Catalog • 2012-2013

Media Studies - Major

For information, contact Dr. James Brancato or Assistant Professor Elizabeth Ortiz in the Department of Communication

Program Description

According to media scholar Jean Kilbourne, the average American is exposed to over 3,000 advertisements a day and watches three years' worth of television ads in a lifetime. As we think about the amount of time we spend with all media we quickly see the need for an engaged and critical audience that views themselves as active participants, and not passive consumers, in our media and cultural landscape.

A major in Media Studies focuses on the analysis and criticism of media institutions and media texts, how people experience and understand media content, and the roles of media in producing and transforming culture. This includes the study of communications policy and law; media industries and their history; media criticism and interpretation; the effect of mass media on our society and culture, including cultural studies; visual and media literacy; and the psychological and behavioral aspects of media exposure. Beyond the critical component of the major, students are trained in the creative production techniques. Students will use new technologies, equipment, methodologies, and facilities that will prepare them for a wide array of career and graduate study possibilities.

A major in Media Studies enables a graduating student to find entry-level positions in any field where the activity, implementation, processing or study of communication and media technologies is a primary focus. Students majoring in Cedar Crest College’s Media Studies program pursue careers in many fields, including journalism, public relations, development, marketing, personnel, advertising, video production and broadcasting. Many students also go on to graduate study in a variety of disciplines. The program opens up opportunities in research, teaching, corporate communication, government, public information, international relations, human services and media and book publishing.

Additionally, the Communication Department plays a crucial role in student life and campus culture through the sponsorship of the student newspaper, “The Crestiad,” the campus radio station (CCC Radio) and the Convergence Lab. It plays a central role on campus in the study of the liberal arts and social sciences and contributes to the arts and performing arts through the development of aesthetic appreciation and practical skills using media technologies.

Students have the opportunity to focus on either a pre-graduate or professional approach. Both orientations are grounded in a scholarly, theoretical understanding of the role of media in society. Students work personally with their communication advisor to shape their course of study around their areas of interest. The Media Studies program also emphasizes the need to create a portfolio that represents students’ best work during their time at Cedar Crest, and can be used to their advantage when applying for media and communication jobs upon graduation.

As with all majors in the Communication Department, the design of the Media Studies major and the design of the individual courses reflect an interdisciplinary perspective, grounded in the liberal arts curriculum. At the end of her course of study, students are expected to be able to talk and write about communication, its forms, media, content and activities. They are also expected to develop the capacity for critical thinking and insight needed both for professional excellence and as an educated citizen in a world dominated by media information and persuasion.

Total number of credits: 42

Program Requirements

A grade of C or better is needed for courses that fulfill major and minor requirements. Courses transferred from other colleges may count towards the major only with the approval of the department.

Capstone Requirement

The program provides students with the opportunity to choose between writing a senior research thesis and conducting a senior professional project in order to fulfill their capstone requirement. This latter option may be done in conjunction with an internship.

Students conducting a senior project are required to submit for pre-approval a proposal outlining their project, the project’s connection to a field of literature in Communication, a schedule for the submission of progress reports, their internship responsibilities (if applicable), and a final analysis of their project. Students may work with an outside co-advisor in a related field for their senior capstone requirement. For instance, a student in public relations may want to work with a co-advisor in marketing, etc.


Students are not required to complete an internship for the major. However, it is highly recommended that students who do not plan on immediately continuing on to graduate school complete at least one, if not more, internships. Internships may fulfill up to 6 credits towards completion of the major (the completion of two internships of three credits each is specifically recommended).

“The Crestiad” and Cedar Crest Campus Radio Club (CCC Radio)

Students have opportunities through these campus organizations to report, write, edit, announce and develop advertising and promotion campaigns, oversee finances, etc.; these skills are crucial to many careers in communication. Credit earned for participation in “The Crestiad” can be applied to the major (see below). The department encourages students at all levels, including freshmen, to participate in these organizations.

Course Requirements for the Media Studies Major

A major in Media Studies requires 42 credits of coursework. All students are required to complete courses in four categories: Communication Core Curriculum (12 credits), Additional Media Studies Requirements (6 credits), Perspectives (9 credits), Applications (6 credits), Advanced Study (3 credits), Communication Electives (6 credits)

Communication Core Curriculum (12 credits)

The Communication Core is required of all majors in the Communication Department. The goal of the core curriculum is to introduce all students to the history, research and theory in Communication and to provide students with a general understanding of how research in Communication is conducted.

COM 100 Introduction to Communication 3 credits
COM 112 Media Industries 3 credits
COM 200 Communication Theory and Research 3 credits
COM 352 Senior Capstone: Media Studies 3 credits

Additional Media Studies Major Requirements (6 credits)

COM 102 Media Literacy
COM 342 Media Studies Seminar (taken in fall of senior year to prepare for Senior Thesis)

Perspectives (3 courses required, 9 credits)

This category of courses provides students with the opportunity to explore the range of Media Studies as an academic discipline.

COM 140 Introduction to Film
COM 150 Introduction to Journalism
COM 210 Interpersonal Communication
COM 212 Intercultural Communication
COM 215 Organizational Communication
COM 216 Public Relations and Society
COM 217 Advertising and Society
COM 244 Topics in Film (can only be taken once in this category, and no more than twice toward the major)
COM 245 Topics in Popular Culture (can only be taken once in this category, and no more than twice toward the major)
COM 252 Online Journalism
COM 270 Race and Gender in the Media
COM 272 Children and the Media
COM 275 Persuasion and Propaganda

Applications (2 courses required; 6 credits minimum. Only 3 credits may be satisfied through an internship)

The courses in this category provide students with practical experience in various applications connected with Communication.

COM 120 Introduction to New Media (4 credits)
COM 152 The Crestiad (1-3 credits; no more than 3 credits may be taken toward completion of the Applications requirement)
COM 224 Video Production I (4 credits)
COM 225 Digital Photography
SPS 390: Internship (up to 6 credits)
Other courses in the New Media major (e.g., COM 220, 222, 226) may be taken toward the completion of the Applications requirement, with permission of the student’s advisor.

Advanced Study (one course required; 3 credits minimum)

The courses in this category provide students with the opportunity for further instruction and/or advanced study in the various areas associated with Communication as a discipline.

COM 300 Readings in Communication and Culture
COM 310 News Media in America
COM 324 Video Production II (4 credits)
COM 325 Advanced Digital Photography (4 credits)

Electives in the Major (2 courses required; 6 credits minimum)

Two classes (6 credits) to be chosen from the above courses.

Recommended Courses

For students interested in Journalism:
ENG 235: Topics in Nonfiction: Writing for Publication

Students are strongly encouraged to take courses and/or select an additional major or minor in related fields such as history, political science, English, writing, or Hispanic and Latino studies. Students should make these selections after consultation with their major advisor. The following courses are particularly recommended for journalism students:
HIS 121/122 Survey of United States History 3 credits
PSC 210 American Public Policy 3 credits
PSC 251 American Political Thought 3 credits
SOC 218 Social Problems in American Communities 3 credits

For students interested in Public Relations:
Students are strongly recommended also to take courses in related fields, including marketing, international business, and economics. Students should make this selection after consultation with their major advisor.

College-wide Requirements

Students fulfill the Oral Presentation requirement with the satisfactory completion (C or better) of COM 100.
Students fulfill the Information Literacy requirement with the satisfactory completion (C or better) of COM 200.
Students fulfill the Technology requirement with the satisfactory completion (C or better) of either COM 352 or 353.