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Degrees Offered: BA

Contemporary media practitioners, both professional and amateur, influence the values and behaviors of national and global populations, challenging and shaping the authority, legitimacy and control exercised by governments and other powerful social institutions. Because of this, media and cultural studies are central to research about the complex intersections of culture, politics and economics from the local to the global levels. Appropriately, the Department of Media Studies emphasizes the history, nature and impact of mediated sounds, images and texts from a wide range of inter­ and cross-disciplinary perspectives.

The Department of Media Studies examines ways of thinking about and conducting research into the intersection of media, communication and cultural practices in both historical and contemporary perspectives. Encompassing humanistic, social scientific and artistic approaches to the study of media and culture, and interdisciplinary in its theoretical and methodological approaches, the degree spans traditional boundaries between theory and practice. It fosters media “literacy” in the broadest sense by providing students with critical skills to analyze contemporary media and culture, along with technical, aesthetic and intellectual principles that facilitate strong media practices.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The goal of the BA in Media Studies is to prepare students to become intellectually engaged critics of their media environment through a commitment to rigorous scholarship and creative media practice. Students will exit the program with a vital edge as innovative, critical professionals and well­rounded, independent thinkers. They are equipped for careers in media production, government, industry, nonprofit organizations and higher education, among other fields.

Course work emphasizes how media institutions are organized, who controls their content, how they perform economically, how audiences engage with media and how media impact government, culture and social policy across the globe. Students learn to combine theory and practice with classes on children, the family and media; global media; multimedia culture; media, religion and politics; and audience research. Students of the program have access to all of CMCI’s departments; this gives them the chance to earn practical training in media design, digital storytelling, digital art, information science, documentary filmmaking, journalism and video production.

Graduate Studies

The Master of Arts in Media and Public Engagement

The MA in Media and Public Engagement (MAPE), a two­year interdisciplinary program that spans traditional boundaries between theory and practice, offers a critical study of the history, institutions, economics and social implications of the media, nationally and globally, combined with a practice­based media training geared toward civic engagement and community building. In addition to completing courses in media theory and other fields of interest, students learn how to create thoughtful and engaging projects using a variety of media practices including documentary film, multimedia websites, interactive video installations and other online tools.

The MAPE program prepares students for a variety of professions, both at the national and international level, in government, media, cultural organizations and the nonprofit sector. Students collaborate with faculty, community leaders, nonprofit organizations and socially engaged corporations to devise innovative pathways into the study, commentary and presentation of social issues. They may also choose to focus on environmental issues and complete the Certificate in Environment, Policy and Society (EPS), which consists of 18­credit hours of courses both inside and outside CMCI.

The PhD in Media Studies 

The Media Studies PhD program, one of three tracks offered under the umbrella PhD in Media Research and Practice, is dedicated to interdisciplinary inquiry into the social, political, economic and cultural dimensions of media, nationally and internationally, historically and in contemporary societies.

Students of media theory and research draw from a wide range of fields and disciplines, including anthropology, political science, cultural studies, sociology, philosophy, history, linguistics, economics, business, psychology, literature, law and public policy. The interdisciplinary nature of media studies is reflected in the range of faculty research and in the curriculum, in which students receive training in qualitative and quantitative research methods and take courses inside and outside the department and college.

Students graduate from the program with broad knowledge of the intellectual history of media studies as an important interdisciplinary field of research­­its origins; its perennial questions and controversies; its evolution in response to technological, political, economic and cultural change; the full range of methods it employs, both humanistic and social scientific­­and a demonstrated capacity to design and execute original and socially significant research about media and their historical and contemporary power and importance. The program strives to produce graduates who demonstrate intellectual leadership, nationally and internationally, in the areas of research they choose and/or pioneer, and an interest in and aptitude for generating public awareness and conversation about their scholarship. An important part of doctoral students’ education is their participation in the department’s research and teaching missions through their assignments as research assistants, teaching assistants and instructors.