Graduate Program

The Department of Mass Communications offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree in mass communications. Our MS is designed for students who wish to concentrate in Professional Media Practice (media message design, and media policy and management) or Media Studies (media and politics, media influence, media ethics, media literacy, transnational media, and media and representation). These concentration areas reflect the expertise of the department's graduate faculty, and thus enable students to attain high levels of competence in pragmatic considerations in media, theoretical sophistication and research design. Recent graduates from the program have applied their degree professionally in television journalism, advertising, public relations, sports marketing, and public policy, as well as gone on to pursue law and doctoral degrees.

The Graduate Student Handbook

The Gradute Student Handbook has been designed to assist our masters candidates and prospective students with any questions they might have and to provide a comprehensive overview of the program while providing information on a range of topics. Below is a list of the information you can find in the graduate handbook:

Program Overview

The MS program is comprised of 30 credit hours (9 hours of core coursework, 15 elective hours, and 6 hours of thesis or professional project). The Mass Communications' MS program maintains an enrollment of about 30 students. This size assures small class sizes (normally about 8-15), personalized program advising from the Graduate Program Director based on your career goals, and well as a close working relationship with your graduate thesis/final project committee.

Students typically begin courses in August at the beginning of the fall semester and can finish their program as early as the following fall. However, admission to the program is open all year and applications are assessed for acceptance as they arrive. To assure that students will be able to apply the degree to their professional and intellectual goals, the program stresses a foundation in:

  • Mass Communication Theory
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods of Mass Communication
  • Design, Production and Application of Media Messages

These core foci of our curriculum are pivotal for both what practitioners in the field might need as well as what doctoral program selection committees look for when evaluating students for their programs. In short, these three core areas of curriculum concentration combine to foster:

  • Critically thinking
  • The ability to communicate clearly, both written and oral;
  • Understanding the relations between theory and research, and its application;
  • The development of independent and original research;
  • The analysis of issues relevant to investigation.

Application/Admission Process

To apply to the MS in Mass Communications, please submit all of the following to:

Graduate Admissions
Box 1047
Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville
Edwardsville, Illinois 62026-1047

  1. A completed Graduate Admission Application form and fees
  2. Official transcripts
  3. A completed Mass Communications Graduate Program Application
  4. Statement of Purpose
  5. Three letters of Recommendation
  6. Assistantship Application (optional-only for those seeking an Assistantship).

For more information, visit Graduate Admissions website:

To submit an online application, visit:

Applicants are notified by the Graduate School of their acceptance to the program. Following admission, each student should make an appointment with the Director of Graduate Studies for an initial advisement appointment. Please consult the material in the Advisement Information section of this handbook prior to meeting with the director.

Download PDF Applications - Adobe Acrobat Reader Required To Open.
PDFMasters in Mass Communications Application
PDFGraduate Assistantship Application

Graduation Requirements: Thesis, Project or Comprehensive Examination?

Thesis, Project or Comprehensive Examination?

To complete the Master's degree, each student must complete a thesis or project or take a comprehensive examination. Which option the student chooses is contingent upon their future goals, and is elaborated in conjunction with a graduate committee of three professors (four is optional). At least two of those committee members should be from the Department of Mass Communications, and the Committee Chair must be a Mass Communications graduate faculty member.


A thesis involves identifying a problem, issue or trend within the field and investigating it by drawing on relevant theory and applying appropriate research procedures. This option is usually selected for those students wishing to extend their graduate studies (e.g. doctoral program) or that wish to pursue a research problem in depth.

The preparation of a thesis proposal involves the following steps:

Step 1: Before beginning a proposal, students should discuss their topic area with the chairperson of their graduate committee in order to determine if the topic is appropriate, and to get helpful research advice.

Step 2: Students should prepare a complete proposal and set up a proposal meeting with their committee. Thesis proposals normally include Sections I, II, and III of "A Brief Guide for the Preparation of A Research Study" (See Table of Contents). The chairperson of the graduate committee will then schedule a committee meeting to approve or disapprove the proposal. Students must register thesis and project titles with the Graduate School as soon as the proposal is approved. Please note that the Graduate School requires that a title be registered two semesters prior to a student’s anticipated graduation.

Step 3: Once the proposal has been accepted by the committee, students may complete their Thesis with the help and advice of their graduate advisors. NOTE: Each Thesis must relate to the theories of mass communication taught in MC500 and use, as appropriate, the research methods taught in MC501.


A project can be developed that blends theory, research methods, and a professional skill to an applied problem. For example, this might involve developing an information campaign for a hospital, an audio or video documentary about a media related issue, or a media literacy curriculum for a secondary school. Six hours credit may be earned for the Thesis under MC599 or Professional Project under MC 598. Before beginning work, each student should be familiar with Guidelines for the Preparation of Thesis or Project, issued by the Graduate School.

Preparation For Professional Project

Six hours of credit may be earned for the project under MC598.

The preparation of a project involves the following steps:

Step 1: Before beginning a thesis proposal, students should discuss their topic area with the chairperson of their graduate committee in order to determine if the topic is appropriate, and to get helpful research advice.

Step 2: A student should prepare a project proposal that includes: (1) An overview of the project; (2) A summary of relevant theory and research; (3) Overview of methodology to be used, and (4) A statement of the signifi- cance of the project.

Step 3: Once the proposal is accepted, a student may complete his/her project with the help and advice of the graduate committee.

Comprehensive Examination

As a culminating experience for the master’s degree, students, who elect not to take the thesis (MC 599) or project option (MC 598), will take a comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination is a set of written test and oral defense on 3 subject areas within the mass communications field. If the student elects this option, s/he is expected to demonstrate thorough knowledge of main concepts, theories, research methods and major historical developments in the media and communications field. The student will demonstrate integrated knowledge from courses taken in the program.

Preparation for the Comprehensive Examination and Selection of the Committee

As the student nears coursework completion, s/he should discuss with the advisor the constitution of the examination committee and the topics of the examinations. Students will choose a three-person Committee. At least two of those committee members should be from the Department of Mass Communications, and the Committee Chair must be a Mass Communications graduate faculty member.

The student is advised to check with prospective faculty members concerning their willingness and ability to serve as members on this committee and to clarify expectations for the written exam. The Committee will help develop a list of questions related to the student’s career goals, courses taken, and professional interests.

Then, the student must submit a Comprehensive Examination Committee Form with signatures and submit it to the Graduate Program Director. Students must register for the comprehensive exam by notifying in writing (includes email) to the Graduate Program Director by the Friday of Week 1 of the semester in which they plan to graduate. Summer graduating students must take the exam in the spring quarter prior to the completion of their coursework – the comprehensive exam will not be offered in the summer.

Comprehensive Exam Details

Integrative Studies - Marketing Communications (MS)

The messages and the media that businesses deploy to communicate with their target market can make or break their marketing efforts. In designing schemes for marketing products, a primary objective is to create and sustain demand and preference for the product. With the proliferation of traditional as well as social media platforms, it is important for a company to strategically choose communication tools that will position the product or the company in the minds of the target customer.

Click here for more details

Certificate Program in Media Literacy

The Media Literacy Post-Baccalaureate Certificate is designed for teachers of secondary education who wish to address questions of media impact in their curriculum. The certificate provides these teachers with a foundation of theoretical, analytical and applied approaches to current trends in mass media. Issues such as the emergence of new technologies; growth of multinational media conglomeration and their impact on politics; questions of race, class, gender and representation; and the effects of media violence are focused on. In addition, certificate program students can also learn and/or sharpen media production skills through elective courses. This certificate should be particularly useful for teachers of high school courses such as , social studies, contemporary concerns, political science, English, media studies, etc.

Required Courses (9 hrs):
• MC 500 Media Interrelationships
• MC 503 Media Critical Theory
• MC 504 Social Responsibility in the Media

How To Apply

Thank you for your interest in our Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Media Literacy at Southern Illinois University. We are very excited about offering the first and only one in the area! The mission of our program is to prepare educators with ways to integrate media-related issues into the classroom. Our curriculum is designed to foster analytical thinking and a sensitive understanding of the interrelationships between technological, economic, cultural, ethical and political issues of media and society. The program allows certificate students to take a wide variety of media theory and skill-based courses. The program's structure is designed with one basic premise: by teaching people how to critically analyze and learn to create their own messages (in print, audio, video and multimedia), educators can foster sophisticated and active citizens rather than merely more consumers for our media saturated society. To make this experience accessible for educators and other working professionals, we offer many night courses. We also offer many courses during the summer.

Graduate Faculty

Dr. Gary Hicks - Professor
Dr. Musonda Kapatamoyo - Professor, Department Chair
Dr. Suman Mishra - Graduate Director, Professor
Dr. Jason Yu - Professor
Dr. Undrah Baasanjav - Associate Professor
Dr. Mark Poepsel - Associate Professor
Dr. Shi Li - Assosciate Professor
Dr. Ashton Speno - Assistant Professor
Dr. Alext Leith - Assistant Professor

PDFDownload the Graduate Student Handbook

Frequently Asked Questions

This link ( ) has answers to many of the frequently asked questions we get.