University of Minnesota
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
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M.A. in Mass Communication

M.A. in Mass Communication

What’s inside:

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:

Application Process

For fall 2015 admission, the deadline to apply is January 15, 2015 with a rolling deadline to March 1, 2015.

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.

Master's thesis

M.A. candidates work closely with their faculty advisers during the formative stages of writing their thesis. Instructions for preparation of the thesis (e.g. margins, etc.) are available from the Graduate School. Once a student’s faculty adviser approves the thesis as ready for review, the student can request a Thesis Reviewers Report Form and a Graduation Packet from the Graduate School by submitting a copy of the thesis title page. The thesis may then be presented to other members of the examining committee. Committee members should have at least two weeks to review the thesis before the final examination. All committee members must sign the Thesis Reviewers Report Form to certify that the thesis is ready for defense. The student returns 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 M.A. candidates and may be taken during the final semester of coursework if the thesis has been completed. M.A. oral examinations focus on the Plan A thesis in addition to the coursework of the student. All members of the committee and the student 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 M.A. thesis and the final oral examination can be found in the SJMC Graduate Studies Customs and Rules book.

Transferring credits toward the M.A. degree program

With the approval of your adviser, the Director of Graduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), M.A. 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 United States. Transfer of thesis credits is not allowed.

How many transfer credits and what specific course credits students may apply toward their degree requirement is determined by the individual student's adviser and the DGS, on a case-by-case basis. However, master's students must take a minimum of 60% 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

Interested in other research areas? Have career goals that require additional specialties? While the majority of M.A. coursework consists of courses and seminars offered by the SJMC, you may want to consider a graduate minor. SJMC faculty members encourage students to enhance their education in communication by completing minors in subjects related to their 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 Ph.D. in mass communication, you can apply for a change of status during the second year of study in the M.A. program. If the SJMC graduate faculty and the Graduate School approve the change of status application, you continue into the mass communication Ph.D. program once the M.A. 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 Ph.D. degree is highly competitive, and only students who have excelled during the first year of their M.A. program should consider applying for a change of status.

If your M.A. 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 their graduate education goals. All change of status students are expected to have their M.A. thesis completed no later than the end of their first semester in the Ph.D. program.

What will I do with my degree?

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