Jul 13, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Academic Updates 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Academic Updates

Media & Communication

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Professor:  Amy Smith, Chairperson

Professors: Guillermo Avila-Saavedra, Rebecca Hains, Mary Melilli

Associate Professors:  Peter Oehlkers, Cindy Vincent

Faculty Emeriti

Professors:  Robert Brown, Margaret Dillion, Christopher J. Fauske, Ellen Golub, Eileen Margerum, Mark Zaitchik

Programs Offered

Media & Communication, BS  

Media & Communication, Advertising Communications Concentration, BS  

Media & Communication, Journalism Concentration, BS  

Media & Communication, Public Relations Concentration, BS  


Media and Social Change  
Media and Communication   
Public Relations  


The Media & Communication Major

The Media & Communication Department is committed to providing a supportive teaching and learning experience that challenges students to think critically, communicate effectively, and act ethically. We familiarize students with the current theories, practices, and technologies of the rapidly changing and diversifying environments of our field. The department’s culture values experiential, real-world learning, media literacy, civic awareness, and the transformative potential of higher education in a rich liberal arts context.

The department prepares students for diverse professional careers while fostering their development as socially engaged critical thinkers who are thoughtful and productive community members. Hands-on and intensive courses in writing, editing, and multimedia production help students develop the skills and professional practices necessary for success in advertising, journalism, public relations, and many other media and professional fields. Courses in media literacy, civic media, ethics, and media studies nurture students’ critical understanding of their roles as both media producers and consumers. Capstone curricula provide students opportunities to engage in real-world contexts by applying the skills and knowledge gained during prior coursework.


The Major Core

At the heart of the Media & Communication Department are six major core courses, which serve as an educational foundation for every student in the major. These courses are:

  • MCO 202: Writing for Media
  • MCO 220: Media Literacy
  • MCO 235: Multimedia Storytelling
  • MCO 250: Engaging Your Audiences
  • MCO 350: Junior Career Seminar
  • MCO 499: Senior Portfolio

Major and Concentrations

The department offers a B.S. in Media & Communication. Three concentrations are available: Advertising Communications, Journalism, and Public Relations. Students not choosing a concentration may graduate with a B.S. that includes a mix of practical skills, and critical analysis of media and its social impact.

All courses of study within the department offer the opportunity to pursue a second major without extending the number of courses necessary to graduate. For students who do not wish to pursue a second major, a minor in a department other than Media & Communication is required.

Advertising Communications Concentration

Advertising Communications concentrators take courses in advertising principles and copywriting for a variety of media. They also produce print and multimedia advertisements, take internships for course credit, and work on real-world advertising projects for clients in the EXPECT program. In addition to major core and concentration requirements, Advertising Communications concentrators select additional major elective courses, as detailed on the Advertising Communications flow sheet.

Journalism Concentration

Journalism concentrators learn to write, edit, and produce stories for a wide range of media: newspapers, magazines, social media, blogs, and other digital media. Journalism concentrators must take an internship for course credit that will provide them with real-world reporting experience. In addition to major core and concentration requirements, Journalism concentrators select additional major elective courses, as detailed on the Journalism flow sheet.

Public Relations Concentration

Public Relations concentrators combine classroom practice with real-world client experiences. Concentrators also are provided opportunities to participate in national and regional conferences with professionals in the field and undergraduate peers. Students learn to engage audiences across a wide range of media: newspapers, magazines, social media, blogs, and other digital media. In addition to major core and concentration requirements, Public Relations concentrators select additional major elective courses, as detailed on the Public Relations flow sheet.

Media & Communication Minors

The department offers non-majors the opportunity to study in one of five minors: Advertising Communications (15 credits), Journalism (15 credits), Media & Communication  (15 credits), Media and Social Change  (15 credits) and Public Relations (15 credits).


Additional Opportunities for Students

Internship in Media & Communication
Many students in the department take a required 3-credit internship as part of their course of study. Internships offer on-the-job experience and training tailored to a student’s area of interest and provide students the opportunity to apply in a professional context what they have learned in theory. Internships offer students the chance to hone skills, develop mentoring relationships with practitioners in the field, make contacts with potential employers, and create material for portfolios.

Some students elect to take multiple 3-credit internships or one or more 4- to 6-credit internships, with any credits beyond the requisite 3 counting as major and/or free electives, up to 12 a maximum of internship credits. Internship credits are earned based on the number of hours completed at the internship site, at a ratio of 40 hours per credit (or 120 hours of internship site experience for 3 credits). A total of 7-12 credits simultaneously may be taken only rarely, in close consultation with the department chair.

EXPECT: Experiential Learning in Media & Communication

EXPECT is an experiential learning program for senior Media & Communication majors concentrating in Advertising and Public Relations. Students enrolled in MCO 510 are organized into supervised consulting teams, each of which is partnered with a non-profit organization or entrepreneur seeking assistance with their communication-related needs. The teammates spend the semester working together to support their client-partner with their professors’ guidance. Through EXPECT, students are able to develop their professional networks, create portfolio pieces, and gain firsthand experience with both agency-style collaboration and client relationships.

Lambda Pi Eta Honors Society
Sigma Omega is Salem State’s chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the national honor society for communication affiliated with the National Communication Association. Membership is by invitation only and is based on academic achievement. To be eligible for membership, students must major in media and communication, have completed at least 60 total credit hours and 12 communication credit hours, and have an overall GPA of 3.0 and a major GPA of 3.25.

Public Relations Student Society of America
The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) offers students in all areas of the Media & Communication program the chance to participate in regional and national student competitions and events, sponsors fundraising events, and provides networking and professional peer review opportunities within the Public Relations field.

The Salem State Log
Students interested in journalism may join the student news service, The Salem State Log, a social media publication. The Log operates as an interest group within the Student Government Association.

Annual Media & Communication Awards
The Media & Communication Department annually recognizes the exceptional accomplishments and contributions of four students majoring in Media & Communication through the following categories:

  • Rising Star (first-year only): Awarded to the first-year student who shows the most promise to excel academically and/or professionally in the major and beyond.
  • Professionalism Award: Awarded to a student who has demonstrated excellence in professionalism in the major and/or concentration. Examples include actively engaging in professional networking, demonstrating excellent professionalism when working with clients or community partners, or actively engaging in other opportunities to further their education and career.
  • Civic Engagement & Social Justice Award: Awarded to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to contributing to the positive well-being of others, both on and off campus. Examples include activism, philanthropy, volunteerism, and other types of community-engaged work.
  • Academic Award (seniors only): Awarded to the senior student who has demonstrated academic excellence in the major, as evidenced by accomplishments such as a high major GPA, academic awards, a strong academic standing in the major, acceptance into Lambda Pi Eta, and/or intellectual contributions in coursework.

Sandra B. Fowler Memorial Scholarship
Dr. Sandra Fowler, 1942-2008, was a founding member and original chairperson of the Media & Communication (previously Communications) Department at Salem State University. Sandy’s tireless efforts and dedication helped many students at Salem State University earn degrees in Communications. She passed away in January 2008 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Sandy’s family, friends, students and colleagues built this scholarship to honor her memory. Eligibility: Media & Communication major with demonstrated financial need and a GPA of 3.0 or greater.

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