MA in Media for Social Impact (MA)

Applications are currently being accepted for this program on a rolling basis. 
Time to degree: three semesters + thesis (31 credits)
All courses online

Are you looking to make an impact by creating media?

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. 

The online MA in Media for Social Impact will help you connect with a community of your choice, work within the community to assess its members’ needs, and generate a collaborative theory of change applying best practices of media creation. Our recent alumni are already working with diverse communities to make an impact – see a partial list at the bottom of the page.

Columbia College Chicago's MA in Media for Social Impact 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 media for social impact. 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 media for social impact 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 nonviolence activism. Guest speakers drawn from our community partnerships will teach you how to put those ideals into practice. You’ll also take courses in civic tech, solutions journalism, and participatory action research to strengthen your research acumen and learn to manage collaborative projects.

What to expect your last semester
You’ll be enrolled in a capstone class during your last semester. In this hands-on course, you will work with two faculty advisors as you choose your thesis project.  The thesis project 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 thesis project 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 social impact project and communicate it effectively.

Work while completing your degree
Columbia College Chicago offers this unique online experience for working professionals in mind around the globe.




Media for Social Impact, MA: 31 credits required

Fall Semester

  • COMM 503 Civic Media and Participatory Culture
  • COMM 555 Participatory Action Research
  • COMM 567 Civic Tech, Policy and Urban Development   
  • JOUR 564 Solution Journalism: Investigating Social Impact

 Spring Semester

  • COMM 519 Communication for Community-Driven Leadership 
  • COMM 520 Media Ecosystems
  • COMM 555 Civic Data Analytics and Impact Communication 
  • JOUR 567 Solutions Journalism Lab 

Summer Semester

  • COMM 601 Civic Media Practicum 
  • JOUR 599 Topics in Storytelling for Social Change

Last Fall Quarter

  • COMM 691 Thesis (1 credit a-synch class)

Careers in Media for Social Impact and Alumni Achievements

A Master of Arts in Media for Social Impact 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 Media for Social Impact 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  social impact projects.

Participating faculty:


Yonty Friesem


Robert Hanserd


Dave Pabellon

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin