M.S. in Journalism and Media Communication

Journalism and Media Communication is a diverse community of scholars, journalists, media creators, and professional communicators. We think critically and strategically, striving for truth and impact through substance and style.

Program Overview

Our Master of Science in Journalism and Media Communication welcomes a small cohort (from across the world?) every year so we can help our students thrive as scholars and as people. Students make lasting connections in our classes, graduate office spaces, and with the Fort Collins community. Our program provides opportunities for teaching, research, and career development through fostering collaboration with grand-funded (or award-winning?) faculty and funding conference travel, so our students can develop their own research projects and professional experiences. Best of all, graduate students can receive funding for tuition, insurance, and a salary stipend through teaching and research assistantships.

The M.S. in Journalism and Media Communication is for students interested in communication management and academic research in media, science and technical communication, and new communication technology. Communication management is the use of communication theory, research, and applied techniques to select and analyze audiences, determine message content, and design and produce messages to reach those targeted audiences with the intended impact. As both a theoretical and applied program, the M.S. in Journalism and Media Communication prepares students for careers in the following:

  • Health, Environmental, Science, or Technical Communication: Enhancing public and specialized audience understanding of health problems, environmental issues, or scientific and technical topics.
  • Public Relations and Strategic Communication: Public relations, public information, and strategic communication programs for corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
  • New Communication Technologies: Uses and effects of new communication technologies and computer-mediated communication; computer, print, and multimedia-based documentation, instruction, and training.
  • Journalism: Issues related to news media culture and multimedia delivery, and influences on news and documentary content
  • Academia: Preparation for higher-level academic work, such as obtaining a doctorate, and teaching and conducting research at the college level

Course of Study

The residential M.S. requires 30 credits of coursework with options for either a thesis (Plan A) or research project (Plan B). Students are best served if they commit to one of the options no later than mid-term of their second semester of full-time study.

The program typically takes full-time students at least four semesters to complete. Part-time students take longer and arrange school schedules to accommodate other responsibilities. A suggested timeline for completion is available in the M.S. Student Advising Manual.

student listening to audio using headphones

Research Thesis Plan A Track

The research thesis option enables students to work closely with faculty members to conduct original research on a communication-related problem or issue. The topic of the research thesis varies according to each student’s interest, but all students hone their critical thinking, conceptual, and analytical skills throughout the thesis research and writing process. Upon completion, students defend the thesis in front of their faculty committee.

Research Project Plan B Track

The research project option allows students to work with an outside organization, typically the organization that is currently employing them. In the research project, the student uses communication theories and methods to solve a particular communication problem for that organization. Upon completing their research, students write a professional report for the organization and defend the report in front of their faculty committee.

Recent Theses

Students select the topic of their thesis based on their personal research interests and in consultation with Journalism and Media Communication faculty members. Copies of these theses may be accessed through the CSU Digital Repository, an open showcase of CSU student work.

Recent Research Projects

Because students work with outside organizations on these projects, copies of these projects are not publicly accessible to protect the proprietary nature of the information. A sample of the project topics are below.

  • Timofte, Alina. (2019). CSU's Center for Autism Research and building a strong online community of parents/guardians of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Young, Heather. (2018). Effectiveness of promotion or prevention message frames on food storage messages about black bears.
  • Burnett, Kristy. (2015). Research, development, and evaluation of a public outreach communication plan and products of resource management and wildlife issues.
  • Sintek, Kaci. (2013). Analysis of the online and print readership for a specialized sports magazine


Several types of financial assistance are available to help students achieve their educational goals, including teaching and research assistantships, instructorships, and student loans.

Please visit our Graduate Resources section for additional information.


M.S. students are required to complete at least 30 credit hours of required and elective coursework. Required coursework includes a mixture of research methods and theory courses. These courses provide students with the foundational knowledge necessary to understand the challenges facing information transfer and new technologies in the twenty-first century.
In addition to the required core of classes, students select elective coursework that is consistent with their goals and interests. For these elective courses, students may decide to take additional theory or research methods courses, or they may elect to take up to nine credit hours from 300- and 400- level skills courses (e.g., video production, website design) in the JMC department. The flexibility of this elective requirement enables students interested in both academic and professional careers to achieve their goals. A 3.0 GPA must be maintained throughout the M.S. degree.

More information about the degree options, required coursework, and other program requirements is in the M.S. Student Advising Manual.

decorative, colored shapes

How To Apply

photo collage with colored circles

Career Outcomes

Our graduates hold positions as:

  • Public affairs/public relations specialists for major corporations and government agencies
  • Technical writers and editors for engineering, software, chemical, and pharmaceutical firms
  • Editors of specialized and in-house publications
  • Public relations/development officers for non-profit organizations

Our graduates have taken jobs with:

  • Hewlett Packard
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • National Ecological Observatory Network
  • Bohemian Foundation
  • Larimer County Humane Society
  • University of Colorado Health
  • Many other companies and agencies

Graduates of our master’s program have also gained admittance to top-ranked Ph.D. programs. These programs include communication-related Ph.D. programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Temple University, University of California-Berkley, Ohio State University, and the University of Alabama. In addition, several of our students have continued their education in our Ph.D. in Public Communication and Technology [link to Ph.D. page] program. Graduates have also pursued advanced degrees in other fields, including economics and sociology.