Degree Requirements

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Media, Culture, and Technology requires 30 credits for completion, half of which are earned in required courses. Students must also write a thesis, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, though this may take different forms.

Required courses (15 credits):

  • MDST 8000    Media, Culture & Technology
  • MDST 8001    Histories of Media Technologies
  • MDST 8003    Methods of Media Research
  • MDST 8966    Master’s Thesis Development
  • MDST 8999    Master’s Thesis Writing

Electives (15 credits) and Courses in Other Departments

The remaining credits will be earned by taking elective courses in the department. Independent studies, though possible, are discouraged. No MA student should plan to count more than one independent study toward their degree.

Some possible electives in the Department of Media Studies include:

  • MDST 7210      Global Environmental Media
  • MDST 7220      Media Bodies
  • MDST 7240      Privacy and Surveillance
  • MDST 7250      Race and Ethnicity and Media
  • MDST 7411      Media Technologies and Free Speech
  • MDST 7559      Media Audiences
  • MDST 7704      Political Economy of Media
  • MDST 7803      Computational Media

Some electives will be stand-alone courses, open for enrollment to all students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Other elective courses will be taught as duel-level courses that will meet alongside undergraduate courses of the same title: for instance, students enrolled in Media Bodies (MDST 7220) may meet with undergraduate students enrolled in a course by the same name (MDST 3661). In these cases, graduate enrollment will carry higher expectations regarding reading, course leadership, and research assignments.

MA Thesis

Students will be required to complete a thesis project under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. The thesis will entail original, independent research. The format of the final report will be decided by the student and the student’s advisor, possibly taking the form of a traditional academic thesis, a policy white paper, or other relevant format (documentary, digital project, etc.). All thesis projects must include a written component of at least 25 pages.

MDST 8966: Thesis Research and MDST 8999: Thesis Writing are offered in the fall and spring semesters, respectively. Students are expected to take these cohort-based courses during their final year of the MA, as they are working on their thesis. These courses provide essential tools and support for conceiving, completing, and reporting on an original research project.

Courses in Other Departments

While MA students must complete 30 credits in the degree (with the MDST mnemonic), they may also want to supplement their study with courses from across the University. Courses in relevant languages or methods are encouraged, as is the pursuit of a graduate certificate alongside the degree. Students may be particularly interested in available certificates in Africana StudiesAmerican StudiesDigital Humanities, Digital Humanities, Environmental Humanities, and Gender & Sexuality Studies.

If you see a course in another department that you would like to fulfill a major requirement, you can have it evaluated by submitting the course syllabus and a completed REQUEST TO HAVE A COURSE OUTSIDE OF MEDIA STUDIES COUNT AS AN ELECTIVE form to the Director of Graduate Studies at [email protected].  

These courses from in other departments have been already approved:

  • SOC 5320      Sociology of Gender


Auditing a Class (AU): Anyone interested in auditing a graduate-level course in the Department of Media Studies can contact the professor for permission up to three weeks before the class begins. Permission will not be granted more than three weeks before the first day of class. Please see the University of Virginia Grading Policy for details on AU grading policies.

Incomplete (IN): The Department understands that circumstances sometimes require a student to take an incomplete in a class. This must be approved by the faculty member teaching the class and recorded in SIS by the grading deadline. Graduate students have 200 days to submit their work an have their record updated with a grade. After 200 days, incompletes automatically convert to a failing grade.