Civic Media (MA)
Time to degree: three semesters (30 credits)
We are currently accepting applications for this program for Spring and Fall.
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 various settings and contexts. These projects vary widely. In the participatory action research 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 the nonviolent communication, our graduate seminar course, you’ll study the theories of peacebuilding, mediation and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nonviolence activism, as you learn from out community partner who will come as guest speakers. You’ll also take courses in 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 Practicum during the summer semester. In this hands-on capstone course, you’ll work directly with a community organization to design and produce media that supports the organization and its community. You’ll also take additional production, research, and leadership courses to supplement your practicum. In your thesis course, you'll work on evaluating the impact of your practicum and learning to communicate the achievements to the 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 Entrepreneurship
- Information Designer
- Youth Media Educator
- Digital Strategist
- Non-for-Profit Administrator
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.
- Yonty Friesem, Director of MA in Civic Media program; Assistant Professor, Communication
- Eric Freedman, Dean of the School of Media Arts; Professor, Cinema and Television Arts
- Suzanne McBride, Chair, Communication
- David Berner, Associate Professor, Communication
- Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Associate Professor, Communication
- Grace Choi, Assistant Professor, Communication
- Joshua Fisher, Assistant Professor, Interactive Arts and Media
- Robert Hanserd, Assistant Professor, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences
- Curtis Lawrence, Associate Professor, Communication
- Lauren Liss, Assistant Professor, Interactive Arts and Media
- Elio Leturia, Associate Professor, Communication
- Erin McCarthy, Associate Professor, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences
- Justin Sinkovich, Associate Professor, Business and Entrepreneurship
- Jackie Spinner, Associate Professor, Communication
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