Media Studies Degrees: Graduate | Top Universities

A graduate media studies degree could be the key to future success in this exciting but competitive sector. Our guide looks at what specializations are available, what to consider when choosing a course, and where a graduate media studies qualification could lead you next.


Studying media and communications at graduate level

Media studies, mass communications, media and communications, journalism, global media, and many other media-related subjects have quickly come to the forefront of graduate education. The London School of Economics (LSE) is one university whose one-year MSc in Media and Communications program has gained notoriety around the world; it is estimated that more than 70% of this year's class are international students.

Professor Robin Mansell, who teaches the New Media, Knowledge, and Innovation Systems course at the LSE, discusses why many students are drawn to graduate programs in this field. "Postgraduate training in the field of media gives one a better understanding of the media around us. The graduate will be able to relate things going on in the media to other things of our time – like democratization, citizenship, and globalization. The skill set and breadth of knowledge a graduate of the MSc program in Media and Communications will attain will allow the person to step back from simple claims and assess issues at a greater level."

Professor Mansell also talks about the career benefits of having a graduate degree in Media: "It is also an entrée to a more senior level of employment. Having a master's will mark the candidate as having a number of skills that someone with a bachelor’s does not have."

The academic subject of media and communications is often firmly grounded in its social science background, offering less practical and more contextual programs that are offered in many internationally respective universities. Analysing topics such as political communication and the impact of health campaigns in the media are just two areas where the study of media and communications connect firmly with their social science roots.


Entry requirements?

Do I need a media background? For many programs, particularly the more general ones like the MSc in Media and Communications, media experience and greater media knowledge is not necessary.

Students come from all backgrounds, but graduates of undergraduate social science courses like history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, literature, and political science often comprise a large portion of postgraduate media courses.

You’ll even find that while many of the lecturers in the field of media may have a background in media, many will come from other disciplines like sociology or psychology.

Where there is a more technically based media program, such as filmmaking or journalism, some experience will be required and can be demonstrated either through formal work exposure, or some relevant background gained during your undergraduate studies.

Discover the world's top universities for media and communications

Specializations in media and communications

At Australia's University of Melbourne, students taking master's degrees in media and communications can elect from a wide range of courses including Stardom, Media, Culture; The Contemporary Publishing Industry; Cultural Policy and Power; and Literature and Film in Contemporary China.

The MA in Global Media Communication focuses on the impact of globalization, but also offers practical experience – students are given the opportunity to intern at a media-related business in order to get that hands-on experience they may be seeking.

If the realm of 'media' is too general for your liking, you may consider a more specialized master's degree or PhD program. Journalism and new media are two such graduate degrees that are offered at top universities around the world.

There are myriad options from which to choose, regardless of your study destination. UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, for example, offers the two-year Master of Journalism (M.J.), which allows students to specialize even further – Photojournalism, Environmental and Science Journalism, Documentary, Radio, Urban Reporting, and New Media are a few of the programs offered.

Tomorrow’s journalist craving the international experience can apply for the Universiteit Van Amsterdam’s European Masters Program in Journalism. The course enables the student to study in a variety of European countries. The first semester commences in Denmark; the second in Amsterdam. Students then have the option of studying in Germany or the UK. In the ever-shrinking international media world, graduates with this kind of experience will be among the most in demand in their field.

Meanwhile future film and television directors can take a comprehensive three-year graduate program at New York University’s famed Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts. With famous directors like Ang Lee, Lars Von Trier, and Peter Bogdanovich conducting lectures, film creatives will become even more passionate about their field. But of course, a program like this is fiercely competitive. Discover more of the top film schools around the world with this article.

Discover the world's top universities for media and communications

Careers in media and communications

Career options in media are nothing if not diverse. Depending on your interests, skills and specializations, you may be headed for a career in the film or music industries - either on the production side of things, or perhaps as a reviewer.

Perhaps you're more interested in news reporting, either as a journalist writing for print and online publications, or perhaps as a researcher or presenter within the TV or radio sectors.

Then there are the huge fields of opportunity within advertising, marketing and public relations, not to mention graphic design, photography, and education, research and outreach work.

You can read our tips on what media sector employers are looking for here.

Find out what careers are open to you with a communications degree

Key Skills

Common skills gained from a media and communications degree include:

  • Specialist industry knowledge and experience
  • Analytical skills
  • Professional communication, spoken and written
  • Creativity
  • Flexibility