Media Studies

Application Deadlines

Deadlines are displayed in the format mm/dd.

Media Studies, M.A.

Rolling Admissions
Media Studies, M.A. April 15th suggested for fall, however, apply before March to be considered for financial support.
School/College: College of Letters and Science

Department Links: Degrees Conferred:
  • M.A. in Media Studies
Mediated communication brings information, persuasion, and entertainment to our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world. As the choices expand and the reach of the media becomes more global, media producers can be anyone from a major corporation to an individual activist with a Web site, and media consumers can interact with the products they encounter in a multitude of ways.

The M.A. in Media Studies offered through the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies is wide ranging and interdisciplinary. The goal of the program is to foster knowledge and understanding of mass media and society through critical, cultural, historical, legal, ethical, or social scientific approaches. One particular emphasis of the program is the relationship between the media and the public interest.

The program is oriented toward academic study rather than instruction in technical skills. The curriculum focuses on research and critical thinking about the media. Students complete 24 credits of coursework and a 6-credit thesis. They work closely with their faculty advisors to design a course of study and to conduct original research for their theses.

Media studies graduate faculty members have national reputations for research in an array of specialties. Students in the master’s program also are active in research.

The program’s alumni apply what they have learned to a range of endeavors, including media-oriented careers and advanced academic work. An increasing number continue their education in Ph.D. programs.

Graduate Faculty

Allen, David S., Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Levine, Elana, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Pritchard, David, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Smith, Jeffery, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Associate Professors
Newman, Michael, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chair
Popp, Richard, Ph.D., Temple University

Assistant Professors
Cao, Xiaoxia, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Master of Arts in Media Studies

An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:
  1. Present an overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or above.
  2. Submit three letters of recommendation from persons capable of judging the applicant’s capacity for success in a graduate program of study.
  3. Submit scores from the General Test section of the Graduate Record Examination.
  4. Submit a sample of original writing in English — a piece of academic or professional work, or a brief essay about a topic of the applicant’s choice.
International students, in addition to satisfying the Graduate School’s requirements for English language proficiency, must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores sufficiently high to meet program standards.

The department’s graduate director initially advises students and helps them find a thesis advisor. Students consult with their advisors as they prepare their course plans and consider thesis topics. The thesis advisor guides the student in preparing a thesis proposal, provides advice on the thesis research, and chairs the thesis committee. In consultation with the graduate director, students may change thesis advisors.

Courses and Credits
Students must take 30 graduate credits, at least 24 of which must be in courses offered by the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies. Two courses are required of all students:

JAMS 700 Introduction to Graduate Study in Mass Communication
JAMS 701 Mass Communication Theory and Research Design

Students also must take at least two 800-level seminars offered by the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies, and a minimum of 6 credits of JAMS 990, Research and Thesis.

All students write a thesis based on original research. The thesis advisor chairs the thesis committee, which also includes two other members. The committee chair and at least one of the other committee members must be from the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies. Normally, all members of a thesis committee will be members of the UWM graduate faculty. With the approval of the thesis advisor and the departmental graduate program committee, a student’s thesis committee may include someone who is not a member of the UWM graduate faculty when such a person has at least a master’s degree and greater expertise in the subject area than do available members of the graduate faculty.

The thesis advisor guides the student in writing a formal thesis proposal, which must be approved by the thesis committee. After the thesis proposal has been approved, the student carries out the proposed research.

The thesis committee evaluates the written thesis and conducts an oral examination at which the student defends his or her research. A student receives credit for the thesis only if all three members of the committee approve the thesis.

Time Limit
The student must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment.

Schedule of Classes

The Schedule of Classes is a list of classes offered by term.


Courses numbered 300-699 are Undergraduate/Graduate. Courses numbered 700 and above are Graduate only.

497 Study Abroad: (Subtitled). 1-12 cr. U/G.
Designed to enroll students in UWM sponsored program before course work level, content and credits are determined and/or in specially prepared program course work. Retakable w/chg in topic. Prereq: jr st; acceptance for Study Abroad Prog.

505 Research for Advertising and Public Relations. 3 cr. U/G.
Examination of the research process through hands-on projects; how to formulate research questions, design questionnaires, collect data, and report and interpret answers to these questions. Prereq: jr st; grade of C or better in JAMS 207(P), 222(P), or 224(P); or cons instr.

559 Freedom of Expression in the Digital Age. 3 cr. U/G.
First Amendment, copyright, privacy, libel, and other legal issues in contemporary news, media, persuasive communication, and social communication. Prereq: jr st.

562 Media Studies and Culture. 3 cr. U/G.
Mass media and the production of culture; media industries, content, and audiences; focus on contemporary issues. Prereq: jr st; grade of C or better in JAMS 262(P).

600 Off-Campus Internship. 3 cr. U/G.
Professional internship in journalism, public relations, advertising, or other media. Retakable to 6 cr max in combination with JAMS 399. Prereq: jr st & declared JAMS major, or grad st; cons internship committee.

614 Seminar in Media and Public Opinion. 3 cr. U/G.
Preparation to be critical consumer of polls and media coverage of them; theories and findings regarding propaganda and media influence on public opinion. Prereq: jr st.

615 Seminar in Media and Politics. 3 cr. U/G.
How news media cover politics; role of traditional and new media in political campaigns; political content and effects of entertainment media and documentaries. Prereq: jr st.

620 Seminar in Global Media. 3 cr. U/G.
Economic, regulatory, and cultural characteristics of national and global mass media. Prereq: jr st.

645 Seminar in Health and the Media. 3 cr. U/G.
Theoretical frameworks for examination of media representations of health, illness, health care; impact of media consumption on health, illness; use of media in health promotion. Counts as a repeat of JAMS 660 w/ health-related subtitle. Prereq: jr st.

659 Seminar in Comparative Media Law. 3 cr. U/G.
Critical thinking and research about different countries' approaches to freedom of expression and legal issues relating to journalism, advertising, and other aspects of the media. Prereq: jr st; JAMS 559 or cons instr.

660 Seminar in Contemporary Issues in Media Studies: (Subtitled). 3 cr. U/G.
Research-oriented approaches to theoretical and social issues in mass communication. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: jr st.

661 Seminar in Media Communication and Society: (Subtitled). 3 cr. U/G.
Topics related to the mass media; the research process; development of a seminar paper based on original research. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: jr st; add'l prereqs, if any, announced in the Schedule of Classes.

700 Approaches to Media Studies. 3 cr. G.
Review and analysis of research in media studies; preparation for scholarly writing. Prereq: admis to MA prog in Media Studies or cons instr.

701 Media Studies Research Design. 3 cr. G.
Qualitative and quantitative research methods in media studies; preparation of a research proposal. Prereq: admis to MA prog in Media Studies or cons instr.

810 Media Effects. 3 cr. G.
Cross-disciplinary examination of theoretical approaches, research methods, and findings in the study of mass media effects on beliefs, opinions, behavior, and policy; design and execution of a research project. Prereq: grad st.

815 Media and Cultural Studies. 3 cr. G.
Cultural approaches to the study of media; design and execution of a research project. Prereq: grad st.

820 Persuasion in Media. 3 cr. G.
Examination of theoretical approaches, research methods, and findings in the study of persuasive media; design and execution of a research project. Prereq: grad st.

830 Topics in Media History: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Historical approaches to the study of media; design and execution of a research project. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

835 Politics and the Media. 3 cr. G.
In-depth examination of the relationships between the media and politics in the United States, with a special focus on political campaigns. Prereq: grad st.

840 Topics in Media Law and Ethics: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
In-depth study and discussion of law and ethics as they relate to the mass media; development of original research for publication in scholarly journals. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

845 Topics in Gender, Sexuality, and Media: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
Analysis of gender, sexuality, and other aspects of identity in and related to media. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

850 Global Media and Local Cultures. 3 cr. G.
Seminar covering major theories and critiques of globalization, with a particular emphasis on the study of media and culture. Prereq: grad st.

855 Topics in New Media: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
History, theory, and/or criticism of new media. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

860 Seminar in Media Studies: (Subtitled). 3 cr. G.
In-depth study and discussion of a current topic in media studies. Specific topics announced in the Schedule of Classes. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Prereq: grad st.

888 Candidate for Degree. 0 cr. G.
Available for grad students who must meet minimum cr load requirement. Fee assessed for 1 cr. Prereq: grad st.

990 Research and Thesis. 1-6 cr. G.
Production of a thesis under the supervision of the student's major professor with the consultation of the degree committee. Prereq: grad st; cons instr.

991 Professional Project. 1-6 cr. G.
Preparation and execution of a project which applies mass communication research and theory in a professional setting. Students enroll under major prof with consultation of degree committee. Prereq: grad st; cons instr.

999 Graduate Independent Study. 1-3 cr. G.
Supervised research of a particular topic area either not covered by other courses or at a level of sophistication beyond that of courses which cover the topic. Retakable to 6 cr max. Prereq: grad st; 3.00 grad gpa; writ cons grad dir.