Become a Media and Technology Policy Expert
Internet surveillance, disinformation campaigns, and manipulation of digital media are some of the greatest threats to democracy today. To counter those threats, and to support free and equitable societies, organizations need strategic thinkers with expertise in communications, technology, and policy.
The American University School of Communication MA in Media, Technology & Democracy will give you the tools you need to examine complex social problems, analyze emerging trends in media and technology, and develop and evaluate policy.
In this program designed for working professionals, you will build upon your existing knowledge and experience, completing PhD-level coursework in communication technology, history and law. That solid foundation in theory, combined with practical training in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, will prepare you for a leadership role in a media, government, or non-profit organization or to pursue a PhD in communication studies.
The School of Communication operates on a rolling admissions basis for our graduate programs. Learn more about our admissions process.
The MA in Media, Technology & Democracy is a flexible program for working professionals. You can enroll either as a full- or part-time student. On a full-time schedule, you will be expected to complete the required 30 credit hours in one year, including an online-only summer term. During the fall term, you will study with a small cohort of PhD students to complete core classes. In the spring term, you can pursue more personal interests, choosing two electives from courses at SOC, or AU’s School of International Service, School of Public Administration, the Game Studies program, or elsewhere in our consortium of DC-based universities. During the summer term, you will develop and execute your research thesis project, via online guidance and supervision, giving you even more flexibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the MA in Media, Technology & Democracy different from other programs?
SOC’s MA in Media, Technology & Democracy is the only master’s degree program specifically focused on media and technology policymaking in democratic societies with an emphasis on promoting equity and social justice.
You will study in small classes with PhD students and eminent professors, including experts with real-world experience in government, journalism, and law, as well as internationally recognized scholars of internet governance. The Washington, D.C. location puts you in regular contact with leaders and policymakers from government, think tanks, and the communications industry, both inside and outside the classroom, and you will participate in shaping the world beyond the university.
You will have many opportunities to develop an area of expertise, choosing electives from among the courses at SOC, School of International Service, School of Public Administration, the Game Studies program, and the broader consortium of DC-based universities. Your final research practicum provides another opportunity to specialize and to examine a specific policy question more deeply.
Should you choose to enroll in our PhD in Communication after completing your master’s, your accrued credits will be applied towards your coursework requirements, giving you greater flexibility to choose electives for the PhD.
How will this program help me advance my career?
Careers in media and technology policy are projected to grow rapidly in the coming years. This program will give you the background you need to become a communications specialist or policy expert.
You will also complete a research practicum to conclude your studies. The practicum is an opportunity to explore a question vital to you or your employer. If you are not working during the program, you will be matched with a local organization that needs help researching a policy issue. In that way, you will expand your contacts and demonstrate your abilities in the real world.
The connection with the PhD program also widens your exposure to scholars working at the forefront of the field, with greater opportunities to publish and present work than offered at most masters-level programs.
Who is a typical student?
The MA in Media, Technology & Democracy was designed for working professionals with a strong interest in communication technology, policy, and research, especially as it relates to democratic society. Individuals with a background in media, policy, or law, or those working in politics, lobbying, or NGOs will benefit from this program.
How flexible is the course schedule?
You have the option to complete the requirements for the degree in one year, as a full-time student or in two years studying part-time. The thesis design and execution process, conducted over the summer, is entirely online, giving you even more flexibility.
How does this program relate to the PhD in communication studies?
In many of your courses, you will study with PhD students, and the skills and methods you learn will be excellent preparation for PhD research. In addition, if you are accepted to the PhD in Communication, the master’s degree courses will count toward the requirements of that degree and permit you to take more electives to complete the degree than would usually be possible.