The fabric of society has bent around social media, and privacy and control and distribution of information were turned totally revolutionized and forever changed in the past couple decades.
A media studies concentration in a liberal arts degree program dives into all of these subjects and more, giving you a unique perspective on issues such as:
It’s not uncommon to find these concentrations in media studies combined with film studies in some schools. The two areas are closely related, but part of the magic of liberal arts programs is that they let you drill down into exactly the topics you are most interested in. Modern media studies offer more than enough material to focus on by themselves.
A Media Studies Concentration in a Liberal Arts Education Covers a Broad Media Landscape, Past and Present
Pop culture is more than just the songs and TV shows that seem to capture everyone’s attention at any given moment in history. Sure, it is those things too, but it’s also the set of practices and beliefs held by the greater part of society at any given time.
In academic circles, particularly the high-minded precincts of the liberal arts, pop culture has tended to be underappreciated for its significance in favor of supposedly deeper questions about life, the universe, and everything.
But liberal studies are all about being broad-minded and unpacking the themes behind all different kinds of phenomena. So, it’s been liberal arts majors who have started digging into the driving forces behind pop culture. Whether it’s radio shows of the 1930s, Mtv in the ‘80s or YouTube and TikTok streams today, pop culture is shared and established through the dominant media of our era.
In Some Sense, You Can’t Study Modern Liberal Arts Without Also Studying the Media Landscape
It turns out that understanding that media and our culture are keys to a lot of other different kinds of liberal studies, everything from politics to social psychology. So your general liberal arts training in these degrees will have a lot of relevance to media studies in particular. Your coursework in history, social studies, writing and literary analysis, will all cover aspects of modern media.
Media also captures a broad swath of how humans in modern society connect with one another. It describes everything from television news to friends riffing on Facebook. So your curriculum will take a stab at covering at least some elements of all the different branches of modern media studies:
The Medium of the Message
Media comprise a great many different lines of communication, from old-fashioned printed newspapers, to audio-only radio broadcasts, to multimedia websites, to entirely new formats like podcast or short-format real-time video streams. Each of these take on their own characteristics and reflect their own forms of art and reality, which makes coursework exploring them diverse and interesting.
Media concentrations in liberal arts also look at the creative process followed by media creators. You’ll look at various different types of creative effort, ranging from citizen journalism to digital marketing to collaborative writing and social media
In these courses, you’ll explore how human neuropsychology and perception plays a part in how media are consumed and received. If you’ve ever wonder why some cat pictures become memes and others are just lost in the underlying internet gestalt, these classes will help unlock those mysteries for you. You’ll also learn the part that media plays in shifting the social psychology of culture, from social mores to biases and bullying.
Community Engagement and Social Change
Media both reflects and influences how societies shift perspective over time and how communities engage with one another. You’ll get coursework exploring the role of media in big social shifts such as the rapid and widespread acceptance of gay marriage, and the ongoing role of social media in spreading COVID-19 disinformation. These courses will show you the good and the bad of media influence on society and teach you how to measure and use that influence yourself.
What to Expect from Media Studies Courses in an Undergraduate Program or Master’s in Liberal Arts
In keeping with the changing times, you’ll find a lot of degrees in liberal arts with media concentrations are available online these days. As you might expect, it’s the perfect choice for this focus area, allowing you and your professors to get all meta as you deconstruct the very media through which you are engaging with your material.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Liberal Arts with Media Concentrations Go Broad on Media Concepts and Literacy
Four-year liberal arts degrees in media tend to go wide, hitting all the bases in film and media studies to give you a broad foundation for your future career or academic pursuits. Your core studies in other liberal arts will all tie back into your focus courses in media at this level, and you’ll learn how to deconstruct media phenomena that you experience in your everyday lives.
With a four-year program you will also have the opportunity to explore many different electives in specific or related aspects of media studies, from digital storytelling, to public art, to rhetoric and mass media.
You’ll often also have the opportunity to participate in media projects, either together with other students or through internship opportunities at community organizations or media outlets.
Master’s or Doctoral Programs in Liberal Studies with a Media Concentration Provide Greater Focus
You will find fewer designated concentrations in media at the post-graduate level in liberal arts programs, but more opportunities to design your own course of study to encompass media studies. Master’s and doctoral-level students typically have previous experience in the field. They get a lot more latitude to put together their own course of study.
That means a greater opportunity to really drill down and focus your education in the area of media that interests you. You’ll be expected to take on greater independent research in the field, and engage in more critical theory of your focus area. A master’s thesis or capstone project offers the opportunity to put forward your own ideas about media and practices, often with an actual product resulting at the end of your studies.
Liberal Arts Programs with a Concentration in Media Studies Open the Doors to Both Traditional and Non-traditional Careers
A liberal studies degree with a concentration in media offers some of the most clear-cut real-world job opportunities for liberal arts majors that you will find out in the job market today. As pervasive as written, audible, and visual media have become, and as profoundly as they have changed society, there are all kinds of business and government positions clamoring for well-educated experts in this field.
You will be well-qualified to take on work as a journalist, as a community advocate, or in public relations.
With the kind of free-thinking fostered by a liberal arts degree, you’ll also have the confidence and the broad skillset it takes to strike out on your own into new and independent media ventures. Want to gain a following as a highly-respected investigative podcaster? Plan on cracking the top five Twitch streams? A liberal arts degree with a concentration in media studies can be just the ticket.
Of course, there are no pay data available for such new and groundbreaking positions. But people like you don’t take on those challenges just for the money. While it’s possible to make millions, it’s just as possible to end up in a basement living on Top Ramen (great with cheese, by the way, if that’s your fate). But when you are part of the new media landscape, the adrenaline and excitement can be all the compensation you need.
2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures and job growth projections for News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists, Public Relations Specialists, and Social and Community Service Managers occupations reflect national data not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed October 2021.