1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Distinguished Majors Program

Media Studies Majors with superior academic performance are invited to apply to the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP), which provides an opportunity to pursue in-depth research under the mentorship of a Media Studies faculty member that culminates in a high-quality written thesis or comparable creative project of personal interest. DMP students are expected to pursue a more rigorous course plan and to maintain a higher level of academic performance than students in the traditional Media Studies track. As a Distinguished Major, students will be able to take advantage of:

  • A small intellectual cohort of other DMP students who share small seminar classes
  • Priority enrollment in all MDST courses (MDST 3809: New Media in New York-4th year DMP priority)
  • Faculty mentorship and support during 4th year research and thesis projects
  • An increase in the number of Practice of Media courses that can be applied to the major
  • Access to academic and social events only for Distinguished Majors

Graduation with distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction (as determined by the quality of thesis and academic performance during the program)

Eligibility and Application

Students should be declared Media Studies Majors with a GPA of 3.400 overall and a 3.400 in all completed Media Studies courses. Application announcements are emailed to majors with a GPA of 3.4 or higher. Students who meet the submission deadline will have their applications and thesis/project proposals reviewed by Media Studies faculty. Students selected to be a part of the program will be automatically enrolled in MDST 3000 and MDST 4000 (fall of students’ 3rd year); and MDST 4010 (spring of students’ 4th year).
 
To apply students must e-mail a pdf document to the Director of Undergradute Programs containing the following information:

Name:

G.P.A:

Potential Faculty Adviser: Please identify a MDST faculty member as a potential adviser to your project by scanning through the MDST faculty profiles on the MDST website. Here is the link: http://mediastudies.virginia.edu/faculty.

Project Description: A two-page (double-spaced) statement explaining your proposed research topic or creative project. Please explain why your topic/project is of personal and general interest. The admissions committee will look favorably on applications that propose a preliminary research question and offer methods of answering the question.

GPA and Course Requirements

Students are expected to have a 3.400 GPA overall as well as in the major upon entrance to the program. Students will be expected to maintain this GPA or they will be dropped from the DMP and returned to the traditional Media Studies track, thus graduating without distinction. DMP students are also expected to complete a minimum of 38 credits for the major including:

  • MDST 2000: Introduction to Media Studies (3/4 credits)
  • MDST 3000: Theory and Criticism of Media (3)
  • MDST 3050: History of Media (3)
  • MDST 4000: Media Theory and Methods (3)
  • MDST 4010: Distinguished Majors Thesis (3)
  • Seven MDST electives at the 3000-level or above (21)
    • one elective must satisfy the Diversity and Identity requirement*
    • one elective must satisfy the Non-U.S. Media requirement*
    • one elective must satisfy the 4000 level requirement
    • up to two courses may be selected from the pre-approved list of Practice of Media courses if the student chooses. This is optional. Practice of media courses are exempt from the 3000-level requirement as many are taught at the 2000-level.

Thesis / Portfolio Project Requirements

DMP students are expected to complete a written thesis or comparable portfolio project that contributes to and advances knowledge of Media Studies in a meaningful way. The written thesis / portfolio project requirement allows students to explore areas of personal academic interest in greater depth than is possible in a single course. Generally speaking, a written thesis is a scholarly work of approximately 50 pages. A portfolio project is a production of work (such as a film, digital work, or other media project) with an appropriate intellectual accompaniment (an essay or research statement of 3,000-5,000 words). Students will be expected to make a presentation of their thesis or project at a capstone DMP Symposium in the Spring of their 4th year. Copies of all theses and projects will be archived in the Media Studies Office. For more information, please read the MDST-DMP Thesis Project Guidelines.

Graduating with Distinction

In awarding distinction, the Media Studies faculty considers the quality of the student’s overall performance in the major as well as the work done on the thesis or project. Students may receive distinction (but not high or highest distinction) if they discontinue enrollment in the DMP but have completed their degree with a grade point average of at least 3.400. The award of high or highest distinction is at the discretion of the Media Studies faculty who vote on distinction following the DMP Symposium presentations every May.