Most Commonly Asked Questions About Our Media Design and Journalism Programs

Charlotte Coberley, Graduate Admissions Counselor

Emerson College is the nation’s premier school of communication and the arts. Our Media Design (MA) and Journalism and Media Innovation (MA) programs combine creativity with media and communication. To bring you the inside scoop on our Media Design and Journalism programs, we’ve interviewed Charlotte Coberley, the admissions counselor for these programs. You’ll hear about all the commonly asked questions and learn about what makes our programs  unique.

Q: What makes Emerson’s Media Design and Journalism and Media Innovation programs stand out?

A: All of Emerson’s graduate programs are highly collaborative, the Media Design program especially so. This program has a strong sense of community between students and faculty. Now that the Media Design MA is entirely online, there’s a big focus on students building community where they are through their work with design.

This program is also unique in its focus on using media design to create positive, equitable change. There is an innate drive from the faculty to focus on community care and teach students how to provide high quality, equitable, accessible resources to the community through their designs.

To help students reach the community through design, the department has a robust set of resources for students. I like to highlight our Engagement Lab, which is a community hub with a strong relationship between the academic research world and community development world. It’s a place to collaborate with faculty, staff, peers, and community members to create innovative, sustainable change. Here, students can get hands-on experience with making an impact through their design work.

Recently redesigned, the Journalism and Media Innovation program offers high-quality instruction from industry experts. The faculty in this program have industry experience in companies such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the Washington Post, making them an excellent resource for students. Fully online and asynchronous, this program allows students to learn at their own pace and according to their schedule. Additionally, students receive a professional mentor in the program, who meets with them several times per semester to discuss career goals. This program is designed to give students a well-rounded education in all aspects of the journalism field, from multi-platform storytelling to cultural criticism to data visualization. 

Q: How long does it take to complete the Media Design and Journalism and Media Innovation programs?

A: In the Media Design program, students have the option to enroll in a one-year immersive track. During this immersive track, they complete all 32 credit hours over three semesters. Alternatively, students can elect to complete the program over two years, which may allow them more time to work during their graduate program.

Three people working on a design layout. Sketches and sticky notes are strewn around the table.
Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

In the Journalism and Media Innovation program, students can complete the program in one year as a full-time student or in two years as a part-time student. Plus, students with an undergraduate degree in journalism or at least 5 years of experience may waive four credits. This allows students to complete their degree in even less time.

Q: Who is a good fit for the Media Design and Journalism and Media Innovation programs?

A: If you are interested in design and are passionate about community engagement, you should apply to the Media Design program. Students in our Journalism and Media Innovation program typically have interest or experience in areas such as journalism, communications, design, publishing, or freelancing. Emerson is an institution that wears its values on its sleeve, so prospective students should also check that the college’s mission, vision, and values align with their own values.

A newspaper running through an industrial printer
Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

Q: How big are the cohort sizes?

A: To maintain an intensive, tight-knit experience, the Media Design and Journalism and Media Innovation programs typically accept around 10 students per cohort. 

Q: How can I apply for financial aid?

A: At Emerson College, a unique feature of our application process is that, if you apply by the priority deadline, you are automatically considered for scholarships and additional aid. Students may also choose to apply for the Transformational Leaders Graduate Fellowship, which comes with a scholarship and stipend.

Q: Do I need to move to Boston for the Media Design or Journalism and Media Innovation programs?

Both the Media Design and the Journalism and Media Innovation programs are fully online. The Journalism and Media Innovation program is also 100% asynchronous. This allows students to complete the program according to their own schedule. 

Because the Media Design program recently moved from an in-person program to a completely online graduate program, I get questions about the quality of the online experience. I start by explaining why we shifted the program to be online. A major factor we made the switch to online was so that the program is more accessible. Now, if people don’t have the resources to move to Boston or can’t afford the cost of living here, they can still get the high-quality educational experience of the Media Design MA. The faculty are as dedicated as ever to maintaining a tight cohort community for our students, and resources like the Engagement Lab are still fully accessible for students to take advantage of while they study at Emerson. The community experience and excellent resources offered in the Media Design program remain regardless of the program’s format.

Q: How can prospective students make their applications stronger?

A: Be intentional about every step of the application process. Emerson takes a holistic approach to graduate admissions, so we review every piece of an application carefully. Make sure you proof-read everything carefully before submitting, and be authentic in the essay portions. It’s always nice when an applicant takes the essay questions seriously and shares a piece of themselves with us through their response. 

A desk with sketched designs for a mobile app. Also on the desk is a laptop, a desktop computer, a book about graphic design, and a cup of coffee.
Photo by UX Store on Unsplash

Q: What kinds of careers do students get after graduating from the Media Design and Journalism and Media Innovation programs? 

A: Our Media Design students find professional opportunities in a wide variety of fields. Anywhere there is community development potential, our students work. This program gives students an education in design with a tailored focus on equity, social justice, and community development. This specialized training allows our graduate students to work in any number of fields. Some students have gone on to work with nonprofits, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the public health sector, and even the Obama Foundation. 

Students in our Journalism and Media Innovation program are equipped to work both in traditional journalism roles and in other media and communications positions. Possible careers include Digital Journalist, News Data Analyst, Executive Editor, and more. 

We hope today’s interview with Charlotte gave you a better understanding of Emerson’s Media Design MA and Journalism and Media Innovation MA programs. For more information, visit these programs’ websites or schedule a call with our admissions team.

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Olivia is a second-year student in Emerson's Communication Disorders MS program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

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