Today’s media industry is massive, diverse and continually changing as digital media and technological innovations alter media channels including television, traditional print media, phone apps, film, radio, and more. There is a constant need for innovation, as well an understanding of how to create media products that reach targeted consumers in today’s digital age. That continuous demand for media product development and marketing means media professionals with advanced knowledge of managerial strategies, media business models, new media content, and audience segmentation and analytics are well-positioned for growth in today’s media marketplace.
Classification of Master’s in Media Management Programs
The growth of new media (e.g. digital technology) has reshaped the media and entertainment landscapes, altering how consumers interact with and consume media. In turn, today’s businesses and organizations within the various media industries require more than just knowledge of digital and traditional media; they also require a strong understanding of how to leverage certain types of media in different situations to achieve key goals, whether it is optimizing a marketing campaign or streamlining public relations communications. Consequently, media management programs are built upon innovative curricula that bring together not only instruction in modern media practices, but also foundational studies in business, brand strategy, and entrepreneurship. Graduates are prepared to pursue managerial opportunities within the media space, across public relations, television and radio, digital marketing, multimedia journalism, and more.
Typically, the master’s in media management is offered in Master of Science (M.S.) degree tracks. Coursework is technical in nature, covering subjects including economics, strategic marketing, customer segmentation, and business planning. Example M.S. in media management programs can be found at Arkansas State University, Fordham University, and the University of Miami. These graduate degrees are housed in different schools/departments depending on the university, including schools of business (e.g. Fordham), communication(s) (e.g. Miami), and media (e.g. Indiana University).
Most media management graduate programs offer academic concentrations around a student’s professional area of interest. These concentrations provide additional instruction in areas ranging from integrated communications to media strategy. Common concentrations include the following:
- Digital media
- Entertainment/sports management
- Multimedia journalism
- New media
- Public relations
- Strategic communication
In addition to traditional, full-time graduate programs, many institutions offer fast-track or online programs that benefit working professionals seeking to enhance their skills and ascend the career ladder. Fast-track programs can generally be completed in as few as 12 months and typically require 30 credit hours to complete. For example, the MS in Media Management program at Fordham University can be completed in one year of full-time study, but also includes a part-time, two-year track for individuals who wish to continue working while pursuing their degree. The MS in Media Management at Arkansas State University is offered online and can also be completed in as little as one year of study.
Students can also consider specialized media management programs that are offered through related academic areas of study. Examples include the following:
- University of Missouri: Master of Arts in Journalism with an Emphasis in Media Management
- Lynn University: Master of Business Administration in Media Management
- Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville: Master of Integrative Studies, Media Management
Curriculum Details for Master’s Programs in Media Management
The media industry is expansive, covering professional areas ranging from entertainment and sports media to digital media, journalism, and marketing. The media management master’s degree aims to prepare students for advanced careers in media management through a curriculum focused on strategic leadership, financial and business principles, technical management skills, and how new media technologies and analytics can be applied to media campaigns and initiatives.
Students are first introduced to core classes that cover the fundamental concepts in media management, business modeling, media systems, new media, organizational leadership, and communication. Depending on the specific program, students generally complete between 9 and 12 credit hours of core classes. Through this coursework, students gain a foundational skill set in business management techniques, customer segmentation, statistical analysis, budgeting and media financial markets, and business planning.
After finishing their core classes, students transition into electives and concentration specific coursework. While credit hours vary by program, students generally complete 9 to 18 credit hours of electives/concentration courses in media management programs. Depending on the program, students can select electives that meet their professional needs within a specific specialization, such as digital media or entertainment management. Elective topics may cover subjects such as negotiation analysis, brand management, technology management, marketing communications, organizational leadership, consumer behavior, and more.
Below is a list of example classes students in a master’s of media management may take during their graduate studies:
- Ethics in Media Management: A review of ethical and legal principles and issues for individuals in the media industry, covering subjects including intellectual property, organizational management, security and privacy, and more.
- Business Analytics and Organizational Behavior: A course focusing on skill building in management, including the study of managerial principles and concepts that teach students how to organize, motivate and analyze employee performance.
- Business Planning: An examination of the fundamentals and underlying principles of business plan development, including its core concepts such as financing and marketing, human resources and communication.
- Economic, Accounting and Finance Principles: An overview of business finance and economics, introducing students to accounting concepts (e.g. cost accounting), financial markets, and business plan development.
- Media Campaigns: An introduction to market segmentation and targeting, providing students with a fundamental understanding of digital and traditional media campaigns that cover email marketing, social and email marketing, website marketing, paid placements, and more.
- Strategic Media Communication: Introduces theoretical communication concepts in media relations, offering students real-world understanding of strategic management of communication through both traditional and new media formats.
- New Media Business Models: A study of the emerging business models around new media, including how to build and analyze business models and how to develop flexible marketing and media strategies in today’s digital world.
The number of credits required to complete a master’s in media management varies depending on the program and the time it takes to complete a program depends on if the program is offered part- or full-time, online or on-campus. Although most programs require 36 credits to satisfy graduation requirements, some fast track options only require 30 credits for graduation.
The table below includes an example course plan for a two-year, traditional master’s in media management.
Master’s in Media Management versus Master’s in Communication/Mass Communication with a Media Management Specialization
Although the master’s in media management and the master’s in communication with a media management focus share some common curricula, they are nevertheless distinct in key ways. Both types of programs may have classes in organizational communication, media strategies, media theory, and communication leadership. However, the master’s in communication may delve further into the theories of communication that underpin strategic management in the media industry, while master’s in media management programs offer a comprehensive study of the theory and techniques behind media management.
The master’s in communication focuses broadly on preparing students for leadership roles in communication, developing skill sets in traditional and new/digital media, writing, media production, and research. Depending on the program, the core classwork in a master’s of communication revolves around communication-centric topics, including communication theory, communication law and ethics, new media communications systems, and the history of media. The media management component of a master’s in communication program with a concentration in media management typically involves taking four to seven elective classes in subject areas related to media management. These topics may include management ethics, organizational dynamics, strategic planning, and media management law.
The majority of the curriculum in a master’s in media management program typically revolves around the study of media management itself. In some cases, elective courses in communication programs are actually core curriculum topics in media management programs. Media management degree tracks generally offer a broader, wide-ranging examination of not only the concepts behind media theory and leadership, but also practical, real-world subjects such as media project management, budgeting, organizational behavior, consumer segmentation, business planning, and more.
Both programs train students in the fundamentals of communication and media, teaching students how to communicate effectively throughout roles in the media and communications industry. However, the media management master’s program typically focuses less on communication theory and research, and more on skills that are directly applicable to projects and roles in industry through courses that combine the study of business principles with strategic leadership and organizational planning skills in traditional and new media settings. The master’s in communication/mass communication with a media management concentration will cover many of these concepts as well, but also focuses on central theories of human communication at the interpersonal and mass communication and media levels.
Students who are interested in media management should examine the curriculum in both master’s in communication and master’s in media management programs to see which aligns better with their career goals and professional aspirations. For more information on master’s in communication programs with a media management specialization, check out our Master’s in Media Communication and Mass Communication page.
Career Paths for Graduates with a Master’s in Media Management
The media industry is diverse and expansive, covering professional areas across entertainment and film, social media, online media, and traditional print newspapers and magazines. Whether working in media creation, distribution, sales, marketing, or research, a graduate education in media management offers students an opportunity to develop both a theoretical understanding of media theory and real-world skills in finance, business modeling, media trends and planning, and organizational leadership. Because of its sheer size, the media industry allows graduates to pursue employment paths in numerous fields, including the following:
- Television, film and radio
- Public relations
- Entertainment and sports
- Digital media
Although individual goals may vary, individuals with a master’s in media management can consider specific career avenues including the following:
- Marketing Director: Marketing directors develop, implement, and coordinate business-wide marketing and branding plans, manage staff and creative direction, and launch strategic communication initiatives.
- Business Manager: Personal business managers work for individual clients, managing their financial affairs, ranging from financial records, tax planning, budgeting, and more.
- Publicist: Publicists are personal public relations professionals for their clients, handling their client’s public perception, working to promote their client through various means, including interviews, stories, and events.
- Brand Manager: Brand managers oversee a company or product’s brand image, from establishing a narrative around the organization/product to creating branding guidelines, executing strategic marketing activities, and monitoring competitor brand infringement.
- Digital Media Director: Digital media directors handle the digital marketing for companies through establishing content strategy efforts, developing digital marketing campaigns, monitoring social media engagement, and using data analytics to make business decisions.