Mission & History

To nurture creative, bold, and meaningful work by new generations of filmmakers and scholars, based on a curriculum enlivened by, and relevant to, the continuous changes in our field.

Housed in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, the Department of Cinema and Media Arts is the most comprehensive university-based film program in the country, with a curriculum rooted in the interrelationship of theory and practice.

We offer degrees in three areas. In Cinema and Media Studies, students study cinema and media through a variety of historical, critical and theoretical perspectives. In Production, students work with state-of-the art facilities to make films and develop specialized skills in directing, cinematography, editing, sound, and production management. In Screenwriting, students explore the craft of moving-image storytelling in the only degree-granting screenwriting program in Canada. Our studio courses seek to nurture films and screenplays that are committed to richness of content, creative vitality and mastery of technique. Our studies courses offer a challenging critical and interdisciplinary perception of the world we live in through its cinema. All three areas benefit from the engagement with one another that is the unique strength of our department.

Our teaching faculty is composed of a diverse group of filmmakers and scholars who are actively engaged in research and production, well-known in their fields. Our graduates are employed in the Canadian film and television industry in a wide variety of creative, technical, and executive positions, and are at work in film festivals, galleries, schools, and other film and fine arts institutions. The range of their accomplishments reflects our determination to offer our students more than just career training; our programs are intended to serve as doorways to a life of reflective and productive engagement with a world increasingly defined by moving pictures. We approach the cinema as an education in global citizenship, while we relish Canada’s cultural diversity and the way it is reflected in our students and the work they produce.

Supported by a dedicated professional staff, we take considerable care to recruit, admit and advance through our programs highly motivated students who want an extraordinary university education.

Our History

42 years of nurturing creative, bold and meaningful work by new generations of filmmakers and scholars!


1969: Canada’s first Department of Cinema and Media Arts opens its doors, in the Ross Building on York University’s Keele campus.
Founding Chair: James A. Beveridge
1973: First BA in Film graduates
1976: First BFA in Film graduates
1979: Canada’s first Graduate Program in Film opens
1983: First MFA in Film graduates
1986: Undergraduate enrolment exceeds 200
1990: The Centre for Film & Theatre opens
2003: Direct intake to BA in Cinema & Media Studies begins
2007: PhD Program in Cinema & Media Studies accepts its first students
2009: Designated BFA in Screenwriting established