Career Guide to JMU Majors Logo


The Media Arts and Design major is a department within the College of Arts and Letters.


Interactive Media
Creative Advertising
Digital Video and Cinema

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Media Arts and Design is offered as a major at JMU. The School of Media Arts and Design incorporates the study and fields of mass communication, journalism, digital media/multimedia and mediated visual and aural expression. It offers a program of study that prepares students for careers in the media and/or a corporate environment; careers that rely on mass media and related areas of expertise or graduate study in mass communication and related areas, such as advanced visual communication or digital production. A student who has an interest in working in print journalism, broadcast journalism, television/video production, creative advertising, or interactive multimedia would find one of the four concentrations offered through this major to fit his or her interests. The School of Media Arts and Design also offers interdisciplinary minors in Creative Writing and Film Studies. A student who has an interest in this major must declare SMAD-Preparation, successfully complete SMAD 101, Intro to Media Arts and Design and apply formally to the major at the School of Media Arts and Design. Admission reviews are conducted once per year, during the spring semester.

More About the Field 

Media arts and design studies how people influence and relate to one another in written and visual symbols and through mediated communication (print, electronic and online). These communication messages are delivered through a wide range of media and design careers. Interactive Media developers generate and manipulate graphic images, animations, sound, text and video into computer-based interactive products for news, entertainment, training, education and persuasive purposes. Digital Video & Cinema creators shoot, edit and assemble videos within both artistic/cinematic and corporate/educational realms. They take into account audiences and goals, then create productions that utilize proper mood, pace and context. Video, film and television camera operators set up, position and operate equipment in studios or on location to photograph people and events. Journalists write and edit news reports, commentaries and features for newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations and web sites. Creative Advertising use print media, photography, web media and advertising principles to communicate corporate goals to employees, customers and other external publics.


There are four concentrations to choose from within the Media Arts and Design major: Creative Advertising, Digital Video and Cinema, Interactive Media or Journalism. 

This professionally-oriented Creative Advertising concentration provides students with knowledge and skills to create and manage advertising and corporate communication programs emphasizing new media. In addition to theoretical concepts underlying advertising and corporate communication, students learn strategic creative writing, effective message design, management, and media production. Students also learn strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of new media technologies, and research and analysis of current trends and applications. The program reviews ethical and legal issues involving the creative advertising process, corporate communication, and the use of new media. Students planning careers in Creative Advertising should obtain a broad liberal arts education to better understand the characteristics that make the diversified communication process effective across various media and organizations.

The professionally oriented Digital Video and Cinema concentration helps students develop practical and analytical skills in digital video through class work, internships and experience. All concentrators are exposed to theories, design principles, legal issues and applications of film and video. Those interested primarily in the study of cinema, as opposed to production, can emphasize classes that look at filmmaking from an analytical or critical perspective. Those interested more in the actual production of films and videos can take coursework aimed at developing skills in shooting, editing, composting and disseminating. The concentration utilizes a state-of-the-art, high-definition (HD) video production facility for both field and studio-based productions, allowing access to some of the finest educational lab space available anywhere. Students shoot, edit and output entirely in HD. Students in this concentration also develop a critical understanding of how movies tell stories, convey information and affect audiences.  Students will examine the narrative conventions of film and television and investigate how story materials are created for today’s convergent media. This concentration is complemented by the College’s Interdisciplinary Minors in Film Studies and Creative Writing.

Interactive Media students focus on skills needed to create multimedia productions, such CD-ROMs and DVDs, but primarily for the World Wide Web. A strong emphasis is placed on hands-on opportunities such as class projects and internships. Students engage in audience/user analysis, usability research and interface design, then utilize text, images, animation, sound and video to convey a message. The concentration emphasizes both artistic and technical elements in the creation of interactive media products. Design principles and artistic applications (such as Photoshop and Illustrator) exist side-by-side with technical elements such as XHTML, XML, CSS, database design and a limited amount of computer programming. Students also learn about strategic and managerial issues including instruction on content management, domain name acquisition and management, search engine optimization, e-commerce and Web 2.0 utilization.

The professionally oriented Journalism concentration, enables students to develop writing, editing, and information-gathering skills needed to work in newspapers, magazines, websites and related fields through course work, internships and practical experiences. Students learn to research, discriminate among sources, recognize news values, apply basic news style rules and write under deadlines. They are able to articulate the role of editors and use copy editing guidelines. Basic news, beat reporting, feature and entertainment news all receive coverage. Layout and design courses are also part of the concentration. Students explore aspects of visual journalism and new media applications to lead and moderate online communities. Students are exposed to the role of creative advertising in writing news releases and generating news coverage. The concentration also emphasizes legal and ethical issues faced by journalists.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

There are no common combinations but some examples may be Art, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, Computer Science, Educational Media, English, Film Studies, Marketing, Music Industry, Political Communication, Political Science, Psychology, or Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Openness to understanding others and a sense of professional drive are appropriate to this very competitive field. Interest and skill utilizing present and future technologies is crucial. Ability to work well under pressure is a plus! Good grades and related experiences are essential.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Advertising Art Director
  • Advertising Consultant
  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Advertising Salesperson/Manager
  • Assignment Editor
  • Audio-Visual Engineer
  • Booking Agent
  • Broadcast Marketer
  • Camera Operator/TV/Video/Film
  • Catering Specialist
  • Commercial Account Executive
  • Communications Editor
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Continuity Writer
  • Copywriter
  • Digital Effects Designer
  • Document Publisher
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Entertainment Coordinator
  • Feature Editor
  • Field Producer
  • Film Critic
  • Graphic Designer/Artist/Animator
  • Hospital Services Coordinator
  • Interactive Content Specialist
  • Interactive Media Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Marketing Director
  • Media Buyer
  • Meeting/Convention Planner
  • Motion Graphics Designer
  • Multimedia Developer
  • Multimedia Producer
  • Network Administrator
  • News/Video Producer
  • Newspaper Account Executive
  • Newspaper/Magazine Journalist
  • Online Director
  • Photographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Production Artist
  • Production Manager
  • Production Technician
  • Promotions Director
  • Proofreader
  • Public Affairs Director
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Publishing Specialist
  • Radio/Television Broadcaster
  • Recruiter
  • Researcher
  • Sale Representative
  • Screen/TV Script Writer
  • Software Developer
  • Speech Writer
  • Sports Editor
  • Sports Journalist
  • Studio Technician
  • Teacher
  • Technical Director
  • Technical Editor
  • Television Reporter
  • Television/Film Director
  • Training Coordinator
  • TV/Brand Developer
  • Video Producer
  • Video Programmer
  • Web Analyst
  • Web Designer

Who Employs Graduates?

Advertising Agencies, Cable Stations, Colleges/Universities, Corporate Environments, Federal, State and Local Government Agencies, Firms Marketing Consumer Goods, Military, Motion Picture Studios, Newspaper/Magazine Publishers, Public Relations Firms, Publishing Companies, Special Effects Studios and Television Stations.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Many opportunities are available as a result of well-organized programs. Getting involved in practicum and directed projects can help students to learn by doing. The Breeze, WXJM, and Curio are examples of programs students could gain practical experiences related to their field of study. 

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Art Directors
Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians
Reporters, Correspondents, and Broadcast News Analysts 
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Multimedia Artists and Animators
A Day in the Life of a Media Planner
A Day in the Life of a Writer

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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