Media Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The major applies perspectives from liberal arts disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to examine the central role that media plays in the economic, social, political, and cultural life of citizens in modern societies. Our emphasis in this major is historical and theoretical, examining media systems, institutions, policies, and practices. We offer students the analytical tools available to examine media—old and new, local to global—as well as media consumption and meaning-making processes.

The program weds traditions from communication, history, anthropology, sociology, and political science with critical and cultural studies theory to analyze and assess the role and meaning of media in contemporary societies.

Declaring the Major

Students planning to declare a major in Media Studies are advised to read the Media Studies website in its entirety and then contact the student academic adviser as early as possible to discuss their academic program plans. Applications are accepted during fall and spring semesters during periods listed on the program's website.

Students who wish to declare the major in Media Studies:

  • Must have completed at least 30 units of college coursework before applying to the program.
  • Must have completed at least three of the major prerequisites, including MEDIAST 10.
  • Must be currently enrolled in any remaining prerequisite at the time of application (see the list of approved major prerequisites on the Major Requirements tab).
  • Must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 in courses relevant to the major. This includes the lower division prerequisite courses and the equivalency of transferred coursework as well as any lower or upper division courses already completed for the major.
  • Should declare the major no later than the semester in which they complete the 70th unit. (Junior transfer students should contact the major adviser for Media Studies concerning their eligibility and the equivalency of transferred coursework.)

Students who meet the above criteria are eligible for admission to the major. Students who do not meet the above criteria but wish to declare Media Studies as their major should submit a letter of appeal and a graded paper from a prerequisite course along with a completed application.

More information regarding declaring the major is available on the Media Studies website. The application dates and a link to the application are available on the home page.

Honors Program

To be admitted to the honors program, a student must have attained at least a 3.5 grade-point average (GPA) overall in the University and a 3.5 GPA in the major. In order to be granted honors, a student must write a thesis which in the judgment of the thesis adviser is characterized by superior distinction. The honors program includes two courses: MEDIAST H194 and MEDIAST H195. For further information on the honors program, please see the program's website.

Minor Program

There is no minor program in Media Studies.

Visit Program Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit (letter grade).
  2. Students must complete a minimum of 30 upper division units in approved courses for the Media Studies major.
  3. Students may not take more than two courses from any single outside department or program for the Media Studies major. This includes any combined courses which are counted as an elective taken simultaneously from all sponsoring departments or programs.
  4. No more than one upper-division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  5. No more than two upper-division courses may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for major requirements for a double major.
  6. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Summary of Major Requirements

Prerequisites: Four courses
Media Studies core courses: Four courses
Methods: One course
Upper Division Electives: Four courses

Prerequisites

MEDIAST 10Introduction to Media Studies 14
or MEDIAST N10 Introduction to Media Studies
POL SCI 1Introduction to American Politics 14
Select one of the following:
Introduction to the History of the United States: The United States from Civil War to Present [4] 1
The Recent United States: The United States from the Late 19th Century to the Eve of World War II [4]
The Recent United States: The United States from World War II [4]
Social History of the United States: Creating Modern American Society: From the End of the Civil War to the Global Age [4]
Select one of the following:
Introduction to Social/Cultural Anthropology (American Cultures) [4]
Introduction to Economics [4] 1
Introduction to Economics--Lecture Format [4] 1
General Psychology [3] 1
Principles of Psychology [3] 1
Introduction to Sociology [4] 1
Principles of Sociology: American Cultures [4]
1

Or course equivalents, as recognized by assist.org.

Media Studies Core Courses

MEDIAST 111Media History4
MEDIAST 112Media Theories and Processes4
MEDIAST 113Media and Democracy4

Methods

Select one lower or upper division course from the following:
Research Methods in Media Studies [4]
Introduction to Empirical Analysis and Quantitative Methods [4]
Research and Data Analysis in Psychology [4]
Evaluation of Evidence [4]
The Power of Numbers: Quantitative Data in Social Sciences [4]
Research Design and Sociological Methods [5]

Upper Division Electives

Students must complete five upper-division electives for the major, including at least one elective each from each of the following three groups:

  • Group A. History
  • Group B: Specialization in a Medium
  • Group C: Theory and Application

All of the courses listed below are approved electives. This list is updated annually. Additional, prior to enrolling each term, Media Studies publishes a list of Current Courses. This list may include other courses that have been approved–on a one time basis–as electives for that semester only. The online archive will serve as a record of these course approvals.
Students wishing to have any other course reviewed as a possible elective for Media Studies must submit a copy of the course syllabus to a faculty adviser.

Group A
AMERSTD C112AAmerican Cultural Landscapes, 1600 to 19004
AMERSTD C112BAmerican Cultural Landscapes, 1900 to Present4
AMERSTD C172History of American Business3
ANTHRO C136KWho Owns the Past? Cultural Heritage in a Digital Age4
GEOG C160BAmerican Cultural Landscapes, 1900 to Present4
HISTORY 122ACAntebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society4
HISTORY 134AThe Age of the City: The Age of the City, 1825-19334
L & S C180WWho Owns the Past? Cultural Heritage in a Digital Age4
MEDIAST 104AFreedom of Speech and the Press3
MEDIAST 170Cultural History of Advertising4
UGBA C172History of American Business3
Group B
AFRICAM 142AThird World Cinema4
AFRICAM 142ACRace and American Film4
ANTHRO 138AHistory and Theory of Ethnographic Film4
ASAMST 171Asian Americans in Film and Video4
CHICANO 135ALatino Narrative Film: to the 1980s4
CHICANO 135BLatino Narrative Film Since 19904
CHICANO 135CLatino Documentary Film4
CHINESE 172Contemporary Chinese Language Cinema4
DEMOG 161Population Apocalypse in Film and Science3
ENGLISH 173The Language and Literature of Films4
ENGLISH 176Literature and Popular Culture4
or ENGLISH N176 Course Not Available
ETH STD 122ACEthnicity and Race in Contemporary American Films4
FILM 108Special Topics in Film Genre4
FILM 128Documentary4
FILM 129History of Avant-Garde Film4
FILM 140Special Topics in Film4
FILM 151Auteur Theory4
FILM 160National Cinema4
GWS 125Women and Film4
INFO C167Virtual Communities/Social Media4
ITALIAN 170The Italian Cinema: History, Genres, Authors4
ITALIAN 175Film and Literature (in English)4
JAPAN 185Introduction to Japanese Cinema4
JOURN 111Social Media and Journalism3
KOREAN 187History and Memory in Korean Cinema4
KOREAN 188Cold War Culture in Korea: Literature and Film4
MEDIAST 150Topics in Film4
MEDIAST 165Internet and Culture4
MEDIAST 180Television Studies4
NATAMST 158Native Americans and the Cinema4
or NATAMST N158 Native Americans and the Cinema
RHETOR 114Rhetoric of New Media4
RHETOR 130Novel into Film4
RHETOR 132TAuteur in Film4
RHETOR 138Television Criticism4
SCANDIN 115Studies in Drama and Film4
SOCIOL C167Virtual Communities/Social Media4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
Group C
AFRICAM C134Information Technology and Society4
AMERSTD C134Information Technology and Society4
ANTHRO 139Controlling Processes4
ANTHRO 150Utopia: Art and Power in Modern Times4
ANTHRO 155Modernity4
ANTHRO 156BCulture and Power4
ANTHRO 160ACForms of Folklore4
ANTHRO 162Topics in Folklore4
ANTHRO 166Language, Culture, and Society4
ASAMST 138Topics in Asian Popular Culture4
DUTCH 171ACFrom New Amsterdam to New York: Race, Culture, and Identity in New Netherland4
GWS 140Feminist Cultural Studies4
GWS C146BCultural Representations of Sexualities: Queer Visual Culture4
ISF 100HIntroduction to Media and International Relations4
LGBT C146BCultural Representations of Sexualities: Queer Visual Culture4
L & S C180UWealth and Poverty4
LINGUIS 150Sociolinguistics3
MEDIAST 101Visual Communications4
MEDIAST 104DPrivacy in the Digital Age3
MEDIAST 140Media and Politics4
MEDIAST 160International Media4
POL SCI 106AAmerican Politics: Campaign Strategy - Media4
POL SCI 161Public Opinion, Voting and Participation4
POL SCI 164APolitical Psychology and Public Policy,Political Psychology and Involvement3, 4
PSYCH 160Social Psychology3
or PSYCH N160 Social Psychology
PSYCH 166ACCultural Psychology3
PUB POL C103Wealth and Poverty4
SOCIOL 110Organizations and Social Institutions4
SOCIOL 111ACSociology of the Family4
SOCIOL 117Sport As a Social Institution4
SOCIOL 133Sociology of Gender4
SOCIOL 140Politics and Social Change4
SOCIOL 150Social Psychology4
SOCIOL 160Sociology of Culture4
SOCIOL 166Society and Technology4
UGBA 106Marketing3
UGBA 160Consumer Behavior3
UGBA 165Advertising Strategy3

Transfer Students

Transfer students may complete MEDIAST 10 at Berkeley, but are urged to complete other major prerequisite courses before arriving on campus. New transfers should see the major faculty adviser on arrival in order to have transfer prerequisites approved. Transfers may need assistance in adding Media Studies 10 to their schedules.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Mission

The Media Studies major at the University of California at Berkeley is an undergraduate interdisciplinary group major in the Office of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies (UGIS). Courses taught by core faculty in Media Studies cover media history and theory with an emphasis on media systems, policy, and practices.  Additionally, faculty from multiple departments cross campus bring the perspectives and methods of their fields to bear on the analysis of media in a variety of elective courses.  Our emphasis in this major is historical and theoretical, offering students the analytical tools available to examine media—old and new, local to global—as well as media consumption and meaning-making processes.

The three core courses examine media history, theory, institutions, and policy. We offer students the analytical tools available to examine media—old and new, local to global—as well as media consumption and meaning-making processes.

In addition to the core courses, students must take an approved methods course in the social sciences and five approved elective courses, including at least one from each of these three groups: Group A: History; Group B: Specialization in a Medium; Group C: Theory and Application.

Core courses and electives offered by the Media Studies program—whether examining popular culture and entertainment, advertising, or news and information viewed on cinema, television, computer, or mobile phone screens—ask students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Students may also choose to take approved electives offered by other disciplines on campus including anthropology, English, history, linguistics, journalism, political science, and sociology to name a few.

Critical analysis in media studies involves identifying and evaluating evidence, understanding theoretical concepts and being able to apply them to new media materials or situations, and examining the relationships between words and images.

Learning Goals for the Major

Visit Learning Initiative on the Media Studies website.

Courses

Media Studies

Faculty and Instructors

Lecturers

Josh Jackson, Lecturer. Digital and new media, television, media and culture, convergence, media industries and production cultures, media history.

Richard Jaroslovsky, Lecturer. Media history; impact of digital technologies on newsgathering and dissemination of news; changing economic models of media organizations.

Geoffrey King, Lecturer. Freedoms of speech, press, petition and assembly; citizen journalism; Internet policy; privacy; technology; online surveillance and censorship; open government.

Jean P. Retzinger, Lecturer. Environmental communication, particularly agriculture and food issues in advertising, television, film, and digital media.

Ed Timke, Lecturer. Advertising; international and intercultural communication; media, culture, and society; media history; photojournalism; and Transatlantic media flows, especially between the United States and France.

William Turner, Lecturer. Freedom of speech and the press.

Contact Information

Media Studies Program

235 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-2363

Visit Program Website

Acting Program Director, Lecturer and Faculty Adviser

Jean Retzinger, PhD

jpretz@berkeley.edu

Lecturer and Faculty Adviser

Josh Jackson, PhD

joshjackson@berkeley.edu

Lecturer and Faculty Adviser

Ed Timke, PhD

etimke@berkeley.edu

Student Academic Adviser

Laura Demir

235 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-2363

demir@berkeley.edu

Program Email

The program email address is answered by staff and faculty.

mediastudies_advising@berkeley.edu

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