Mass Communication/Media Studies  Program Description


Insider Info

dotDid you ever stop and wonder just what effect the media you come in contact with each day has on you, your ideas, your culture and your world? Media studies programs offer the perfect way to find out.

Media studies programs are available throughout the country at colleges and universities. Four-year bachelor's programs are the most common option, but many schools also offer a minor option and a master's degree program.

Be clear about the difference between media studies and journalism programs. While some journalism programs call themselves media or communications studies, a true media or communications studies program focuses on the sociological and cultural effects of the media, rather than teaching you how to be a journalist.

"The best media studies students, in my experience, are those who are genuinely curious about the forces shaping culture," says Marshall Soules, coordinator of media studies at a college.

"Many of them think of themselves as 'information junkies.' They are able to think outside the box of received wisdom," he says.

The interdisciplinary nature of media studies lends itself well to almost any career. "Almost anything is possible -- law, business, politics, production of media, programming, media analysis," says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.

A good media studies program will deal with all aspects of the media and may include courses in, "analyzing media text, understanding the economics of media, racism, sexism, how advertising works, and the history of films and TV," says Gail Dines, a professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College in Boston.

"It will also include a little bit of production, a critical and analytical component, critique and writing about media, and knowledge of the history of the media," adds Thompson. "History, criticism and production are the three key elements."

If media studies sounds interesting to you, there are many ways to prepare. First, learn to write well, says Soules.

"Other important areas include culture studies [anthropology, sociology, social studies], history, art history, history of science, literature, political economy, computing, theater, music and languages," he says.

The main costs are tuition and books.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Social Scientists, Other

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Keeping a watchful eye over the media
This site has many links to newspapers, magazines and news sites

Just the Facts

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