10 or 20 hours per week during the semester. In most cases, MA TA appointments typically are for spring semester of their first year and/or fall semester of their second year. Many MA students are able to find other employment opportunities elsewhere on campus; many departments regularly solicit calls for Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants across campus.

Q: MA Program: Can you give me information about coursework?
A: Our MA Program of Work will give you an idea of the sequence of courses for students in the MA program. You may also find our recent graduate seminar descriptions helpful, as they illustrate the breadth of subject matter in our graduate courses:

 

 


Questions about PhD program, with a concentration in Media Studies

Q: PhD Program: What are the minimum requirements for admission?
A: Applicants to the PhD program must hold a Masters-level degree before they can matriculate into our program. Further details about admission requirements can be found here. Please note that the GRE is just one element of your entire application. If applicants have a weaker GRE score but their other materials are very strong, they may still be considered for admission.

Q: PhD Program: Can you give me an example of the coursework?
A: Please review our recent graduate seminar offerings. Our current graduate course rotation is provided here.

Q: PhD Program: What funding is available?
A: All are guaranteed four years of funding, usually in the form of Teaching Assistantships. Students making satisfactory progress toward degree completion during their fourth year may be eligible for a fifth year of funding. Students receive a salary, a resident tuition entitlement (which allows students to pay the Texas resident tuition rate), a tuition reduction benefit which covers most costs, and free basic medical insurance. Additional, merit-based fellowships of between $6,000–$20,000 are offered to a limited number of admitted students.

Q: PhD Program: Is this an in-person or online program?
A: Although due to the pandemic we are offering most courses online at present, our program is typically a residential program. As soon as we are able to return safely to in-person classes, most, if not all, will likely be held on campus.  

Q: PhD Program: How can I select specific faculty to work with?
A: As part of the application, we will ask you to list four or five faculty members you would be interested in working with closely. Biographies and CVs of the media studies faculty can be found on the department website at https://rtf.utexas.edu/faculty/media-studies.

Q: PhD Program: What is the projected duration of the program?
A: Our objective is to see students defend their dissertations and complete the PhD by the end of their fifth year in the program. Students meet with the faculty they work closest with for an annual progress review at the end of each academic year to review their recent accomplishments and map their plans for the upcoming school year.

Q: PhD Program: What is job placement like for students in the PhD program?
A: RTF graduates have secured employment at a range of universities around the world. Recent graduates have secured tenure-track positions at Boston University, University of Michigan, University of Iowa, University College Dublin, and Chinese University of Hong Kong. More information about job placement is available here.

 

 


Questions specific to the MFA in Film & Media Production program

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: Does the program focus on directing?
A: Yes. At the end of the three years of the program, each student will have directed four short films.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: Is the production curriculum mainly narrative-focused or documentary-focused?
A: Students learn advanced production skills for both documentary and narrative filmmaking and can choose to focus on either or both forms.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: Will students receive teaching experience?
A: The program prepares students to work as filmmakers as well as to teach filmmaking at the university level. Many of our graduates go on to teach production courses (e.g. narrative/documentary filmmaking, cinematography, directing, etc.) at colleges and universities across the U.S.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: Do you need industry/professional experience to be considered?
A: Our program is best suited for those who have been professionally working in the film/media industries and returning back to graduate studies after having gained hands-on professional experience. It is rare that we admit students who have only just graduated with their bachelor’s degree.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: What is the program of work?
A: Here is our Program of Work so you can see the sequence of courses.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: How much is tuition?
A: For this 3-year, full-time program, the tuition students pay is based on how many classes they enroll in (typically 13 credit hours the first semester and around 10 credit hours in subsequent semesters). The most up-to-date tuition rate information can be found online.
Notes: Tuition rates may increase every year. Also, Texas resident tuition rates may be available in year two.

Q: MFA in Film & Media Production: What funding options are available?
A: As the curriculum is very demanding, especially during the first year of the program, students are strongly discouraged from working during the first year. During years 2 and 3 of the program, we may offer Teaching Assistant positions to students, which, in addition to providing funding, may qualify them to be eligible for the Texas resident tuition rate.

We also offer a few competitive fellowships as well as opportunities to apply for partial funding for thesis films.


Questions specific to the MFA in Screenwriting program

Q: MFA in Screenwriting: Where can I find out more about the program?
A: Our 2-year MFA Screenwriting program is one of the most affordable and highly ranked in the country, and we are able to admit very talented students. You can find detailed information about our program structure and graduate courses here:

Q: MFA in Screenwriting: What kind of coursework should I expect?
A: Please see our Program of Work and description of all RTF graduate courses.

Q: MFA in Screenwriting: What kind of funding opportunities are available?
A: All incoming students are awarded a $5000 fellowship for their first year. Students making good academic progress are awarded $5000 for their second year in the program. Since students receive fellowships, they also become eligible to pay the Texas resident tuition rate.