MA in Mass Communication

The deadline to apply for fall 2017 Admission is January 15, 2017, with a rolling deadline to March 1, 2017.
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Program Curriculum

While our curriculum's interdisciplinary nature allows you to develop unique research projects tailored to your individual interests, most students center their study within several broad areas, including:

  • Advertising
  • Communication law and regulation
  • Health communication
  • History of mass communication
  • International mass communication
  • Journalism studies
  • Mass media structures, processes, and effects
  • Political communication
  • Public relations

Degree Requirements

You must complete a minimum of 25 graduate credits, 10 thesis credits, and a thesis as outlined below. All course work must be taken on an A-F grading basis.

  • Required Mass Communication Core (7 credits)
    • JOUR 8001: Studies and Theories of Mass Communication (3 cr)
    • One more theory course inside or outside SJMC (e.g. JOUR 8514) (3 cr)
    • JOUR 8009: Pro-seminar in Mass Communication (1 cr)
  • Required Methodology Core (6 credits)
    • JOUR 8501: Quantitative Mass Communication Research (3 cr)
    • JOUR 8503: Qualitative Methods in Mass Communication Research (3 cr)
  • An additional 12 credits of course work. Minimum 6 credits of these additional credits must come from SJMC.
  • Minimum 6 credits of minor or supporting program courses are also required as part of the total required 25 course credits. This can be achieved by any combination of theory, method, and topic seminar courses taken outside the SJMC.
  • Master's thesis credits (10 credits)
  • Approved thesis
  • Final oral examination

Master's Thesis

MA candidates work closely with their faculty advisors during the formative stages of writing their thesis. Instructions for preparation of the thesis (e.g. margins) are available from the Graduate School. Once your faculty advisor approves your thesis as ready for review, you can request a Thesis Reviewers Report Form and a Graduation Packet from the Graduate School by submitting a copy of your thesis title page. Your thesis may then be presented to other members of the examining committee. Committee members should have at least two weeks to review your thesis before your final examination. All committee members must sign the Thesis Reviewers Report Form to certify that the thesis is ready for defense. You return the signed form to the Graduate School to obtain the Final Examination Report.

Final Oral Examinations

A final comprehensive oral examination is required of all MA candidates and may be taken during your final semester of coursework if your thesis has been completed. MA oral examinations focus on the Plan A thesis in addition to the your coursework. You and all members of the committee are expected to meet face-to-face for the examination in every circumstance possible. When a faculty member of a graduate committee cannot be present for an examination, special arrangements must be made well in advance with the Director of Graduate Studies.

Complete information about the MA thesis and the final oral examination can be found in the SJMC Graduate Studies Customs and Rules book.

Transferring Credits

With the approval of your advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), MA students may bring a limited number of credits with them from other graduate programs. Credits from correspondence courses, extension courses, and courses taken prior to the bachelor's degree will not transfer. In the case of a transfer from a non-United States institution, graduate course credits to be transferred must have been earned in a program judged by the SJMC to be comparable to our peer programs in the US. Transfer of thesis credits is not allowed.

How many transfer credits and what specific course credits you may apply toward your degree requirement is determined by the your advisor and the DGS, on a case-by-case basis. However, master's students must take a minimum of 60 percent of total course credits (not including thesis credits) required for the degree at the University. Transferred credits can include a maximum of 12 graduate course credits taken as a non-degree seeking or non-admitted status.

For University-wide policies on transferring graduate credit, see this policy.

Minor Programs

Are you interested in other research areas? Do you have career goals that require additional specialties? While the majority of MA coursework consists of courses and seminars offered by the SJMC, you may want to consider a graduate minor. SJMC faculty members encourage you to enhance your education in communication by completing a minor in a subject related to your research interests or career goals. The University of Minnesota has many nationally ranked departments with minors that complement the study of mass communication, including: sociology, history, political science, psychology, anthropology, and American studies.

Change of Status

If you are interested in research or teaching at the University level and wish to pursue a PhD in mass communication, you can apply for a change of status during your second year of study in the MA program. If the SJMC graduate faculty and the Graduate School approve the change of status application, you continue into the mass communication PhD program once the MA degree is completed. Applications for a change of status are due January 15 and are acted on during the spring semester, when all applications for admission to the graduate program are reviewed. The admissions process for the PhD degree is highly competitive, and only students who have excelled during the first year of their MA program should consider applying for a change of status.

If your MA degree program has been planned well, the coursework for that degree will ordinarily apply in full toward completion of the doctoral degree, allowing you to make steady progress toward achievement of your graduate education goals. If you are a change-of-status student, you must have your MA thesis completed by the end of your first semester in the PhD program.

What will I do with my degree?

Upon graduation, you are prepared to begin a career in communication policy or research, within communication industries, or as an educator at the community college level. You also have the option to fashion a sequence of courses to your MA degree to form the initial stages of doctoral study (see Change of Status above).