Civic Media (MA)

This program is accepting applications for Fall 2022 on a rolling basis. Start an application here.
Time to degree: three semesters (30 credits)

Today's digital era needs experts in Civic Media. Many nonprofit organizations, community groups, government agencies, and corporations are looking for creatives who can use media platforms to meaningfully connect with their audiences.

Columbia College Chicago's MA in Civic Media equips students with a broad range of media skills so they can stimulate community action and civic engagement. Join a diverse pool of socially engaged media artists, journalists, educators, producers, information designers, entrepreneurs, and civic-minded professionals. Together, we will strengthen democratic participation, shape public policy, and inspire social change.

At the heart of each class is the community project. You'll learn to design, implement, and assess project-based solutions that address real community needs in different settings and contexts. These projects vary widely. In the social change communication class, you might help a neighborhood solve an information problem and build relationships with city leaders. You may work with an interest group on a quality-of-life issue in your practicum class. For your final media thesis, the project will coincide with your interests, skills, and the conversations you have with community leaders during the program.

You'll draw on the resources available in Chicago, the nation's third-largest media market, and graduate with a valuable skill set in collaborative media design and practice for social impact, participatory action research and data activism, nonviolent and strategic communication, journalism and cross-platform storytelling, social entrepreneurship, and leadership.

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Civic Media at Columbia College Chicago

Inside and Outside the Classroom

What to expect your first semester
Our curriculum stresses both theory and practice. You’ll take four courses in your first semester. In our graduate seminar course, you will study theories of peacebuilding, mediation, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s nonviolent activism. Guest speakers drawn from our community partnerships will teach you how to put those ideals into practice. You’ll also take courses in solutions journalism and leadership to strengthen your research acumen and learn to manage collaborative projects.

What to expect your last semester
You’ll be enrolled in Civic Media Thesis during your last semester. In this hands-on capstone course, you will work with two faculty advisors as you choose your thesis.  The thesis can be a community project where you join an organization to either design or produce media that supports the organization and its community. Alternatively, you can conduct a research thesis where you will evaluate an existing civic media project. You’ll take additional production, research, and leadership courses to supplement your thesis. All together, you’ll be able to evaluate the impact of a civic media project and learning to communicate the achievements to a community and beyond.

Work while completing your degree
Columbia College Chicago schedules its Civic Media courses with working professionals in mind. Courses meet only once a week, and most classes are either online or meet during weekday evenings. 

Careers in Civic Media

What can you do with a master’s degree in civic media? If you’re a young professional, use the degree to start your career in media production or civic engagement. If you’re further along in your career, our program can help you change career paths or become a leader with high-impact digital skills at your workplace.

Potential career paths include:

  • Media Artist/Documentarist
  • Engaged Journalist
  • Social Entrepreneur
  • Information Designer
  • Youth Media Educator
  • Digital Strategist

You can see an updated list of current positions in Civic Media on our Job Posting page

Creative Spaces and Facilities

Columbia College Chicago has the facilities you need to complete civic media projects. You’ll have access to postproduction labs, recording studios, video-editing rooms, computer labs, and more. Industry- and research-standard media software has been installed in all facilities. 


The MA in Civic Media program draws on faculty expertise from across Columbia College Chicago. Our faculty members are active practitioners in various media fields and have established links with ongoing civic media projects.

Participating faculty:

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