Three available tracks:

  1. Professional-track master's focused on specialized training in multimedia skills that lead to careers in mass media industries.
  2. Thesis-track master's focused on developing skills in mass communication research and typically leading to enrollment in a doctoral program.
  3. Non-thesis master's for students interested in basic concepts and theories in journalism and mass communication studies but not in advanced doctoral-level training.

Graduate programs in journalism and mass communication are designed for advanced academic preparation in the various fields of mass communication and journalism, and for training in research and teaching. The School of Journalism and Mass Communication offers three options for the master of arts: professional-track M.A. (30 credits in multi-media communication and topic specialization); thesis-track M.A. (30 credits in theory and methods plus thesis); and non-thesis M.A. (30 credits with tight focus on journalism and mass communication concepts).

The school is a recognized leader in teaching and research in a variety of topics including the process and effects of mass communication; communication campaigns; community and social movements; consumer and popular culture; health and science communication; history of mass communication; international communication; media accountability and criticism; media law and policy; new media technology; political communication and public opinion; and race, gender and mass communication. Graduate work prepares students to use and contribute to the research and scholarship in these and many other areas. Identifying important questions, gathering evidence, and understanding standards of inference are dominant features of all graduate degree programs.

Funding is available in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and project assistantships. Qualified students also will be recommended for university fellowships.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A., with available professional track and research/thesis track

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least 50% of the required coursework (15 of 30 credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, up to 7 credits numbered 300 or 400 and advanced courses at the 500 and 600 level that assess graduate students separately from undergraduate students from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree. Courses that qualify include:

JOURN 345 Principles and Practice of Strategic Communication4
JOURN 401 In-Depth Reporting4
JOURN 404 Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs4
JOURN 405 Creative Nonfiction4
JOURN 411 Multimedia Design4
JOURN 419 Electronic News for Web and Broadcast4
JOURN 445 Creative Campaign Messages4
JOURN 447 Strategic Media Planning4
JOURN 449 Account Planning and Strategy4
JOURN 475 Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills1-4
JOURN/​HISTORY  560 History of Mass Communication4
JOURN 561 Mass Communication and Society4
JOURN 565 Effects of Mass Communication4
JOURN 614 Communication and Public Opinion4
JOURN/​COM ARTS/​HDFS/​LSC  616 Mass Media and Youth3
JOURN/​COM ARTS/​LSC  617 Health Communication in the Information Age3
JOURN 618 Mass Communication and Political Behavior4
JOURN 620 International Communication4
JOURN 621 Mass Communication in Developing Nations4
JOURN 658 Communication Research Methods4
JOURN/​ASIAN AM  662 Mass Media and Minorities4
JOURN 669 Literary Aspects of Journalism3
JOURN 675 Topics in Government and Mass Media3
JOURN 676 Special Topics in Mass Communication1-4
JOURN 699 Directed Study1-6

Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework taken as a UW–Madison Special student. This includes courses numbered 300 or 400 and advanced courses at the 500 and 600 level which are identified with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute in the University's Course Guide. Courses that qualify include:

JOURN 345 Principles and Practice of Strategic Communication4
JOURN 401 In-Depth Reporting4
JOURN 404 Interpretation of Contemporary Affairs4
JOURN 405 Creative Nonfiction4
JOURN 411 Multimedia Design4
JOURN 419 Electronic News for Web and Broadcast4
JOURN 445 Creative Campaign Messages4
JOURN 447 Strategic Media Planning4
JOURN 449 Account Planning and Strategy4
JOURN 475 Special Topics in Advanced Concepts and Skills1-4

Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

No program-specific courses required.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.25 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

Students must earn a B or above in all core curriculum coursework.

Probation Policy

The status of a student can be one of three options:

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Advisor / Committee

M.A. thesis track students are required to have a thesis committee of three faculty members.

M.A. professional track students are required to have one faculty advisor.

Assessments and Examinations

M.A. thesis track requires a formal thesis and defense; the Professional M.A. track requires a portfolio presentation.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

To apply for the master's, students must have a four-year bachelor's degree, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), and completed Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Three letters of recommendation are required of all applicants. GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing tests) are required for U.S. students and international students. International students are also required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Test scores must be furnished to the school before the application is considered complete.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Attain mastery in an area of the mass communication field. This encompasses an ability to articulate, critique, or elaborate theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry in the chosen field of study. (Research)
  • Identify sources and assemble evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of communication. (Research)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social, psychological, cultural or global context. (Research)
  • Select and/or utilize the most appropriate methodologies and practices. (Research)
  • Evaluate or synthesize information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of communication. (Research)
  • Develop professional communication skills related to gathering, assessing, compiling and disseminating information, by selecting and/or utilizing the most appropriate methodologies and practices and the evaluation and synthesis of information. (Professional)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the journalism field of study. (Professional)
  • Select and/or utilize the most appropriate professional journalistic practices. (Professional)
  • Evaluate or synthesize information pertaining to questions or challenges in their field of journalistic specialization. (Professional)
  • Attain mastery in an area of the mass communication field. This encompasses an ability to articulate, critique, or elaborate theories and approaches to inquiry in the chosen field of study. (Non-Thesis)
  • Develop in-depth and specialized expertise in a topic of interest. In doing so students will be able to identify sources of information and assemble evidence pertaining to questions in that area. (Non-Thesis)
  • Demonstrate understanding of the primary field of study. (Non-Thesis)
  • Select and/or utilize the most appropriate professional practices. (Non-Thesis)
  • Evaluate or synthesize information pertaining to questions or challenges in their field of specialization. (Non-Thesis)

Professional Conduct

  • Communicate clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study. (Research)
  • Communicate clearly in ways appropriate to journalism practice. (Professional)
  • Communicate clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study. (Non-Thesis)

Faculty: Professors Baughman, Culver, Downey, Drechsel, Fair, Friedland, Gunther, Kim, McLeod, Riddle, Robinson, Rojas, D. Shah, H. Shah, Vaughn; Assistant Professors Graves, Palmer, Wagner, Wells