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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Media Studies (MEDIA)

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Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Graduate Education
College of Communications
201 Carnegie Building
814-865-3070; commgpo@psu.edu

 

Degree Conferred:

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

The master's degree in Media Studies is an academic program that involves students in the systematic study of media. The objective of the course of study is to enable students to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the systems, networks, cultures, and information associated with media. The program prepares students for doctoral study in communications and for professional positions in business and government requiring a comprehensive understanding of the historical, social, and political implications of the media. This program helps prepare students to organize research projects, critically evaluate research reports, and directly influence media practices by the application of research findings.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. Students with a 3.00 junior/senior grade-point average are eligible for admission. Three letters of recommendation are required. Applicants must also submit an autobiographical statement of about 1,000 words indicating the nature of the applicant's interest in Media Studies, reasons for wanting to do graduate work, and future aspirations relating to the field of mass communications. Experience shows that most applicants hold a bachelor's degree in a field of the liberal arts or the social and behavioral sciences, including journalism and mass communications. However, this does not preclude applicants with other backgrounds, abilities, and interests such as those whose undergraduate training may have been in a scientific or technical field. In every case, the applicant should explain in the autobiographical statement how his or her undergraduate education relates to the decision to seek admission to graduate study in mass communications.

Program of Study

The M.A. program seeks to integrate two areas of inquiry and analysis. The "Critical Studies" area centers on the expressive, creative, and linguistic dimensions of media as cultural processes. The "Political Studies" area focuses primarily on the political and economic dimensions of national and international communications systems and processes. The student is encouraged to combine courses from these and possibly other areas into a coherent package of course work culminating in either a thesis or a master's paper.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

A minimum of 36 credits is required for the completion of the M.A. degree. Students in the thesis track must complete at least 18 credits at the 500 or 600 level, and the remaining credits may be at the 400 or 800 level.  Students in the non-thesis track must complete 18 credits at the 500 level, and the remaining credits may be at the 400 or 800 level. There are 7 credits required in the following core courses: either COMM 506 or 511 (3 cr.), COMM 515 (3 cr.), and COMM 590 (1 cr.). If the student chooses to write a thesis, at least 6 credits in thesis research (COMM 600 or 610) must be taken. Students in the non-thesis track must write a satisfactory master’s paper, while enrolled in COMM 596 (3 cr.). Additional courses that will count as electives towards this degree can be chosen from a list of approved elective courses maintained by the graduate program office. Course work offered by departments outside the College of Communications may be scheduled as part of the student’s program with prior approval of the student’s academic committee. In some cases, students may be required to take additional credits in order to make up deficiencies in undergraduate course work.

Students are required to schedule three separate, formal meetings with their advisers and the academic committees for (1) discussion and approval of the general program plan, (2) the thesis or master’s paper proposal, and (3) the defense of the thesis or paper. In most cases, satisfactory completion of course work and thesis requires two years. A thesis must be accepted by the advisers and/or committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a thesis defense. A master’s paper must be accepted by the advisers, committee members and the graduate programs chair, and the students must pass a master’s paper defense.

Integrated B.A/M.A. in Media Studies

The College of Communications offers academically qualified students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program in the College of Communications the opportunity to earn both the B.A and the M.A. upon completion of five years of study. The Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Program in Media Studies would facilitate the advanced study of communications research and thesis development through a carefully organized selection of undergraduate courses, graduate seminars and directed research projects. The program would accelerate and enhance undergraduate students' appreciation for graduate level scholarship by involving them in the seminars, research activities, and the scholarly discourse of the college's community of master's- and doctoral-level scholars.

The Integrated B.A./M.A. degree in Media Studies is an academic program that involves students in the systematic study of media. The objective of the course of study is to enable students to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the systems, networks, cultures, and information associated with media. The program prepares students for doctoral study in communications and for professional positions in business and government requiring a comprehensive understanding of the historical, social, and political implications of the media, and research methods for studying the media. This program helps prepare students to organize research projects, critically evaluate research reports, and directly influence media practices by the application of research findings. The program is specifically not intended for advanced professional education.

Application Process and Admission Requirements

Students must apply to the program via the Graduate School application for admission, and must meet all the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the Media Studies graduate program for the Master of Arts degree, listed above.

Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in order to be admitted; 3 credits from COMM’s General Education courses (COMM 100, COMM 150, COMM 180, COMM 320, or COMM 370); and 3 credits from the COMM 200 level and above. Admission to the program is based on the evaluation of the student’s transcript, examples of completed writing and research projects, a narrative statement of objectives, and two letters of support from faculty with whom they have worked. One faculty member must be from the College of Communications. Students shall be admitted to an IUG program no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester proceeding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree. Candidates are expected to present records of outstanding scholarly achievement to qualify. Students must be admitted to the program prior to taking the first course they intend to count towards the graduate degree.

Applicants to the Integrated program

  1. Must be enrolled in a B.A. program in the College of Communications.
  2. Must apply no earlier than the beginning of the third semester of undergraduate study at Penn State (regardless of transfer or AP credits accumulated prior to enrollment) and no later than the end of the second week of the semester proceeding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree.
  3. Must provide a narrative statement of objectives and two letters of endorsement from faculty with whom they have worked. One faculty member must be from the College of Communications.
  4. In consultation with an adviser, students must prepare a plan of study appropriate to this integrated program. Students must present their plan of study in person to the head of the graduate program or the appropriate committee overseeing the integrated program prior to being admitted to the program. The plan should cover the entire time period of the integrated program, and it should be reviewed periodically with an adviser as the student advances through the program.

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree in order to be awarded that degree, subject to the double-counting of credits as outlined below. Degree requirements for the B.A. in Media Studies are listed in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Degree requirements for the M.A. degree are listed in the Master’s Degree Requirements section above. Up to 12 credits may be double-counted towards the degree requirements for both the graduate and undergraduate degrees; a minimum of 50% of the double-counted courses must be at the 500 or 800 level. Credits associated with the culminating experience for the graduate degree cannot be double-counted.

The following credits are eligible to be double-counted towards both the undergraduate and the graduate degrees:
Graduate Credits: COMM 504, COMM 506, COMM 507, COMM 510, COMM 511, COMM 512, COMM 513, COMM 514, COMM 515, COMM 516, COMM 517, COMM 518, COMM 520, COMM 521, COMM 522, COMM 550, COMM 553, COMM 556, COMM 580, COMM 582, COMM 584, COMM 585, COMM 594, COMM 595, COMM 596, COMM 597X

Undergraduate Credits:  
Advertising:  COMM 410, COMM 411, COMM 417, COMM 420, COMM 421W, COMM 424;
Journalism: COMM 403, COMM 405, COMM 409, COMM 410, COMM 411
Film Video:  COMM 411, COMM 438, COMM 440, COMM 451, COMM 452
Media Studies: COMM 405, COMM 411, COMM 413W, COMM 418
Public Relations:  COMM 403, COMM 409, COMM 417, COMM 420, COMM 471
Telecommunications:  COMM 403, COMM 405, COMM 410, COMM 484, COMM 486(W), COMM 487(W)

If students accepted into the IUG program are unable to complete the M.A. degree, they are still eligible to receive their undergraduate degree if all the undergraduate degree requirements have been satisfied.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships and other forms of student aid available to students in this program are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

COMMUNICATIONS (COMM) course list

 

Last Revised by the Department: Spring 2017

Blue Sheet Item #:45-06

Review Date: 4/4/17

 

Faculty linked: 6/27/14

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