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March 3, 2014

Call Him Doctor: Professor Krakowski Receives PhD from Poland

Dr. Andrzej Krakowski, professor of film and video, is the first faculty member at a U.S. film school to earn a PhD in directing.

Native of Warsaw earns degree in directing from Polish National Film School 46 years after homeland exiled him in wave of anti-Semitism

Poland’s leading film school has awarded a PhD to Andrzej Krakowski, a professor of film and video at The City College of New York. Earning the degree, granted in January and the first PhD in directing for a faculty member at a U.S. film school, reflects not only his persistence, but changed attitudes in his homeland, as well.


In 1968, Poland exiled him and most of the other Jews still living in Poland after the Holocaust. At the time, he was studying filmmaking in Hollywood on a scholarship from his country’s government.

With his citizenship and scholarship revoked, he became a man without a country, who spent two years working at odd jobs until he could obtain a green card and return to school. Eventually he became a successful writer, producer and director and, since 2003, a professor at City College.

Professor Krakowski received his degree from the Polish National Film, Television and Theater School, where decades earlier he received his MFA degree. “The Hollywood Reporter” ranks the school 19th among the world’s best film schools.

“The requirements for PhD in Poland are exactly the same as in the United States. You must have a graduate degree or an equivalent that would allow you to enter a doctoral program,” Professor Krakowski said. “In the case of film, it's a bit more complicated as it requires two works: a film and, separately, a theoretical written dissertation.”

For the film portion, he submitted “Looking for Palladin,” a feature film he directed and wrote, which was released theatrically in 2010. His dissertation was a 120-page analysis of how the film’s script applied basic story construction rules that were contained in a textbook he wrote, “The World Through The Eye of a Screenwriter,” published in 2011.

In all, he took four years to complete the program, which included passing oral exams from required coursework in foreign language, directing and an elective class on the history of U.S. film industry.

Professor Krakowski said he was motivated to pursue the degree, in part, to help raise the profile of City College’s film and video program, which is part of the media and communication arts department. The Polish National Film School, which is his alma mater, was one of only two institutions in the world that offered PhDs in visual arts when he began the program. The other school is in Australia.

“To have the only PhD in Film Art (directing) in the country in its ranks should help the program and the department,” he added. “Perhaps we could become the first (U.S.) college to open a doctoral program in film practice.”

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.

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