School of Media & Strategic Communications

Graduate Plans of Study

Students must complete a Plan of Study in their first full semester of their program. The plan is a list of the courses that you will take to complete your degree. Your plan will likely closely follow the typical student plans discussed in the Model Degree Plans section of this website. These plans are for two years, but you can take longer if you wish.

In our program, you will prepare a tentative Plan of Study while taking MC 5651 Introduction to Graduate Study. Thesis Option students take 34 hours of courses, including 6 hours of MC 5000 Thesis. A thesis is a major research effort in the student’s area of interest that is conducted under the guidance of a graduate faculty member. The Project/Creative Component Option is designed for students who want to advance in their professional media careers, but do not intend to pursue graduate study at the doctoral level. Students take 34 hours of courses, including 4 hours of MC 5010 Project/Creative Component. The project is an applied research or creative effort in the student’s area of interest, again conducted under the direction of a faculty member.

 You will pick one of the options and develop a Plan of Study to meet its requirements. In addition, you will select an adviser to supervise your thesis or project/creative work and two committee members, and they will review and sign your plan. You will then follow the plan to complete your degree. You will submit your final Plan of Study to the Graduate College during your first semester.

Core Courses

All students must take five core courses. They are designed to give you a strong foundation in mass communications. These courses are:

  • MC 5651 Introduction to Graduate Study (1)
  • MC 5113 Methods of Research in Mass Communication 3)
  • MC 5223 Research Analysis and Interpretation ( (3)
  • MC 5333 Processes and Effects of Mass Communication (3)
  • MC 5733 Social Responsibility in Mass Communication (3)

If students are using qualitative research methods for their thesis or project/creative component, they can take a qualitative research methods course in place of MC 5223 with special permission from their graduate committee. The course must appear on the Plan of Study.

Required Mass Communication Specialty Track Courses

In addition, students in the Media Management specialty track are required to take MC 5863 Principles of Media Management and MC 5883 Advanced Media Management; students in the Strategic Communication specialty track are required to take MC 5853 Strategic Communication Management and MC 5030 Theories of Persuasion; students in the Sports Media track are required to take MC 5770 Sports & Diversity and MC 5330 Sports Media Management.

Required Cognate Courses

To strengthen your foundation in management and marketing, all students must take two courses in the Master's of Business Administration program. They are MKTG 5133 Marketing Management and MGMT 5113 Management Organization and Theory. If you want to specialize in another academic area, such as education or political science, you can substitute two courses in those areas with special permission from your graduate committee.


You can take electives from courses inside the school, such as MC 5253 International Mass Communication, or from graduate courses in other departments. Your electives must be part of your Plan of Study.

Foundation Courses

If you do not have a degree in journalism or mass communication, you will be required to take undergraduate foundation classes, which do not count toward your degree. These courses are required because a graduate with a master's degree can teach college classes, often involving journalism skills, and the graduate faculty wants to ensure they are adequately prepared. Any media experience also will be considered when assessing what courses are needed. The director of graduate studies will meet with the head of the sequence of the student's interest and determine what graduate courses are required. Our current sequences are multimedia journalism, strategic communications and sports media. Generally, three classes or less are required. These courses must be taken during your first year in the program.

All students are required to have taken an undergraduate media law course and a statistics course. If you have not taken these courses, you must take them at OSU. The statistics course can be taken for graduate credit.