The Media Studies Major


Students from across the University are encouraged to explore the offerings in Media Studies as part of their undergraduate experience. Those wishing to focus on production or creative arts, law, commerce, policy, research at an advanced level, or in development and research applications of digital technology, should use media studies as the first step toward a master’s or doctorate degree in their fields. Graduates can expect to find work in radio, television, publishing, digital media, and the business environments of traditional and new media.

The Department of Media Studies offers a bachelor of arts major in Media Studies, a Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in Media Studies, as well as two optional concentrations in film studies or media policy and ethics. Both, the bachelor of arts major in Media Studies and the DMP are programs that require an application.

MDST Course Offerings

The Media Studies Department has a significant emphasis on digital media through approaches to its history, theory, and technology and their impact upon contemporary life. Subjects of study include: aesthetics and form; individual perception; the history of media; the ethics and effects of media in the arena of policy studies; the social impact of media on public opinion; and the relations between media and the law.

Students are strongly urged to choose the balance of their MDST courses according to an individual plan of study. Students should consider the broad range of topics relevant to a full understanding of media studies: media aesthetics (rhetoric and the shape of argument in media, formal analysis, media criticism, and theory of a specific medium); the history of media (film, photography, television, digital, and print media); the individual experience of media (psychology and sociology); the social experience and effects of media (political science and government, law, or public policy, ethics, anthropology, and sociology); and the economics and business of media.

All courses listed in the catalog are not offered every semester and faculty often offer new courses under the mnemonics of MDST 3559 and MDST 4559. The topics of these new courses are listed in the schedule of classes for the particular term they are offered.  Students should realize that these new courses may be one-time offerings and plan accordingly. Students may take new topics of MDST 3559 and MDST 4559 as long as the topic is not the same as one previously taken. Students may also take multiple sections of any topics course, as long as the topics are not the same. 

The links at the left will take you to the offerings for the current semester and also to our course descriptions page. The course descriptions page lists a description for each course in the permanent catalog and those MDST 3559 and MDST 4559 topics offered in the current semester.

Courses Taken Outside of Media Studies

We often review courses from other departments to be applied toward the Media Studies major requirements. A list of previously approved outside classes is available. If you see a course in another department at the 3000 level or higher that you would like to take with a media focus, you can have it evaluated by submitting the course syllabus and the Request to Have a Course Outside of Media Studies Count as an Elective form. If you would like a transfer credit from a US institution to count toward the major, use this form to make the request (William Little - [email protected] - is the Department Contact). You must attach proof that you received at least a C+ in all courses you want counted toward the major. Only two electives taken outside of the Media Studies department, including study abroad and transfer courses, can be used to fulfill major requirements.

Grading Policies

Credit/No Credit Policy:

Normal university operating conditions: When the university is operating under normal conditions, students who plan to have a MDST course count for the major must take the course for a letter grade and earn a C+ or better in the course. If a student chooses the CR/NCR option for a MDST course, it will not count towards the major.

Exceptional university operating conditions: When the university is operating under exceptional conditions (e.g., a pandemic) and offers all students the CR/NCR option, the grade CR means the course will count for the major. 

Using a Core Course as General Elective:

If a Media Studies major takes a second topic of a core course (3504/3510/4510), the second course can count as a general MDST elective.