Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

About the College

Marie Hardin, Dean, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications

The Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications provides the opportunities and resources of a large university with the personalized feel and support of a small school. As the largest accredited program of its kind in the nation, students can find numerous opportunities to fit in and succeed. The Bellisario College uses a proven approach to help students prepare for success. An emphasis on the combination of classroom instruction, campus media opportunities and career preparation represents the core of our educational philosophy. Faculty members blend strong academic and professional backgrounds and possess a commitment to excellence in teaching. In skills classes and internships, students use state-of-the-art technology to gain hands-on experience on their way to becoming the next generation of great digital storytellers.

The Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications offers an M.A. (Master of Arts) in media studies, a joint degree offering with Penn State Law (J.D./M.A.), an integrated B.A./M.A. in media studies. an M.P.S. (Master of Professional Studies) in strategic communications, and Ph.D. in mass communications. As graduate programs that use the resources of the entire Bellisario College, our curriculum allows students to design a program of study tailored to their interests, choosing from an array of classes each semester that explore theory and cutting-edge research methods in mass communication.


Mission and Goals

The mission of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications is to prepare students to take their place in an information-rich society and in the professions as active, critical and ethical participants. We promote effective, responsible use of communications media and technologies by individuals, organizations, industries and government.

Offering both a thesis and non-thesis option, the M.A. program prepares students for doctoral study in mass communications and for professional positions in business and government requiring a comprehensive understanding of the historical, social and political implications of the media in society and advanced research skills to critically evaluate the processes and effects of the media. Students graduating from this program will be especially well qualified to organize research projects, to critically evaluate research reports and to directly influence mass media practices by the application of research findings.

For academically qualified students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program in the College of Communications, there is the opportunity to earn both the B.A and the M.A. upon completion of five years of study. The Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (I.U.G.) Program in Media Studies facilitates 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 accelerates and enhances 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.

Penn State Law (PSL) and the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications (COMM) offer a joint degree program leading to a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Media Studies. In combining the J.D. in the School of Law with an M.A. in Media Studies, enrolled students would earn the two degrees in less time than taking them separately, and would integrate the credentials of the two degrees as well as the research skills and media-specific knowledge in the College of Communications with the legal expertise offered by a J.D. in the Penn State Law. The program will credential students who wish to pursue legal careers in media law or in areas of law in which media and/or communication industries are a significant component in a field related to legal aspects of the media and communications industries.

The online M.P.S. in Strategic Communications explores the importance of messaging. In this 30-credit degree program, you will learn the methods and practices used to conduct effective research in examining practical and theoretical questions in strategic communications. Course material in collecting, analyzing, and utilizing audience data for digital media are highlighted in this degree designed with the future of communications in mind.

The Ph.D. program in Mass Communications preparea graduates for entry into college and university teaching and research and for a variety of communications-related professions. Doctoral education in the Bellisario College of Communications is committee-driven and highly flexible and emphasizes the cultivation of research skills leading to the development and implementation of innovative and impactful research on mediated communication.



The Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications is evaluated regularly by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and has consistently met the high standards of the Council. For undergraduate students, accreditation most practically means that most upper-level professional classes are small, the College uses the latest in technology, and provides outstanding student service.


Departments and Schools

The M.A., I.U.G., J.D./M.A. and Ph.D. in the Bellisario College of Communications draw from the faculty of all four departments. The M.P.S. in strategic communications is housed in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations

Department of Advertising/Public Relations

Faculty in this department research the effectiveness and social implications of strategic communication, from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. The M.P.S. in strategic communications is housed in this department and faculty also contribute to the other graduate programs in the College.


Department of Film-Video and Media Studies

Emphasizing social science-based media effects, critical-cultural perspectives, and film studies, faculty in this department focus their research on media’s role in individual well-being, society and culture. Faculty in this program contribute to college level graduate degree programs.


Department of Journalism

Journalism is a vital institution for a democracy. Faculty in this department study the historical, legal, professional and ethical implications of journalism. Journalism faculty contribute to all of the college level graduate degree programs the College offers.


Department of Telecommunications

Focusing on a variety of electronic media, including radio and TV, cable and satellite, the internet, and wired and mobile technologies, faculty in Telecommunications research such media from policy, economic, technological and managerial perspectives Faculty contribute to all college level graduate degree programs.



Research Centers

The Bellisario College of Communications houses several research centers that richly contribute to the graduate students’ experience and offer support as students advance through their program of study. These centers include The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, The Don Davis Program in Ethical Leadership, The Information Communication Technology for Development Consortium (ICT4D), The Institute for Information Policy, The Media Effects Research Lab, The Newspaper Journalists Oral History Program, The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, The Pennsylvania Center for the First Amendment, and The Science Communication Program.

Office of Academic Services

A dedicated, eight-person staff supports students through scheduled appointments, drop-in hours and a variety of support services. At the graduate level, typically I.U.G. student utilize this resource.


Office of Internships and Career Services

Graduate students are encouraged to use the resources provided by this office. The office conducts two job fairs and offers additional support through resume workshops, mock interviews and “career conversations” with alumni who return to campus.


Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion strives to make the Bellisario College a comfortable, welcoming home for all students, staff and faculty. This office assists in acclimating graduate students new to Penn State to navigate Penn State infrastructure, while also providing additional insight and perspective on the State College area. Professional and career guidance is also offered.




Anthony Olorunnisola
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research
201C Carnegie Building

201 Carnegie Building
University Park, PA 16802