Media Studies MA Concentrations | The New School

Areas of Focus

  • To assist graduate students planning a course of study, the School of Media Studies has defined several areas of focus by creating clusters of associated courses. Students can choose one of the school's areas of focus, described below, or design their own areas of focus in consultation with faculty advisors.

    Social Media and Social Change

    In 1919, The New School opened its doors to all "intelligent men and women" committed to studying the "grave social, political, economic, and educational problems of the day." The university's historical commitment to the arts and progressive education, combined with its activist mission, draws students and faculty who are committed to social change and seek creative means to bring it about. Media are tools for change, and the MA in Media Studies program offers many courses that examine how media have been employed in building communities, promoting reform, and creating awareness of today's urgent problems, as well as courses that prepare students to create transformative media.

    Media Management

    The curriculum in media management prepares students to tackle the challenges posed by new and emerging media technologies and evolving corporate structures. Students are trained in key areas of communication and convergence in the 21st century. Courses address industry perspectives, media management and leadership, media economics, information technologies, competitive strategies, and corporate responsibility. Students can take individual courses in this focus area or complete 12 credits and a synthesis paper and receive a graduate Certificate in Media Management in addition to the master's degree. Students who complete the certificate curriculum gain in-depth experience analyzing and writing case studies and leading and participating in group projects. They are mentored by the program's distinguished faculty members and build networks with their peers.

    Media and the Urban Environment

    In recent decades, scholars and practitioners of urban studies, art history, architecture, urban planning, sociology, and anthropology have paid more attention to the role of media in planning and designing urban areas and the impact of media on cityscapes and city dweller experiences. At the same time, scholars of media and communication studies have taken a greater interest in urban communication. The convergence of interests between media studies and design, between the university and urban contexts, makes The New School an ideal place and now an ideal time to investigate the relationship of urban studies and media studies and the way these fields interact with the city itself. In Media and the Urban Environment focus area, students and faculty together explore the ways

    • Media and the urban environment interact
    • Media represent the city
    • Urban spaces "mediate" their functions and identities
    • People communicate and use and make media within the city's spaces
    • Media technologies inform the design of space
    • Media connect cities and the people in them
    • Media capture images and sounds of the city and enable users to map cities

    This focus area incorporates existing courses and new service learning initiatives and draws on the resources of other divisions of The New School and of New York City as our urban laboratory.

    Transnational Media Studies

    New York is a global city, and The New School is a global university. The media we create are disseminated around the world, and the media we consume reach us from the far corners of the earth. Media Studies emphasizes internationalism as part of its program. Partnering with the university's graduate program in International Affairs, the program offers a selection of courses on international media. Each semester, several courses of the Milano School's graduate program in International Affairs are cross-listed in Media Studies. Students are also encouraged to look at other related International Affairs courses and those of the university's other graduate programs as well.

    Documentary Studies

    The New School's history of social and political engagement and New York's inexhaustible supply of people, places, and events to document make the Media Studies program ideal for study documentary media. Students focusing in Documentary Studies explore the art and history of the documentary and investigate and help shape its evolving forms. In media methods and media practice courses, students create their own documentaries in a variety of formats—audio, video, Web-based, and multiformat.

    Film Form and Practice

    In the contemporary media landscape, film as an idea and practice has entered into complex "hybrid" relations with other media forms. The School of Media Studies offers students both critical and creative ways of approaching this topic. Seminars and workshops explore subjects and themes related to film history and aesthetics, and others offer a more interdisciplinary approach. The program offers a sequence of five courses (15 credits) for students who wish to focus on the theory and practice of filmmaking. In the first three classes, students engage with the conceptual and expressive parameters of film through seminars on aesthetics and hands-on experiments in labs and workshops. In the final two courses, students take practical and theoretical knowledge and skills a step further, developing a 15- to 20-minute final project to be shot on 16mm film or digital video. This project may, with the permission and supervision of an adviser, be submitted as part of the student's thesis project.

    Sound Studies

    Sound Studies is in the DNA of The New School and its radical pedagogy: Hanns Eisler, Aaron Copland, and John Cage were members of our faculty, and the New School auditorium (now called the John L. Tishman Auditorium) served as a prototype for the modern acoustics of Radio City Music Hall. Today the critical and socially conscious thinking promoted by The New School shapes the study of sound in a variety of contexts—music, dance, architecture, film. Given the university's rich history of sound scholarship and production and its location in New York City, The New School is well positioned to produce progressive interdisciplinary research, teaching, and practice in the field of acoustic environments. MA students who focus their program on Sound Studies and Acoustic Environments take six courses: Fundamentals of Sound Studies, two audio production courses, and three sound seminar electives. Students in this program carry forward the radical ideals of The New School's founders through independent work and cross-divisional collaboration.

    Media Design

    Media Practice cultivates understanding of and proficiency with design and production. The curriculum calls for students to conceive and execute projects, from start to finish, employing individually developed design approaches and using industry-standard equipment, software, and techniques. Rather than focusing on mastery of equipment and software, the program emphasizes the ways media production formats facilitate communication. Courses frame technical training within the context of design and production conceptualization and research. The curriculum promotes a cross-platform or comparative approach, enabling students to analyze the way processes, tools, and media formats—interactive websites, video podcasts, mobile apps—foster communication and function in relation to other media platforms. Students develop an understanding of and proficiency with the aesthetic and technical capabilities of each production medium and explore the relationships between these media. Media Project courses offer students experience and challenges beyond the level of Media Practice courses, requiring students proficient in a particular format to apply their skills and aesthetic sensibility to more complex media messages. Cameras, microphones, audio recorders, and other production tools are provided. Students work with digital images in the production and postproduction stages using university digital editing workstations with  current software. In-class listening and viewing, analysis and critique, and assigned readings provide support and context for production work.