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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

Master of Arts (MA)

The two-year, full- or part-time MA program combines academic and professional work through independent research in theory-building, media practice or policy implications.

Students are invited to align their research and academic practice within our three inclusive streams, Media and Culture, Politics and Policy, and Technology in Practice. We offer strongly interdisciplinary Faculty from across both universities, many of whom are active in both teaching and supervising ComCult students in one or more of our Areas of Study.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The full-time PhD program provides a thorough grounding in theory and method, and the practices, processes and technologies of contemporary, media-immersed cultures.

As a student in our program, you will examine the essential interaction among:

  • Communication practices, processes, and technologies;
  • Cultural institutions, industries, and practices, as well as individual makers of culture.

You'll undertake critical analysis of current Canadian and international communication trends - key to understanding contemporary cultural forces. Bring new thinking to a wide range of related professions and areas of study.

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 amongst 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 at Ryerson/York has equipped me with the knowledge and skills needed to think critically."

Emma Colucci MA Graduate

A 2-Year Full-Time Masters of Arts

  • A Diverse, Interdisciplinary Student Base
  • Faculty from Ryerson and York to Teach and Supervise

ComCult is for students from diverse humanities 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 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.

3 Milestone Options

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

Milestone

Description

Arts-based Project and Paper

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. (PDF fileRead 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.  (PDF fileRead 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. (PDF fileRead more.)

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.

Research opportunities. There are a number of funded assistantships available across Ryerson for ComCult students. While these aren’t a guarantee of funding, past Ryerson ComCult students have been successful in securing positions with researchers from the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Communication and Design, 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 Ryerson campus. Again, while these are not a guarantee of funding, they afford students rich experience as markers and tutorial assistants in diverse academic settings.

MA Timeline to Completion

The following suggests an ideal timeline for full-time MA ComCult students to complete their Masters. Due to space requirements, it represents only a bare-bones academic schedule, excluding other concurrent commitments (such as professional development, family and social life, and so on). Nevertheless, its expectation of completion in five semesters is a realistic one. Part-time study is an option.

  Fall (Sept - Dec) Winter (Jan - Apr) Spring-Summer (May-June)
Year 1
  • CC8906 CC: An Interdisciplinary Approach
  • Elective courses
  • CC8902 Research Methodologies
  • Elective courses
  • CC8905 MA Research Specialization and Practice
  • Elective courses
  • Application to do Thesis or Project (June 30)
  • Consult with professors about supervision
  • Develop draft of proposal
Year 2
  • Supervisor selected and Supervisory Committee formed
  • Proposal due (Sept 30)
  • Begin Research, Writing, and Editing
  • Work on milestone:
    • Major Research Paper
    • Project-Paper, or
    • Thesis  

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 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.

PhD Degree Requirements

  Fall (Sept - Dec)
Winter (Jan - Apr) Spring-Summer (May-June)
Year 1
  • CC9904 (CMCT 7000 3.0) Perspectives in Commun. & Cultural Studies
  • Elective courses
  • CC9900 (CMCT 7200 3.0) Advanced Research Methodologies
  • Elective courses
  • CC9906 (CMCT 7005 3.0) PhD Field Seminar: Disciplinary Practices
  • Elective courses
PhD candidates complete six one-term courses: three PhD Required Courses, two elective courses in a major field and one elective course in a minor field.
Year 2 PhD Qualifying Examinations ("Comprehensives") by August 31 of PhD 2
(see PhD Qualifying Examination Regulations)
Year 3 Dissertation (see Dissertation Regulations)
Year 4

Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

This joint program shares courses, faculty and resources across two universities. Students are primarily registered at one university but cross registered at the other, so that students have access to libraries, services and other resources at both. The classes are scheduled at either university and composed of both Ryerson and York ComCult students. Research supervisors can come from ComCult faculty at either university. The degrees granted to students in the program are joint Ryerson 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 Ryerson you must be:

  • formally registered in the ComCult program at Ryerson 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 Ryerson (with permission)