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University Bulletin: Graduate Programs The George Washington University  



Professors S.V. Roberts, R.M. Entman, L. Huebner, F. Sesno (Director), S.L. Livingston, S. Waisbord

Associate Professors J.E. Steele, L.S. Harvey, A.L. May III, P.F. Phalen, S. Aday, R. Russell, K.A. Gross, N. Seavey (Research), M. Hindman

Assistant Professors J.M. Shanahan, J. Osder, C.S. Bailard, N. Usher, D.A. Karpf, W.L. Youmans

Master of Arts in the field of media and public affairs—Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree in a related field.

Required: the general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and completion of 36 credit hours as follows.

1. Core courses—SMPA 6202, 6204, 6241. On the basis of academic or professional preparation, students may petition for the waiving of any of these courses with substitution of another approved course.

2. Strategic communications skills—SMPA 6201. Students take three 1-credit courses, each focused on a different skill.

3. Elective Courses—Students complete an additional six courses (18 credits), chosen with approval of the advisor. At least two of the courses must be selected from the following (SMPA 6203, 6205, 6206, 6207, 6210, 6220, 6221). In all cases, the burden will be on students and advisors to choose elective courses that form a coherent set. Students doing the strategic communication capstone option may not count SMPA 6220 toward electives.

4. Capstone Option—Students complete 6 additional credits in one of the following ways, as approved by the advisor: (1) writing a research thesis (SMPA 6998-99); (2) completing a supervised in-depth media project (SMPA 6297-98); or (3) writing a supervised strategic communication project addressed to solving a client’s communication-related problem (SMPA 6220 and 6298). Students should consult with their advisor on their plan for the capstone in the second semester of the graduate program.

A graduate certificate in documentary filmmaking is offered by the School of Media and Public Affairs. Information is available at

With permission of the advisor, a limited number of upper-division undergraduate courses may be taken for graduate credit; additional course work is required.

6201 Strategic Communications Skills (1 to 3) Staff
  Specialized skills courses, such as writing for public affairs, video editing and production, political uses of social media, web development and strategy, formal briefing, speechwriting, public speaking. Topics announced in the Schedule of Classes.
6202 Theories of Mediated Political Communication (3) Usher, Aday, and Staff
  Institutional functions and individual effects of mediated communication. Impacts of different textual content and format on individual thinking and emotion; forces that shape content production.
6203 Information, Technology, and Political Communication (3) Hindman
  Issues pertaining to the political uses of the Internet, social media, and other new media; the effect that new information technologies have on political life and the ways in which politics shape technology development.
6204 Strategic Political Communication (3) Karpf and Staff
  Theory, techniques, and implications of strategic communication as employed by individuals, groups, organizations, and governments to advance their interests; applications to non-electoral politics and policymaking; use of political, psychological, sociological, and other processes; methodological considerations; domestic and international applications.
6205 Media, Development, and Globalization (3) Huebner, Steele, Waisbord
  Theories of media and globalization. The changing role of communication media, including the Internet and other newer technologies as well as traditional books, film, newspapers, telephone, and satellite in establishing closer relationships and interdependencies among people, their cultures, and their organizations in various countries.
6206 Advocacy Communication and Political Networks (3) Waisbord, Livingston
  Cross-disciplinary approaches to global changes in the nature of governance and collective action. The role of new technology, social movements, NGOs and transnational advocacy networks. Information campaigns and advocacy communication.
6207 Political Persuasion and Public Opinion (3) Gross and Staff
  Major theories and perspectives in public opinion and persuasion research. Information processing, psychological models applied to politics and media research (cognition, attitudes, resistance, heuristics), public opinion dynamics.
6210 Media and Foreign Policy (3) Livingston, Aday
  The effects of U.S. media on U.S. and foreign governments, and of foreign media on the U.S.; effects of other countries’ media on each other; the impact of the Internet, inexpensive global phoning, CNN, al Jazeera, and other newer technologies and networks on the stuff of international relations: diplomacy, military operations, trade negotiations.
6220 Strategic Practicum (3) Karpf and Staff
  Design of strategy for an information and influence campaign. Research on issues and actors, identification of critical decision-making points and key constituencies, development of communication strategies more likely to achieve stated objectives of a campaign. Prerequisite: SMPA 6204. For students doing a strategic communication capstone project, this course replaces SMPA 6297.
6221 Communication and Technology Practicum (3) Staff
  Practicum in using digital and social media tools to advocate and communicate. A project-based course in which students develop and implement an online campaign using web, social media, and blogs. Students design campaign and message elements, create content, and manage website.
6230 Principles and Methods of Documentary Filmmaking (6) Seavey
  Analytical and practical exploration of the elements of documentary filmmaking. The genres of nonfiction filmmaking; fundamentals of film conceptualization, documentary screenwriting, story structure, and production theory; and basic practical elements of production. Admission by permission of instructor.
6231 Documentary Filmmaking Practicum (3) Seavey
  Intensive practical experience in documentary film production. Students produce a 10-15-minute documentary film on a selected topic. Emphasis on major markers in film production: treatment and script writing, location shooting, Final Cut Pro editing, graphics, music, and final sound mix. Prerequisite: SMPA 6230 and permission of instructor.
6241 Research Methods (3) Bailard and Staff
  Design, applications, and limitations of quantitative research as applied to the field of media and public affairs. Framing of research questions, identification of variables and formulation of hypotheses, measurement, sampling, data gathering techniques, data analysis, and preparation of research reports. Brief exposure to qualitative research. Prerequisite: an undergraduate statistics course.
6250 Topics in Media Processes and Institutions (3) Staff
  Topics address such issues as the history of media content, institutions, and process; impact of changing communication technology on culture; history and development of mass-produced culture; and professional ideology and practice of journalism. May be repeated for credit provided the topic differs.
6270 Topics in Media and Public Affairs (3) Staff
  Topics explore such areas as social theories of public opinion and mass media’s response; and the role of mass media in constructing social perceptions of the scientific process and its relationship to cultural and material life.
6272 Media Bias, Power, and Democracy (3) Entman
  Consideration of the available scholarly evidence in order to develop a more sophisticated empirical and theoretical understanding of what constitutes media bias. How do we recognize and measure bias? Are there patterns in decisions about news coverage that indicate bias? Which political parties and economic interests benefit from patterns of news coverage?
6274 Media and War (3) Aday
  Historic and contemporary examination of the media’s role in wartime. Topics include covering war, the role of the media in generating support for foreign intervention, propaganda, effects of war coverage on public opinion, media and genocide, and public diplomacy. Ethical, philosophical and political implications of the media’s role.
6296 Directed Readings and Research (3) Staff
  Independent research with SMPA faculty member. Must be approved in advance by supervising professor and director of graduate studies.
6297-98 Capstone Project (3-3)
6998-99 Thesis Research (3-3)

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© 2013 University Bulletin
The George Washington University All rights reserved.

Information in this bulletin is generally accurate as of fall 2012. The University reserves the right to change courses, programs, fees, and the academic calendar, or to make other changes deemed necessary or desirable, giving advance notice of change when possible.