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    American University
    May 29, 2024  
American University Catalog 2019-2020 
American University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

School of Communication

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The School of Communication (SOC) educates students to master a rapidly changing media and communication environment; one that reflects an increasingly complex global, interactive and diverse society. Through teaching, writing, production, scholarship, and partnerships, SOC and its faculty empower graduates with the knowledge, skills, and insights to become responsible, ethical professionals in all areas of the communication field and to make a difference in the economy, politics, culture, and society. With a strategic blend of professional expertise and intellectual exploration, and a deep connection with the world’s communication center of Washington, DC, the school creates a community of knowledge, practice, and impact that keeps students, alumni, and faculty at the leading edge of a society increasingly defined by media and communication. The school’s hands on, practical programs tap the experts at work in Washington, DC, including TV, radio, print, and online journalists; media strategists in the nonprofit, government, corporate, and political arenas; and documentary, entertainment, education, and social advocacy media producers. Internships, work opportunities, and class assignments all contribute to experience-based learning. The school’s state-of-the-art technology supports student research, writing, photography, video and film production, digital video editing, motion graphics production, Web authoring, game design, augmented reality, virtual reality, and graphic design. The school’s four divisions - Communication Studies, Film and Media Arts, Journalism, and Public Communication - each offer undergraduate and graduate programs. Journalism and public communication have been accredited since 1976 by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). The film and media arts program is a member of CILECT, the International Association of Film and Television Schools.

The Communication Studies division offers interdisciplinary degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, which are intended for students seeking a broad-based, intellectually challenging course of study that will allow them to expand and deepen their understanding of the political, social, cultural, and historical dimensions of the communications disciplines. The Communication: Communication Studies (BA)  is a liberal arts-oriented major that draws on the strengths and attributes of the School’s journalism, public communication, and film and media arts curricula with an added emphasis on thought-leadership and research-based scholarship. The Communication (PhD)  is an accelerated, interdisciplinary curriculum designed around the intersections of media, technology, and democracy.

Film and Media Arts includes the Communication: Film and Media Arts (BA) Film and Media Production (MA) , Communication: Producing Film, Television, and Video (MA) , Film and Media Arts (MFA) , and Games and Interactive Media (MFA)  programs. The Photography (BA)  and Game Design (MA)  are offered jointly with the College of Arts and Sciences . At the MFA level, students may concentrate their study of media production in one of four areas: Environmental and Wildlife Filmmaking; Political, Cultural, and Social Impact; Art in Entertainment; Games and Interactivity; or may prefer to select a program of courses from across these four areas. In its commitment to providing the best preparation for students in film and emerging media, the Film and Media Arts Division requires all MA and MFA graduate students to enter the program with an Apple MacBook Pro laptops with Adobe software capabilities. These systems are recommended for undergraduates as well.

Journalism offers the Communication: Journalism (BA)  and several graduate degree programs, all focusing on the values of journalism in a rapidly evolving media landscape. The Communication: Journalism and Public Affairs (MA)  includes specializations in investigative, broadcast, and international journalism. Students get hands-on experience with the latest technology and debate the legal, historic, and ethical issues of the profession. The weekend Journalism and Digital Storytelling (MA)  targets working professionals eager to brush up on skills.

Public Communication’s Public Relations & Strategic Communication (BA)  and Strategic Communication (MA)  programs teach students how to think strategically in a constantly changing digital media world. Students learn how to craft persuasive messages, create awareness of issues, alter viewpoints, influence policy, or advocate for causes by targeting specific audiences. Both programs provide concentrations in a variety of areas including politics, entertainment, lifestyle, corporate, social advocacy, digital communication, and international relations. The Political Communication (MA)  is offered jointly with the School of Public Affairs .

The School of Communication also offers an undergraduate interdisciplinary program jointly with the College of Arts and Sciences , the Foreign Language and Communication Media (BA) .

An undergraduate Communication (Minor) , emphasizing media studies, is also available.

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General Information


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