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Mass Communication M.S.

The dynamic Mass Communication master’s program has a slogan: A time to reflect, a time to advance. Whether the goal is to become a professor, conduct research, or enhance a media career, graduate studies can be tailored to suit each student’s needs. Master’s candidates can choose either a thesis or a professional project track whether for a traditional approach to scholarship or for working professionals seeking to further their careers. Within the thesis track, MTSU is one of the few universities that offers either a qualitative or quantitative focus. Members of the nationally and internationally recognized faculty have a wide range of professional and academic experience. Offerings include specializations in journalism, management, public relations, advertising, health communication, international communication, traditional/new media, and media law. Students are encouraged to think critically and develop creatively with support from peers, guidance from faculty, and resources for research and production. The relatively small size of graduate classes allows for individualized attention to students. Assistantships are available, as well as awards, fellowships, and other financial support.

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Journalism professor explores gender roles via ‘Mad Men’

Journalism professor explores gender roles via ‘Mad Men’

Dr. Jane Marcellus, professor in the MTSU School of Journalism, is author of two books on gender and labor. Her latest book (co-authored with Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, and Kimberly Wilmot Voss) is entitled Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical Power, Resistance, and Otherness (Peter Lang, 2014). The authors explore gender and women’s labor in the 1960s through the lens of AMC-TV's Mad Men. Marcellus wrote  Business Girls and Two-Job Wives: Emerging Media Stereotypes of Employed Women (Hampton Press, 2011) and has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, American Journalism, Feminist Media Studies, and Women’s Studies—An Interdisciplinary Journal. Awards include the David Sloan Award for top faculty paper and the Maurine Beasley Award for outstanding women's history paper, both from the American Journalism Historians Association. She is faculty adviser for the MTSU School of Journalism's chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha. 

EMC’s Quarles studies media abroad in Australia, Cambodia

EMC’s Quarles studies media abroad in Australia, Cambodia

Dr. Jan Quarles, professor in MTSU’s Electronic Media Communication Department, has been a postdoctoral collaborative research Fulbright scholar to Australia, where she spent a year in the newsrooms of The Age, The Sun, and The Herald in Melbourne. She completed a Senior Specialist Fulbright to the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. She is a Salzburg Seminar Fellow, an AEJMC Journalism Leadership in Diversity Fellow, and an RTNDA Excellence in the Newsroom Fellow. Prior to her work at MTSU, Quarles directed the public relations program at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Victoria, Australia, and worked with the Public Relations Institute of Australia to develop accreditation of university programs. She is the co-author (with Bill Rowlings) of Practising Public Relations: A Case Study Approach (Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, 1993). She currently teaches and conducts research in the area of international communication.

The Mass Communication M.S. program has a successful placement record for students. The MTSU master’s degree also has a national reputation for preparing students for doctoral study at prestigious programs throughout the nation. Some potential professional careers include

  • Advertising executive
  • Content manager
  • Designer account executive
  • Director of communication
  • Director of marketing
  • Director of management
  • Editor
  • Health care communication
  • Media expert
  • Professor
  • Public relations executive
  • Reporter
  • Researcher
  • Writer (professional/technical)

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Apple
  • Bohan Advertising
  • Bone McAllester Norton
  • Courthouse News Service
  • Dupuch Publications
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Emeril's Homebase
  • Jarrard, Phillips, Cate, & Hancock
  • Sherwin-Williams Paints
  • The Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union
  • The Tennessean
  • TNA Impact Wrestling
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • University of Illinois
  • Washington State University

Dr. Sanjay Asthana


Dr. Kenneth Blake
Associate Professor


Dr. Clare Bratten
Associate Professor


Dr. Dwight Brooks
Professor | Director


Dr. Larry Burriss


Dr. Tricia Farwell
Assistant Professor


Dr. Katherine Foss
Assistant Professor


Bob Gordon
Assistant Professor


Dr. Cary Ann Greenwood
Assistant Professor


Dr. Roger Heinrich


Dr. Robert Kalwinsky


Dr. Joongwha Lee
Assistant Professor


Dr. Jane Marcellus
Associate Professor


Zeny Panol
Associate Dean


Kenneth A. Paulson


Dr. Jan Quarles


Dr. Jason Reineke
Assistant Professor


Dr. Jennifer Bailey Woodard
Assistant Professor



The College of Mass Communication offers the Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Mass Communication, designed for students seeking an advanced degree in mass media theory and methods of research or for those wishing to advance in their professional field. The degree is appropriate for students who wish to become researchers or pursue a doctoral degree or for media professionals already in the field who seek a broader understanding of the field of mass communication and to develop research and management skills for decision-making in media-related businesses.

A graduate minor in Mass Communication is also available.

Applicants to the M.S. in Mass Communication program must have

  • an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college with official transcripts;
  • an acceptable grade point average (GPA) in all coursework completed;
  • acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)—a  combined score of 291 (current scale) or 900 (former scale) on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE is usually required.
  • a 500-word Statement of Purpose outlining academic interests and professional goals;
  • three letters of reference

All students in the Mass Communication graduate program must take MC 6000 and 6010 among their first year of coursework.

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Mass Communication

MC 6000 - The Science of Communication
3 Credit Hours
Quantitative and qualitative research dealing with the uses and effects of mass communication.

MC 6010 - Cultural Studies in Communication
3 Credit Hours
Relationship of communication to culture with particular emphasis on the everyday life contexts of media audiences.

MC 6100 - Research Design
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. Formulating research questions, developing operational definitions, selecting measures. Analysis of surveys, observational techniques, and interpretive studies.

MC 6110 - Quantitative Research Methods
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: MC 6000. Techniques of communication research emphasizing survey and experimental methods. Sampling, questionnaire construction, data gathering, and statistical methods.

MC 6120 - Qualitative Research Methods
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: MC 6010. Techniques of communication research emphasizing participant observation, ethnography, and focus groups. Interviewing, observation, problems of generalization, ethics of fieldwork.

MC 6200 - Media Management
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. Application of the case study method to understanding the role of management and managers in the delivery of media to the marketplace. Application of management and organization theory to the problems of the mass media.

MC 6230 - Media in the Marketplace
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. The use of various forms of audience research in media organizations. Social and ethical conflicts related to marketing.

MC 6250 - Media Organizations
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. Examines the structure of media organizations. Roles of creators, producers, distributors, publics, institutional frameworks.

MC 6260 - Health Care Communication
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. Introduces the practice and study of communication as it relates to health care, including mastery of sociocultural considerations and the intersection of the health care industry with government, public, corporate, and private entities.

MC 6300 - Media Law and Ethics
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. An overview of the laws relating to the media. Ethical and social dimensions of law. Emphasis on case studies.

MC 6320 - Mass Media and Public Opinion
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: MC 6000. Theories of democracy, the nature of a "public" and of "public opinion." Readings in the classics on mass media and democracy and in public opinion research.

MC 6350 - Cultural Studies in Popular Music
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: MC 6010. Relationship of popular music to society with attention to institutional, textual, and audience studies.

MC 6380 - News, Culture, and Democracy
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: MC 6010. Critical examination of the news process with attention to the relationship of economic, cultural, and political constraints.

MC 6400 - Communication and Technology
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. Readings in the cultural history of media technology explore technological change and social development as a system of interrelated social relations and practices.

MC 6430 - Special Topics in Communication
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. An in-depth analysis of one or more current issues or subdisciplines. Topics will vary from semester to semester.

MC 6590 - Case Studies in Media Management
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. A capstone course that emphasizes the integration of communication theory and method with management philosophy in the planning of strategy for media organizations. Emphasis on case studies and student presentations. Requires consent of director of graduate studies or instructor.

MC 6600 - Seminar in Applied Research
3 Credit Hours
Prerequisite: Permission of graduate director. A capstone course that emphasizes the application of various research methodologies to decision making in media organizations.

MC 6610 - Directed Reading and Research
3 Credit Hours
Completion and execution of a research project under the direction of a faculty advisor. P/F grading.

MC 6640 - Thesis Research
1 to 6 Credit Hours
Under the direction of a faculty advisor and graduate committee, the student will plan and execute an original research or creative project. Once enrolled, student should register for at least one credit hour of master's research each semester until completion. S/U grading.

MC 6650 - Professional Project
1 to 6 Credit Hours
Completion and execution of a professional project under the direction of a faculty advisor and graduate committee. Once enrolled, student should register for at least one credit hour of master's project each semester until graduation. S/U grading.

MC 6999 - Comprehensive Examination and Preparation
Credit Hours
1 credit hour. Open only to students who are not enrolled in any other graduate course and who will take the master's comprehensive examination during the term. The student must contact the graduate advisor during the first two weeks of the term for specifics regarding the details of this comprehensive examination preparatory course. Credit may not be applied to degree requirements.

Thesis and Professional Project Information

The thesis option is designed for the student seeking to concentrate studies in a particular area and to experience in-depth independent research. The thesis results in the production of traditional academic research.

Professional Project 
A professional project is an opportunity for a graduate student to produce work that is both researched and theorized but that also has a professional component.


Q: How long does it take to complete the M.S. degree?

A: The program requires completion of 12 courses (designated for the option or concentration the student is seeking) and is designed to be completed in two years for full time students taking three courses for each fall and spring semester. Students taking two courses in the fall, spring and summer semesters, can potentially complete the degree in two years (12 courses). You can have up to six years to complete the degree.

Q: Where do I send my application materials?

A: Admission forms can be found in the Graduate Catalog or online at the College of Graduate Studies. Send admission forms and fees, transcripts, and three letters of reference and statement of purpose to the MTSU College of Graduate Studies, 121A Sam Ingram Building, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.

Q: May I enroll in classes before being formally admitted into the program?

A: Yes. MTSU is an open enrollment university, which means that you may enroll in one course in the Mass Communication program before being formally admitted into our program. However, only certain classes are permitted for students not formally admitted and require a permission of department to enroll. You must be admitted to the program in the semester after you apply for admission into the Mass Communication program in order to continue taking courses in the program.

Q: Is financial aid available?

A: Yes. Limited numbers of graduate teaching assistantships and scholarships are available in addition to other forms of aid. Applications may be obtained from the College of Graduate Studies or from the academic department. Those seeking an assistantship must meet requirements for admission to graduate school and have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher. A student who is conditionally admitted cannot be considered for a Graduate Assistantship until the student has met the requirements of the conditional admission. The Student Financial Aid Office in Student Services & Admissions Center, Room 150 has information on various kinds of financial aid.