Media Studies Graduate and Masters Programs

Essential Information

Both a master's degree and doctoral degree in communication and media studies will prepare students to work in a variety of fields, including media and web design, production, filmmaking, post-secondary media education, and media management. Students will gain knowledge in topics such as mass communication theories, global media systems and mass media philosophies. Specializations are often available as well, in areas such as media technologies, media industries, media ethics or media cultures. Master's programs usually culminate in a thesis, while doctoral students must write and defend a dissertation. To gain acceptance to a master's degree program, students will need a bachelor's degree, a minimum required GPA and GRE test scores, as well as possibly having to submit an essay or letters of intent and recommendation. For the Ph.D. program, applicants will need a master's degree in a related field (though some schools may accept a related bachelor's degree) as well as a minimum required GPA, GRE test scores and letters of recommendation.

Master of Arts in Media Studies

Most master's degree programs in media studies are flexible and interdisciplinary programs that take about two years to complete. Some focus exclusively on the academic study of mass media, while others combine academic study with the technical skills required to create media. Students learn the history and theory of various forms of media, such as film, digital, video and audio. Programs also provide students with the skills for effective media management and production, with an emphasis on research methods and critical thinking.

Master's programs in media studies generally consist of approximately 24 credits of coursework and a thesis project. Students conduct original research for a written thesis, which is evaluated at the culmination of the program. Students are asked to defend their research during an oral exam. Course topics may include:

  • Media theory and research design
  • Cultural, political, legal, and ethical topics in mass media
  • Digital video design and production
  • Media systems management

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication and Media Studies

Ph.D. programs in communication and media studies are grounded in the liberal arts tradition and focus on the academic study of mass media and communication. Topics of study include information technology and telecommunications, consumer research and advertising and the history of media and mass communications. Various forms of media, such as television, cinema, music, and digital media are included in a critical, cultural and ethical analysis.

Some programs require students to select a concentration of study, which may include media technologies, media industries, media ethics, or media cultures. A doctoral degree program in communication and media studies can generally be completed in four years. The completion and defense of an original thesis or dissertation is typically required along with the following coursework:

  • Race and feminism in mass media
  • Psychological processing of visual imagery
  • Advertising and consumption
  • Popular music and cultural identity
  • Politics in media and communication

Popular Career Options

The career opportunities in this growing field are vast, ranging from advertising and education to media production and design. Some graduates choose to continue their education by pursuing a doctoral degree. Graduates of a master's degree program in media studies may pursue the following career options:

  • Media producer
  • Web designer
  • Public relations manager
  • Web writer
  • Multimedia producer
  • Filmmaker
  • Digital video producer

A doctoral degree in communication and media studies prepares graduates for careers in information technology, media production, education and communications. Common career options include:

  • Media educator
  • Media producer
  • Web writer
  • Media manager
  • Public relations manager

Media studies degrees teach students about many different aspects of media, with some programs focusing on the technical creative aspect of the form and others spending more time addressing media from an academic standpoint. Graduates will find work in many different spheres due to the transferable nature of the skills acquired throughout the degree.

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