Students enrolled in the online MA in Communications and Digital Media must complete 36 credits of coursework and can choose to follow either the Digital Filmmaking and Media Production track or the Social Media and Public Relations track. These tracks provide students with the opportunity to focus their studies while also obtaining general communications knowledge through the required core courses. If you are interested in exploring all elements of the industry, you may choose to forgo following a track.

Internship or Thesis

After completing 20 credits of coursework, a student will choose to complete either an internship or a thesis.

Internship Option

The student will meet with the program director and a counselor from Career Services to discuss career goals and potential placements. The student is responsible for attending any and all interviews and gaining employment.

Thesis Option

The student will meet with the program director during the semester before the thesis project would be completed. Although, traditionally, a thesis is a long form, research-based paper, and that medium is accepted, students have the opportunity to propose less traditional, long-form thesis projects which fall under the Media and Communication Arts umbrella.

Comprehensive Exam

To earn the master’s degree, students must pass a 4-hour, written comprehensive exam, taken at the end of their final semester. This exam simulates a real world experience and has them apply what they learned to the job.

Program Walkthrough

Join Program Director Maria Luskay, EdD, and Admission Advisors Abby Zupancic and Emily Greenblatt as they provide a video overview of the online Master of Arts in Communications and Digital Media program.

Watch the Program Walkthrough Video

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Required Courses (16 credits)

This course will thoroughly examine theories related to communication in the workplace. In addition, strong focus will be given to improving practical, professional communication skills. The course will incorporate current events related to the professional communications field and examine the influence of new technologies on the work place. Practical exercises to build effective communication including e-portfolios and online groups will also be explored.
Being an effective communicator is critical. In this course students will learn the skills and tools to develop, research, write, and give effective speeches and presentations in a variety of real-life situations such as sales, PR, pitching, crisis communications, and advocacy. This very interactive class engages students to critically evaluate other speakers, develop the skills of storytelling, and learn to show leadership through speeches.
This course will focus on the various techniques used to conduct communications research. Students will gain hands-on experience with quantitative and qualitative methods such as survey research, experimental research, content analysis, interviews, focus group research, and ethnographic research. Students will learn the necessary skills to develop research questions, review relevant literature, conduct research, and write academic articles.
Each student submits either a practical project/theoretical thesis or they complete an internship in an approved area. The student who completes the internship must work in the field of their choice for 40 hours per academic credit and must submit a paper of 25 pages in addition to a portfolio of work completed at the internship. Learn more about the internship and thesis options below.

Digital Filmmaking and Media Production Track (20 credits—Students choose 5 courses)

This course will examine theories and practices pertaining to digital communications leadership. It will focus on leadership styles and skills in the field of digital communication that one who aims at becoming an effective leader needs to develop in the 21st century. The course will also reflect on traditional leadership models and compare them to modem leadership in the context of the multigenerational workplace, social media, and empowered followership. One of the critical aspects of the course will be creating a TED talk that will allow students to demonstrate their leadership potential by creating and delivering speeches on selected topics.
This course introduces students to the basics of media innovation and experimentation in the digital age. The course will trace the causes and arc of changes in the media industry; bring in guest speakers who exemplify these changes; examine case studies of new media organizations in an ever-changing environment. Students will work in teams to develop their own proposal for media innovation.
Ethics is a prominent issue in any career, but the media field, in particular, needs examination. In this course, students will focus on the moral and ethical issues that characterize the communication industry. Special attention will be paid to current events related to the ethics of the media workplace and the professions.
The course will teach the basic principles of video production. It offers a conceptual introduction and practical experience on shooting video that is steady, in focus, well-framed, and, most importantly, tells a story.
The major goals of this course are to familiarize students with current production organization and procedures, while perfecting basic production skills. By using a hands-on and laboratory/lecture approach, we will be able to produce a wide variety of projects for all platforms. Weekly guest speakers will provide insights and education about various topics in corporate production.
The Producing the Documentary course is a well-regarded, award winning program at Pace. It has provided opportunities for many undergraduate and graduate students to broaden their knowledge and skill set in the areas of communication, research, and production. The students start out by researching their destination, which changes every spring. During the process students will look for story, interviewees, and learn as much as possible about the issue before departure. Traveling to locations, the students will have hands-on experiences in the field, learning what it means to be part of a production team. In addition, they will also learn to solve problems and adapt to changes in the story as it develops. Once the students come back from the trip, they will have to organize their footage and start putting the story together. The film then premieres in a local theatre.
The course will provide a working knowledge of the role of the executive and line producer in pre- through post-production on a film, television, or new media project. Included in the process will be production planning, budgeting, scheduling, business considerations, and post-production process management.
This course is designed to provide students with detailed insight into the structures, processes, and controversies surrounding media organizations in the United States.
The course focuses on the practicalities and aesthetics of editing. It explains the 50 types of cuts, what the editor does and how the editing process works and well as the history of editing.
This course will focus on the performance and responsibilities of various media with regard to legal standards. Within this framework students will gain a basic understanding of various ethical theories and legal issues along with their application to today’s media and to the careers they wish to pursue.
Students will become adept at navigating and utilizing the fast-changing world of web, mobile, and social media, which have–in less than a decade–become the dominant means by which news is conveyed, products are marketed and ideas shared and shaped. They will learn how communication innovators–from The New York Times to NPR’s Radiolab to students startups are weaving written, visual, and audio contents across platforms to engage with audiences.
Special topics.

Social Media and Public Relations Track (20 credits—Students choose 5 courses)

In this course you will learn how to research media and reporters, develop messages, write for the media, build strategic media plans, generate media coverage, serve as spokespeople, handle crisis situations, and use new media strategies. You and your peers will form a media relations agency to create a media relations plan for a local client with specific goals, objectives, strategies, audiences, tactics, and timelines. We will discuss such topics as working with reporters, developing PR campaigns, and creating effective media strategies to promote your client’s business, product, or service. Class discussions, research and writing projects, group projects, and case studies will offer an engaging and interactive learning environment to expand and apply your knowledge of media relations and messaging.
This course examines how organizations engage in communication activities that manage reputation among a variety of stakeholders. Students will do this by analyzing the issues of organizational reputation both theoretically and analytically.
This course examines theories and practices related to digital communications leadership. It focuses on leadership styles and skills in the field of digital communication that one who aims at becoming an effective leader needs to develop in the 21st century. One of the critical aspects of the course is creating a TED talk that allows students to demonstrate their leadership potential by creating and delivering speeches on selected topics.
This course focuses on organizational communication in the practice of social responsibility. It examines the information, instrument, and media issues emerging along with global transformations in the relationship among organizations, society, and government.
The need to understand different cultures is becoming ever more important to success in life and in business. The purpose of this course is to develop a greater cultural awareness of the United States and the world by focusing on the impact culture has on communication and miscommunication. Students will learn about the key elements that make up cultural diversity and how to evaluate the socio-cultural, economic, political, and business impact of communications as an influencer of every person on earth.
This course introduces students to the basics of media innovation and experimentation in the digital age. The course will trace the causes and arc of changes in the media industry; bring in guest speakers who exemplify these changes; examine case studies of new media organizations in an ever-changing environment. Students will work in teams to develop their own proposal for media innovation.
Ethics is a prominent issue in any career, but the media field, in particular, needs examination. In this course students will focus on the moral and ethical issues that characterize the communication industry. Special attention will be paid to current events related to the ethics of the media workplace and the professions.
This course is designed to provide students with detailed insight into the structures, processes, and controversies surrounding media organizations in the United States.
This course is designed to explore and understand the world-wide web. This course will review the historical, current, and future trends of the web and the Internet. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively on the web is an essential element and skill needed by all who interface with the web. Designing, organizing, evaluating, and constructing informational platforms is a key issue for today’s society brought on by all the web sites and information seekers. As social networking sites mature along with different conferencing software there is a need to review what effective web architecture is and how it is migrating to personal (mobile) devices. The course will provide the resources to critically think and understand how to effectively communicate on the web, to understand the web, and to review the foundations of effective information architecture.
This course will focus on the performance and responsibilities of various media with regard and legal standards. Within this framework students will gain a basic understanding of various ethical theories and legal issues along with their application to today’s media. Issues for analysis and discussion include accuracy and fairness, obscenity and indecency, and protein of sources. An overview of how these issues affect society will also be considered.
Students will navigate and participate in the fast-changing world of web, mobile, and social media, which have become the dominant means by which news is conveyed, products are marketed, and ideas shared and shaped. Students will learn how communication innovators are weaving written, visual, and audio content across platforms to engage with audiences. The course will cover best practices, but also address the downside of this new information world—which can create insular ideological bubbles, foment hatred, and spread myths and fictions. The course will also heavily emphasize learning by doing; students create their own multi-platform projects and assess their performance, based on analytics.
MCA 696 Social Media Topics (4)

Completed Comprehensive Exam

To earn the master’s degree, students must pass a 4-hour, written Comprehensive Exam, taken at the end of their final semester. Students will have access to only a computer and word processing software on site; the Internet and other computer programs will be unavailable. During their second to last semester, the student must choose five courses which they have completed or will complete during the semester the exam is taken. At least one of the five selected courses must be a core course. Additionally, the student must select three areas of the field which pertain to their educational and future career goals (e.g., public relations, film production, etc.). All of the aforementioned information should be included in an email to the program director and delivered during the student’s second to last semester. Of the five courses, a minimum of two courses will be chosen by the faculty, and the student will receive one fact pattern or essay question(s) for each of the selected courses. One course chosen for the student’s comprehensive exam will be a core course.

MCA courses other than those listed may be offered. Students should contact the program director to confirm if the course falls under their selected track.

Internship Option

After completing 20 credits of coursework, if a student chooses to complete an internship, they should meet with the program director and a counselor from Career Services to discuss career goals and potential placements. The student is responsible for attending any and all interviews and gaining employment. Once the student has been offered a position, and the position has been approved by the program director, the student must:

1. Send the program director a letter, written by the internship supervisor, stating the student’s employment hours and responsibilities.

2. Register for the internship section (MCA 693—4 credits) by completing a registration “add” form and acquiring a signature from the program director before bringing a hard copy of the form to the Office of the Registrar to officially register.

3. Work for 160 hours (1 credit per 40 hours) in the internship position while keeping a log. If the student is working on a consistent project, a weekly log will suffice. If the student’s responsibilities in the role change every time they work, a daily log will be more appropriate.

4. Submit a portfolio of work completed at the internship and a 5–7 page paper, thoroughly reflecting on the internship experience, to the program director by the last day of the semester.

5. Request an evaluation letter from the internship supervisor reflecting upon the student’s success in the position to be sent to the program director by the last day of the semester.

Internship Restrictions

1. May not exceed 4 academic credits

2. May not be a substitute for a major elective or core requirement

3. May not be arranged retroactively or for a position (full- or part-time) that a student already holds

4. May not be undertaken without a sponsoring faculty member

5. May not be undertaken without reasonable assurance that it will provide the opportunity for a significant learning experience

6. May not be undertaken for an experience which does not provide a basis for academic evaluation

7. May not be arranged unless there is a reasonable period of time (usually 30 days) to discuss and negotiate the nature of the internship with cooperating organization

Thesis Option

After completing 20 credits of coursework, if a student chooses to complete a thesis project they should meet with the program director during the semester before the thesis project would be completed. Although, traditionally, a thesis is a long form, research-based paper, and that medium is accepted, students have the opportunity to propose less traditional, long-form thesis projects which fall under the Media and Communication Arts umbrella. These include and are not limited to: a short film, website, screenplay, social media plan, etc. Enrolled students who are currently working are encouraged to take on a thesis project that may help them advance their career in their current workplace. If a student wishes to write a traditional thesis paper, this can be formulated in the Communications Research class. The thesis option may not exceed 4 academic credits.

Traditional Thesis Requirements

The thesis is a formal paper with a definite purpose that seeks to advance a point of analysis reached by the student in the course of their research. In order to do so, students are asked to come up with a new query, hypothesis, or investigation, and go forth to resolve or answer the question at hand. Students will submit a formal proposal for a thesis and must be granted permission to proceed by the program director. The program director will appoint a faculty member to direct the student with their thesis. This must be determined during the semester before the student registers for the thesis.

The completed thesis should present the nature of the problem or subject investigated, its significance to the profession or larger field of study, a discussion of the relevant literature, a clearly defined method of answering/exploring the question of interest, and specific conclusions or evaluations. The length of the thesis depends on the subject and the extent of the literature, but 30–50 pages is appropriate, plus appendices such as tables, charts, questionnaires, interview schedules, drawings, and photographs. Documentation and the bibliography must meet the standards of academic research set forth by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Modern Language Association (MLA). Notes and bibliography should be consistent and follow the style of the latest edition of these guidelines.

Students who choose to complete a traditional thesis paper should adhere to the following proposal outline. Students who choose to complete a long form thesis project should ask the program director for guidance in designing a proposal, relative to the particular project.

Thesis Proposal

Purpose
State the problem to be addressed during the project. This should be in the form of research questions and/or hypotheses.

Rationale
Explain why your research is important to the field of communications.

Research Background
Explain the current state of the research about the phenomenon you want to study.

Data
Describe what data will you collect, where, and how for this project.

Analysis
Describe what can be extracted from the data and how this is significant to the area of inquiry.

Timeline
Identify the stages of your proposed study including data collection, testing, and writing up the study. Use a timeline that coordinates with the semester.

Meeting Schedule
Explain how you will identify emerging issues within the project and plausible solutions for discussion and consultation with your advisor.

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