M.A. Program: Curriculum

 

Our master's curricula offer distinct pathways for students in our three programs of study. Instruction in Journalism and Strategic Communication will help jumpstart a professional career or deepen the skillset and network for a student entering the program with prior professional experience. The Theory and Research pathway prepares students for doctoral study and research careers. J.D./M.A. students complete this program of study while concurrently earning a degree from the UNC School of Law.

 

Programs of Study

Journalism | Strategic Communication | Theory and Research

Journalism

Our new curriculum launching in 2023 will allow aspiring and early-career journalists to—in just 12 months—complete an intensive dive into learning the specialized skills of their craft. Students will complete 30 credit hours during the one-year program. They will start with a bootcamp course in late summer before the fall semester and conclude with a final project in the summer following the spring semester. Each journalism student will pursue one of three specializations:

  • Interactive design journalism focuses on the development of interactive stories and content production for dynamic web projects.
  • Public life reporting focuses on the development of investigative reporting expertise, allowing students to produce stories about education, health care, housing, immigration, labor, law enforcement and racial/ethnic discrimination, among other issues.
  • Video journalism teaches students how to acquire audio, photo and video content; structure stories; and produce short and long-form documentary films.

Summer Session II

  • One of the following bootcamp courses:
    • Fundamentals of Reporting
    • Fundamentals of Visual Journalism

Fall

  • Journalism Methods
  • Law, Ethics and Contemporary Issues
  • Intermediate Interactive Media
  • User Experience Design and Usability

Spring

  • Advanced Reporting
  • Advanced Interactive Media
  • Motion Graphics
  • Elective (numbered 400-900)

Summer Session I

Thesis project: Each student will complete a comprehensive journalism project with coaching and advising by a panel of journalism faculty. The project will stem from a proposal the student develops during the spring semester.

Students will also complete an oral comprehensive exam during the thesis project defense.

For course descriptions (not yet available for new courses), please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For Hussman course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Summer Session II

  • One of the following bootcamp courses:
    • Fundamentals of Reporting
    • Fundamentals of Visual Journalism

Fall

  • Journalism Methods
  • Law, Ethics and Contemporary Issues
  • Investigative and Data-driven Reporting
  • Public Life Reporting I

Spring

  • Advanced Reporting
  • Narrative Writing
  • Public Life Reporting II
  • Elective (numbered 400-900)

Summer Session I

Thesis project: Each student will complete a comprehensive journalism project with coaching and advising by a panel of journalism faculty. The project will stem from a proposal the student develops during the spring semester.

Students will also complete an oral comprehensive exam during the thesis project defense.

For course descriptions (not yet available for new courses), please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For Hussman course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Summer Session II

  • One of the following bootcamp courses:
    • Fundamentals of Reporting
    • Fundamentals of Visual Journalism

Fall

  • Journalism Methods
  • Law, Ethics and Contemporary Issues
  • Advanced Documentary Storytelling
  • Elective (numbered 400-900)

Spring

  • Advanced Reporting
  • Media and Journalism Entrepreneurship
  • Photojournalism Projects
  • Elective (numbered 400-900)

Summer Session I

Thesis project: Each student will complete a comprehensive journalism project with coaching and advising by a panel of journalism faculty. The project will stem from a proposal the student develops during the spring semester.

Students will also complete an oral comprehensive exam during the thesis project defense.

For course descriptions (not yet available for new courses), please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For Hussman course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Debashis Aikat

Dr. Aikat theorizes about the evolving roles of media and journalism in the digital age.

Bio

Spencer Barnes

Dr. Barnes' research employs cognitive engineering and quantitative research methodologies to study the design and efficacy of dynamic visual communication products such as visual explanations, motion graphics and data visualizations.

Bio

Andy Bechtel

Professor Bechtel teaches editing for print and digital media. He's interested in headline writing, social media and alternative story forms.

Bio

Paul Cuadros

Professor Cuadros’ reporting and writing focuses on issues of race, poverty, and immigration as it relates to demographic change and its impact on America.

Bio

Patrick Davison

Professor Davison has been teaching photo, video and documentary multimedia storytelling in the school since 2001. He is the founder of the Carolina Photojournalism Workshop.

Bio

Barbara Friedman

Dr. Friedman's research focuses on media representations of sex trafficking and, more broadly, on constructions and contestations of race, gender and class. 

Bio

Rhonda Gibson

Dr. Gibson's most recent research focuses on media portrayals of sexual minorities and the influence of these portrayals on both individual perceptions and public conversations.  

Bio

Chad Heartwood

Professor Heartwood’s primary areas of expertise are documentary video storytelling and photojournalism for an array of media platforms.

Bio

Steven King

Professor King is a professor of emerging technologies, teaching and helping media companies leverage virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Bio

Susan King

Susan King, former vice president for external affairs for Carnegie Corporation of New York, is UNC Hussman’s dean and John Thomas Kerr Distinguished Professor. She spent more than 20 years in Washington, D.C., as an anchor and reporter covering politics.

Bio

Tom Linden

Dr. Linden’s focus is on reporting on environmental, science and medical stories for public consumption.

Bio

Trevy McDonald

Dr. McDonald’s creative work and research uses oral history to produce documentaries and books on the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of Black journalists.

Bio

Erin Siegal McIntyre

Professor McIntyre is an award-winning investigative journalist and photographer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Reuters, among many other publications.

Bio

Terence Oliver

Professor Oliver is an award-winning motion graphics producer who teaches information graphics, magazine design, graphic design and motion graphics. He created and taught the first motion graphics courses in journalism in the United States.

Bio

Laura Ruel

Professor Ruel teaches design, user experience and interactive media in the school’s graduate and undergraduate journalism programs.

Bio

Kate Sheppard

Professor Sheppard is a reporter and editor focusing on politics and policy as they relate to the environment, energy, science and health. She is an enterprise editor at HuffPost.

Bio

Ryan Thornburg

Professor Thornburg teaches data-driven reporting and is director of the Reese News Lab. He develops tools to help reporters use data to lower the costs of accountability and explanatory journalism.

Bio

Charlie Tuggle

Dr. Tuggle studies media coverage of the Olympics, particularly of female athletes who participate in the Games.

Bio

 

Strategic Communication

Our program of study in Strategic Communication prepares you for advertising, marketing communication and public relations positions in agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and government. Students complete 36 total credit hours over two academic years, taking 11 courses over three semesters and creating a final thesis project in the fourth semester.

Core

  • MEJO 701: Strategic Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 732: Public Relations and Strategic Writing
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 782: Digital Storytelling

Required Courses

  • MEJO 479: Market Intelligence
  • MEJO 730: Public Relations Foundations
  • MEJO 830: Public Relations Theory & Research
  • One of the following courses:
    • MEJO 634: Public Relations Campaigns
    • MEJO 670: Digital Advertising and Marketing
    • MEJO 671: Social Marketing Campaigns
    • MEJO 673: Advertising Campaigns

Electives

Three courses at the 400-900 level, with up to two courses taken outside the school (can include interinstitutional courses at nearby universities like Duke and North Carolina State) in consultation with adviser

Thesis project

Comprehensive project completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee.

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Strategic Communication worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For Hussman course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Lois Boynton

Dr. Boynton’s research focuses on ethical decision-making by public relations and media practitioners, professionalism and agenda building, particularly related to nonprofits.

Bio

Joseph Cabosky

Dr. Cabosky's research and creative work focuses on diversifying public relations by better appreciating the differences among publics and how this diversity should lead to better ways to build relationships with publics and stakeholders.

Bio

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

Julie Dixon

Professor Dixon has more than 30 years of experience in crisis communications, social media relations, sports marketing, integrated marketing, entertainment/celebrity public relations, corporate communications, internal communications, and diversity and inclusion recruitment.

Valerie Fields

Dr. Fields teaches public relations and crisis communication. She has worked in public relations for some of the world’s most well-known organizations.

Bio

Deen Freelon

Dr. Freelon’s primary areas of expertise are political expression through digital media and the use of computer programming and computational methods to extract, preprocess, analyze and visualize large digital datasets.

Bio

Livis Freeman

Professor Freeman teaches courses in public relations campaigns and case studies. He started the public and community relations company 4ourFans, Inc. to help professional athletes in their work with charities.

Bio

Heidi Hennink-Kaminski

Dr. Hennink-Kaminski’s research uses the social marketing approach to develop interventions and campaigns to drive behavior change in areas such as childhood obesity and clinical trial participation. 

Bio

Joe Bob Hester

Dr. Hester's research focuses on methodological issues, particularly the use of computational research methods, in areas such as sampling, agenda setting and social media.

Bio

Gary Kayye

Professor Kayye teaches courses in advertising and new media technologies. He has worked in technology branding and marketing for more than 25 years and is president and CEO of rAVe [Publications].

Bio

Daniel Kreiss

Dr. Kreiss’s research analyzes the effects of technologies on electoral politics, political thought and American democracy.

Bio

Allison Lazard

Dr. Lazard's research revolves around a core interest in how visual and interactive design influences perception and impact of strategic health and science messages.

Bio

Suman Lee

Dr. Lee teaches and conducts research on international public relations, public diplomacy, public relations theory, and international communication.

Bio

Shannon McGregor

Dr. McGregor’s research addresses the role of social media and their data in political processes, with a focus on political communication, journalism, public opinion and gender.

Bio

Dana McMahan

Professor McMahan teaches advertising courses in creative, art direction and experimental design. She also runs her own fashion and lifestyle company.

Bio

John Sweeney

Professor Sweeney teaches courses in advertising and sports communication. His creative activity currently centers on the future of sports and media.

Bio

Lisa Villamil

Professor Villamil designs human-centered visual systems and structures using information design, data visualization and creative technologies to help people understand complex ideas and find meaning.

Bio

Xinyan (Eva) Zhao

Dr. Zhao’s research focuses on the roles of social media and social networks in crisis, risk and health communication using computational and quantitative methods.

Bio

 

Theory and Research

This program of study is designed for students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees and careers in academia, or for students interested in non-academic research positions. Over two academic years, students complete 39 credit hours, consisting of four courses in each of the first three semesters and a research thesis in the fourth semester. They explore topics within the five areas of substantive study that comprise our doctoral program. Many of our master’s graduates apply to our Ph.D. program to continue their study here.

Theory and Research students in the J.D./M.A. dual-degree program follow a specialized plan that allows them to complete our requirements and those of the UNC School of Law in about four years, depending on their individual programs of study and progress.

Substantive areas of study

  • Media processes and production
  • Legal and regulatory issues in communication
  • Media uses and effects
  • Health communication
  • Political, social and strategic communication

Core

  • MEJO 703: Mass Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 705: Theories of Mass Communication
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 900: Independent Study

Other courses

  • Three foundation courses appropriate to the student’s research emphasis
  • Six courses, including a MEJO methods course and at least two outside the school, defining the specific focus of the student’s program

Thesis

Comprehensive research paper completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Theory and Research worksheet (PDF) or J.D./M.A. worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For Hussman course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

For more information on our areas of study for Theory and Research, including faculty members specializing in each area, please see our Ph.D. curriculum page.