This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2021-2022 VCU Bulletin. This edition includes all programs and courses approved by the publication deadline; however we may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.
901 West Main Street
Temple Building, Room 2216
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2034
Fax: (804) 828-9175
Associate professor and interim director
Karen McIntyre, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director of graduate studies
Coordinator of student services
The Robertson School of Media and Culture prepares effective and skilled communicators through quality instruction, advising and student services, based on real-world applications. Through research, professional service and scholarship in applied communications, the school advances the knowledge and practice of a multidisciplinary and evolving media environment. The school values truth, ethics, creativity, innovation, collaboration, cultural diversity, shared governance and community engagement.
The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications with specialization in one of four concentrations: advertising, journalism, media production or public relations. The school also awards the Master of Science in Mass Communications, with concentrations in the areas of integrated communication and multimedia journalism.
Admission requirements for graduate study
All areas are open to graduates of accredited colleges and universities. Applicants must satisfy the general requirements for admission to graduate programs in the Graduate School and the College of Humanities and Sciences (see the College of Humanities and Sciences guidelines in this bulletin). In addition, they should hold a baccalaureate degree in an area appropriate to the program to which they are applying and a GPA that indicates the ability to pursue graduate work. Although the type of undergraduate degree is not critical to admission, the programs require approved undergraduate curricula or the equivalent in order to grant full admission.
MASC 591. Topics in Mass Communications. 1-3 Hours.
Semester course; variable lecture or laboratory hours (depending on topic). 1-3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and director of graduate studies. An advanced study of a selected topic in mass communications. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topic(s) to be offered.
MASC 602. Advertising Technology for Copywriters, Strategists and Media Planners. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Restricted to Brandcenter students only. This course covers a number of computer applications, tailored to the specific needs of copywriters, account managers, account planners and media planners. Students will learn how to create and format documents using Microsoft Word for the Macintosh, including placement of images and manipulation of text from various sources such as the Internet. Students will learn how to create computer presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint for Macintosh. This course will teach the basics of page layout, including formatting documents, placement of images and basic typography. Additionally, students will learn how to use a scanner to capture images into Adobe Photoshop, and basic image modification techniques, such as brightening and sharpening, silhouetting an image and saving the image. Additionally this course covers the appropriate applications designed to capture and edit digital video, and will include discussion of the use of the Brandcenter's digital video cameras, and other accessories such as external microphones and lights. Certain applications specific to the needs of media planners and account planners, such as Simmons, SRDS and MRI also will be covered in this course.
MASC 604. Media Stories. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will identify, create and translate stories to the multiple screens of contemporary media with an emphasis on advertising, public relations and journalism. Students study contemporary storytelling cases and create original stories for professional communications.
MASC 605. Technology in the Classroom. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Beginning with a brief treatment of basic desktop publishing skills, students will learn layout and design using newspaper, magazine and yearbook models. They will master the functions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe PageMaker and/or QuarkXpress and create promotional fliers/brochures and advertisements for their journalism programs. They will set templates and a style palette for school publications.
MASC 611. Communication Research. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces relevant communication theories and research methods. Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques are examined.
MASC 612. Mass Communications Theory. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 seminar hours. 3 credits. Nature, function and application of mass communications theory; structure, content and effects of media systems; social and technological events accounted for by a generalized theory of mass communications.
MASC 613. Mass Media and Society. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 seminar hours. 3 credits. A study of the mass media of the United States, with special attention to their historical development and their impact on other institutions. Consideration of ethical and legal aspects of the media, and problems such as access, control and accountability.
MASC 614. Media-governmental Relations. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 seminar hours. 3 credits. Study of the interaction between the media and the government, and the role of the press in the governmental process as a disseminator, opinion-maker and adversary.
MASC 615. Depth Reporting. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 seminar hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: three undergraduate reporting courses or permission of instructor. A thorough examination of one or more issues in the forefront of the news, the environment, education, health care, science and others relevant to today's readers.
MASC 616. Mass Communication Law. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An intensive examination of media rights and restrictions, including libel, privacy, access to information, copyright, free-press fair-trial. Attention will be given to First Amendment theory, research techniques and administrative regulation of broadcasting and advertising.
MASC 617. Advanced Research Methods. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MASC 611. An examination of a mass medium through design and execution of a research project using one of the traditional research techniques of the field. Students will have major and minor projects for systematic study of a medium.
MASC 618. Media Economics and Management. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. In-depth study of media economics, management and finance based on an examination of major contemporary issues and challenges. Students will interact with faculty, media managers and each other to gain major problem-solving skills for media economics, management and finance.
MASC 619. Media and Public Opinion. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of the role of the mass media in the formation and change of beliefs and attitudes, the involvement of the media with policy makers in shaping public opinion and public policy, and the interaction of media and public opinion polling.
MASC 620. Seminar in Mass Communications History. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 credits. An examination of historical methodology and content as related to the investigation and writing of mass communication history in the United States. Special attention is placed on the adaptation and the use of historical method by mass communications historians.
MASC 621. Advanced Public Relations. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will explore a variety of case studies, decision-making analyses and advanced public relations programming in relation to private and public policy-making at the senior levels of management.
MASC 626. Critical Thinking in Media. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Focuses on the application of critical and creative thinking to solve communication problems. Provides students with opportunities to explore and expand their creative abilities through brainstorming sessions, creative techniques and team-oriented activities dealing with contemporary advertising, public relations and media cases.
MASC 642. Online Journalism I. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Exploration and production of various means of journalistic communication using online resources. Various multimedia projects will be reviewed and discussed, as well as the best use and application of media types based on the information being communicated. Students will research news stories and examine the effectiveness of online presentations while exploring how online journalism can work with more traditional forms of communication.
MASC 643. Digital Management and Analytics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will learn how to use metrics to test ideas, offer audience insights and, ultimately, build relationships with the public they serve. This course will help students master the latest tools and techniques to collect information about news audiences and integrate metric insights into a digital media strategy.
MASC 644. Computational Journalism. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Computational journalism incorporates elements of computer-assisted reporting and data journalism while expanding on these approaches. Students will explore how the combination of algorithms, data and knowledge from the social sciences can supplement the accountability function of journalism and change how stories are discovered, presented, aggregated and monetized.
MASC 645. Digital Production. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines innovative approaches and technologies used in multimedia storytelling. Specific focus on the technical skills necessary to produce and edit messages using photography, videography, graphic design and more. Students gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art tools.
MASC 646. Convergence Law and Ethics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: MASC 611, 642 and 685. Explores the delicate balance that exists between freedom and control of the mass media (print, broadcast and new media). Focuses on judicial decisions and reasoning, given the impact the courts have on interpreting the First Amendment. Will also focus on new legal and ethical concerns created by the Internet and digital newsgathering and presentation technologies. Students will be immersed in the ethical decision-making process through the case-study approach.
MASC 654. Persuasion. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Study of communication practices influencing attitudes, opinions, belief systems and behavior change. Establishes the theories and practices used by brands to persuade within the boundaries of truth, diversity, commerce and law.
MASC 658. Account Leadership. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Restricted to Brandcenter students only. Students will learn first-hand general leadership skills crucial to developing successful relationships with agency personnel and clients. Emphasis will be given to exploring ways students can contribute to accounts not only strategically but creatively as well. Students will learn presentation and communication skills as well as effective ways to manage accounts. Students will sharpen previously prepared strategies as well as interviewing skills.
MASC 660. Advertising Account Research and Planning. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: MASC 650 and MASC 651. Develops student's ability to choose the most effective research methods for determining both the correct target market for a product and specific issues most pertinent to that market, in regards to positioning the product. Research work with consumer groups will demonstrate student's ability to develop thoughtful questions that will deliver valuable insight.
MASC 665. Building Global Brands. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: MASC 650 and MASC 651. Restricted to Brandcenter students only. Provides thorough coverage of an approach and framework for designing a comprehensive marketing plan suitable for implementations in an international setting, with particular focus on identifying and analyzing the important cultural and environmental uniqueness of single nations or global regions. We also will look at specific examples of cases that will better inform our planning efforts and will spend time examining various cultures in order to respectfully and appropriately engage them in our marketing plan.
MASC 671. Strategic PR in a Digital Environment. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. An introduction to the thinking and actions required to communicate strategically in today's dynamic socioeconomic environment. Focus is on the skills and information to handle strategic public relations. Introduces cutting-edge technology and using the Internet as a strategic communications tool. Professional responsibilities emphasized.
MASC 672. Strategic PR Research and Evaluation. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Introduces the basic theories and practices of strategic public relations research and evaluation. Both qualitative and quantitative techniques are examined.
MASC 675. Leadership in Action. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Discusses dynamic leadership challenges on both a knowledge and skill basis, including results-driven decision-making in executive communication and overall management. Examines 21st-century topics such as fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.
MASC 676. Media Law and Ethics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Study of legal issues affecting the media industries. Analyzes contemporary issues and problems in conventional and new media. Discusses critical and unresolved issues within the legal and ethical framework of modern mass media practice.
MASC 682. Media Mechanics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Focus on newsworthiness, the evolving media landscape, determining relevant and innovative outlets for the message and shaping a message for maximum impact. Includes techniques to effectively reach the media in order to amplify and leverage an organization's story.
MASC 683. Strategic Communications in the Global Environment. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines the phenomenon of global strategic communications, including the enabling environmental factors. How to develop an integrated, holistic global communications program and how to manage such a program. Students experience one region of the world with an in-depth study tour.
MASC 684. Multimedia Storytelling. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will learn how to create digital content that resonates with diverse audiences across varying mediums. They will learn how to best showcase and report multimedia stories across visual and audio platforms. News-driven projects will use new trends in technology in addition to photography, video, audio and data visualization.
MASC 685. Strategy. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Explores creative approaches to the strategic thinking process. Discusses best practices used to conceptualize high-level campaigns. Creates a framework for outcome-focused messaging. Students gain a mixed-methods approach to planning and problem solving at all levels of communication.
MASC 686. International Journalism. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Students will learn about trends in journalism practices around the world and examine the power and impact of global news media. They will gain a deeper understanding of the political, social, cultural, religious and other contextual factors that impact the operation of the press. Additional topics will include the structures of media ownership, the ethical and legal dimensions of international reporting and the role of technology in international journalism.
MASC 688. Converged Media Applications. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: MASC 644 and 684. Graduate-level research and production focused on multimedia. Students will complete a significant multimedia project that draws on their experiences and the skills learned in other graduate courses.
MASC 691. Topics in Mass Communications. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. May be taken for a maximum total of six credits. An advanced study of a selected topic in mass communications. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topic(s) to be offered each semester.
MASC 692. Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.
Semester course; 1-3 credits. A maximum of 3 credits may be submitted toward the master's degree. Prerequisite: permission of instructor and director of graduate studies.
MASC 693. Practicum in Mass Communications. 1-6 Hours.
Semester course; variable hours. 1-6 credits. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: permission of director of graduate studies. Student participation in planned research or internship experience under the supervision of mass communications faculty. Graded as pass/fail.
MASC 694. Capstone. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 practicum or thesis hours. 3 credits. Enrollment is restricted to students with a minimum of 21 graduate-level MASC credits completed. Students have the option of completing a capstone project or a thesis. The capstone project option is ideal for students pursuing a career in communications. The thesis option is ideal for those pursuing a doctoral degree.
MASC 695. Fieldwork/Internship. 1-3 Hours.
Semester course; variable hours. 1, 2 or 3 credits per semester. Maximum total of 3 credits toward graduation. Prerequisite: permission of director of graduate studies. Selected students will receive on-the-job training under the supervision of an instructor and the employer. Internships are available in newspapers, magazines, public relations, advertising, radio and television. Graded S/U/F.
MASC 697. Portfolio Development for Strategists. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: MASC 653. Continues the development and demonstration of critical thinking skills, insights and creative abilities in a variety of areas sought by agency planning directors, media planning directors, management supervisors and recruiters. Development of concepts and materials necessary for the creation of mini-books and individual portfolios will be one of the main focal points. Independent projects pursued specifically for portfolio development also will be conducted.
MASC 699. Thesis. 1-3 Hours.
1-3 credits. May be repeated. A maximum of 3 credits may be submitted toward the master's degree.