Journalism and Strategic Media

Room 300, Meeman Journalism Building

Coordinator of Graduate Studies

I. The Department of Journalism and Strategic Media offers the Master of Arts degree in Journalism and Strategic Media. In addition to the residential master’s program, the Department offers its MA in Journalism and Strategic Media online to distant students.

All graduate students must comply with the general requirements of the Graduate School (see Admissions Regulations, Academic Regulations, and Minimum Degree Requirements) as well as the program requirements of the degree being pursued.

II. MA Degree Program

Students in the MA program may take courses in advertising, news, new and emerging media, public relations, and visual communication in keeping with their needs and interests. The curriculum is designed for undergraduates interested in advanced study, practicing professionals looking to deepen their knowledge and sharpen their skills, workers changing careers, and those who anticipate going into teaching. Students should consult with the coordinator of graduate studies and with faculty advisors in designing individual course plans.

Program objectives are: (1) understanding and application of First Amendment principles and the law appropriate to professional practice, the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications, and the diversity of groups in relationship to communications; (2) understanding the concepts and being able to apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information; (3) developing the ability to work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity; (4) developing the ability to conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work; and (5) cultivating the ability to write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, their audiences, and the purposes they serve.

A. Program Admission and Prerequisites

Applicants to the program are evaluated on a monthly basis. Students may be admitted for the fall or spring semesters or for the summer session. Admission to the journalism program is competitive. Multiple criteria are considered and include official GRE or MAT scores, cumulative grade point averages, relevant employment history in the form of a resume, and a personal goal statement.

Applicants whose highest degree is from a foreign university must have their credentials evaluated. The university will accept evaluations done by any credentialing agency listed on the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services web site (

B. Program Requirements

  1. Courses and credit hours. Students will complete their degrees with a minimum of 33 hours of graduate credit. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate faculty of the department. Student work must be completed at a level of performance satisfactory to the graduate faculty. Students must complete all journalism courses with a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Course work taken outside the department must be approved by the student's advisor. No more than 9 credit hours of coursework may be taken at the 6000-level. 

    Students with graduate credit earned at another institution may petition to have it applied toward their degree requirements at the University of Memphis. Such credit is not transferred automatically and must be approved by the graduate faculty. A maximum of 12 semester hours earned at another regionally accredited university may be applied toward the master's degree requirements at the University of Memphis.

  2. Students will choose one of four emphasis areas: Integrated Strategic Media (21 hours), Visual Media (21 hours), News and Storytelling (21 hours), or Mass Media Research (21 hours, which includes a six-hour thesis). Students choosing the research emphasis are not required to do the Graduate Media Practicum.

  3. Required Courses. All students are required to complete a 12-hour core consisting of Pro Seminar, Media Portfolio, Mass Communication Theory, Mass Communication Research Methods, and (except for students doing the research track) the Graduate Media Practicum. . Students must complete Pro Seminar by the end of their first semester. 

    Students are encouraged to prioritize the core courses, and complete them as soon as possible. No more than three hours in either JOUR 7700 or JOUR 7800, but not both, may be applied to the degree. No more than three hours in either JOUR 7600 or JOUR 7650, but not both, may be applied to the degree. All requirements for the degree must be completed in eight years. Courses older than eight years will not be allowed as credit toward the master's degree. Additionally, students who entered the program without an undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communication or a similar field are required to take JOUR 6700, 6702 and JOUR 7000.

  4. Master’s Thesis (JOUR 7996, Thesis). Students who anticipate continuing with doctoral study or who are interested in academic research or in college teaching should complete an independent research project culminating in a master’s thesis. A thesis uses the academic research method to examine a phenomenon in mass communication, or to consider a legal, historical, or visual issue related to journalism and mass communication. It must collect original data and analyze it, and discuss how the research fits in with established knowledge. A thesis might use content analysis, survey, experiment, focus groups, in-depth interviews, document analysis, ethnography, legal analysis, historical analysis, or visual analysis.

    On completion of a thesis, a student will take an oral examination with a three-person faculty committee that assesses the thesis and the student’s broader awareness of theoretical and empirical issues in his or her field. The student must defend both the thesis proposal as well as the final document. He or she is responsible for assembling a committee, which should consist of at least 3 faculty members (a minimum of 2 from Journalism).

    Students must take 6 credit hours of thesis credit, and cannot count more than 6 toward graduation, but may take more if needed. Graduate assistants on the thesis path may take only 6 hours of thesis credit in their final semester and remain on their assistantship.

    A thesis might need approval from the Institutional Review Board, depending on the type of research.

    Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write the thesis.

  5. Professional Project (JOUR 7998, Professional Project). Students seeking master’s degrees to enhance career progress may complete a professional project under the direction of a faculty committee. In a project, students create an original work that can be used by a professional outlet. The way a project is completed depends on the type of work being done. Students are expected to complete a project that would be useful in their careers.

    A professional project can take many forms. It might be a marketing plan, business startup, a communications plan for a nonprofit organization, a series of research-based journalism articles, or a visual creative project. Students will determine the expectations and guidelines for the project with the committee chair. The quality of work in a project is expected to be equal to a thesis.

    On completion of a professional project, a student will take an oral examination that assesses the project and the student’s broader awareness of theoretical and empirical issues in his or her field. The student must defend both the project proposal as well as the final document. He or she is responsible for assembling a committee, which should consist of at least 2 Journalism faculty; additional outside members are welcome at the students’ choice.

    Students must take 3 credit hours of project credit, and cannot count more than 3 toward graduation, but may take more if needed.

    A project might need approval from the Institutional Review Board, depending on the type of research.

III. Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism

The Entrepreneurial Journalism Certificate program prepares students to start their own media-related businesses or bring innovation to legacy media organizations. It will emphasize knowledge of business fundamentals, marketing, advertising and public relations strategies for new businesses, and creating digital, multimedia content for media products or promotions.

Objectives of this program include:

1)      To prepare students for today’s media landscape, which is undergoing unprecedented disruption as new digital technologies and changing economic realities have upended the practices and the business models of traditional media organizations. Students need to be able to understand this upheaval and be equipped to recognize opportunities for new businesses and ways traditional organizations can evolve to meet evolving demands.

2)      To equip students with the skills they need not only to start their own media-related businesses but also to work as “intrapreneurs” within existing companies and to initiate and sustain change initiatives. They will learn startup fundamentals such as how to turn ideas into business plans, assess customer needs, pitch investors, and develop marketing, public relations and advertising strategies.

3)      Students will hone their ability to use social media and a variety of cutting-edge digital tools necessary to market and create content for new media businesses.

A. Program Admission

To apply to the Entrepreneurial Journalism Certificate Program, students must submit the following:

  1. Cover letter expressing interest in the program and qualifications
  2. Resume/CV
  3. BA or BS degree transcript

B. Program Requirements

Completion of 12 semester hours distributed as follows:

Required Courses: Total of 6 credit hours

  • JOUR 7100 Entrepreneurial Media (3)
  • JOUR 7300 Social Media Theory and Practice (3)

Electives: 6 credit hours chosen from the following:

  • UNIV 7110 Launch Memphis 48 Hour Launch (2)
  • UNIV 7110 LaunchMemphis BarCamp, SocialCamp, MobileCamp (2)
  • UNIV 7110 Business Plan Boot Camp (1)
  • UNIV 7110 Launch Memphis ad hoc mentoring (3)
  • JOUR 7650 Startup Journalism Practicum (3)
  • MGMT 7270 Venture/Bldg/Sustaining a Successful Enterp (3)
  • FIR 7648 - Evaluating/Finance New Projects (3)
  • ACCT 7412 - Legal/Accounting Aspects of Entrepreneurship (3)

C. Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the certificate students must:

1. Complete Certificate Program course requirements within a period of six years with a B or above average.

2. In the semester of graduation, the student must submit the Apply to Graduate form to the Graduate School and a Graduate Certificate Candidacy form to the College Director of Graduate Studies by the deadline specified by the Graduate School. 

Click here for course descriptions