Distinguished Majors Program

Distinguished Majors Program

Media Studies Majors with superior academic performance are invited to apply to the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP), which provides an opportunity to pursue in-depth research under the mentorship of a Media Studies faculty member that culminates in a high-quality written thesis or comparable creative project of personal interest. DMP students are expected to pursue a more rigorous course plan and to maintain a higher level of academic performance than students in the traditional Media Studies track. As a Distinguished Major, students will be able to take advantage of:

  • A small intellectual cohort of other DMP students who share small seminar classes
  • Priority enrollment in most MDST courses
  • Faculty mentorship and support during 4th year research and thesis projects
  • An increase in the number of Practice of Media courses that can be applied to the major
  • Access to academic and social events only for Distinguished Majors

Graduation with distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction (as determined by the quality of thesis and academic performance during the program)

Eligibility and Application

Applicants must be accepted to the Media Studies program and have a cumulative College GPA of 3.400 as well as a 3.000 in all completed Media Studies courses. Application announcements are emailed to majors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher. Students who meet the submission deadline will have their applications reviewed by Media Studies faculty. Students selected to be a part of the program will be automatically enrolled in MDST 3000 (fall of students’ 3rd year); and MDST 4000 (spring of students’ 3rd year). DMP students may not study abroad in their third year due to the curricular requirements

Applications for the DMP program open for a window each spring and each fall. Application dates will be announced on this page and shared by email with all eligible Media Studies majors. To apply, students must complete the online application.

Students are expected to have a 3.400 GPA overall as well as a 3.000 GPA in the major upon entrance to the program. Students will be expected to maintain this GPA or they will be dropped from the DMP and returned to the traditional Media Studies track, thus graduating without distinction. DMP students are also expected to complete a minimum of 36-37 credits for the major including:

Distinguished Majors Program Requirements 

  • MDST 2000 – Introduction to Media Studies (3-4 credits)
  • MDST 3000 – Theory and Criticism of Media (3 credits)  (taken in fall of a student's 3rd year)
  • MDST 3050 – History of Media (3 credits)
  • MDST 3504 - Topics in Global Media (3 credits)
  • Five MDST Electives (15 credits), with four (4) at the 3000 level or above. The five (5) electives must include courses that fulfill the following criteria:
    • One (1) Practice of Media Course from approved list
    • One (1) Diversity and Inclusion Course from approved list
    • PLEASE NOTE: a second Practice of Media course, beyond the one required (see above), may be counted as one of the five electives. This is optional. Many Practice of Media courses are taught at the 2000-level, but DMP students may count a second Practice of Media course as a 3000-level elective. The course must be drawn from the approved list of Practice of Media courses.
  • MDST 4000 – Media Theory and Methods (3 credits) (taken in spring of a student's 3rd year)
  • MDST 4010 – Distinguished Majors Thesis (3 credits)
  • MDST 4510 - Capstone (3 credits)

Thesis / Portfolio Project Requirements

DMP students are expected to complete a written thesis or comparable portfolio project that contributes to and advances knowledge of Media Studies in a meaningful way. The written thesis / portfolio project requirement allows students to explore areas of personal academic interest in greater depth than is possible in a single course. Generally speaking, a written thesis is a scholarly work of approximately 50 pages. A portfolio project is a production of work (such as a film, digital work, or other media project) with an appropriate intellectual accompaniment (an essay or research statement of 3,000-5,000 words). Students will be expected to make a presentation of their thesis or project at a capstone DMP Symposium in the Spring of their 4th year. Copies of all theses and projects will be archived in the Media Studies Office. For more information, please read the MDST-DMP Thesis Project Guidelines.

Graduating with Distinction

In awarding distinction, the Media Studies faculty considers the quality of the student’s overall performance in the major as well as the work done on the thesis or project. Students may receive distinction (but not high or highest distinction) if they discontinue enrollment in the DMP but have completed their degree with a grade point average of at least 3.400. The award of high or highest distinction is at the discretion of the Media Studies faculty who vote on distinction following the DMP Symposium presentations every May.