Mission and Academics

Media Studies Mission

The Department of Media Studies analyzes media culture, technology, labor, literacy, policy, infrastructure, and inequity.

Our goal is to provide students with the tools to evaluate and shape media. With global reach, our faculty and students examine media from a variety of perspectives that include media history, aesthetics and form, audience analysis, media uses, the impact of media on public opinion, and the relations between media and the law, including free speech issues, as well as the commerce and regulation of media in the public sphere. The department engages the role of media in these social arrangements through a combination of humanistic and social scientific approaches. We further focus on connecting with media stakeholders, drawing on close proximity and connection to Washington, DC and other national media centers to explore the global questions of the field.


Media Studies examines:

  • aesthetics and form of media communication
  • the history of media
  • ethics and effects of media in the arena of policy and legal studies, including privacy, copyright, localism, media trade, and broadband policy
  • issues of race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, and identity in media industries
  • the social impact of media on public opinion and culture
  • the relations between media and the law, including the First Amendment, immigration, and the commerce and regulation of media in the public sphere

The Media Studies Department began in Fall 2000 as an interdisciplinary undergraduate major in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. The department is historical and critical in orientation and takes media as its object of study. The department focuses on the forms, institutions, and effects of media (radio, film, television, photography, print, digital and electronic media), with particular emphasis on the mass media of the modern and contemporary period.

Media Studies is critically engaged with the creative analysis, production, and research into traditional and emerging forms of media. The department has a significant emphasis on digital media through approaches to its history, theory, and technology and their impact upon contemporary life.

Students who have completed the major are prepared to enter the media industry as well as to pursue advanced degrees in professional or graduate school. Many employers in the media industry today prefer graduates who have a humanities background of critical thinking over a specifically trained pre-professional concentration. Current students find a bountiful amount of internship opportunities through the University Career Center as well as the Media Studies Department. Our  majors have found internships in top-ranked national media companies including Viacom, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, as well as many other local and regional media firms. These contacts and experiences become invaluable to the majors, leading them into career directions such as journalism, advertising, public relations, communications, film and video production, and digital and graphic design.

In addition to internships, current majors also find practical experience through various student organizations like the daily student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, the weekly student magazine, The Declaration, the FilmMakers Society, WTJU, WUVA Media, as well as communication and media positions in other organizations.