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Degree Requirements

CMAP joint-Ph.D. students are required to:

  • Take four core team-taught seminars (CMAP 8001-8004), sequenced over the course of two years.
  • Participate in two modules of workshops (CMAP 8010-8011), offered in alternating years during Vanderbilt’s Maymester term. These workshops are specially designed to build more advanced skills in creating media objects (films, audio content, e-books, online educational materials, websites, innovative presentations, databases, etc.) and managing digital information. 
  • Complete 40 hours of internship work during their graduate studies. These internships offer opportunities to probe one’s knowledge and media skills within non-academic settings.  
  • Serve as a TA on campus or contribute to an approved undergraduate creative project within the context of Immersion Vanderbilt. 
  • Complete the required courses in their home department.

CMAP doctoral students take their qualifying exams as stipulated by their primary departments. They write just one dissertation to fulfill the requirements for the joint Ph.D. However, joint-degree dissertations typically incorporate perspectives that reflect a student’s participation in CMAP core seminars and digital practice modules. CMAP strongly encourages new and experimental formats of the dissertation. The candidate’s Ph.D. committee for the dissertation must include at least one member of the CMAP affiliated faculty. During the semester leading up to their dissertation defense, students are required to design two online media presentations featuring their dissertation. One of these presentations should address specialized audiences, the other a general lay public. 


Each of the four required CMAP seminars will be  offered once in a two-year cycle. Students enrolled in the program move through these seminars as a cohort; they either start the cycle with CMAP 8001 or CMAP 8003. Each seminar is also open to interested students who are not officially enrolled in the joint Ph.D. program. 

  • CMAP 8001: Media and the Senses. Rigorous introduction to modern media theory. Special attention will be paid to the way in which contemporary media address and reshape the human sensorium. Students will engage with different theories of vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and locomotion, and with how media technologies such phonography, photography, cinema, and digital imaging have captured and reworked human sensory perception. (fall 2022) 
  • CMAP 8002: History of Media. Designed to offer a broad historical survey of different media technologies and of how different media have been used (and feared) as modes of knowing and engaging with the world. Special attention to moments of historical rupture in order to reconstruct the technological protocols and social meanings of older and new media: the invention of the printing press, the advent of photographic and phonographic inscription in the nineteenth century, the transition from silent to sound film, the coming of personal computing, the emergence of x-ray and MRI technologies. (spring 2023) 
  • CMAP 8003: Media and Society. Provides a rich set of concepts and perspectives to think about the role of media in modern society. Addresses different political and economic frameworks of media production and distribution, the role of authorship and copyright in an era of digital distribution, the tensions between privacy and publicness in a time of advanced data collection, the use of media in political decision making, the role of different media in the negotiation of gender and sexual difference, and media and disability. Additionally focuses on the rise of social networking, and the transformation of entertainment industries and academic institutions in times of online connectivity and digital data management. (fall 2023) 
  • CMAP 8004: Media Ecology. Designed to study how media of all sorts have come to define the spaces of human life, action, experience and what we may call “our world.” Focus on the impact of media technologies on built environments such as urban centers, academic learning spaces, museum and gallery settings, hospitals, transitory spaces (airports, malls, train stations), and domestic interiors. Additional attention to how different technologies and media are used to alter the shape of our natural surroundings, be it to address issues of climate change or remake specific landscapes in form of aesthetic projects. (spring 2024) 

Maymester Modules

Maymester modules introduce doctoral students to principles of creative media practice and various techniques of data analysis, visualization, and management. Maymester modules are each  offered in alternating years.

  • CMAP 8010: Creative Media Practice. Designed both to foster graduate students’ skills in various areas of digital media practice and to help doctoral candidates to develop creative solutions to present research projects in their fields of specialization and matters of public concern. During the first week of this course, students will expand their proficiency in digital sound and image manipulation, the design of websites and mobile apps, as well as the development of basic video games and 3D and virtual reality presentation formats. Meeting twice daily in 2-hour sessions, Vanderbilt faculty and staff experts, will expose students to different software and hardware options in these areas and deepen their knowledge of creative digital practice necessary to develop more complex hybrid media products. During the next two weeks of the course, students will apply these skills to develop two individual or collaborative projects under the daily supervision of a creative media artist and practitioner. This course takes place during Vanderbilt’s Maymester. (May 2023) 
  • CMAP 8011: Working with Data. Designed to familiarize students with basic knowledge about existing software strategies and hardware options, and to foster critical openness toward emerging technologies and techniques. The course includes workshops and collaborative project-oriented work on Fundamentals of Digitization, Understanding Databases, Text and Data Mining Strategies, Understanding Topic Modeling, Fundamentals of Medical Imaging Techniques and Technologies, Introduction to Geographical Information and Mapping Systems, Basics Concepts of Statistics, and Copyright Law in the Digital Age. This course takes place during Vanderbilt’s Maymester. (May 2022, May 2024) 


CMAP students are required to complete 40 hours of internship work at some point in their graduate studies. These internships offer opportunities to probe one’s knowledge and media skills within non-academic settings. Students either  identify and secure  their own internship preferences, whether in Nashville or elsewhere, or explore various options in collaboration with the program director and/or the the Vanderbilt Career Center. 

Immersion & Teaching

During one semester of their fourth or fifth year of graduate study at Vanderbilt, CMAP students use their expertise in the theory, analysis, and making of digital objects to serve as a teaching assistant in a select course on campus or contribute to the creative project of one or several undergraduate students in their respective home departments. Operating within the context of Immersion Vanderbilt, this latter contribution may take many different forms and will be closely coordinated between the CMAP student’s home department and the CMAP program director. 

In the past, CMAP students have served as TAs for courses such as CMA 1600: Introduction to Film and Media Studies and GER 2442: War on Screen.