Media Studies Degree Programs with Course Information

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

Media studies degree programs are usually interdisciplinary in nature. Exploration of all media forms and their impact on society are covered throughout undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Many schools have specific media studies departments while others may offer the program through their journalism or mass communications departments. Standard requirements of either a high school diploma for a bachelor's degree or a bachelor's degree for admittance into the master's degree program are in place. Bachelor's programs focus on the theories and impact of various media, in contrast to master's programs which research the processes and effects of communication through various forms of media.

Bachelor's Degree in Media Studies

Bachelor's degree programs are intended for students interested in the broad range of media, the theories behind them, the ways in which they were shaped and the impact they have on culture and society. Some programs may offer a focus, such as film studies or mass communication, but most take a broad approach to cover all areas, including film, television, print and digital communication. Because of the subjects covered in this program, previous coursework in journalism, speech and the theater arts can be beneficial. Course topics might include:

  • History of media
  • Legal issues in communications
  • Ethics and journalism
  • Critical approaches to media
  • Visual culture
  • New media

Master's Degree in Media Studies

Master's degree programs in media studies are not necessarily intended for students who wish to pursue a traditional career path in an area such as journalism, advertising or broadcast communication. Instead, the focus is on how communication is processed through various media forms and the effects it makes. Programs are often research-oriented and may require a thesis. Course topics cover the depth of media and explore communication theories and principles. Topics of study might include:

  • Film studies
  • International media
  • Media industries
  • Theory and criticism
  • New media and social media
  • Documentary studies

Popular Career Options

While media studies programs take an integrated approach and a broader look at media in all its forms, graduates of a media studies bachelor's degree program are prepared for both traditional and non-traditional media careers. Some individuals find work as news journalists, film editors and communication specialists. Other job titles might include:

  • Public relations specialist
  • Advertising account manager
  • Marketing analyst
  • Newsroom coordinator
  • Broadcast journalist
  • Photojournalist

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salaries range depending on the occupation. Public relations specialists earned a median annual wage of $61,150 as of May 2019, while news analysts earned $46,270. Advertising and promotions managers earned $125,510. Job growth for public relations specialists was expected to be 6% from 2018 to 2028. Broadcast news analysts are expected to show little or no change in that decade while advertising and promotions managers could expect 3% job growth, all according to the BLS.

A degree in media studies gives students an education in all forms of media and mass communication, although some programs may allow students to pick a particular focus. A bachelor's degree will prepare graduates for a range of careers in the field in both traditional and non-traditional contexts.

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