Civic Media (MA)

The Civic Media MA is currently accepting applications for Fall 2023.
Time to degree: three semesters + thesis (30 credits)
All courses online

Today's real-world challenges require innovative, effective and engaging communication solutions.  Many nonprofit organizations, community groups, government agencies, corporations, media houses and art centers are looking for creatives who can use media platforms to advance social change. 

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.


The program is fitted to your interests and goals; you can decide which skills to leverage from our offer of elective classes in production, social entrepreneurship, and strategic communication. Simultaneously, you will work on a community project that will guide your practical and theoretical learning of civic media. You'll learn to design, implement and assess a project-based solution that addresses real community needs in a setting and context aligned with the social impact you wish to see. Through our core civic media classes, you will build relationships with community leaders, strengthen your social communication skills and explore media solutions to quality-of-life issues.

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 be ready to create your Civic Media Thesis with the experience and knowledge developed in our courses in production, research, and leadership taken during your first two semesters. Upon graduation, you will be able to design, execute and evaluate the impact of a civic media project and communicate it effectively.

Work while completing your degree
Columbia College Chicago offer this unique online experience for working professionals in mind around the globe. Courses are 8-7 week long a-synchronous for four semesters.



Civic Media MA - 31 credits required

Core Requirements (12 credits)
COMM 503 Civic Media and Participatory Culture
COMM 519 Communication for Community-Driven Leadership 
COMM 520 Media Ecosystems
COMM 567 Civic Tech, Policy and Urban Development   

Civic Research (9 credits)
COMM 555 Civic Data Analytics and Impact Communication 
INMD 508 Information Visualization 
JOUR 564 Solution Journalism: Investigating Social Impact

Practicum & Thesis (4 credits)
COMM 601 Civic Media Practicum 
COMM 691 Thesis 

Design & Production (6 credits)
JOUR 567 Solutions Journalism Lab 
JOUR 599 Topics in Storytelling for Social Change

Careers in Civic Media and Alumni Achievements

A MA in Civic Media is the doorway to a variety of career paths that combine digital media with social change. If you're a young professional pursuing a career in media production use the degree to demonstrate your ability to tackle social issues through digital media. If you're a professional with experience in civic engagement the program will leverage the skills and partnership-building you need to succeed as a social leader.


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:


Yonty Friesem


Robert Hanserd


Dave Pabellon

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin