MA in Media Design


Program Description

Program Details

The Media Design program is an applied research MA program housed in Emerson’s Engagement Lab. In contrast to traditional coursework, you’ll connect with community organizations from the outset and work with those organizations as you formulate your thesis project.

The Media Design program responds to the burgeoning landscape of media and technology with a program that is applied, embedded in communities, and represents a deviation from the traditional way a graduate higher education program works. The program is design-oriented and requires the building of process, prototypes, and platforms, the ambitions of the cohort.

How we approach Media Design in our program:

At the Engagement Lab, media design takes on a distinctly civic nature. We are interested in the technologies, designs, and practices that support positive civic impact in the world. The design focus in oriented towards building stronger approaches to participation in the world: from supporting stronger community infrastructure, to using media to solve some of the largest social and civic programs of technology. In this regard, we understand media and design as:

Media, in this regard, are about the texts, narratives, technologies, and representations that guide our engagement in the world. Whether films, apps, games, art, pedagogy, or rhetoric, we understand media in this program as the ways in which we connect to civic life.

Design is understood as the process by which we engage in the world through media. We focus on participatory, and human-centered, design methodologies, where we explore ways that we can engage with communities. This incorporates how to build trust and reciprocity with communities, how to design interventions that include communities, and how to design facilitations and technologies that focus on social justice, and meaningful engagement in the world.

A Civic Orientation

  • The Media Design MA is taught through the lens of civic media which are the technologies, designs and practices that produce and reproduce the process of being in the world with others towards a common good. Civic meda, then, entails the ways in which we design media interventions to support impact positive civic and social impact in the world. These approaches prioritize social justice, equity, inclusion, and giving voice to those communities that are underserved.

Learning Outcomes

Students will articulate a sophisticated understanding of contemporary issues in media, communication and technology that impact civic life.

  • Students will use a variety of participatory design and research approaches and methodologies, including human-centered design and participatory action research.
  • Students will employ the appropriate strategies to effectively communicate and work with communities.
  • Students address, in classes and projects, the major scholarly debates regarding the interplay of new technologies, art and civic and political life.
  • Students will discuss, write about, and design projects around the global scope of civic media and be able to situate local problems within a global context.

In Demand in Today's Market

There is an increasing number of jobs in media design within the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Students in the program gain experience working with a variety of community-based organizations and will be prepared for jobs such as:

  • Digital Strategist
  • Innovation Director
  • User Experience Designer
  • Civic Designer
  • New Media Catalyst
  • Applied Research
  • Communications Director
  • Community Relations Specialist
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Manager
  • Community Manager
  • Director of Civic Engagement
  • Civic Technologist
  • Civic Artist

Past graduates of the Media Design currently work in various industries and organizations where they apply the skills and knowledge gained from the program, including the Obama Foundation, Global Family Research Project, Harvard Kennedy School, National Organization on Disability, city governments, universities, local media outlets and more.

Last updated Nov 2018

About the School

Emerson College is internationally recognized as the nation’s premier institution of higher learning devoted to communication and the arts.

Emerson College is internationally recognized as the nation’s premier institution of higher learning devoted to communication and the arts. Read less