Radio-Television-Film > Graduate > Master of Arts, concentration in Media Studies

Master of Arts, concentration in Media Studies

The UT RTF department consistently ranks in the top ten programs in the U.S. for both the academic study of media and for media production.

We offer:

  • Mentorship and diverse coursework offered by world-class faculty across the humanities and social sciences
  • High rate of success in job placement in the academy, industry, government, and at non-profit organizations  
  • Interdisciplinary program options (e.g., Business, Latin American Studies, Public Affairs)
  • Wide range of Portfolio Programs (e.g., Women & Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Museum Studies)
  • Internships with local media industry, festivals, policy institutions, and cultural organizations
  • Ability to supplement coursework in media studies with classes in media production and screenwriting
  • Access to the Harry Ransom Center’s research collections, including Mad Men, Robert DeNiro, Paul Schrader, David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson, and much more
  • Editorial and organizational roles for department-based journals and conferences, including Flow, Velvet Light Trap, and Global Fusion
  • Vibrant Austin media community
  • Low tuition and fees relative to peer institutions
  • Collaboration with a dynamic graduate student community that offers professional development and social activities through a peer mentorship program, organized writing groups, and the RTF Graduate Student Organization (GSO)

About Media Studies

Media Studies faculty and graduate students produce valuable research contributing to academic and policy debates on key issues in media and communication. Our program is distinctive in providing students with exposure to both humanistic and social scientific approaches to the critical study of the media.

Scholarship and coursework in RTF’s Media Studies Program examine the central role of media in culture, society, the arts, and politics, within historical as well as diverse local, regional, national, and global contexts. Both in the classroom as well as in their research, our top-tier faculty examine how media engage cultural practices, political participation, and social interactions within economic structures and technological systems. We teach and research a wide range of legacy and emerging media forms, including but not limited to film, television, digital media, radio, mobile technologies, and interactive games. We explore media as sites for the articulation and struggle over identity, with attention to issues of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, religion, and generation. We value multiple theoretical and methodological approaches through the interdisciplinary study of industry, policy, production, texts, and audiences. Our program aims to inspire better media practices as well as informed citizen engagement through media literacy based in empirical work.

Our primary research and teaching areas are:

  • Digital Media

    The Digital Media cluster emphasizes a) knowledge of how communication technologies have developed historically; b) the social and cultural functions and dynamics associated with digital media systems; and c) how elements of art and design figure into expressions of and interactions with digital media.  Courses address social media, new media industries and also examine ethical issues such as IP, copyright, and free speech developing around the digital media environment.

  • Global and International

    Courses in this cluster focus on global perspectives in media as well as specific regional and national contexts. Topics include film, television, digital and social media, as well as development, politics, and immigration, among others. Courses in global settings engage subjects in regions such as Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and nations such as Mexico, Brazil, India, China, and the UK.

  • Identity and Representation

    Courses in the Identity and Representation cluster examine film, television, digital media, and mediated culture in relation to the construction and politics of gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, citizenship and other axes of identity. Topics addressed in these courses include representation, authorship, inclusion, and advocacy within the media industries and social life more broadly, and community identities and formation in relation to the entertainment media and popular culture. Courses within the cluster are decidedly interdisciplinary, with theoretical roots in critical and cultural studies, historical studies, critical race studies, feminist media studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, global studies, and other theoretical perspectives. Students can specialize in areas that include Latina/o film and media studies, fandom studies, television and digital media studies, South Asian film and media studies, and gender and Hollywood film.
    RTF students engaged with this cluster frequently take courses in other departments and programs across the University, including Women’s & Gender Studies, Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian American Studies, English, the LBJ School of Public Policy, Anthropology, and Theater and Dance, as well as in departments that focus on area studies outside the U.S.

  • Industry, History, and Criticism

    Courses offered in the Industry, History, and Criticism cluster examine film, television, and digital media across the globe through a rich variety of methodological frameworks and critical lenses. A wide range of courses survey the media industries in relation to topics such as identity, region, fandom, stardom, and storytelling. In addition to varied offerings on industry and audiences, we offer courses emphasizing the importance of historical context, aesthetic analysis, and critical theory.

    RTF graduate students benefit from access to several archival collections, including the Harry Ransom Center (site for the Robert De Niro, David O. Selznick and newly acquired Mad Men collections, among others), the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and the LBJ Library. They can also take advantage of proximity to Austin’s vibrant media industries.

  • Media, Technology, and Social Change

    As globalization brings the world more closely together in certain ways, it pulls us apart in other ways. Many media scholars are examining these environments, technologies and international dynamics in order to improve understanding and to harness the tremendous abilities of new media systems to improve economic, democratic and social conditions. This area of study emphasizes the issues surrounding activism, technology, and cultural production using a critical frame and critical epistemologies. It requires sound methodological preparation as well as supervised research experience.

    The Media, Technology and Social Change cluster incorporates (1) opportunities for formal participation on at least one research project and also (2) the potential to take part in a sponsored summer internship with a project or agency using communication systems or exploring communication policy or social change in some way.

M.A., with concentration in Media Studies

The M.A. (Media Studies) is designed as a two-year scholarly degree program in which students produce work that applies theory to original research. There are two options to complete the degree: thesis (30-hour program of work) or master's report (33-hour program of work). Students are also required to take six credit hours in a minor field, outside the Department of Radio-TV-Film. Minor work may be taken in the College of Communication or elsewhere in the University. Coursework is chosen in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

Thesis Option

Students will incorporate 30 hours of coursework and research culminating in a Thesis, written under the direction of an advisor and second reader.

Report Option

Some students see the M.A. as a primarily professional degree that equips them to work in media or other fields of work at a more advanced level. Such students typically produce a Master’s Report employing applied research or they generate a creative project. 

PDF icon2017 MA Program of Work.pdf

Dual Degrees

Media Studies M.A. students may pursue dual degrees in a variety of programs across the University. Please note we do not offer dual degree programs for those pursuing the PhD (focus in Media Studies), the Master of Fine Arts in Film and Media Production, or the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting.

Applicants to any dual degree programs must apply separately to each program and be accepted in each program. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a dual degree with Middle Eastern Studies, you would submit separate and complete application materials to both Radio-Television-Film and Middle Eastern Studies. Please refer to the application section of this website for information on applying to the Department of Radio-Television-Film.

Dual degree codes and departments participating in dual degree programs with Radio-Television-Film are listed below:

  • 624300 - Radio-Television-Film (M.A) / Business Administration (M.B.A)
  • 624330 - Radio-Television-Film (M.A.) / Latin American Studies (M.A.)
  • 624360 - Radio-Television-Film (M.A.) / Middle Eastern Studies (M.A.)
  • 624390 - Radio-Television-Film (M.A.) / Public Affairs (M.A.)
  • 624420 - Radio-Television-Film (M.A.) / Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (M.A.)

Portfolio Programs

Portfolio programs provide opportunities for students to obtain credentials in a cross-disciplinary academic area of inquiry during the same time that they complete the requirements for the master’s degree. With these programs, students take thematically related graduate courses.

Current portfolio programs include: