Virginia Commonwealth University
MATX

Media Art & Text Ph.D program

Program

« MATX handbook

General program information

Email and listserv

Every enrolled student must have a VCU eID and email account. All students have a legal responsibility to check their university account on a regular basis. Email is also the primary vehicle for conveying program information to students.

The program maintains a listserv for communicating deadlines and other academic information. All MATX students should sign up with the Graduate Programs Adviser.

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Advising

All new students are initially advised by the MATX Director, who will continue to meet with each student regularly during his or her course of study. During the first year and no later than the spring term of the second year, each student should identify a full-time (tenured or tenure-track) faculty member who is willing to serve as their dissertation director. This person will then serve as a primary adviser along with the MATX Director for the remainder of the student’s studies.

As specified in the Graduate Bulletin's statement on advising, it is each student's responsibility to make sure that all requirements are completed in a timely manner. Requirements include course work, e-portfolio, and elements of the candidacy and dissertation process. Progress should be tracked using the Program Worksheet in Forms. and by regularly checking transcripts through eServices to verify that all grades have been posted correctly or to monitor any changes in student status. Both the MATX Director and dissertation director work with each student to ensure satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students should be sure to notify their adviser(s) immediately of any revisions to their schedule.

The Graduate School allows eight years for the PhD, beginning with the first semester of enrollment. All courses applied toward the degree, including courses transferred from other institutions, and the dissertation must be completed within eight years.

Degree requirements are binding as published in the Graduate Bulletin each fall. Students are bound by the bulletin when they enter the university and are generally not affected by subsequent changes. They are expected to be familiar with all program and university regulations as spelled out in the bulletin. This MATX Handbook is a supplement to the bulletin and outlines specific procedures for meeting program requirements.

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Student status

A graduate student at VCU is considered full time if enrolled for a minimum of nine and a maximum of 15 credit hours per semester. More than 15 hours is an overload and requires special permission. No more than 12 semester credits may be earned in a summer semester.

MATX students must observe the university’s continuous enrollment policy. Once admitted, a graduate student must enroll for a minimum of one course per year. In order to work on candidacy requirements after completion of course work, students must register for a minimum of one credit. Upon advancing to candidacy, the minimum is one graduate credit each fall and spring semester until the degree is awarded, including the semester of graduation. If candidates intend to graduate in August and/or if they have contact with faculty or use university resources over the summer, they must be enrolled for at least one semester hour in the summer session.

Students who, for significant reasons, cannot continue their studies during a particular semester or calendar year should apply to the MATX Director for a leave of absence which is governed by the policies stated in the Graduate Bulletin. A leave does not extend the eight-year time limit for earning the degree. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will result in withdrawal from the program; reinstatement requires formal reapplication. Summer enrollment may be required by the rules governing a student’s assistantship.

Graduate teaching assistants must register for at least nine hours each semester and must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. Failure to register or to maintain satisfactory academic progress will result in termination of the assistantship.

Please note the important distinction between “student” and “candidate.” One is a doctoral student until candidacy is attained by completing all course work and all program requirements except the final dissertation project. The title “doctoral candidate” may not be used until candidacy is approved by the graduate school. The degree may not be listed on resumes and CVs until it has been officially awarded by the university, i.e. “PhD in Media Art & Text, 20XX.” Until then, the proper format is either “doctoral candidate” or the dates of matriculation: “Doctoral program in Media Art & Text, 20XX-to present.” Enrolled students in good standing who have completed all the requirements for the degree other than writing the dissertation (all exams, course credits, competencies, approved prospectus, etc.), with the approval of their dissertation director and the MATX Director, may state that their status is “ABD” (for “all but dissertation”) in the MATX program.

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Registration and credit requirements

All students must register during advance registration. Those still completing course work must consult with the MATX Director during the advising period. For some classes in the School of the Arts and the School of Mass Communications, instructor permission is required.

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 the other units. Studio and practice courses, in particular, frequently require portfolio applications and/or matriculation in specific degree programs for admission.

Course offerings and registration information are published in the Schedule of Classes.

All courses must be at the 500-, 600- or 700-level. At least half of the required courses for the degree must be numbered 600 or above. To graduate, degree applicants must achieve an overall GPA of at least 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.

See the Graduate Bulletin for policies governing attendance and enrollment and grades, including polices governing incompletes and appeals.

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Graduate teaching assistantships

Through the Graduate School, the MATX program offers a limited number of graduate teaching assistantships each year. Assistantship duties usually involve instructional assignments in various departments, advising in mass communications or assisting with the editorial work of Blackbird, the online journal of literature and art. Assignments are made by the director in consultation with the relevant departments.

Graduate students on 12-month assistantships will be assigned to teach, assist or carry out other teaching and service work for 20 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. During summers, depending upon the rules governing the funding, they will be expected to register for three graduate course credits (including independent study or internship). The absence of assigned work during the summer is intended to allow students to concentrate on independent projects, preliminary dissertation research, dissertation drafting and preparation for qualifying examinations and other formal degree requirements.

This policy accords with the Graduate School’s policies and procedures on graduate fellowships and assistantships:

“Graduate assistantships are awarded for not longer than one calendar year and are not renewed automatically from year to year unless specifically stated in writing. Graduate program directors generally determine eligibility for renewal of graduate assistantship awards in subsequent academic years. Specific work assignments, scheduling and arrangements relating to vacation and personal leave are determined by the department, program or administrative unit to which the graduate student is assigned.”

Please note: Graduate funding must be listed on resumes and CVs using the exact name as stated in the award letter. A graduate teaching assistantship must be listed as such. The terms “assistantship” and “fellowship” are not interchangeable.

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Labs and workspaces

The Department of English maintains computer labs and production facilities on the third floor of Hibbs Hall. These facilities are available for use by all English and MATX graduate students. Additionally, MATX students may be assigned individual and/or shared space in Hibbs Hall, Room 408. Qualified MATX students may be assigned work space in Millhiser House. Please consult the rules regarding work spaces posted in Forms. Applications for space are made to the Graduate Programs Adviser.

Please note: MATX is not a studio program, and it does not provide traditional fine arts studio or exhibition space. Students are encouraged to seek out opportunities for collaboration at VCU and in the wider Richmond arts community.

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Conferences and papers

MATX students are encouraged to begin participating in academic and professional life by submitting proposals and abstracts to deliver papers at conferences. It is strongly recommended that students discuss such plans with and submit all abstracts and proposals to their dissertation director, the MATX Director and/or the Graduate Programs Adviser. Students represent the program and the university, and their performance affects our reputation. Assistance with travel costs may be available through the MATX program. See the Graduate Programs Adviser for details. Funds will be disbursed only in accordance with state and university procedures. Travel requests must be made 30 days before travel within the U.S. and 45 days before international travel.

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