Master’s Degree in Comparative Media Studies

MIT has played a central role in the development and analysis of new media technologies, including radar, communications technologies, documentary film, media ownership, the “manufacture of consent,” and our personal and public relations with technology.

As one early supporter put it: “The goal of CMS is to prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist.”

Developing products at Kickstarter. Managing Etsy’s on-site community. Founding game companies. Directors of audience experience, digital learning, data visualization, interactive design. Not to mention faculty and researchers shaping academic fields, young and old.

Each of these are the kinds of jobs created by CMS alums.

Comparative Media Studies master’s students build on that tradition of leadership to focus historical and theoretical attention on the world’s changing media environment. Students observe first-hand, and then contribute to, the experimentation and research leading to the next wave of media breakthroughs. We provide a bridge between the technological and humanistic sides of MIT, by examining the social and cultural impact of the changing media landscape.

A New Research Agenda

Comparative Media Studies is not the study of interactive technologies themselves; it focuses on social and cultural interactions with technology. As media become increasingly integrated into all aspects of modern experience, it is impossible to fully understand our central institutions and practices without understanding media. The most urgent questions confronting us are social and cultural, not purely technological.

A Common Vocabulary

For industry, government, journalism, and the academy to work together to help society adjust to media transition and transformation, there must be a common vocabulary for discussing the challenges of an evolving media environment.

The need for this shared understanding argues for new styles of media studies where future leaders in academia, creative industries, public intellectuals, and media companies study side-by-side. They do that here in the Comparative Media Studies master’s program.

The Need for New Expertise

Media designers, consultants, and business leaders need the tools to think critically about media and their potential for circulating information and dispersing intellectual capital.

Government leaders must be able to make meaningful decisions about policy and regulation.

Our courses are thus designed to teach students to make and reflect upon media and in the process, to acquire important skills in team work, leadership, problem solving, collaboration, brainstorming, communications, and project completion, which will prepare them for a wide range of academic and professional careers.