When you enter the realm of graduate study, you enter a world in which the questions you ask are as important
as the answers you discover. We welcome you to the realm of graduate education as it is lived and studied in
the College of Communications at The Pennsylvania State University. As you review the materials of this
handbook, we hope you gain a sense of the wide-ranging interests as well as the spirit of our College.
No handbook will cover everything for you. However, we hope that these guidelines are helpful in answering
many of the questions you have about graduate work in the College of Communications. Your advisor, the
Associate Dean, or the Coordinator of Graduate Education can help you secure answers to questions you might
have. In addition, the College has a graduate student organization (GSIC) that can provide additional
The graduate catalog, Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin (the so-called "White Book"), is your best source of
information on the procedures and regulations of the Graduate School. It is available on the web at:
Master of Arts in Media Studies
Master of Arts in Media Studies is an academic program that involves students in the systematic study of mass
media. The objective of the program is to enable students to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the
systems, processes, networks, cultures and information associated with mass media. The program prepares
students for doctoral study in mass communications and for positions in business and government requiring a
comprehensive understanding of the historical, social and political implications 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.
Candidates must complete COMM 515 (MA proseminar), two semesters of COMM 590 (Colloquium), and at least 3
credits of research methods by taking either COMM 506 or COMM 511. The remaining credits are selected from
the graduate courses listed in this guide. Students are expected to consult with their advisor in making course
choices. Candidates must complete a minimum of 36 credits, including 6 for the thesis (COMM 600) but not
counting Colloquium. At least 18 credits must be at the 500-600 level. Coursework offered by departments outside
the College may be scheduled as part of the student’s program with 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 coursework. Students are required to schedule three separate, formal meetings with their advisors
and academic committees for: (1) discussion and approval of the general program plan, (2) the thesis proposal and
(3) the defense of the thesis. In most cases satisfactory completion of coursework and thesis requires two years.
Summary of Master of Arts in Media Studies
1. Demonstrated understanding of a broad range of theories and issues connected to the study of media
2. A minimum of 36 credits
3. A minimum of 18 credits at the 500-600 level
4. A minimum of 18 credits in communications
5. At least three credits of coursework in communications research methodology
6. Two semesters of COMM 590 (Colloquium), including completion of Responsible Conduct of Research
training. Credits earned for Colloquium may not be used to fulfill minimum credit requirements.
7. No more than six credits earned in independent study (596). (Normally 596 should not be used for work
directly related to thesis research and writing. 600-level credits should be used for that purpose.)
8. A total of six credits of COMM 600 (Thesis Research) within the minimum 36 credit hours
9. An oral examination in defense of the thesis