M.A. Program: Curriculum

 

Our two-year master's program helps prepare students to be leaders in the 21st-century workplace and academic community. In the Journalism, Strategic Communication and Visual Communication programs of study, students complete 36 total credit hours, comprised of 11 courses over three semesters and a final thesis or thesis project in the fourth semester.

Students in the Theory and Research and Interdisciplinary Health Communication programs of study complete 39 credit hours, taking four courses in each of the first three semesters and completing a thesis in the fourth semester. Theory and Research students in the J.D./M.A. dual-degree program follow a specialized plan that allows them to complete our requirements and those of the UNC School of Law in about four years, depending on their individual programs of study and progress.

 

Master's Degree Programs of Study

Journalism | Strategic Communication | Visual Communication

Theory and Research | Interdisciplinary Health Communication

 

Journalism

Our program prepares you for a career in journalism with courses spanning multiple platforms and topic areas. You’ll learn about all facets of journalism, including research, analysis, writing, reporting and editing.

Core

  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 753: Reporting and Writing News
  • MEJO 782: Multimedia Storytelling
  • MEJO 790: Data-driven Journalism

Required Courses

  • MEJO 754: Advanced Reporting
  • MEJO 790: Narrative Journalism

Electives

Three courses selected from 14 journalism electives (see worksheet), along with two other courses at the 400-900 level taken inside or outside the MJ-school (can include interinstitutional courses at nearby universities like Duke and North Carolina State) in consultation with adviser

Thesis/thesis project

Comprehensive paper or project completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the journalism worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Penny Abernathy

With more than 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and senior media business executive, Professor Abernathy specializes in preserving quality journalism by helping the news business succeed economically in the digital environment.

Bio

 

Debashis Aikat

Dr. Aikat theorizes about the evolving roles of media and journalism in the digital age.

Bio

 

Andy Bechtel

Professor Bechtel teaches editing for print and digital media. He's interested in headline writing, social media and alternative story forms.

Bio

 

Paul Cuadros

Professor Cuadros’ reporting and writing focuses on issues of race, poverty, and immigration as it relates to demographic change and its impact on America.

Bio

 

Barbara Friedman

Dr. Friedman's research focuses on media representations of sex trafficking and, more broadly, on constructions and contestations of race, gender and class. 

Bio

 

Rhonda Gibson

Dr. Gibson's most recent research focuses on media portrayals of sexual minorities and the influence of these portrayals on both individual perceptions and public conversations.  

Bio

 

Ferrel Guillory

Professor Guillory works at the intersection of journalism, politics and policy, with a special emphasis on education. He is co-founder of Education NC, a nonprofit news and research organization, and a senior fellow at MDC, a nonprofit research firm.

Bio

 

Jim Hefner

With 35 years of media management experience, Professor Hefner teaches broadcast journalism, writing and television reporting, as well as media management and policy.

Bio

 

Anne Johnston

Dr. Johnston's research focuses on media coverage of sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

Bio

 

Tom Linden

Dr. Linden’s focus is on reporting on environmental, science and medical stories for public consumption.

Bio

 

Susan King

Susan King, former vice president for external affairs for Carnegie Corporation of New York, is the MJ-school’s dean and John Thomas Kerr Distinguished Professor. She spent more than 20 years in Washington, D.C., as an anchor and reporter covering politics.

Bio

 

Jock Lauterer

Professor Lauterer teaches community journalism, photojournalism and newswriting classes. He is the founding director of the Carolina Community Media Project.

Bio

 

Trevy McDonald

Dr. McDonald’s creative work and research uses oral history to produce documentaries and books on the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of Black journalists.

Bio

 

Daniel Riffe

Dr. Riffe's research areas include mass communication research methodology, media processes and production, mass communication and environmental risk, international news, the effects on public opinion of political communication, and government-press relations.

Bio

 

Chris Roush

Professor Roush is founding director of the Carolina Business News Initiative, which provides training for professional journalists and UNC students, and oversees other business journalism educational programs.

Bio

 

Kate Sheppard

Professor Sheppard is a reporter and editor focusing on politics and policy as they relate to the environment, energy, science and health. She is an enterprise editor at HuffPost.

Bio

 

Ryan Thornburg

Professor Thornburg teaches data-driven reporting and is director of the Reese News Lab. He develops tools to help reporters use data to lower the costs of accountability and explanatory journalism.

Bio

 

Charlie Tuggle

Dr. Tuggle studies media coverage of the Olympics, particularly of female athletes who participate in the Games.

Bio

 

Carol Wolf

Following nearly two decades of reporting at Bloomberg News, Professor Wolf joined the MJ-school to teach business journalism.

Bio

 

Jan Yopp

Professor Yopp has focused her creative area on writing and editing for media professionals.

Bio

 
 

Strategic Communication

Our program of study in Strategic Communication prepares you for advertising, marketing communication and public relations positions in agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and government.

Core

  • MEJO 701: Mass Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 732: Public Relations and Strategic Writing
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 782: Multimedia Storytelling

Required Courses

  • MEJO 479: Market Intelligence
  • MEJO 670: Digital Advertising and Marketing
  • MEJO 730: Public Relations Foundations
  • MEJO 830: Public Relations Theory & Research

Electives

Three courses at the 400-900 level, with up to two courses taken outside the MJ-school (can include interinstitutional courses at nearby universities like Duke and North Carolina State) in consultation with adviser

Thesis/thesis project

Comprehensive paper or project completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee.

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Strategic Communication worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Lois Boynton

Dr. Boynton’s research focuses on ethical decision-making by public relations and media practitioners, professionalism and agenda building, particularly related to nonprofits.

Bio

 

Joseph Cabosky

Dr. Cabosky's research and creative work focuses on diversifying public relations by better appreciating the differences among publics and how this diversity should lead to better ways to build relationships with publics and stakeholders.

Bio

 

Richard Clancy

Professor Clancy, a veteran corporate communications executive, accredited public relations thought leader and social media pioneer, teaches public relations.

Bio

 

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

 

Valerie Fields

Dr. Fields teaches public relations and crisis communication. She has worked in public relations for some of the world’s most well-known organizations.

Bio

 

Deen Freelon

Dr. Freelon’s primary areas of expertise are political expression through digital media and the use of computer programming and computational methods to extract, preprocess, analyze and visualize large digital datasets.

Bio

 

Livis Freeman

Professor Freeman teaches courses in public relations campaigns and case studies. He started the public and community relations company 4ourFans, Inc. to help professional athletes in their work with charities.

Bio

 

Heidi Hennink-Kaminski

Dr. Hennink-Kaminski’s research uses the social marketing approach to develop interventions and campaigns to drive behavior change in areas such as childhood obesity and clinical trial participation. 

Bio

 

Joe Bob Hester

Dr. Hester's research focuses on methodological issues, particularly the use of computational research methods, in areas such as sampling, agenda setting and social media.

Bio

 

Gary Kayye

Professor Kayye teaches courses in advertising and new media technologies. He has worked in technology branding and marketing for more than 25 years and is president and CEO of rAVe [Publications].

Bio

 

Dan Kim

Dr. Kim’s research focuses on increasing the effectiveness of advertising through consumer psychology, consumer-brand relationships and new media effects.

Bio

 

Daniel Kreiss

Dr. Kreiss’s research analyzes the effects of technologies on electoral politics, political thought and American democracy.

Bio

 

Allison Lazard

Dr. Lazard's research revolves around a core interest in how visual and interactive design influences perception and impact of strategic health and science messages.

Bio

 

Suman Lee

Dr. Lee teaches and conducts research on international public relations, public diplomacy, public relations theory, and international communication.

Bio

 

Dana McMahan

Professor McMahan teaches advertising courses in creative, art direction and experimental design. She also runs her own fashion and lifestyle company.

Bio

 

Adam Saffer

Dr. Saffer’s research takes a network perspective to study the relationships and social capital among individuals, groups and organizations, particularly in the areas of public relations and strategic communication. 

Bio

 

John Sweeney

Professor Sweeney teaches courses in advertising and sports communication. His creative activity currently centers on the future of sports and media.

Bio

 

Lisa Villamil

Professor Villamil designs human-centered visual systems and structures using information design, data visualization and creative technologies to help people understand complex ideas and find meaning.

Bio

 
 

Visual Communication

With specializations in interactive/graphic design and photo/video, this program of study teaches students to tell stories on a variety of visual platforms. Our Visual Communication students regularly earn national recognition for their interactive work featuring websites, photos, videos and infographics.

Core

  • MEJO 581: Multimedia Design
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 753: Reporting and Writing News
  • MEJO 790: Data-driven Journalism

Required Courses

Three courses (see worksheet) based on choice between specializations:

  • Interactive/graphic
  • Photo/video

Electives

Four courses at the 400-900 level, with up to two courses taken outside the MJ-school (can include interinstitutional courses at nearby universities like Duke and North Carolina State) in consultation with adviser

Thesis/thesis project

Comprehensive paper or project completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Visual Communication worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Spencer Barnes

Dr. Barnes' research employs cognitive engineering and quantitative research methodologies to study the design and efficacy of dynamic visual communication products such as visual explanations, motion graphics and data visualizations.

Bio

 

Patrick Davison

Professor Davison has been teaching photo, video and documentary multimedia storytelling in the school since 2001. He is the founder of the Carolina Photojournalism Workshop.

Bio

 

Steven King

Professor King is a professor of emerging technologies, teaching and helping media companies leverage virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Bio

 

Terence Oliver

Professor Oliver is an award-winning motion graphics producer who teaches information graphics, magazine design, graphic design and motion graphics. He created and taught the first motion graphics courses in journalism in the United States.

Bio

 

Laura Ruel

Professor Ruel teaches design, user experience and interactive media for the school’s visual communication sequences.

Bio

 

Chad Stevens

Professor Stevens’ primary areas of expertise are documentary video storytelling and photojournalism for an array of media platforms.

Bio

 
 

Theory and Research

This program of study is designed for students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees and careers in academia, or for students interested in non-academic research positions. Theory and Research master’s students explore topics within the five areas of substantive study that comprise our doctoral program. Many of our master’s graduates apply to our Ph.D. program to continue their study here.

Substantive areas of study

  • Media processes and production
  • Legal and regulatory issues in communication
  • Media uses and effects
  • Health communication
  • Political, social and strategic communication

Core

  • MEJO 701: Mass Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 705: Theories of Mass Communication
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 900: Independent Study

Other courses

  • Three foundation courses appropriate to the student’s research emphasis
  • Six courses, including a MEJO methods course and at least two outside the MJ-school, defining the specific focus of the student’s program

Thesis

Comprehensive research paper completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Theory and Research worksheet (PDF) or J.D./M.A. worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

For more information on our areas of study for Theory and Research, including faculty members specializing in each area, please see our Ph.D. curriculum page.

 
 

Interdisciplinary Health Communication

Students in this program of study receive specialized training in the field of health communication, building expertise for applied practice, academic and research settings. They complement their MJ-school study with required and elective courses in the UNC Gillings School of Public Health and UNC School of Information and Library Science—both of which consistently rank among the nation’s top three schools in their fields—as well as the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

Required MEJO courses

  • MEJO 671: Social Marketing Campaigns
  • MEJO 701: Mass Communication Research Methods
  • MEJO 740: Media Law
  • MEJO 782: Multimedia Storytelling
  • MEJO/HBEH 825: Seminar in Interdisciplinary Health Communication
  • MEJO/HBEH 826: Interdisciplinary Health Communication Colloquium

Required interdisciplinary courses

Three courses based on choice among specializations:

  • EPID 600: Principles of Epidemiology
  • INLS 500: Human Information Interactions
  • PSYC 566: Attitude Change or PSYC 561: Social Cognition
    or PSYC 568: Emotion

Electives

Three courses from relevant options among four areas of specialization:

  • Information science
  • Medical and science journalism
  • Public health
  • Strategic communication/social marketing

Thesis/thesis project

Comprehensive paper or project exploring health communication completed and defended in final semester, in consultation with a faculty member and thesis committee

Students also complete a comprehensive exam during the fourth semester.

For detailed course options, see the Interdisciplinary Health Communication worksheet (PDF). For course descriptions, please visit the UNC-Chapel Hill course catalog. For MJ-school course syllabi, please visit the Park Library’s syllabus archive.

Lucinda Austin

Dr. Austin’s research focuses on the influence of social media on health and crisis communication, and publics’ perspectives in corporate social responsibility and organization-public relationship-building. 

Bio

 

Francesca Dillman Carpentier

Dr. Dillman Carpentier’s research lies within the broad area of media psychology, focusing on how cues within the media we consume can slip in under our radar and affect our attitudes and judgments without our express awareness.

Bio

 

Joan Cates

Dr. Cates uses social marketing, media campaigns and message framing in interventions to persuade healthy choices, such as vaccinations to prevent disease.

Bio

 

Nori Comello

Dr. Comello's research focuses on developing and testing messages to promote health and other prosocial issues, guided by theories relating to identity and self-concept.

Bio

 

Heidi Hennink-Kaminski

Dr. Hennink-Kaminski’s research uses the social marketing approach to develop interventions and campaigns to drive behavior change in areas such as childhood obesity and clinical trial participation. 

Bio

 

Allison Lazard

Dr. Lazard's research revolves around a core interest in how visual and interactive design influences perception and impact of strategic health and science messages.

Bio

 

s

Seth Noar

Dr. Noar's research is focused on the use of communication strategies for health behavior change, especially in a cancer prevention context.

Bio

 

Brian Southwell

Dr. Southwell investigates public understanding of science, health and politics, including dilemmas such as misinformation, phenomena such as social networks and opportunities such as media campaign development and measurement.

Bio